Little Picture/Detail Questions in SAT® Reading: Strategies and Tips

Little Picture/Detail Questions in SAT® Reading: Strategies and Tips

Important SAT Update: Transition to Digital SAT
Effective December 3, 2023, the traditional paper-and-pencil format of the SAT has been discontinued. Starting in 2024, all students are required to take the Digital SAT, ushering in substantial changes in duration, format, material coverage, and question types. This shift to the Digital SAT represents a departure from traditional testing methods. It is crucial for students, educators, and test-takers to acquaint themselves with the new examination structure. Read more about the Digital SAT here.

What are little picture questions?

Little picture questions will involve specific details in the text. These details are not random but significant to the text as a whole.

Types of little picture questions

1. Find details in a specific place 

This question type will require you to review a provided location in the text and locate a detail to answer the question. You must first go to the specified location and then select the answer choice that presents the text’s details.

  • Example: The second paragraph (lines 8-15) indicates the speaker’s perspective that….
  • For this question, you will first address the lines indicated, then find the answer choice that best presents the detail indicated in that location. 

2. Find details in an unspecified place 

This question type will ask you to find details in a more generalized manner. Without a specific location in the passage, questions about the small details are somewhat simplified.

  • Example: Both of the passages support which of the following claims?
  • For this question, you will need to assess the details in the answer choices and select the option most relevant to the claims in both passages. 

3. Assess references

These questions will provide you with a portion of the text (sometimes just a word or phrase) and ask you to assess what the author or speaker is referring to in the given moment. Look at context clues surrounding the textual location provided by the question and figure out what it is referencing.

  • Example: The phrase _____ (line 35) refers to the…
  • To answer this question, find the detail in question, and figure out what it is referencing.

Strategies for success with little picture questions:

1. Find the detail’s location

Evaluating the location of the detail in question is important for you to understand its context. You can start by looking for words in the passage that match the question. This is a quick way to find the location of the detail in question, but it is not always applicable as some questions paraphrase the detail.

If the detail has been paraphrased in the question, you can search the passage for terms that match the answer choices. Finding where the detail is located is important to ensure you are looking at the relevant information.

2. Think independently 

You may strategize by answering the question on your own before reading over the answer choices. This is a great tactic to avoid the confusion that irrelevant information can instill during your thought process.

3. Process of elimination 

Go through each answer choice, and set it side by side with the text. If there is a contradiction between the text and the answer choice, you can eliminate it from your options.

4. Complete little picture questions first

You should know that completing the little picture questions first in the Reading section is a great way to map out the passage. You can efficiently understand the passage’s structure and style by assessing its small details, which is very helpful as you move on to the other question types. This strategy is particularly useful for test-takers who read the questions before reading the passage.

As you prepare for the SAT® exam, consider improving your performance in the Reading section with these strategies. You can test their effectiveness using UWorld’s SAT Prep course, with thousands of test questions and performance tracking tools to assess your scores. Try these tips out on your next practice test to gain points in the Reading section.

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