March 31, 2022

Solving “Supported” Questions

On a Supported question, you must figure out which answer is most likely to be true given what was said in the passage. Here are some ways these questions might be phrased:

  • Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the information above?
  • The statements above, if true, would most strongly support which one of the following?
  • If the editorialist’s statements are true, they provide the most support for which one of the following?
  • Which one of the following best completes the passage?
  • Which one of the following most logically completes the argument?

Make Your Best Prediction

Supported questions are sometimes hard to predict—the same evidence could be used to support various conclusions. But you should still predict a possible answer as a litmus test for whether you’ve understood the facts of the passage.

Treat everything in the passage as evidence. Assume that all the statements in the passage are true, regardless of whether they are true in the real world. Although it could be a full-blown argument with premises and a conclusion, the passage for a Supported question is usually just a bunch of facts.

Based on that evidence, predict what else must be true. To figure out what else must be true, examine how each statement in the passage relates to the other statements. Can you combine any of them to infer something new? Let’s say a passage tells you that “some cats love ice cream” and that “ice cream is a carcinogen.” Since “ice cream” appears in both statements, you can link them to infer that “some cats love a carcinogen.” 

Some Supported questions show a blank line (________________) in the passage and ask you to complete the argument. After you read the premises, briefly pause to predict the type of answer that could fill in the blank. Do this before you read the answer choices.

Two Key Questions You Should Ask Yourself

The difference between a Supported question and a Must Be True questions is in the wording of the question, but both types of questions usually end up being something that must be true.

As you read each answer choice, ask yourself:

  1. Does the answer absolutely have to be true?
  2. Is it at least the answer that is most likely to be true?

The correct answer on a Supported questions doesn't have to be 100% proven. In most cases, however, it is.

What to Look For

The correct answer will either restate a fact from the passage or combine facts from the passage to infer something new.

When an answer accurately restates a fact from the passage, don’t hesitate to select that answer. Restatements, which have to be true, are great answers.

On Must Be True and Supported questions, weakly worded answers are generally preferable. It’s easier to prove, for example, that some people like ice cream than it is to prove that most or all people like ice cream.

Content is more important than word strength, but be wary of answers that use all, any, each, every, only, most, and other strong words. These answers could be correct, but they require stronger evidence to prove.