McGraw-Hill Education ACT 2017 (2016)



The ACT Reading Test has four passages of about 700–900 words each that are each followed by ten questions, for a total of forty questions. The questions can be answered based on information found in the passages. There is virtually no prior knowledge tested on the Reading Test. You will have 35 minutes to complete your work on this section.

The test authors choose subject matter that they think represent the type of material that you will have to read in college. All of the passages on the actual ACT come from material that has been previously published. Therefore, you can rely on the fact that the passages are well edited and will be correct in terms of their grammar, punctuation, and overall structure.

The four passages will be of four different types, as follows:

1.   Prose Fiction (excerpts from novels and short stories)

2.   Humanities (passages with topics from arts and literature, often biographies of famous authors, artists, musicians, etc.)

3.   Social Studies (History, Sociology, Psychology, and other areas of Social Science)

4.   Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc.)

Your ACT score report will include an overall scaled score, which comes from your total number of correct answers out of forty and subscores for Social Studies/Sciences which combines your performance on the Social Science and Natural Science passages. There is also a subscore given for Arts/Literature, which is derived from the twenty questions on Prose Fiction and Humanities. The subscores are then manipulated to arrive at your scaled score.

It turns out that you cannot just add up your two subscores to get your Reading score. There is a little statistical mumbo-jumbo behind the scenes at ACT. So, the subscores might not add up just exactly to your Reading score, but they will be very close.

Image   TIMING

If you choose to answer all of the questions on the Reading Test, you will have about eight minutes to work on each of the four passages and still have enough time to mark the answers on your answer sheet. For many students, it makes sense to slow down a bit to focus on two or three of the passages and simply guess on the remaining questions. Whether you choose to work on all four of the passages will depend on where you are on the scoring scale. The truth of the scoring patterns on the ACT exam is that, if you get 30 out of the 40 questions correct, you end up with a scaled Reading score of about a 29. (There is minor variation in scaled scores from one exam to the next.) A 29 on the Reading Test means that your Reading score would be well within the top 10% of Reading scores nationwide.

The national average ACT Reading Test score is around a 20 or 21 on the 36-point scale. This means that the average ACT-taker gets just about exactly one half of the questions correct on the Reading Test. Of course, we recommend that you strive to do your best and we hope that all readers of this book will be well into the above-average range on the ACT. However, it pays to be realistic about what is possible for you on test day. If, after a reasonable amount of practice and study you are still able to tackle only three of the four passages comfortably within the 35 minutes you are given, you are not in very bad shape. If you can get most of those thirty questions correct, and pick up a few correct answers by guessing on the remaining ten, you could still realistically hope to end up with a top 10% score on the Reading Test.

If you are closer to the average ACT Reading test-taker and find that you are only able to really understand two passages and their accompanying questions in the time allowed, you are still likely to get credit for a few more correct responses by guessing on the remaining twenty questions. In fact, since there are four answer choices for each question, you should predict that you would get about 25% correct when guessing at random. This means that guessing on twenty questions should yield about five correct answers. If you manage to get only 15 correct of the 20 questions that go with the two passages that you work on carefully, you would still have a scaled score of approximately 20 or 21.

Most students should not attempt all four of the passages on the Reading Test and should choose a passage or two that will be “sacrificed” in the interest of time management. There are a few factors to consider when deciding which passage(s) you will sacrifice. For example, you should certainly look at the subject matter. Most students have distinct preferences for one or two of the passage types mentioned previously. Conversely, there is probably at least one type of passage that always seems to account for the bulk of the questions that you miss on practice Reading Tests.

Exam Tip

Let your practice testing help you to decide whether to attack all four passages or not. If you decide to focus on two or three passages on test day, let your practice help guide you when deciding which passages to sacrifice.

Always remember to fill in every answer “bubble” on your answer sheet, since there is no penalty for responding incorrectly as there is on some other tests, such as the SAT.

While vocabulary is not tested directly on the ACT, there is certainly an advantage to knowing what the words mean as you try to decipher a passage. We have included a vocabulary list (Appendix 3), which includes words that have appeared on past ACTs and may appear again. Even if none of the words on the list shows up on your exam, you should at least get an idea of the type of words you are likely to see and the level of difficulty that you can expect to find on your test.


Use the following general strategies when tackling the ACT Reading Test.

Read the Question Stems First

Once you have decided to attack a specific passage, you should have a plan for how to do it. The single most powerful strategy for the Reading Test is to read the question stems first. The question stems are the prompts, or stimuli, that appear before the four answer choices. Don’t read the answer choices before you read the passage. Most of the answer choices are wrong and, in fact, are referred to by testing professionals as distractors. If you read them before you read the passage, you are much more likely to be confused. The questions themselves, though, may contain useful information. You may find that the questions repeatedly refer to specific names or terms. You will find other questions that contain references to the line numbers that are printed down the left side of the passage. These can be very useful in focusing your attention and energy on the parts of the passage that are likely to lead to correct answers to questions.

You can do a little experiment with a couple of friends. Tell one friend to pay attention to one aspect of your environment for a specified period of time. For instance, you might tell him or her that the “game” will consist of counting the number of blue cars on the road. Don’t tell the other friend exactly what to look for, but tell him or her to pay close attention to everything in the surrounding area. Then, after a reasonable time, ask your two friends to tell you how many blue cars were on the road. The odds are overwhelming that only the one who knew what to look for will be correct. The truth is that focus matters and we humans can only focus on a limited number of things at a time.

Don’t “Study” the Passage

Probably the biggest mistake that you could make is to read these passages as though you are studying for an exam in high school or college. The truth is that the ACT Reading Test (and the Science Test also) is in an open-book format. The open-book aspect of the Reading Test means that you should read in a way that helps your brain to work through the information efficiently. You should not read slowly and carefully as though you will have to remember the information for a long period of time. You should read loosely and only dwell on information that you are sure is important because you need it to answer a question.

Exam Tip

The best scores on this section are usually earned by students who have two key skills: paraphrasing and skimming. Paraphrasing means to put things in your own words, and will help you to understand what the question is really asking. Skimming will help you to get through the material more quickly.

The test writers are not interested in whether you can store information for a long period of time and then recall it on an exam day or weeks later. The admissions folks at the colleges you are applying to will rely on your grade point average to tell them how well you do that kind of thinking and reading. This test is meant to measure a slightly different skill set. This type of reading should be very goal-oriented. If the information you are looking at does not help to answer a question that the test writers find important, then you should not linger over it.

