Barron's SAT, 26th edition (2012)


Chapter 2. The Passage-Based Reading Question

• Quick Overview

• Testing Tactics

• Practice Exercises

• Answer Key

• Answer Explanations


Your SAT test will contain three critical reading sections (not counting any experimental critical reading part). They will most likely follow these three basic patterns.

24-Question Critical Reading Section

Questions 1–8

sentence completion

Questions 9–12

passage-based reading (2 short passages)

Questions 13–24

passage-based reading (1 long passage)

24-Question Critical Reading Section

Questions 1–5

sentence completion

Questions 6–9

passage-based reading (paired short passages)

Questions 10–24

passage-based reading (2 long passages)

19-Question Critical Reading Section

Questions 1–6

sentence completion

Questions 7–19

passage-based reading (paired long passages)

This chapter begins with basic advice about the SAT critical reading sections. TACTICS 1–7 tell you how to deal with SAT reading questions in general. TACTICS 8–14 give you the answers to the questions on the three SAT passages, plus solid hints about how to answer each type of question and short lists of key words you are sure to meet in certain question types. Finally, TACTIC 15 shows you how to deal with the long paired passages you’ll face in one of the SAT’s three critical reading sections.

The directions for the passage-based reading portions of the SAT are minimal. They are:

Each passage below is followed by questions based on its content. Answer all questions following a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.

Testing Tactics


1. Make use of the introductions to acquaint yourself with the text.

2. Use the line references in the questions to be sure you’ve gone back to the correct spot in the passage.

3. When you have a choice, tackle passages with familiar subjects before passages with unfamiliar ones.

4. In tackling the short reading passages, try this approach: first read a question; then read the passage.

5. In tackling the long reading passages, first read the passage; then read the questions.

6. Try to answer all the questions on a particular passage before you move on to the next.

7. Learn to spot the major reading question types.

8. When asked to find the main idea, be sure to check the opening and summary sentences of each paragraph.

9. Familiarize yourself with the technical terms used to describe a passage’s organization.

10. When asked about specific details in a passage, spot key words in the question and scan the passage to find them (or their synonyms).

11. When asked to make inferences, base your answers on what the passage implies, not what it states directly.

12. When asked about an attitude or tone, look for words that convey emotions, express values, or paint pictures.

13. When asked to give the meaning of an unfamiliar word, look for nearby context clues.

14. When dealing with double passages, tackle them one at a time.


Make Use of the Introductions to Acquaint Yourself with the Text.

Almost every reading passage is preceded by an italicized introduction. Don’t skip it. As you read the italicized introductory material and tackle the passage’s opening sentences, try to anticipate what the passage will be about. You’ll be in a better position to understand what you read.


Use the Line References in the Questions to Be Sure You’ve Gone Back to the Correct Spot in the Passage.

Most of the reading passages on the SAT tend to be long. Fortunately, the lines are numbered, and the questions often refer you to specific lines in the passage by number. It takes less time to locate a line number than to spot a word or phrase. Use the line numbers to orient yourself in the text.


When You Have a Choice, Tackle Passages with Familiar Subjects Before Passages with Unfamiliar Ones.

Build on what you already know and like. It’s only common sense: if you know very little about botany or are uninterested in it, you are all too likely to run into trouble reading a passage about plant life.

It is hard to concentrate when you read about something that is wholly unfamiliar to you. Give yourself a break. When you have more than one reading passage in a section, start with one that interests you or that deals with a topic you know well. There is nothing wrong in skipping questions. Just remember to check the numbering of your answer sheet. You should, of course, go back to the questions you skipped if you have time.


In Tackling the Short Reading Passages, Try this Approach: First Read a Question; Then Read the Passage.

Students often ask whether it is better to read the passage first or the questions first. The answer depends on the passage, and it depends on you. If you are a superfast reader faced with one of the new, 100-word short reading passages, head for the questions first. As you read each question, be on the lookout for key words, either in the question itself or among the answer choices. Then run your eye down the passage, looking for those key words or their synonyms. When you locate a key word, read the relevant sentence and a couple of sentences around it to see whether you can confidently answer the question based on just that portion of the passage.

If, however, you’re not a speed demon at reading, a more effective move may be to skim the whole passage and then read the questions. Only you can decide which method works better for you.

Here are two questions, followed by a short reading passage. Tackle the questions one at a time, each time reading the question before turning to the passage to find the correct answer.

  1. In line 7, “pure” most nearly means

(A) chaste

(B) immaculate

(C) guiltless

(D) absolute

(E) abstract

  2. In line 7 (“Yes…borrowed”), the author does which of the following?

(A) denies a possibility

(B) makes a concession

(C) exaggerates a claim

(D) refutes a theory

(E) draws an inference

Now look at the passage. Don’t read it. Just take a quick peek and skip to the instructions that follow.

Descended from West African slaves, Georgia’s Sea Islanders retain not
only many African rhythms and musical instruments but also singing games
more like British games than African ones. One spiraling game is “Wind up
this borrin.” Some teachers claim “borrin” is a corruption of “borrowing,”

Line (5) and explain that penniless islanders always borrowed. The game’s spiraling,
happy ending shows their joy in having enough so that they no longer need
to borrow. This is pure invention. Yes, islanders always borrowed. But that
has nothing to do with the “borrin” in this game. The spiraling figure is the
English “wind the bobbin”; the teachers’ claim may sound persuasive,

(10) but it just isn’t true.

Here’s how to tackle question 1. Look for the word pure in the passage. It occurs in the phrase “pure invention.” Consider that phrase. What do people mean when they say a claim or statement is an invention? They mean that it is a false statement, a fabrication, a story someone made up. When they say it is pure invention, they are stressing that it is a complete or total fabrication. In other words, it is absolutely false. The correct answer is Choice D.

Now for question 2. Look at the sentence the question refers to. “Yes, islanders always borrowed.” In the sentence just before, the author flatly states that the teachers’ claim that borrin comes from borrowing is complete bunk (“pure invention”). The author absolutely dismisses the teachers’ claim. However, she acknowledges there is some truth in what the teachers have said; islanders have always borrowed. In acknowledging this, she is making a concession, conceding that the teachers had some slight evidence supporting their claim. The correct answer is Choice B.

Note that this tactic can be a real time-saver. To find the answer to such specific, narrowly-focused questions, you don’t need to read the entire passage. You need to concentrate on just a few lines of text.


In Tackling the Long Reading Passages, First Read the Passage; Then Read the Questions.

Longer passages require a different approach than shorter ones. If you’re a fast reader, reading all the questions before you read a long passage may not save you time. In fact, it may cost you time. If you read the questions first, when you turn to the passage you will have a number of question words and phrases dancing around in your head. These phrases won’t focus you; they’ll distract you. You will be so involved in trying to spot the places that they occur in the passage that you’ll be unable to concentrate on comprehending the passage as a whole. Why increase your anxiety and decrease your capacity to think? Instead, try tackling a long passage using the following technique.

1. Read as rapidly as you can with understanding, but do not force yourself. Do not worry about the time element. If you worry about not finishing the test, you will begin to take short cuts and miss the correct answer in your haste.

2. As you read the opening sentences, try to anticipate what the passage will be about. Who or what is the author talking about?

3. As you continue reading, notice in what part of the passage the author makes major points. In that way, even when a question does not point you to a particular line or paragraph, you should be able to head for the right section of the text without having to reread the entire passage. Underline key words and phrases—sparingly!

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Be cautious in applying this tactic. When you tackle a long passage, if you run into real trouble understanding the material, don’t get bogged down in the text. Skip to the questions. A quick review of the questions may give you a feeling for what to look for when you return to the text.


Try to Answer All the Questions on a Particular Passage Before You Move on to the Next.

Don’t let yourself get bogged down on any one question; you can’t afford to get stuck on one question when you have eleven more on the same passage to answer. Remember that the questions following each reading passage are notarranged in order of difficulty. If you are stumped by a tough reading question, do not give up and skip all the other questions on that passage. A tough question may be just one question away from an easy one. Skip the one that’s got you stumped, but make a point of coming back to it later, after you’ve answered one or two more questions on the passage. Often, working through other questions on the same passage will provide you with information you can use to answer any questions that stumped you the first time around. If the question still stumps you, move on. It’s just fine to skip an individual reading question, especially if it resembles other reading questions that you’ve had trouble with before.


Learn to Spot the Major Reading Question Types.

Just as it will help you to know the directions for the sentence completion questions on the SAT, it will also help you to familiarize yourself with the major types of reading questions on the test.

If you can recognize just what a given question is asking you to do, you’ll be better able to tell which particular reading tactic to apply.

Here are six categories of reading questions you are sure to face.

1. Main Idea Questions that test your ability to find the central thought of a passage or to judge its significance often take the following form:
The main point of the passage is to
The passage is primarily concerned with
The author’s primary purpose in this passage is to
The chief theme of the passage can be best described as
Which of the following statements best expresses the main idea of the passage?

2. Specific Details Questions that test your ability to understand what the author states explicitly are often worded:
According to the author
The author states all of the following EXCEPT
According to the passage, which of the following is true of the
According to the passage, the chief characteristic of the subject is
Which of the following statements is (are) best supported by the passage?
Which of the following is NOT cited in the passage as evidence of

3. Inferences Questions that test your ability to go beyond the author’s explicit statements and see what these statements imply may be worded:
It can be inferred from the passage that
The passage suggests that the author would support which of the following views?
The author implies that
The author apparently feels that
According to the passage, it is likely that
The passage is most likely directed toward an audience of
Which of the following statements about...can be inferred from the passage?

4. Tone/Attitude Questions that test your ability to sense an author’s or character’s emotional state often take the form:
The author’s attitude to the problem can best be described as
Which of the following best describes the author’s tone in the passage?
The author’s tone in the passage is that of a person attempting to
The author’s presentation is marked by a tone of
The passage indicates that the author experiences a feeling of

5. Vocabulary in Context Questions that test your ability to work out the meaning of words from their context often are worded:
As it is used in the passage, the term...can best be described as
The used in the passage to mean that
In the passage, the word...means
The author uses the describe

6. Technique Questions that test your ability to recognize a passage’s method of organization or technique often are worded:
Which of the following best describes the development of this passage?
In presenting the argument, the author does all of the following EXCEPT...
The relationship between the second paragraph and the first paragraph can best be described as...


As you get to know these major reading question types, you will find that some question types take you longer to answer than others. (Inference questions and questions involving the word EXCEPT are particularly time-consuming.) You may also find that some question types give you more trouble than others. Make a special note of these types. If you generally get bogged down answering EXCEPT questions, these may be good ones for you to skip temporarily; plan to come back to them if you don’t run out of time. Likewise, if you always get technique questions wrong, these may be good questions for you to skip, period. Remember, you don’t have to answer every question to score high on the SAT.


When Asked to Find the Main Idea, Be Sure to Check the Opening and Summary Sentences of Each Paragraph.

The opening and closing sentences of each paragraph are key sentences for you to read. They can serve as guideposts for you, pointing out the author’s main idea.

Whenever you are asked to determine a passage’s main idea, always check each paragraph’s opening and summary sentences. Typically, in each paragraph, authors provide readers with a sentence that expresses the paragraph’s main idea succinctly. Although such topic sentences may appear anywhere in the paragraph, experienced readers customarily look for them in the opening or closing sentences.

Note that in SAT reading passages, topic sentences are sometimes implied rather than stated directly. If you cannot find a topic sentence, ask yourself these questions:

1. Whom or what is this passage about?

2. What aspect of this subject is the author talking about?

3. What is the author trying to get across about this aspect of the subject?

Read the following ethnic reading passage and apply this tactic.

Lois Mailou Jones is one example of an answer to the charge that there are
no Black or female American artists to include in art history textbooks and
classes. Beginning her formal art education at the School of the Museum of
Fine Arts in Boston, Lois Jones found herself strongly attracted to design

Line (5) rather than fine arts. After teaching for a while, she went to Paris to study, on
the advice of the sculptor Meta Warrick Fuller.

It was in Paris that she first felt free to paint. Following her return to this
country in 1938, Jones had an exhibit at the Vose Gallery in Boston, a major
breakthrough for a Black artist at that time. Her work during this period

(10) consisted of excellent impressionist scenes of Paris. It was not until the early
1940s, after she met the Black aesthetician Alain Locke, that she began
to paint works like Mob Victim, which explicitly dealt with her own background
as a Black American. Later, in the fifties, she went often to Haiti, which had
yet another influence on her style. Then a sabbatical leave in Africa again

(15) changed her imagery. Indeed, the scope of this distinguished artist’s career so
well spans the development of twentieth-century art that her work could be a
textbook in itself.

Now look at a question on this passage. It’s a good example of a main idea question.

The passage primarily focuses on the

(A) influence of Lois Jones on other artists

(B) recognition given to Lois Jones for her work

(C) experiences that influenced the work of Lois Jones

(D) obstacles that Lois Jones surmounted in her career

(E) techniques that characterize the work of Lois Jones

Look at the opening and summary sentences of the two paragraphs that make up the passage: “Lois Mailou Jones is one example of...Black or female American artists to include in art history textbooks and classes,” “It was in Paris that she first felt free to paint,” “Indeed, the scope of [her] career spans the development of twentieth-century art. . .” Note particularly the use of the signal word “indeed” to call your attention to the author’s point. Lois Jones has had a vast range of experiences that have contributed to her work as an artist. The correct answer is Choice C.

Choice A is incorrect. The passage talks of influences on Lois Jones, not of Lois Jones’s influence on others. Choice B is incorrect. The passage mentions recognition given to Jones only in passing. Choice D is incorrect. There is nothing in the passage to support it. Choice E is incorrect. The passage never deals with specific questions of craft or technique.

