Paired passage questions have a reputation for being some of the most headache-inducing questions on the SAT. While I agree that they’re not exactly fun, the relationships between the two passages do tend to fall into a small number of predictable categories used over and over again. If you approach the two passages with these “templates” in mind, you can probably save yourself some frustration.

1) Passage 1 and Passage 2 present opposing views of the same topic (P1 = Positive, P2 = Negative or vice-versa). This is the most common relationship.

2) Passage 1 and Passage 2 agree but have different focuses or stylistic differences (e.g. P1 is written in the third person and P2 is written in the first person)

3) Passage 1 and Passage 2 discuss completely different aspects of the same event (e.g. P1 focuses on how an event was perceived by the press, P2 focuses on how it affected women)

4) Passage 2 provides an example of a phenomenon discussed in Passage 1