SAT Literature Subject Test
The Practice SAT Literature Subject Tests
Practice Test 1: Answers and Explanations
Answers and Explanations
1 B This is a good example of a “least worst” answer. There is no labor involved (A). All we see Babette do is “dance” (line 15), so life is not very “difficult” (C). Nature is not “enigmatic” (a mystery) (D). The differences between Maman-Nainaine and Babette can hardly be called a “battle” (E). So by Process of Elimination, the answer must be (B).
2 C Choice (C) is the best answer, because Maman-Nainaine says Babette’s visit depends on the figs, which has nothing to do with the visit. So she must have her own reasons for linking the two—“her own logic.” Babette wants to visit her cousins, so the situation is hardly “serious” (A). She may be “overly strict,” but we don’t have enough information to affirm that (B). Choice (D) cannot be the answer because there is no “punishment.” And nothing suggests that “figs were her favorite fruit” (E).
3 B Choice (B) is the answer because Maman-Nainaine wants Babette to wait to make the visit, but Babette wants to go right now. Maman-Nainaine is patient; Babette is not. Nothing in the passage proves that Maman-Nainaine’s judgment is bad (A). In lines 1–6, the figs have not ripened yet, so there is no passage of time (C). Babette does not talk back to Maman-Nainaine, so there is no insolence (D) or argument (E).
4 E Maman-Nainaine is patient (line 12) (E). Maman-Nainaine does not look down on Babette, so she is not “contemptuous” (A). Nothing she says to Babette is “flippant” (B). She does not give in to Babette’s wishes, so she is not “reluctantly accepting” (C). There is neither joy nor optimism in the passage (D).
5 E “Ripe” and “bloom” both refer to later stages of life—they refer to Maman-Nainaine, not Babette, so the answer is (E). It is true that Maman-Nainaine is “patient” and Babette is “restless,” so (A) is not the answer. Babette is young; she wants to make the visit “early,” while Maman-Nainaine is “late” in life (B). The unripe figs represent Babette—they are “green,” while Maman-Nainaine is like a ripe fig—“purple” (C). Maman-Nainaine is older—she “sat” while Babette is young and “danced” (D). (Note: Remember to circle “EXCEPT” and mark each answer with a “Y” for “yes” or an “N” for “no” to find the odd man out.)
6 C Just as the figs are a symbol of Babette’s maturity, so are the chrysanthemums symbolic (C). It is not illogical of Maman-Nainaine to mention chrysanthemums, as the story shows she measures time by the flowering of nature (A). There is nothing ironic about the statement (B). Literature is not referenced (D). The sentence does not advance the story beyond the boundaries of Maman-Nainaine’s and Babette’s relationship (E).
7 A By taking time to peel the figs, Maman-Nainaine is making sure they’re ripe (A). There is no cooking in the story (B), nor is superstition the reason for Maman-Nainaine’s behavior (C). Although she may be refined, the action is not the illustration of refinement (D). We don’t see Maman-Nainaine mock Babette (E).
8 D The two women are different, yet nature forges on, so (D) is the correct answer. In the context of the sentence the word “though” does not show disagreement (A). No moral is given (B). There is no evidence that the figs were not important (C). Babette is restless, not annoyed (E).
9 E The narration is that of an impartial observer (E). It is not disapproving (A), nor is it first person (B). The protagonist (either Maman-Nainaine or Babette) does not narrate the story (C), nor do we have any evidence that this narrator is unreliable (D).
10 D Who’s Jove? Who cares! This is obviously a reference to someone, so the word “allusion” is our best bet (D). There is no “play on words” (A), nor any “contradiction” (B). Although the poem might be fanciful, there is no “hyperbole” (exaggeration) (C). There are no underlying symbols, so the poem is not an “allegory” (E).