Certain words come up again and again in questions on a passage’s purpose or main idea. Review them. It would be silly to miss an answer not because you misunderstood the passage’s meaning, but because you didn’t know a common question word.

Key Terms in Main Idea Questions

bolster (v.)

to support an idea or position


to outline or describe with care


to represent or portray vividly


to disbelieve; to cause a loss of confidence in

document (v.)

to support by documentary evidence

elaborate (v.)

to add details to; to work out in minute detail


to support or approve


to serve as an example of


to clarify by the use of examples


to prove to be false or incorrect


to reason, possibly on insufficient evidence


Familiarize Yourself with the Technical Terms Used to Describe a Passage’s Organization.

Another part of understanding the author’s point is understanding how the author organizes what he or she has to say. To do so, often you have to figure out how the opening sentence or paragraph is connected to the passage as a whole.

Try this question on the author’s technique, based on the previous passage about Lois Mailou Jones.

Which of the following best summarizes the relationship of the first sentence to the rest of the passage?

(A) Assertion followed by supporting evidence

(B) Challenge followed by debate pro and con

(C) Prediction followed by analysis

(D) Specific instance followed by generalizations

(E) Objective reporting followed by personal reminiscences

The correct answer is choice A. The author makes an assertion (a positive statement) about Jones’s importance and then proceeds to back it up with specific details from her career.

Choice B is incorrect. There is no debate for and against the author’s thesis or point about Jones; the only details given support that point. choice c is incorrect. The author does not predict or foretell something that is going to happen; the author asserts or states positively something that is an accomplished fact. choice D is incorrect. The author’s opening general assertion is followed by specific details to support it, not the reverse. choice E is incorrect. The author shares no personal memories or reminiscences of Jones; the writing is objective throughout.

Key Terms in Questions on Technique or Style

abstract (adj.)

theoretical; not concrete


similarity of functions or properties; likeness


direct opposite


presenting a logical argument


positive statement; declaration


to refer to; to quote as an authority

concrete (adj.)

real; actual; not abstract


data presented as proof


serving to explain


concerned with explaining ideas, facts, etc.


simplification; general idea or principle

narrative (adj.)

relating to telling a story


intended to convince


relating to the effective use of language


the central idea in a piece of writing; a point to be defended


When Asked About Specific Details in a Passage, Spot Key Words in the Question and Scan the Passage to Find Them (or Their Synonyms).

In developing the main idea of a passage, a writer will make statements to support his or her point.

To answer questions about such supporting details, you must find a word or group of words in the passage that supports your choice of answer. The words “according to the passage” or “according to the author” should focus your attention on what the passage explicitly states. Do not be misled into choosing an answer (even one that makes good sense) if you cannot find it supported in the text.

Often detail questions ask about a particular phrase or line. The SAT generally provides numbered line references to help you locate the relevant section of the passage. Occasionally it fails to do so. In such instances, use the following technique:

1.   Look for key words (nouns or verbs) in the answer choices.

2.   Run your eye down the passage, looking for those key words or their synonyms. (This is called scanning. It is what you do when you look up someone’s number in the phone book.)

3.   When you find a key word or its synonym, reread the sentence to make sure the test-writer hasn’t used the original wording to mislead you.

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Be extra cautious when you scan for key words: they may be eyecatchers. Often the test-writers deliberately insert key words from the passage into incorrectanswer choices, hoping to tempt careless readers into making a bad choice.

A third question on the Jones passage tests you on a specific detail.

In what way did her meeting with Alain Locke affect Jones’s work as an artist?

(A) It inspired her to focus on French impressionist landscapes.

(B) It influenced her to paint scenes from Black American life.

(C) It encouraged her use of Caribbean and African imagery.

(D) It led to a prestigious gallery showing of her paintings.

(E) It confirmed the feasibility of her pursuing a career as an artist.

Looking at the question, what key words do you see? Does the name Alain Locke leap out at you? That’s great. Now scan the passage, looking for that name.

Here’s the sentence in which the name Alain Locke appears: “it was not until the early 1940s, after she met the Black aesthetician Alain Locke, that she began to paint works like Mob Victim, which explicitly dealt with her own background as a Black American.” Locke is described as a Black aesthetician. What does this mean? Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of art and makes judgments about beauty and good taste. A Black aesthetician tries to answer the question, “What is Black art?”

What effect did meeting Locke have on Jones? it caused her to re-examine the nature of her art. She had been painting scenes of Paris in the style of the French impressionists. However, she was not a French impressionist painter; she was a Black American painter, and after meeting Locke she began to paint works that explicitly reflected her background as a Black American. In effect, her meeting with Locke, the Black aesthetician, “influenced her to paint scenes from Black American life.” The correct answer is choice B.

Key Terms in Questions on Specific Details


artistic; dealing with or capable of appreciating the beautiful


an indirect reference; a casual mention


something accepted as true without proof

attribute (n.)

essential quality; characteristic


differing from another; tending to move apart


to shift continually; to vary irregularly


based on assumptions or hypotheses; supposed


not able to exist in harmony; discordant


suggestive; pointing out (something)


firmly established by nature or habit; built-in; inborn


inborn; existing from birth


novel; introducing a change; ahead of the times


mistaken idea; wrong impression


observable fact or occurrence; subject of scientific investigation


to make impossible; to keep from happening


When Asked to Make Inferences, Base Your Answers on What the Passage Implies, Not What It States Directly.

In Language in Thought and Action, S.I. Hayakawa defines an inference as “a statement about the unknown made on the basis of the known.”

Inference questions require you to use your own judgment. You must not take anything directly stated by the author as an inference. Instead, you must look for clues in the passage that you can use in coming up with your own conclusion. You should choose as your answer a statement which is a logical development of the information the author has provided.

See how this tactic works as you read this fiction passage, taken from the novel The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene.

“Imagine. Forty days in the boats!” cried Mrs. Perrot. Everything over the river was still and blank.

“The French behaved well this time at least,” Dawson remarked.

“They’ve only brought in the dying,” the doctor retorted. “They could

Line (5) hardly have done less.”

Dawson exclaimed and struck at his hand. “Come inside,” Mrs. Perrot said,
“The windows are netted.” The stale air was heavy with the coming rains.

There are some cases of fever,” said the doctor, “but most are just
exhaustion—the worst disease. It’s what most of us die of in the end.”

(10)      Mrs. Perrot turned a knob; music from the London Orpheum filtered in.
Dawson shifted uncomfortably; the Wurlitzer organ moaned and boomed. It
seemed to him outrageously immodest.

Wilson came in to a welcome from Mrs. Perrot. “A surprise to see you,
Major Dawson.”

(15)      “Hardly, Wilson.” Mr. Perrot injected. “I told you he’d be here.” Dawson
looked across at Wilson and saw him blush at Perrot’s betrayal, saw too that
his eyes gave the lie to his youth.

“Well,” sneered Perrot, “any scandals from the big city?” Like a Huguenot
imagining Rome, he built up a picture of frivolity, viciousness, and corruption.

(20) “We bush-folk live quietly.”

Mrs. Perrot’s mouth stiffened in the effort to ignore her husband in his
familiar part. She pretended to listen to the old Viennese melodies.

“None,” Dawson answered, watching Mrs. Perrot with pity. “People are too
busy with the war.”

(25)      “So many files to turn over,” said Perrot. “Growing rice down here would
teach them what work is.”

The first question based on this passage is an inference question. Note the use of the terms “suggests” and “most likely.” The passage never tells you directly where the story takes place. You must put two and two together and see what you get.

The evidence in the passage suggests that the story most likely takes place

(A) on a boat during a tropical storm

(B) at a hospital during a wartime blackout

(C) in a small town in France

(D) near a rice plantation in the tropics

(E) among a group of people en route to a large Asian city

Go through the answer choices one by one. Remember that in answering inference questions you must go beyond the obvious, go beyond what the author explicitly states, to look for logical implications of what the author says.

The correct answer is choice D, near a rice plantation in the tropics. Several lines in the passage suggest it: Perrot’s reference to “bush-folk,” people living in a tropical jungle or similar uncleared wilderness; Perrot’s comment about the work involved in growing rice; the references to fever and the coming rains.

Choice A is incorrect. The people rescued have been in the boats for forty days. The story itself is not set on a boat.

Choice B is incorrect. Although the presence of a doctor and the talk of dying patients suggests a hospital and Dawson’s comment implies that people elsewhere are concerned with a war, nothing in the passage suggests that it is set in a wartime blackout. The windows are not covered or blacked out to prevent light from getting out; instead, they are netted to prevent mosquitos from getting in. (Note how Dawson exclaims and swats his hand; he has just been bitten by a mosquito.)

Choice C is incorrect. Although the French are mentioned, nothing suggests that the story takes place in France, a European country not noted for uncleared wilderness or tropical rains.

Choice E is incorrect. Nothing in the passage suggests these people are en route elsewhere. in addition, Wilson could not logically pretend to be surprised by Dawson’s presence if they were companions on a tour.

Key Terms in Inference Questions


a standard used in judging something; a basis for comparison


a selection from a longer work


an indirect suggestion; a logical inference


to suggest without stating explicitly; to mean


probability; chance of something


appearing reasonable; apparently believable


tending to suggest something; stimulating further thought


not definite or positive; hesitant; provisional; experimental


When Asked About an Attitude or Tone, Look for Words That Convey Emotions, Express Values, or Paint Pictures.

In figuring out the attitude or tone of an author or character, take a close look at the specific language used. Is the author using adjectives to describe the subject? If so, are they words like fragrant, tranquil, magnanimous—words with positive connotations? Or are they words like fetid, ruffled, stingy—words with negative connotations?

When we speak, our tone of voice conveys our emotions—frustrated, cheerful, critical, gloomy, angry. When we write, our images and descriptive phrases get our feelings across.

The second question on the Greene passage is a tone question. Note the question refers you to specific lines in which a particular character speaks. Those lines are repeated here so that you can easily refer to them.

“They’ve only brought in the dying,” the doctor retorted. “They could hardly have done less.”

“There are some cases of fever,” said the doctor, “but most are just exhaustion— the worst disease. It’s what most of us die of in the end.”

The tone of the doctor’s remarks (lines 4 and 5, 8 and 9) indicates that he is basically

(A) unselfish

(B) magnanimous

(C) indifferent

(D) rich in patience

(E) without illusions

Note the doctor’s use of “only” and “hardly,” words with a negative sense. The doctor is deprecating or belittling what the French have done for the sufferers from the boats, the people who are dying from the exhaustion of their forty-day journey. The doctor is retorting: he is replying sharply to Dawson’s positive remark about the French having behaved well. The doctor has judged the French. In his eyes, they have not behaved well.

Go through the answer choices one by one to see which choice comes closest to matching your sense of the doctor’s tone.

Choice A is incorrect. Nothing in the passage specifically suggests selfishness or unselfishness on his part, merely irritability.

Choice B is incorrect. The doctor sounds irritable, critical, sharp-tempered. He feels resentment for the lack of care received by the victims. He does not sound like a magnanimous, forgiving man.

Choice C is incorrect. The doctor is not indifferent or uncaring. If he did not care, he would not be so sharp in challenging Dawson’s innocent remark.

Choice D is also incorrect. The doctor is quick to counter Dawson, quick to criticize the French. Impatience, not patience, distinguishes him.

The correct answer is choice E. The doctor is without illusions. Unlike Dawson, he cannot comfort himself with the illusion that things are going well. He has no illusions about life or death: most of us, he points out unsentimentally, die of exhaustion in the end.

When you are considering questions of attitude and tone, bear in mind the nature of the SAT. It is a standardized test aimed at a wide variety of test-takers—hip-hop fans, political activists, 4-H members, computer hacks, readers of GQ. it is taken by Native Americans and Chinese refugees, evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, Hispanics and blacks, New Yorkers and Nebraskans—a typically American mix.

The SAT-makers are very aware of this diversity. As members of their staff have told us, they are particularly concerned to avoid using material on the tests that might upset students (and possibly adversely affect their scores). For this reason, the goal is to be noncontroversial: to present material that won’t offend anyone. Thus, in selecting potential reading passages, the SAT-makers tend to avoid subjects that are sensitive in favor of ones that are bland. in fact, if a passage doesn’t start out bland, they revise it and cut out the spice. One SAT test, for example, includes Kenneth Clark’s comment about the “sharp wits” of Romans, but cuts out his comment about their “hard heads.” Another uses a passage from Mary Mccarthy’s prickly Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, but cuts out every reference to Catholic and Protestant interaction—and much of the humor, too.

How does this affect the sort of tone and attitude questions the SAT-makers ask? As you can see, the SAT-makers attempt to respect the feelings of minority group members. Thus, you can expect minority group members to be portrayed in SAT reading passages in a favorable light. if, for example, there had been an attitude question based on the Lois Mailou Jones passage, it might have been worded like this:

The author’s attitude toward the artistic achievements mentioned in the passage can best be described as one of

(A) incredulity

(B) condescension

(C) fulsome adulation

(D) cool indifference

(E) hearty admiration

Hearty admiration is the only possible choice.

