SAT Resources

Passage Structure Based Question Type

Passage Structure Based Question Type

The Writing and Language Test is the second section on the SAT. There are four question types under it. They are:

  1. Grammar Question
  2. Word-usage question
  3. Passage structure based question
  4. Graph Interpretation question

We will go through the Passage structure based question type in detail with the help of an example.

Passage structure based questions test you on your overall understanding of the meaning of the passage. You should also be able to determine the function and relation of each sentence and paragraph with other sentences and paragraphs.

Questions under this type may ask you to choose a main topic for the passage or the purpose of the passage or a paragraph; it may ask you to re-arrange the sentences within a paragraph; or it may ask you to add or delete some information from the passage.

A typical Passage structure based question looks like this:

Dong Kingman: Painter of Cities

A 1954 documentary about renowned watercolor painter Dong Kingman shows the artist sitting on a stool on Mott Street in New York City’s Chinatown. A crowd of admiring spectators 12 watched as Kingman squeezes dollops of paint from several tubes into a tin watercolor 13 box, from just a few primary colors, Kingman creates dozens of beautiful hues as he layers the translucent paint onto the paper on his easel. Each stroke of the brush and dab of the sponge transforms thinly sketched outlines into buildings, shop signs, and streetlamps. The street scene Kingman begins composing in this short film is very much in keeping with the urban landscapes for which he is best known.

[1] Kingman was keenly interested in landscape painting from an early age. [2] In Hong Kong, where Kingman completed his schooling, teachers at that time customarily assigned students a formal “school name.” [3] His interest was so keen, in fact, that he was named after it. [4] The young boy who had been Dong Moy Shu became Dong Kingman. [5] The name Kingman was selected for its two 14 parts, “king” and “man”; Cantonese for “scenery” and “composition.” [6] As Kingman developed as a painter, his works were often compared to 15 paintings by Chinese landscape artists dating back to CE 960, a time when a strong tradition of landscape painting emerged in Chinese art. [7] Kingman, however, 16 vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, most notably in that he chose to focus not on natural landscapes, such as mountains and rivers, but on cities. 17

18 His fine brushwork conveys detailed street-level activity: a peanut vendor pushing his cart on the sidewalk, a pigeon pecking for crumbs around a fire 19 hydrant, an old man tending to a baby outside a doorway. His broader brush strokes and sponge-painted shapes create majestic city skylines, with skyscrapers towering in the background, bridges connecting neighborhoods on either side of a river, and 20 delicately painted creatures, such as a tiny, barely visible cat prowling in the bushes of a park. To art critics and fans alike, these city scenes represent the innovative spirit of twentieth-century urban Modernism.

During his career, Kingman exhibited his work 21 internationally. He garnered much acclaim. In 1936, a critic described one of Kingman’s solo exhibits as “twenty of the freshest, most satisfying watercolors that have been seen hereabouts in many a day.” 

Question 1:

Select an Answer

18.

Which choice most effectively establishes the main topic of the paragraph?

  1. Kingman is considered a pioneer of the California Style school of painting.
  2. Although cities were his main subject, Kingman did occasionally paint natural landscapes.
  3. In his urban landscapes, Kingman captures the vibrancy of crowded cities.
  4. In 1929 Kingman moved to Oakland, California, where he attended the Fox Art School.

Question 2:

Select an Answer

To make this paragraph most logical, sentence 3 should be placed

  1. where it is now.
  2. before sentence 1.
  3. after sentence 1.
  4. after sentence 4.

Following are the steps that you can adopt while approaching a Passage structure based Question:

Step 1: Read the passage actively and quickly to understand the topic, point and purpose of the passage.

Step 2: Then read the question to understand what type of question it is that you are going to answer. Once you determine it’s a Passage structure based question look at the question number, match it with the right part of the passage.

Step 3: Read the paragraph that is in question.

Step 4: Guess an answer choice based on your understanding. 

Step 5: Go through all the four answer choices and select the one which most closely matches your guess.

Let’s solve a Passage structure based question by applying the above steps:

Step 1: Read the passage actively and quickly to understand the topic, point and purpose of the passage.

Dong Kingman: Painter of Cities

A 1954 documentary about renowned watercolor painter Dong Kingman shows the artist sitting on a stool on Mott Street in New York City’s Chinatown. A crowd of admiring spectators 12 watched as Kingman squeezes dollops of paint from several tubes into a tin watercolor 13 box, from just a few primary colors, Kingman creates dozens of beautiful hues as he layers the translucent paint onto the paper on his easel. Each stroke of the brush and dab of the sponge transforms thinly sketched outlines into buildings, shop signs, and streetlamps. The street scene Kingman begins composing in this short film is very much in keeping with the urban landscapes for which he is best known.

