SAT Literature Subject Test
The Practice SAT Literature Subject Tests
Practice Test 2: Answers and Explanations
Answers and Explanations
1 E The lines “Keep we both our liberties” (line 3) and “Let us be the friends we were” (line 21) suggest that the speaker does not want to be tied down to her listener by marriage (E). There is no mention of secrets (A) or of articles of incorporation (B). No inventory of items is listed in the poem (C); the narrator wants them to be friends, so presumably they’ll see each other (D).
2 B The listener is described as “warm,” while the speaker describes herself as “cold,” so it is reasonable to infer that the listener feels more than does the speaker (B). The listener is warm so he is not oblivious to the speaker (A), nor does he not reciprocate her feelings (she may not even have feelings for him) (C). There is no evidence that she is incapable of a relationship—she may “once have felt the sun” (D). There is no evidence that she is grieving another relationship (E).
3 D The last two lines compare the relationship to “fare,” which means food (D). The speaker wants to be friends, so the relationship is not compared to strangers (A). Rolling the die is a metaphor for a wedding, which does not occur, so (B) is not the correct answer. No obligations are mentioned (liberties, yes; obligations, no) (C). The speaker says she does not want to know about the past, as symbolized by the crystal ball, but does not compare her relationship to that object (E).
4 B The speaker talks of past romances and suggests she’s had one by saying she has “seen Sunlight,” so sunlight is a symbol of love (B). It is not a stand-in for “innocence” (A) or “purity” (C). She is speaking of the past, so the present decision is not the “sunlight” (D). There is no mention that the speaker is thinking about understanding (E).
5 B By Process of Elimination, a broken promise without the knowledge of the other party is the correct answer (it is not implied in the poem) (B). Choice (A) is mentioned in lines 7–8; (C) is discussed in lines 17–18. Choice (D) is mentioned in lines 19–20, and (E) is mentioned in lines 13–14. (Note: You should be circling the “NOT” and putting a “Y” for “yes” and an “N” for “no” next to each answer choice to find the odd man out.)
6 B The speaker worries that if she promises to be faithful she might want to break her vows, so chafing at her bonds (B) is the best answer. Irritating the chain makes no sense (A). She does not “agitate” her chains (C). “Worry” is too literal a synonym for “fret” (D). And she does not “corrode” the chains of marriage (E).
7 E The speaker wants to just be friends—she warns that trying to be more would destroy the friendship, so (E) is the best answer. There is no discussion of whether people should enjoy the richness of life (A). The speaker warns of too much food, not nothing (B). The diminishment of happiness is not a concern in the poem (C). She does not mention risks in the poem (D).
8 A The speaker lets the listener down gently, so (A) is the best answer. She does not express disappointment (B), nor is she ambivalent or patronizing (condescending) (C). She is not vague (D), nor is she harsh (E).
9 C The poem is about broken promises, so (C) is the best answer. The speaker is against promises; they are not “sweet” (A). There is no mention of the filling of promises (B). Answer choice (D) is a too-literal interpretation of the title, and because of the speaker’s mention of her past, it does not seem as though she denies herself
10 C The author is showing how education is best obtained (C). The primary purpose is not to demonstrate the education of the author (A), nor to encourage pupils (he criticizes those who overstudy) (B). He does not rank the motivations for study (D), nor is his main purpose to keep students ethical (E).
11 A The sentence beginning on line 5 says that some people with only experience, not education, can make decent decisions, but that the overall plans should be made by people who are educated. “Expert” means more “having experience” (A) than literally having learned a trade (B). The “expert men” “judge of particulars,” so they are not merely those who carry out the decisions (C). The author speaks of scholars later on in the passage (D). There is no discussion of what kinds of business “expert men” do (E).
12 E According to the author, just as plants need to be pruned to grow correctly, so too does natural ability need education to flourish properly (E). Plants do not prune themselves, and there is no mention of self-discipline (A). The author does not differentiate between kinds of students (B). He speaks of having to tame natural abilities, not having to foster them (C). The author does not talk about making all individuals the same (D).
13 D The only answer choice not mentioned in the passage is (D), that scholars should live according to the morals they find in their studies. (A) is mentioned in lines 7–9, while (B) is talked about in lines 9–10. Lines 10–11 caution against showing off (C), and (E) is discussed in lines 16–17. (Note: You should circle the word “NOT” and put a “Y” for “yes” and an “N” for “no” next to each answer choice to find the odd man out.)