Key Terms in Questions on Attitude and Tone


standoffish; remote in attitude


of two minds; unable to decide


abrupt; curt to the point of rudeness


conveying a warning


sympathetic; showing pity


patronizing behavior


distrustful of the motives of others; mocking


self-justifying; constantly protecting oneself from criticism


aloofness; lack of involvement; indifference


moralizing; inclined to lecture excessively


scorn; contempt; arrogance


belittling; disapproving


unbiased; objective; unemotional; calm


respect; admiration


frivolously disrespectful; lacking proper seriousness


reluctant; unwilling


pretending to have virtues or feelings one lacks; insincere; phony


lack of concern; lack of interest


tongue in cheek; sarcastic; contrary to what was expected


sensible; showing good judgment; prudent; wise


innocent; unsophisticated


sentimental yearning for the past; homesickness

objective (adj.)

impartial; unbiased; neutral


hopefulness; cheerful confidence


narrowly focused on academic trivia; excessively bookish


negativity; lack of hopefulness; gloom


self-importance; excessive self-esteem


commonplace; pedestrian; ordinary

resigned (adj.)

submissive; passively accepting the inevitable


cutting remarks; stinging rebuke; scorn


mocking; exposing folly to ridicule


disbelieving; doubtful; unconvinced


stale; clichéd; overused


fanciful; capricious; unpredictable


When Asked to Give the Meaning of an Unfamiliar Word, Look for Nearby Context Clues.

Every student who has ever looked into a dictionary is aware that many words have more than one meaning. A common question that appears on the SAT tests your ability to determine the correct meaning of a word from its context. Sometimes the word is a common one, and you must determine its exact meaning as used by the author. At other times, the word is uncommon. You can determine its meaning by a careful examination of the text.

As always, use your knowledge of context clues and word parts (chapter 1) to help you discover the meanings of unfamiliar words.

One question based on the Lois Mailou Jones passage asks you to determine which exact meaning of a common word is used in a particular sentence. Here is the sentence in which the word appears.

Lois Mailou Jones is one example of an answer to the charge that there are no Black or female American artists to include in art history textbooks and classes.

The word “charge” in line 1 means

(A) fee

(B) duty

(C) onslaught

(D) allegation

(E) care

To answer this question, simply substitute each of the answer choices for the quoted word in its original context. Clearly, both Black and female American artists exist. Thus, the statement that there are no Black or female American artists to include in art history texts or classes is an allegation (unproven accusation) that our Black and female artists are not good enough to be included in the texts. Jones, however, is good enough. Therefore, she is an example of an answer to this false accusation or charge.

A second vocabulary question, this one based on the Greene passage, concerns an uncommon, unfamiliar word. Here is the paragraph in which the word appeared.

“Well,” sneered Perrot, “any scandals from the big city?” Like a Huguenot imagining Rome, he built up a picture of frivolity, viciousness, and corruption. “We bush-folk live quietly.”

A Huguenot, as used in the passage, is most likely

(A) a person dying of exhaustion

(B) a doctor angered by needless suffering

(C) an admirer of the Roman aristocracy

(D) a city-dweller scornful of country ways

(E) a puritan who suspects others of immorality

What is a Huguenot? It’s certainly not an everyday word. You may never have encountered the term before you read this passage. But you can figure it out. A Huguenot is someone who, when he thinks of Rome, thinks of it in terms of vice and lack of seriousness. He disapproves of it for its wickedness and frivolity. Thus, he is a puritan of sorts, a person who condemns practices that he regards as impure or corrupt. The correct answer is choice E.

Look at the words in the immediate vicinity of the word you are defining. They will give you a sense of the meaning of the unfamiliar word.


When Dealing with Double Passages, Tackle Them One at a Time.

If the double passage section has you worried, relax. It’s not that formidable, especially if you deal with it our way. Read the lines in italics introducing both passages. Then look at the two passages. Their lines will be numbered as if they were one enormous passage: if Passage 1 ends on line 42, Passage 2 will begin on line 43. However, they are two separate passages. Tackle them one at a time.

The questions are organized sequentially: questions about Passage 1 come before questions about Passage 2. So, do things in order. First read Passage 1; then jump straight to the questions and answer all those based on Passage 1. Next read Passage 2; then answer all the questions based on Passage 2. (The line numbers in the questions will help you spot where the questions on Passage 1 end and those on Passage 2 begin.) Finally, tackle the two or three questions that refer to both passages. Go back to both passages as needed.

Occasionally a couple of questions referring to both passages will precede the questions focusing on Passage 1. Do not let this minor hitch throw you. Use your common sense. You’ve just read the first passage. Skip the one or two questions on both passages, and head for those questions about Passage 1. Answer them. Then read Passage 2. Answer the questions on Passage 2. Finally, go back to those questions you skipped and answer them and any other questions at the end of the set that refer to both passages. Remember, however: whenever you skip from question to question, or from passage to passage, be sure you’re filling in the right ovals on your answer sheet.

Here is an example of a double passage. Go through the questions that follow, applying the tactics you’ve just learned.

The following passages are excerpted from books on America’s national pastime, baseball. Passage 1 is taken from an account of a particularly memorable season. Passage 2 is from a meditation on the game written in 1989 by the late literary scholar A. Bartlett Giamatti, then commissioner of baseball.

Passage 1

DiMaggio had size, power, and speed. McCarthy, his longtime manager,
liked to say that DiMaggio might have stolen 60 bases a season if he had
given him the green light. Stengel, his new manager, was equally impressed,
and when DiMaggio was on base he would point to him as an example of

Line (5) the perfect base runner. “Look at him,” Stengel would say as DiMaggio ran
out a base hit, “he’s always watching the ball. He isn’t watching second
base. He isn’t watching third base. He knows they haven’t been moved. He
isn’t watching the ground, because he knows they haven’t built a canal or a
swimming pool since he was last there. He’s watching the ball and the

(10) outfielder, which is the one thing that is different on every play.”

DiMaggio complemented his natural athletic ability with astonishing
physical grace. He played the outfield, he ran the bases, and he batted not
just effectively but with rare style. He would glide rather than run, it seemed,
always smooth, always ending up where he wanted to be just when he

(15) wanted to be there. If he appeared to play effortlessly, his teammates knew
otherwise. In his first season as a Yankee, Gene Woodling, who played left
field, was struck by the sound of DiMaggio chasing a fly ball. He sounded
like a giant truck horse on the loose, Woodling thought, his feet thudding
down hard on the grass. The great, clear noises in the open space enabled

(20) Woodling to measure the distances between them without looking.

He was the perfect Hemingway hero, for Hemingway in his novels
romanticized the man who exhibited grace under pressure, who withheld any
emotion lest it soil the purer statement of his deeds. DiMaggio was that kind
of hero; his grace and skill were always on display, his emotions always

(25) concealed. This stoic grace was not achieved without a terrible price: DiMaggio
was a man wound tight. He suffered from insomnia and ulcers. When he sat
and watched the game he chain-smoked and drank endless cups of coffee.
He was ever conscious of his obligation to play well. Late in his career, when
his legs were bothering him and the Yankees had a comfortable lead in a

(30) pennant race, columnist Jimmy Cannon asked him why he played so hard—the
games, after all, no longer meant so much. “Because there might be
somebody out there who’s never seen me play before,” he answered.

Passage 2

Athletes and actors—let actors stand for the set of performing artists—
share much. They share the need to make gesture as fluid and economical as

(35) possible, to make out of a welter of choices the single, precisely right one.
They share the need for thousands of hours of practice in order to train the
body to become the perfect, instinctive instrument to express. Both athlete
and actor, out of that abundance of emotion, choice, strategy, knowledge of
the terrain, mood of spectators, condition of others in the ensemble, secret

(40) awareness of injury or weakness, and as nearly an absolute concentration as
possible so that all externalities are integrated, all distraction absorbed to the
self, must be able to change the self so successfully that it changes us.

When either athlete or actor can bring all these skills to bear and focus
them, then he or she will achieve that state of complete intensity and complete

(45) relaxation—complete coherence or integrity between what the performer
wants to do and what the performer has to do. Then, the performer
is free; for then, all that has been learned, by thousands of hours of practice
and discipline and by repetition of pattern, becomes natural. Then intellect
is upgraded to the level of an instinct. The body follows commands

(50) that precede thinking.

When athlete and artist When athlete and artist achieve such self-knowledge that they transform
the self so that we are re-created, it is finally an exercise in power. The
individual’s power to dominate, on stage or field invests the whole arena around
the locus of performance with his or her power. We draw from the performer’s

(55) energy, just as we scrutinize the performer’s vulnerabilities, and we
criticize as if we were equals (we are not) what is displayed. This is why all
performers dislike or resent the audience as much as they need and enjoy it.
Power flows in a mysterious circuit from performer to spectator (I assume a
“live” performance) and back, and while cheers or applause are the hoped-for outcome of

(60) performing, silence or gasps are the most desired, for then
the moment has occurred—then domination is complete, and as the
performer triumphs, a unity rare and inspiring results.

1. In Passage 1, Stengel is most impressed by DiMaggio’s

(A) indifference to potential dangers

(B) tendency to overlook the bases in his haste

(C) ability to focus on the variables

(D) proficiency at fielding fly balls

(E) overall swiftness and stamina

2. Stengel’s comments in lines 5–10 serve chiefly to

(A) point up the stupidity of the sort of error he condemns

(B) suggest the inevitability of mistakes in running bases

(C) show it is easier to spot problems than to come up with answers

(D) answer the criticisms of DiMaggio’s base running

(E) modify his earlier position on DiMaggio’s ability

3. By quoting Woodling’s comment on DiMaggio’s running (lines 17–19), the author most likely intends to emphasize

(A) his teammates’ envy of DiMaggio’s natural gifts

(B) how much exertion went into DiMaggio’s moves

(C) how important speed is to a baseball player

(D) Woodling’s awareness of his own slowness

(E) how easily DiMaggio was able to cover territory

4. The phrase “a man wound tight” (line 26) means a man

(A) wrapped in confining bandages

(B) living in constricted quarters

(C) under intense emotional pressure

(D) who drank alcohol to excess

(E) who could throw with great force

5. In the last paragraph of Passage 1, the author acknowledges which negative aspect of DiMaggio’s heroic stature?

(A) His overemphasis on physical grace

(B) His emotional romanticism

(C) The uniformity of his performance

(D) The obligation to answer the questions of reporters

(E) The burden of living up to his reputation

6. Which best describes what the author is doing in the parenthetical comment “let actors stand for the set of performing artists” (line 33)?

(A) Indicating that actors should rise out of respect for the arts

(B) Defining the way in which he is using a particular term

(C) Encouraging actors to show tolerance for their fellow artists

(D) Emphasizing that actors are superior to other performing artists

(E) Correcting a misinterpretation of the role of actors

7. The phrase “bring all these skills to bear” in line 43 is best taken to mean that the athlete

(A) comes to endure these skills

(B) carries the burden of his talent

(C) applies these skills purposefully

(D) causes himself to behave skillfully

(E) influences himself to give birth to his skills

8. To the author of Passage 2, freedom for performers depends on

(A) their subjection of the audience

(B) their willingness to depart from tradition

(C) the internalization of all they have learned

(D) their ability to interpret material independently

(E) the absence of injuries or other weaknesses

9. The author’s attitude toward the concept of the equality of spectators and performers (lines 55 and 56) is one of

(A) relative indifference

(B) mild skepticism

(C) explicit rejection

(D) strong embarrassment

(E) marked perplexity

10. Why, in lines 57 and 58, does the author of Passage 2 assume a “live” performance?

(A) His argument assumes a mutual involvement between performer and spectator that can only occur when both are present.

(B) He believes that televised and filmed images give a false impression of the performer’s ability to the spectators.

(C) He fears the use of “instant replay” and other broadcasting techniques will cause performers to resent spectators even more strongly.

(D) His argument dismisses the possibility of combining live performances with filmed segments.

(E) He prefers audiences not to have time to reflect about the performance they have just seen.

11. The author of Passage 2 would most likely react to the characterization of DiMaggio presented in lines 28–32 by pointing out that DiMaggio probably

(A) felt some resentment of the spectator whose good opinion he supposedly sought

(B) never achieved the degree of self-knowledge that would have transformed him

(C) was unaware that his audience was surveying his weak points

(D) was a purely instinctive natural athlete

(E) was seldom criticized by his peers

12. Which of the following attributes of the ideal athlete mentioned in Passage 2 is NOT illustrated by the anecdotes about DiMaggio in Passage 1?

(A) knowledge of the terrain

(B) secret awareness of injury or weakness

(C) consciousness of the condition of other teammates

(D) ability to make gestures fluid and economical

(E) absolute powers of concentration

13. Which of the following statements is best supported by a comparison of the two excerpts?

(A) Both excerpts focus on the development of a specific professional athlete.

(B) The purpose of both excerpts is to compare athletes with performing artists.

(C) The development of ideas in both excerpts is similar.

(D) Both excerpts examine the nature of superior athletic performance.

(E) Both excerpts discuss athletic performance primarily in abstract terms.


  1. C

  2. A

  3. B

  4. C

  5. E

  6. B

  7. C

  8. C

  9. C

10. A

11. A

12. C

13. D

  1. (C) Stengel’s concluding sentence indicates that DiMaggio watches “the one thing that is different on every play.” In other words, DiMaggio focuses on the variables, the factors that change from play to play.

  2. (A) Stengel’s sarcastic comments about the mistakes DiMaggio doesn’t make indicate just how dumb he thinks it is to look down at the ground when you should have your attention on the outfielder and the ball. Clearly, if one of his players made such an error, Stengel’s response would be to say, “What’s the matter, stupid? Are you afraid you’re going to fall in a canal down there?”

  3. (B) Note the context of the reference to Woodling. In the sentence immediately preceding, the author says that, if DiMaggio “appeared to play effortlessly, his teammates knew otherwise.” The author then introduces a comment by Woodling, one of DiMaggio’s teammates. Woodling knew a great deal of effort went into DiMaggio’s playing: he describes how DiMaggio’s feet pounded as he ran. Clearly, the force of DiMaggio’s running is mentioned to illustrate how much exertion went into DiMaggio’s moves.

  4. (C) Look at the sentences following this phrase. They indicate that DiMaggio was a man under intense emotional pressure, one who felt so much stress that he developed ulcers and had problems getting to sleep.

