Jesse Lacey of Brand New.
Found this here.

It’s important, on the SAT reading section, to be able to nail down the main idea of a passage, even if you’re not sure what every single word means. There’s no quick remedy for this if you’re struggling; you’re just going to have to practice. A lot. If the only reading you do is on practice tests, you’re dooming yourself to failure. You’re going to have to start reading everything you can get your hands on, and reading it actively; asking questions as you go and making sure you’re understanding the author’s argument and point of view.

Have a look at the following passage*, and see if you can answer the questions below it.

The following passage is about “emo,” a genre of popular music.

  1. Based on the passage as a whole, which of the following scenarios from the sports world is most analogous to emo music?
    (A) A recreational soccer league requires teams to have equal numbers of male and female players.
    (B) Body checking is not allowed in women’s ice hockey, but such forceful physical contact is an essential part of men’s ice hockey.
    (C) Television ratings for the men’s college basketball tournament exceed those for the corresponding women’s tournament.
    (D) Professional football has many female fans, despite the fact that it is played only by men and its marketing is aimed almost exclusively at men.
    (E) Most golf courses contain separate “ladies’ tees” so that female golfers don’t have to drive the ball as far as male golfers.

     

  2. The author of the passage would most likely agree with which of the following statements?
    (A) Emo bands have male and female fans.
    (B) Singers in emo bands are immature.
    (C) Music critics should not take emo seriously.
    (D) Many emo bands would be better if they had more female members.
    (E) Most people who like emo music are lonely.

     

  3. Lines 8-11 (“However … men”) serve primarily to
    (A) explain a population’s distaste for emo music
    (B) highlight a surprising fact
    (C) condemn a style of songwriting
    (D) dispute a previous argument
    (E) suggest a solution to a problem

     

  4. According to the passage, with which of the following characteristics of emo music do female fans identify most strongly?
    (A) Its “androcentrism” (line 1)
    (B) The “women in emo bands” (line 2)
    (C) The “‘lonely boy’s aesthetic'” (lines 4-5)
    (D) Its “litany of one-sided songs” (line 6)
    (E) Its “expression of emotional devastation” (line 13)

 

Answers and explanations below the cut…

What’s the big idea?

Before we get into the answers, what’s the main idea of this passage? If I had to sum it up, I’d say it’s that emo music has broad appeal, despite an apparent gender bias. If you’re not getting that out of it, then you need to read it more carefully. Answering these questions (which fall pretty squarely into the “main idea questions” category) is going to be much more difficult if you don’t have that understanding of the passage.

Also — and this is important — leave any preconceived notions you have about emo music at the door. The SAT will often choose topics you’re familiar with, in an attempt to play off opinions you might have that the passage either contradicts or completely fails to address. If you can’t support your answer from the passage and the passage only, you’re going to be wrong.

Lastly, remember that on the SAT, a short passage like this would only have 2 questions. I wrote 4 because it’s really hard to come up with good passages, and so I wanted to squeeze more out of it than only 2 questions. So sue me, sue me, shoot bullets through me**.

OK, here’s how it’s going to go: I’ll give you all the right answers and the reasons why they’re right, and then I’ll break down why the wrong answers are wrong. Remember: on the SAT, correct answers are never random, and incorrect answers are always incorrect for a good reason. On some questions, you’ll find it easier to find the correct answer directly, and on others you’ll find it easier to eliminate wrong answers. Both are completely valid ways to answer a question, and you should practice both so that you can alternate between them with ease.

Answers
  1. (D). The passage discusses the fact that, despite a clear gender bias (“androcentrism”), the emo genre of music has many female fans. Likewise, football is a game played exclusively by men, and marketed almost exclusively towards men, and yet attracts plenty of female fans.
  2. (A). This is an easier one. Which of these things does the author say? He says emo has male and female fans in lines 9-10. A few of the wrong choices here are meant to appeal to possible preconceived notions you may have.
  3. (B). What’s the surprising fact? That despite a bunch of misogynist lyrical content, many women still really love emo music.
  4. (E). The explanation the author gives for women enjoying emo music in the last sentence of the passage is that they can identify with emotional devastation, regardless of the specific subject matter of a song.

 

But what’s wrong with ___?
  1. Based on the passage as a whole, which of the following scenarios from the sports world is most analogous to emo music?
    (A) A recreational soccer league requires teams to have equal numbers of male and female players. (This sounds pretty fair to me. No androcentrism here.)
    (B) Body checking is not allowed in women’s ice hockey, but such forceful physical contact is an essential part of men’s ice hockey. (We can have a debate someday as to whether this is fair, but it’s not the same dynamic that exists in emo music: there’s not a “men’s emo” and a “women’s emo” with different rules.) 
    (C) Television ratings for the men’s college basketball tournament exceed those for the corresponding women’s tournament. (Again, this passage isn’t concerned with “men’s emo” and “women’s emo” having different properties, it’s about perceived gender bias in the content and whether that affects its popularity among the genders.)
    (D) Professional football has many female fans, despite the fact that it is played only by men and its marketing is aimed almost exclusively at men.
    (E) Most golf courses contain separate “ladies’ tees” so that female golfers don’t have to drive the ball as far as male golfers. (This answer is a lot like (B) and is wrong for the same reasons.)

     

  2. The author of the passage would most likely agree with which of the following statements?
    (A) Emo bands have male and female fans.
    (B) Singers in emo bands are immature. (Where does the passage say that? Leave your personal opinions at the door.)
    (C) Music critics should not take emo seriously. (I saw no mention of music critics.)
    (D) Many emo bands would be better if they had more female members. (The author does mention the lack of women in emo bands, but makes no statement as to whether the music would be improved if more women were in the bands.)
    (E) Most people who like emo music are lonely. (No.)

     

  3. Lines 8-12 (“However … men”) serve primarily to
    (A) explain a population’s distaste for emo music (This sentence is about how females LIKE emo.)
    (B) highlight a surprising fact
    (C) condemn a style of songwriting (Nope. No value judgments here.)
    (D) dispute a previous argument (What previous argument???)
    (E) suggest a solution to a problem (What solution???)

     

  4. According to the passage, with which of the following characteristics of emo music do female fans identify most strongly?
    (A) Its “androcentrism” (line 1) (No, that’s a reason females might dislike emo.)
    (B) The “women in emo bands” (line 2) (Maybe they’d like them if they existed, but the passage says they basically don’t.)
    (C) The “‘lonely boys’ aesthetic'” (lines 4-5) (Tempting. They might like the “lonely boy’s aesthetic,” but that’s not the same as identifying with it. Also, the passage suggests that this is a direct cause of the “litany” in choice (D), which the author suggests is a reason females might be repulsed by emo.)
    (D) Its “litany of one-sided songs” (line 6) (Again, this is a pretty good reason for females not to like emo.)
    (E) Its “expression of emotional devastation” (line 13)

 

*Passage adapted from Wikipedia according to Creative Commons License. Original article accessed 4/18/2010.

** Nope, not emo. Musical theater. Did I fool you?