When you read for a high school test, you probably read carefully so that you don’t miss some detail or subtle nuance that is likely to help you to answer an exam question later. You probably reread any part of the material that doesn’t make sense immediately. You probably also make connections to your prior knowledge, visualizing as much as you can and subvocalizing (reading “aloud” silently). If you find a new word, you probably slow down or stop reading and try to figure out what the word means by using context clues. You might also underline or highlight important-looking facts, or make margin notes to help you understand and recall information when you review later.

All of these skills are very useful for the type of reading that you must do when preparing for an exam that comes days or even hours after your study session. However, they are not very useful in the context of the ACT Reading Test. In fact, if you read these passages in the same way that you read when you are studying for a closed-book exam, you are falling into some of the traps that are set by the psychometricians mentioned earlier in this book.

The test writers know a lot about how the human mind works. They know about something called negative transference of learning that occurs when we have skills that are “adaptive” or useful in our environment. But, when the environment changes, and we keep using our old skills, they can be “maladaptive,” or harmful. There are many examples of negative transference of learning that range from the comical to the downright tragic. For instance, there have been airplane crashes that resulted from pilots applying habits that they developed in one type of plane to piloting a new type of plane that had the controls arranged a bit differently. We have all experienced something similar (though perhaps not as dangerous) when trying to drive someone else’s car and finding that the controls for the headlights and windshield wipers were in different places.

So, what we are really discussing are your reading habits. You should take stock of your current reading habits, compare them to the strategies explained below, and make changes where you must in order to achieve a higher ACT score. Don’t feel that you have to give up all of the reading skills that you have acquired thus far in your educational career. However, it is a good idea to add to your “tool box” so that you can adapt your approach to the requirements of the reading “environment” in which you find yourself.

Read for the Main Idea

The main idea has three components: “What?”, “What About It?”, and “Why did the author write this?” If you can answer these three questions, then you understand the main idea.

Exam Tip

The Main Idea (“Big Picture”) actually has three parts:

1. Topic—what is the passage about?

2. Scope—what aspect of the topic is being discussed?

3. Purpose—why was the passage written?

Identify all three parts to easily answer “Big Picture” questions.

Too often, students confuse topic with main idea. The topic of a passage only answers the questions of “What is the passage about?” If that is all that you notice, you are missing some very important information.

For example, consider a passage that has a topic that we are all at least somewhat familiar with: rain forests. Let’s say that you are faced with one passage that is about the ongoing destruction of the rain forests and includes a call for the reader to get involved and help to stop the destruction in some way. “What?” = rain forests. “What About It?” = destruction. “Why?” = to inspire the reader to do the action.

Now, say that we keep the same topic, rain forests, but change the other two dimensions: “What About It?” = biodiversity (species variation). “Why?”= to educate the reader. Then we are reading a very different passage. You need all three dimensions of main idea to understand all that you need to answer the questions correctly.

So, read a little more slowly at the beginning until you get a grip on the three questions and then you can shift to the next-higher gear and skim the rest of the passage.

Skim the Passage

Don’t underline. Don’t use context clues. When you come to a word or phrase that is unfamiliar, just blow past it. There will be time to come back if you need to. But there is a strong chance that you won’t need to bother figuring out exactly what that one word or phrase means in order to answer the bulk of the ten questions that follow the passage. If you waste some of your precious time, you will never get it back. This habit can be hard to break. With perseverance and practice, you will become comfortable with a less-than-perfect understanding of the passage.

The goal at this stage is to develop a general understanding of the structure of the passage so that you can find what you are looking for when you refer back to the passage. You should pay attention to paragraph breaks and quickly try to determine the subtopic for each one. The first sentence is not always the topic sentence. So, don’t believe those who say that you can read the first and last sentence of each paragraph and skip the rest of the sentences completely. You are better off skimming over all of the words even if you end up forgetting most of what you read almost immediately.

Remember that you can write in your test booklet. So, when you see a topic word, circle it. If you can sum up a paragraph in a word or two, jot it down in the margin. Remember that the idea at this stage is to not waste time. Keep moving through the material.

Read and Answer the Questions

Start at the beginning of each group of questions. Read the question and make sure that you understand it. Paraphrase it if you need to. (This means to put the question into your own words.) If you paraphrase, keep your language simple. Pretend you are “translating” the question to an average eighth grader. If you can make sure that the person you are imagining can understand the question, then you are ready to answer it. Use the following strategies when answering Reading Test questions:

Refer Back to the Passage

Go back to the part of the passage that will probably contain the answer to your question. It is true that some of the questions on the ACT ask you to draw conclusions based on the information that you read. However, even these questions should be answered based on the information in the passage. There will always be some strong hints, or evidence, that will lead you to an answer.

Some of the questions contain references to specific lines of the passage. The trick in those cases is to read a little before and a little after the specific line that is mentioned. At least read the entire sentence that contains the line that is referenced.

Exam Tip

One of the important skills rewarded by the ACT is the ability to sift through text to find the word or concept that you need. This skill improves with practice.

Some of the questions don’t really tell you where to look for the answer, or they are about the passage as a whole. In these cases, think about what you learned about the passage while you were skimming it. Note the subtopics for the paragraphs, and let them guide you to the part of the passage that contains the information you need.

Don’t be afraid to refer back to the passage repeatedly, and don’t be reluctant to skip around within the ten-question group that accompanies each of the four passages. In fact, many students report success with a strategy of actually skipping back and forth among passages. This plan will not work for everyone. But if you feel comfortable with it after trying it on practice tests, then we can’t think of any reason not to do it on test day.

Predict an Answer

After you have found the relevant information in the passage, try to answer the question in your mind. Do this before you look at the answer choices. Remember: three out of every four answer choices are incorrect. Not only are they incorrect, but they were written by experts to confuse you. They are less likely to confuse you if you have a clear idea of an answer before you read the answer choices. If you can predict an answer for the question, then skim the choices presented and look for your answer. You may have to be a little flexible to recognize it. Your answer may be there dressed up in different words. If you can recognize a restatement of your predicted answer, mark it. The odds that you will manage to predict one of the incorrect answer choices are slim. Mark the question if you are unsure. If there is time, you can come back to it later.

Use the Process of Elimination

Someone once asked Michelangelo how he could sculpt a figure as lifelike as his David. The great artist reportedly responded (certainly with a glint of humor in his eye), “I simply chipped away all of the stone that did not look like David.” This is just like the process of elimination that most test-takers use for all of the questions they answer. The process of elimination is a good tool, although it should not be the only tool in your box. It is reliable but slow. Use it as a backup strategy either when you cannot predict an answer for a question or your prediction is not listed as an answer choice.

It can be hard to break the habit of applying the process of elimination to every question. You likely have “overused” this technique because you have had more than enough time to take tests in the past.

