What are Citing Textual Evidence Questions on the SAT?

The 2016 test changes to the SAT included the debut of a new type of question on the SAT Reading Test that involves “Citing Textual Evidence” (CTE, for short) and here’s everything you need to know about it!

What do these questions ask?

CTE questions ask you to provide lines from the passage that support a given conclusion, most commonly your answer to a previous question. Here’s an example of an SAT Reading question, followed by a CTE question:

Think of CTE questions as questions that ask you to explain your logic for answering another question the way you did. You will see exactly 10 CTE questions on the SAT Reading Test (two per passage or pair of passages). With these questions accounting for roughly 20% of the Reading Test, you will definitely want to know how best to approach them!

How should I approach them?

First of all, your Reading Test Day success hinges on using evidence from the passages as you answer all questions. Because Reading Test answers are always based on direct information from the passages, you should literally be able to put your finger on a place in the passage to support your answer to any given question. Using this approach, you will have no problem with the CTE questions because you would have already found the lines supporting your answer.
Occasionally, you’ll feel completely stumped on a Reading question. Maybe more than one answer seems possible. If the Reading question is followed by a CTE question, you’re in luck! You can use the answer choices to the CTE question to your advantage. Locate the places in the passage referenced by the CTE choices, and ask yourself which one provides an answer to the previous question. In this manner, CTE questions can actually help you answer both questions at once! Though it’s preferable to work on the CTE question after you’ve answered its non-CTE counterpart (among other things, this gives you confirmation that you’re thinking about the passage correctly), there is still a good chance you can get both right if you keep calm.
The sample passage below is followed by both non-CTE questions and their CTE counterparts. Give these a try using the approach above.

(A) See below.

(C) You would, of course, want to try to answer question 3 first. Scan the passage for Gregor’s feelings towards his profession. These begin in paragraph 4, in which Gregor shows a strong dissatisfaction with his job. In paragraph 5, he shows further bitterness due to unfair treatment at the hands of his boss. Hence, the best answer to question 3 is (A), which is supported by Gregor’s feelings described in the early part of paragraph 5, lines 53-59. Lines 59-64 comprise a possibility that Gregor considers, not his general attitude.

(A) See below.

(D) Looking at question 6 first, recognize that this is a more general question that is best tackled by process of elimination. Find evidence to support or reject each answer choice. The passage doesn’t address Gregor’s response to change (B) or to his physical transformation (D), and there is no evidence that he excels at his work (C). Gregor alludes to his family twice in paragraph 5 when discussing his dissatisfaction with work. One of those places is lines 68-71, where he indicates he is only sticking with the unsatisfactory job to pay off his parents’ debt to his boss.

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