14 A The “simple men” referred to are very impressed with studies (A). There is no evidence that they respect people who are educated (B), nor that they enjoy studies (C). Although answer choice (D) is tempting, there is no evidence that simple men want to have studies, but just that they are impressed by them (D). There is no evidence in the passage that simple men are drawn toward studies (E).
15 C The author mostly compares lists of qualities in each sentence, balancing the opposing parts, so (C) is the best answer. The only metaphor in the passage is the comparison to plants (A). The author does not use hyperbole (exaggeration) (B). There is little alliteration in the piece (D). The sentences are not all convoluted (take the first sentence, for example) (E).
16 E Lines 21–24 tell the reader to study in order to “weigh and consider” (E). The author warns against reading to “confute,” or find opinions (A). No mention is made of moral or religious beliefs (B). Amusement (C) and conversation (D) are mentioned (lines 2–4), but not as the primary reasons for reading.
17 B The author is trying to teach the reader something, so the tone can best be described as “didactic” (designed to teach) (B). The narrator is not devout or religious (A), nor is he “satiric” (C). The narrator does not mention ethics or morals in the passage (D), nor does he argue with any other viewpoint (E).
18 D The father and the boy are testing each other in this poem, changing their relationship as the boy grows, so (D) is the best answer. The errand on which the father sends the son is not a rite of passage, nor do we know the age of the boy (A). It is not a contest of wills because the boy and his father are smiling (B). The focus of the poem is not on the errand, but on the boy’s reaction to it (C). The poet remembers the exchange fondly, so there is no evidence of resentment (E).
19 A The father asks for things that don’t have any relationship. Even if this is difficult to see, (A) is the only answer that can’t be eliminated. We don’t know what the father’s work is, and these things cannot be tools (B). Choice (C) is a too-literal interpretation of “fool’s errand.” The errand is more specifically about the boy and his father, not about degrees of understanding in general (D). The father is not asking for the son to find common ground; the common ground is an outcome of the errand (E).
20 D The only one of these answers not found in the poem is (D)—there is a metaphor in the second stanza comparing the errand to a game, and calling the task a “fool’s errand.” Even if you don’t know perfect rhyme from slant rhyme, the rhyme scheme changes between the two stanzas (A). The speaker is the father in the first stanza and his son in the second (B). The narrator is obviously remembering an event that happened in the past (C), and the switch is from the words that he remembers to the thoughts he first had upon hearing those words (E). (Note: You should circle the word “NOT” and put a “Y” for “yes” and an “N” for “no” next to each answer choice to find the odd man out.)
21 A Although the father wanted the boy to go on the errand, his smile at the end shows he was pleased with the boy, so (A) is the best answer. We cannot predict what will happen in the future (B), (C). The father expressed his gladness with a smile (D), so he presumably was not disappointed (E).
22 A By “putting it up to him,” the boy is showing that he realizes the errand is not meant to be completed, so he understands the joke (A). There is no challenge issued to the father (B), nor is the boy particularly defiant (C). He does not go on the errand, so he cannot hand his father the items (D). And he does not turn the joke back around (E).
23 B “Trumped” refers to a card game wherein one wins the hand by playing a card of the “trump” suit (such as in Bridge, Hearts, or Whist) (B). Don’t confuse “trumped” with “trumpeted” (A). There is no showiness or finery mentioned in the poem (C). There is no sound of squashing in the poem (D). The boy has gained an advantage in the game, but he has not overshadowed his father completely (E).
24 D “The next move in the game” suggests that the game will continue, so (D) is the best answer. We can’t know what the nature of the next form of teasing will be (A). There is no evidence that the father wants to make his son appear ridiculous; rather, he is harmlessly teasing his son (B). There is no evidence that the father will delay his response (C). We cannot predict how long this game will last (E).
25 B Here you’re looking for the thing that is NOT in the passage. Choice (A) is an effect of the earthquake: “large vessels were stranded on the mud” (line 5). Choice (C) is also a result of the earthquake: “the people, with their habitations, were swept away by the waters” (lines 16–17), as is (D), “fifty thousand persons had lost their lives in the inundation” (lines 19–20), and (E) “But the tide soon returned, with the weight of an immense and irresistible deluge, which was severely felt on the coasts of Sicily, of Dalmatia, of Greece, and of Egypt” (lines 10–13). There is no evidence of “scorched earth” (B), as there was no mention of fire.