As mentioned previously, the ACT has time limits that are not even realistic for most students. Form some new reading habits by practicing with ACT reading passages under realistic conditions.


The ACT Reading Test includes the following question types:

1.   Main Idea/Point of View. These questions may ask about the main idea of the passage or a specific paragraph. They may also ask about the author’s point of view or perspective, and the intended audience. Questions 1 and 2 in the Practice Section are examples of main idea/point of view questions.

2.   Specific Detail. These questions can be as basic as asking you about a fact that is readily found by referring to a part of the passage. Often, specific detail questions are a bit more difficult because they ask you to interpret the information that is referred to. Questions 7, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, and 20 in the Practice Section are examples of specific detail questions.

3.   Conclusion/Inference. These questions require the test-taker to put together information from the passage to use it as evidence for a conclusion. You will have to find language in the passage that will lead you to arrive at the inference that the question demands. (To “infer” is to draw a conclusion based on information in the passage.) Questions 4, 5, 9, 10, and 17 in the Practice Section are examples of conclusion/inference questions.

4.   Extrapolation. These questions ask you to go beyond the passage itself and find answers that are probably true based on what you know from the passage. They can be based on the author’s tone or on detailed information in the passage. Questions 3 and 18 in the Practice Section are examples of extrapolation questions.

5.   Vocabulary. The ACT does not have a separate vocabulary test. However, there are occasional questions that ask what a specific word means from the passage. The context of the passage should lead you to an educated guess even if you don’t know the specific word being asked about. Questions 6, 8, 11, and 15 in the Practice Section are examples of vocabulary in context questions.


Practice sufficiently to be able to identify the different question types and apply the appropriate strategies.

Main Idea

Answer according to your understanding of the three components of the main idea that were mentioned previously (What? What About It? and Why?). It is also worth noting that the incorrect choices are usually either too broad or too narrow in scope. You should eliminate the answer choices that focus on a specific part of the passage and also eliminate the choices that are too general and could describe other passages besides the one that you are working on.

Specific Detail

Refer back to the passage to find the answer to the question. Use line or paragraph references in the questions, if they are given. Recognize that sometimes the answer choices are paraphrased, so don’t just choose the answers that contain words that appeared in the passage. Make sure that the choice you select responds to the question.


Although you have to do a bit of thinking for these questions, you should be able to find very strong evidence for your answer. When “selling” the answer to yourself, if you find yourself creating a long chain of reasoning and including information from outside the passage, stop and reconsider. The ACT rewards short, strong connections between the evidence in the passage and the answer that is credited.


This question type asks you about what is probably true based on information in the passage. You need to be sensitive to any clues about the author’s tone or attitude and any clues about how the characters in the passage feel. Eliminate any choices that are outside the scope of the passage. As with Inference questions above, the ACT rewards concise, strong connections between the passage and the correct answers.


The ACT only asks a few vocabulary questions, and they are always in the context of a passage. The best way to answer these questions is the simplest way: just read the answer choices back into the sentence mentioned in the question stem and choose the one that changes the meaning of the sentence the least.


The next few pages contain exercises designed to help you apply the concepts generally tested on the ACT Reading Test. Following this exercise section are simulated ACT Reading Test questions in format, which will allow you to become familiar with the types of questions you will encounter on your actual ACT Test.

Identify Topic, Scope, and Purpose

State the Topic, Scope, and Purpose of the following paragraphs. Remember: Topic = what; Scope = to what extent; Purpose = why.

1.   In Rembrandt’s day, many of his fellow painters portrayed their characters much like the idealized gods of Greek and Roman mythology. Rembrandt differed by painting people in a more realistic and humble manner. He used himself, his family members, and even beggars as models. He viewed these people as being just as worthy of being immortalized in art as mythological figures. He also fittingly enhanced his work by the use of chiaroscuro, a technique where light striking the figures dramatically contrasts with a dark background. Rembrandt, the man, emulated his paintings through his singular artistic vision of casting light on the darkness of conformity.

Topic: Image

Scope: Image

Purpose: Image

2.   In the early 1960s, Dr. Jane Goodall began studying chimpanzees in Tanzania. Before that time, scientists believed that chimpanzees were strict vegetarians. It was Goodall who first reported that meat was a natural part of the chimpanzee diet. In fact, Goodall discovered that chimpanzees are actually very proficient hunters. Individual chimpanzees have been known to hunt and eat more than 150 small animals each year. Some of the chimpanzees’ favorite prey are the feral pig, various small antelope species, and the colobus monkey, a dietary staple. In one notable study, the red colobus monkey accounted for more than 80% of the animals eaten by one group of chimpanzees.

Topic: Image

Scope: Image

Purpose: Image

3.   Following fad diets has led to healthier lifestyles for some Americans, but these diets often prove unsustainable. The main problem is the tendency to regain the lost weight after regressing to old eating habits. The good news, however, is that as more research is conducted and more diets are shown to fail, a growing number of people are realizing that dieting is not the key to long-term weight loss. It is becoming increasingly hard to ignore the evidence that a lifestyle of sensible eating and exercise is the path to health. Perhaps we are on the cusp of an exciting new era of health and vitality.

Topic: Image

Scope: Image

Purpose: Image

4.   In England in the early 1800s, women were jailed simply because their husbands died and left them with a debt that they could not pay. Prison conditions were appalling, and the injustice was heightened by the fact that the women often had to take their children with them. Elizabeth Fry was determined to make a difference for these women and children. She organized a team of women to go visit the prisoners and teach them to sew, which enabled them to earn some money and drastically improve their lives. Fry never gave up on prison reform, and she spearheaded many efforts that had lasting effects.

Topic: Image

Scope: Image

Purpose: Image

5.   While manned missions are more costly than unmanned ones, they are also more successful. Robots and astronauts use much of the same equipment in space, but a human is much more capable of calibrating those instruments correctly and placing them in appropriate and useful positions. A computer is often neither as sensitive nor as accurate as a human managing the same terrain or environmental factors. Robots are also not equipped like humans to solve problems as they arise, and they often collect data that is unhelpful or irrelevant. A human, on the other hand, can make instant decisions about what to explore further and what to ignore.

Topic: Image

Scope: Image

Purpose: Image

Locate and Interpret Significant Details

Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.

Throughout the Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas presidential debates, Stephen Douglas repeatedly criticized Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech. In his “House Divided” speech, Lincoln argues that the “Spirit of Nebraska,” the alleged right to choose slavery over freedom in territories, had invaded the country and divided it. The North and the South were no longer working together to put slavery on the road to extinction. In fact, by the late 1850s, the South had fully embraced slavery and wanted to expand it. This new attitude toward slavery promoted by Southerners and some Northern Democrats led Lincoln to believe that they wanted to nationalize slavery.

