Tackling the Paired RP
Paired RPs also require a slightly different passage-reading
and set-tackling strategy. The SAT has been kind enough to organize
the items in the following manner:
- Items concerned with the first passage only
- These are followed by items concerned with the
second passage only.
- Finally, at the end of the set you’ll find a few items
that compare or contrast both passages.
A fairly obvious but very powerful strategy follows from
Step 1: Read the italicized introduction.
Step 2: Read and skim the first passage.
Step 3: Skip immediately to the items concerned with
the first passage only.
Step 4: When you’ve finished these, go back and read
the second passage.
Step 5: Skip to the items associated with the second
Step 6: If you have time, attempt the compare-and-contrast
Be flexible when you follow this strategy. “The
first passage” doesn’t necessarily mean Passage 1. You’ll choose
which passage to read first. For example, you can read the first
few lines of each passage and choose the one that’s easier for you.
Or, you can just start with the shorter passage.
Flexibility and the experience you gain from
practice should also guide how you balance reading and skimming.
Each paired RP passage is shorter than a long passage, but longer
than a short passage. Rather than give you a hard-and-fast rule
about whether to read every word or skim, we’ll let your experience
and judgment, as well as the subject matter and length of a particular
passage, guide you. As a rule of thumb, if you find yourself getting bogged
down in details and supporting examples, skim along until you find a
signpost word, term, or some indication of a new thought.
Following this method has two major benefits. First, it
splits paired RPs into two scaled-down long passages. By treating
each one separately, you avoid the usual danger of paired RPs, which
is confusing the two passages. Remember, each passage discusses
the same topic from a different perspective, so you might easily
mix up the two.
As a result, you’ll find yourself constantly turning back
to the two passages, which is a waste of precious time. Who needs
that extra pressure? The SAT is tough enough as it is.
Second, by saving the compare-and-contrast items for last,
you ensure that you get all the points you can on the easier passage-specific items.
As you would expect, compare-and-contrast items are tougher than