Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Section - Skill 2: Reasoning Within the Text

Integrating Distant Components of the Text

Many questions that test Reasoning Within the Text skills require you to integrate distant components of the text to infer meaning or intent. You may be asked to determine an author's message, purpose, position, or point of view. This may also extend to inferring their beliefs, noticing their assumptions, and detecting bias. When it is not directly stated in any single sentence, you may be asked to infer what the author’s main thesis might be. You may be asked to consider whether each section of text contributes to a sustained train of thought, as opposed to presenting an isolated detail or digressing from the central theme. You may be asked about paradoxes, contradictions, or inconsistencies that can be detected across different parts of the passage. You will also need to be able to recognize when an author presents different points of view within the passage.

To infer the author’s beliefs, attitudes, or bias, look for clues in the tone of the passage, in the author’s use of language or imagery, and in the author’s choice of sources. To determine the author’s position, look for their expressed point of view. Carefully consider the extent to which the author uses summaries or paraphrases to introduce others’ points of view. It’s very important to attend to perspective: Does the author present their own perspective, or do they use verbatim quotations or restatements from the perspective of other sources? You may be asked to identify points of view, other than the author’s, presented indirectly through the author’s summaries or paraphrases.