SAT Literature Subject Test
The Practice SAT Literature Subject Tests
Practice Test 3: Answers and Explanations
Answers and Explanations
1 C Answer choice (C) is correct because the author is racking her brain for ways to make the book better: “In better dress to trim thee” (line 17). Answers choices (A) and (E) interpret the word house too literally. Choice (B) is incorrect because the author is looking for a way to make the book better. She is not looking for the book itself. Searching in her “shame” does not make sense (D).
2 B The poem states that the book “didst by my side remain,/Till snatched from thence by friends … Who thee abroad, exposed to public view” (lines 2–4) so (B) is the correct answer. The press did not demand the book (A), nor did the publisher steal it (C). There is no evidence that she showed it to anyone (D). And the poem does state how the book came to be published (E).
3 E The author blushes (line 7), so she is embarrassed, and thus (E) is the correct answer. Blushing does not imply being “thrilled” (A). There is no evidence that she feels it is too dark (B), nor that she considers childishness to be one of its faults (C). “Horrified” is too strong a word for how the author feels (D).
4 C The correct answer is (C). Picture someone hobbling, i.e., walking unevenly. Fixing rhyme will not help the book flow more smoothly (A), but fixing the meter will (C). There is “stretching,” so no trimming is involved (B). The “even feet” do not refer to the number of pages (D), and although the book is “irksome” and “vulgar” it is not an offensive book, merely an embarrassing one to the author (E).
5 A The poem compares a book to a child, so it is an analogy (A). Parental worries are the metaphor, not the poem’s point. (B). There is only one medium—the book in question (C). The poem is not intended to instruct, and the word “diatribe” is too strong (D). The poem is not an exercise (E).
6 E The author makes light of her abilities and relates her struggles to make things better, so her tone is self-deprecating (E). The poem is funny, so she is not cheerless (A). She is not “antipathetic” or “dispassionate” in the poem (B), (C), and a cavalier attitude is one of carelessness, which does not apply (D).
7 A The word “trim” can be replaced with “dress” as in “to dress someone” (A). Be careful not to use the most obvious definition of trim (B). There is no evidence of weaving (C) or of hobbling (why would she want to hobble her book?) (D). Although the line might be a metaphor for editing, the word itself does not mean edit (E).
8 A The author says her friends took her book and got it published, so they meant well, but did something foolish (A). There are no lies told in the poem (B). Her friends might meddle, but they are not “cunning” (C). According to the poem, the friends do not gain from the publication (D). There is no evidence that (E) is true.
9 B The author never hopes that someone else will claim the book (B). She does hope the book will avoid critics (line 18) (A), and that it will be forgotten (line 19) (C). She tries to edit the book, so she hopes it can be fixed (D). She is poor; she hopes she might make some money (lines 23–24) (E).
10 D The colonists are the people who live in the city of Sydney, “the colony” (D). They are no longer prisoners (A). The colonists are not the readers (B). The colonists are no longer British sailors (C), nor are they American observers (E).
11 B The paragraph states that Sydney is as important as London. The sentence quoted admits the buildings aren’t done, but says that England has had several hundred years to build itself up, while Sydney is only sixty years old—(B) is the best answer. The sentence may admit a flaw, but it does not accept it (A). A new point is not argued (C). The sentence does not explain the previous point (D). The sentence compares England to Australia, but does not say one is superior to the other (E).
12 E The paragraph is comparing London to Sydney; the writer is obviously a resident of Sydney, so it is very important to him or her that this passage prove Sydney’s greatness. The words “small importance” fit nicely into the paraphrased sentence: “Our goal, in writing this, is one of no ‘small importance,’ and we believe that every Australian … will wish us good luck” (E). There is no reason for the author to refute the accusation of “evil intent” (A). “Unhappy time” does not make sense in the sentence (B). “Average length” is too literal a translation (C), and the goal of the work is not “description” (D).
13 B The first paragraph tells the goals of the passage. The second paragraph relates the history of the colonization of Australia, and the third paragraph describes the city of Sydney (B). Although paragraph one does address the reader, paragraph two is not argumentative, and paragraph three is not a summary (A). The paragraphs are not one long narrative (C). Paragraph one is not particularly descriptive, paragraph two is indeed historical, but paragraph three does not tell a story (D). The tone of the passage does not change (E).
