Unplugged Prep

LSAT Reading Comprehension Passage Explanation – Ousmane Sembene

Below is a complete explanation for the first Reading Comprehension passage of LSAT PrepTest 52 (September 2007 LSAT) and associated questions. It’s an excerpt from Complete Reading Comprehension Explanations for LSAT PrepTests 52-61.

LSAT Reading Comprehension Passage Explanation – Ousmane Sembene

Explanations for PrepTest 52, Section 4, Questions 1-6:

The passage opens with a third party voice, “Many critics agree.” Paying attention to third party voices can be helpful when looking for the author’s opinion. Through the critics we are introduced to Ousmane Sembene. The author then gives us some background on this filmmaker’s training and his own opinion of his work. The “but” in line 8 introduces the author’s opinion, and the more specific topic of the passage: Sembene’s adaptation of the medium of film to West African culture. The “in particular” that follows re-emphasizes the importance of the preceding sentence and gives us a more specific focus of the passage.

The opening sentence of the second paragraph is the topic sentence of that paragraph, as evidenced by the examples that follow. Here the author is connecting Sembene’s work with the tradition of West African storytelling. The examples are less important than the sentence that precedes them, as usual. Lines 26-28 interpret the examples with respect to the overall topic and are followed by an example to strengthen the point made. Clearly, those lines deserve our attention. 

The third paragraph begins with a continuation keyword (moreover) and does indeed continue the point begun at the end of the first paragraph. While the second paragraph focused on the sourcing of characters, the third focuses on structure. Lines 33-38 make the point that Sembene’s work is structurally similar, and thus derived from, West African dilemma tales. Once again, the point is followed by examples.

The last paragraph includes yet another similarity, since the entire point of the passage is to illustrate the comparison begun in the first paragraph. Unlike some passages, the author closes with an important point, which is a reiteration of his disagreement with the critics mentioned in the opening lines. Recognizing this will help you to answer Question #1.

1. Main Point.

A) Too specific. The answer choice contains points made in the second and third paragraphs, but doesn’t encompass the whole passage.

B) Even more specific than A, this choice focuses on only half of the point made at the beginning of the second paragraph.

C) Suitability isn’t discussed in the passage.

D) This may well be true, but it isn’t supported by the passage. “Most” is too extreme.

E) Correct. The opening portion of the choice is general enough to encompass both the second and third paragraphs. The “social and political issues” are mentioned in the closing paragraph.

2. Detail. This is an open-ended detail question. Rather than asking you to find a defined detail, it gives you options, only one of which is found in the passage.

A)   Not found in the passage.

B)   Not found in the passage.

C)   Not found in the passage.

D)   Not found in the passage.

E)   Correct. Lines 36-38.

3. Strengthening. Here we have an LR question type in reading comp. Use the same strategy you would in LR. The question points you to lines 54-58; reread those lines.

A) Correct. If the same techniques are used by other African novelists unfamiliar with Marxist theory, it stands to reason that Sembene drew on that tradition.

B) An attractive wrong answer. We are, however, talking about a form that drew on these traditions, not the traditions themselves. Also, the answer is a little too general.

C) Would weaken the argument. If he synthesized Marxist theories, he drew upon them.

D) Saying that other filmmakers don’t use such techniques is irrelevant.

E) “Some films” is too weak a choice.

4. Inference. The correct answer will combine two or more statements in the passage.

A) The passage discusses his originality, not his popularity.

B) Government agencies are not mentioned.

C) While the author suggests that critics misunderstand Sembene’s work, he does not discuss Senegalese critics.

D) Correct. The second paragraph uses as examples a trickster, a corrupt civil servant, and a street merchant.

E) Censorship is not mentioned.

5. Author meaning/vocabulary. Reread the entire sentence, and consider the context. While it may seem that this is a simple vocabulary question, context here is very important.

A) The most attractive wrong answer. Most people think of the word “initial” as meaning “beginning.” However, a “series” is not mentioned in either the sentence or the paragraph.

B) The experimental nature of Sembene’s films is not discussed in this sentence.

C) Correct. Fits the context: “transformative” matches “change.”

D) One may think of Sembene’s work as unprecedented, but that is not mentioned in the sentence and does not match the meaning of the word “initiatory.”

E) “Prefatory” is related to preface, which of course serves as an introduction, coming first. This does not match the change discussed in the sentence.

6. Detail except. Each wrong answer will be found somewhere in the passage.

A) Correct. This choice is not found in the passage.

B) In line 5 we have “he asserts” followed by “awareness . . . realities of their society.” Evidence relating to traditional motifs is found throughout the passage.

C) Lines 48-49.

D) The passage discusses the anonymity of the protagonist of Borom Sarret, a street merchant.

E) “Raise their awareness” in lines 6-7 provides justification for this answer.

Authored by Robert Brind