1,296 ACT Practice Questions, 3rd Edition (2013)

Reading Practice Section 1


35 Minutes—40 Questions

DIRECTIONS: There are four passages in this test. Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading each passage, choose the best answer to each question and blacken the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.

Passage I

PROSE FICTION: This passage is adapted from the short story “Going Home” by Lucretia Prynne (© 2007 by Lucretia Prynne).

  1.  The primary purpose of the first paragraph is to:

     A. describe the narrator’s transition from her everyday, working life in the city to the world of her rural childhood.

     B. explain why the narrator becomes so frustrated when she arrives at her mother’s house in the countryside.

     C. give the reader enough background about the setting of the story to explain the events of the later parts of the passage.

     D. foreshadow the narrator’s feelings of abandonment as described in the last paragraphs of the passage.

  2.  The narrator considers the weather in Alabama during the summer time to be:

     F. humid and extremely hot.

     G. unbearably hot and miserable.

     H. cool and breezy.

     J. pleasantly familiar.

  3.  It can reasonably be inferred from the second paragraph (lines 15−28) that the narrator’s feelings upon seeing her childhood home are feelings of:

     A. surprise at the dilapidated state of the building.

     B. frustration and anger toward her mother.

     C. joy tinged with fatigue caused by her travels.

     D. familiar recognition combined with nervousness.

  4.  The best description of the point of view from which this passage is told is that of a:

     F. daughter describing her thoughts during an event in her adult life.

     G. daughter reminiscing about her distant childhood in Alabama.

     H. mother remembering her daughter’s visit to the family home.

     J. mother who longs to visit her adult daughter but cannot.

  5.  As it is used in line 28, the word braced most nearly means:

     A. fastened.

     B. straightened.

     C. prepared.

     D. supported.

  6.  As revealed in the passage, the mother is best described as:

     F. harsh and uncompromising.

     G. uneducated yet wise.

     H. altruistic and warm.

     J. distant but caring.

  7.  The central concern presented in the passage is:

     A. the anger that a daughter feels toward her distant mother and her struggles to overcome this anger.

     B. the conflicting emotions experienced by the narrator upon her homecoming from her life in the city to the rural childhood of her youth.

     C. the narrator’s realization that her mother has aged terribly during the four years the narrator spent in college.

     D. an older woman’s cautious but willful acceptance of her daughter’s foreign lifestyle as the older woman is forced to stay in her hometown.

  8.  The relationship between the narrator and her mother, as described in the last paragraph (lines 60−71) of the passage, could best be described as:

     F. extremely close, built on frank emotional openness and mutual respect of one another’s independent decisions.

     G. based on unspoken thoughts, leading to occasional misunderstandings, but ultimately supportive and caring.

     H. antagonistic, largely due to the mother’s unwillingness to support her daughter’s independent decision to move away.

     J. a very distant relationship, largely nonexistent outside of rare visits on the part of the daughter.

  9.  The emotional states of the characters are primarily conveyed by the author’s use of:

     A. metaphorical descriptions of the setting.

     B. subtle but emotionally charged dialogue.

     C. visual descriptions and narrative reflections.

     D. detailed psychological portraits by an objective narrator.

10.  As revealed in the final paragraph, upon seeing her mother at the sink, the narrator, for the first time, realizes which of the following?

     F. She wants desperately for her mother to be more expressive of her emotions.

     G. Her mother has aged to such an extent that the daughter has trouble recognizing her and the house in which she lives.

     H. It is difficult to leave someone and not be able to visit them every year during the holidays.

     J. Her mother has been supportive of the narrator’s decision to leave but has not expressed it in a way the narrator expects.

Passage II

SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from the article “From Kiva Han to Caribou Coffee” by Alan C. Thorwald in the collection A Social History of Joe (© 2008 by Grantalventi Books).

11.  According to the passage, when did the United States begin to influence the character of coffeehouses?

     A. After World War II, when the automobile began to change the nature of public spaces

     B. Prior to the rise of anti-royalist political scheming

     C. When the number of coffeehouses began to exceed the number of residential homes

     D. After the introduction of the wi-fi revolution

12.  The main idea of the passage is that:

     F. coffeehouses originated in the Middle East in the fifteenth century as coffee was increasingly imported by traders, but today, North American coffeehouses are increasingly seen as more authentic.

