Answer Choice Themes

So far we have seen how to pick up on the major criteria for both question stems and answer choices. We are now going to zoom out a bit and look at answer choice themes.

A theme is the general ideas that all of the answer chocies collectively ask about. Some answer choice sets will be all over the place and have no discernible theme while others will all ask about the same ideas in slightly different ways. When we have sets that are themed it is useful to be able to pick out that theme since it helps you figure out the important information and ideas from the passage that are worth considering.

Themes are especially helpful when the question stems themselves give you little to go on. For example a question that asks, “Which of the following statements is most in alignment with the passage author’s views?” is incredibly vague and figuring out what information is important and what isn’t is going to come down to the answer choices themselves.

When going through an answer choice set look for repeated words or ideas. For example, in the answer choice set below all of the answer choices deal with contamination. In addition to that, they all deal with the ability or lack of ability to prevent or control this contamination. Therefore the theme of this question centers around our ability or inability to control or prevent contamination.

Which of the following ideas best matches the author’s beliefs?

A) Contamination is inevitable; despite rigorous cleaning protocols some germs will always remain

B) Contamination is preventable; newer methods have found ways to completely eliminate the presence of germs on spacecraft

C) Contamination can only be controlled under specific germicidal conditions

D) Contamination is not preventable; despite best efforts, human error always leads to lapses in protocol that allow germs to persist