In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln stated that the nation was too divided to continue to compromise on slavery. Lincoln began his defense by referring to the actions of the Founding Fathers, who had worked to eradicate slavery. He mentioned the unanimous abolition of the African slave trade, as well as the Northwest Ordinance and the lack of the word “slave” in the Constitution, to show that the Founding Fathers intended slavery to be strangled in the original Southern States. Lincoln argued that the South had moved away from this course of ending slavery. Lincoln also stated that the federal government, through the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, had always regulated slavery in the territories. The Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850 were at odds with the new Dred Scott Decision, which denied that Congress had a right to exclude slavery in the states. The Dred Scott Decision also reinforced the idea that African Americans were not citizens and that slaves could be brought into the North without gaining their freedom. The Dred Scott Decision had the effect of undermining Lincoln’s Republican platform that sought to repeal the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Both in the debates and the “House Divided” speech, Lincoln repeatedly questioned the Democrats’ involvement in the Dred Scott Decision. Lincoln suggested that a conspiracy might have taken place between President Buchanan, President Pierce, Chief Justice Roger Taney, and other Democrats, such as Stephen Douglas. Lincoln used evidence to show that the Democrats seemed to have known that the Dred Scott Decision was coming. A key piece of evidence is that the Dred Scott Decision was pushed back until after the election of 1856. In addition, the Democrats had drafted legislation in 1850 and 1854 that contained language seeming to predict that Congress would not be able to exclude slavery in the territories because of Constitutional constraints. The Dred Scott Decision cast doubts on the platform of the Democrats. The Democrats had been endorsing a platform of popular sovereignty, which stated that all new states and territories should be able to vote on whether slavery should be allowed within their borders. The Dred Scott Decision reaffirmed for the South that slaves were considered property. Because America’s Constitution protects property, exclusion of slavery through unfriendly legislation was unconstitutional.

Lincoln spoke about the Kansas/Nebraska Act and his opinion on the repeal of the Missouri Compromise throughout the debates. He believed that popular sovereignty was contrary to the principle that valued freedom over slavery. The “Spirit of Nebraska” was what prompted Northerners like Douglas to create the Kansas-Nebraska Act that opposed the “Spirit of ’76,” the hope of the Founding Fathers that slavery would be strangled within the original Southern states over time. Lincoln believed that the battle over slavery could not be won unless the majority opinion actively opposed slavery.

1.   What was the “Spirit of Nebraska” and what, according to Lincoln, had it done to America?


2.   Identify two of the arguments Lincoln made to show that the Founding Fathers opposed slavery.


3.   What did Lincoln’s Republican platform seek to repeal?


4.   What were the implications of the “popular sovereignty” platform?


5.   What reaffirmed that slaves were considered property?


Understand Sequences of Events and Comprehend Cause–Effect Relationships

Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.

Every day, one takes for granted the ease of finding out the date. This is simplified to such a great degree by following the Gregorian calendar, based on the solar cycle, which keeps track of 365.25 days each year. This has not always been the case, however. In ancient China, the calendar was based on the lunar cycle, and consisted of a repeating 12-year sequence, each named for a different animal.

The origin of the 12 animals is mythological, with the story being passed down from generation to generation. A common telling of the tale recounts a celebration to honor the Jade Emperor; all of the animals were expected to pay tribute to him on the night of the new year and the first 12 to arrive would receive a great distinction.

In order to reach the Imperial Palace, the animals had to cross a fast-moving river. The cunning rat arrived first climbing atop the ox, who was a much stronger swimmer than the rat, and jumping off right before reaching shore, winning the race. The ox received second place, followed shortly thereafter by the tiger—the strength of both animals allowed them to finish quickly. The rabbit, with his agility, followed by jumping from stone to stone across the river. Next came the mighty and majestic dragon, who flew across the river. When asked why he was not first, he replied that he needed to make rain for the people of Earth and was thus delayed. His kindness earned him the fifth place in the cycle. During the dragon’s explanation there was a galloping sound, signaling the arrival of the horse. Suddenly, hidden coiled around the leg of the horse, appeared the snake—nearly as cunning as the rat—who darted in front of the horse, taking sixth place. The horse settled for seventh, just as a raft reached the shore with three more animals. The sheep (eighth), the monkey (ninth), and the rooster (tenth) built a raft and traversed the river with combined effort. For this show of teamwork, they were rewarded in the order that they stepped off of the raft. Next to arrive was the dog, who was met with questioning looks. Supposedly the best swimmer, the dog’s lateness was due to his taking a bath in the refreshing waters of the river. His vanity nearly cost him the race. Last was the lazy pig, who stopped on the other side of the river for a feast before he attempted to cross. So weighed down by his meal, he arrived only moments before the Emperor declared the race finished.

Missing from this list of animals is the cat. Sadly, he was a victim of the rat’s cunning; the day before the race, the rat informed the cat that he would awaken him prior to the race, so as to allow the cat to rest and save its strength for the race. The day of the race arrived, and the cat continued to sleep while the rat took his spot atop the ox. When the cat awoke, the race was finished, and the cat has hated the rat for what it did ever since.

1.   Which animal arrived only moments before the race finished?


2.   What two animals traveled with the second- and seventh-place finishers?


3.   Why didn’t the dog win the race?


4.   Name one of the animals that traveled with the monkey.


5.   Which animal from the passage did not finish the race?


Determine the Meaning of Words, Phrases, and Statements in Context

Underline the word or phrase in parentheses that best fits the context of each paragraph.

1.   A nation has a spiritual as well as material, moral as well as physical existence subjected to internal as well as external conditions of health and virtue, greatness and grandeur, which it must in some measure understand and observe, or become (lethargic, grandiose) and infirm, stunted in its growth, and end in premature decay and death.

2.   Sylvia Plath, American author of the tragic novel The Bell Jar, lived a real-life tragedy bearing many similarities to her fictional story. Like the main character in the story, Plath committed suicide shortly after the (help, demise) of her marriage to Ted Hughes, an English poet. Even as a young child, Plath’s life was fraught with (emotional distress, joyous occasions). When she was just eight years old, Plath’s father passed away. Years later, as a junior at Smith College, Plath attempted suicide for the first time and failed.

3.   A planet can be described as a non-moon, sun-orbiting object that does not generate nuclear fusion and is large enough to be pulled into a spherical shape by its own gravity. In addition, most known planets generally follow a fixed orbital path. Pluto is not a moon, as it does not orbit another planet. Although Pluto’s orbital path is (irregular, certain) compared to the other planets of the solar system, it undisputedly orbits the sun.