     G. coffee has been a very popular beverage throughout history, having been consumed by people from many continents over the course of many centuries.

     H. coffeehouses are useful indicators of the shifting nature of social communication and cultural norms.

     J. coffeehouses have always served to preserve traditional values and social and professional hierarchies.

13.  Information in the second paragraph (lines 8−21) makes it clear that coffeehouses in sixteenth-century Constantinople:

     A. began to appear after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

     B. were not commonly used for activities other than drinking coffee.

     C. were the first places where the local population could purchase coffee.

     D. were viewed by many local men as good places to listen to music or poetry.

14.  The main idea of the third paragraph (lines 22−45) is that:

     F. in seventeenth-century England, many servants enjoyed the freedom and opportunity to work with their employers to open their own businesses.

     G. the growing popularity of coffeehouses in Europe by the eighteenth century was due in part to the accessibility the coffeehouses offered to men of different social strata.

     H. because it was extremely inexpensive to enter a coffeehouse and purchase a cup of coffee, the beverage became popular among university students.

     J. Venice’s coffeehouses were more authentic than London’s because Venice used its trade routes to the Middle East to import tea and spices as well as coffee.

15.  The passage states that the original character of British coffeehouses changed in the late eighteenth century insofar as the coffeehouses:

     A. began as male-only institutions but later admitted women.

     B. started to serve coffees imported from parts of the world other than Turkey.

     C. began to cater to specific occupations and political groups.

     D. started to feature exotic imports such as Naugahyde.

16.  As it is used in lines 68−69 to describe googie architecture, the phrase “brightly lit, almost garishly colored” most nearly means that the décor in American coffeehouses:

     F. allowed customers to be able to see each other better.

     G. offered a forum for social relationships.

     H. was deemed tacky by the clientele found in European coffeehouses.

     J. was a symbol of America’s belief in a bright and hopeful future.

17.  According to the passage, googie architecture in the United States:

     A. is famous for its brass railings and mahogany booths.

     B. was mainly inspired by the architecture of European coffeehouses.

     C. can be found in the urban areas of Southern California.

     D. is a popular architectural style for playgrounds in Las Vegas.

18.  According to the passage, which development contributed to the creation of the drive-in coffee shop?

     F. The push to create new work spaces for business people

     G. New laws for operating European-style coffeehouses

     H. A lack of physical space in cities

     J. The rise of the automobile in American life

19.  According to the passage, what is one criticism of the “wi-fi revolution” as it relates to coffeehouses?

     A. Unreliable technology makes coffeehouses poor substitutes for conventional offices.

     B. Conducting business in coffeehouses represents a problematic intrusion into other parts of personal life.

     C. Working on computers isolates customers from one another, betraying the original communicative ideals of the coffeehouse.

     D. Office workers stay so long in coffeehouses that getting a seat there is difficult.

20.  The passage most strongly suggests that today:

     F. the coffeehouse is a unique institution in the way that it combines commerce and culture.

     G. contemporary coffeehouses reflect Americans’ changing ideas of the workplace.

     H. coffee has become more influential across the world than has tea or tobacco.

     J. if not for coffeehouses, architects would not have been able to develop novel designs for public buildings.

Passage III

HUMANITIES: This passage is adapted from the memoir Who I Was to Become by Arnold C. Tiepolo (© 2008 by Arnold Tiepolo).

21.  The word vacuum in line 17 refers to:

     A. thorough cleanliness.

     B. absence of environmental context.

     C. a person’s subconscious.

     D. a large opportunity cost.

22.  Which of the following best describes how the author uses the reference to yin and yang (line 39)?

     F. It provides an instance of the name-calling that the author and his best friend endured from peers who did not understand their close friendship.

     G. It demonstrates the author’s friend’s interest in Eastern mysticism as opposed to the author’s primary interest in economics.

     H. It is analogous to the close bond between the narrator and his friend who are often seen as two parts that form a larger whole.

     J. It is analogous to the ways people waver between choices in their lives and will at times have one profession but wish they had chosen another.

