Together, Literal Comprehension (LC) and Evidence Support (ES) questions make up 40% of all of the questions on SAT Reading. Because of their sheer number, mastering the LC and ES technique is an important component of getting an excellent score. 

The technique I’m outlining is what I teach all of my students to use, and I would recommend integrating it into your arsenal of “best practices.” Like with everything, getting good at the technique requires experience, so please do lots of practice problems to help you integrate the steps. The steps may seem involved at first, but I assure you that it is possible to do the steps efficiently and accurately.

STEP ONE: Read (and understand!) the LC question. What are they asking you about? You can underline keywords in the question if that will help you.

STEP TWO- 3 parts: Don’t bother reading the answers to the LC question. Instead, go straight to the ES answers. 

  1. Read (and understand!) quote A). I would also put brackets around the quote to help you keep track of where it is. 
  2. Ask yourself, “Could this quote possibly contain the answer to the LC question?” If your answer is “no,” eliminate the quote. 
  3. If your answer is “yes,” go carefully through the answers to the LC question to see if the quote has a match. If one of the answers says what the quote says, I would draw a line connecting the two so you remember your match. 

STEPS THREE-FIVE: Repeat STEP TWO for each of the remaining three quotes. 

Typically, there is only one set that really matches. If there are two sets of matching quotes and answers, ask yourself which set directly answers the LC question. Only one of the sets will be answering the question, so there are your answers.

Let’s look at a real set. These questions are from Test 1, numbers 4 and 5. Please follow along in your book.

4. Which reaction does Akira most fear from Chie? 

  • A) She will consider his proposal inappropriate. 
  • B) She will mistake his earnestness for immaturity. 
  • C) She will consider his unscheduled visit an imposition. 
  • D) She will underestimate the sincerity of his emotions.

5. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question? 

  • A) Line 33 (“His voice… refined”) 
  • B) Lines 49-51 (“You… mind”) 
  • C) Lines 63-64 (“Please… proposal”) 
  • D) Lines 71-72 (“Eager… face”)

STEP ONE: Okay, they are asking what Akira (the guy) is most afraid of in Chie’s (the mom’s) response.

STEPs TWO-FIVE:

  • A) This quote is not related to the LC question. It just says that Akira’s voice is soft. Try not to read into quotes like this. I know it can be tempting!
  • B) This quote is about what Chie thinks. The question is asking about what Akira fears, and this quote doesn’t say anything about that. 
  • C) This is Akira speaking to Chie, so I’m immediately interested. In this quote, Akira asks Chie to not judge how good of a potential partner he is by how improperly he has proposed. To me, this could contain the answer, so I am going to advance to the “yes” scenario. Now, I’ll read each of the answers to the LC question to see if there is a match.

4. Which reaction does Akira most fear from Chie? 

  • A) She will consider his proposal inappropriate. (This says that he is afraid that Chie will find his proposal inappropriate, which is exactly what the quote means, so we have a match).
  • B) She will mistake his earnestness for immaturity. (This says that Chie will think he is being immature because of the way he has asked. The quote doesn’t say this, so it’s out).
  • C) She will consider his unscheduled visit an imposition. (This says that she will think him coming to their house is an imposition. Again, not in the quote).
  • D) She will underestimate the sincerity of his emotions. (This says that Akira is afraid that Chie won’t take his genuineness seriously. Not mentioned in the quote, so this is out).

Resume STEPs TWO-FIVE:

  • D) Moving onto quote D in #5 now. You may be tempted to not check the final quote if you think you’ve found your match, but I would advise you to always consider each answer choice. This quote says that because Akira wanted to make his point clear, he made eye contact with Chie. This doesn’t mention anything Akira fears, so this quote is out.

We have now worked through both problems, and locked in the answers to both: #4 is A) and #5 is C)-a matching set!