4.   Fairfield Porter trained under world-famous art historian Bernard Berenson and spent countless hours in museums and galleries. Porter’s renown as an art critic is due in part to his (knack for, lack of) responding directly to an artist’s work. He found fault with the common talk-based criticism that spoke of art only in reference to its past or to some vague theoretical framework; such (criticism, commendation) attempted to shape the future of art and was far too biased for Porter.

5.   After reading Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the third time, it occurred to me why I so enjoy that story. It begins when the main character, Francie Nolan, is an 11-year-old girl living in tenement housing in Brooklyn, New York, in the early 1900s. The story tells of both her struggles and her dreams, painting a picture of both sadness and (duress, elation).

Draw Generalizations

Read the passage below and, in the questions that follow, decide if the statements are true or false. True statements will be those most clearly supported by facts from the passage.

Fear is a normal, legitimate response to genuine danger. However, when fear spirals out of control, becoming persistent and irrational, it constitutes a phobia. Phobias affect a significant portion of the American population. Some experts believe that nearly 25% of Americans live with irrational fears that prevent them from performing everyday activities. Phobias, like other anxiety disorders, can greatly affect quality of life. Generally defined as an unrelenting, anomalous, and unfounded fear of an object or situation, phobias are normally developed from a past negative experience or encounter. Alternatively, children can adopt phobias by observing a family member’s reaction to specific stimuli. There is also data to suggest genetic factors linked to phobias.

Phobias come in three distinct classes: agoraphobia, social phobia, and specific phobia. Agoraphobics have an intense fear of leaving a safe place, such as their homes, or being in certain wide open or crowded spaces with no escape. Agoraphobia is the most disabling type of phobia, and treatment is generally complicated by the many associated fears a patient might have. The fear of panic attacks caused by agoraphobia is common. Social phobias are fears related to people or social situations. Social phobias can greatly interfere with work responsibilities and personal relationships. Specific phobia is a general category for any phobia other than agoraphobia and social phobia. This class contains the most recognizable set of symptoms, and is often the easiest class of phobias to treat.

Under the heading of specific phobia, there are four categories: situational, environmental, animal, and medical phobias. Over 350 different phobias have been identified across these four categories. Observers often notice symptoms of a person experiencing intense fear. In many cases, a person facing a phobia will show signs of panic, trepidation, and terror. He or she may also exhibit physical signs including rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and trembling. Often, one begins to fear a phobic attack and will experience symptoms without the presence of any external stimuli.

Once a person has been diagnosed with agoraphobia, social phobia, or specific phobia, there is a wide range of treatment options available. Recent medical advances have allowed researchers to identify the parts of the brain associated with phobias. The amygdala is one such area of the brain under intense study. This almond-shaped bundle of nerve cells located deep within the brain releases excitatory hormones into the bloodstream and is involved in normal fear conditioning; however, if the amygdala becomes overactive, normal fear responses are heightened. The brain chemical oxytocin has been found to quell activity in the amygdala, thereby weakening the production of the excitatory hormones and limiting the amygdala’s communication with other areas of the brain that telegraph the fear response. This relationship between oxytocin and the amygdala indicates a potentially powerful treatment for phobias.

Prior to the development of medical treatments, many people suffering from extreme phobias were often forced to meet with behavioral specialists. These specialists believe that the exaggerated fear experienced is an acquired reflex to some benign stimulus. For example, a normal fear resulting from a dangerous stimulus, such as being bitten by a dog, can turn into an irrational fear of all animals. Behavioral specialists attempt to combat irrational fears through repeated exposure to the phobic stimulus. For instance, a cynophobic person might be introduced first to a small, nonthreatening dog, and then be repeatedly exposed to larger dogs in controlled situations until the fear eventually disappears. These behavioral approaches are still very common and show some positive results. One key to the success of behavioral therapy is the emphasis that therapists place on ensuring that their patients know there indeed are others afflicted with the same disorder. Just knowing that they do not suffer alone helps patients to focus on their treatment and reap the rewards of the therapy.

Any acute fear that hampers daily living and causes great emotional and physical stress should be treated. The vast majority of patients respond to treatment, overcoming their fears to enjoy symptom-free lives. Effective and often permanent relief can come from behavior therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

1.   True/False: As many as a quarter of all Americans may be afflicted with phobias that greatly affect their lives.

2.   True/False: Agoraphobia can greatly interfere with work responsibilities and personal relationships, but is easier to treat than specific phobia.

3.   True/False: Although now quite uncommon, behavioral approaches were, at one time, successful because they allowed patients to hide their fears.

4.   True/False: It is possible for people suffering from a phobia to have symptoms of a phobic attack just from thinking about what it is they are afraid of.

5.   True/False: Oxytocin has the potential to treat acute fears that hamper daily life.

Analyze the Author’s or Narrator’s Voice and Method

Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.

Eli Whitney (1765–1825) invented the cotton gin, an innovative machine that effectively ended the laborious process of removing cotton seeds by hand, enabling farmers of the American South to harvest the crop en masse. Without a cotton gin, even the most experienced worker could process only one pound of cotton per day. Whitney’s machine could screen fifty times as much, making the fiber profitable for the first time.

Although Whitney’s cotton-cleaning machine was the first of its kind in America, simple devices had been used around the world for centuries to perform the job. For instance, over a millennium ago in India, a device called a charka was invented to separate cotton seeds from lint by pulling the crude fibers through a spinning wheel. The machine was not adaptable, however, to the short-staple cotton produced in North America. In order to process the specific type of cotton fiber grown in the American South, a new apparatus had to be constructed.

Whitney recognized the need for a specialized device to separate cotton’s sticky seeds from its desirable fibers. He had already designed many useful items during his lifetime (including muskets and the machines to manufacture them), but none impacted the lives of people as dramatically as the cotton gin did. Some credit it alone for transforming the Southern economy. Even small farms could benefit from a hand-cranked gin; larger versions could be tied to a horse or a water wheel. Large cotton plantations throughout the Southern states displaced farmers of other crops. Cotton production was so profitable, in fact, that food crops fell by the wayside, which had a marked effect on every Southern family’s larder.

The cotton gin has to its credit the boost to the cotton industry and the resultant expansion of slavery in Southern plantations. A rush of new immigrants to the United States was making labor inexpensive enough that slavery was an increasingly unprofitable undertaking. Enormous cotton plantations tipped the balance, though, by quickly requiring a massive labor force to work land that had theretofore been unplanted. Plantation owners became fierce advocates for slavery. While immigrants wanted work, many were unwilling to perform the arduous tasks of cotton production. Plantation owners relied almost solely on slave labor until its abolition at the end of the Civil War.