11 C He thinks he sees his wife as a ghost, like Jove’s son gave the image of a ghost to Alcestis’s husband, so the line refers to both “my late espoused Saint” (the narrator’s wife) (Statement I) and to Alcestis (Statement II). The “glad husband” is not the one “rescued from death” (Statement III).
12 C The poem says that the wife was purified and that the poet plans to see her in heaven, so “save” means “deliver from sin and punishment” (C). Because she is dead, she is not preserved (A), nor is she kept in health (B). She is neither rescued from harm (D) nor maintained (E)—don’t fall into the trap answer just because the definition of “save” is “maintained.”
13 A When the poet wakes up, the ghost image is gone, and although it is day, he feels like it’s night (A). Although the narrator feels grief, there is no evidence that he is depressed (B). This is nothing like a sonnet (C), nor does it parallel any construction (D). The fact that although it is day when he wakes he feels like it’s night does not suggest optimism (E).
14 D He is asleep and sees a ghost, so it is reasonable to infer that he is “dreaming” (D). There is nothing in the poem to suggest that she did not have these qualities in life (A). The fact that he knows it is “fancied” suggests that he knows he is dreaming (B). He is dreaming, so there is nothing capricious about the image, which comes to him unbidden (C), and he realizes it is a dream, so he is not delusional (E).
15 B He clearly loves his wife a great deal, so he is “reverential” (B). He may be “inconsolable,” but not in his attitude toward his wife (A). Again, she is dead, so he does not have a “hopeful” attitude toward her (C). Neither “incongruous” (bizarre) (D) nor “obsequious” (fawning) (E) makes sense in this context.
16 A The poem is about how he misses his wife, so (A) is the correct answer. There is nothing to suggest the poet is struggling with death (B), nor does he lament that death is unjust (C) (although you may think so, it’s not in the poem). It’s more about the poet himself than it is about what happens to the body/soul, so it’s not about immortality (D), and the main point is not a belief in heaven (E).
17 B The three “g” words in the surrounding lines are good examples of alliteration (B). “Glad” does not mean overwhelmed (A), nor does it stress the individuality of the husband (C). “Glad” does not help distinguish between Jove’s son and the husband (D), and the narrator is not glad in line 1 (E).
18 B The day (and the light of his wife) contrasts with the night that the narrator feels (B). The wife was inclining (leaning) over to embrace the narrator when he awoke, so these are not opposites (A). “Full sight” and “without restraint” mean the same thing (C), as do “wash’t” and “purification” (D). “Sight” and “shin’d” don’t have a relationship (E).
19 C Mr. Keeble is stuttering because he is afraid of his wife (C). There is no evidence that he is a “feeble man” (A), just that he is afraid of his wife. Disjointed speech (B) is an aftereffect; the cause is his fear. It does not serve to slow the conversation (D). It does not elucidate (explain, shed light on) the main point; in fact, it obfuscates it (hides, makes more confusing) (E).
20 E A mythological allusion refers to something—usually a work of literature in the myth genre. Pygmalion and Galatea are characters in mythology (E). Lines 28–29 do not refer to anything (A), nor do lines 20–21 (B). In lines 17–18 the narrator is exaggerating but not referring to myth (C), while (D) refers to a place, not a work of literature.
21 D Breathing is the only one of these examples that is a normal human characteristic, so (D) is the answer. Answer (A) compares her to a liquid that has turned solid, while (B) compares her to a statue. Choice (C) continues the statue comparison, while (E) suggests that the word “Lincolnshire” is “like some spell” (simile).
22 B Answer choice (B) is a figure of speech meaning that the farm is making lots of money, which is why Mr. Keeble wants to invest in it. There is nothing to suggest the farm is doing something illegal (A). The investment may or may not be unnecessary, but that has nothing to do with “coining money” (C). Answer choice (D) takes the turn of phrase too literally. The farm is in Lincolnshire, but there is nothing to suggest that Lincolnshire itself is a good place to make money (E).