  5. (E) In the final paragraph, the author describes DiMaggio pushing himself to play hard despite his injuries. DiMaggio does so because he is trying to live up to the image his public has of him. He feels the burden of living up to his reputation.

  6. (B) At this point, the questions on Passage 2 begin. In this brief aside, the author is taking a moment away from his argument to make sure the reader knows exactly who the subjects of his comparison are. He wishes to use the word actors to stand for or represent all other performers. This way every time he makes his comparison between athletes and performers he won’t have to list all the various sorts of performing artists (actors, dancers, singers, acrobats, clowns) who resemble athletes in their need for physical grace, extensive rehearsal, and total concentration. Thus, in his side comment, he is defining how he intends to use the word actors throughout the discussion.

  7. (C) The author has been describing the wide range of skills a performer utilizes in crafting an artistic or athletic performance. It is by taking these skills and applying them purposefully and with concentration to the task at hand that the performer achieves his or her goal.

  8. (C) Performers are free when all they have learned becomes so natural, so internalized, that it seems instinctive. In other words, freedom depends on the internalization of what they have learned.

  9. (C) The author bluntly states that we spectators are not the performers’ equals. Thus, his attitude toward the concept is one of explicit rejection.

10. (A) While a spectator may feel powerfully involved with a filmed or televised image of a performer, the filmed image is unaffected by the spectator’s feelings. Thus, for power to “flow in a mysterious circuit” from performer to spectator and back, the assumption is that both performer and spectator must be present in the flesh.

11. (A) Passage 1 indicates DiMaggio always played hard to live up to his reputation and to perform well for anyone in the stands who had never seen him play before. Clearly, he wanted the spectators to have a good opinion of him. Passage 2, however, presents a more complex picture of the relationship between the performer and his audience. On the one hand, the performer needs the audience, needs its good opinion and its applause. On the other hand, the performer also resents the audience, resents the way spectators freely point out his weaknesses and criticize his art. Thus, the author of Passage 2 might well point out that DiMaggio felt some resentment of the audience whom he hoped to impress with his skill.

12. (C) Though DiMaggio’s teammates clearly were aware of his condition (as the Woodling anecdote illustrates), none of the anecdotes in Passage 1 indicate or even imply that DiMaggio was specifically conscious of his teammates’ condition.
    You can answer this question by using the process of elimination. In running bases, DiMaggio never lets himself be distracted by looking at the bases or down at the ground; as Stengel says, he knows where they are. Clearly, he knows the terrain. You can eliminate Choice A. When DiMaggio’s legs are failing him late in his career, he still pushes himself to perform well for the fan in the stands who hasn’t seen him play before. In doing so, he takes into account his secret awareness of his legs’ weakness. You can eliminate Choice B. Gliding rather than running, always smooth, never wasting a glance on inessentials, DiMaggio clearly exhibits fluidity and economy in his movements. You can eliminate Choice D. Running bases, DiMaggio always keeps his eye on the ball and the outfielder; he concentrates absolutely on them. You can eliminate Choice E. Only Choice C is left. It is the correct answer.

13. (D) Though one passage presents an abstract discussion of the nature of the ideal athlete and the other describes the achievements and character of a specific superior athlete, both passages examine the nature of superior athletic performance.

Practice Exercises

On the following pages you will find three reading exercises. Allow about 30 minutes for each group. The correct answers, as well as answer explanations, are given at the end of the chapter. Practice the testing tactics you have learned as you work. Your reading score will improve.

Exercise A

Each of the following passages comes from a novel or short story collection that has provided reading passages on prior SATs. Use this exercise to acquaint yourself with the sort of fiction you will confront on the test and to practice answering critical reading questions based on literature.

The following passage is taken from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. In it, the hero, Pip, recollects a dismal period in his youth during which he for a time lost hope of ever bettering his fortunes.

It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of
home. There may be black ingratitude in the thing,
and the punishment may be retributive and well
deserved; but, that it is a miserable thing, I can

Line (5) testify. Home had never been a very pleasant place
to me, because of my sister’s temper. But Joe had
sanctified it and I believed in it. I had believed in the
best parlor as a most elegant salon; I had believed
in the front door as a mysterious portal of the Temple

(10) of State whose solemn opening was attended with
a sacrifice of roast fowls; I had believed in the
kitchen as a chaste though not magnificent
apartment; I had believed in the forge as the glowing
road to manhood. Now, it was all coarse and common,

(15) and I would not have had Miss Havisham
and Estella see it on any account.

Once, it had seemed to me that when I should
at last roll up my shirt sleeves and go into the forge,
Joe’s ’prentice, I should be distinguished and happy.

(20) Now the reality was in my hold, I only felt that I
was dusty with the dust of small coal, and that I had
a weight upon my daily remembrance to which the
anvil was a feather. There have been occasions in
my later life (I suppose as in most lives) when I have

(25) felt for a time as if a thick curtain had fallen on all
its interest and romance, to shut me out from any
thing save dull endurance any more. Never has that
curtain dropped so heavy and blank, as when my way
in life lay stretched out straight before me through

(30) the newly-entered road of apprenticeship to Joe.

I remember that at a later period of my “time,”
I used to stand about the churchyard on Sunday
evenings, when night was falling, comparing
my own perspective with the windy marsh view, and

(35) making out some likeness between them by thinking
how flat and low both were, and how on both
there came an unknown way and a dark mist and
then the sea. I was quite as dejected on the first
working-day of my apprenticeship as in that after

(40) time; but I am glad to know that I never breathed
a murmur to Joe while my indentures lasted. It is
about the only thing I am glad to know of myself
in that connection.

For, though it includes what I proceed to add,

(45) all the merit of what I proceed to add was Joe’s.
It was not because I was faithful, but because Joe
was faithful, that I never ran away and went for a
soldier or a sailor. It was not because I had
a strong sense of the virtue of industry, but because

(50) Joe had a strong sense of the virtue of industry,
that I worked with tolerable zeal against the grain.
It is not possible to know how far the influence of
any amiable honest-hearted duty-going man flies
out into the world; but it is very possible to know

(55) how it has touched one’s self in going by, and I
know right well that any good that intermixed itself
with my apprenticeship came of plain contented
Joe, and not of restless aspiring discontented me.

  1. The passage as a whole is best described as

(A) an analysis of the reasons behind a change in attitude

(B) an account of a young man’s reflections on his emotional state

(C) a description of a young man’s awakening to the harsh conditions of working class life

(D) a defense of a young man’s longings for romance and glamour

(E) a criticism of young people’s ingratitude to their elders

  2. It may be inferred from the passage that the young man has been apprenticed to a

(A) cook

(B) forger

(C) coal miner

(D) blacksmith

(E) grave digger

  3. In the passage, Joe is portrayed most specifically as

(A) distinguished

(B) virtuous

(C) independent

(D) homely

(E) coarse

  4. The passage suggests that the narrator’s increasing discontent with his home during his apprenticeship was caused by

(A) a new awareness on his part of how his home would appear to others

(B) the increasing heaviness of the labor involved

(C) the unwillingness of Joe to curb his sister’s temper

(D) the narrator’s lack of an industrious character

(E) a combination of simple ingratitude and sinfulness

  5. According to the passage, the narrator gives himself a measure of credit for

(A) working diligently despite his unhappiness

(B) abandoning his hope of a military career

(C) keeping his menial position secret from Miss Havisham

(D) concealing his despondency from Joe

(E) surrendering his childish beliefs

The following passage is excerpted from the short story “Clay” in Dubliners by James Joyce. In this passage, tiny, unmarried Maria oversees tea for the washerwomen, all the while thinking of the treat in store for her: a night off.

The matron had given her leave to go out as
soon as the women’s tea was over and Maria looked
forward to her evening out. The kitchen was spick
and span: the cook said you could see yourself in

Line (5) the big copper boilers. The fire was nice and bright
and on one of the side-tables were four very big
barmbracks. These barmbracks seemed uncut; but
if you went closer you would see that they had
been cut into long thick even slices and were ready

(10) to be handed round at tea. Maria had cut them herself.

Maria was a very, very small person indeed but
she had a very long nose and a very long chin. She
talked a little through her nose, always soothingly:
Yesmy dear,” and “No, my dear.” She was always

(15) sent for when the women quarrelled over their tubs
and always succeeded in making peace. One day
the matron had said to her:

“Maria, you are a veritable peace-maker!”

And the sub-matron and two of the Board ladies

(20) had heard the compliment. And Ginger Mooney
was always saying what she wouldn’t do to the
dummy who had charge of the irons if it wasn’t
for Maria. Everyone was so fond of Maria.

When the cook told her everything was ready,

(25) she went into the women’s room and began to pull
the big bell. In a few minutes the women began to
come in by twos and threes, wiping their steaming
hands in their petticoats and pulling down the
sleeves of their blouses over their red steaming

(30) arms. They settled down before their huge mugs
which the cook and the dummy filled up with hot
tea, already mixed with milk and sugar in huge tin
cans. Maria superintended the distribution of the
barmbrack and saw that every woman got her four

(35) slices. There was a great deal of laughing and joking
during the meal. Lizzie Fleming said Maria was
sure to get the ring and, though Fleming had said
that for so many Hallow Eves, Maria had to laugh
and say she didn’t want any ring or man either; and

(40) when she laughed her grey-green eyes sparkled with
disappointed shyness and the tip of her nose nearly
met the tip of her chin. Then Ginger Mooney lifted
her mug of tea and proposed Maria’s health while
all the other women clattered with their mugs on

(45) the table, and said she was sorry she hadn’t a sup
of porter to drink it in. And Maria laughed again
till the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin
and till her minute body nearly shook itself asunder
because she knew that Mooney meant well though,

(50) of course, she had the notions of a common woman.

  6. The author’s primary purpose in the second paragraph is to

(A) introduce the character of a spinster

(B) describe working conditions in a public institution

(C) compare two women of different social classes

(D) illustrate the value of peace-makers in society

(E) create suspense about Maria’s fate

  7. The language of the passage most resembles the language of

(A) a mystery novel

(B) an epic

(C) a fairy tale

(D) institutional board reports

(E) a sermon

  8. It can be inferred from the passage that Maria would most likely view the matron as which of the following?

(A) A political figurehead

(B) An inept administrator

(C) A demanding taskmaster

(D) An intimate friend

(E) A benevolent superior

  9. We may infer from the care with which Maria has cut the barmbracks (lines 7–10) that

(A) she fears the matron

(B) she is in a hurry to leave

(C) she expects the Board members for tea

(D) it is a dangerous task

(E) she takes pride in her work

10. It can be inferred from the passage that all the following are characteristic of Maria EXCEPT

(A) a deferential nature

(B) eagerness for compliments

(C) respect for authority

(D) dreams of matrimony

(E) reluctance to compromise

The following passage is taken from Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park. This excerpt presents Sir Thomas Bertram, owner of Mansfield Park, who has just joined the members of his family.

Sir Thomas was indeed the life of the party, who at his suggestion now seated themselves round the fire. He had the best right to be the talker; and the delight of his sensations in being again in his own

Line (5) house, in the center of his family, after such a separation, made him communicative and chatty in a very unusual degree; and he was ready to answer every question of his two sons almost before it was put. All the little particulars of his proceedings and

(10) events, his arrivals and departures, were most promptly delivered, as he sat by Lady Bertram and looked with heartfelt satisfaction at the faces around him—interrupting himself more than once, however, to remark on his good fortune in finding

(15) them all at home—coming unexpectedly as he did —all collected together exactly as he could have wished, but dared not depend on.

By not one of the circle was he listened to with such unbroken unalloyed enjoyment as by his wife,

(20) whose feelings were so warmed by his sudden arrival, as to place her nearer agitation than she had been for the last twenty years. She had been almost fluttered for a few minutes, and still remained so sensibly animated as to put away her work, move

(25) Pug from her side, and give all her attention and all the rest of her sofa to her husband. She had no anxieties for anybody to cloud her pleasure; her own time had been irreproachably spent during his absence; she had done a great deal of carpet work

(30) and made many yards of fringe; and she would have answered as freely for the good conduct and useful pursuits of all the young people as for her own. It was so agreeable to her to see him again, and hear him talk, to have her ear amused and her whole

(35) comprehension filled by his narratives, that she began particularly to feel how dreadfully she must have missed him, and how impossible it would have been for her to bear a lengthened absence.

Mrs. Norris was by no means to be compared in

(40) happiness to her sister. Not that she was incommoded by many fears of Sir Thomas’s disapprobation when the present state of his house should be known, for her judgment had been so blinded, that she could hardly be said to show any sign of alarm; but she

(45) was vexed by the manner of his return. It had left her nothing to do. Instead of being sent for out of the room, and seeing him first, and having to spread the happy news through the house, Sir Thomas, with a very reasonable dependence perhaps on the

(50) nerves of his wife and children, had sought no confidant but the butler, and had been following him almost instantaneously into the drawing-room. Mrs. Norris felt herself defrauded of an office on which she had always depended, whether his arrival or

(55) his death were to be the thing unfolded; and was now trying to be in a bustle without having any thing to bustle about. Would Sir Thomas have consented to eat, she might have gone to the housekeeper with troublesome directions; but Sir Thomas

(60) resolutely declined all dinner; he would take nothing, nothing till tea came—he would rather wait for tea. Still Mrs. Norris was at intervals urging something different; and in the most interesting moment of his passage to England, when the alarm of a French

(65) privateer was at the height, she burst through his recital with the proposal of soup. “Sure, my dear Sir Thomas, a basin of soup would be a much better thing for you than tea. Do have a basin of soup.”

Sir Thomas could not be provoked. “Still the

(70) same anxiety for everybody’s comfort, my dear Mrs. Norris,” was his answer. “But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.”

