Accomplish the Goal: Quotes

Mastering Quotation Support Questions on the New SAT

The SAT Reading section often includes quotation support questions to test your ability to analyze how specific details from a passage support a provided interpretation or claim about the text.

Here is an example question of what they might ask:

In her essay, the student discusses the theme of “lost innocence” in William Blake’s poetry. The essay claims that Blake frequently explores the contrast between the innocence of childhood and the corruption experienced with the onset of adulthood.

Which quotation from William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” most effectively illustrates the claim of lost innocence?

A) “Piping down the valleys wild / Piping songs of pleasant glee”
B) “And I made a rural pen / And I stain’d the water clear”
C) “Where the sun does shine / And the rain does fall”
D) “A truth that’s told with bad intent / Beats all the lies you can invent.”

To strategically approach this type of question:

  1. Read the Claim Carefully: Understand the specific aspect of the claim you need to illustrate. It could be a theme, a contrast, a development, or a cause-and-effect relationship.
  2. Identify Key Words: Determine the key words or phrases in the claim that must be reflected in the quote.
  3. Analyze Each Quote: Go through each provided quotation and consider how it relates to the key words and the overall claim. Does it directly illustrate the claim, or is it just related content?
  4. Check for Direct Evidence: The correct quote will directly support the claim with clear, textual evidence. It should be almost as if the claim is a summary of the quote.
  5. Eliminate Outliers: Discard quotes that do not directly address the claim or only do so in a general or indirect way.
  6. Confirm the Context: Ensure that the quote’s context within the original work aligns with the claim’s context. Sometimes a quote might seem to fit the claim when taken out of context but doesn’t actually illustrate the claim within the full text.
  7. Select the Best Match: Choose the quote that most effectively and precisely illustrates the claim. It should be the one that, if inserted into the blank, would directly continue the thought of the claim without additional explanation or information.

Following these steps will help students systematically identify the quote that best supports the claim, ensuring a careful and precise approach to these “Accomplish the Goal” questions.

Let’s now apply this strategy to the example problem above.

  1. Read the Claim Carefully: The claim is about the contrast between childhood innocence and adult corruption in Blake’s poetry.
  2. Identify Key Words: “Lost innocence,” “childhood,” “corruption,” “adulthood.”
  3. Analyze Each Quote:
    • A) Describes a cheerful scene, but doesn’t show a contrast.
    • B) Mentions an action, but doesn’t illustrate the theme of lost innocence.
    • C) Describes a neutral setting, not pertinent to the theme.
    • D) Implies a moral complexity that suggests the loss of innocence.
  4. Check for Direct Evidence: D) provides evidence of the corruption experienced in adulthood.
  5. Eliminate Outliers: A), B), and C) can be eliminated as they don’t directly address the claim’s contrast.
  6. Confirm the Context: D) aligns with Blake’s exploration of themes within the context of his work.
  7. Select the Best Match: D) is the best match as it conveys the claim directly, showing the moral complexity associated with adulthood and contrasting it with the simplicity of childhood.

Using this strategy, D) “A truth that’s told with bad intent / Beats all the lies you can invent.” is the quote that best illustrates the claim about Blake’s poetry.