23.  The passage states that one of the author’s brothers is currently a:

     A. novelist.

     B. pianist.

     C. real estate mogul.

     D. physician.

24.  In the passage, the author refers to having considered becoming all of the following things in his adult life EXCEPT:

     F. a parent.

     G. a lawyer.

     H. a journalist.

     J. an astrophysicist.

25.  As it is used in the passage, the term gimmick (line 66) represents:

     A. a means of defining one’s individuality.

     B. the way advertisers trick people into wanting unnecessary products.

     C. what makes people living in the United States unique.

     D. an entrepreneurial venture chosen without sufficient forethought.

26.  The author would most likely agree with which of the following statements about “opportunity cost” and “comparative advantage” mentioned in the first paragraph?

     F. They are the central claims of any modern economic theory and are the cornerstones of any class in the subject.

     G. They were instrumental in the author’s various decisions in life, particularly his decision to open a barber shop.

     H. They are so useful because they can be applied without reference to any surrounding context.

     J. They are ideas from economics that may also be useful in considering topics other than economics.

27.  The “we” in line 86 is most likely:

     A. the author and his brothers.

     B. the author and other Americans.

     C. the author and his best friend.

     D. the author and his alternate visions of himself.

28.  Based on the passage, the author most likely began playing piano when he was:

     F. younger than eight years old.

     G. eight years old.

     H. nine years old.

     J. in high school.

29.  Which one of the following would the author most likely see as an example of oversimplifying others by “acknowledging only what we currently see them doing” (lines 89−90)?

     A. Assuming a physician wants to be a writer or poet.

     B. Assuming a lawyer only pretends to like his or her job.

     C. Assuming a mathematician is good only at math.

     D. Assuming a politician no longer wants to be a politician.

30.  Which of the following statements about the author and his siblings is supported by the passage?

     F. They would stay up all night filming and watching movies in an attempt to spend less time communicating with each other directly.

     G. Every hobby one of them chose was ruined by another encroaching upon it, and they soon abandoned most things they started.

     H. They drew straws to see who would pursue what career, allowing the career of each to be determined completely by chance.

     J. Although very similar, they sought to differentiate themselves from each other by choosing different careers.

Passage IV

NATURAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from the entry “Dr. Pete Vukusic, Exeter University” from Thirty Contemporary Scientists (© 2007 Beekman and The Rat Publishers).

31.  What comparison does the author make between pigment and structure?

     A. Colors produced by pigment are more brilliant than those produced by structure.

     B. Colors created by structure are more brilliant than those produced by pigment.

     C. Pigment and structure work in much the same way to create brilliant colors.

     D. Colors produced by structure are twenty times more brilliant than those produced by pigment.

32.  As it is used in line 35, the word employ most nearly means:

     F. hire.

     G. pay.

     H. retain.

     J. use.

33.  It is most reasonable to infer that if the innovations of the cosmetics company referred to in line 27 were successful, which of the following would occur?

     A. Many other scientists would be hired to create similar products for competing cosmetic companies.

     B. Dr. Vukusic’s research would no longer be available for uses such as car paint or anti-counterfeit measures.

     C. People would be able to create unique and previously unattainable visual effects with their appearance.

     D. People would realize that such surrealistic effects are better confined to animals and insects in the natural world.

34.  Which of the following best describes how the phrase “schools of fish and plant life below” (line 21) functions in the passage?

     F. As an example of what iridescent light looks like to Dr. Vukusic

     G. As a comparison that suggests iridescence provides more to see than the flat color on the surface of an object

     H. As an illustration of how iridescence is also seen in fish and plant life

     J. As a suggestion to encourage people to appreciate the beauty of nature

35.  According to the passage, swallowtail butterflies are dependent on:

     A. camouflage.

     B. light.

     C. photonic crystals.

     D. fluorescence.

36.  Which of the following questions is NOT answered by the passage?

     F. Why can’t most light emitted from standard LEDs escape?

     G. Why might a bright blue morpho butterfly use brilliant color?

     H. How do swallowtail butterflies emit brilliant blue-green light?

     J. How is a butterfly’s fluorescent color produced?

37.  As it is used in line 70, the word lost most nearly means:

     A. missing.

     B. useless.

     C. omitted.

     D. withdrawn.

38.  Which of the following statements best describes light in a butterfly’s wing and its significance in relation to a photonic crystal, according to the passage?