11. We can infer from the opening paragraph that Sir Thomas is customarily

(A) unwelcome at home

(B) tardy in business affairs

(C) dissatisfied with life

(D) more restrained in speech

(E) lacking in family feeling

12. The passage suggests that Sir Thomas’s sudden arrival

(A) was motivated by concern for his wife

(B) came as no surprise to Lady Bertram

(C) was timed by him to coincide with a family reunion

(D) was expected by the servants

(E) was received with mixed emotions

13. The author’s tone in her description of Lady Bertram’s sensations (lines 20–26) is

(A) markedly scornful

(B) mildly bitter

(C) gently ironic

(D) manifestly indifferent

(E) warmly sympathetic

14. By stressing that Lady Bertram “had no anxieties for anybody to cloud her pleasure” (lines 26 and 27), the author primarily intends to imply that

(A) Lady Bertram was hardhearted in ignoring the sufferings of others

(B) it was unusual for Lady Bertram to be so unconcerned

(C) others in the company had reason to be anxious

(D) Sir Thomas expected his wife to be pleased to see him

(E) Lady Bertram lived only for pleasure

15. Sir Thomas’s attitude toward Mrs. Norris can best be described as one of

(A) sharp irritation

(B) patient forbearance

(C) solemn disapproval

(D) unreasoned alarm

(E) unmixed delight

16. The office of which Mrs. Norris feels herself defrauded is most likely that of

(A) butler

(B) housekeeper

(C) wife

(D) world traveler

(E) message-bearer

17. In line 59, “directions” most nearly means

(A) bearings

(B) aspirations

(C) inclinations

(D) instructions

(E) positions

The following passage is taken from Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence. In this excerpt, the American hero has an unexpected encounter during the course of a visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Newman promised himself to pay Mademoiselle
Noemie another visit at the Louvre. He was curious
about the progress of his copies, but it must be added
that he was still more curious about the progress

Line (5) of the young lady herself. He went one afternoon
to the great museum, and wandered through several
of the rooms in fruitless quest of her. He was bending
his steps to the long hall of the Italian masters,
when suddenly he found himself face to face with

(10) Valentin de Bellegarde. The young Frenchman
greeted him with ardor, and assured him that he was
a godsend. He himself was in the worst of humors
and he wanted someone to contradict.

“In a bad humor among all these beautiful things?”

(15) said Newman “I thought you were so fond of pictures,
especially the old black ones. There are two
or three here that ought to keep you in spirits.”

“Oh, today,” answered Valentin, “I am not in a
mood for pictures, and the more beautiful they are

(20) the less I like them. Their great staring eyes and
fixed positions irritate me. I feel as if I were at some
big, dull party, in a room full of people I shouldn’t
wish to speak to. What should I care for their beauty?
It’s a bore, and, worse still, it’s a reproach. I have

(25) a great many ennuis; I feel vicious.”

“If the Louvre has so little comfort for you, why
in the world did you come here?” Newman asked.

“That is one of my ennuis. I came to meet my
cousin—a dreadful English cousin, a member of my

(30) mother’s family—who is in Paris for a week with
her husband, and who wishes me to point out the
‘principal beauties.’ Imagine a woman who wears
a green crepe bonnet in December and has straps
sticking out of the ankles of her interminable boots!

(35) My mother begged I would do something to oblige
them. I have undertaken to play valet de place this
afternoon. They were to have met me here at two
o’clock, and I have been waiting for them twenty
minutes. Why doesn’t she arrive? She has at least

(40) a pair of feet to carry her. I don’t know whether to
be furious at their playing me false, or delighted to
have escaped them.”

“I think in your place I would be furious,” said
Newman, “because they may arrive yet, and then

(45) your fury will still be of use to you. Whereas if you
were delighted and they were afterwards to turn up,
you might not know what to do with your delight.”

“You give me excellent advice, and I already
feel better. I will be furious; I will let them go to

(50) the deuce and I myself will go with you—unless
by chance you too have a rendezvous.”

18. The passage indicates that Newman has gone to the Louvre in order to

(A) meet Valentin

(B) look at the paintings

(C) explore Paris

(D) keep an appointment

(E) see Mademoiselle Noemie

19. According to the passage, Valentin is unhappy about being at the Louvre because he

(A) hates the paintings of the Italian masters

(B) has accidentally met Newman in the long hall

(C) wishes to be at a party

(D) feels that beauty should be that of nature

(E) is supposed to guide his cousin through it

20. It can be inferred from the passage that in lines 32–39 Valentin is expressing his annoyance by

(A) walking out of the Louvre in a fit of temper

(B) making insulting remarks about a woman

(C) not accepting Newman’s advice

(D) criticizing the paintings

(E) refusing to do as his mother wishes

21. With which of the following statements would Valentin most likely agree?

  I. Clothes make the man.

 II. Blood is thicker than water.

III. Better late than never.

(A) I only

(B) II only

(C) III only

(D) I and II only

(E) I, II, and III

22. Newman’s role in the conversation is that of

(A) a heckler

(B) a gossiper

(C) a confidant

(D) an enemy

(E) a doubter

Exercise B

This exercise provides you with a mixture of reading passages similar in variety to what you will encounter on the SAT. Answer all questions on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passages.

The following passage comes from a Canadian Arts Council text on Inuit sculpture, the art practiced by Eskimo master carvers.

The best Eskimo carvings of all ages seem to
possess a powerful ability to reach across the great
barriers of language and time and communicate
directly with us. The more we look at these carvings,

Line (5) the more life we perceive hidden within them. We
discover subtle living forms of the animal, human,
and mystical world. These arctic carvings are not
the cold sculptures of a frozen world. Instead, they
reveal to us the passionate feelings of a vital people

(10) well aware of all the joys, terrors, tranquility, and
wildness of life around them.

Eskimo carvers are people moved by dreams. In
spite of all their new contacts with the outsiders, they
are still concerned with their own kind of mystical

(15) imagery. The most skillful carvers possess a bold
confidence, a direct approach to their art that has a
freedom unsullied by any kind of formalized training.
Eskimo carvers have strong, skilled hands, used to
forcing hard materials with their simple tools. Their

(20) hunting life and the northern environment invigorates
them. Bad weather often imposes a special kind of
leisure, giving them time in which to perfect their

They are among the last of the hunting societies

(25) that have retained some part of the keen sense of
observation that we have so long forgotten. The
carvers are also butchers of meat, and therefore
masters in the understanding of animal anatomy.
Flesh and bones and sheaths of muscle seem to move

(30) in their works. They show us how to drive the
caribou, how to hold a child, how to walk cautiously
on thin ice. Through their eyes we understand the
dangerous power of a polar bear. In the very best
of Eskimo art we see vibrant animal and human

(35) forms that stand quietly or tensely, strongly radiating
a sense of life. We can see, and even feel with our
hands, the cold sleekness of seals, the hulking weight
of walrus, the icy swiftness of trout, the flowing
rhythm in a flight of geese. In their art we catch

(40) brief glimpses of a people who have long possessed
a very different approach to the whole question of
life and death.

In Eskimo art there is much evidence of humor
which the carvers have in abundance. Some of the

(45) carvings are caricatures of themselves, of ourselves,
and of situations, or records of ancient legends. Their
laughter may be subtle, or broad and Chaucerian.

Perhaps no one can accurately define the right
way or wrong way to create a carving. Each carver

(50) must follow his own way, in his own time. Technique
in itself is meaningless unless it serves to
express content. According to the Eskimo, the best
carvings possess a sense of movement that seems
to come from within the material itself, a feeling

(55) of tension, a living excitement.

1.   The author is primarily concerned with

(A) showing how Eskimo carvings achieve their effects

(B) describing how Eskimo artists resist the influence of outsiders

(C) discussing the significant characteristics of Eskimo art

(D) explaining how Eskimo carvers use their strength to manipulate hard materials

(E) interpreting the symbolism of Eskimo art

2.   The author’s attitude toward Eskimo art is one of

(A) condescension

(B) awe

(C) admiration

(D) regret

(E) bewilderment

3.   With which of the following statements would the author most likely agree?

(A) Formal training may often destroy an artist’s originality.

(B) Artists should learn their craft by studying the work of experts.

(C) The content of a work of art is insignificant.

(D) Caricatures have no place in serious art.

(E) Eskimo art is interesting more as an expression of a life view than as a serious art form.

4.   The author gives examples of the subjects of Eskimo carvings primarily to

(A) show that they have no relevance to modern life

(B) indicate the artist’s lack of imagination

(C) imply that other artists have imitated them

(D) prove that the artists’ limited experience of life has been a handicap

(E) suggest the quality and variety of the work

5.   According to the passage, Eskimo carvings have all the following EXCEPT

(A) wit

(B) subtlety

(C) emotional depth

(D) stylistic uniformity

(E) anatomical accuracy

The following passage is from a novel set in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, to which the family of Dr. Stanhope, a clergyman newly assigned to the cathedral, has just moved.

Charlotte Stanhope was at this time about thirtyfive
years old; and, whatever may have been her
faults, she had none of those which belong to old
young ladies. She neither dressed young, nor talked

Line (5) young, nor indeed looked young. She appeared to
be perfectly content with her time of life, and in no
way affected the graces of youth. She was a fine
young woman; and had she been a man, would have
been a fine young man. All that was done in the

(10) house, and was not done by servants, was done by
her. She gave the orders, paid the bills, hired and
dismissed the domestics, made the tea, carved the
meat, and managed everything in the Stanhope
household. She, and she alone, could ever induce her

(15) father to look into the state of his worldly concerns.
She, and she alone, could in any degree control the
absurdities of her sister. She, and she alone, prevented
the whole family from falling into utter disrepute and
beggary. It was by her advice that they now found

(20) themselves very unpleasantly situated in Barchester.

So far, the character of Charlotte Stanhope is not
unprepossessing. But it remains to be said, that the
influence which she had in her family, though it had
been used to a certain extent for their worldly well-being,

(25) had not been used to their real benefit, as it
might have been. She had aided her father in his
indifference to his professional duties, counselling
him that his livings were as much his individual
property as the estates of his elder brother were the

(30) property of that worthy peer. She had for years past
stifled every little rising wish for a return to England
which the reverend doctor had from time to time
expressed. She had encouraged her mother in her
idleness in order that she herself might be mistress

(35) and manager of the Stanhope household. She had
encouraged and fostered the follies of her sister,
though she was always willing, and often able, to
protect her from their probable result. She had done
her best, and had thoroughly succeeded in spoiling

(40) her brother, and turning him loose upon the world
an idle man without a profession, and without a
shilling that he could call his own.

Miss Stanhope was a clever woman, able to talk
on most subjects, and quite indifferent as to what

(45) the subject was. She prided herself on her freedom
from English prejudice, and she might have added,
from feminine delicacy. On religion she was a pure
freethinker, and with much want of true affection,
delighted to throw out her own views before the

(50) troubled mind of her father. To have shaken what
remained of his Church of England faith would have
gratified her much; but the idea of his abandoning
his preferment in the church had never once presented
itself to her mind. How could he indeed, when

(55) he had no income from any other source?

6.   The passage as a whole is best characterized as

(A) a description of the members of a family

(B) a portrait of a young woman’s moral and intellectual temperament

(C) an illustration of the evils of egotism

(D) an analysis of family dynamics in aristocratic society

(E) a contrast between a virtuous daughter and her disreputable family

7.   The tone of the passage is best described as

(A) self-righteous and moralistic

(B) satirical and candid

(C) sympathetic and sentimental

(D) bitter and disillusioned

(E) indifferent and unfeeling

8.   On the basis of the passage, which of the following statements about Dr. Stanhope can most logically be made?

(A) He is even more indolent than his wife.

(B) He resents having surrendered his authority to his daughter.

(C) He feels remorse for his professional misconduct.

(D) He has little left of his initial religious beliefs.

(E) He has disinherited his son without a shilling.

9.   It can be inferred from the passage that Charlotte’s mother (lines 33–35) is which of the following?

  I. An affectionate wife and mother

 II. A model of the domestic arts

III. A woman of unassertive character

(A) I only

(B) II only

(C) III only

(D) I and III only

(E) II and III only

10. The passage suggests that Charlotte possesses all of the following characteristics EXCEPT

(A) an inappropriate flirtatiousness

(B) a lack of reverence

(C) a materialistic nature

(D) a managing disposition

(E) a touch of coarseness

The following passage on the nature of the surface of the earth is taken from a basic geology text.

Of the 197 million square miles making up the
surface of the globe, 71 percent is covered by
interconnecting bodies of marine water; the Pacific Ocean
alone covers half the earth and averages near 14,000

Line (5) feet in depth. The continents—Eurasia, Africa, North
America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica
—are the portions of the continental masses rising
above sea level. The submerged borders of the continental
masses are the continental shelves, beyond

(10) which lie the deep-sea basins.

The oceans attain their greatest depths not in
their central parts, but in certain elongated furrows,
or long narrow troughs, called deeps. These profound
troughs have a peripheral arrangement,

(15) notably around the borders of the Pacific and Indian
oceans. The position of the deeps near the continental
masses suggests that the deeps, like the highest
mountains, are of recent origin, since otherwise
they would have been filled with waste from the

(20) lands. This suggestion is strengthened by the fact
that the deeps are frequently the sites of world-shaking
earthquakes. For example, the “tidal wave”
that in April, 1946, caused widespread destruction
along Pacific coasts resulted from a strong earthquake

(25) on the floor of the Aleutian Deep.

The topography of the ocean floors is none too
well known, since in great areas the available soundings
are hundreds or even thousands of miles apart.
However, the floor of the Atlantic is becoming fairly

(30) well known as a result of special surveys since 1920.
A broad, well-defined ridge—the mid-Atlantic
ridge—runs north and south between Africa and the
two Americas, and numerous other major irregularities
diversify the Atlantic floor. Closely spaced

(35) soundings show that many parts of the oceanic floors
are as rugged as mountainous regions of the continents.
Use of the recently perfected method of echo
sounding is rapidly enlarging our knowledge of
submarine topography. During World War II great

(40) strides were made in mapping submarine surfaces,
particularly in many parts of the vast Pacific basin.

The continents stand on the average 2870 feet—
slightly more than half a mile—above sea level.
North America averages 2300 feet; Europe averages

(45) only 1150 feet; and Asia, the highest of the larger
continental subdivisions, averages 3200 feet. The
highest point on the globe, Mount Everest in the
Himalayas, is 29,000 feet above the sea; and as the
greatest known depth in the sea is over 35,000 feet,

(50) the maximum relief (that is, the difference in altitude
between the lowest and highest points) exceeds
64,000 feet, or exceeds 12 miles. The continental
masses and the deep-sea basins are relief features
of the first order; the deeps, ridges, and volcanic

(55) cones that diversify the sea floor, as well as the
plains, plateaus, and mountains of the continents,
are relief features of the second order. The lands
are unendingly subject to a complex of activities
summarized in the term erosion, which first sculptures

(60) them in great detail and then tends to reduce
them ultimately to sealevel. The modeling of the
landscape by weather, running water, and other
agents is apparent to the keenly observant eye and
causes thinking people to speculate on what must

(65) be the final result of the ceaseless wearing down
of the lands. Long before there was a science of
geology, Shakespeare wrote “the revolution of the
times makes mountains level.”

11. It can be inferred from lines 1–4 that the largest ocean is the

(A) Atlantic

(B) Pacific

(C) Indian

(D) Aleutian Deep

(E) Arctic

12. According to lines 15–17, the peripheral furrows or deeps are found

(A) only in the Pacific and Indian oceans

(B) near earthquakes

(C) near the shore

(D) in the center of the ocean

(E) to be 14,000 feet in depth in the Pacific

13. Throughout the passage, the author does all of the following EXCEPT

(A) define a term

(B) consider a possibility

(C) discuss a phenomenon

(D) offer a solution

(E) provide an example

14. The “revolution of the times” as used in the final sentence means

(A) the passage of years

(B) the current rebellion

(C) the science of geology

(D) the action of the ocean floor

(E) the overthrow of natural forces

15. From this passage, it can be inferred that earthquakes

(A) occur only in the peripheral furrows

(B) occur more frequently in newly formed land or sea formations

(C) are a prime cause of soil erosion

(D) will ultimately “make mountains level”

(E) are caused by the weight of water pressing on the earth’s surface

The following passage is taken from the introduction to the catalog of a major exhibition of Flemish tapestries.

Tapestries are made on looms. Their distinctive
weave is basically simple: the colored weft threads
interface regularly with the monochrome warps, as
in darning or plain cloth, but as they do so, they form

Line (5) a design by reversing their direction when a change
of color is needed. The wefts are beaten down to
cover the warps completely. The result is a design
or picture that is the fabric itself, not one laid upon
a ground like an embroidery, a print, or brocading.

(10) The back and front of a tapestry show the same
design. The weaver always follows a preexisting
model, generally a drawing or painting, known as the
cartoon, which in most cases he reproduces as exactly
as he can. Long training is needed to become a professional

(15) tapestry weaver. It can take as much as a
year to produce a yard of very finely woven tapestry.

Tapestry-woven fabrics have been made from
China to Peru and from very early times to the present
day, but large wall hangings in this technique,

(20) mainly of wool, are typically Northern European.
Few examples predating the late fourteenth century
have survived, but from about 1400 tapestries were
an essential part of aristocratic life. The prince or
great nobleman sent his plate and his tapestries

(25) ahead of him to furnish his castles before his arrival
as he traveled through his domains; both had the
same function, to display his wealth and social
position. It has frequently been suggested that
tapestries helped to heat stone-walled rooms, but

(30) this is a modern idea; comfort was of minor importance
in the Middle Ages. Tapestries were portable
grandeur, instant splendor, taking the place, north
of the Alps, of painted frescoes further south. They
were hung without gaps between them, covering

(35) entire walls and often doors as well. Only very
occasionally were they made as individual works of art
such as altar frontals. They were usually commissioned
or bought as sets, or “chambers,” and constituted
the most important furnishings of any grand room,

(40) except for the display of plate, throughout the Middle
Ages and the sixteenth century. Later, woven silks,
ornamental wood carving, stucco decoration, and
painted leather gradually replaced tapestry as
expensive wall coverings, until at last wallpaper was

(45) introduced in the late eighteenth century and
eventually swept away almost everything else.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the “tapestry-room”
[a room with every available wall surface
covered with wall hangings] was no longer fashionable:

(50) paper had replaced wall coverings of wool and
silk. Tapestries, of course, were still made, but in
the nineteenth century they often seem to have been
produced mainly as individual works of art that
astonish by their resemblance to oil paintings, tours

(55) de force woven with a remarkably large number
of wefts per inch. In England during the second
half of the century, William Morris attempted to
reverse this trend and to bring tapestry weaving
back to its true principles, those he considered to

(60) have governed it in the Middle Ages. He imitated
medieval tapestries in both style and technique,
using few warps to the inch, but he did not make
sets; the original function for which tapestry is so
admirably suited—completely covering the walls

(65) of a room and providing sumptuous surroundings
for a life of pomp and splendor—could not be
revived. Morris’s example has been followed, though
with less imitation of medieval style, by many
weavers of the present century, whose coarsely

(70) woven cloths hang like single pictures and can be
admired as examples of contemporary art.

16. Tapestry weaving may be characterized as which of the following?

  I. Time-consuming

 II. Spontaneous in concept

III. Faithful to an original

(A) I only

(B) III only

(C) I and II only

(D) I and III only

(E) II and III only

17. In line 1, “distinctive“ most nearly means

(A) characteristic

(B) stylish

(C) discriminatory

(D) eminent

(E) articulate

18. Renaissance nobles carried tapestries with them to demonstrate their

(A) piety

(B) consequence

(C) aesthetic judgment

(D) need for privacy

(E) dislike for cold

19. In contrast to nineteenth century tapestries, contemporary tapestries

(A) are displayed in sets of panels

(B) echo medieval themes

(C) faithfully copy oil paintings

(D) have a less fine weave

(E) indicate the owner’s social position

20. The primary purpose of the passage is to

(A) explain the process of tapestry making

(B) contrast Eastern and Western schools of tapestry

(C) analyze the reasons for the decline in popularity of tapestries

(D) provide a historical perspective on tapestry making

(E) advocate a return to a more colorful way of life

Exercise C

This exercise provides you with a mixture of reading passages similar in variety to what you will encounter on the SAT. Answer all questions on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passages.

The following passage analyzes the contributions of the Mexican cowboy to American culture and to the English language.

The near-legendary history of the American West
might have been quite different had the Mexican
not brought cattle-raising to New Mexico and Texas.
The Spanish style of herding cattle on open ranges

Line (5) was different from the style of other Europeans,
particularly the English. The American rancho was
possible because of the lack of enough water for
normal agricultural practices, and because of the
easy availability of large amounts of land. This land-extensive

(10) form of cattle-raising required different
techniques and brought forth the vaquero, the cowboy
(from the Spanish vaca, cow) who tended the
widely-scattered herds of Spanish longhorn cattle.
Because of the American penchant to be considered

(15) the inventors of nearly everything, the wide-open
style of cattle-ranching was appropriated from
the Mexican originators. As popular a folk-hero as
the American cowboy is, he owes his development
to the Spanish and the Mexicans, not the English.

(20) It is quite probable, as McWilliams asserts, that
“with the exception of the capital required to
expand the industry, there seems to have been
nothing the American rancher or cowboy contributed
to the development of cattle-raising in the

(25) Southwest.”

Other contributions of the Mexican cowboy
were: the western-style saddle with a large, ornate
horn; chaparejos, or chaps; lazo, lasso; la reata,
lariat; the cinch; the halter; the mecate, or horsehair

(30) rope; chin strap for the hat; feed bag for the
horse; ten-gallon hat (which comes from a
mistranslation of a Spanish phrase “su sombrero
galoneado” that really meant a “festooned” or
“galooned” hat). Cowboy slang came from such

(35) words as: juzgado, hoosegow; ranchero, rancher;
estampida, stampede; calabozo, calaboose; and
pinto for a painted horse.

Just as the Mexican association for the protection
of the rights of sheepherders gave rise to the

(40) American Sheepman’s Association, the Spanish
system of branding range animals and registering
these brands became standard practice among Anglo
stockmen. The idea of brands originated in North
Africa and was brought to Spain by the Moors,

(45) along with their stocky ponies. The Mexican brands
are of great antiquity, having been copied from
earlier Indian signs which include symbols of the
sky—sun, moon, and stars. Hernando Cortez is
said to have been the first to use a brand on the

(50) continent.

1.   It can be inferred from lines 8 and 9 that American ranches developed in the West rather than the East because

(A) more Spanish-speaking people lived in the West

(B) there was more money available in the West

(C) people in the East were more bound by tradition

(D) many jobless men in the East wanted to become cowboys

(E) there was more unsettled land available in the West

2.   According to McWilliams (lines 20–25), the American rancher’s contribution to the development of cattle-raising in the Southwest was primarily

(A) linguistic

(B) financial

(C) technological

(D) charitable

(E) illegal

3.   The author gives examples of cowboy slang (lines 34–37) in order to

(A) arouse the reader’s interest

(B) show that he is familiar with the subject

(C) prove that many cowboys lacked education

(D) point out the differences between America’s East and West

(E) demonstrate how these terms originated

4.   According to the author, which of the following did Mexicans contribute to ranching?

  I. Money to buy ranches

 II. Methods of handling animals

III. Items of riding equipment

(A) I only

(B) II only

(C) III only

(D) I and II only

(E) II and III only

5.   Which of the following best describes the development of this passage?

(A) Major points, minor points

(B) Statement of problem, examples, proposed solution

(C) Introduction, positive factors, negative factors

(D) Cause, effects

(E) Comparison, contrast

In this introduction to a pictorial survey of African art, the author describes the impact of African sculpture.

When you first saw a piece of African art, it
impressed you as a unit; you did not see it as a
collection of shapes or forms. This, of course, means
that the shapes and volumes within the sculpture

Line (5) itself were coordinated so successfully that the
viewer was affected emotionally.

It is entirely valid to ask how, from a purely
artistic point of view, this unity was achieved. And
we must also inquire whether there is a recurrent

(10) pattern or rules or a plastic language and vocabulary
which is responsible for the powerful communication
of emotion which the best African sculpture
achieves. If there is such a pattern or rules, are these
rules applied consciously or instinctively to obtain

(15) so many works of such high artistic quality?

It is obvious from the study of art history that an
intense and unified emotional experience, such as
the Christian credo of the Byzantine or 12th or 13th
century Europe, when expressed in art forms, gave

(20) great unity, coherence, and power to art. But such
an integrated feeling was only the inspirational
element for the artist, only the starting point of the
creative act. The expression of this emotion and its
realization in the work could be done only with

(25) discipline and thorough knowledge of the craft. And
the African sculptor was a highly trained workman.
He started his apprenticeship with a master when
a child, and he learned the tribal styles and the use
of the tools and the nature of woods so thoroughly

(30) that his carving became what Boas calls “motor
action.” He carved automatically and instinctively.

The African carver followed his rules without
thinking of them; indeed, they never seem to have
been formulated in words. But such rules existed,

(35) for accident and coincidence cannot explain the
common plastic language of African sculpture.
There is too great a consistency from one work to
another. Yet, although the African, with amazing
insight into art, used these rules, I am certain that he

(40) was not conscious of them. This is the great mystery
of such a traditional art: talent, or the ability certain
people have, without conscious effort, to follow the
rules which later the analyst can discover only from
the work of art which has already been created.

6.   The author is primarily concerned with

(A) discussing how African sculptors achieved their effects

(B) listing the rules followed in African art

(C) relating African art to the art of 12th- or 13th-century Europe

(D) integrating emotion and realization

(E) expressing the beauty of African art

7.   According to the passage, one of the outstanding features of African sculpture is

(A) its subject matter

(B) the feelings it arouses

(C) the training of the artists

(D) its strangeness

(E) its emphasis on movement

8.   In line 10, “plastic” most nearly means

(A) synthetic

(B) linguistic

(C) consistent

(D) sculptural

(E) repetitive

9.   According to the information in the passage, an African carver can be best compared to a

(A) chef following a recipe

(B) fluent speaker of English who is just beginning to study French

(C) batter who hits a homerun in his or her first baseball game

(D) concert pianist performing a well-rehearsed concerto

(E) writer who is grammatically expert but stylistically uncreative

10. The author does all of the following EXCEPT

(A) pose a question

(B) deny a possibility

(C) cite an authority

(D) make an assertion

(E) formulate a rule

The following passages present two portraits of grandmothers. In Passage 1 Mary McCarthy shares her memories of her Catholic grandmother, who raised McCarthy and her brother after their parents’ death. In Passage 2 Caroline Heilbrun tells of her Jewish grandmother, who died when Heilbrun was 10.

Passage 1

Luckily, I am writing a memoir and not a work
of fiction, and therefore I do not have to account for
my grandmother’s unpleasing character and look
for the Oedipal fixation or the traumatic experience

Line (5) which would give her that clinical authenticity that
is nowadays so desirable in portraiture. I do not
know how my grandmother got the way she was;
I assume, from family photographs and from the
inflexibility of her habits, that she was always the

(10) same, and it seems as idle to inquire into her childhood
as to ask what was ailing Iago or look for the
error in toilet-training that was responsible for Lady
Macbeth. My grandmother’s sexual history, bristling
with infant mortality in the usual style of her period,

(15) was robust and decisive: three tall, handsome sons
grew up, and one attentive daughter. Her husband
treated her kindly. She had money, many
grandchildren, and religion to sustain her. White hair,
glasses, soft skin, wrinkles, needlework—all the

(20) paraphernalia of motherliness were hers; yet it was
a cold, grudging, disputatious old woman who sat
all day in her sunroom making tapestries from a
pattern, scanning religious periodicals, and setting
her iron jaw against any infraction of her ways.

(25)      Combativeness was, I suppose, the dominant
trait in my grandmother’s nature. An aggressive
churchgoer, she was quite without Christian feeling;
the mercy of the Lord Jesus had never entered
her heart. Her piety was an act of war against the

(30) Protestant ascendancy. The religious magazines on
her table furnished her not with food for meditation
but with fresh pretexts for anger; articles attacking
birth control, divorce, mixed marriages, Darwin,
and secular education were her favorite reading.

(35) The teachings of the Church did not interest her,
except as they were a rebuke to others; “Honor thy
father and thy mother”, a commandment she was
no longer called upon to practice, was the one most
frequently on her lips. The extermination of

(40) Protestantism, rather than spiritual perfection, was
the boon she prayed for. Her mind was preoccupied
with conversion; the capture of a soul for God
much diverted her fancy—it made one less
Protestant in the world. Foreign missions, with

(45) their overtones of good will and social service,
appealed to her less strongly; it was not a harvest
of souls that my grandmother had in mind.

This pugnacity of my grandmother’s did not
confine itself to sectarian enthusiasm. There was

(50) the defence of her furniture and her house against
the imagined encroachments of visitors. With her,
this was not the gentle and tremulous protectiveness
endemic in old ladies, who fear for the safety of
their possessions with a truly touching anxiety,

(55) inferring the fragility of all things from the brittleness
of their old bones and hearing the crash of
mortality in the perilous tinkling of a tea-cup. My
grandmother’s sentiment was more autocratic: she
hated having her chairs sat in or her lawns stepped

(60) on or the water turned on in her basins, for no reason
at all except pure officiousness; she even grudged
the mailman his daily promenade up her sidewalk.
Her home was a center of power, and she would not
allow it to be derogated by easy or democratic usage.

(65) Under her jealous eye, its social properties had
atrophied, and it functioned in the family structure
simply as a political headquarters. The family had
no friends, and entertaining was held to be a foolish
and unnecessary courtesy as between blood relations.

(70) Holiday dinners fell, as a duty, on the lesser members
of the organization: the daughters and daughters-in-law
(converts from the false religion) offered up
Baked Alaska on a platter like the head of John
the Baptist, while the old people sat enthroned at

(75) the table, and only their digestive processes
acknowledged, with rumbling, enigmatic salvos,
the festal day.

Passage 2

My grandmother, one of Howe’s sustaining
women, not only ruled the household with an arm

(80) of iron, but kept a store to support them all, her
blond, blue-eyed husband enjoying life rather than
struggling through it. My grandmother was one of
those powerful women who know that they stand
between their families and an outside world filled

(85) with temptations to failure and shame. I remember
her as thoroughly loving. But there can be no
question that she impaired her six daughters for
autonomy as thoroughly as if she had crippled them
—more so. The way to security was marriage; the

(90) dread that stood in the way of this was sexual
dalliance, above all pregnancy. The horror of pregnancy
in an unmarried girl is difficult, perhaps, to recapture
now. For a Jewish girl not to be a virgin on
marriage was failure. The male’s rights were

(95) embodied in her lack of sexual experience, in the
knowledge that he was the first, the owner.

All attempts at autonomy had to be frustrated.
And of course, my grandmother’s greatest weapon
was her own vulnerability. She had worked hard,

(100) only her daughters knew how hard. She could not
be comforted or repaid—as my mother would feel
repaid—by a daughter’s accomplishments, only
by her marriage.

11. McCarthy’s attitude toward her grandmother is best described as

(A) tolerant

(B) appreciative

(C) indifferent

(D) nostalgic

(E) sardonic

12. In line 10, “idle” most nearly means

(A) slothful

(B) passive

(C) fallow

(D) useless

(E) unoccupied

13. According to McCarthy, a portrait of a character in a work of modern fiction must have

(A) photographic realism

(B) psychological validity

(C) sympathetic attitudes

(D) religious qualities

(E) historical accuracy

14. McCarthy’s primary point in describing her grandmother’s physical appearance (lines 18 and 19) is best summarized by which of the following axioms?

(A) Familiarity breeds contempt.

(B) You can’t judge a book by its cover.

(C) One picture is worth more than ten thousand words.

(D) There’s no smoke without fire.

(E) Blood is thicker than water.

15. By describing (in lines 52–57) the typical old woman’s fear for the safety of her possessions, McCarthy emphasizes that

(A) her grandmother feared the approach of death

(B) old women have dangerously brittle bones

(C) her grandmother possessed considerable wealth

(D) her grandmother had different reasons for her actions

(E) visitors were unwelcome in her grandmother’s home

16. In line 65, “properties” most nearly means

(A) belongings

(B) aspects

(C) holdings

(D) titles

(E) acreage

17. Heilbrun is critical of her grandmother primarily because

(A) she would not allow her husband to enjoy himself

(B) she could not accept her own vulnerability

(C) she fostered a sense of sexual inadequacy

(D) she discouraged her daughters’ independence

(E) she physically injured her children

18. In stating that her grandmother’s greatest weapon was her own vulnerability (lines 98 and 99), Heilbrun implies that her grandmother got her way by exploiting her children’s

(A) sense of guilt

(B) innocence of evil

(C) feeling of indifference

(D) abdication of responsibility

(E) lack of experience

19. Each passage mentions which of the following as being important to the writer’s grandmother?

(A) governing the actions of others

(B) contributing to religious organizations

(C) protecting her children’s virtue

(D) marrying off her daughters

(E) being surrounded by a circle of friends

20. McCarthy would most likely react to the characterization of her grandmother, like Heilbrun’s grandmother, as one of the “sustaining women” (lines 78 and 79) by pointing out that

(A) this characterization is not in good taste

(B) the characterization fails to account for her grandmother’s piety

(C) the details of the family’s social life support this characterization

(D) her grandmother’s actual conduct is not in keeping with this characterization

(E) this characterization slightly exaggerates her grandmother’s chief virtue

Answer Key


  1. B

  2. D

  3. B

  4. A

  5. D

  6. A

  7. C

  8. E

  9. E

10. E

11. D

12. E

13. C

14. C

15. B

16. E

17. D

18. E

19. E

20. B

21. D

22. C


  1. C

  2. C

  3. A

  4. E

  5. D

  6. B

  7. B

  8. D

  9. C

10. A

11. B

12. C

13. D

14. A

15. B

16. D

17. A

18. B

19. D

20. D


  1. E

  2. B

  3. E

  4. E

  5. A

  6. A

  7. B

  8. D

  9. D

10. E

11. E

12. D

13. B

14. B

15. D

16. B

17. D

18. A

19. A

20. D

Answer Explanations


  1. (B) The opening lines indicate that the narrator is reflecting on his feelings. Throughout the passage he uses words like “miserable,” “ashamed,” and “discontented” to describe his emotional state.

Choice A is incorrect. The narrator does not analyze or dissect a change in attitude; he describes an ongoing attitude.

Choice C is incorrect. The passage gives an example of emotional self-awareness, not of political consciousness. Choice D is incorrect. The narrator condemns rather than defends the longings that brought him discontentment. Choice E is incorrect. The narrator criticizes himself, not young people in general.

  2. (D) The references to the forge (line 13) and the anvil (line 23) support Choice D. None of the other choices are suggested by the passage.

  3. (B) Note the adjectives used to describe Joe: “faithful,” “industrious,” “kind.” These are virtues, and Joe is fundamentally virtuous.

Choice A is incorrect. Joe is plain and hardworking, not eminent and distinguished.

Choice C is incorrect. The passage portrays not Joe but the narrator as desiring to be independent.

Choice D is incorrect. It is unsupported by the passage.

Choice E is incorrect. The narrator thinks his life is coarse; he thinks Joe is virtuous.

  4. (A) Choice A is supported by lines 15 and 16 in which the narrator states he “would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see (his home) on any account.”

Choices B and C are incorrect. Nothing in the passage suggests either might be the case.

Choice D is incorrect. Though the narrator may not show himself as hard-working, nothing in the passage suggests laziness led to his discontent.

Choice E is incorrect. Nothing in the passage suggests sinfulness has prompted his discontent. In addition, although ingratitude may play a part in his discontent, shame at his background plays a far greater part.

  5. (D) In lines 40 and 41, the narrator manages to say something good about his youthful self: “I am glad to know I never breathed a murmur to Joe.” He gives himself credit for concealing his despondency.

Choices A and B are incorrect. The narrator gives Joe all the credit for his having worked industriously and for his not having run away to become a soldier.

Choices C and E are incorrect. They are unsupported by the passage.

  6. (A) Throughout the second paragraph, the author pays particular attention to Maria’s appearance, her behavior, her effect on others. If she had been introduced previously in the text, there would be no need to present these details about her at this point in the passage.

  7. (C) The descriptions of the bright and shiny kitchen where you “could see yourself in the big copper boilers” and of tiny, witch-like Maria with her long nose and long chin belong to the realm of fairy tales.

  8. (E) The passage mentions the matron twice: once, in the opening line, where she gives Maria permission to leave work early; once, in lines 17–18, where she pays Maria a compliment. Given this context, we can logically infer that Maria views the matron positively, finding her a benevolent or kindly supervisor.

Choices A, B, and C are incorrect. Nothing in the passage suggests Maria has a negative view of the matron.

Choice D is incorrect. Given Maria’s relatively menial position, it is unlikely she and the matron would be close or intimate friends.

  9. (E) To slice loaves so neatly and invisibly takes a great deal of care. The author specifically states that Maria has cut the loaves. Not only that, he emphasizes the importance of her having done so by placing this statement at the end of the paragraph (a key position). As the subsequent paragraphs point up, Maria is hungry for compliments. Just as she takes pride in her peacemaking, she takes pride in her ability to slice barmbracks evenly.

10. (E) Maria helps others to compromise or become reconciled; she herself is not necessarily unwilling to compromise.

The passage suggests that Choice A is characteristic of Maria. She speaks soothingly and respectfully.

Therefore, Choice A is incorrect.

The passage suggests that Choice B is characteristic of Maria. Maria’s response to Ginger Mooney’s toast shows her enjoyment of being noticed in this way.

Therefore, Choice B is incorrect.

The passage suggests that Choice C is characteristic of Maria. Maria’s obedience to the cook and to the matron shows her respect for authority. Therefore, Choice C is incorrect.

The passage suggests that Choice D is characteristic of Maria. Maria’s disappointed shyness and her forced laughter about a wedding ring and husband show that she has wistful dreams of marriage. Therefore, Choice D is incorrect.

11. (D) By stating that his joy at his return “made him communicative and chatty in a very unusual degree” (lines 6–7), the opening paragraph implies that Sir Thomas is usually more restrained in speech. Choice D is correct.

Choice A is incorrect. Nothing in the passage suggests he is usually unwelcome in his own home.

Choices B and C are incorrect. Neither is supported by the opening paragraph.

Choice E is incorrect. Sir Thomas’s delight at finding his family together “exactly as he could have wished” indicates he does not lack family feeling. Remember, when asked to make inferences, base your answers on what the passage implies, not what it states directly.

12. (E) The opening sentence of the second paragraph states that none of the members of his family listened to him with such “unbroken unalloyed enjoyment” as his wife did. Her enjoyment was complete and unmixed with other emotions. This suggests that others in the group face Sir Thomas’s arrival not with complete pleasure but with mixed emotions.

Choice A is incorrect. It is unsupported by the passage.

Choice B is incorrect. Lady Bertram’s fluttered or discomposed state on his arrival indicates her surprise.

Choice C is incorrect. Lines 14–15 indicate that Sir Thomas did not expect to find his whole family at home. Therefore, he had not timed his arrival to coincide with a reunion.

Choice D is incorrect. Sir Thomas has had to seek out the butler and confide the news of his arrival to him (lines 50–51). Therefore, the servants had not expected his arrival.

13. (C) Examine Lady Bertram’s behavior carefully. She is not agitated (though she is “nearer agitation than she had been for the last twenty years”). She is so moved by her husband’s return that she actually moves her lap dog from the sofa and makes room for her husband. Clearly, the author is making fun of Lady Bertram’s idiosyncratic behavior, describing her quirky reactions in a lightly mocking, gently ironic way.

14. (C) The author italicizes the word her for emphasis.

Lady Bertram had no worries to take away from her pleasure at Sir Thomas’s return. However, she is unusual in this. The author’s emphasis on her happiness serves to suggest that others in the group have reason to be less happy about Sir Thomas’s arrival.

15. (B) Refusing to be provoked by Mrs. Norris’s interruptions, Sir Thomas demonstrates patient forbearance or restraint.

Choice A is incorrect. Line 69 states that Sir Thomas “could not be provoked.” Therefore, he showed no irritation.

Choice C is incorrect. Sir Thomas remarks courteously on Mrs. Norris’s anxiety for everybody’s comfort (lines 69–71). This implies that he in general approves rather than disapproves of her concern.

Choice D is incorrect. It is unsupported by the passage.

Choice E is incorrect. Given Mrs. Norris’s interruptions of his story, it is unlikely Sir Thomas would view her with unmixed delight.

16. (E) Mrs. Norris has looked forward to spreading the news of Sir Thomas’s return (or of his death!). The office she has lost is that of herald or message-bearer.

Choice A is incorrect. Mrs. Norris wishes to give orders to the butler, not to be the butler.

Choice B is incorrect for much the same reason.

Choice C is incorrect. Mrs. Norris is the sister of Sir Thomas’s wife; the passage does not indicate that she has any desire to be his wife.

Choice D is incorrect. Mrs. Norris wishes to give news of the traveler, not to be the traveler.

17. (D) The directions with which Mrs. Norris would have troubled the housekeeper, if Sir Thomas had allowed her to do so, are fussy instructions to the housekeeper to make Sir Thomas something to eat.

18. (E) The first sentence of the passage states that Newman’s purpose is to see Mademoiselle Noemie, to pay her another visit. Indeed, in lines 6–7, he is described as roaming “through several of the rooms in fruitless quest of her.”

19. (E) In lines 35–36, Valentin explains that, giving in to his mother’s entreaties, he has reluctantly agreed to guide his cousin through the Louvre. The prospect bores him—playing tour guide is one of his ennuis. He is even more bored than usual, for his cousin is late.

20. (B) Valentin shows what a bad mood he is in by making insulting comments about his cousin’s poor taste in clothes, huge feet, and lack of punctuality.

Choice A is incorrect. Though Valentin’s cousin is late, he has not yet stalked off in a fit of temper.

Choice C is incorrect. Valentin is quite ready to accept Newman’s advice.

Choice D is incorrect. He is criticizing his English cousin’s choice of clothes, not his mother’s.

Choice E is incorrect. Though he is about to offer to go off with Newman, Valentin has not yet refused to do as his mother wished. Up to now, he has been a very obedient, though disgruntled, son.

21. (D) Use the process of elimination to answer this question.

Valentin would most likely agree with Statement I.

His concern for fashionable clothing is evident from the disparaging remarks he makes about his cousin’s clothes. Therefore, you can eliminate Choices B and C.

Valentin would most likely also agree with Statement II. He respects family relationships, for he has agreed to his mother’s request to show the cousin around.

Therefore, you can eliminate Choice A.

Valentin would probably not agree with Statement III. He is furious that his cousin is late. Therefore, you can eliminate Choice E.

Only Choice D is left. It is the correct answer.

22. (C) Valentin confides in Newman, telling the American why he is so irritated. He speaks extremely frankly, making disparaging comments about his English cousin, for he is sure that his trusted friend or confidant will not betray these confidences.


  1. (C) Each paragraph discusses some important feature or significant characteristic of Eskimo art (its mystical quality, realistic understanding of anatomy, humor, etc.).

  2. (C) The author’s use of such terms as “powerful ability” (line 2), “masters in the understanding of animal anatomy” (line 28), and “living excitement” (line 55) indicates an admiration for the art.

  3. (A) The author’s comment in lines 16–17 that Eskimo art “has a special freedom unsullied (unstained or undefiled) by any kind of formalized training” suggests that he would agree that formal training might defile or destroy an artist’s originality and freedom of expression.

  4. (E) Each example the author provides describes a type of Eskimo sculpture (man driving a caribou, woman holding a child, geese flying, polar bear charging) and gives the reader a sense of its quality and variety.

  5. (D) Use the process of elimination to answer this question.

Choice A is incorrect. Line 43 states “there is much evidence of humor” in Eskimo art.

Choice B is incorrect. Humor in Eskimo carvings “may be subtle” (lines 46–47).

Choice C is incorrect. Eskimo carvings reveal “the passionate feelings of a vital people” (line 9); they possess emotional depth.

Choice E is incorrect. Eskimo sculptors are “masters in the understanding of animal anatomy” (line 28).

Their works are characterized by anatomical accuracy.

Only Choice D is left. It is the correct answer. If “no one can accurately define the right way or wrong way to create a carving” (lines 48–49), clearly Eskimo carving lacks stylistic uniformity.

  6. (B) The passage as a whole is a portrait of Charlotte Stanhope’s moral and intellectual temperament or character. The opening sentence of each paragraph describes some aspect of her behavior or character which the paragraph then goes on to develop.

Remember, when asked to find the main idea, be sure to check the opening and summary sentences of each paragraph.

Choice A is incorrect. While the various members of the family are described, they are described only in relationship to Charlotte.

Choice C is incorrect. Although Charlotte may well be selfish or egotistical, she does do some good for others. The passage does not illustrate the evils of egotism.

Choice D is incorrect. The passage analyzes Charlotte; it discusses the members of her family only in relationship to her.

Choice E is incorrect. While Charlotte has her virtues, the passage stresses her faults. While her family may not be described as admirable, nothing suggests that they are disreputable (not well-esteemed or well-regarded).

  7. (B) The author presents Charlotte candidly and openly: her faults are not concealed. The author also presents her satirically: her weaknesses and those of her family are mocked or made fun of. If you find the characters in a passage foolish or pompous, the author may well be writing satirically.

Choice A is incorrect. While the author is concerned with Charlotte’s moral character, he is not moralistic or self-righteous; he is describing her character, not preaching a sermon against her.

Choice C is incorrect. The author is unsympathetic to Charlotte’s faults and he is not sentimental or emotionally excessive about her.

Choice D is incorrect. Bitterness is too strong a term to describe the author’s tone. He has no reason to be bitter.

Choice E is incorrect. While the author’s tone is not highly emotional, it is better to describe it as satiric than as unfeeling.

  8. (D) Lines 50–51 mention the troubled mind of Dr. Stanhope, and state that Charlotte would have enjoyed shaking “what remained of his Church of England faith.” The phrase “what remained” implies that little is left of Dr. Stanhope’s original religious faith.

Choice A is incorrect. There is no comparison made between the two elder Stanhopes. Both are indolent (lazy).

Choice B is incorrect. Since only Charlotte could persuade her father to look after his affairs (lines 14 and 15), he apparently was willing to let her manage matters for him and willingly surrendered his authority.

Choice C is incorrect. There is no evidence in the passage that Dr. Stanhope feels regret or remorse.

Choice E is incorrect. While Charlotte’s brother is described as moneyless (lines 41–42), there is no evidence in the passage that Dr. Stanhope has disinherited him.

  9. (C) There is no evidence in the passage that Charlotte’s mother is an affectionate wife and mother; similarly, there is no evidence that she is excellent in the “domestic arts” (making tea; managing the household— the very tasks assumed by Charlotte).

Statements I and II are incorrect. Only Statement III is correct. The sole mention of Charlotte’s mother (lines 33–35) states that she was encouraged in her idleness by Charlotte. She lacks the willpower to resist Charlotte’s encouragements. Thus, she shows herself to be a woman of unassertive, pliable character.

10. (A) The first paragraph emphasizes that Charlotte “in no way affected the graces of youth.” Her manner is that of an assured mistress of a household, not a flirt.

Choice B is incorrect. Charlotte is a free-thinker (one who denies established beliefs) and thus lacks reverence or respect for religion.

Choice C is incorrect. Charlotte is concerned with her family’s worldly well-being and makes her father attend to his material concerns. Thus, she has a materialistic nature.

Choice D is incorrect. Charlotte manages everything and everybody.

Choice E is incorrect. Charlotte’s coarseness (vulgarity; crudeness) is implied in the reference to her “freedom...from feminine delicacy” (lines 45–47).

11. (B) We are told that 71 percent of the earth is covered by water and that the Pacific Ocean covers half the earth. The Pacific is obviously the largest ocean.

12. (C) The peripheral furrows or deeps are discussed in lines 13–25. We are told that these deeps are near the continental masses, and, therefore, near the shore.

13. (D) Throughout the passage, the author defines terms: continental shelves, deeps, relief. Therefore, you can rule out Choice A. In lines 16–22, the author considers the possibility that the deeps are of recent origin. Therefore, you can rule out Choice B.

Throughout the passage, the author discusses geological phenomena. Therefore, you can rule out Choice C. In lines 22–25, the author provides the example of a deep’s being the site of an earthquake. Therefore, you can rule out Choice E. Only Choice D is left.

The author never offers a solution or answer to any problem.

14. (A) Terms such as “unendingly,” “ultimately,” and “ceaseless” indicate that the mountains are made level over an enormous passage of years.

15. (B) The passage states that the deeps, the site of frequent earthquakes, are of recent origin: they were formed comparatively recently. This suggests that newly formed land and sea formations may have a greater frequency of earthquake occurrence than older, more stable formations.

Remember, when asked to make inferences, base your answers on what the passage implies, not what it states directly.

16. (D) Tapestry weaving is time-consuming, taking “as much as a year to produce a yard.” In addition, it is faithful to the original (“The weaver always follows a preexisting model.”) It is not, however, spontaneous in concept.

17. (A) The author mentions tapestry’s distinctive or characteristic weave as something that distinguishes tapestry-woven materials from other fabrics (prints, brocades, etc.).

18. (B) By using tapestries “to display his wealth and social position,” the nobleman is using them to demonstrate his consequence or importance.

19. (D) In comparison to the tightly-woven tapestries of the nineteenth century, present day wall-hangings are described as “coarsely woven cloths.” Thus, they have a less fine weave than their predecessors.

20. (D) The passage explains the process of tapestry making and mentions that large wall-hangings are Western rather than Eastern in origin. Choices A and B do not reflect the passage’s primary purpose. This purpose is to provide an historical perspective on tapestry making.


  1. (E) The first paragraph notes that ranches can develop where large amounts of land are available. It can be inferred that more unsettled land was available in the West than in the East.

  2. (B) According to McWilliams, the American rancher or cowboy contributed nothing to the development of cattle-raising in the Southwest except “the capital required to expand the industry.” Capital is wealth or money. Thus, the American rancher’s contribution was primarily financial.

  3. (E) The use of only Mexican terms suggests that the author is using these examples of cowboy slang to demonstrate the origins of the words and prove how much Mexicans contributed.

  4. (E) The first paragraph tells of the adoption of Mexican methods of handling animals, and the second speaks of Mexican contributions to riding equipment. The quotation at the end of the first paragraph implies that the money for the ranching industry was provided by Americans.

  5. (A) The passage starts with the major Mexican contribution of the whole concept of ranching, goes on, in the second paragraph, to discuss lesser contributions of equipment and slang, and ends, in the third paragraph, with the relatively minor contribution of branding.

  6. (A) Each paragraph of the passage discusses how African sculptors achieved their effects.

  7. (B) Both the first and second paragraphs mention the emotions aroused by African sculpture.

  8. (D) The passage discusses sculpture, so it can be inferred that “the common plastic language” means the common sculptural language.

  9. (D) We are told that the African sculptor was highly trained and followed the rules without thinking about them. Similarly, a well-rehearsed pianist can perform a concerto without worrying too much about the notes. Both artists have become free to concentrate on mood or creativity.

10. (E) In lines 13–15 (“If there is…high artistic quality?”), the author poses or asks a question. Therefore, you can rule out Choice A. In lines 38–40, the author denies the possibility that the African sculptor was conscious or aware of the rules he followed in creating his works of art. Therefore, you can rule out Choice B. In line 30, the author cites or mentions Franz Boas, an authority or expert on primitive art. Therefore, you can rule out Choice C. Throughout the passage, the author makes many assertions or positive statements: “the African sculptor was a highly trained workman” is just one of many similar assertions.
Therefore, you can rule out Choice D. Only Choice E is left. Although the author mentions the existence of rules that the African sculptor followed “automatically and instinctively,” the author does not formulate or precisely state any of these rules.

11. (E) In candidly exposing her grandmother’s flaws, the author exhibits a sardonic or scornful and sarcastic attitude.

12. (D) McCarthy sees as little point in speculating about her grandmother’s childhood as she does in wondering about the toilet-training of a fictional character like Lady Macbeth. Such speculations are, to McCarthy’s mind, idle or useless.

13. (B) The author states (somewhat ironically) that modern fictional characters must have “clinical authenticity.” In other words, they must appear to be genuine or valid in psychological terms.

14. (B) Although the grandmother’s outward appearance was soft and motherly, her essential nature was hard as nails. Clearly, you cannot judge a book (person) by its cover (outward appearance).

15. (D) McCarthy is building up a portrait of her grandmother as a pugnacious, autocratic person. She describes the fear old ladies have for their belongings as a very human (and understandable) reaction: aware of their own increasing fragility (and eventual death), the old ladies identify with their fragile possessions and are protective of them. McCarthy’s grandmother was also protective of her belongings, but she was not the typical “gentle and tremulous” elderly woman. She was a petty tyrant and had decidedly different reasons for her actions.

16. (B) Because her grandmother was more interested in maintaining her power than in being hospitable, the social properties or aspects of the family home had withered and decayed till no real sociability existed.

17. (D) Heilbrun’s central criticism is that her grandmother “impaired her six daughters for autonomy” or independence. In other words, she discouraged her daughters’ independence.

18. (A) By dwelling on how hard she had worked to support her daughters and how much she would be hurt if they failed to pay her back by making good marriages, Heilbrun’s grandmother exploited their sense of guilt.

19. (A) The common factor in both grandmothers’ lives is their need to govern the actions of others. McCarthy’s grandmother tyrannized everyone from the mailman to her daughters and daughters-in-law; Heilbrun’s grandmother “ruled the household with an arm of iron,” governing her daughters’ lives.

20. (D) While Heilbrun’s grandmother was a “sustaining woman” who provided for her family, allowing her husband to live a life of relative leisure, McCarthy’s grandmother was a grudging woman, not a sustaining one. Thus, McCarthy would most likely point out that her grandmother’s actual conduct is not in keeping with this characterization.