Whitney’s cotton gin revolutionized agriculture in the United States. The weight of his invention notwithstanding, he struggled to make a profit from it. After receiving a patent for his invention, Whitney and a partner opted to produce as many cotton gins as possible and charge farmers a steep fee to use them. Farmers considered this fee unnecessary and exorbitant, and began manufacturing copies of the cotton gin instead, claiming that their inventions were unique. Because of a loophole in the patent law, many of the lawsuits brought against the farmers by Whitney and his partner were fruitless. The duo finally agreed to license their cotton gins at a reasonable price, preventing the windfall that Whitney had foreseen.

1.   In the first paragraph, the author’s use of the words “innovative” and “laborious” reveal what about his/her feelings toward the cotton gin?


2.   Why does the author discuss the charka?


3.   How would you describe the author’s approach in the third paragraph when discussing the drop in food crop production?


4.   Based on the discussion in the fourth paragraph, what might the author’s opinion be concerning the effect of the cotton gin on slavery?


5.   What does the author’s use of the word “exorbitant” in the last paragraph convey about the farmers’ feelings toward the fees charged to use cotton gins?


Paraphrase Question Stems

Following are simulated ACT Reading Test question stems. Paraphrase each of the question stems, putting them into your own words, to help reveal your understanding of the actual question being asked.

1.   Which of the following statements does NOT describe one of Joe’s reactions to the events of the final play of the game?


2.   As depicted in the sixth paragraph (lines 42–50), the relationship between the children and their grandfather is best described by which of the following statements?


3.   The examples shown in lines 15–21 appear to most undermine the position held by:


4.   The passage most strongly suggests that today’s controversy over the existence of dark matter was prompted by which of the following?


5.   Which of the following best describes the way the last paragraph functions in relation to the passage as a whole?



Identify Topic, Scope, and Purpose

Locate and Interpret Significant Details

1.   In the second sentence of the first paragraph, the author states that the Spirit of Nebraska was “the alleged right to choose slavery over freedom in territories” and that, according to Lincoln, it “had invaded the country and divided it.”

2.   Any two of the following three arguments found in the second paragraph would be correct: Lincoln mentioned “the unanimous abolition of the African slave trade, the Northwest Ordinance and the lack of the word ‘slave’ in the Constitution, to show that the Founding Fathers intended slavery to be strangled in the original Southern States.”

3.   At the end of the second paragraph, the author states, “the Dred Scott Decision had the effect of undermining Lincoln’s Republican platform that wanted to repeal the Kansas-Nebraska Act.”

4.   Near the end of the third paragraph the author states that, “the Democrats had been endorsing a platform of popular sovereignty, which stated that all new states and territories should be able to vote on whether slavery should be allowed within their borders.” This implies that slavery would continue to spread if the Democratic platform was made law.

5.   The second-to-last sentence of Paragraph 3 states specifically that, “The Dred Scott Decision reaffirmed for the South that slaves were considered property.”

Understand Sequences of Events and Comprehend Cause–Effect Relationships

1.   Pig—“Last was the lazy pig, who stopped on the other side of the river for a feast before he attempted to cross, and was so weighed down by his meal that he arrived only moments before the Emperor declared the race to be finished.”

2.   Rat and Snake—“The cunning rat arrived first by climbing atop the ox, who was a much stronger swimmer than the rat, and jumping off of the ox right before reaching shore, winning the race.” AND “Suddenly, hidden coiled around the leg of the horse, appeared the snake—nearly as cunning as the rat—who darted in front of the horse taking sixth place. The horse settled for seventh…”

3.   This cause-and-effect relationship can be found in the passage: “Supposedly the best swimmer, the dog’s lateness was due to his taking a bath in the refreshing waters of the river. His vanity nearly cost him the race.”

4.   Sheep or Rooster—“The sheep (eighth), the monkey (ninth), and the rooster (tenth) built a raft and traversed the river with their combined efforts. For this show of teamwork, they were rewarded in the order that they stepped off of the raft.”

5.   Cat—“Missing from this list of animals is the cat. Sadly, he was a victim of the rat’s cunning; the day before the race, the rat informed the cat that he would awaken him prior to the race, so as to allow the cat to rest and save its strength for the race. The day of the race arrived, and the cat continued to sleep while the rat took his spot atop the ox. When the cat awoke, the race was finished, and the cat has hated the rat for what it did ever since.”

Determine the Meaning of Words, Phrases, and Statements in Context

Paragraph 1: Lethargic    The paragraph indicates that there are positive aspects to a nation’s existence that must be understood. Failure to understand and observe these conditions would lead to negative consequences; the nation would become “… infirm, stunted in growth, and end in premature decay and death.” The word “lethargic” means “lazy” or “sluggish,” so it is appropriate here.

Paragraph 2: Demise    The negative context of the paragraph can be found in words such as “tragic” and “tragedy.” The word “demise” means “death” or “end of existence” and it makes sense that both Plath and her main character would commit suicide after the end of a marriage, which can be particularly painful and tragic.

Emotional distress    The negative context of the paragraph is best supported by the phrase “emotional distress.” There is nothing in the paragraph to indicate that Plath’s life included many “joyous occasions.”

Paragraph 3: Irregular    The context of the paragraph indicates that there is some controversy surrounding Pluto’s classification as a planet and implies that, unlike the other planets in the solar system (all of which orbit the sun on a generally constant path) Pluto has an “irregular” orbit. The word “although” indicates some sort of contrast, which should lead you to this answer.

Paragraph 4: Knack for    According to the paragraph, Porter was renowned as an art critic. The word “renowned” means “widely honored” or “famous,” both of which point to the quality of Porter’s reputation. It makes sense based on the context of the paragraph that Porter had a “knack for” (meaning “talent for”) responding directly to an artist’s work, as such behavior would add to his acclaim and renown.

Criticism    The sentence begins with, “He found fault with…” This best supports the use of the word “criticism.” The word “commendation” means “praise,” which is not supported by the context.

Paragraph 5: Elation    The paragraph indicates that the girl’s life was filled with both struggles and dreams; in other words, she had both negative and positive experiences. The word “both” is the context clue, and should lead you to select the word “elation,” meaning “great joy,” which correctly complements “sadness.” These two conflicting emotions parallel “struggles and dreams.”

Draw Generalizations

1.   True    The passage states: “Phobias affect a significant portion of the American population. Some experts believe that nearly 25% of Americans live with irrational fears that prevent them from performing everyday activities. Phobias, like other anxiety disorders, can greatly affect quality of life.”

