ACT and SAT Reading Tips: Multiple Viewpoints

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As if ACT and SAT Senior business man with glasses sitting at desk skeptically looking at group arguing people through magnifying glass isolated grey wall background. Human expression, attitude. To each its own concept.jpegreading passages are not difficult enough, the test makers like to select passages that contain multiple viewpoints to confuse the average high school reader. The more opinions a passage contains, the more likely students are going to misinterpret the author’s viewpoint, which is often the main idea. So how do you handle a passage that contains additional viewpoints besides the author's? Today's blog offers a solution with an excerpt from the new ACT and SAT Reading Bible.

Let's look at an example of a paragraph with multiple viewpoints:

This passage contains the opinions of four different people or groups of people! Were you able to decipher the author’s point of view?

It's unlikely that the ACT and SAT will include four different viewpoints in one passage, but you should always be on alert for at least two or three different opinions. They may not occur in the same paragraph, but they can still cause confusion when determining the author’s main idea and attitude toward the subject. Remember, also, that U-Turn words (those words that indicate that the meaning is about to reverse direction) can separate the viewpoints of two people or groups of people in a single sentence:

This sentence presents the viewpoint of some watchdog groups (television is harmful to children) and the opinion of the author (not all programs have negative effects).

To help you keep track of different viewpoints throughout a passage, consider notating as you read. Use “VP” to show a viewpoint, being sure to label each one with a word, abbreviation, or symbol to indicate the viewpoint’s owner:

The test makers purposely select passages with multiple viewpoints in an attempt to confuse you; avoid this pitfall by labeling the viewpoints as you read.

Need more help? Consider one of our ACT courses and be sure to check out our new ACT and SAT Reading Bible, due out later this month!


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