Reading Passages
Essential Strategies
RP sets consist of two elements: passages and items. Therefore, we must learn how to handle the passages and the items separately. We’ll use a long nonfiction RP to introduce the key methods you’ll want to use for tackling each element. Then we’ll turn to short RPs, paired RPs, and fiction RPs to show you how to modify the methods to handle these “special cases.”
Generally, you’ll want to deal with the passage before you look at the items. As you read through the next sections on how to tackle the passage, keep in mind the major types of items you’ll be asked to answer:
  • Recognizing the major features of an RP: topic, main idea, purpose, tone, theme, and logic.
  • Recognizing the use of rhetorical devices and literary techniques, including: hyperbole, repetition, imagery and figurative language, sound patterns, rhetorical questions, idioms and clichés, irony, foreshadowing, and motif.
  • Decoding unfamiliar words from context.
  • Finding informational details (facts) in the passage.
  • Identifying cause and effect and follow the logic of arguments.
  • Comparing and contrasting arguments.
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