Few shots in basketball satisfy quite like scoring a basket over someone and then getting an extra free throw because the defender was called for a foul. A single play earns two or three points along with an extra point if the foul shot goes down, as it should at least 90% of the time in the pros. The ability to capitalize on those “and one” opportunities separates the truly great from the merely good.
What does this have to do with the SAT?
Believe it or not, the Reading section of the SAT serves up multiple “and one” opportunities that students routinely fail to convert. The 2015 revision introduced a new style of reading question, one we’ve been calling Linked Evidence questions:
The format of these questions is both simple and predictable. One question asks about explicit or implicit information in the passage, followed by one that asks where the evidence to support the correct answer in the first question can be found. That is all.
As easy as these Linked Evidence questions sound, test takers tend to struggle with them. Some students answer the first correctly but botch the evidence, while others find the right line references but fail to select the corresponding choice. The extra information apparently overwhelms rather than enlightens students.
However, test takers with the right strategy and commitment should be able to consistently convert these Linked Evidence questions. After all, the best way to answer any passage-based reading question on the SAT or ACT is to go back to the passage and find evidence for the correct answer in the text. Linked Evidence questions give you an extra point for doing what you were supposed to do anyway!
With that said, our advanced strategy for Linked Evidence questions comes down to staying the course and using the format to your advantage:
STEP 1: Identify Linked Evidence questions by always looking one question ahead on the Reading section of the SAT. This sometimes entails turning the page to see the next question.
STEP 2: If you’ve properly mapped the passage, you can go find the answer in the text. Confirm that you are right by finding a corresponding choice with your selected line reference in the question that follows.
STEP 3: If you don’t know where to find the answer in the text, just use the line references in the question that follows. You’ll have four places to look, only one of which can be correct.
In a sense, Linked Evidence questions resemble those math problems best solved by plugging in the answer choices. Consistent technique and courage in the face of all that text will help test takers turn these questions into ideal “and one” opportunities. Once you can convert Linked Evidence questions to two points at a time every time, you’ll be one step closer to the SAT Reading score of your dreams.