     F. Butterfly wings are made of hundreds of tiny photonic crystals, each emitting a ray of light.

     G. If butterfly wings did not contain photonic crystals, butterflies would not be able to signal their peers from long distances.

     H. Because the wing has tiny holes that work like a photonic crystal, brilliant color is able to escape from the wing.

     J. The tiny scales of a butterfly’s wing are able to reflect light much like a photonic crystal works in an LED.

39.  According to the model for color-producing nanostructures as it is presented in the passage, what is the route that light travels to create iridescence?

     A. Reflects at angles, reflects to viewer, hits the structure

     B. Reflects to viewer, hits the structure, reflects at angles

     C. Reflects at angles, hits the structure, reflects to viewer

     D. Hits the structure, reflects at angles, reflects to viewer

40.  The passage states that which of the following combinations of qualities rarely occurs in the same material?

     F. Standard LEDs with fluorescent light

     G. Standard LEDs with a high extraction of light

     H. Standard LEDs with a low extraction of light

     J. Standard LEDs with intense pigmentation

Reading Practice
Section 1
Answers and Explanations


  1. A

  2. F

  3. D

  4. F

  5. C

  6. J

  7. B

  8. G

  9. C

10. J

11. A

12. H

13. D

14. G

15. C

16. J

17. C

18. J

19. B

20. G

21. B

22. H

23. A

24. H

25. A

26. J

27. B

28. F

29. C

30. J

31. B

32. J

33. C

34. G

35. D

36. F

37. B

38. H

39. D

40. G


Passage I

  1.  A  The first paragraph describes the narrator’s arrival at the local airport. She refers to herself as dressed for an overly air-conditioned office climate, in contrast to her later description of her mother’s faded dress. It also mentions her rental car and her delayed flight, all things that relate to her life in the city. The next paragraph describes her drive home, and the rest is set in a rural area, with screen doors and an old tire swing instead of air conditioners. Therefore, choice (A) is the best answer, since it addresses the switch from modern, city conditions to old-fashioned, rural ones. Choice (B) is incorrect because it is too general. The narrator does state that the weather puts her in a bad mood, but she associates her eventual anger with past behavior, not present weather. This answer also does not address the change in tone from the airport to the country. Choice (C) is incorrect because the first paragraph does not describe the setting of the bulk of the passage. Choice (D) is incorrect because nowhere does the narrator describe herself as abandoned.

  2.  F  The narrator compares the weather upon her arrival in Alabama to a woolen blanket that had been soaked in water and claims that the walk to the car rental agency was like a trek through the jungle. In other words, the climate is described as hot, humid, and stuffy. Choice (F) is the best match for these descriptions. Choice (G) might have looked appealing, but the weather isn’t described as unbearable. It certainly sounds unpleasant, but the narrator remembers bearing it during her childhood. Choice (H) says the opposite of what you want. Choice (J) is incorrect because, while the weather is indeed familiar, the narrator does not consider it at all pleasant.

  3.  D  The second paragraph describes the narrator’s arrival at her childhood home. According to the passage, very little about the appearance has changed since she left, and she recognizes several familiar objects, such as the tire swing and rocking chair. She also comments that she had to calm her nerves and that she grabbed her bags anxiously, suggesting that she is nervous. Therefore, choice (D) is the best answer. Choice (A) is incorrect because she describes the house as virtually unchanged. Choice (B) is incorrect because the second paragraph describes only the outer appearance of the house, not the narrator’s feelings about her mother. Choice (C) is incorrect because the only thing the passage tells us about the author’s feelings is that she has to get ready to go inside. The description of her tiredness was in the first paragraph.

  4.  F  The narrator of the passage is the daughter, and she describes visiting her family home after having moved away ten years earlier. She mentions moving away for college and working in an office, making choice (F) the best answer. Choice (G) incorrectly focuses on the narrator’s childhood, which is mentioned only briefly and is not the main theme of the passage. Choices (H) and (J) incorrectly identify the mother as the narrator.

