ACT Reading: Making a Generalization

ACT Reading: Making a Generalization

Making a generalization questions will challenge your ability to draw conclusions and identify a passage’s purpose. You’ll need to read the passage closely, but quickly, to get these questions correct. In order to get every making a generalization question correct on test day, make sure you know these three tips:

 

  • Read the passage first

    For each reading passage, you’ll be asked a question about its purpose. Because of this, you should read the entire passage first. Looking at the questions and answer choices, although it seems like it’ll help you target your reading, will only mislead you while reading the passage.

  • Take notes

    You have plenty of area in your test booklet to take notes. Make sure you make note of the following:

    Any part of the passage that mentions the purpose, or main idea

    Any transitional words, like however, on the other hand, or therefore

    Points at which the author brings in additional evidence to support the purpose

  • Don’t memorize the details

    Trying to remember the details will be a waste of time. If you need to know a detail to answer a question, you’ll be able to refer to it later. Since the ACT is a timed test, it’s important to save time any way you can.

Generalization Practice Question

Now, use these three tips while trying to answer this sample problem:

My artistic style comes from my connection to the land. Even in the city, where rows of new buildings replace the rows of a newly plowed field, I am a farmer. Paints are the seeds I plant, and completed canvasses are my harvest. I’ve often had to endure the surprise that city folk feel when they first see my paintings. Many of them haven’t imagined that my people could take such joy in a simple meal, sitting in a low-lit room and eating potatoes and soup and bread. At first, I thought that they pitied the people I painted, but when I talked to them, they would tell me how much they wanted to sit with their families and know what it was like to be united by a common goal. I painted scenes of fathers and mothers digging together, babies slung on backs and children trailing behind. It was my job to show the city folk that this was another way to live.
My subject matter as much as my artistic ability conveyed the message of my work. Without a proper representation of my subject matter, the city folk would not have seen its beauty. But without my subject matter to begin with, any of my attempts to represent something beautiful would have been short-lived.
Now that I have the means to travel as I please, I return to County Cork in the fall and in the spring. When I am there, I paint and dig. I have been in the city for three times longer than I ever lived on the farm. My parents have long since passed away. But my brothers and sisters and their daughters and sons still live in County Cork, with my oldest brother and his family still working the land and living in the farmhouse where I was born. The farm is where I feel the most at home, even though I am as much a foreigner there as I am in the city. I walk down the cobbled city streets wearing a tailored jacket when I please, and I dirty my hands and fingers and face with the black, fertile soil of my family’s farm. I have changed, but I am the same.
Some artists do not feel any particular responsibility to the society in which they live. I am less a member of any particular society and more a member of two intersecting spheres. I feel responsible for both. Maybe that is why I feel as if it is my duty to paint the simple life. I do not try to change the city. I try to live there and let my paintings show what it is like to live on the outside.

Which of the following statements best depicts how the painter sees himself doing a farmer’s work?

A. “My subject matter as much as my artistic ability conveyed the message of my work.” (lines 90-91)

B. “I have changed, but I am the same.” (lines 112-113)

C. “Paints are the seeds I plant, and completed canvasses are my harvest.” (lines 74-75)

D. “Some artists do not feel any particular responsibility to the society in which they live.” (lines 114-115)

E. Incorrect. This statement is not the best answer choice because it does not make direct connections between the author’s dual role as a painter-farmer.

Explanation

We’re looking for how the artist connects his work to the work of a farmer. Remember that we have to go through all the answer choices and use process of elimination to figure out the correct answer. Let’s look at choice A. This choice, or the surrounding sentences, doesn’t tell us anything about a farmer’s work, so we can eliminate it. The same is true with answer choice B. How about C? This statement connects the idea of painting with farming and suggests that painting allows the author to have a figurative harvest. Leading up to this statement, the author says: “Even in the city, where rows of new buildings replace the rows of a newly plowed field, I am a farmer.” This answer choice clarifies how he, as a painter, understands himself in a farmer’s role. This sounds perfect, so now we just need to eliminate the last answer choice. And D cannot be the right choice since this statement doesn’t connect painting and farmer. Now, we can be certain that C is the correct answer.