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SAT reading comprehension practice test 05

The passage is taken from 'The Rule of the Road', an essay written by a twentieth century essayist.

    A stout old lady was walking with her basket down the middle of a
    street in Petrograd to the great confusion of the traffic and with no
    small peril to herself. It was pointed out to her that the
    pavement was the place for pedestrians, but she replied: 'I'm going
5   to walk where I like. We've got liberty now.' It did not occur
    to the dear old lady that if liberty entitled the pedestrian to
    walk down the middle of the road, then the end of such liberty
    would be universal chaos. Everybody would be getting in
    everybody else's way and nobody would get anywhere.
10  Individual liberty would have become social anarchy.

    There is a danger of the world getting liberty-drunk in
    these days like the old lady with the basket, and it is just as well
    to remind ourselves of what the rule of the road means. It means
    that in order that the liberties of all may be preserved, the
15  liberties of everybody must be curtailed. When the policeman,
    say, at Piccadilly Circus steps into the middle of the road and
    puts out his hand, he is the symbol not of tyranny, but of liberty.
    You may not think so. You may, being in a hurry, and seeing
    your car pulled up by this insolence of office, feel that your
20  liberty has been outraged. How dare this fellow interfere with
    your free use of the public highway? Then, if you are a
    reasonable person, you will reflect that if he did not interfere with
    you, he would interfere with no one, and the result would be that
    Piccadilly Circus would be a maelstrom that you would never
25  cross at all. You have submitted to a curtailment of private liberty
    in order that you may enjoy a social order which makes your
    liberty a reality.

    Liberty is not a personal affair only, but a social
    contract. It is an accommodation of interests. In matters which do
30  not touch anybody else's liberty, of course, I may be as free as I
    like. If I choose to go down the road in a dressing-gown who
    shall say me nay? You have liberty to laugh at me, but I have
    liberty to be indifferent to you. And if I have a fancy for dyeing
    my hair, or waxing my moustache (which heaven forbid), or
35  wearing an overcoat and sandals, or going to bed late or getting
    up early, I shall follow my fancy and ask no man's permission. I
    shall not inquire of you whether I may eat mustard with my
    mutton. And you will not ask me whether you may follow this
    religion or that, whether you may prefer Ella Wheeler Wilcox to
40  Wordsworth, or champagne to shandy.

    In all these and a thousand other details you and I please
    ourselves and ask no one's leave. We have a whole kingdom in
    which we rule alone, can do what we choose, be wise or
    ridiculous, harsh or easy, conventional or odd. But directly we
45  step out of that kingdom, our personal liberty of action becomes
    qualified by other people's liberty. I might like to practice on the
    trombone from midnight till three in the morning. If I went on to
    the top of Everest to do it, I could please myself, but if I do it in
    my bedroom my family will object, and if I do it out in the streets
50  the neighbors will remind me that my liberty to blow the
    trombone must not interfere with their liberty to sleep in quiet.
    There are a lot of people in the world, and I have to
    accommodate my liberty to their liberties.

    We are all liable to forget this, and unfortunately we are much
55  more conscious of the imperfections of others in this respect than
    of our own. A reasonable consideration for the rights or feelings
    of others is the foundation of social conduct.

    It is in the small matters of conduct, in the observance of
    the rule of the road, that we pass judgment upon ourselves, and
60  declare that we are civilized or uncivilized. The great moments of
    heroism and sacrifice are rare. It is the little habits of
    commonplace intercourse that make up the great sum of life and
    sweeten or make bitter the journey.

Adapted from an essay by George Orwell

1. The author might have stated his ‘rule of the road’ as

A. do not walk in the middle of the road
B. follow the orders of policemen
C. do not behave inconsiderately in public
D. do what you like in private
E. liberty is more important than anarchy

2. The author’s attitude to the old lady in paragraph one is

A. condescending
B. intolerant
C. objective
D. sardonic
E. supportive

3. The sentence ‘It means....curtailed’ (lines 13-15) is an example of

A. hyperbole
B. cliché
C. simile
D. paradox
E. consonance

4. Which sentence best sums up the author’s main point?

A. There is a danger....lines 11-13
B. A reasonable.... lines 56-57
C. It is in the small matters....lines 58-60
D. The great moments....lines 60-61
E. It is the little....lines 61-63

5. A situation analogous to the ‘insolence of office’ described in paragraph 2 would be

A. a teacher correcting grammar errors
B. an editor shortening the text of an article
C. a tax inspector demanding to see someone’s accounts
D. an army office giving orders to a soldier
E. a gaoler locking up a prisoner

6. ‘Qualified’ (line 46) most nearly means

A. accredited
B. improved
C. limited
D. stymied
E. educated

7. The author assumes that he may be as free as he likes in

A. all matters of dress and food
B. any situation which does not interfere with the liberty of others
C. anything that is not against the law
D. his own home
E. public places as long as no one sees him

8. In the sentence ‘ We are all liable....’ (lines 54-56) the author is

A. pointing out a general weakness
B. emphasizing his main point
C. countering a general misconception
D. suggesting a remedy
E. modifying his point of view

Test information

Q 8 questions

Time 10 minutes

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