Reading Select Answers Drill

The ACT and SAT reading tests instruct students to choose the "best" answer to each question with no further specifics on what makes an answer choice correct or incorrect. Despite this vagueness, the authors of each test repeatedly use standard techniques to generate wrong and right answer choices and in the process often add difficulty to the answer choice selection process.

Our task as test-takers is to be acutely aware of the test authors' answer choice design techniques and use the same highly analytical process that test authors use to justify one answer choice as correct and every other as incorrect. In this process, we use helpful tactics like Achilles' Heel, Devil's Advocate, Double or Nothing, Greased Watermelon, Ugly Duckling, Blinded by the Light, and, most importantly, There Can Be Only One to identify right and wrong answer choices. Haha.

This answer selection drill is intended to provide practice at carefully and analytically selecting answer choices after successfully completing the passage mastery and answer prediction that precede this stage. The drill consists of four parts. Please read all parts of the drill before you begin.
  1. Master the Passage - Just as in our preceding drills, this constitutes the foundation upon which the succeeding stages of our work rely. Limit your time reading the passage or paired passages to four minutes at most. After mastering the passage, for each question in the set,
  2. Predict the Answer and Nail it to the Text
    • If you believe you know the answer, shoot from the hip and mentally articulate a simple answer to the question; if you're not sure of the answer, acknowledge this, and in either case, next:
    • Refer to one or more specific text excerpts to develop, refine, and justify your own answer to the question. Remember that there is always specific text that justifies the credited answer choice as correct. Insist upon nailing your answer to the text.
    • Return to and reread the question stem to ensure that you're focused on the question and primed to view the answer choices.
  3. Select the One and Only Correct Answer Choice 
    • Focused on the answer you just mentally articulated in your own words, very carefully review the answer choices looking for an answer that corresponds to your own.
    • Review ALL answer choices regardless of whether/when you find the one you believe correct.
    • Eliminate from consideration any answer choice that is affirmatively flawed by presenting information that contradicts or is definitively unsupported by the text.
    • Use answer choice selection tactics to select with optimal confidence the correct answer. There can be only one.
    • Complete parts 2 and 3 of this drill constrained to the following time limit:
      • ACT: 5 minutes (average 30 seconds per question)
      • SAT: 8 minutes (average 45 seconds per question)
  4. Correct Your Answers Without an Answer Key
    • After you complete the timed portion (parts 1-3) of this drill, return to the questions and carefully grade your answers without the benefit of an answer key. The idea of this part of the drill is to hone your ability to properly analyze each question, including right and wrong answer choices, to confidently identify the correct answer once there's no longer a time constraint.
    • Finally, grade your answers using the answer key - did you correctly identify any errors you'd made?
    • Analyze every error you made and note any missteps or tactics you failed to properly use.