SAT reading comprehension practice test 10

Passage one was written by D.H.Lawrence, an English novelist. Passage two was written by the American novelist, Henry James.

Passage 1

    It begins the moment you set foot ashore, the moment
    you step off the boat's gangway. The heart suddenly, yet vaguely,
    sinks. It is no lurch of fear. Quite the contrary. It is as if the life-
    urge failed, and the heart dimly sank. You trail past the
5   benevolent policeman and the inoffensive passport officials,
    through the fussy and somehow foolish customs - we don't really
    think it matters if somebody smuggles in two pairs of false-silk
    stockings - and we get into the poky but inoffensive train, with
    poky but utterly inoffensive people, and we have a cup of
10  inoffensive tea from a nice inoffensive boy, and we run through
    small, poky but nice and inoffensive country, till we are landed
    in the big but unexciting station of Victoria, when an inoffensive
    porter puts us into an inoffensive taxi and we are driven through
    the crowded yet strangely dull streets of London to the cosy yet
15  strangely poky and dull place where we are going to stay. And
    the first half-hour in London, after some years abroad, is really a
    plunge of misery. The strange, the grey and uncanny, almost
    deathly sense of dullness is overwhelming. Of course, you get
    over it after a while, and admit that you exaggerated. You get
20  into the rhythm of London again, and you tell yourself that it is
    not dull. And yet you are haunted, all the time, sleeping or
    waking, with the uncanny feeling: It is dull! It is all dull! This
    life here is one vast complex of dullness! I am dull! I am being
    dulled! My spirit is being dulled! My life is dulling down to
25  London dullness.

    This is the nightmare that haunts you the first few weeks
    of London. No doubt if you stay longer you get over it, and find
    London as thrilling as Paris or Rome or New York. But the
    climate is against me. I cannot stay long enough. With pinched
30  and wondering gaze, the morning of departure, I look out of the
    taxi upon the strange dullness of London's arousing; a sort of
    death; and hope and life only return when I get my seat in the
    boat-train, and hear all the Good-byes! Good-bye! Good-bye!
    Thank God to say Good-bye!

Passage 2

35  On the banks of the Thames it is a tremendous chapter of
    accidents - the London-lover has to confess to the existence of
    miles upon miles of the dreariest, stodgiest commonness.
    Thousands of acres are covered by low black houses, of the
    cheapest construction, without ornament, without grace, without
40  character or even identity. In fact there are many, even in the best
    quarters, in all the region of Mayfair and Belgravia, of so paltry
    and inconvenient and above all of so diminutive a type, that you
    wonder what peculiarly limited domestic need they were
    constructed to meet. The great misfortune of London, to the eye
45  (it is true that this remark applies much less to the City), is the
    want of elevation. There is no architectural impression without a
    certain degree of height, and the London street-vista has none of
    that sort of pride.

    All the same, if there be not the intention, there is at least the
50  accident, of style, which, if one looks at it in a friendly way,
    appears to proceed from three sources. One of these is simply the
    general greatness, and the manner in which that makes a
    difference for the better in any particular spot, so that though you
    may often perceive yourself to be in a shabby corner it never
55  occurs to you that this is the end of it. Another is the atmosphere,
    with its magnificent mystifications, which flatters and
    superfuses, makes everything brown, rich, dim, vague, magnifies
    distances and minimises details, confirms the inference of
    vastness by suggesting that, as the great city makes everything, it
60  makes its own system of weather and its own optical laws. The
    last is the congregation of the parks, which constitute an
    ornament not elsewhere to be matched and give the place a
    superiority that none of its uglinesses overcome. They spread
    themselves with such a luxury of space in the centre of the town
65  that they form a part of the impression of any walk, of almost any
    view, and, with an audacity altogether their own, make a pastoral
    landscape under the smoky sky. There is no mood of the rich
    London climate that is not becoming to them - I have seen them
    look delightfully romantic, like parks in novels, in the wettest
70  winter - and there is scarcely a mood of the appreciative resident
    to which they have not something to say. The high things of
    London, which here and there peep over them, only make the
    spaces vaster by reminding you that you are after all not in Kent
    or Yorkshire; and these things, whatever they be, rows of
75  'eligible' dwellings, towers of churches, domes of institutions,
    take such an effective gray-blue tint that a clever watercolorist
    would seem to have put them in for pictorial reasons.