14 C The first sentence of the paragraph says that because the United States rebelled, Britain had to send its convicts elsewhere, implying that previously it had sent its convicts to the United States. (C). Although Botany Bay was unsuitable, Manly Beach was very suitable for habitation (because Sydney was erected there) (A). There is no evidence that Captain Phillip was not backed by the government (B). Australia had obviously been previously visited as Captain Cook had made a map, which Captain Phillip carried (D). The passage does not state that anyone lived on Manly Beach (E).
15 D The passage says that even “vessels of the heaviest burden can safely approach the wharves,” which means that the harbor must be deep for heavy boats to be able to sail there (D). Religious buildings are mentioned in line 14 (A). The streets “are crossed at right angles,” so they are perpendicular (B). Sydney is “unrivaled” in its three-mile coastline (C). The climate is “healthy and dry” (E).
16 A The sentence boils down to “first you think it’s too ‘homogenous’ but ‘you get used to it.’ ” This is closest to (A). The sentence does not suggest that you “stop noticing” the difference between Australia and England (B). The author does not suggest that people grow to “love” the city (C). Sydney does not seem similar to London (D). The author does not say that people will regret visiting Sydney (E).
17 C The author raves about the right-angled streets, and calls England’s windy streets “undesirable,” so he or she would support urban planning (C). The author is confident that “every Australian. . .will heartily bid us ‘God speed!’ ” so he believes he has the full support of Australia (A). Although the author compares Sydney to London, he or she does not say which is better (B). There is no indication of what the author’s native land is (D). The author does not find Sydney quaint, but rather progressive. “Gas-lit Streets” and “sumptuous Shops” were not quaint in 1848, when this text was written (E).
18 E Adrian is “sav’d … a day’s journey” by the meeting, so it is “fortuitous” (lucky) (E). There is nothing particularly heartwarming about the meeting of spies (A), nor is there any notion of melodrama (B). The men are friendly; there is nothing “acrimonious” (C). We don’t know enough about the passage/play to judge it “scandalous” or “surprising” (D).
19 A This is a good example of picking the least worst answer. “My services are, as you are, against ’em” (lines 4-5) proves that Nicanor is a spy, but all of the other answers are easily proved false (A). There is no mention of a family relationship or of a woman, eliminating (B) and (C). Nicanor is not looking for Coriolanus (D). The two men are friendly; they are not enemies (E).
20 D “The people against the senators, patricians, and nobles” (lines 15–16) shows that (D) is the correct answer. There is no foreign invasion (A), the military is not overthrowing the government (B), and there is no mention of a royal family (C). A fire is not an insurrection (E).
21 B The nobles “receive to heart the banishment,” so they are not happy about it (B). There is no evidence that the banishment is the cause of the insurrection (A). There is nothing to tell us what role Coriolanus played in the government (C). The men do not support Coriolanus; they are using his absence to their advantage (D). The men are plotting war, so they do not dread it (E).
22 E “The main blaze” is the people’s revolt (E). The insurrection is not quite over: “a small thing would make it flame again” (line 21–22) (A). It can be inferred that the public wanted Coriolanus banished (B). There is no evidence that the flames refer to purgatory (C) or to comments (D).
23 C The nobles are so mad about Coriolanus, according to the men, that they are about to dissolve the government (lines 23–27) (C). There is no evidence of a romantic entanglement (A). They are not planning to burn the Roman towns (B). The ready army is a plus, but the plan can be hatched without it (D). There is no evidence that the nobles are not ready for war (E).
24 A Adrian means to say that he is glad to have met Nicador (A). There is no notion of rivalry between the men (B), nor is one making fun of the other (C). There is no mention of any present (D). There is nothing to suggest they have a cherished friendship (E).
25 D It’s hard to tell much from this short passage, but it’s about two men planning a war, so it’s most likely historical (D). There’s nothing particularly funny (A), nor is it allegorical (B). It doesn’t take place in the country (C), and there is nothing that makes it satirical (E).
26 C Without “his great opposer,” Tullus will probably win (C). We do not know if he will do the fighting (A). “Appear” does not refer to his dress (B). There is no evidence that says he’ll be required to argue (D) or that he’ll need to pretend to be healthy (E).
27 C The scene’s primary purpose is an exchange of information (C). There is no romance mentioned, and there is no comic relief, eliminating (A) and (B). We can’t know the audience’s interests (D). The passage provides little information on ancient Rome (E).
28 E Waves do break, so this is not a case of personification (assigning human characteristics to inhuman objects) (E). Life does not really have a “grasp” (A), and it cannot bruise (B). People and things can clamor, but midday cannot (C) and waves do not clash (D).
