PSAT Writing and Language: Passage Types
You will see four Writing & Language passages on the PSAT, each of which will have 11 questions. Recognizing the text type of a Writing & Language passage helps you focus on the questions as they relate to the passage’s general purpose. Knowing the overarching aim of the passage will help you answer questions more efficiently and accurately.
|Writing & Language Passage Types|
|1–2 Argumentative texts||Author will advocate a point, idea, or proposal|
|1–2 Informative/Explanatory texts||Author will explain, describe, or analyze a topic in order to impart information without necessarily advocating|
|1 Nonfiction Narrative text||Author will use a story-like approach to convey information or ideas|
The PSAT rewards critical thinking in context. Pay attention to the text type to answer Writing & Language questions more efficiently.
Let’s look at three short Writing & Language passage excerpts (without errors) and see how a PSAT expert identifies the text type of each. The left column features the passage excerpt, while the right column demonstrates the strategic thinking a test expert employs when identifying Writing & Language text types.
Sample Argumentative Passage
- What does the opening phrase, “It has long been believed,” suggest? The author might be challenging a belief or advocating something against that belief.
- What does the word “however” indicate? A change in direction in the passage
- What is the author advocating? Voting from home
- What text type is this? Argumentative
Sample Informative/Explanatory Passage
- What does the introductory phrase, “Some psychologists believe,” indicate? That the author is reporting on a behavior or phenomenon
- What other phrases indicate this “reporting” approach? “To test this theory, researchers . . . ” and “While the experiment’s results . . .”
- What is the author describing in this passage? A theory of expression recognition
- What text type is this? Informative/Explanatory
Sample Nonfiction Narrative Passage
- How is this passage different from the previous two passages? It is written in the first person.
- How do you know? The author uses personal pronouns such as “I” and “me.”
- What text type is this? Nonfiction narrative
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