  5.  C  The word braced is used here in the line ending “I grabbed my bags anxiously, trying to calm my nerves, and braced myself.” The author is preparing to enter her mother’s house, after getting lost in her thoughts during the drive. Choice (C), prepared, is a good synonym for braced in this context and is the best answer. Choices (B) and (D) might look tempting if you were thinking about braces for teeth or legs, but the meaning in this context is closer to prepared.

  6.  J  The relationship between the narrator and her mother is most clearly expressed in the final two paragraphs, when the narrator arrives at her childhood home. She is angry because her mother doesn’t seem to care that her daughter has finally come home, then she realizes that this is due to her mother’s understanding of the daughter’s need to be independent. Therefore, choice (J) is the best answer, since it encompasses both the mother’s seeming unconcern and her underlying motivation. Choice (F) is too extreme; although the narrator expresses anger toward her mother, she does not describe her mother as harsh. Choice (G) is not supported by the passage because the mother’s education is never discussed. Choice (H) does not adequately address the distance between the two characters.

  7.  B  The passage describes the narrator’s experience of returning home after a long absence. The beginning of the passage focuses on her frustration and feelings of anger toward her mother, but the end of the passage finds her coming to a better understanding of her mother’s motivations. Therefore, choice (B) is the best answer. Choice (A) is too strong, since it does not reflect the narrator’s final acceptance of and realization about her mother. Choice (C) is too narrow; the narrator’s comments about her mother’s aged appearance are only in one part of the passage. Choice (D) is incorrect because it focuses on the mother’s feelings instead of the narrator’s.

  8.  G  Although the passage deals with the reunion of a mother and daughter, there is very little dialogue. Even in the reflective portions, the narrator describes previous conversations with her mother in very brief terms, and then mentions that they no longer speak with any frequency. When she arrives at the house, the two characters barely speak, but the daughter is able to understand her mother’s feelings based on her body language and responds through action of her own. Therefore, they seem to have a relationship that is based more on actions than words, making choice (G) the best answer. Choice (F) is incorrect because it describes the relationship as built on frank emotional openness, which is in direct contradiction with the largely unspoken bond between the two characters. Choice (H) goes too far—although the relationship appears strained, the daughter’s final actions are not at all antagonistic. Choice (J) is contradicted by the events discussed in the passage.

  9.  C  Most of the passage is told from the point of view of the narrator, as she reflects on her journey, so her own emotions are conveyed in her own thoughts. When she first encounters her mother, however, she notices her mother’s clothing, and the shaking of her hands, and from those sights determines her mother’s emotions. Therefore, choice (C) is the best answer. The emotional states of the characters are not conveyed primarily through the setting, making choice (A) incorrect. Choice (B) is incorrect because the dialogue is limited to two lines. Choice (D) is incorrect because the narrator speaks of her own emotional experiences and thus cannot be said to be objective.

10.  J  It is when the narrator notices her mother’s hands shaking as she shells peas that the narrator realizes that her mother must have understood on some level why the daughter had to leave and tried to give the daughter as much independence as possible. This goes against the narrator’s earlier comments regarding her mother’s attitude toward the author’s decision to go away for school, implying that this is a new discovery for the author. Therefore, choice (J) is the best answer. Choice (F) is incorrect because in the previous paragraph the narrator does express a wish that her mother be more expressive. Choice (G) is incorrect because there is no evidence that the daughter had trouble recognizing her mother. Choice (H) is incorrect because the problem of not being able to visit was mentioned in a previous paragraph, meaning this was not a new discovery.

Passage II

11.  A  The answer can be found in lines 46−49; the author begins the paragraph by arguing that the social character of coffeehouses was in place for centuries before such establishments appeared in the United States, but that they soon took on an American character. The author continues by giving credit to returning soldiers from World War II for introducing the concept but credits the rise of the automobile for the uniquely American development that followed. Choice (B) is wrong because it refers to the character of coffeehouses in London in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. You can eliminate choice (C) because it misstates a comment the author makes about the current number of coffeehouses. Similarly, choice (D) is wrong because it refers to the current time, long after the author indicates the United States had marked its influence on the coffeehouse.

