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The SAT Reading Test: Information and Ideas

Details about Information and Ideas on the Reading Test.

Information and Ideas: The Author's Message

The Information and Ideas category includes questions that focus on what the passage says (directly or indirectly). To interpret the author's message, you’ll need to consider both what’s stated and what’s implied – or strongly suggested – in the passage.
A note on the images in this article: all Reading Test items will be associated with a passage, but the passages are not included here. Each question pictured is just one example of how items in that category can look.
Some sub-topics within Information and Ideas:

Reading Closely.

These questions will ask you to identify information and ideas explicitly stated in the text or to draw reasonable inferences and logical conclusions from the text. In some cases, the questions will ask you to apply information and ideas in a text to a new, analogous situation.
Image of an SAT test question that says:
The passage most strongly suggests that Adelita used which of the following to navigate her 9,000-mile journey?
A) The current of the North Atlantic gyre B) Cues from the electromagnetic coils designed by Putman and Lohmann C) The inclination and intensity of Earth's magnetic field D) A simulated "magnetic signature" configured by Lohmann

Citing textual evidence.

These questions will ask you to cite evidence within the text that best supports a given point or idea.
Image of an SAT test question that says:
Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
A) Lines 13-16 ("It . . . office") B) Lines 20-23 ("The division . . . astute") C) Lines 51-54 ("The drawing . . . misdemeanors") D) Lines 61-64 ("Congress . . . transportation")

Determining central ideas and themes.

These questions will ask you to identify the central theme(s) or the main point(s) of the text.
Image of an SAT test question that says:
The main idea of the final paragraph is that
A) human quirks make it difficult to predict people's ethical decisions accurately. B) people universally react with disgust when faced with economic injustice. C) understanding human psychology may help to define ethics in economics. D) economists themselves will be responsible for reforming the free market.


These questions will ask you to recognize an effective summary of a passage or of a part of a passage.
Image of an SAT test question that says:
Which choice best describes what happens in the passage?
A) One character argues with another character who intrudes on her home. B) One character receives a surprising request from another character. C) One character reminisces about choices she has made over the years. D) One character criticizes another character for pursuing an unexpected course of action.

Understanding relationships.

These questions will ask you to draw connections (such as cause-and-effect, comparison-contrast, and sequence) between or among people, events, or ideas in the passage.
Image of an SAT test question that says:
Based on the passage, which choice describes the relationship between Putman's and Lohmann's research? A) Putman's research contradicts Lohmann's. B) Putman's research builds on Lohmann's. C) Lohmann's research confirms Putman's. D) Lohmann's research corrects Putman's.

Interpreting words and phrases in context.

These questions will ask you to figure out the precise meaning of a particular word or phrase as it's used in a passage.
Image of an SAT test question that says:
As used in line 52, "intense" most nearly means A) emotional. B) concentrated. C) brilliant. D) determined.
You will not need to know the names of these question types for the test, but this list gives you an idea of some of the question types you will encounter.
Want to practice your analysis skills? Try some questions now!


This article was adapted from the following sources:
“SAT Practice Tests” from The College Board.

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