Command of Evidence
It is crucial that you analyze the answer choices, not from a perspective of asking which is grammatically correct (they all will be) or even which sounds the best (they all might sound equally good) but how they are able to fulfil the desired outcome as specified in the question.
The following are the types of command of evidence questions that you may encounter:
Evidence questions ask you to find the best piece of evidence that supports an idea or claim in a sentence. You must pick the answer choice that is directly related to the point of the sentence, and also supports whatever that point is.
Oxford University’s Bodleian Library System is considered one of the most important research libraries in the world; the library’s famous Radcliffe Camera is located in the city centre.
Which of the following best supports the claim that this library is one of the most important research libraries in the world?
A. NO CHANGE
B. There are many libraries around the world that have far more scholarly significance.
C. It houses nearly 12 million books and thousands of ancient texts
D. Thousands of students attend Oxford University.
Answer choice C actually gives some reasons for why this library might be so important! C is the answer.
Although it is less well-known than other European cities, Prague has some of the most unique architecture in the world.
Which would be the most effective next sentence, given that the writer wants to add an example of the statement made in the above sentence?
A. Many of the buildings in the city are centuries old.
B. Prague was once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
C. One of its universities, Charles University, is one of the oldest in the world.
D. Even the cluster of buildings in Prague Castle differ greatly in the styles of their design.
Solution: Answer choices A is about buildings, but not architecture. Answer choices B and C contain historical information, not architectural. The only choice that discusses architecture, or the design of buildings and other structures is D, which is the correct answer.
One reason that honey doesn’t spoil involves the chemical make-up of the substance itself. Honey is extremely acidic, with a pH that falls between 3 and 4.5, depending on its floral source. As a result, invading microorganisms are unable to grow. In addition, honey contains very little water in its natural state, preventing bacteria from flourishing.
Which choice gives a second supporting example that is most similar to the example already in the sentence?
A. NO CHANGE
B. Molasses is a byproduct of cane sugar and has an exceptionally long shelf life.
C. Honey may cause bacterial infections in people with weakened immune systems.
D. Fructose and glucose are responsible for honey’s sweet taste.
Solution: The correct answer must provide an example of how honey’s composition allows the substance to stay fresh. Option B is off-topic. The first sentence it makes clear that the paragraph is about honey, not molasses.
Choice C is off-topic as well, but less directly. The correct answer must focus on the characteristics of honey itself, whereas C focuses on honey’s effect on people. So, C is out. The correct answer must explain why honey does not spoil. Sweetness has nothing to do with that fact. Therefore D is not the answer either.
That leaves us with A, which is the answer. Logically, bacteria would cause honey to spoil. The absence of water would prevent bacteria from flourishing, thus keeping honey fresh.
The next common thing you’ll be asked to do on a command of evidence question is to choose the answer choice that best sums up some information presented in the passage.
1. Paragraph Summary - To answer these questions, you have first to summarize the paragraph in your own words. Once you know what the paragraph is about, the answer choice that most specifically talks about the main point of the paragraph is the right answer!
2. Introductory Sentence - When choosing an introductory sentence for a passage, even if this is the first question of the set, don’t answer without first reading the entire passage! Discerning between answer options obviously requires you to know what the passage talks about in each of its sections, so read the entire passage first before picking the best opening line.
3. Concluding Sentence - Choosing a sentence to end a passage is much like choosing one to begin it, except instead of taking into account what’s going to be said, you have to take into account what has been said. Both question types require understanding of the passage as a whole.
The Ashmolean museum is home to works of art from across the centuries. New exhibits from all time periods are regularly featured in the museum; ancient and modern art alike are prominently displayed in the museum’s galleries. It is clear that the Ashmolean is very popular among the local university students.
Which choice provides the best summary of the paragraph?
A. NO CHANGE
B. has been around for a long time.
C. is going to stop opening so many new exhibits soon.
D. values a wide variety of artworks.
Solutions: Answer choices A, B, and C don’t talk about the museum displaying lots of artwork, so they don’t match the main point of the passage. Answer D sums up the main point of the paragraph, so D is the best answer.