12.  H  The passage as a whole concerns the way in which examining coffeehouses can shed light on cultural developments, whether social or architectural, in a society—hence its main idea is well summarized in the sentence, Understanding how coffeehouses developed as social sites can permit a greater appreciation for the diverse ways that social communication occurs (lines 5−7) and the concluding sentence, But one thing is clear: The coffeehouse has proven to be remarkably flexible in adapting to its cultural environs (lines 88−90). Choices (F) and (G) are too narrow, and choice (J) isn’t a good fit because much of the passage is devoted to illustrating how coffeehouses change to reflect the changing values of different cultures and time periods.

13.  D  The passage mentions listening to music or poetry as one of the activities Middle Eastern customers thought suitable for the coffeehouse (see line 16). The Ottoman Empire is mentioned only in reference to its influence on Venice’s import industry, and the passage implies that the Ottoman Empire was still going strong in 1645, so choice (A) doesn’t fit. Choice (B) is an opposite answer, and choice (C) is wrong because the local population had access to coffee long before the sixteenth century, at least as far back as 1475 at the opening of Kiva Han.

14.  G  Only choice (G) is broad enough to capture the full range of discussion in this paragraph. Although the paragraph does mention that a trader’s servant ran the first coffeehouse in London, there’s no indication that other servants did the same, so eliminate choice (F). Choice (H) isn’t the best choice because although a penny may well have been an inexpensive price to pay for the London coffeehouse experience, there is no specific mention that the beverage was popular among university students. The question of coffeehouses’ authenticity doesn’t arise in this passage, nor are the positions of Venice and London relative to trade routes ever discussed, so eliminate choice (J).

15.  C  Lines 40−45 discuss late eighteenth-century British coffeehouses. This part of the passage relates how groups that shared certain values began to congregate in certain establishments, a movement that in turn created a growing sense of exclusivity in coffeehouses. Choices (A) and (B) aren’t mentioned in the passage, and choice (D) refers to the drive-in coffee shops discussed in the fourth paragraph.

16.  J  The author describes American coffeehouses as offering a visual emblem of a nation’s desire to shake off the past and plunge into the future, thus making (J) the best answer. Choices (F) and (H) are not supported by the passage, and choice (G) is contradicted by the passage.

17.  C  When the fourth paragraph introduces the description of googie architecture, it mentions that it eschewed (avoided) the usual coffeehouse décor of mahogany booths and brass railings, so choice (A) must be eliminated. Similarly, googie architecture is referred to as having replaced the sedately darkened rooms of the European coffeehouse (lines 67−68), so choice (B) must be eliminated. Regarding choice (D), Las Vegas is referred to as a playground in line 62, but there is no indication that googie architecture has influenced the architecture of actual playgrounds in Las Vegas. Only choice (C) is supported by the passage.

18.  J  Note that the question asks about drive-in coffeehouses, so the best answer will mention something regarding the automobile, as only choice (J) does. Business people are not mentioned until the next paragraph, eliminating choice (F). No new laws are discussed in the passage, eliminating choice (G). Finally, the passage merely mentions that Americans had come to use space in different ways, not that there was any shortage of space in urban areas, eliminating choice (H).

19.  B  Choice (B) is the only critique that the final paragraph raises. Choices (A) and (D) are too focused on the practicality of working in coffee shops, and choice (C) sets up a comparison that the passage doesn’t make.

20.  G  Choices (F), (H), and (J) are all too extreme in different ways. Unique means one-of-a-kind, and the passage doesn’t argue that no other institutions can be examined in this way, so strike out choice (F). Choice (H) refers to the comparison made in line 22, but the passage doesn’t go so far as to say that coffee surpasses tea or tobacco in this respect, so that choice doesn’t fit. The passage implies that coffeehouses gave architects who were interested in developing new styles an opportunity to see them realized, but again, it doesn’t contend that architects would have been unable to do so if coffeehouses didn’t exist. Therefore, you should eliminate choice (J).