[1] Kingman was keenly interested in landscape painting from an early age. [2] In Hong Kong, where Kingman completed his schooling, teachers at that time customarily assigned students a formal “school name.” [3] His interest was so keen, in fact, that he was named after it. [4] The young boy who had been Dong Moy Shu became Dong Kingman. [5] The name Kingman was selected for its two 14 parts, “king” and “man”; Cantonese for “scenery” and “composition.” [6] As Kingman developed as a painter, his works were often compared to 15 paintings by Chinese landscape artists dating back to CE 960, a time when a strong tradition of landscape painting emerged in Chinese art. [7] Kingman, however, 16 vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, most notably in that he chose to focus not on natural landscapes, such as mountains and rivers, but on cities. 17

18 His fine brushwork conveys detailed street-level activity: a peanut vendor pushing his cart on the sidewalk, a pigeon pecking for crumbs around a fire 19 hydrant, an old man tending to a baby outside a doorway. His broader brush strokes and sponge-painted shapes create majestic city skylines, with skyscrapers towering in the background, bridges connecting neighborhoods on either side of a river, and 20 delicately painted creatures, such as a tiny, barely visible cat prowling in the bushes of a park. To art critics and fans alike, these city scenes represent the innovative spirit of twentieth-century urban Modernism.

During his career, Kingman exhibited his work 21 internationally. He garnered much acclaim. In 1936, a critic described one of Kingman’s solo exhibits as “twenty of the freshest, most satisfying watercolors that have been seen hereabouts in many a day.” 

Step 2: Then read the question to understand what type of question it is that you are going to answer. Once you determine it’s a Passage structure based question look at the question number, match it with the right part of the passage.

Select an Answer

18.

Which choice most effectively establishes the main topic of the paragraph?

  1. Kingman is considered a pioneer of the California Style school of painting.
  2. Although cities were his main subject, Kingman did occasionally paint natural landscapes.
  3. In his urban landscapes, Kingman captures the vibrancy of crowded cities.
  4. In 1929 Kingman moved to Oakland, California, where he attended the Fox Art School.

Step 3: Read the paragraph that is in question.

The question is asking us to read the paragraph marked by number 18. Read the entire paragraph.

18 His fine brushwork conveys detailed street-level activity: a peanut vendor pushing his cart on the sidewalk, a pigeon pecking for crumbs around a fire 19 hydrant, an old man tending to a baby outside a doorway. His broader brush strokes and sponge-painted shapes create majestic city skylines, with skyscrapers towering in the background, bridges connecting neighborhoods on either side of a river, and 20 delicately painted creatures, such as a tiny, barely visible cat prowling in the bushes of a park. To art critics and fans alike, these city scenes represent the innovative spirit of twentieth-century urban Modernism.

Step 4: Guess an answer choice based on your understanding. 

The passage is talking about an artist called Kingman (refer to the passage above). In this paragraph, we read about his paintings of street-level activity. He paints a peanut vendor, a pigeon eating, and an old man with a baby. He also paints city skylines, skyscrapers in the background, bridges and cats. The last line is the clue to answer this question, his art represents the innovative spirit of twentieth-century urban Modernism. We need an answer choice that resonates with this description of Kingman’s art.

Step 5: Go through all the four answer choices and select the one which most closely matches your guess.

  1. Kingman is considered a pioneer of the California Style school of painting.
  2. Although cities were his main subject, Kingman did occasionally paint natural landscapes.
  3. In his urban landscapes, Kingman captures the vibrancy of crowded cities.
  4. In 1929 Kingman moved to Oakland, California, where he attended the Fox Art School.

Answer choice A is wrong as California Style of painting is not mentioned in this paragraph at all.

Answer choice B is incorrect as we do see elements of nature in his paintings but nowhere in the paragraph do we read about the frequency of his paintings on either of the themes.

Answer choice C briefly delineates the topic of the passage and resonates with the information that Kingman painted urban cities. The details that we read in the paragraph show how he captured the vibrancy of crowded cities. The cat, the old man with the baby, pigeon eating etc. The skyscrapers suggest a crowded city. This is the correct answer choice.

Answer choice D again has no evidence in the paragraph and hence we eliminate it.



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