The earliest recorded use comes from Sumerian clay tablets, which indicate that honey was used in more than a quarter of all prescriptions. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians also used honey regularly in ointments for skin and eye diseases. Locally produced honey can be an effective treatment for seasonal allergies. The medical device company Derma Sciences sells MediHoney, bandages covered in honey, to hospitals in over 25 countries. In fact, honey has been shown to prevent the growth of foodborne pathogens such as E. coli.
Which of the following provides the best introduction to the paragraph?
A. The carbohydrates in honey can easily be converted to energy because the body quickly digests this natural substance.
B. As a result of this quality, along with a thickness that prevents wounds from becoming infected, honey has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
C. In contrast to other sweeteners such as sugar, honey contains a number of vitamins and minerals.
D. Some studies have found that honey can also raise blood sugar levels, but more slowly and by smaller amounts than other sweeteners do.
Solutions: Although this question asks about the introduction, you cannot answer it until you know what the rest of the paragraph is about. If we had to sum up the paragraph above, we might say something like “medical uses of honey,” or “honey = medicine.” B is the only answer that mentions that idea, and it’s almost exactly what our summary says. So, it’s correct.
3. Setting up
The SAT likes to ask us which sentences best “set up” an idea. For the SAT, something that “sets up” the next part of a passage is something that makes that next part the clearest and unsurprising. That means we want to pick phrases that are closely connected to and help explain the information immediately after them.
Fortunately, a new group of artists has discovered the murals, and efforts are underway to clean, restore, and repaint them. Once again, Siqueiros’s “America Tropical” is leading the way. After a lengthy and complex restoration process, this powerful work is now a tourist attraction, complete with a visitor centre and a rooftop viewing platform. Advocates hope that Siqueiros’s mural will once more serve as an inspiration, this time inspiring viewers to save and restore an important cultural and artistic legacy.
Which choice most effectively sets up the information that follows?
A. NO CHANGE
B. being cleaned and restored.
C. at risk of destruction.
D. awaiting its moment of appreciation
Solutions: Choice A, NO CHANGE, is the only answer that makes sense. The paragraph goes on to support the claim that the mural is “leading the way” by discussing its status as the first restored mural to become a prominent tourist destination and inspiration for cultural preservation.
Because philosophy teaches students not what to think but how to think, the age-old discipline offers consistently useful tools for academic and professional achievement.  A 1994 survey concluded that only 18 percent of American colleges required at least one philosophy course. Therefore, between 1992 and 1996, more than 400 independent philosophy departments were eliminated from institutions.
Which choice most effectively if inserted at point  will set up the information that follows?
A. Consequently, philosophy students have been receiving an increasing number of job offers.
B. Therefore, because of this evidence, colleges increased their offerings in philosophy.
C. Notwithstanding the attractiveness of this course of study, students have resisted majoring in philosophy
D. However, despite its many utilitarian benefits, colleges have not always supported the study of philosophy.
Solutions: After reading the final two sentences, we can determine that the information demonstrates that colleges haven’t supported the study of philosophy or shown that they care about philosophy. We need to find a sentence that logically connects to this information. Answer choice D is correct because it sets up the facts that a low percentage of colleges required philosophy and that 400 philosophy departments were eliminated.
The carbohydrates in honey can be converted to energy because the body easily digests this natural substance. The earliest recorded use comes from Sumerian clay tablets, which indicate that honey was used in numerous remedies. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians also used medicinal honey regularly in ointments for skin and eye diseases.  Raw, locally produced honey can be an effective treatment for seasonal allergies. The medical device company Derma Sciences sells MediHoney, bandages covered in honey, to hospitals in over 25 countries.
4. Author’s Goal
These questions ask you to determine if a sentence or phrase fulfills the author’s stated purpose. The following is the strategy to answer the Author’s Goal questions:
A. Determine what the Question is asking you.
B. Go through the answer choices to see if the phrase fulfills the stated purpose. The title of the passage often gives you the best hint to the purpose of a passage.
C. Eliminate wrong answer choices
D. Consider the conciseness, tone, and formality of answer choices, if necessary.