SAT CRITICAL READING
1. (C) If you delegate or assign a task to someone else, you do not have to attend to it yourself.
2. (C) Someone who flaunts or shows off his or her achievements or possessions is by definition a braggart, one who boasts.
3. (D) If you realize how very different caterpillars and spiders are, you will find it remarkable that they produce silks that are similar.
4. (C) Like a sponge, concrete can soak up water because it is porous, or permeable to fluids.
5. (E) We are now so used to Kandinsky’s innovative designs that they can turn up anywhere without causing any widespread notice, or stir.
6. (B) Just as the tip of the iceberg suggests or hints at the greater mass of the iceberg under the water, to Hemingway short stories hint at a bulkier, heavier tale underlying the small part of the story the reader gets to see.
7. (B) To have so many advantages that one would have no reason for anger and yet to be angry all the same is clearly paradoxical (puzzling; contradictory).
8. (A) The catastrophist theories hypothesized or maintained that mountains and species were created by sudden dramatic events or catastrophes. Darwin, however, theorized that nature was the result of cumulative, gradual change.
9. (D) From its casual direction, “Flash back to 1937,” to its quotes from computer users, the passage has a chatty, informal tone.
10. (B) Given that SPAM was available for the soldier to eat three times a day, clearly it was abundant (plentiful).
11. (B) The author’s primary purpose is to describe a process—the process by which Stubbs taught himself to draw horses.
12. (C) It is clear that the author admires Stubbs’s achievement. To teach oneself to paint horses as they had never been painted before is a major accomplishment. To term that accomplishment only “pretty decent” is an example of ironic understatement.
13. (E) The author begins by giving a definition of the term symbol and proceeds to analyze three separate types of symbols. Thus, he is refining or further defining his somewhat rudimentary original definition.
14. (B) For a group of letters to stand for an object, the letters must in some way represent that object to the people who accept the letters as a conventional symbol for the object.
15. (C) In describing the associations of the word “phooey,” the author states that “the symbol has an inherent connection with the feeling it symbolizes.” In other words, there is an intrinsic natural link between the symbol and its meaning.
16. (A) When we say “hiss,” we expel air in a sibilant manner, making a sharp “s” sound as we thrust our tongue toward the tooth ridge and dispel the air quickly. Thus we express our disapproval of something, our desire to push it away from us, so that the meaning of “hiss” has both inherent and conventional associations.
17. (C) The author gives the example of the flag as a conventional symbol that is pictorial rather than linguistic.
18. (E) To the author, the Statue of Liberty would be a conventional symbol, one agreed upon by a group of people to stand for the abstract idea of freedom.
19. (D) If by some accident you were to have a memorably joyful time in Paris, the city of Paris might come to have some symbolic value for you, bringing a mood of joy to your mind. However, the relationship between the city and the mood is not an inherent, built-in one; it is purelycoincidental.
20. (A) The author describes how one’s inner experience of a universal symbol is rooted in or grows out of one’s sensory experience.
21. (B) The author offers fire as an example of a universal symbol and asks the reader to consider it.
22. (E) Like fire, water is a universal symbol that we experience through our senses, feeling its fluidity, its movement, its power. The words “fire” and “phooey” are conventional symbols, as is the flag. A red dress, if it has any symbolic value at all, is an accidental symbol at best.
23. (B) The “properties” mentioned here are our body’s attributes or characteristics. To answer vocabulary-in-context questions, substitute each of the answer choices in the sentence in place of the word in quotes.
24. (A) The closing sentence states that the human race forgot the language of universal symbols before it developed conventional language. Thus, the language of the universal symbol antedates or comes before the development of our everyday conventional tongues.
1. (D) Our experience suggests to us that a creature without visible ears would be unable to hear sounds.
2. (B) In a volcanic eruption, ash and other matter is ejected or forced out of the volcano.
3. (C) The opposite of a highly positive response is a tepid or lukewarm one. Note that while signals a contrast.
4. (E) Cynics distrust human nature and motives. Such persons would suspect the motives of anyone advancing a controversial theory and would accept evidence in favor of that theory only after having tried hard to debunk that evidence (expose it as a sham or false).
5. (E) As the founder of a fund for children, Edelman would be likely to decry (condemn) a lack of support for young people.
6. (D) Twain states that the “humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular.” In this way it resembles the shaggy-dog story, by definition a long, rambling joke whose humor derives from its pointlessness.
7. (C) Twain is using figurative language to contrast a humorous story and a witty or comic story. He is speaking metaphorically.
8. (C) In Passage 1, Twain states that the American “humorous story may be spun out to great length”; in Passage 2, Chesterton states that American humor “consists in piling towers on towers and mountains on mountains; of heaping a joke up to the stars and extending it to the end of the world.” Both passages thus support the generalization that American humor depends on a lengthy buildup.
9. (A) Twain considers the American humorous story difficult to bring off properly; to him, that is its challenge and its charm. He speaks positively about the humorous story’s “bubbling gently along.” He finds the manner of its telling pleasing rather than irreverent or unsympathetic Thus he would most likely respond to Chesterton’s criticism by denying that this distinctively American humor is deficient in any significant way.
10. (C) Far from being sensitive to the nature of her husband’s scruples or ethical considerations about his daughter’s elopement, Mrs. Bennet can hardly comprehend them.
11. (B) The “privilege” Mr. Bennet refuses his daughter is buying a new wardrobe. In the opening sentence, we learn that Mr. Bennet would not come up with any money (“would not advance a guinea”) to buy his daughter new clothes. To Mrs. Bennet, the purchase of new clothes on the occasion of a wedding was a privilege automatically granted the bride.