29 C The imagery in the first stanza is of “midday” (line 5) while the second stanza speaks of “night” (line 18). Neither stanza speaks of memory (A). Slumber is a metaphor for death, so both stanzas are about death (B). Stanza two is not about the past (D). Patience and hurry are not mentioned in the poem (E).
30 B Time is compared to “an army’s tread” using “as” (B). There are no similes in (A), (C), or (D). Because there is a simile, (E) cannot be correct.
31 D “Sleep,” the title action, is a symbol for death (D). Sleep cannot be a symbol for slumber because the two words mean the same thing (A). It is not a symbol for burial (B). There are no angels in the poem (C). Sleep represents death, not old age (E).
32 B The author describes life using the words “joy” and “tears” and mentions “a few short years,” so (B) is correct. There is no sense in the poem that death creates freedom (A). The author enjoys parts of life, so (C) is too extreme, as is (D). The poem does not contemplate the meaning of life (E).
33 B The author says that the dead cannot hear and are not harmed by time; death is like sleep, so it is like unconsciousness (B). The author does not describe life as cruel (A), nor does he compare death to being swept away by waves (C). He does not compare different kinds of death (D). Tears are not described as ridiculous (E).
34 A The author addresses the poem to someone who has died, so it is safe to assume it is written by someone who is grieving (A). Although the author uses “we,” he means the human race, not a specific “we” (B). There is no evidence that the author is dying (C). The author describes death as peaceful, so he does not fear it (D). We cannot know if the author has been previously touched by death (E).
35 E There is no afterlife suggested in the poem (E). (A) is mentioned in lines 3, 4, and 15. (B) is mentioned in lines 6 and 20. Time is compared to an ocean in lines 8–9 (C), and (D) is suggested in line 16.
36 A The line “when all is touched and tried” (line 17) means “when life has been fully lived” (A). It does not refer to intensity (B) or justice (C). There is no discussion of eternal life in the poem (D). The lines refer to the end of life, not whether it is fruitless (E).
37 A The language in the characters’ speech is very archaic (A). However, divorce (B), Americans in China (C), the coming of a “new order” (D), and use of electric lights (E) are all signs that the story is relatively contemporary.
38 A The first line describes a blush as being a flame, and then describes Ah Leen’s face as being white like a flower. The first comparison does not use a word such as “like” or “as,” which makes it metaphorical; the second uses an explicit comparison word, which makes it a simile. “Authorial intrusion” (B) is the author interrupting the narrative to speak directly to the reader, which does not happen here. “Comparison” (C) is too vague a word, and this answer choice incorrectly identifies the flame as being a simile. “Literary allusion” (D) is a reference to another literary work, which does not occur here. Apostophe (E) is an author speaking directly to one of the characters, while anaphor or anaphora is a literary device that emphasizes words by repeating them at the beginning of consecutive phrases.
39 C “There has been silence between them for so long” (lines 42–43) proves that Ming Hoan has not been in contact (C). There is no evidence that Ah Leen has disobeyed her father (A). Although money is mentioned, it is not Yen Chow’s only concern (the affront to his family is in his mind) (B). There is no evidence that Ah Leen’s American friend has stolen her lover or that Ah Leen is jealous of her, so eliminate (D) and (E).
40 B The slight is an affront that a divorce will remedy, and Ah Leen’s mother says her lover has forgotten her and had a child with another woman, so (B) is the correct answer. The divorce is the remedy, not the insult (A). There is no evidence of an interracial marriage (C). A divorce would be the deviation from custom; it hasn’t occurred (D). No elders have been disrespected (E).
41 E Ah Leen says that they can send her lover away, but they can’t make her love anyone else (E). The perfume is a symbol of love, not marriage (A). Perfume does not symbolize time (B) or the marriage bond (C). It does not represent mutual love (D).
42 A At first the reader is inside Yen Chow’s head; then the reader is inside the American girl’s head, so it is a change in point of view (A). The kind of words the author uses does not change (B). There is no time change (C). The characters’ dialogue is uniform (D), and there is no change in theme (E).
43 A “Like a pale yellow pearl” (line 32) is a simile (A). Nothing is given human characteristics, so eliminate (B) and (E). There is no example of alliteration (C), and nothing is particularly parallel (D).
44 D “A message of recall” (line 52) would suggest that the girl wants to send a message to someone; Ming Hoan’s words (which she is repeating) have made her rethink a relationship (D). There is no evidence that the American girl even knows Ming Hoan’s parents (A) or that she has a history with Ming Hoan (B). The girl does not take offense (C). The girl does not repeat his words in incomprehension (E).