2.   False    While it is true that agoraphobia can greatly interfere in a person’s life, it is not easier to treat than specific phobia. According to the passage, “Agoraphobia is the most disabling type of phobia, and treatment is generally complicated by the many associated fears a patient might have.” Moreover, the passage states that specific phobia “is often the easiest class of phobias to treat.”

3.   False    According to the passage, “Behavioral specialists attempt to combat irrational fears through repeated exposure to the phobic stimulus… These behavioral approaches are still very common and show some positive results.”

4.   True    The passage states: “Often, one begins to fear a phobic attack and will experience symptoms without the presence of any external stimuli.” This suggests that a person with a phobia can manifest symptoms simply from thinking about the phobia and anticipating the fear.

5.   True    According to the passage, “… if the amygdala becomes overactive, normal fear responses are heightened. The brain chemical oxytocin has been found to quell activity in the amygdala, thereby weakening the production of the excitatory hormones and limiting the amygdala’s communication with other areas of the brain that telegraph the fear response. This relationship between oxytocin and the amygdala indicates a potentially powerful treatment for phobias.”

Analyze the Author’s or Narrator’s Voice and Method

1.   The author believes that the cotton gin revolutionized the way cotton was harvested by eliminating much of the human labor involved. This “innovative” machine ended the “laborious” (labor intensive) practice of cleaning the cotton by hand.

2.   The author discusses the charka to show that, although cotton-cleaning devices are an old concept, Whitney’s cotton gin was the first of its kind adapted to the unique types of cotton grown in America.

3.   By mentioning the domination of growing cotton over growing food crops, the author is further emphasizing the extent of the impact the cotton gin had on the Southern economy.

4.   The author avoids giving an opinion about whether the expansion of slavery was an ethically appropriate step for Southern plantations. Instead, the author shows the cause–effect relationship between the cotton gin and the increase in slavery based on economic factors. The author probably feels that the expansion of slavery was the natural result of expanded cotton farming.

5.   The word “exorbitant” means “excessive.” The farmers thought that Eli Whitney wanted too much money to license the use of his invention.

Paraphrase Question Stems

Following are examples of effective paraphrases. Yours might be different; the purpose of this exercise is to help you make the question stems easier to handle, thereby increasing your chances of correctly answering the question.

1.   Which answer choice is false?

Explanation: Locate the part of the passage that discusses Joe’s reaction to the last play of the game. The correct answer choice will be the one that is NOT described in this section of the passage. The incorrect answer choices will all mention something about Joe’s true reaction.

2.   How do the children and the grandfather feel about each other?

Explanation: First, get a general sense of how the people feel about each other. For example: Did the children do something to anger the grandfather? Is the grandfather happy to see his grandchildren? Then, look for the answer choice that has the same general connotation, usually either positive or negative.

3.   Whose position is weakened by the examples in lines 15–21?

Explanation: Carefully read the indicated lines, and then decide whose position is weakened, hurt, or rendered false, by those statements.

4.   What caused the controversy surrounding dark matter?

Explanation: Locate the section of the passage that includes information about “today’s controversy,” and note the events leading up to it. There will often be specific language in the passage that is echoed in the correct answer.

5.   What is the purpose of the last paragraph?

Explanation: Read the paragraph (in this case) and determine what it does: does it wrap up the story; does it suggest that more work needs to be done; Does it analyze the arguments presented in the passage? Look carefully at the first word in the answer choices once you’ve determined the general function of the paragraph in question.


Following are simulated ACT Reading Test passages and questions, along with explanations for all of the questions. Carefully read the directions, apply the information from this chapter, and attempt all of the questions.

DIRECTIONS: This practice section includes two passages, each followed by ten questions. Read the passages and choose the best answer to each question. Circle the answer you choose. You should refer to the passages as often as necessary when answering the questions.


PROSE FICTION: Fear of Success

      “You appear to have a fear of success,” her doctor said.

      “You mean a fear of failure, don’t you?”

      “No. A fear of success.”

1.   The passage is written from the point of view of:

A.  an unidentifiable narrator.

B.  the doctor of a very disturbed woman.

C.  a mother confused by her daughter’s strange decisions.

D.  a working-class man.

2.   Which of the following best describes the author’s approach to presenting the story of the main character’s discovery about herself?

F.  Starting immediately with a statement of the discovery in the character’s voice and continuing with scenes that reveal how the discovery came about

G.  Revealing the character’s self-awareness through a blend of reflection and scenes from the character’s youth and adulthood

H.  Describing the physical details of scenes and summarizing their significance in a concluding statement in the character’s voice

 J.  Using dialogue in the midst of scenes from the character’s youth and adulthood

3.   Each of the events from the main character’s youth and early adulthood reveal:

A.  the increasing antagonism between the main character and her doctor.

B.  the judgmental attitude of the main character’s parents.

C.  the main character’s failure to make wise decisions.

D.  the main character’s inability to keep a job.

4.   According to the passage, Dr. Mornington would most likely analyze the main character’s blatant shoplifting as:

F.  an uncontrollable urge.

G.  the mimicry of similar crimes committed by other members of her family.

H.  an example of her brilliance.

 J.  evidence of a subconscious wish to be caught.

5.   As she is revealed in the shoplifting incident, the main character’s best friend can best be characterized as:

A.  jealous.

B.  genuinely concerned.

C.  apathetic and uncaring.

D.  naïve.

6.   As it is used in line 42, the word ardently most nearly means:

F.  half-heartedly.

G.  hotly.

H.  enthusiastically.

 J.  loyally.

7.   The main character’s childhood home was:

A.  a working-class neighborhood of an unnamed city.

B.  a wealthy suburb in Connecticut.

C.  Atlanta.

D.  not mentioned in the passage.

8.   The use of the phrase “true calling” in lines 59–60 indicates that the main character:

F.  heard voices from God.

G.  worked in the telecommunications industry.

H.  was struggling to find her purpose in life.

 J.  hated investment banking, but loved her next job.

9.   The passage states that the main character’s mother “couldn’t understand her daughter’s caprice.” This most nearly means that the main character’s mother:

