In preparation for the SAT on October 9, Knewton is hosting Knerd Week. Each day, there will be a new workshop to help you review for the big test.
Today’s Workshop: The SAT, the Author, and You
Time: 7:30-8:30 PM Eastern Time
If you’re not a Knewton student and would like to attend, sign up here!
In Tuesday’s Knerd Week Workshop, you’ll be reminded of the most important way to conquer the reading section of the SAT- that is, by remembering that the author of the passage is a real person. In fact, when that author sat down to write, the SAT was probably about the LAST place he or she expected the work to go! By getting into the author’s head and understanding his or her real reason for writing, you’ll be able to ace all the questions about tone, strategy, and opinion.
Here’s a quick reading comprehension example to get your wheels spinning:
The following is an excerpt from a novel written in 1898.
That night another invisible missile started on its way to the earth from Mars, just a second or so under twenty-four hours after the first one. I remember how I sat on the table there in the blackness, with patches of green and crimson swimming before my eyes. I wished I had a light to smoke by, little suspecting the meaning of the minute gleam I had seen and all that it would presently bring me. Ogilvy watched till one, and then gave it up; and we lit the lantern and walked over to his house. Down below in the darkness were Ottershaw and Chertsey and all their hundreds of people, sleeping in peace.
He was full of speculation that night about the condition of Mars, and scoffed at the vulgar idea of its having inhabitants who were signalling us. His idea was that meteorites might be falling in a heavy shower upon the planet, or that a huge volcanic explosion was in progress. He pointed out to me how unlikely it was that organic evolution had taken the same direction in the two adjacent planets. “The chances against anything manlike on Mars are a million to one,” he said.
So – what’s going on here? Even more importantly, what is the author trying to say? Well, the intro in italics helps; we know this is a “novel” from more than one hundred years ago. In other words, this is a fiction passage, meant to entertain – and its pretty clear that this passage is trying to build some suspense and mystery. The narrator doesn’t suspect “the meaning of the minute (tiny) gleam, and all that it would presently (soon) bring me.” Uh oh! Missiles are being fired on Earth! People can’t believe it – especially our man Ogilvy, who is clearly in denial. But as the townspeople sleep, the narrator and Ogilvy are staying up late to wonder about what is coming from the skies…
This passage is from H.G. Wells’ classic novel “The War of the Worlds.” It was a smash hit when it was written, the cause of a national panic when it was read over the radio in the 1930′s, and the source of a Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg movie a few years ago. In other words, it was NOT written for the SAT.
Having a bit of respect for the passages and their authors will serve you well – you’ll learn to understand their sometimes-strange languages and phrases. The questions will be far less intimidating, too:
The author refers to meteor showers and huge volcanic explosions in order to
a) explain that Oglivy has inside information about the missiles
b) describe scientific processes that were common at the time
c) illustrate Ogilvy’s unwillingness to believe in signals from Mars
d) show the narrator’s confusion about the source of the invisible missiles
e) prove that Martian evolution is virtually impossible
What do you think?
And remember, if you’re not a student and would like to attend the workshop, you can sign up for the workshop here!