45 C Ming Hoan does not explain because “the sins of parents must not be uncovered” (lines 41–42) (C). It is not because he is afraid of hurting his love (A) or that he is embarrassed (B). There is no evidence that he doesn’t feel he needs to explain (D), and the fact that she doesn’t ask is not the reason the story gives (E).
46 B Ah Leen says in lines 37–39, “Though another had bound you by human ties, to me you were linked by my love divine” (B). There is no preference for old customs (A). The passage would tend to suggest that true love cannot be forgotten, the opposite of choice (C). There is no evidence that their love has grown (D) or that the heart of another is unknowable (E).
47 E The words are parallel to “ruined by rain,” so the answer must be equally as destructive (E). (A) and (B) are not strong enough, while (C) and (D) have the opposite meaning the poem intends.
48 B The poet is in “pain” and expresses “hate,” so he is stung (B). His words are much too bitter for him to be resigned (A). He is not sulking (C). He is not “inured” (accustomed) (D), nor is he “imperious” (arrogant) (E).
49 E There are no exotic images, and the poet does not appear to dream (E). Water appears in line 12 (A). Many plants appear: “rose,” “fruit,” etc. Eliminate (B). Wine appears in line 22 (C), and melody is referred to in line 10 (D).
50 B “Smitten with sunbeams, ruined with rain” are examples of alliteration (A). There are no religious images in the first stanza (B). The author does not preach (C). He is not antipathetic (D), and character is not really revealed (the poem is more about emotions in general than in this poet’s specific feelings) (E).
51 C The poem is about how he has lost his love, and music is what he now hates (C). Death is not a theme in the poem (A). Music and fruit are both symbols, but the poet does not compare music to fruit (B). There is no mention of original sin in the poem (D), and the poet does not talk about slyness or snakes (E).
52 B These are not human characteristics given to inhuman objects (B). Personification is present in (A) (“singing seasons”), (C) (“heavens that murmur”), (D) (“stars that sing”), and (E) (“music burning”).
53 E These “things are over” (line 26) according to the author, so they are examples of how love feels. There are no anecdotes (A). The memories are not necessarily unpleasant (B). The stanza does not literally speak of weather (C). Fate is not a part of the poem (E).
54 D The eighth line must rhyme with the second and third lines and lament the loss of love (D). (A) and (B) do not rhyme with the correct lines. (C) does not make sense in the context; day and night are not mentioned in the poem. (E) is incorrect, as the poet never mentions the wish for head and heart to mingle.
55 B Both men love music, although their ideas of what compose it are “dissimilar” (line 18) because they are of different cultures; also, Nanapush is teaching his language to Father Damien, so (B) is the correct answer. There is no evidence that they are old friends (A). We cannot predict the future, and there is nothing to suggest the men don’t get along (C). They are not negotiators (D). Only Father Damien is clearly part of a church (E).
56 C The first paragraph is reported dialogue, while all but the last paragraph is quoted dialogue (C). The future is never discussed (A). There is no movement from general to specific or from complexity to simplicity, so eliminate (D) and (E). No one recites or utters a soliloquy (D).
57 E The word “Ayiih” is a sound of surprise and understanding, an interjection (E). It is not singing (A). Father Damien speaks English; this word is not English (B). It does not try to mimic the sound of Chopin (C). It is not Father Damien’s first name (D).
58 E Music’s influence is discussed throughout the passage (E). The cultural differences exist, but are not the main theme of the passage (A). There is no ironic subtext (B). Although Nanapush uses music to pursue women, this is not the main theme of the passage (C), nor are relationships (D).
59 A Nanapush asks many questions, so (A) is the correct answer. He does not patronize Father Damien—in fact, he asks him questions (B). He is not overly guarded or polite (C). He is not “kissing up” to Father Damien (D). And his passion is not clearly scholarly (E).
60 C Father Damien is describing the emotion he feels when he hears Chopin (C). The emotion is not necessarily joy (“Dogs cry,” line 28) (A). There is no sense of nostalgia mentioned (B). (D) is too literal an answer. Although “you can’t think,” “flooded in the heart” is more of an infusion of emotion than confusion (E).
61 C The image of the piano sitting in the river bed while the river rushes around it shows that Father Damien considers time eternal and that the piano (i.e., music) is, too (C). The men are speaking in English (A). He does not think that wood is too common a material; he even calls it “precious.” (B). The image of the piano is foremost in his mind, but it is not the reason he says the piano is made of “time” (D). There is no evidence that he feels uncomfortable with the topic (E).