    The view from the bridge over the Serpentine has an
    extraordinary nobleness, and it has often seemed to me that the
80  Londoner twitted with his low standard may point to it with
    every confidence. In all the town-scenery of Europe there can be
    few things so fine; the only reproach it is open to is that it begs
    the question by seeming - in spite of its being the pride of five
    millions of people - not to belong to a town at all. The towers of
85  Notre Dame, as they rise, in Paris, from the island that divides
    the Seine, present themselves no more impressively than those of
    Westminster as you see them looking doubly far beyond the
    shining stretch of Hyde Park water. Equally admirable is the
    large, river-like manner in which the Serpentine opens away
90  between its wooded shores. Just after you have crossed the
    bridge you enjoy on your left, through the gate of Kensington
    Gardens, an altogether enchanting vista - a footpath over the
    grass, which loses itself beneath the scattered oaks and elms
    exactly as if the place were a 'chase.' There could be nothing less
95  like London in general than this particular morsel, and yet it
    takes London, of all cities, to give you such an impression of the

Passage 1 adapted from an essay by D H Lawrence
Passage 2 adapted from an essay by Henry James

1. ‘It’ in line 1 refers to a feeling of

A. foreboding
B. fear
C. depression
D. malaise
E. relief

2. The author of passage one makes his point mainly by the use of

A. metaphor and simile
B. repetition and exclamation
C. accumulation of details
D. irony and satire
E. objective observation

3. The extensive use of the pronoun ‘you’ in passage one indicates that the author

A. is speaking to one particular person
B. is describing the experience of someone else
C. believes that his feelings will be shared by many others
D. wishes to add variety to his style
E. is distancing himself from the experience he describes

4. Lawrence apparently believes that the ‘nightmare’ (line 26) is

A. uniquely caused by city life
B. only over when he leaves the country
C. made worse by the weather
D. dispelled by a longer stay in London
E. something that is never entirely conquered

5. The word that James uses in Passage 2 that best conveys Lawrence’s ‘poky’ is

A. diminutive
B. cheapest
C. dreariest
D. stodgiest
E. low

6. The second paragraph of Passage 2 in relation to the first does which of the following?

A. analyses a problem raised in paragraph one
B. continues the delineation of limitations
C. counters a negative impression
D. enlarges the viewpoint with the aid of wider examples
E. describes more specific locations

7. The word ‘atmosphere’ (line 55) refers to

A. the mood of the place
B. the London air
C. artistic impression
D. the author’s mood
E. surroundings

8. By the use of the word ‘congregation’ (line 61) the author suggests that the parks are

A. numerous
B. religious
C. too crowded
D. unlimited in extent
E. superior attractions

9. James mentions Notre Dame (line 85) in order to

A. provide an example of a monument finer than anything that London has to offer
B. highlight the impressive nature of a certain London building and its setting
C. give an example of a sight more suited to a town or city
D. make the image more realistic to the reader
E. prove that London and Paris are both attractive cities

10. It can be inferred that James would be less likely than Lawrence to

I complain about the weather
II rejoice on leaving the city
III find the English countryside dull

A. I only
B. II only
C. I and II only
D. II and III only
E. I, II and III

11. The contrast between James and Lawrence revealed by the passages involves all of the following except

A. a London lover versus a London hater
B. concern with architectural impression versus apparent indifference to architecture
C. concern with visual impact versus effect on an individual’s state of mind
D. appreciation of quiet places and scenic walks versus need for excitement
E. taste for the quaint and limited in scale versus dislike of dreariness and pokiness

12. To counter Lawrence’s charge of ‘one vast complex of dullness’, James would most likely point out that London

A. is bright and vast
B. offers vistas unmatched in the rest of Europe
C. is always romantic and pastoral
D. juxtaposes the ugly and the visually attractive
E. is uniformly attractive

13. The tones of the two passages differ in that Passage 2 is

A. less strident
B. less contemplative
C. less mellow
D. more subjective
E. more emotionally charged

Test information

Q 13 questions

Time 15 minutes

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