ACT and SAT Reading Tips: Paired Passages with Opposing Viewpoints

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Each ACT and SAT ReadingTwo business people shouting in megaphones at each other.jpeg section includes a set of paired passages, which discuss a related topic, with 10 or 11 accompanying questions. Most of these paired sets have passages with opposing viewpoints. One author may support animal cloning while the other opposes it. Or one passage cites obesity as the reason for apathy, while the other blames apathy for the national rise in obesity. On occasion, the authors will agree or be neutral, but opposing points of view are most prominent.

 And that’s okay, because there is a quick tip to help you with at least one question when the authors disagree.

If the authors don’t see eye to eye on a topic, you should expect them to agree on some small detail, about which you are guaranteed to be asked in the questions. For example, when one author believes that classrooms should be equipped with video cameras and the other asserts that this technology is a violation of students’ rights, they may both agree, however, that crime rates in schools have increased in recent years. If you can find this small case of agreement as you read, you will save yourself many seconds, if not minutes, because you will not have to search through both passages when you come to the agreement question.

Want to see some examples? Check out the ACT’s Test 1, Section 3, Question 18 in The Official ACT Prep Guide. Or Section 3, Question 28 on the ACT here. For the SAT, examine Section 1, Question 52 on the test here or Section 1, Question 31 on the test here. As you can see, it’s important to look for similarity and agreement as you read opposing viewpoints because you’re sure to be asked about them. Noting them beforehand can save you valuable time.

Need more help? Check out our ACT and SAT Reading Bible or email me at

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