Unit 35: Command of Evidence

The “command of evidence” questions require you to go find some evidence in the passage and turn that into an answer.

They come in a few forms:

  • “According to the text, what is true about…”
  • “According to the passage, how did…”
  • “The author indicates that…”

Here is an example:

The following excerpt is from an article discussing the role of community gardens in urban environments. The author notes the various benefits these gardens bring to city dwellers.

Community gardens not only provide a source of fresh produce but also serve as green oases in urban landscapes. They offer residents a chance to engage in gardening, a pastime that can reduce stress and foster a sense of community. Moreover, these gardens often become hubs for local engagement and environmental education, bringing together diverse groups of people. They embody a synthesis of ecological awareness, community involvement, and recreational activity, all crucial for the holistic development of urban areas.

According to the text, what is true about community gardens?

A) They primarily serve to increase the ecological diversity of urban areas.
B) They are key to improving the physical health of city residents.
C) They play a multifaceted role in enhancing urban life.
D) Their main purpose is to provide a space for environmental activism.


  1. Understand the Passage: Read the excerpt carefully. Understand the main idea, tone, and context. Pay attention to how the author uses language to convey their message.
  2. Identify the Core Question: Determine what the question is asking. Is it about the author’s tone, the implications of a statement, or a comparison between elements in the text?
  3. Analyze the Text: Look for specific phrases or sentences that directly address the question. Evidence-based questions often require you to identify how the text supports a particular point or claim.
  4. Evaluate Answer Choices: Consider how each option relates to the text. The correct answer should be directly supported by specific evidence in the passage. It should align with the theme or argument presented by the author.

If the question asks, “The passage states that when Judy sat down…”, then we need go find the part of the passage where it says, “Judy sat down and something happened”.

If the question asks, “What does Tolliver [the author] say is the primary cause of error in physics experiments?”, we need to find where the passage says something about “cause of error”.

In general, there is nothing particularly tricky about these questions. It’s all about finding the thing in the passage.

Don’t overthink these questions – just go it find in the passage and report back.

Let’s go back to our example from earlier.

  1. Understand the Passage: The text discusses the roles of community gardens in urban environments, highlighting their benefits beyond providing fresh produce.
  2. Identify the Core Question: The question asks us to identify what is true about community gardens based on the text.
  3. Analyze the Text: The passage mentions that community gardens reduce stress, foster community, and serve as hubs for local engagement and environmental education.
  4. Evaluate Answer Choices: Options A, B, and D mention specific aspects but do not fully capture the multifaceted role of community gardens as described in the passage. Choice C, “They play a multifaceted role in enhancing urban life” is the best fit as it covers all aspects mentioned in the text – stress reduction, community fostering, and serving as local engagement hubs.

    Therefore, the answer C) is the most comprehensive and directly supported by the passage.