A.  didn’t understand the collegiate words that her daughter used.

B.  was concerned about her daughter’s need to see a psychologist.

C.  thought her daughter spent too much of her time playing sports.

D.  did not know what caused her daughter’s impulsive behavior.

10.   Based on the telephone conversation at the end of the passage, it can most reasonably be inferred that:

F.  the main character is ready to trust her doctor and make positive changes in her life.

G.  Dr. Mornington’s receptionist is lying about the long wait to meet with the doctor.

H.  the main character will not see Dr. Mornington.

 J.  the main character is unwilling to recognize the need for change in her life.



11.   As it is used in the first paragraph, the word machine most nearly means:

A.  the aggregate of human functions.

B.  a coin-operated device.

C.  a highly organized political group.

D.  a newly discovered medical tool.

12.   According to the passage, medical researchers have made tremendous progress in their ability to cure:

F.  leukemia.

G.  Huntington’s Disease.

H.  most types of cancer.

 J.  white blood cells.

13.   According to the passage, all of the following are examples of symptoms of Huntington’s Disease EXCEPT:

A.  difficulty swallowing.

B.  forgetfulness.

C.  frequent rashes.

D.  involuntary twitching.

14.   The symptoms of Huntington’s Disease begin when:

F.  white blood cells multiply too quickly.

G.  leukocytes attack other cells.

H.  brain cells are cured.

 J.  neurons degenerate.

15.   As it is used in the passage, the word juvenile (line 41) most nearly means:

A.  young.

B.  emotionally immature.

C.  misbehaving.

D.  occurring in childhood.

16.   According to the passage, Huntington’s Disease occurs in:

F.  individuals of European descent only.

G.  people who carry the HD gene only.

H.  adults between the ages of thirty and forty-five only.

 J.  all people with leukemia.

17.   According to the passage, if someone carries the Huntington’s Disease gene:

A.  he or she may never develop symptoms of HD.

B.  he or she will eventually lose some cognitive ability and coordination.

C.  he or she is likely to have unusual physical traits recognizable before the onset of symptoms.

D.  there is no way of knowing it until symptoms begin.

18.   According to the passage, George Huntington:

F.  was the first person diagnosed with HD.

G.  was the doctor who developed a cure for HD.

H.  was the first doctor to describe the symptoms and hereditary nature of the disease.

 J.  suffered from drastic mood swings.

19.   The author of the passage compares HD to:

A.  a fly in the ointment.

B.  an insidious villain with malicious intent.

C.  a monkey wrench in the machine.

D.  a black-widow spider.

20.   According to the passage, HD directly affects:

        I. those who carry the HD gene.

      II. the families of people with HD.

     III. the patients of those who carry the HD gene.

F.  I only

G.  I and II only

H.  II and III only

 J.  I, II, and III




1.   The best answer is A.  Although the doctor, mother, and working-class man are all mentioned in the passage, the narrator is an unnamed observer of the main character, who is also unnamed.

2.   The best answer is G.  The main character discovers her character flaws by reflecting on scenes from her life. The passage does not begin with a statement of discovery. Although dialogue is used at the beginning and end of the passage, it is not used throughout, nor does the main character offer a concluding statement of summary at the end.

3.   The best answer is C.  It is clear based on the details in the passage that the main character has a history of making unwise decisions. The antagonism between the main character and her doctor is evident in the opening paragraphs, but there is no mention of the doctor in other scenes of the main character’s life. Although the main character’s parents may have judged their daughter’s actions, it is not central to the story. Finally, although the main character jumped from one career to another, it is also not a factor in all of the scenes.

4.   The best answer is J.  The doctor states that he believes the main character fears success. It follows that the main character would engage in self-destructive acts such as shoplifting to be denied that success. You can assume that if the main character were caught shoplifting, her chances at a successful life might be reduced.

5.   The best answer is B.  The passage states, “her best friend paid for the candy and begged for mercy.” These are not the actions of someone jealous, apathetic, or naïve, but rather genuinely concerned for her friend.

6.   The best answer is H.  Ardent can mean “hotly,” “enthusiastic,” or “whole-hearted.” The main character “enthusiastically” prepared for her interview because she really wanted the wellpaying job.

7.   The best answer is A.  The main character’s first job was in Atlanta, and she attended college in Connecticut, but the main character grew up on a working-class neighborhood. The name of the place is not mentioned.

8.   The best answer is H.  Given that the main character repeatedly went from one job to another, each time thinking she was answering her “true calling,” you can infer that she was struggling to find her purpose in life. The passage does not tell what each of those jobs was nor does it infer that she heard voices.

9.   The best answer is D.  Caprice is defined as “sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notions or actions.” This definition is supported by the passage. Although the main character was well educated, the passage does not imply that the mother’s vocabulary was not equal to that of her daughter’s. The passage does not imply that the mother was aware that her daughter saw a psychologist. Nor does it imply that the mother thought her daughter spent too much time playing sports.

10.   The best answer is F.  Based on the reflections leading up to the phone call and the “heavy sigh” (which implies a new resolve), you can infer that the main character is willing to trust the doctor and begin trying to make positive changes in her life. The other answer choices are not supported by the passage.


11.   The best answer is A.  Although humans are not routinely referred to as “machines,” the routine, predictable functions of the human body can be likened to a machine. The other options are all legitimate definitions of the word “machine,” but are inappropriate in this context.

12.   The best answer is F.  The first paragraph clearly states that doctors “have made tremendous progress in successfully curing leukemia. Such is not the case for Huntington’s Disease (HD).” The other answer choices are not supported by details in the passage.

13.   The best answer is C.  Difficulty swallowing, forgetfulness, and involuntary twitching are all listed as symptoms of Huntington’s Disease. Frequent rashes are not mentioned.

14.   The best answer is J.  According to the second paragraph, HD is the result of the degeneration of neurons (a type of brain cell). Degenerate means “to break down.”

15.   The best answer is D.  The word juvenile can be used to mean any of the answer choices, but in this context, it means “occurring in childhood.” Juvenile delinquents frequently “misbehave,” but this notion is not discussed in the passage.

16.   The best answer is G.  The passage states that if someone “does not inherit the HD gene, he or she will not develop the disease.” Therefore, you can infer that HD occurs only in those people who carry the gene. The passage does not state that the disease is more prevalent in one racial or ethnic group than another. Although symptoms of HD usually appear between the ages of thirty and forty-five, symptoms can begin at any age. Lastly, HD has nothing to do with leukemia.

17.   The best answer is B.  Anyone with the HD gene will eventually develop HD. Prior to developing symptoms, people with the HD gene do not look any different from people without it. A blood test can determine if someone carries the HD gene, whether or not he or she has symptoms of the disease.

18.   The best answer is H.  As stated in the fifth paragraph, Dr. George Huntington first described the hereditary disorder. He did not have the disease, nor did he develop a cure.

19.   The best answer is B.  In the last sentence, HD is described as “an insidious villain which lurks within its helpless victims.” The other answer choices are not supported by the passage.

20.   The best answer is G.  The passage only mentions the effects of HD on those afflicted with the disease and their families. Roman numeral III is not supported by the passage.