SAT reading comprehension practice test 14

    Much of what goes by the name of pleasure is simply an effort
    to destroy consciousness. If one started by asking, what is
    man? what are his needs? how can he best express himself?
    one would discover that merely having the power to avoid work
5   and live one’s life from birth to death in electric light and
    to the tune of tinned music is not a reason for doing so. Man
    needs warmth, society, leisure, comfort and security: he also
    needs solitude, creative work and the sense of wonder. If he
    recognized this he could use the products of science and
10  industrialism eclectically, applying always the same test:
    does this make me more human or less human? He would then
    learn that the highest happiness does not lie in relaxing,
    resting, playing poker, drinking and making love simultaneously.

Adapted from an essay by George Orwell

1. The author implies that the answers to the questions in sentence two would reveal that human beings

A. are less human when they seek pleasure
B. need to evaluate their purpose in life
C. are being alienated from their true nature by technology
D. have needs beyond physical comforts
E. are always seeking the meaning of life

2. The author would apparently agree that playing poker is

A. often an effort to avoid thinking
B. something that gives true pleasure
C. an example of man’s need for society
D. something that man must learn to avoid
E. inhuman

    Examine the recently laid egg of some common animal, such as
    a salamander or newt. It is a minute spheroid – an apparently
    structureless sac, enclosing a fluid, holding granules in
    suspension. But let a moderate supply of warmth reach its
5   watery cradle, and the plastic matter undergoes changes so
    rapid, yet so steady and purposeful in their succession, that
    one can only compare them to those operated by a skilled
    modeler upon a formless lump of clay. As with an invisible
    trowel, the mass is divided and subdivided into smaller and
10  smaller portions. And, then, it is as if a delicate finger
    traced out the line to be occupied by the spinal column, and
    molded the contour of the body; pinching up the head at one
    end, the tail at the other, and fashioning flank and limb
    into due proportions, in so artistic a way, that, after
15  watching the process hour by hour, one is almost
    involuntarily possessed by the notion, that some more subtle
    aid to vision than a microscope, would show the hidden
    artist, with his plan before him, striving with skilful
    manipulation to perfect his work.

Adapted from an essay by T H Huxley

3. The author makes his main point with the aid of

A. logical paradox
B. complex rationalization
C. observations on the connection between art and science
D. scientific deductions
E. extended simile

4. In the context of the final sentence the word “subtle” most nearly means

A. not obvious
B. indirect
C. discriminating
D. surreptitious
E. scientific

Passage one

    There are not many places that I find it more agreeable to
    revisit when in an idle mood, than some places to which
    I have never been. For, my acquaintance with those spots is
    of such long standing, and has ripened into an intimacy of
5   so affectionate a nature, that I take a particular interest
    in assuring myself that they are unchanged. I never was in
    Robinson Crusoe’s Island, yet I frequently return there. I
    was never in the robbers’ cave, where Gil Blas lived, but
    I often go back there and find the trap-door just as heavy
10  to raise as it used to be. I was never in Don Quixote’s
    study, where he read his books of chivalry until he rose
    and hacked at imaginary giants, yet you couldn’t move a
    book in it without my knowledge. So with Damascus, and
    Lilliput, and the Nile, and Abyssinia, and the North Pole,
15  and many hundreds of places — I was never at them, yet it
    is an affair of my life to keep them intact, and I am
    always going back to them.

Passage two

    The books one reads in childhood create in one’s mind a
    sort of false map of the world, a series of fabulous
20  countries into which one can retreat at odd moments
    throughout the rest of life, and which in some cases can
    even survive a visit to the real countries which they are
    supposed to represent. The pampas, the Amazon, the coral
    islands of the Pacific, Russia, land of birch-tree and
25  samovar, Transylvania with its boyars and vampires, the
    China of Guy Boothby, the Paris of du Maurier—one could
    continue the list for a long time. But one other
    imaginary country that I acquired early in life was
    called America. If I pause on the word “America”, and
30  deliberately put aside the existing reality, I can call
    up my childhood vision of it.

Adapted from: The Uncommercial Traveller, C Dickens (1860)

5. The first sentence of passage one contains an element of

A. paradox
B. legend
C. melancholy
D. humor
E. self-deprecation

6. By calling America an “imaginary country” the author of passage two implies that

A. America has been the subject of numerous works for children
B. he has never seen America
C. his current vision of that country is not related to reality
D. America has stimulated his imagination
E. his childhood vision of that country owed nothing to actual conditions

7. Both passages make the point that

A. imaginary travel is better than real journeys
B. children’s books are largely fiction
C. the effects of childhood impressions are inescapable
D. books read early in life can be revisited in the imagination many years later
E. the sight of imaginary places evokes memories

8. Both passages list a series of places, but differ in that the author of passage one

A. has been more influenced by his list of locations
B. never expects to visit any of them in real life, whereas the writer of passage two thinks it at least possible that he might
C. is less specific in compiling his list
D. wishes to preserve his locations in his mind forever, whereas the author of passage two wishes to modify all his visions in the light of reality.
E. revisits them more often

Test information

Q 8 questions

Time 12 minutes

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