This section tests your ability to determine a writer’s opinion, tone, and purpose. You should be able to draw conclusions and to identify textual evidence upon which arguments are based. You will compare ideas in a text and how they relate to one another.
Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.
Simply put, the purpose of a piece of text is what the author hopes to achieve with his/her writing. It can be as simple as entertaining or informing an audience, or it can be to argue against a specific idea in order to persuade readers to act or think a certain way. An author can have more than one purpose for writing a passage.
Consider how an author writes about the topic to determine his or her purpose. For example, if the author’s purpose is to amuse the reader, the text might include jokes and use a silly or sarcastic tone.
How might this concept appear on the test? Take a look at this example:
For a long time, tofu was only found in specialty markets, but today tofu can be purchased in most supermarkets across the United States. It is made from the condensed milk of soybeans. Because it is high in protein, it is often used as a meat substitute by vegetarians. Tofu also contains isoflavones, which may reduce the risk of cancer.
What is the author’s primary purpose?
A. The author writes to inform the reader about tofu. (correct)
B. The author writes to persuade the reader to become vegetarian.
C. The author writes to amuse the reader with a story about tofu.
D. The author writes to persuade the reader not to eat tofu.
While you complete the Reading subtest, you’ll use your inferencing skills to draw conclusions based on what the text states and what you already know. Remember, authors don’t always explain everything to us – sometimes they give us clues and let us figure out concepts and situations.
Consider this passage:
Jaylen was soaked by the time he got home, and he was disappointed to find that he missed out on a delicious dinner. The tempting smell of lasagna still lingered in the air, but the dishes were already clean. He pulled off his wet boots and began to think about what to eat.
You can make a ton of inferences from this passage. For example, the author doesn’t state that it has been raining, but you know this from the details in the text, such as the wet boots. You can also infer that Jaylen is hungry and that he doesn’t live alone – unless he lives in a magical house which cooks and does the dishes!
Point of View
Point of view refers to the perspective from which a text is narrated. As you work through the Reading subtest, sometimes you will be asked about the viewpoint or opinions of a narrator. When considering the viewpoint from which a passage is written, ask yourself what reasoning and evidence a speaker uses to support ideas.
Think about this passage:
Greenville gets really hot in the summer. On top of that, all of the rainfall means that there are mosquitos buzzing around everywhere and everyone’s yard is covered in puddles. In the fall, it’s so much cooler and drier.
Based on the passage, the writer’s point of view is that Greenville is less pleasant in the summer than in the fall. The writer uses the information about mosquitos and puddles as evidence to support this belief.