26 D The earthquake caused the water first to retreat, and then to flood the coastal areas, so (D) is the correct answer. There is no mention of distress signals (A). The “impression” refers to the physical movement of the water, not of sound (B). We do not know where the quake took place (C). There is no evidence that the sea parted, merely that it retreated and then flooded (E).
27 C The passage makes clear that Roman citizens thought the world was worsening: “their fearful vanity was disposed to confound the symptoms of a declining empire and a sinking world” (lines 29–31), so (C) is the correct answer. There are two other earthquakes mentioned, Palestine and Bithynia, but the current destruction is not compared to them (A). There is no evidence in the passage that Romans placed a great value on human life (B). There is no evidence that they understood the cause of the earthquake; in fact, they thought it was a sign of a worsening world (D). They were prone to confabulation (E); the extent of the destruction was exaggerated: “This calamity, the report of which was magnified from one province to another” (lines 21–22).
28 B The author speaks of the people’s “affrighted imagination” and “fearful vanity” and says they think they brought on the earthquake, so he is not respectful of the Roman people (B). The author is not particularly detached—in fact, he imagines himself at the scene: “a curious spectator amused his eye, or rather his fancy, by contemplating the various appearance of valleys and mountains” (lines 5–8). Although the author can be said to make fun of the Roman people, he is not amused (C), nor is he frightened (D). The Roman people may be alarmists (E), but the author is not.
29 B The people thought the earthquake was a sign that the world was declining, so they are indeed superstitious (B). The people affected by the earthquake came from Sicily, Dalmatia, Greece, and Egypt, so they were clearly not homogenous (A). There is no evidence that the people affected by the earthquake were “insightful” (D) or “reactionary” (C), nor is there any expression of regret (E).
30 A The Romans were afraid because they saw the earthquake as a warning of even more destructive things to come (A). Saying that they were afraid because they commemorated the anniversary does not make sense (B). Because many Romans did not actually witness the flood, the spectator’s view is not what scared them (C). Choice (D) is incorrect because it describes a specific moment in the earthquake, but fish caught in hand isn’t the reason that the Romans were frightened. The tide was destructive, but not necessarily fear-inspiring (E).
31 B In the sentence “they considered these alarming strokes as the prelude only of still more dreadful calamities, and their fearful vanity was disposed to confound the symptoms of a declining empire and a sinking world,” replace “declining” with the words “going downhill.” Then, only (B), “worsening,” makes sense.
32 E The sentence “But the tide soon returned, with the weight of an immense and irresistible deluge, which was severely felt on the coasts of Sicily, of Dalmatia, of Greece, and of Egypt: large boats were transported, and lodged on the roofs of houses, or at the distance of two miles from the shore; the people, with their habitations, were swept away by the waters” makes it clear that the damage was primarily caused by a large flood (E). The city of Alexandria lost fifty thousand people; we are not told the total number of casualties (A). Homes were destroyed by the flood, not a tear in the earth (B). There is nothing that compares the severity of this earthquake with the earthquakes in Bithnyia and Palestine (C). There is no evidence that the tides were permanently affected (D).
33 C This description contains a passive verb construction: the fish “were caught” with the hand. In this sentence, the grammatical subject (the fish) is actually the one receiving the action (being caught); an active-voice construction would say “the hand caught great quantities of fish.” There is no figurative language (A) or colorful adjectives (B) here; the fish can literally be scooped up by hand, since the waters have retreated. Since this actually happened, it is not an impossibility (D). Pastoral analogies (E) are allusions to countryside life, which do not appear in this phrase.
34 C The poet calls the glowworms “lamps” (line 1), “comets” (line 5), “flame” (line 9), and “lights” (line 13), so they are naturally luminous (shining) (C). There is no mention of glowworms’ intelligence (A) or of their tranquility (B). They are not inconsequential (D), and there is no mention of their death (E).
35 D The glowworms help the nightingale (line 2) (Statement I) and the mowers (line 10) (Statement III), but not the princes (Statement II). Answer choice (D) is correct.