23 C Mrs. Keeble reacts “icily” before Mr. Keeble can even explain—so she is opposed to the idea (C). She is not amused (A), nor is she disgusted (B). She obviously cares, so she is not apathetic (D), and she is icy, so she is not neutral (E).
24 A Mr. Keeble is fiddling nervously while he talks, so all of the examples are physical illustrations of fidgeting except “keenly alive,” which simply means he’s aware (A). He rattles keys nervously (B) and (D), and doesn’t look at his wife (C) and (E), because he thinks he knows how she’ll react.
25 D Mr. Keeble has put a lot of thought into this, so he must be pretending he isn’t sure of the location in an attempt to make it appear as an afterthought or to de-emphasize it (D). He obviously knows where it is (A), and if he didn’t think the location was important, he wouldn’t have mentioned it (B). There is no evidence that he is forgetting (C), and if he had wanted to conceal the location, he would not have said it (E).
26 B He is obviously intimidated by his wife—he is afraid of her (Statement III), but there is no evidence that he needs her approval—we don’t know his motives for telling her about the farm (Statement I), nor is there any evidence that she disgusts him (Statement II).
27 A Because she asks the question icily, we can infer that she is not excited about the idea of lending money (A). She is not interested in the proposition (B), and we know nothing of Mr. Keeble’s mission (C). She is icy, so she is not keeping an open mind (D), nor is she curious (E).
28 B Lord Mayor has invited the Earl of Lincoln to dinner several times; therefore, “numerous” is the best answer (B). “Groceries” (A) is a too-literal synonym for “sundries,” as is “provisions” (C). There have been many dinners, so “infrequent” (D) is not correct, nor is “few” (E).
29 C The scene is about how Lord Mayor and his daughter are of a different social class than the Earl of Lincoln, so (C) is the best answer. The Earl of Lincoln does not plan to return Lord Mayor’s generosity: “Seldom or never can we be so kind/To make requital of your courtesy” (lines 3–4) (A). Although he does acknowledge Lord Mayor’s magnanimity, this is not the main effect of the lines (B). The phrase is not designed to flatter (D). Neither of the men wants the younger generation to marry (E).
30 E The Earl of Lincoln says that Lacy spends too much money, so he won’t be able to provide for Rose (E). By saying Rose is “mean,” Lord Mayor means that she is of a lower class, not that she isn’t nice (A). There is no evidence that courtiers cannot marry (B). No mention is made of the cost of a wedding (C). Lacy does love Rose: “He is much affected” (line 6) (D).
31 A The Earl of Lincoln does not approve of his cousin’s spendthrift ways (A). He is not apathetic, because he obviously cares about his cousin’s welfare (B). Romantic love (C) would not describe the relationship between the Earl of Lincoln and his cousin, but rather the relationship between Lacy and Rose. He does not necessarily “dislike” his cousin (D). “Affection” is not the Earl of Lincoln’s primary emotion, as he insults Lacy (E).
32 A The Earl of Lincoln does not approve of Lacy’s new profession—the line is sarcastic (A). There is nothing that tells us how much shoemakers earn, (B) and (D). The Earl of Lincoln does not want his cousin to be a shoemaker, so he obviously does not admire the profession (C). Shoemaking is not a scientific occupation (E).
33 E Lord Mayor claims his daughter is too common for Lacy, but his aside shows that he does not think that Lacy is a good match: “I scorn to call him son-in-law” (line 48), although he does not admit this (E). He doesn’t feel affection (A), nor does he feel like an uncle (avuncular) (B). He never approves the match (C), nor is there any evidence that he respects Lacy (D).
34 B An “aside” is when a character speaks directly to the audience while the action “freezes.” The audience is intrigued because it is revealed that the Earl of Lincoln is up to no good (B). The aside is designed so that other characters cannot hear it (A). The audience is not alienated by the aside (why would a playwright want to alienate an audience?) (C). No atmosphere of unease is created (D), and because the Earl of Lincoln can’t hear the aside, it is not designed to insult him (E).
