Digital SAT Rhetorical Synthesis Practice Questions

1. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • In Rome, there still remain ruins of the Temple of Apollo Palatinus which was constructed in the first century BCE.
  • In the late 1st century CE the temple underwent a restoration after being fire damaged in the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE
  • The temple was almost completely destroyed in another fire in 363 CE
  • If you visit Rome today you will only be able to see the core of the temple’s podium and some other fragments which were excavated in the mid-1800s.

The student wants to educate visitors to Rome as to why they can’t see the entire temple today. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Because of an excavation in the 1800s, parts of the temple including the podium, are visible to modern visitors to the site.
B. After the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE the entire temple underwent a restoration so that it could continue being used.
C. The Temple of Apollo Palatinus was originally built over 2000 years ago.
D. After its nearly complete destruction in a fire in 363, the Temple of Apollo Palatinus was not restored, leaving only fragments.

2. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • The Fountain and Tallman Museum is located in the historic Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building in Placerville California.
  • The building is unique in its construction as it has stone walls that are over two feet thick—originally designed to keep ice and other soda making equipment cool. The thick walls are why it still stands when most other buildings from that era have not survived.
  • In addition to being a soda water factory, the building was also used as a jail and an office space for a gas company.
  • In the late 1900s the building was donated to a local historical society and was set up as a museum of local history.

The student wants to introduce the historic Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building to an audience that has never heard of it before. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The Fountain- Tallman Soda Works building is a historic building in Placerville California that was built as a soda water factory but has served the community in several capacities since its construction.
B. The Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building is currently a museum with walls that are over two feet thick.
C. The Fountain and Tallman Museum started with the donation of a building to a local historical society in the late 1900s.
D. The Fountain and Tallman Museum was originally built as a soda water factory, but does not remain a factory today.

3. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (BVM) and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (TBV) are two different products with different standards.
  • BVM has lower standards, and is much less expensive, is often aged only briefly, and contains  some ingredients that are not traditional.  It is protected under the weak European protected geographical indication (PGI).
  • TBV is aged at least 12 years, but often much longer, and has stricter controls on ingredients as well as origin as it is regulated under the strong European protected designation of origin (PDO).
  • Neither PGI nor PDO are able to be enforced in the U.S. so if consumers want to purchase real balsamic vinegar, they must be careful to read the name and look for the PDO or PGI seal on the label.

The student wants to explain to readers in the United States the variety of goods they might see labeled as “balsamic vinegar” in the grocery store. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Both BVM and TBV can be found in the United States, but only if a discerning shopper knows where to look.
B. Because PGI and PDO are not enforced in the United States, a wide range of products, from artificially dyed vinegar to authentic TBV and BVM, may be labeled as balsamic vinegar in American stores.
C. Authentic BVM and TBV both have strict quality controls at their points of origin in northern Italy. Shoppers can be confident of authenticity by looking for PDO and PGI seals.
D. BVM and TBV are both protected in some way, with BVM having lower standards and TBV having higher standards.

4. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • As a type of antibody, Immunoglobulin G (IgG), binds with many pathogens in the body in order to protect the body from infections brought on by viruses, bacteria, and fungi, among others.
  • IgG is the most common antibody in blood circulation and makes up around 75% of serum antibodies in humans.
  • If doctors suspect certain conditions, they may measure a patient’s levels of IgG as a diagnostic tool.
  • IgG plays a key role in newborn immunity as infants inherit IgG from their mothers through both placenta while in utero and through breast milk once born.

The student wants to include in her essay a sentence that will highlight the importance of IgG to all humans. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. IgG makes up around 75% of the average human’s serum antibodies and plays a key role in protecting the body from a wide range of infections.
B. Infants receive IgG in multiple ways from their mothers, including through the placenta and through breast milk.
C. IgG levels are used by doctors occasionally as a diagnostic indicator for certain specific conditions.  
D. While important, IgG is not the only antibody that helps support immune reaction in humans who have been infected by a virus, bacteria, or fungi.

5. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Mary Quant was one of the designers who helped to define 1960’s style in the United States and Great Britain.
  • Quant specialized in youthful looks with bold colors, blocky shapes, and wild patterns, though her earlier work was a bit softer and more delicate than her later work.
  • While Quant claimed to have invented the mini-skirt, some people dispute this claim, saying that the mini-skirt was invented by one of several other designers or that it was not invented by any one person, but was rather the logical end point of a continuous trend of shorter hem lengths.
  • In addition to clothing, Quant designed headwear, household goods, and personal care items, like makeup.

The student would like to explain to designers already familiar with Quant the range of her designs. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Quant designed not just clothes we now consider classic, like the mini skirt, but also tried her hand at designing household goods, hats, and makeup.
B. Quant had a distinctive style that changed slightly over the course of her career, moving from slightly more soft and delicate to wild patterns and colors.
C. Mary Quant helped shaped style in the 1960s with her design for the now famous miniskirt.
D. With the consistently shortening hemline as a general trend, Mary Quant showed her design skill by creating the mini-skirt, a now famous look.

6. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • While China’s imperial era is often associated with Emperors, Empress Dowager Cixi who lived from 1835 until 1908 had effective rule over the country from 1861 until her death.
  • Cixi came to power when emperor Zianfeng died, leaving Cixi’s son to inherit the throne at age five.
  • Cixi schemed to overthrow other appointed regents and served as co-regent alongside another advisor Empress Dowager Ci’an for her son’s entire life, since he was seen as a weak ruler.
  • Upon her son’s death Cixi conspired to have her young nephew placed on the throne so that she could continue in her role as regent.

The student would like to explain how Cixi managed to remain regent for so long. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Empress Dowager Cixi reigned as regent for more than 70 years, an impressive feat for any ruler, but most especially for a female ruler of the 19th century.
B. As one of the backbones of China’s imperial era, Empress Dowager Cixi is likely remembered as the longest reigning female monarch, though she was only technically the regent.
C. In order to ensure her power, Cixi overthrew other regents so that she could control the monarchy through her son.
D. Cixi reigned for over 70 years by first serving for regent for her son and then, after his death, scheming to have her nephew put on the throne so that she could continue as regent.

7. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • The first woman to ever be granted membership in the Entomological Society, Cynthia Evelyn Longfield was a renowned entomologist who specialized in the study of dragonflies.
  • Born in 1896, Longfield served in the Army Service Corps in World War One. After the war she traveled extensively, collecting specimens for the Natural History Museum of London.
  • In World War Two she served in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
  • Later in life she was a cataloguer at the Natural History Museum and collected 38 species of butterflies on a trip to South America. Three of those species had never been seen before.

The student wants to emphasize Longfield’s dedication to public service. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Longfield is best remembered for her trip to South America, on which she catalogued 3 species of dragonflies which had never been seen before.
B. As the first woman to be granted membership in the Entomological Society, Longfield is well remembered in certain circles for her pioneering work with dragonflies.
C. While she is remembered for her entomological work, Longfield served her country in both World Wars I and II first in the Army Service Corps and Later in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
D. Longfield once, in her job for the Natural History Museum, collected 38 species in one single trip to South America.


8. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Kepler-90 is a star around 2,000 light years away from earth in the Draco constellation. It’s planetary system is quite similar to ours, as was discovered by the Kepler mission in the early 21st century.
  • The Kepler mission was designed to discover planets that orbit their stars by measuring dips in brightness of the stars as the plants cross them.
  • Kepler-90 has 8 planets just like our solar system’s sun does, however, it is thought that several of the planets that orbit Kepler-90 do not rotate on their axes, leaving them half in the dark, much like Earth’s moon.
  • Kepler-90 cannot be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

The student wants to explain the purpose of the Kepler mission and what it discovered at Kepler-90. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The Kepler mission measured the light coming from stars including Kepler-90—a star about 2,000 light years away from earth.
B. Designed to discover planets orbiting stars, one of the Kepler mission’s findings was the eight planets orbiting Kepler-90, some of them not turning on their axes.
C. Since Kepler-90 cannot be seen with the naked eye, it took a special mission, the Kepler mission, to discover its 8 orbiting planets.
D. The Kepler mission confirmed the presence of many planets by measuring dips in light coming from far distant stars.

9. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Yang Xiong was a Chinese author and philosopher of the early 1st century CE. He was well-known in his time in the Han dynasty.
  • Yang gained enough praise and acclaim, that he was summoned to imperial capital where he was an officer in charge or composing fu as well as poetry for the emperor.
  • Yang did not think that the nature of humanity was inherently bad or good, but rather, he philosophized that human nature was a mixture of both.
  • His most famous work, Exemplary Sayings, is remembered for his critique of his contemporaries for their overly elaborate writings and their seeming inability to address the greater moral issues of the day.  

A student wants to give an overview of the beliefs of Yang Xiong. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. As a Chinese philosopher of the early 1st century CE, Yang Xiong wrote for the emperor on a regular basis. His work was both poetry and fu as the situation demanded.
B. Exemplary Sayings is Yang Xiongs most well remembered work because  it contained criticisms of other writers.
C. Yang held that man was duel in nature, containing a mix of good and evil and that this and other philosophical concepts should be addressed in the writing of his time.
D. Yang Xiong shunned the elaborate writing of his contemporaries.

10. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • In many building trades like woodworking, masonry, and metalworking, workers use what is known as a combination square for a multitude of situations.
  • The combination square is made up of a ruler, and one of may different heads that can be slid over or along the ruler. A worker might use a standard head, a protractor head, or a center finding head.
  • The modern combination square dates back to the 1970s and can be used with its standard head to make 90 degree markings, miter corners, check whether a surface is level, gauge depth, and other activities vital in building.
  • With other heads, the abilities of the combination square are much more complex.

A student wants to explain to a friend a situation in which a combination square with a standard head might be useful. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The combination square can be used for a great many things, especially if the person using it has more than one head for the tool.
B. With a standard head, a combination square could be used in building to make sure walls are level and corners meet at exact right angles.
C. Woodworkers, masons, and metalworkers all use the combination head in their daily jobs.
D. Depending on the situation, a builder may switch out the heads of a combination square to complete different tasks.

Solutions

1. D. The question requires that the answer explain why the entire temple can’t be seen today. While the notes given do include information on an early fire, it also explains that the temple was restored after that first fire in 64 CE. That would point us to the second fire in 363 CE as the final destruction of the temple and the reason why it is not visible today, making answer option D the correct answer. Answer option A explains why parts are visible today, but not why the rest of the temple is not visible. Answer option B explains the earlier destruction prior to the restoration. Answer option C includes information that does not answer the question.

2. A. The question asks for a general introduction to the building for an audience that is completely unfamiliar with the building. This makes answer A the best option as it gives the best broad background for the building. Option B gives just one detail of the building, not an introduction. Option C gives an introduction to the museum, not the building. Option D gives the origin of the building, but no information as to the rest of its history or relevance today.

3. B. The question asks about the variety found on the stores in the U.S. The final note of the set indicates that, due to lack of protections, in addition to real BVM or TBV there are many knock off products in the U.S. This makes option B the best to answer the question. Option A does not explain the variety available beyond BVM and TBV. Option C explains how to find BVM and TBV, but not what else is on shelves. Option D explains the protections on BVM and TBV but not the variety of other goods available.

4. A. The question asks about the importance of IgG to all humans. Option A best explains that IgG plays a key role in protecting all humans from illnesses. Option B explains how infants get IgG, but not its role. Option C explains how it can be a useful diagnostic, but only for people with certain conditions, not for all humans. Option D implies that IgG is plays only a part in immunity and therefore does not highlight its importance to all humans.

5. A. The question asks for an answer that assumes the reader already knows something about Mary Quant and that explains her range beyond just fashion design. Answer A fulfills this prompt by explaining that she designed household goods, hats, and makeup. Option B is incorrect as it explains a slight and gradual change over time, not a wide range of designs. Option C is incorrect as it gives a general introduction to Quant, but does not explain the range of her designs. Option D is incorrect as it addresses just one of her designs instead of showing her range.