36 B The word “portend” means to predict, and the author is drawing attention to the glowworms’ innocence to show that, unlike comets, they do not foretell evil (the superstition is elucidated by the line “No war nor prince’s funeral”) (B). The poet says the glowworms do NOT foretell future events (A). There is no weather mentioned (C). There is no mention of a cyclical flight pattern (D). The word “portend” cannot mean “weigh” in this context (E).
37 E The glowworms’ light is not of great importance or nobler purpose than to shed light (E). Answer choice (A) is a too-literal interpretation of the phrase, as is answer choice (B). Answer choice (C) does not make sense in this context, and there is no “secret intention” (D).
38 A The glowworm is helping to light the mower’s way (A). If the mower can see by it, it must not be dim (B). The mower is wandering, not the light (C). There is no evidence that the “officious flame” is bureaucratic (D) or that it is interfering (E).
39 D The speaker says that mowers “after foolish fires do stray,” meaning they follow other sources of light (D). They would not mow other fields (A) or display poor manners (B). There is no evidence that they would fall in love without the glowworms (C), and although the speaker might never find his way home, it is not because there are no glowworms (E).
40 C His mind is so displaced by thoughts of Juliana that it will never go back to its original state (C). He is not resentful (A). He wanders metaphorically, not literally (B), so home is metaphoric, too (D). There is no mention of heaven (E).
41 B The question asks for the main verb in the main idea sentence. The first three stanzas are all addressed to the glowworms (“Ye glowworms who … who … who …”) and do not state the main idea. Not until the fourth stanza does the reader get to the main-idea sentence (“Your courteous lights …”). The main verb in this sentence—the verb that belongs with the subject “glowworms”— is “waste.” So, the best answer is (B). “Sit” refers to the nightingales, not the main subject (A); “come” refers to Juliana, not the main subject (C). “Displaced” is a verb attached to Juliana (D), and the verb “find” refers to the narrator, not the glowworms (E).
42 B The whole poem is stating that although the glowworms are powerful lights, they are nothing compared to Juliana, so (B) is the best answer. The poem is not a celebration of fireflies (A). The poem does not mention love at first sight (C). There is no evidence of religious allegory (D), and the fires are what are considered foolish, not the mowers (which is not the main point of the poem anyway) (E).
43 D Troy wasn’t allowed to play baseball because he was African American, so he must have played before the major leagues were racially integrated (D). There is no mention of when exactly Troy played (before or after World War I) (A), so we can’t know how long before Selkirk played (B). Jackie Robinson might already have been born when Troy played baseball, but Robinson hadn’t yet broken the color barrier (C). There is no mention of Troy’s brush with death (E).
44 B Troy thinks that there never should have been a rule that prevented him from playing baseball—that he couldn’t play because society hadn’t progressed enough (B). He does not think that history should be excused just because of its context (A). Choice (C) is not true, as Jackie Robinson prospered as a baseball player. There is no discussion of language (D). The statement quoted does not mention whether social conditions have really improved (E).
45 D Gibson was a famous baseball player, but his daughter was poor, so there is a large difference between the money that white players and African American players earned before Major League Baseball was integrated (D). The encounter with Gibson’s daughter has nothing to do with Selkirk’s qualifications (A). The point of the anecdote was to show the disparate salaries, not to compare black athletes (B). There is no tribute being paid (C). He is not saying that times have not changed—now African Americans can play in the major leagues (E).
46 C Troy is still upset that he did not become a professional baseball player: “.269. What kind of sense that make? I was hitting .432 with thirty-seven home runs” (lines 18–21), so (C) is the best answer. He is neither objective (A), nor particularly politically active (B). He is pessimistic, not idealistic (D). He is not pompous or self-pitying (E), but rather angry.
47 C Troy compares death to a fastball that he hits out of the park, meaning he does not fear death (C). He does not begin his speech and then ignore Rose’s advice (A), and the point of his speech is not to boast (B). He does not believe he can evade death: “I’m gonna die” (line 61) (D). The speech does not say how he thinks death will feel (E).
48 C The characters use nonstandard English throughout the passage (Statement III). The author does not use soliloquy (where the character speaks aloud as though talking to himself) because the speeches are all directed at other characters (Statement I). There are no double entendres (words or phrases with more than one meaning) (Statement II).
49 C Troy thinks death is like a fastball—you gotta take what’s coming—so (C) is the best answer. He knows he’s going to die, so he’s not in denial (A), nor is he delusional (B). He is not anxiously awaiting death, nor is he in awe of it (D) or afraid of it (E).
