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ACT Reading: Detail

SAT Question of the Day

The SAT question of the day is a Sentence Completion question that has already been addressed on this blog: click here to see an explanation.

ACT Question of the Day

The ACT question is a reading question today.

On the actual ACT exam, you would read the entire passage focusing on the topic, scope, purpose, topic sentences, and conclusion, if any.  Then you would prioritize the questions and answer them  in order of difficulty (answering all the Easy questions before all the Medium questions before all the Hard questions).  

This particular question is a detail question, which should be classified as Easy.  You should answer this question as soon as you get to it.

Paraphrase the question: What makes a trial by battle different than trials by ordeal or compurgation?  There are a couple of ways that you could quickly get the answer to this question.  If you read your topic sentences, you know that the first paragraph is about all three types of battles, and then the following paragraphs each focus on one type.  You want to find a place where all three are compared, and probably listed together.  Skim that first paragraph.  Lines 16-17 are the first to mention all three trials by name; lines 18-19 add another comment about trial by battles: 

"It might be by compurgation, by ordeal, or, after the Norman Conquest, by battle. Excepting trial by battle, only one party was tried or, more accurately, was put to his 'proof.'"

You now have two traits that set apart the trial by battle: (1) its introduction by the Normans, and (2) two parties put to "proof."  Look down at your answer choices.

(A)   There was always a definite and known accuser for all the trials, not just for the trials by battle (line 74).  Eliminate this choice.

(B)   Yes!  The Normans introduced the trial by battle.  This matches your prediction.

(C)   None of the trials were secret (lines 76-77).  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  The last line of the excerpt tells you that no one was questioned.  Eliminate this choice. 

The correct answer is (B). 

Note:  The idea that the Norman Conquest sets the trial by battle apart is also emphasized in the topic sentence of the paragraph about the trial by battle (line 60).  You might have surmised the correct answer simply by reading all of the topic sentences, but it took very little time to confirm this detail in the first paragraph.

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