Trap Answer Choices

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
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In this video, we are gonna talk about trap answer choices. This is important on the ACT reading section, because the questions and the answer choices in those questions are written in a very specific way, so that they contain traps. So you can't just go for the right answer, have it jump out at you, obviously, because again, there are so many almost, but not quite right answer choices.

And what we're gonna learn about today is what makes an answer choice wrong. So starting off here, these wrong answers fall into one of several categories that we're gonna learn about. And how it's easy to eliminate one or two of them because they're just plain wrong, as we'll talk about in a minute here, but there's at least one trap answer choice that is really tricky.

And so knowing these categories can help you pick the right answer quickly, and eliminate the other three answer choices. So the type of trap answers we have start at the first one here. Opposite of what was said or reverses the terms. So everything looks right, but then instead of saying A causes B, it says B causes A.

What makes this tricky is if you are reading fast, you overlook the fact that the terms are reversed. So don't read the answer choices too quickly. Next we have too extreme. Once you've seen this a few times, you're less likely to fall for it but these are answer choices that contain words like never, always, all.

Most of the times, but not always, but most of the times, these answer choices are wrong, so be on guard against them. Next we have the not mentioned in passage. A second ago I talked about how some of them are just clearly wrong, well this would be the category they fall into. They're simply not mentioned in the passage.

The passage never said that at all, so we can throw away these answer choices right away. What's more subtle than that is when it's actually contained, the answer choice is contained in another part of the passage, you can actually look at the passage and say, yep, that's exactly what's saying in this part. However, the question is not asking about that part of the passage, and therefore, that answer choice is wrong.

So that one you have to be on more guard against. Then finally we have perhaps the trickiest of the batch, which is called the rotten spot. So for a second I want you to imagine that you are in a supermarket, and there in front of you, you see this apple. And you're gonna take that apple, and you're gonna eat it.

I know it's totally illegal and you shouldn't do that in a supermarket, but it's just so good, and shiny, and yummy, and so you take it and you stick it in your mouth and eat it. Well wait a second, something was a little bit off about that story besides the fact that you're eating an apple in a supermarket. What was off about it was when you pick up a fruit, what do you always do?

You turn the entire thing over in your hand, because you're looking for that one rotten spot. And that's exactly what you have to do with this type of answer choice. You have to read the entire thing. And if one part is off, even if it's just one word, then the entire thing is wrong and you put that apple back and you don't eat it.

Same with the answer choice. And so, the idea is don't look at the nice shiny part and say, that's the answer. You wanna read the entire thing, because guess what? The rotten spot usually comes at the end of the answer choice, which most people have stop reading to that point because the first part was so pretty and shiny. Okay, so what we're gonna do now that I've shown you these five different categories, is we are going to read, or you are going to read the passage.

I'm going to tell you to pause it here in a moment. This, by the way, is a passage that we went over in the approaching the passage lesson video. So if you haven't done that one already and you wanna get a sense of what this passage is about, go ahead and do that as well. But if you've looked at that lesson recently, but you want a little refresher on this, you can pause the video now and read.

Okay, I assume you paused or unpaused the video. You are not done with this passage. We're gonna do the same thing. Pause the video and then we will resume. Okay, I assume you paused the video and unpaused it, and now you have enough information to be able to answer the following question.

What I want you to do, in addition to trying to answer the question, is think of the categories we just talked about and you can go back in the video player to that part, and then label A, C, C, and D one of those categories. Of course one of these answers is right. And if you think you have the right answer, just put right or correct or whatever you wanna use to show that you think that is the correct answer.

Okay, so I'm gonna have you pause the video and answer the question. Okay, I assume you've paused the video, answered the question, and now, let's take a look at each answer choice, starting with A. It has been extremely useful in experiments in the past and will continue to be practical in the future. Was it useful in experiments in the past, extremely useful?

Yes. Clearly shows that Priestley found it useful, that's kinda the thrust of the passage, and will continue to be practical in the future. Does it mention that? Does it talk about that? Now, you might think, well, it might be, it could be, but if the passage does not mention it, then get rid of it.

So here, it's not mentioned in the passage, slash a little bit of a rotten spot there too because if you've just read the first part, shiny apple looks good, then you might fall for this trap. Let's look at B. It was not involved in any accidental discoveries. Wait a second, it was involved in accidental discovery.

So again, if you're reading really quickly, you don't pick up on the word, not, just looking at the shiny stuff, then you're gonna get this one wrong. C, although it is viewed as a boring organism, it has proven startlingly useful in science. And here we can think, well, yeah, it kind of has because that's the point of passage.

It was a blase, it even says in the first paragraph, kind of a boring, not that interesting, but then it turned out to be really useful. So that is the answer. Now, let's look at D. Without algae, we never would have discovered how photosynthesis works. Yeah, without algae, we would never have discovered how photosynthesis works, right?

Cuz that guy had those algaes and then that's how he found out about photosynthesis, but wait a second. What's that word right there? Never. We never would have? That is an example of extreme.

We don't know that for sure. Someone else could've found out about photosynthesis, how it works, without using algae. We simply don't know too extreme that we're never would've discovered, and therefore, we can eliminate it, and our answer is C. Okay, we're not done, because that was just one.

This is fun, lets do a second one, because Priestley went away for three months. Same thing, pause the video, answer the question but more importantly, when you eliminate an answer choice because it's wrong tell me which category does it fall into. Okay, pause the video. Okay, I assumed you've paused it.

Let's move on, we'll start with A, his vials of algae all died. They all died, no, little bit extreme, right? Or rotten spot in this case or both really. So the idea is that some of his but not all of his algae died. Some of it did really well. Remember the CF?

It grew in the sunlight. He could document the effect C fontinalis CF had on sunlight. There it is. And CF, there it is, sunlight. All that good stuff. All the words we needed, but wait a second. But wait a second, it reverses the order of terms.

It's not the effect C fontinalis had on sunlight, which is kinda weird. You can imagine the big sun way up there and all of the sudden, the sun's like, God, look at all that C fontinalis down on Earth affecting me. Obviously, it's the reverse of that. The sun is affecting the C fontinalis. C, he had to start over on his gas experiments.

Did it ever say that? Well no it simply didn't. This is that throw away. It's not mentioned in the passage. Get rid of it right away. And that leaves us with D, he was able to observe the effects of sunlight, that is our answer.

Notice the evidence is right there, this is taken from the passage which if you're never sure, always go back to the passage and look to make sure your answer is the answer based on what is said in the passage. Okay, to recap. The goal here, is not to just home in right away on the right answer. There it is, flashing lights, it's the right one, cuz oftentimes that can be a trap.

The goal is to eliminate wrong answer choices by identifying which one of the common trap areas or categories that answer choice falls into. Now, knowing these answer choice traps, getting good at them the way practiced them here, will make you less likely to fall for them. Now, don't feel like you have to do that with every single one. Slow down and say, okay, what category is that again?

I know it's totally wrong, but let me see, which category is it. That's just eating up time. Don't do that, it's really useful when you come down to two answer choices and you can't quite eliminate one. Then of course you would wanna figure out which category does it fall into, and it's a good idea always to go back to the passage, find that supporting text for the answer choice and then using those two things you will most likely get the correct answer.

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