12. (B) The opening sentence of the second paragraph indicates Elizabeth’s regret: she “was most heartily sorry.”
13. (E) Frailty here is the moral weakness of giving way to temptation and running off to “live in sin” with a man.
14. (D) The concluding sentence of the third paragraph indicates that Darcy scorned or felt contempt for Lydia’s new husband.
15. (B) Three of the four paragraphs trace Elizabeth’s reflections or thoughts in detail.
16. (C) Neither maternal instincts nor visual acuity is characteristic of female tarantulas. Only fertility (the quality of being prolific) is.
17. (E) Since it is stated that young tarantulas go off to spend their lives in solitude, it follows that female tarantulas are reclusive or solitary by nature.
18. (C) To excite a defensive response is to stimulate that kind of reaction.
19. (D) The author’s presentation of factual information about tarantulas is evidence of a scientifically objective (impartial) attitude toward them.
20. (B) Rather than covering new ground or challenging current theories, the passage summarizes general knowledge.
21. (D) The key words here are “seizes the insect so swiftly,” which describe the spider’s quickness in attacking.
22. (D) Under these conditions, the spider will jump whether or not it is hungry. Thus its reaction occurs quite regardless of the state of its appetite.
23. (E) Use the process of elimination to answer this question.
• In lines 65–69 the author denies the possibility that the viewer could confuse the spider’s three tactile responses. You can eliminate (A).
• In the second, third, and fourth paragraphs the author describes the spider’s three tactile responses or reactions. You can eliminate (B).
• In lines 52–56 the author corrects the misapprehension that the trichobothria might be hearing organs. You can eliminate (C).
• In lines 52 and 53, the author defines trichobothria as very fine hairs growing from disklike membranes on the spider’s legs. You can eliminate (D).
• Only (E) is left. At no time does the author pose or ask a question. By elimination, (E) is the correct answer.
24. (E) The concluding sentence of the passage states that the tarantula’s tactile responses do not help it when it meets (that is, is attacked by) its deadly enemy, the digger wasp. It follows that subsequent paragraphs will discuss digger wasp attacks in more detail.
1. (B) If, during an archeological excavation, a site’s upper levels are obliterated or destroyed, then excavation is an act of destruction.
2. (A) If the silk makes the nest walls stronger, they will be more able to withstand or resist the weight and pressure of the small birds.
3. (C) Although once branded (stigmatized or discredited) as a fake, the map may turn out to be authentic or genuine after all.
4. (A) Despite Stevie Smith’s belief in an ideal childhood, her childhood was not idyllic or charmingly simple.
5. (A) A contentious (quarrelsome, disputatious) family by definition is given to arguments.
6. (C) Someone prudent or cautious would look on junk bonds as risky, uncertain investments. Such a person would be chary of (cautiously hesitant about) investing in such poor risks.
7. (E) As described in the first paragraph of Passage 1, the settling of the West occurred in “peristaltic waves.” In other words, it did not occur at a steady rate. Rather, it took place sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly during a 50-year period from the 1840s to the 1890s. Nor did the settlers go farther and farther west. California was settled before the Rockies and the Great Plains.
8. (A) Those who went west were, among others, trappers and traders, gold- and oil-seekers, all hoping for economic advancement by cashing in on the rich resources of the area.
9. (D) The “fictional western town was as rigidly formalized (lines 36 and 37) as the set for a Japanese No play.” It follows, therefore, that in books and films, western towns are all the same. In reality, of course, towns vary considerably.
10. (A) The passage describes a stereotype of townspeople frequently used in books, movies, and plays set in the period. The people seem always to be portrayed as “decent folk” (line 49) who had settled into routine lives.
11. (C) The cowboy in Crane’s story is called a “drunken anachronism” (line 63), a label implying that he is a sad relic of a bygone era. In other words, he’s a hero of the Old West who became obsolete.
12. (C) The original center of the mining kingdom was California. Then, the center shifted to Colorado (Pike’s Peak), to Montana, Wyoming, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. As new sources of precious metals were discovered throughout the nineteenth century, the center shifted from place to place.
13. (A) Many ex-miners turned to farming and to raising cattle, occupations that required them to work on the land.
14. (C) Passage 2 says that, although mining had been a major influence in shaping the history of the American West, the growth of the cattle industry was an even “more important chapter” (line 99).
15. (D) The passage indicates that, before becoming “almost extinct” (line 108), millions of buffalo had “roamed at will” (line 106) throughout the Great Plains. Because ranchers needed the land to graze their “Texas longhorns and Wyoming and Montana steers,” the buffalo were killed to make room for cattle.
16. (C) The qualities of the cowboy mentioned in the passage are his “picturesque costume,” his “splendid horsemanship,” his “war with cattle rustlers,” and his “lonely life on the plain.” Only the cowboy’s law-abiding nature is not mentioned.
17. (A) Passage 1 tells of gold-seekers “working up and down the California mountain ranges” (lines 14 and 15). Passage 2 says that “the discovery of gold in California” (lines 67 and 68) triggered a rush of settlers to the area.
18. (D) Both authors discuss the impact of the westward movement on American culture, folklore and legend. In particular, the cowboy epitomizes the romanticism of the westward movement.
19. (B) In Passage 1 the miner is mentioned as one of several figures who participated in the settling of the West. On the other hand, almost half of Passage 2 is devoted to a discussion of the miner.