Passage III

21.  B  The context following this sentence states that The rational decision-making process is a demonstration of self- and environmental analysis. The first paragraph’s banana example explores how an economic decision is based on several comparative and relative factors. By saying no choice is made in a vacuum, the author is stressing the effect of context on any decision. Choice (B) describes something with no environmental influence. Choice (A) uses trap language based on the association of vacuum to cleaning. Choices (C) and (D) do not correctly identify the use of vacuum, and they make unsupported claims; the author does not discuss the influence of our subconscious, and a choice made in a vacuum would presumably have no opportunity cost whatsoever.

22.  H  Choice (H) correctly identifies the purpose of the yin-yang metaphor. The author says that his peers viewed his best friend and him as a single unit and fused together as one entity. Choice (F) involves name-calling, which the passage does not support; choice (G) contains an unsupportable mention of Eastern mysticism. The yin-yang metaphor is not used to discuss people in general, as choice (J) suggests, but rather to describe how the author and his best friend might be seen by others.

23.  A  The final sentence of the fourth paragraph identifies the respective chosen professions of the three brothers as filmmaker, musician, and novelist. Choice (A) correctly names one of these. Choices (C) and (D) are pulled from hypothetical examples brought up in the final paragraph (lines 75−91). Choice (B) is contradicted by the information that the author’s older brother stopped playing piano at age 9 (lines 49−54).

24.  H  Choice (H) is correct because the only time that a journalist is brought up in the passage involves an analogy to something hypothetical. The author indicates in the second paragraph that he has considered pursuing law, choice (G), and he indicates in the final paragraph that some alternate visions of his life include his being an astrophysicist, choice (J), and raising a family, choice (F).

25.  A  The context of the previous sentence matches up the term gimmick most directly with selecting our personalities. Combined with the sentence before that which stresses Americans’ need for the expression of individuality, choice (A) is well supported and a reasonable paraphrase of the meaning. Choice (B) uses trap language based on the aforementioned advertisers but they have nothing to do with the usage of gimmick in this context. Choice (C) is close, but there is no way to support its claim that being individualistic is uniquely American. There is no discussion of hastily chosen opportunities, making choice (D) unsupported.

26.  J  Toward the end of the first paragraph, the author states that the same thought process takes place as each of us carves out his personality and ambitions. Therefore, the author clearly suggests that choice (J) is true. Choice (F) contains extreme wording; it is never stated or implied that these two concepts are central to any economic theory. The author did not say he opened a barber shop, which eliminates choice (G). The concept of comparative advantage requires that one compare oneself to others, which eliminates choice (H) as a possibility.

27.  B  The preceding paragraph ascribes a quality to all Americans and uses We in line 62. Therefore, the We used in the final paragraph must also refer to all Americans, making choice (B) correct. The author is not restricting his generalizations here to his family, his friends, or himself, so choices (A), (C), and (D) cannot be correct.

28.  F  The passage states that the author’s older brother abandoned the piano because the alternative was sharing the instrument with his younger brother. This means the author was younger than eight when he began playing piano, making answer choice (F) correct. Choices (G) and (H) relate to the author’s older brother’s age when he started and finished playing piano. Choice (J) is impossible unless the author was in high school at age 7 or so, which, aside from being extremely unlikely, is not supported by the text.

29.  C  The previous sentence suggests some hypothetical examples of people whose current identities would not suggest their hidden potentials. The final sentence cautions that oversimplifying people, acknowledging only what we currently see them doing, amounts to equating their current activities with their whole being. Choice (C) correctly identifies an example in which someone’s main occupation would lead us to assume that there is nothing else to his/her personality. Choice (A) would be the opposite of oversimplifying our view of a physician. Choice (B) refers to whether or not someone likes his job, which is not supported, and choice (D) assumes that someone wants to be something other than his outward identity.

30.  J  Choice (J) is supported by the fact that in choosing separately to be a filmmaker, musician, and novelist, the author and his two brothers were attempting to more easily distinguish themselves from one another. Choice (F) describes something the author did with his best friend, and there is nothing about having done this to avoid communicating. Choice (G) is too extreme in wording to be supported by saying every hobby was ruined. Choice (H) is unsupported by the passage.

