SAT reading comprehension practice test 01

The extract is taken from a book written sixty years ago by a British scientist in which he considers the relationship between science and society.

    The pioneers of the teaching of science imagined that its
    introduction into education would remove the conventionality,
    artificiality, and backward-lookingness which were characteristic;
    of classical studies, but they were gravely disappointed. So, too, in
5   their time had the humanists thought that the study of the classical
    authors in the original would banish at once the dull pedantry and
    superstition of mediaeval scholasticism. The professional
    schoolmaster was a match for both of them, and has almost
    managed to make the understanding of chemical reactions as dull
10  and as dogmatic an affair as the reading of Virgil's Aeneid.

    The chief claim for the use of science in education is that it
    teaches a child something about the actual universe in which he is
    living, in making him acquainted with the results of scientific
15  discovery, and at the same time teaches him how to think logically
    and inductively by studying scientific method. A certain limited
    success has been reached in the first of these aims, but practically
    none at all in the second. Those privileged members of the
    community who have been through a secondary or public school
20  education may be expected to know something about the
    elementary physics and chemistry of a hundred years ago, but they
    probably know hardly more than any bright boy can pick up from
    an interest in wireless or scientific hobbies out of school hours.
    As to the learning of scientific method, the whole thing is palpably
25  a farce. Actually, for the convenience of teachers and the
    requirements of the examination system, it is necessary that the
    pupils not only do not learn scientific method but learn precisely
    the reverse, that is, to believe exactly what they are told and to
    reproduce it when asked, whether it seems nonsense to them or
30  not. The way in which educated people respond to such quackeries
    as spiritualism or astrology, not to say more dangerous ones such
    as racial theories or currency myths, shows that fifty years of
    education in the method of science in Britain or Germany has
    produced no visible effect whatever. The only way of learning the
35  method of science is the long and bitter way of personal
    experience, and, until the educational or social systems are altered
    to make this possible, the best we can expect is the production of a
    minority of people who are able to acquire some of the techniques
    of science and a still smaller minority who are able to use and
40  develop them.

Adapted from: The Social Function of Science, John D Bernal (1939)

1. The author implies that the 'professional schoolmaster' (line 7) has

A. no interest in teaching science
B. thwarted attempts to enliven education
C. aided true learning
D. supported the humanists
E. been a pioneer in both science and humanities.

2. The author’s attitude to secondary and public school education in the sciences is

A. ambivalent
B. neutral
C. supportive
D. satirical
E. contemptuous

3. The word ‘palpably’ (line 24) most nearly means

A. empirically
B. obviously
C. tentatively
D. markedly
E. ridiculously

4. The author blames all of the following for the failure to impart scientific method through the education system except

A. poor teaching
B. examination methods
C. lack of direct experience
D. the social and education systems
E. lack of interest on the part of students

5. If the author were to study current education in science to see how things have changed since he wrote the piece, he would probably be most interested in the answer to which of the following questions?

A. Do students know more about the world about them?
B. Do students spend more time in laboratories?
C. Can students apply their knowledge logically?
D. Have textbooks improved?
E. Do they respect their teachers?

6. Astrology (line 31) is mentioned as an example of

A. a science that needs to be better understood
B. a belief which no educated people hold
C. something unsupportable to those who have absorbed the methods of science
D. the gravest danger to society
E. an acknowledged failure of science

7. All of the following can be inferred from the text except

A. at the time of writing, not all children received a secondary school education
B. the author finds chemical reactions interesting
C. science teaching has imparted some knowledge of facts to some children
D. the author believes that many teachers are authoritarian
E. it is relatively easy to learn scientific method.

Test information

Q 7 questions

Time 10 minutes

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