Before you work yourself into a tither, please understand that the PSAT passage-based reading questions are only one of the two types of questions on the PSAT Critical Reading section (the other type is Sentence Completion). And, it is very possible to increase your score by simply practicing these types of questions. So read on for more details about how to master the passage-based reading questions.
PSAT Passage-Based Reading Basics
Passage-based reading questions will provide you with a passage of text (either a paragraph or a group of paragraphs) with a question or series of multiple-choice questions related to the text.
Comprehension: Can you read and understand what you’ve read?
Vocab in context: Can you figure out the meaning of a word based on the words around it?
Higher-level thinking: Can you analyze, evaluate, synthesize, identify cause and effect, make inferences, recognize an author's tone, find the main idea, and follow the logic of an analogy or an argument?
Answer These Questions Last
Passage-Based reading questions are typically the hardest types of questions for most people, so answer these questions after you answer all of the sentence completion questions.
The Question Difficulty Ranges
Unlike sentence-completions, these questions do not progress in order of difficulty. You could get a tough question first, followed by one your kid brother could ace.
PSAT Passage-Based Reading Question Example:
I remember the summer of 1940 when I first left here. After my final school year, my days had been reduced to waiting, anticipating the preinduction physical for the year of compulsory service required of all physically fit seventeen and eighteen year olds, both men and women. Although I wanted the medical reports to declare me perfectly fit and would have felt inferior if they had not, I was not looking forward to upcoming camp life. Yet without any say in my future, all I hoped to know was where and when. Then the paralyzing uncertainty ended. My orders to report to a never-heard-of location in Czechoslovakia even kindled a spark of anticipation for traveling to a foreign country and moving toward new experiences, whatever they might be. I was assigned to a camp that was an agricultural teaching facility, where I was expected to learn to run a large rural household. Like me, most of the girls at the camp enjoyed the hearty meals and learned to ignore our servant status. After years of having subsisted on ration diets in the cities, we blossomed into robust young women whose physical well-being countered surges of hurt pride, resentment, and periods of homesickness. And so began just one of the many disjointed and unpredictable periods I endured before the subsiding waves of war swept me an ocean away.
The author uses the phrase "disjointed and unpredictable" in line 14 to describe:
A her infrequent reunions with her family
B her plans for her life after the war
C the varied situations she experienced before the war
D her prior experiences with foreign traveling
E her preparation for performing hard labor before the war
The correct answer is C.
Although E also seems like an accurate response, the give-away is the word choice "hard". She spoke in the paragraph about enjoying "hearty meals" and "physical well-being". She certainly wouldn't be talking that way if she was performing hard manual labor.