35 C Lacy is never described as “poor” but Rose is, so the correct answer is (C). As you reread the dialogue, be careful to note exactly which character is being described. Lacy is described as “affected” (line 6) (A), “high” (line 12) (B), “unthrift” (line 19) (C), and “jolly” (line 29) (D).
36 E Neither of the characters is saying what he is thinking—as revealed by the asides (E). No one is described as frugal (A). Prodigious means extreme wastefulness or generosity, whereas profligacy means dissipation or licentiousness (B); Lacy is described as profligate, but no one is extremely generous (A). There is no conflict between the younger and older generations (C). There is no contrast between happiness and sorrow in this passage (D).
37 A The Earl of Lincoln most likely mentions the wars because Lacy has just been appointed a soldier (A). We can’t know if there will be a death (B). The Earl does not explain why they are fighting the French (C). The lines do not explain the class system in place (D). There is no mention of a national debate (E).
38 D The blades of grass are standing before God, so presumably God is talking to them (D). There is no angel (A), nor is St. Peter in the poem (B). God is asking the blades to justify their entry into heaven, so God—not the blades of grass—is speaking (E).
39 C God is happy at the one little blade’s comments so (C) is the best answer. God is not “condescending” (A), “neutral” (B), or “disdainful” (D). God does not show that He is “morally superior” in this poem (E).
40 C God rewards the one little blade of grass for his modesty in contrast with the other blades’ boastfulness (C). There is no evidence that it is better to do nothing (A). The blade is not rewarded for his forgetfulness (B). The blades are boasting of their accomplishments, not their problems (D). There is no mention of having to tell your bad deeds to someone (E).
41 B The word “presently” means “after a while.” It has nothing to do with presents or gifts, nor does it mean that the speaker is changing the topic.
42 C The other blades were all boasting, so the one little one is ashamed and hanging back because he does not feel worthy (C). All of the blades of grass were little; their heights are not compared (A). There is no evidence of disgust (B), or bitterness or loneliness (D). Answer (E) is incorrect because the blade thought his acts were less worthy than the others, not more worthy.
43 A God’s declaration that the one little blade is the best is surprising (“unexpected”) because it was the one blade that did not admit to any accomplishments (A). There is nothing “satiric” (making fun of) about the phrase (B). It is neither “tragic” (C) nor “comic” (D), nor, since the blade is probably headed to heaven, is there anything “unfortunate” (E).
44 B God rising up is a dramatic pause which heightens the suspense of the poem (B). There is no evidence that God is egotistical (A), nor is there a shift or change in how the narrator sounds (C). These lines do not echo anything in the poem (and it’s hard to tell if there is more than one stanza) (D). We cannot know the poet’s true feelings (E).
45 B We do not hear about how God reacts to the other little blades of grass, so His attitude can best be described as “unstated” (B). God is not “ashamed of the blades of grass” (A), nor is He “disgusted” (C) with or “disapproving” (D) of them. He does not feel “melancholy” when considering the blades of grass (E).
46 A The narrator is poking fun at Lady Bertram so that the reader will laugh, so the tone can best be described as “wry” (A). There is no bitterness in the passage (B). The narrator clearly has opinions regarding Lady Bertram, so “detached” is not correct (C). Although Lady Bertram herself is “melodramatic,” the narrator is not (D). And the narrator is free with her opinions and words, so “secretive” is not correct (E).
47 B Lady Bertram likes to write about gossip. She can’t write about this news (because the son already has), so it is of no use to her (B). Lady Bertram could not use the news (A). There is nothing that suggests Lady Bertram would relay the news unpleasantly (C). There is no evidence that she could write about only part of the news (D), nor are we told that she was bound to secrecy (E).
48 D “The want of other employment” means she lacked anything else to do, so (D) is the best answer. She did not require other employment (A). “Desire” (B) is a trap answer because it is a common synonym for “want.” There is no mention of finances (C), and we are not told that her employment is defective (E).
