SAT reading comprehension practice test 12

    The ground is full of seeds that cannot rise into seedlings;
    the seedlings rob one another of air, light and water, the
    strongest robber winning the day, and extinguishing his
    competitors. Year after year, the wild animals with which
5   man never interferes are, on the average, neither more nor
    less numerous than they were; and yet we know that the
    annual produce of every pair is from one to perhaps a
    million young; so that it is mathematically certain that,
    on the average, as many are killed by natural causes as
10  are born every year, and those only escape which happen
    to be a little better fitted to resist destruction than
    those which die. The individuals of a species are like
    the crew of a foundered ship, and none but good swimmers
    have a chance of reaching the land.

Adapted from an essay by T H Huxley

1. The “robber” in the first sentence is most like which of the following mentioned in the paragraph

A. wild animals
B. produce of every pair
C. individuals of a species
D. crew of a foundered ship
E. good swimmers

2. The main point the author conveys is that

A. natural populations of animals in the wild increase in numbers exponentially
B. all members of a species are in violent competition with one another
C. in the struggle to survive, the fittest survive
D. members of one generation of a population are all more or less alike
E. man’s interference destroys the natural balance

    The literature on drug addiction has grown at a rate that
    defies anyone to keep abreast of the literature, and
    apparently in inverse proportion to our understanding of
    the subject. Addiction, or dependence, as it is more
5   fashionable to call it, excites controversy and speculation
    yet true understanding of the phenomenon remains elusive.
    In fact the area is fraught with speculation and
    acrimonious debate. Definition of terms such as ‘drug’,
    ‘addiction’, and ‘abuse’ is obviously less controversial
10  than attempts to explain the nature of drug dependence,
    yet even the terminology is imprecise and overlain with
    subjective connotations. At its most basic, a drug, as
    defined by the World Heath Organization, is simply ‘any
    substance which when taken into the living organism may
15  modify one or more of its functions’. This kind of
    definition is too wide to be of any use in a discussion
    of dependence: it covers everything from insulin to
    aspirin, penicillin to alcohol.

3. The author implies that he thinks the term “dependence” in the context of drugs

A. is more accurate the older term “addiction”
B. has not always been the preferred term
C. is a currently under-used term
D. is an avant-garde aberration
E. is more controversial than the term “addiction”

4. We can infer from the first sentence that

A. not all that has been written on the subject of addiction has added to our understanding
B. no one can have read all the literature on any drug
C. the more that is published the more we are likely to understand
D. the rate of growth should be higher if we are to understand the subject
E. writing about addiction is fashionable

Paragraph one

    When the explorer comes home victorious, everyone goes out
    to cheer him. We are all proud of his achievement — proud
    on behalf of the nation and of humanity. We think it is a
    new feather in our cap, and one we have come by cheaply.
5   How many of those who join in the cheering were there when
    the expedition was fitting out, when it was short of bare
    necessities, when support and assistance were most urgently
    wanted? Was there then any race to be first? At such a time
    the leader has usually found himself almost alone; too
10  often he has had to confess that his greatest difficulties
    were those he had to overcome at home before he could set
    sail. So it was with Columbus, and so it has been with many
    since his time.

Paragraph two

    Amundsen has always reached the goal he has aimed at, this
15  man who sailed his little yacht over the Arctic Ocean,
    round the north of America, on the course that had been
    sought in vain for four hundred years. So, when in 1910 he
    left the fjord on his expedition in the Fram, to drift
    right across the North Polar Sea, would it not have been
20  natural if we had been proud to support such a man?
    But was it so? For a long time he struggled to complete his
    equipment. Money was still lacking, and little interest was
    shown in him and his work. He himself gave everything he
    possessed in the world. But nevertheless had to put to sea
25  loaded with anxieties and debts, as he sailed out quietly
    on a summer night.

Adapted from the introduction by Fridtjof Nansen to The South Pole, R Amundsen (1912)

5. In paragraph one, the ‘race to be first’ refers ironically to the

A. lack of response to urgent appeals for help
B. willingness to give credit
C. lack of support to the explorer before he achieves his goals
D. rush to laud the explorer
E. eagerness of the explorer to be alone

6. The ‘feather in our cap’ refers to

A. our willingness to take unearned credit for a triumph
B. the pride we have in being human
C. our sense of having got a reward for our investment
D. way we respond to all success
E. the way we express our joy

7. Both paragraphs make their point with the aid of

A. repetition and parallel construction
B. specific details of time and place
C. metaphor
D. reference to historical documents
E. rhetorical questions

8. From both paragraphs taken together, it appears that Amundsen and Columbus shared all of the following except the fact that they

A. were explorers
B. were not always supported when they most needed it
C. achieved feats that should have received accolades
D. had difficulties to face apart from those they faced on their expeditions
E. sailed the seas alone

Test information

Q 8 questions

Time 12 minutes

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