50 E Troy and Bono are old friends—Bono knew him when Troy was a baseball player (E). They don’t seem to be in a dispute (A). There is no evidence they played on a team with Gibson (B). There is not enough information to prove that they are of different generations (C). They are not flirtatious (D).
51 C Rose keeps trying to explain that baseball is now integrated, so her attitude is justifying (A). She asks only one question; inquisitive does not describe her attitude as a whole (B). She does not stir up trouble (D). She is not particularly attentive; she keeps trying to change the subject.
52 A In lines 41–42, Rose says, “You don’t need to be drinking like that.” She is fond of Troy and doesn’t want him to hurt himself, so (A) is the best answer. She is not making fun of him (B), nor does she look up to him (C). She is not apathetic (D), and she is not jealous or anxious (E).
53 A The discussion begins with how times have changed, so it’s logical that it would follow a discussion about Troy’s son’s prospects of becoming a professional athlete (A). Troy is presumably too old (and too drunk) to compete as an athlete (B). They are not discussing the mix of races in neighborhoods (C). If they had been discussing Troy’s accomplishments, he would not have reiterated them in the passage (D). They are not discussing current society as a whole, but rather the racial integration of baseball (E).
54 E If Sylvia tells, she will “give its life away”—so the man must want to hunt the heron, as he is a “sportsman” (line 10) (E). He does not want to know Sylvia; he only wants her to tell him her secret (A). Sylvia knows where the white heron is; she is not telling him a tale (B). He wants to know about the heron, not about wood (C). He wants to harm the heron, not to photograph it undisturbed—he is a “sportsman” (line 10) (E).
55 A The man is not surprised at Sylvia’s appearance; he knows that she is coming (A). The man dresses in a hurry, which means he is anxious, so the present tense serves to heighten the suspense he feels (B). The shift does not affect the anticipation on the reader’s part by accelerating the pace from past to present (C). Although the point of view is always omniscient, it goes from a view of the man’s thoughts and actions to an interior view of Sylvia’s feelings (D). Sylvia has been awaiting this moment as an opportunity to earn money and make the men happy (“the splendid moment has come”), and the switch to the present tense intensifies this suspense. (Note: You should be circling the “NOT” and putting a “Y” for “yes” and an “N” for “no” next to each answer choice to find the odd man out.)
56 D Because “he can make them rich with money” and because her family is so poor (D), Sylvia considers telling him about the heron. There is no mention of her grandmother’s health (A). Sylvia does not think the man has good intentions toward the heron. She knows he is a hunter (B). The man does not threaten to take her away (C). He is a hunter, so he is not loyal to animals (E).
57 B Sylvia decides to tell him and then changes her mind, so (B) is the best answer. She does not want to win his esteem (A). He has money and “kind, appealing eyes” (line 16), so she is not indifferent to him (C). Because of her observation about his eyes, she is not repulsed (D), and she does not support his endeavor. There is no mention that he will gain money from shooting the heron (E).
58 E Sylvia questions what it is that makes her unable to speak, so (E) is the best answer. Sylvia’s surprise at her reluctance has nothing to do with the narrator’s description of her poverty (A). It is not clear that she wants to fulfill his hopes so much as be rewarded with money (B). The sentences are not particularly short, nor are her thoughts choppy (C). The memory is a calming image; it does not show her surprise (D).
59 A She is surprised that she wants to keep silent to help the heron (A). There is no mention of a promise Sylvia made to her grandmother (B). There is no discussion of whether she wants to know the man better or whether her actions prevent her from doing so (C). She is not dismissive in the passage (D). She is surprised at herself, so her beliefs are not long-standing (E).
60 D The heron and Sylvia experience an intimate morning together, both naïve, experiencing the world for the first time, so “the great world” is most nearly the opposite (D). The heron does not represent new and clean clothing (A), nor is the heron the opposite of a “splendid moment” (B). She does not think the heron is old, so youth is not the opposite (C). The heron does not represent the earth, so the air is not its antithesis (E).
61 A Pines do not talk, so the phrase is an example of personification. No words begin with the same sounds, so there is no alliteration (B). The author does not intrude into the passage (C). There is no reification (D), as the pine’s green branches are not an abstraction, and the example is not odd enough to say that the author has broken any “rules of fiction” (E).