The Great Global Conversation: Reading Passages on the SAT

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

The SAT has questions based on a text from the Great Global Conversation about freedom, justice, and human rights. In this lesson, we'll examine what the Great Global Conversation is, and what students can expect from this type of question on the SAT.

Great Global Conversation

Christine is preparing to take the SAT, and she's very nervous. She's especially worried about something called the 'Great Global Conversation.' She's heard that this will definitely be on the test, but she doesn't know what it is or how she should answer.

The critical reading section of the SAT includes at least one text from what the College Board (the company that makes the SAT) calls the Great Global Conversation. The Great Global Conversation involves political and social texts dealing with freedom, justice, and human rights and dignity. Further, these texts are influenced or inspired by early American thinkers.

To help Christine prepare, let's look closer at the Great Global Conversation, including the types of documents Christine is likely to see, and what types of questions about those documents she should prepare for.

Types of Documents

So, the texts will deal with big topics like freedom, justice, and human rights, and they will be inspired by early American ideas. That seems like a big group of documents, and Christine is feeling a little overwhelmed. Luckily, the texts in the Great Global Conversation can be grouped into a few different types. These include:

1. U.S. founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist papers. These types of documents are in many ways the start of the Great Global Conversation. They outline the founding principles of America, including the important themes of freedom and democracy.

2. Texts by U.S. founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. While the founding documents were, by and large, written by founding fathers, that isn't all they wrote, so Christine might also see speeches or letters by the founding fathers. Like the founding documents, these comprise the beginning of the Great Global Conversation, and the other types of documents are often inspired by or written in response to one of these first two types.

3. Texts by U.S. presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or John F. Kennedy. Almost all the presidents in U.S. history have given speeches or written texts that discuss the founding documents, so Christine might see the text of one of those on the test.

4. Texts by social and political leaders, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In addition to U.S. presidents, other famous people who fought for change might also show up on the test.

Those four types of documents are pretty much all Christine has to worry about seeing on this part of the test. She feels less overwhelmed when she sees how few categories she might have to deal with.

Types of Questions

Despite feeling better about the types of texts, Christine is still a little worried about the questions on the test. Will she need to study or memorize important documents from the Great Global Conversation? What types of questions is she likely to see?

The good news is that no prior knowledge of these texts is required for the SAT Great Global Conversation questions. All of the answers will be found in the passage, so Christine just needs to know how to read the text critically.

Further good news is that, like the texts, the types of questions can be categorized into just a few types. They include:

1. Questions about the perspective or stance of the writer/speaker. In questions like these, Christine will be asked to figure out what the writer or speaker is trying to say. Specifically, she'll need to understand which side of an argument they are taking. For example, she might see a question that asks how the writer of a letter feels about an important issue that they are writing about.

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