Passage IV

31.  B  Answer choice (B) is directly supported by the second paragraph with the phrase (in reference to color created through structure) producing the brilliant single wavelength of iridescent color, brighter and more luminous than any color produced by pigmentation. Choice (A) is the opposite of what the passage says. Choices (C) and (D) are incorrect because neither is supported by the passage.

32.  J  Choice (J) is the correct answer because you could easily replace the word employ with use and keep the intended meaning of the passage. Answer choices (F), (G), and (H) all provide the more common definitions of the word employ, but they would not be appropriate synonyms in the context of this passage and therefore can’t be the best choices.

33.  C  Choice (C) is the best answer because the sentence talks about a claim that these products will create surrealistic effects they could never attain with traditional makeup. This supports both the unique qualities and the previously unattainable element. There is no evidence for choice (A) or choice (D); though they might be likely to happen, there’s nothing in the text to support those inferences. There is no evidence that Dr. Vukusic’s research can’t be applied to more than one product; in fact, the opposite is stated several times throughout the passage, so choice (B) cannot be your answer.

34.  G  The question asks how the phrase functions. The phrase comes right after a sentence that says iridescent light is more brilliant and luminous than color created by pigments. So the phrase in question is meant to qualify or explain that idea. Choice (F) is incorrect because there’s no evidence that iridescent light looks any different to Dr. Vukusic than to any other person, nor is that the purpose of the phrase. Choices (H) and (J) are incorrect for the same reason. They both state unlikely answers that do not discuss the function of the phrase as much as the meaning of it. There is no evidence that fish and plant life use iridescence, and the phrase is not suggesting an appreciation for nature; it is expanding on the idea that iridescence provides a deeper, more complex view than just what appears on the surface, supporting choice (G) only.

35.  D  Paragraph six is dedicated almost exclusively to a discussion of how swallowtails use fluorescence to signal each other. Choice (A) is the opposite of what you’re looking for; they want to be seen, not camouflaged. Choice (B) could be tempting because ultraviolet light is reflected to create fluorescence, but it is not specific enough to be correct. The paragraph talks about the butterflies signaling each other through the use of fluorescence and how that fluorescence is produced. Choice (C) is an element of an LED that mimics a butterfly’s wing; the butterfly is not dependent on it, so that answer cannot be correct either.

36.  F  The passage says that most light from LEDs cannot escape, but does not say why it cannot escape. Therefore choice (F) is the correct answer. Choice (G) is answered in paragraph three (lines 27−36) where it states the morpho butterfly uses color to signal its peers; choice (H) is addressed in paragraph six (lines 60−81), where there is a detailed discussion of how swallowtails emit light; and choice (J) is found in the beginning of paragraph two (lines 10−19) in the discussion.

37.  B  The context of the paragraph tells you that in standard LEDs light can’t escape, and the paragraph goes on to say that without the photonic crystal most light would be lost, or useless; the wing with holes keeps light from being trapped inside which supports answer choice (B). Choice (A) is the most common definition for lost but the word is not used in that context in this sentence. Choices (C) and (D) are neither secondary definitions of lost nor do they work as synonyms in this case.

38.  H  Choice (H) is the best answer because it supports the idea that the wing works like the crystal. Butterfly wings don’t contain the crystal, so you must cross off both choices (F) and (G). Answer choice (J) can’t be right because the comparison is incorrect. Scales of the wing work like the Bragg reflector. The holes in the wing work like a photonic crystal.

39.  D  Choice (D) is supported by the sentences, When light strikes these structures, each wavelength is reflected at different angles … Eventually, only one wavelength is reflected back in the direction of the viewer. Answer choices (A), (B), and (C) present all of these elements, but in the incorrect order.

40.  G  The passage states that most light emitted from standard LEDs cannot escape, resulting in what scientists call a low extraction efficiency of light. This supports choice (G), because high extraction of light is usually not observed with the standard LED. Choice (H) may be tempting because most LEDs do have a low extraction of light, but that is the opposite of what the question asks. Choice (F) is wrong for the same reason: most LEDs do have fluorescent light. Choice (J) is incorrect because there is nothing in the passage to support the idea that pigmentation is related to LEDs.