I receive many questions about understanding the difference between these two key terms — here is my answer! Subjective questions and readings are tied to EMOTION. Objective questions and readings are tied to FACT. When reading a science passage, ask yourself, “Is this an objective or subjective piece?” If the passage is objective, the questions revolve around factual words – analyze, data, empirical, pragmatic, etc. If it is subjective, the questions revolve around emotional words – conjecture, hypothetical, observation, etc.
Knowing whether a passage is subjective or objective is important because the correct answers will reflect this stance. If a reading is objective, you should choose an answer containing an objective word. Similarly, subjective readings should lead you to answer choices containing subjective words.
A few tips:
1. Start the reading with these two words in mind.
2. Do not apply this method to just science readings. You may come across a double passage reading in which the first passage is from a personal/subjective stance, while the second passage analyzes the same topic from an objective standpoint. Be aware and observant.
3. If a passage begins with the word “I,” it will probably be subjective.
4. Tone is a key component to decoding the questions and finding the correct answers. Knowing whether a passage is subjective or objective helps guide you to the tone of the passage.
5. Create a subjective/objective list of words to help you. Add to this list as you continue to practice. Here is a start: