You are on page 1of 15

ACT Practice Test 1 READING Passage I

PROSE FICTION: This passage is an adapted excerpt from Willa Cathers O Pioneers! This novel, set in the Nebraska prairie, was originally published in 1913.

Carl had changed, Alexandra felt, much less than one might have expected. He had not become a self-satisfied city man. There was still something homely and wayward and personal about him. Even his clothes were unconventional. He seemed to shrink into himself as he used to do, as if he were afraid of being hurt. That evening, Carl and Alexandra were sitting in the flower garden. The gravel paths glittered in the moonlight, and below them the fields lay white and still. You know, Alexandra, Ive been thinking how strangely things work out. Ive been away engraving other peoples pictures, and youve stayed at home and made your own. Carl pointed toward the sleeping landscape. How in the world have you done it? How have your neighbors done it? We hadnt much to do with it, Carl. The land pretended to be poor because nobody knew how to work it; then, suddenly, it worked itself. It woke up out of its sleep and stretched itself, and it was so big, so rich, that we found we were rich, just from sitting still. You remember when I began to buy land. For years I was always squeezing and borrowing until I was ashamed to show my face in the banks. And then, all at once, men began to come to me offering to lend me money! Then I built this housefor Emil, really. I want you to see Emil, Carl. He

[5]

[10]

[15]

[20]

[25]

[30]

is different from the rest of us! How different? Oh, youll see! Im sure it was to have children like Emil, to give them a chance, that father left Sweden. Is he going to farm here with you? He shall do whatever he wants to, Alexandra declared. Hes going to have a real chance; thats what Ive worked for! How about Lou and Oscar? Theyve done well, havent they? Yes, very well; but theyre different, and now that they have farms of their own I dont see so much of them. We divided the land equally when Lou married. They have their own way of doing things, and they dont altogether like my way. Perhaps they think me too independent. But Ive had to think for myself for many years and am not likely to change. On the whole, though, we take as much comfort in each other as most brothers and sisters do. Alexandra looked at Carl calmly and deliberately. Why are you dissatisfied with yourself? Her visitor winced and paused. You see, he said, measured by your standards, Im a failure. I couldnt buy even one of your cornfields. Ive enjoyed many things in New York, but Ive nothing to show for it. But you show for it yourself, Carl. Id rather have had your freedom than my land. Carl shook his head. Freedom so often means that one isnt needed. Here you have a background of your own, you would be missed. But in the cities there are thousands [45] [40] [35]

[50]

[55]

[60]

[65]

of rolling stones like me. Were all alike, paying an extravagant rent for a few square feet of space near the heart of things; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When people die, they scarcely know where to bury them. Alexandra was silent. He knew that she understood what he meant. At last she said slowly, And yet I would rather Emil grow up like that than like his brothers. We pay a high rent, too, though we pay differently. We grow hard and heavy. We dont move lightly and easily as you do, and our minds get stiff. If the world were no wider than my cornfields, I wouldnt feel that it was worthwhile to work. No, I would rather have Emil like you. I felt that as soon as you came. 1. The passage suggests that Alexandra wants Emil to: A. eventually take over the management of her farm. B. choose a profession other than farming. C. grow up to be like Lou and Oscar. D. move to New York with Carl.

[70]

[75]

[80]

[85]

2.

The high rent mentioned in line 80 refers to: F. the opportunity to reap great financial rewards from farming. G. Alexandras observation that farming often involves risky, hazardous work. H. Carls complaint about the high cost of living in the city. J. the physical and emotional toll of Alexandras life on the farm. Based on the passage, it is most reasonable to conclude that Carl is: A. B. C. D. skeptical of Alexandras relationship with Lou and Oscar. jealous of Alexandras financial success on the farm. envious of Alexandras ties to her land and community. confused about Alexandras plans for Emil.

3.

4.

As it is used in line 21, poor most closely means: F. penniless. G. deficient. H. pitiable. J. unhappy. Lines 58-62 suggest that Carl considers himself:

5.

A. B. C. D. 6.

lucky to have escaped the hardships of farm life. fortunate to have met many interesting people in New York. dissatisfied with the quality of life in Nebraska. unable to account satisfactorily for the life he has led.

Alexandras observations of Carl in the first paragraph (lines 1-8) suggest that she is: F. G. H. J. charmed by his eccentric appearance. perplexed about why he has come home. relieved that he seems unchanged. surprised by her own lack of sympathy for him.

7.

Alexandra admires Carl most for his: A. range of worldly experience. B. professional reputation as an artist. C. boldness and self-confidence. D. old-fashioned values. Based on the passage, Alexandra could be most accurately characterized as: F. independent and strong-willed. G. faithful to her familys traditions. H. envious of Carls connections in the city. J. intimidated by the financial risks associated with her farm.

8.

Passage II
PROSE FICTION: This passage is an adapted excerpt from Jane Austens novel Emma. In this passage, Emma confronts a change in her previously happy life.

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence. She had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father, and had, in consequence of her sisters marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses, and her place had been taken by an excellent governess who

[5]

[10]

had fallen little short of a mother in affection. Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouses family, less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma. Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint. The shadow of authority being now long passed away, they had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked, highly esteeming Miss Taylors judgment, but directed chiefly by her own. The real evils, indeed, of Emmas situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her. Sorrow camea gentle sorrowbut not at all in the shape of any disagreeable consciousness. Miss Taylor married. It was Miss Taylors loss which first brought grief. It was on the wedding-day of this beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful thought of any continuance. The wedding over, and the bride-people gone, she and her father were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she had lost. The marriage had every promise of happiness for her friend. Mr. Weston was a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age, and pleasant manners. There was some satisfaction in considering

[15]

[20]

[25]

[30]

[35]

[40]

[45]

[50]

[55]

with what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wished and promoted the match, but it was a black mornings work for her. The want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day. She recalled her past kindnessthe kindness, the affection of sixteen yearshow she had taught her and how she had played with her from five years oldhow she had devoted all her powers to attach and amuse her in health and how she had nursed her through the various illnesses of childhood. A large debt of gratitude was owing here, but the intercourse of the last seven years, the equal footing and perfect unreserve which had soon followed Isabellas marriage, on their being left to each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection. She had been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent, well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family, interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in her, in every pleasure, every scheme of hersone to whom she could speak every thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her as could never find fault. How was she to bear the change? It was true that her friend was going only half a mile from them, but Emma was aware that great must be the difference between a Mrs. Weston, only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the house. With all her advantages, natural and domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude. 9.

[60]

[65]

[70]

[75]

[80]

[85]

[90]

According to the passage, what are the greatest disadvantages facing Emma? A. B. C. D. Her father is not a stimulating conversationalist, and she is bored. She is lonely and afraid that Mrs. Weston will not have a happy marriage. She is used to having too much her way, and she thinks too highly of herself. She misses the companionship of her mother, her sister, and Miss Taylor.

10. The name of Emmas sister is: F. Mrs. Weston.

G. Isabella. H. Miss Taylor. J. Mrs. Woodhouse. 11. As described in the passage, Emmas relationship with Miss Taylor can be characterized as: A. B. C. D. similar to a mother-daughter relationship. similar to the relationship of sisters or best friends. weaker than Emmas relationship with her sister. stronger than Miss Taylors relationship with her new husband.

12. As used in line 33, disposition can most closely be defined as: F. a tendency. G. control. H. placement. J. transfer. 13. Which of the following are included in Emmas memories of her relationship with Miss Taylor? I. II. III. IV. A. B. C. D. --Miss Taylor taking care of Emma during childhood illnesses -Miss Taylors interest in all of the concerns of Emmas family -Miss Taylor teaching her mathematics -Miss Taylor scolding her for being selfish

I, III, and IV only I and III only II, III, and IV only I and II only

14. It is most reasonable to infer from Emmas realization that great must be the difference between a Mrs. Weston, only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the house (lines 87-89) that: F. G. H. J. Miss Taylor will no longer be a part of Emmas life. Emma is happy about the marriage because now she will have more freedom. Emma regrets that her relationship with Miss Taylor will change. Emma believes that her relationship with Miss Taylor will become stronger.

15. Based on the passage, Emma could best be described as: A. sweet and nave. B. self-centered and nave. C. self-centered and headstrong. D. unappreciative and bitter.

16. The passage suggests that the quality Emma values most in a friend is: F. charisma. G. devotion. H. honesty. J. intelligence. 17. How does Emma view Mr. Weston? A. She thinks that he is an excellent match, and it required considerable selfsacrifice to not pursue him herself. B. She considers him to be a respectable if somewhat average match for her friend. C. She sees him as an intruder who has carried away her best friend in a black mornings work (line 60). D. She believes he is an indulgent, easily swayed man, reminiscent of her father. 18. From the passage, it can be inferred that Emma is accustomed to: F. behaving according to the wishes of her affectionate father. G. taking the advice of Miss Taylor when faced with deciding upon a course of action. H. doing as she pleases without permission from her father or governess. J. abiding by strict rules governing her behavior.

Passage III
SOCIAL SCIENCE: The following passage is an adapted excerpt from For the Love of Language by Geoffrey Cowley, which appeared in the Newsweek Special 2000 Edition: Your Child.

During the third trimester of pregnancy, many mothers notice that their babies kick and wiggle in response to music or loud noises. Researchers at New Yorks Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center have found that fetuses heart rates drop predictably when their mothers speak a simple phrase (Hello, baby). And French scientists have gone a step further, showing that a fetus whos been hearing the same sound repeated (babi, babi) will react to a sudden reversal of its elements (biba, biba). Within 96 hours of birth, babies distinguish their mother tongue from a foreign language, sucking more vigorously when they hear it

[5]

[10]

[15]

spoken. How does a child start to parse this river of sound into meaningful units? Simple conditioning is part of the story. Anyone bombarded by a particular language hears certain sound combinations more often than others, and babies are quick to home in on the most probable combinations. In one revealing study, a team led by University of Wisconsin psychologist Jenny Saffran familiarized 8-month-olds with three-syllable nonsense words such as bidaku and padoti by playing them in random order on a voice synthesizer. Then the researchers reshuffled the syllables and tested the kids again. The babies easily distinguished bidaku and padoti not only from other nonwords like dadobi but also from hybrids like kupado, a sequence they would have heard on the training tape whenever bidaKU bumped up against PADO-ti. Long before they could attach meanings to words, these kids were processing them as discrete unitssaying, in effect, Call me pretty or call me baby. Just dont call me ty-ba. Within months of their first birthday, most kids start attaching names to things. And whether theyre learning Swahili or Swedish, they go about it in much the same way. Instead of proceeding by trial and errorunsure whether doggie refers to a part of a dog, to one dog in particular or to anything with four legschildren start with a set of innate biases. They assume that labels refer to wholes instead of parts (the creature, not the tail) and to classes instead of items (all dogs, not one dog). They also figure that one name is enough for any class of object (if its a dog, its not a cow). A typical child is socking away a dozen words a day by 18 months, and they may command 2,000 of them by the age of two. Having acquired their words

[20]

[25]

[30]

[35]

[40]

[45]

[50]

[55]

through mimicry, they start combining themaccording to abstract rules that no one has taught themto express their thoughts and feelings. Their first sentences may be crude utterances such as Gonna cry! or Uppy me! But between 24 and 30 months, kids who have never heard of syntax usually start marrying noun phrases to verb phrases to explain who did what to whom. If they happen to speak English, they know that man bites dog and dog bites man tell different stories, despite their identical words. Some scholars have argued that kids learn to form sentences just as they learn to perceive word boundariesby listening for statistical regularities in other peoples speech. Grammatical analysis doesnt require specialized cognitive software, they say; it boils down to operant conditioning. According to this argument, a baby who encounters the sentences the boy likes apples and the boy likes oranges 50 times each will learn that the words the, boy and likes are tightly correlated in certain circumstances, whereas apples and oranges show up only 50 percent of the time. As the baby encounters more sentences, the web of associations expands, providing more templates for original utterances. But recent studies suggest there is much more to the storythat children actively seek out abstract grammatical rules. In one clever experiment, researchers led by New York University psychologist Gary Marcus presented 7-month-old infants with a language problem that couldnt be solved by operant conditioning alone. First the children spent two minutes listening to a series of three-word sentences such as ga-ti-ga and li-na-li. The words varied from one sentence to the next, but the syntax didnt: any word

[60]

[65]

[70]

[75]

[80]

[85]

[90]

[95]

[100]

appearing in the first position also appeared in the third. After familiarizing the children with these samples, the researchers played a different set of sentencessome obeying the A-B-A rule (wo-fe-wo), and some violating it (wofe-fe). The babies had never heard any of these new utterances, yet their attention patterns suggested that wo-fe-wo sounded familiar while the nongrammatical AB-B sequences surprised them. The implication is that the kids werent merely seeking out associations among words theyd already heard. They were spontaneously extracting the principles governing word order in general.

[105]

[110]

[115]

19. According to the passage, a typical two-year old: A. is just starting to attach names to objects and people. B. mostly speaks nonsense words like bidaku. C. can have a vocabulary of 2,000 words. D. never speaks in sentences, only in single words. 20. The results from the research described in Paragraph 2 (lines 17-40) suggest that: F. babies younger than 12 months old are not capable of processing language. G. babies can distinguish words as individual units before they know what those words mean. H. babies recognize various syllables but do not recognize changes in syllable combinations. J. babies respond best to words spoken in random order. 21. From the passage, it is most reasonable to infer that children develop language skills by: A. acquiring words through mimicry only. B. listening for sentence structure patterns in the speech of others. C. mimicking words and word patterns that they hear, as well as actively learning abstract rules about sentence structure. D. learning how to name things by trial and error. 22. According to the passage, when children start to attach names to things, they: F. go by trial and error. G. assume that names refer to whole things, not parts of things. H. also start to speak in complete sentences. J. follow a different process depending on their culture.

23. According to the passage, before babies are a week old, they can: A. tell the difference between their own language and a foreign language. B. attach names to very familiar people and objects. C. distinguish real words from nonsense words. D. attach meaning to words that they hear repeatedly. 24. As is used in the passage, the word syntax (lines 65-66 and 102) most closely means: F. G. H. J. the pattern of formation of sentences in a language. a publication describing the rules governing a language. the body of vocabulary used in a particular language. the tense of a word.

Passage IV
SOCIAL SCIENCE: The following passage is excerpted from a discussion of the origin of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Revisionist historians maintain that it was within the power of the United States, in the years during and immediately after the Second World War, to prevent the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Revisionists suggest that the prospect of impending conflict with the Soviets could have been avoided in several ways. The U.S. could have officially recognized the new Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe instead of continuing to call for self-determination in those countries. A much-needed reconstruction loan could have helped the Soviets recover from the war. The Americans could have sought to assuage Soviet fears by giving up the U.S. monopoly of the atomic bomb and turning the weapons over to an international agency (with the stipulation that future nuclear powers do the same). This criticism of the post-war American course of action fails to take into account the political realities in America at the time, and it unfairly condemns the American policy-makers who did consider

[5]

[10]

[15]

[20]

each of these alternatives and found them to be unworkable. Recognition of a Soviet Eastern Europe was out of the question. Roosevelt had promised self-determination to the Eastern European countries, and the American people, having come to expect this, were furious when Stalin began to shape his spheres of influence in the region. The President was in particular acutely conscious of the millions of Polish-Americans who would be voting in the upcoming election. Negotiations had indeed been conducted by the administration with the Soviets about a reconstruction loan, but the Congress refused to approve it unless the Soviets made enormous concessions tantamount to restructuring their system and withdrawing from Eastern Europe. This, of course, made Soviet rejection of the loan a foregone conclusion. As for giving up the bombthe elected officials in Washington would have been in deep trouble with their constituents had that plan been carried out. Polls showed that 82 percent of the American people understood that other nations would develop bombs eventually, but that 85 percent thought that the U.S. should retain exclusive possession of the weapon. Policy-makers have to abide by certain constraints in deciding what is acceptable and what is not. They, and not historians, are in the best position to perceive those constraints and make the decisions. Revisionist historians tend to eschew this type of political explanation of Americas supposed failure to reach a peaceful settlement with the Soviets in favor of an economic reading of events. They point to the fact that in the early post-war years American businessmen and government officials cooperated to expand American foreign trade vigorously and to exploit investment opportunities in many foreign countries. In order to sustain the lucrative expansion,

[25]

[30]

[35]

[40]

[45]

[50]

[55]

[60]

[65]

revisionists assert, American policy-makers were obliged to maintain an Open Door foreign policy, the object of which was to keep all potential trade opportunities open. Since the Soviets could jeopardize such opportunities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, they had to be opposed. Hence, the Cold War. But if American policy-makers were simply pawns in an economic game of expansionist capitalism, as the revisionists seem to think, why do the revisionists hold them responsible for not attempting to reach an accord with the Soviets? The policy-makers, swept up by a tidal wave of capitalism, clearly had little control and little choice in the matter. Even if American officials had been free and willing to make conciliatory gestures toward the Soviets, the Cold War would not have been prevented. Overtures of friendship would not have been reciprocated (as far as we can judge; information on the inner workings of the Kremlin during that time is scanty). Soviet expert George F. Kennan concluded that Russian hostility could not be dampened by any effort on the part of the United States. The political and ideological differences were too great, and the Soviets had too long a history of distrust of foreignersexacerbated at the time by Stalins rampant paranoia, which infected his governmentto embark on a process of establishing trust and peace with the United States, though it was in their interest to do so. 25. The primary purpose of the passage is to: A. B. C. D.

[70]

[75]

[80]

[85]

[90]

[95]

[100]

explore a popular myth about U.S. involvement in the Cold War. compare historical figures such as Roosevelt and Stalin. refute a point of view about U.S. involvement in the Cold War. analyze the choices made by U.S. and Soviet leaders during the Cold War.

26. Based on the passage, it is most reasonable to conclude that the author believes that: F. the Soviets were largely to blame for the failure of conciliatory U.S. initiatives.

G. the American public was very well-informed about the incipient Cold War situation. H. the American public was overwhelmingly opposed to seeking peace with the Soviets. J. the government could not have been expected to ignore public opinion. 27. The author refers to the Polish-Americans (line 34) chiefly to illustrate that: A. the President had an excellent rapport with ethnic minorities. B. immigrants had fled from Eastern European countries to escape communism. C. giving up the idea of East European self-determination would have been costly in political terms. D. the political landscape of the United States had changed considerably since the President was elected. 28. As it is used in lines 8-9, recognized most nearly means: F. identified. G. noticed. H. acknowledged. J. distinguished. 29. Which of the following statements best summarizes the passages explanation of the revisionist argument concerning the origin of the Cold War? A. The Soviets were oblivious to the negative impact they had on the American economy. B. The economic advantage of recognizing Soviet Europe outweighed the disadvantage of an angry public. C. America could trade and invest with foreign countries only if it agreed to oppose the Soviet Union. D. American economic interests abroad would have been threatened by any Soviet expansion. 30. In the passage, which of the following does the author provide as explanations for U.S. involvement in the Cold War? I. -President Roosevelts need to secure the votes of Polish Americans II. -American businessmen controlling government decisions in order to open new economic markets III. -The Soviet Unions distrust of foreigners IV. -The majority of U.S. citizens wanting to provide the Soviets with a reconstruction loan F. I and II only G. I and III only H. I, II, and III only J. I, II, III, and IV