SAT reading comprehension practice test 13

    Could Washington, Madison, and the other framers of the
    Federal Constitution revisit the earth in this year 1922,
    it is likely that nothing would bewilder them more than
    the recent Prohibition Amendment. Railways, steamships,
5   the telephone, automobiles, flying machines, submarines
    – all these developments, unknown in their day, would
    fill them with amazement and admiration. They would
    marvel at the story of the rise and downfall of the
    German Empire; at the growth and present greatness of
10  the Republic they themselves had founded. None of these
    things, however, would seem to them to involve any
    essential change in the beliefs and purposes of men as
    they had known them. The Prohibition Amendment, on the
    contrary, would evidence to their minds the breaking
15  down of a principle of government which they had deemed
    axiomatic, the abandonment of a purpose which they had
    supposed immutable.

Adapted from: Our Changing Constitution, C W Pierson (1922)

1. It can be inferred that the paragraph is intended as

A. an introduction to a discussion of a constitutional amendment
B. a summary of social and political change since the writing of the Federal Constitution
C. an introduction to a history of the Constitution
D. a clarification of the author’s view of a controversy
E. a summation of a discussion on political history

2. The author apparently believes that the “principle of government” mentioned in the last sentence is

A. not implicit in the original Constitution
B. to be taken as true for all time
C. apparently violated by the Prohibition Amendment
D. an essential change in the beliefs of the American people
E. something that would bewilder Washington and Madison

    I have previously defined a sanctuary as a place where man
    is passive and the rest of Nature active. But this general
    definition is too absolute for any special case. The mere
    fact that man has to protect a sanctuary does away with his
5   purely passive attitude. Then, he can be beneficially active
    by destroying pests and parasites, like bot-flies or
    mosquitoes, and by finding antidotes for diseases like the
    epidemic which periodically kills off the rabbits and thus
    starves many of the carnivora to death. But, except in cases
10  where experiment has proved his intervention to be
    beneficial, the less he upsets the balance of Nature the
    better, even when he tries to be an earthly Providence.

Adapted from: Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador, W Wood (1911)

3. The author implies that his first definition of a sanctuary is

A. totally wrong
B. somewhat idealistic
C. unhelpful
D. indefensible
E. immutable

4. The author’s argument that destroying bot-flies and mosquitoes would be a beneficial action is most weakened by all of the following except

A. parasites have an important role to play in the regulation of populations
B. the elimination of any species can have unpredictable effects on the balance of nature
C. the pests themselves are part of the food chain
D. these insects have been introduced to the area by human activities
E. elimination of these insects would require the use of insecticides that kill a wide range of insects

Paragraph one

    That Priestley's contributions to the knowledge of chemical
    fact were of the greatest importance is unquestionable; but
    it must be admitted that he had no comprehension of the
    deeper significance of his work; and, so far from
5   contributing anything to the theory of the facts which he
    discovered, or assisting in their rational explanation,
    his influence to the end of his life was warmly exerted in
    favor of error. From first to last, he was a stiff adherent
    of the phlogiston doctrine which was prevalent when his
10  studies commenced; and, by a curious irony of fate, the man
    who by the discovery of what he called "dephlogisticated air"
    furnished the essential datum for the true theory of
    combustion, of respiration, and of the composition of water,
    to the end of his days fought against the inevitable
15  corollaries from his own labors.

Paragraph two

    It is a trying ordeal for any man to be compared with Black
    and Cavendish, and Priestley cannot be said to stand on
    their level. Nevertheless his achievements are truly
    wonderful if we consider the disadvantages under which he
20  labored. Without the careful scientific training of Black,
    without the leisure and appliances secured by the wealth of
    Cavendish, he scaled the walls of science; and trusting to
    mother wit to supply the place of training, and to ingenuity
    to create apparatus out of washing tubs, he discovered more
25  new gases (including oxygen, which he termed
    “dephlogisticated air”) than all his predecessors put
    together had done.

Both passages adapted from: Science & Education, T H Huxley (1893)

5. Which pairing best reflects the main emphasis of the two passages? The first focuses mainly on Priestley’s

A. discoveries of chemical fact; the second on his ingenuity
B. discovery of “dephlogisticated air”; the second on his discoveries of gases
C. lack of theoretical understanding; the second on his lack of training
D. importance to future science; the second on his status in relation to his contemporaries
E. theoretical misconceptions; the second on his success in the face of disadvantage

6. It can be inferred that “dephlogisticated air” is

I a misnomer, but relating to something important
II a gaseous substance discovered by Priestley
II something not fully understood by Preistley

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

7. The metaphor “scaled the walls of science” conveys the idea that Priestley

A. climbed to the pinnacle of science
B. fought his way to the top
C. escaped the confines of traditional ideas
D. achieved success in a difficult endeavor
E. clawed his way up against opposition

8. The attitude of both the passages to Priestley’s scientific work could be described as

A. firm disapproval
B. wholehearted praise
C. qualified approval
D. determined neutrality
E. ambivalence

Test information

Q 8 questions

Time 12 minutes

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