Active Reading Strategies Part 2: Rephrase and Predict

A powerful reading strategy designed to encourage you to trust yourself while working through the SAT Reading Test. If you know what you want before you start looking, you are a LOT less likely to make a bad choice.  

Rephrase and Predict

This technique gives you control over several question types on the SAT Reading Test, and then it helps you come up with your own answer before you look at the choices. Just to make this technique a little more memorable, we’re going to call it RIP-RAP:

Rephrase If Possible (RIP)

Read Around and Predict (RAP)

Let’s take a closer look at how this method works as you work through each question:
Step 1: Cover the choices
Yes, you read that right - don’t look at the choices until you have an idea of what you think the answer is - in your own words. Just do it, and trust yourself!
Step 2: If possible, Rephrase the question using How What or Why
This way, you can turn a half-statement that trails off at the end, like “The function of the 3rd paragraph can best be described as…” into a pointed, direct question: “What does the 3rd paragraph DO?” This is incredibly helpful, because it’s easier to remember a simplified version of the question when you’re searching in the passage for the answer.
Step 3: Read Around and Predict: RAP
Now that you’re in control of the question, you are going to try to answer it in your own words - again, before you look at the choices. Find the answer to your version of the question in the passage. Read around line reference questions - look at transitions if necessary, and focus on the first and last sentences of each paragraph, especially the first and last paragraphs. Then: answer your question in your own words. Uncover the choices. Cross out the ones that don’t match.
Example 1:The author includes the discussion of the scone, the doughnut and the muffin primarily to…
  • RIP it! – Rephrase:Why does the author talk so much about the different pastry?” “What does the discussion of the pastry DO?
  • RAP it! – Predict: Read around the line reference and come up with an answer to your own version of the question in your own words. For example: “To show how much Jackson loves sweets” “To reveal the arbitrary standards Alex uses to choose her friends” “To show that the waitress is an expert.” Then, cross out choices that don’t match. Trust your answer!
Example 2:In the context of the passage, the author’s use of the phrase “delicately, we devoured the pastry” is primarily meant to convey the idea that…
  • RIP it! – Rephrase:What does the phrase DO?" "What is its purpose?” “Why is the author talking like this?
  • RAP it! – Predict: Read around the reference, review the first sentence of the paragraph to confirm what the point of the paragraph is supposed to be, and answer your version of the question. For example: "To add a lighthearted touch to the story" "To emphasize the narrator's conflicted state"
    Then, cross out choices that don’t match. Trust your answer!
Example 3:Over the course of the passage, the main focus of the narrative shifts from the…
RIP it! – Rephrase: “What is going on in the passage? How does its focus shift as it goes along?”
RAP it! – Predict: Review the first and last sentences of every paragraph, especially the first and last paragraphs. Summarize what is happening in the passage in your own words, eg: “Author meets with friends at shop, describes friends; author then describes the sensuous experience of eating a doughnut.” It is very likely that the correct choice will match YOUR description. Cross out choices that feature words that don’t seem like they fit. Trust yourself!
TOP TIP: If you’re left with two choices, re-read the question and make sure you understand what it’s asking. Circle or underline key words in the question. Then, go back and read around again - the correct choice will have evidence in the passage text that supports it. Remember - there is only one answer! If choice A makes you think “hey now, that’s interesting, maybe that’s right” and choice B basically restates what you read in passage, choose B - every time.
There is only one answer: if you think two answers seem equally right, you’re missing something. The SAT can’t use questions for which the answers are debatable. One choice is correct, and the others are wrong.
NOTE: Many students find that if they just read the passage, then read the questions, and choose the choices that look or sound best, they make mistakes. The choices all sound pretty good! But your job isn’t to select the choice that sounds best - it’s to choose the one that answers the exact question that is being asked – and the correct choice is always the one that has evidence in the passage to support it!
Q: What is the most important feature of the right answer on the SAT Reading Test?
A: It has evidence that proves that it is right – right there in the passage.
The above system is just one way to approach some questions on the SAT Reading Test. Many students find it gives them a specific, useful approach for a specific subset of question types.
Please let us know if rephrasing and predicting using RIP RAP works for you!
Head over to the Practice Area and give it a try!
Good luck!
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