Rhetorical synthesis — Worked example
- [David] Hey, test takers. So let's say this question pops up on your screen on test day. (text pops) If you'd like to try this question on your own before I talk about it, please pause your video now. Okay, so I'm seeing these bulleted notes. Hmm, let's take a look at the question stem. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal? Yes, yes, no doubt about it. The diagnosis is in. You've got a case of rhetorical synthesis. Fortunately for you, it's treatable. Now, these questions want you to use information from the bulleted notes to accomplish a particular writing goal. Rhetoric and synthesis make this sound more complicated than it is. What you're trying to do is use evidence for a particular purpose. And what that purpose is will change, depending on the question. You'll see several of these on your SAT, so some strategizing is in order. These questions all have the same format: an introduction, a bulleted list of notes, and then the question prompt. Now you might be tempted to closely read through the notes before you look at the question, but this isn't necessarily your best use of time. Instead, some students find it useful to read the question stem first, so that you know what lens you should be looking through, you know what filter you should be using, while you consider the choices and the notes. You'll be reading the prompt closely so you can identify the goal. In other words, what does the correct choice need to do? It might be something like emphasizing a similarity, providing an example or a contrast, or something like that. It'll be pretty straightforward. Now, at this point, you might want to look at the bulleted notes. But if you're short on time, you could also consider just jumping straight to the choices. They'll all contain accurate information from the bullets, and only one will actually do the thing that the question is asking for. We could call that step test the goal against the choices. So with that strategy in mind, let's go back to the question and try it out. Let me demonstrate that approach of finding the goal and applying it directly to the choices. So I'm gonna read the question prompt. The student wants to provide an explanation and an example of Aeolian landforms. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal? Okay, so our goal is to find an explanation of what an Aeolian landform is, and an example of one, too. Let's look for an answer choice that does both, explanation and example. Choice A, Aeolian landforms are created by different wind-based processes. For example, some are created by wind erosion. Okay, that's a good definition of an Aeolian landform, but that example is of a wind-based process and not a landform. I don't think this is our answer. It only gives us half of what we need. Choice B, erosion, transportation, and deposition are three examples of how the wind can create Aeolian landforms and mushroom rocks. Okay, this one is an explanation of how Aeolian landforms are formed, but not a clear explanation of what they are. Mushroom rocks sound like an example of an Aeolian landform, though. This doesn't give us exactly what we need either, an example, but not an explanation. Choice C, Aeolian landforms, landforms created by the wind, there's an explanation, include the mushroom rock, a rock formation in which the wind erodes the base of the rock faster than the top. Hey, and there's our example. This is our answer for sure. Explanation of an Aeolian landform, and an example of the same. On test day, I would just circle this and move on, but let's check out choice D. Choice D, a mushroom rock is a rock formation that owes its shape to the wind, a natural force associated with Aeolus in Greek mythology. And that's an example of an Aeolian landform without an explanation of what it is. No go. All right, so C is our answer. Now, you might be thinking, hold up, David. You didn't even read the notes. And to that, I say guilty as charged I was illustrating a strategy for rhetorical synthesis questions that you might be able to use on test day if you're running short on time. Many of you out there might prefer to read all the notes first, and that's okay. They might be very interesting. When I'm done recording this video, I am looking up mushroom rocks. But leaning into that bulleted list will take longer, and you might get tangled up in details that you don't actually need to understand in order to get the question right. Let's talk through some top tips for approaching this question type. Keep it simple. Boil the goal down to a handful of words. In this question, we were looking for explanation and example, and that was it. The simpler you can make that goal, the easier it'll be to test that goal against the choices. Keep it strict. There were a few choices that were almost nearly there, but don't be generous in your interpretation. Be picky and persnickety. This question type is all about the detail. So if a choice doesn't match every last part of the goal, eliminate it. Another aspect of keeping it strict is recognizing that each choice will be grammatically correct. You're not evaluating which choice sounds best. Only one of them will do the thing that the stem is looking for. Good luck out there, test takers. You've got this.