49 E The Grants are going away, so Lady Bertram won’t be able to write about Mr. Grant’s illness or things that Mrs. Grant says when she comes over, i.e., she’ll have no news (E). There is no evidence that she enjoys the Grants, except for the gossip they provide (A), and she does not assist them (B). There is no evidence that her house is full, nor that they stay with her (C). She has many correspondents (D).
50 B The phrase is explained in the text that follows it: “so that a very little matter was enough for her” meaning that she could make a small bit of gossip go a long way in her letters (B). She does not inflate the importance of things (A). Answer choice (C) is a too-literal synonym of “amplifying.” There is no evidence that she tries to make people sound more important than they are (D), nor is there any mention of her penmanship (E).
51 B Sir Thomas must be Lady Bertram’s husband because she is left with nothing to do when he is in Parliament (plus, if she is a lady, then he must be a lord). There is no evidence that he is her son (A), nor that he is a border (C), nor that he is at all connected to the Grants (D), and his Parliament attendance affects her too much for him to be just a friend (E).
52 A At the end of the passage, Lady Bertram writes to Fanny, so she must have something to say (A). We don’t know what the news is, so we cannot say it is “malicious” (mean) (B). She is not concerned about the news, but rather predicts that Fanny will feel concerned (C), so she is aware of Fanny’s feelings (D). If she were really worried about her niece, why would she be telling her the news (E)?
53 D Lady Bertram likes to gossip, and she is a woman of leisure and title (D). She has friends; she is not a “social pariah” (A). We don’t know what others in her family think of her (B). She seems to be very connected to society (C), and we don’t know anything about her age, except that she has a niece (which says little about how old she is) (E).
54 D The phrase implies that she needs the least amount of news to write her niece, but doesn’t even have that (D). We have no evidence that she doesn’t like her niece (A), or that she is mad at (B) or uncomfortable around (C) her niece. Lady Bertram loves writing letters to anyone, so (E) is not correct.
55 A The poem is a warning to young women about the pitfalls of vanity (A). There are no myths in the poem (B). The poet is not “sarcastic” (C). The poet warns of fading beauty, so the poet is neither “optimistic” (D) nor “hopeful” (E). Think: Because “optimistic” and “hopeful” are synonyms, they can’t both be the right answer, so they should both be eliminated.
56 C The poem is a warning to young women that beauty fades (C). There is no discussion of the importance of beauty (A). There is no “past lesson” to be learned (B). The primary purpose is not to tell a particular story (D). There is no discussion of death (E).
57 A The last two lines of the poem describe the woman as someone who used to be pretty and is now old and faded, of which her eyes are an example (A). There is no evidence that the woman is tired (B). That she is blind is a too-literal interpretation of the line (C). There is no mention of disease, only old age (D). Girls cannot be responsible for someone’s loss of beauty (E).
58 B The vain girls are compared to bluebirds—the two groups chatter among themselves (Statements I and II). The teachers are not the carefree chatterers that the poem mentions (Statement III).
59 A The author describes a beautiful woman who lost beauty with age, so (A) is the best answer. The author is not unyielding (stubborn) (B). There is no evidence of the author’s disgust (C). The memories are not particularly “pleasant”: (“terrible,” “tarnished”) (D). The emotions are not hidden (E).
60 C The girls don’t listen to their teachers because the teachers are old, and they don’t worry about the future (“weighty subjects”) (C). There is no sense of suspicion (A) or the notion that subjects are hard to understand (B). They are not described as frail (in fact, they “twirl” their skirts) (D). There is no evidence that they disregard others’ feelings (E).
61 B The theme of the poem is that people should not waste time on beauty because it does not last (B). Acting quickly is not a theme (A). Neither are the trappings of wealth (C). Truth (D) is not a theme, nor is frugality (E).