As you all may know, there are two major competing organizations: the College Board and the ACT. The ONE thing that the ACT has over the SAT is the science section. The ACT likes to say that they test students’ scientific dexterity while the SAT does not. A lot more STEM kids prefer to take the ACT because of the science section. In the effort to even the playing field, the College Board started to add graphs to the reading and writing sections and introduced assumption questions to the SAT reading ➡️. In this article, we will go over a battery of strategies to approach the Assumption Questions on the SAT reading and always get them right.
To answer the Assumption Question correctly, you must understand what is being asked and where to look for the answer.
🎯😳Where to look for the answer?
The answer to the assumption question or a hint to the answer for the assumption question will always lie in the description of the study. If you follow my method and read your questions before you read the passage, you can adjust your strategy if you see an assumption question. Usually, we tend to skip over the study design or the description of the experiment when we read natural science or social science passages on the SAT. We do this simply because the results are a lot more interesting and insightful than the study set up. However, when it comes to assumption questions, we need to especially focus on the study design paragraph. I recommend answering the assumption question as soon as you encounter the study description. I do this by considering every answer choice and looking for evidence for one correct answer. However, this approach may NOT work for everyone. Some students prefer to mark up or take a note of the location of the study design paragraph in order to come back there when looking for the answer.
Here is a good example of such Assumption questions from November 2019 SAT.
How to approach these questions? 🤷
Your approach to assumption questions will be different from the other questions. As trained test takers, we are trained to look for keywords when we read the question. These keywords or their synonyms will eventually show up in the passages pointing us to the correct line reference. However, you should NOT be expecting to see the word assume or assumption in the passage in order to find releval line reference for the assumption question. Instead, you just have to make an inference.
Let’s take a look at the scenario: scientists decided to use the rats as a proxy.
What was the assumption that was made? 🤔 The assumption was made that if rats can experience the effect of something, such effect would also transfer to other animals.
Check EVERY Answer Choice!
Another tip that I can give you for assumption questions is that you have to be CHECKING EVERY ANSWER CHOICE. As soon as I see the assumption question when I preview my questions, I always mark for myself where they describe an experiment. 🔬🧪 So then it is easier to check EACH answer choice.
Let’s take a look at the real SAT examples ⬇️⬇️⬇️
This passage comes from the SAT November 2019.
After reading the question, before I even read the answer choices I will go back to the passage. In the passage, we can find lines 29 - 41. This ⬇️⬇️⬇️ is the paragraph where we should be checking the answer.
Now, let’s check each answer.
Answer A would be the good answer BUT the passage does not say that experimenters assumed that there will be an equal split. Because of this, the answer choice A is all wrong. ❌
Choice B is talking about incentives. Did you see anything about the incentives in the paragraph? Nope, no incentives were mentioned when the experiment was designed. This is a trap answer❗️❗️Later on in the passage, the author talks about offering incentives to the participants, but this was NOT the assumption that Ross and his colleagues made.
For answer C, they are trying to trick you with the wording. Participants didn’t really wear the costumes, the scientists were simply offering them an opportunity to wear one and asked what they thought about other student’s answers.
So, we are left with D. As soon as we open the description they say “In a vivid illustration of this phenomenon” ⬅️ here we have the pronoun this, and the word this is mapping back to the situation which is the phenomenon that is being described. So the right answer is D.
The next question comes from the May 2019 (International Test).
When some students see the wording “It can reasonably be inferred”, they think that these types of questions are different from the ones that start from “Based on the passage”. Please NOTE that whether they say based on the passage, or reasonably inferred it can be both.
Now, we need to closely read the question. The question asked when they collected the information for the study what was the assumption that was made.
Here ⬇️ is the paragraph that you need to be using.
Let's start with D.
D is not correct, because they wouldn't be measuring at rural and suburban, because the rural would be the city, and suburban would be the countryside.
Let's take a look at C. We know that scientists were measuring staked out burrows at dawn and dusk and tallied how many rabbits came and went. BUT do we know that they were identical? Absolutely not, for this reason answer choice C is wrong.
Answer B is very strange, because they never tested experimental settings, they were just observing natural settings. So, for B we can leave a note, but at first we have to check A.
At the very end of the paragraph was the line that says “They also counted burrow entrances to estimate how big each home was”.
I want you to notice how the last time (in the first example) the answer was at the very end of the paragraph, here it is also the last. By the number of the entrances we can estimate how large the home is, for this reason the correct answer choice is A.
Now we can take a look at the last example that comes from May 2018.
This one is a little bit different, because this one doesn't really have to do with the study design.
To answer this question, we need to find Montague and we need to look for the keywords.
Here are some🔑 keywords that can be helpful ⬇️⬇️
If we will go back to the passage, we will find Montague in this paragraph ⬇️
Let's take a look at D. I think that for D they are trying to confuse us and map us to the wrong place. They want us to go here ⬇️
BUT, this is wrong because some of the wording is just overly confusing. For C, they never really mentioned that in some numbers it was greater and in others it was less. Definitely, it was not the basis of his explanation. Let's cross out C. ❌
For B we need to go back to the passage, to see if they talked about completing. NO, it is not supported by the passage, therefore we are left with A.
This may not seem the best answer, but if these gene changes were responsible for cognition, fear responses and ability to learn in knockout mice, then those genes were also responsible for similar activities in rats. Therefore, when he was explaining that they found 13 genes that are drastically different from the wild cats, then we can make an inference that that's what those genes are responsible for.
I really hope this helped you get a better understanding of Assumption Questions on the SAT. Feel free to watch a video where I go through this strategy again.
If you prefer to learn from the video, here is the link ⬇️⬇️⬇️
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