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Answer In Your Own Words First:

Before reading the answer choices in the muddled language of the standardized reading exam designed to trick test takers, attempt to predict the answer in your own words. This approach should build confidence, accuracy, and improve your times as well.

Reading Exercise - Predict Answers

  • 2 reading passages with 5 questions each
  • 40-minute time limit 
  • Answers all questions before submitting exam

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This quiz must be completed in 60 minutes.

Answer In Your Own Words First

Try to answer each question in your own words before reading the answer choices. This approach is especially useful for Main Idea, Inference, and Function questions outlined later in the course. For now, try it on every question in Exam 2 following this lesson. If you can’t formulate a reasonable answer choice in your words in a matter of seconds, then chances are you do not understand the question prompt or did not comprehend the relevant parts of the passage. Take note of either issue and keep in mind you will have to find a way to correct it in your SHSAT preparation for reading. The lesson on skim reading provides additional advice and practice to improve your big picture reading comprehension. If on the other hand, you approach each question with the answer in your words, then it is more likely you will be able to quickly identify the correct answer in the words of the test. You will be less likely to fall for the typical trap answer choices provided on the SHSAT and you can more quickly answer the question without the need to flip back and forth between the passage text and the answer choices. If test takers approach the list of answer options without a predicted solution in mind, then their thought process often meanders along the following lines.”I just read the question. Answer A is not bad. I could possibly interpret it in a way that works. B is definitely out. Answer C might work. It doesn’t exactly fit, but answer D is similar and it too doesn’t exactly fit, but it isn’t exactly terrible either. “ The test taker has fallen into the designed trap of the SHSAT. The exam is designed to muddle answer choices such that test takers who either do not comprehend the passage or do not follow closely to the letter of the text will tend to get confused. Many students find approaching the answer choices with a predicted answer not only improves confidence and accuracy, but it also has a significant positive impact on time management.  

Flip the answer choice to a question – If you, the test taker, are ever confused or uncertain with a particular answer choice, try to flip the question around as follows. Ask yourself, “if this answer choice is true, then what would I expect to see in the passage?” This process is prediction in reverse. Work backward from the answer choice after you begin reading the answer options, and attempt to predict what evidence must be present in the passage to convey the idea in the answer. What words or phrases must be present in the passage to make this answer choice an accurate restatement of the text in the passage?

For example, suppose an answer choice indicates the author intended to bring the reader closer to the scene. A test taker may be unclear exactly what that answer choice means and undecided how to respond as a result. The question in reverse might be something like, “If the reader is closer to the scene, then we might expect the author to reveal in detail what they experienced like sharing detailed conversations and conveying the thoughts that the author entertained in the passage. Did the passage do these things? If the evidence is not present, then the answer is not a correct restatement or demonstration of the text. If the evidence exists, then the answer choice may be correct if it is also relevant to the question. In this way, a vague notion of what an answer choice means can often be converted to an identifiable test whether the answer is correct or not.

Heaven has appointed to one sex the superior, and to

the other the subordinate station, and this without any

reference to the character or conduct of either. It is

therefore as much for the dignity as it is for the interest

  1. of females, in all respects to conform to the duties of

this relation….But while woman holds a subordinate

relation in society to the other sex, it is not because it

was designed that her duties or her influence should be

any the less important, or all-pervading. But it was

  1. designed that the mode of gaining influence and of

exercising power should be altogether different and


A man may act on society by the collision of intellect,

in public debate; he may urge his measures by a sense

  1. of shame, by fear and by personal interest; he may

coerce by the combination of public sentiment; he may

drive by physical force, and he does not outstep the

boundaries of his sphere. But all the power, and all the

conquests that are lawful to woman, are those only

  1. which appeal to the kindly, generous, peaceful and

benevolent principles.

Woman is to win everything by peace and love; by

making herself so much respected, esteemed and loved,

that to yield to her opinions and to gratify her wishes,

  1. will be the free-will offering of the heart. But this is to

be all accomplished in the domestic and social

circle. There let every woman become so cultivated and

refined in intellect, that her taste and judgment will be

respected; so benevolent in feeling and action; that her

  1. motives will be reverenced;—so unassuming and

unambitious, that collision and competition will be

banished;—so “gentle and easy to be entreated,” as that

every heart will repose in her presence; then, the

fathers, the husbands, and the sons, will find an

  1. influence thrown around them, to which they will yield

not only willingly but proudly….

A woman may seek the aid of cooperation and

combination among her own sex, to assist her in her

appropriate offices of piety, charity, maternal and

  1. Domestic duty; but whatever, in any measure, throws a

woman into the attitude of a combatant, either for

herself or others—whatever binds her in a party

conflict—whatever obliges her in any way to exert

coercive influences, throws her out of her appropriate

  1. sphere. If these general principles are correct, they are

entirely opposed to the plan of arraying females in any

Abolition movement.

The investigation of the rights of the slave has led me

to a better understanding of my own. I have found the

Anti-Slavery cause to be the high school of morals in

our land—the school in which human rights are more

  1. fully investigated, and better understood and taught,

than in any other. Here a great fundamental principle is

uplifted and illuminated, and from this central light,

rays innumerable stream all around.

Human beings have rights, because they are moral

  1. beings: the rights of all men grow out of their moral

nature; and as all men have the same moral nature, they

have essentially the same rights. These rights may be

wrested from the slave, but they cannot be alienated:

his title to himself is as perfect now, as is that of Lyman

  1. Beecher:1 it is stamped on his moral being, and is, like

it, imperishable. Now if rights are founded in the nature

of our moral being, then the mere circumstance of sex

does not give to man higher rights and responsibilities,

than to woman. To suppose that it does, would be to

  1. deny the self-evident truth, that the “physical

constitution is the mere instrument of the moral

nature.” To suppose that it does, would be to break up

utterly the relations, of the two natures, and to reverse

their functions, exalting the animal nature into a

  1. monarch, and humbling the moral into a slave; making

the former a proprietor, and the latter its property.

When human beings are regarded as moral beings, sex,

instead of being enthroned upon the summit,

administering upon rights and responsibilities, sinks

  1. into insignificance and nothingness. My doctrine then

is, that whatever it is morally right for man to do, it is

morally right for woman to do. Our duties originate,

not from difference of sex, but from the diversity of

our relations in life, the various gifts and talents

  1. committed to our care, and the different eras in which

we live.


1 Lyman Beecher was a well-known minister and the

father of Catharine Beecher.

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