6. D. The question asks for an explanation of how Cixi managed to rule for so long as regent. Option D explains this the best by telling the reader that Cixi ruled not just during her son’s childhood, but also by placing another child on the throne after her son’s death. Options A and B are incorrect as they do not explain how she ruled for 70 years. Option C is incorrect as it explains how Cixi came to power, but not how she retained that power for 70 years.

7. C. The question asks for information on Longfield’s public service, not her entomological activities. This makes C the best option and A, B, and D incorrect.

8. B. The question asks for the purpose of the Kepler mission and what was discovered at Kepler-90. Option B is the best answer as it explains that Kepler was designed to discover planets orbiting stars (its purpose) and what it found at Kepler-90 (8 orbiting plants, some of which do not turn on their axes). Option A explains what Kepler did, but not what it discovered at Kepler-90. Option C explains why the Kepler mission was necessary, but not what its purpose was. Option D does not explain specifically what was discovered at Kepler-90.

9. C. The question asks about Yang Xiong’s beliefs. This is best summed up in option C. Option A explains his work. Option B explains why his work Exemplary Sayings is remembered. Option D explains his attitude toward his contemporaries.

10. B. The question asks for a situation in which a combination square with a standard head would be used. We learn in the notes that with a standard head, the combination square can be used to mark 90 degree (right) angles, miter corners, check for level surfaces, and gauge depth. This makes answer B the best option and the other answer incorrect.

Digital SAT Text Structure and Purpose Reading Practice Questions

The text from these questions is adapted from the book “How to Know the Wildflowers,” by Frances Theodora Parsons.

1. Pliny tells us that the anemone of the classics was so entitled because it opened at the wind’s bidding. The Greek tradition claims that it sprang from the passionate tears shed by Venus over the body of the slain Adonis. At one time it was believed that the wind which had passed over a field of anemones was poisoned and that disease followed in its wake. Perhaps because of this superstition, the flower was adopted as the emblem of sickness by the Persians. Surely our delicate blossom is far removed from any suggestion of disease or unwholesomeness, seeming instead to hold the very essence of spring and purity in its quivering cup.

What choice best states the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It explains how a plant caused illness historically.
B. It clarifies what Pliny believes about the use of the plant.
C. It presents a hypothesis as to the origin of a historic symbol.
D. It argues against a commonly held belief.

2. Ginseng is well known by name but is yearly becoming more scarce. The aromatic root is so greatly valued in China for its supposed power of combating fatigue and old age that it can only be gathered by order of the emperor. The forked specimens are believed to be the most powerful, and their fancied likeness to the human form has obtained for the plant the Chinese title of Jinchen (from which ginseng is a corruption), and the Indian one of Garntoguen, both of which, strangely enough, are said to signify like a man.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined information in text as a whole?
A. It explains the origin of an English word.
B. It clarifies a common mispronunciation of a Chinese word.
C. It gives the reader irrelevant information.
D. It allows the reader to visualize the plant.

3. He who seeks the cool shade of the evergreens on a hot July day is likely to discover the nodding wax-like flowers of this little plant. They are delicate and pretty, with a background of shining leaves. These leaves when young have a pleasant aromatic flavor similar to that of the sweet birch; they are sometimes used as a substitute for tea. The bright red berries are also edible and savory and are much appreciated by the hungry birds and deer during the winter. If not thus consumed, they remain upon the plant until the following spring when they either drop or rot upon the stem, thus allowing the seeds to escape.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It concludes the text with a detail about the safety of berry consumption.
B. It helps the reader understand how evergreens spread.
C. It clarifies the nutritional value of berries to the birds and deer.
D. It builds on the claim of the previous sentence.

4. The common knotweed, P. aviculare, which grows in such abundance in country dooryards and waste places, has slender, often prostrate, stems, and small greenish flowers, which are clustered in the axils of the leaves or spike at the termination of the stems. This is perhaps the “hindering knotgrass” to which Shakespeare refers in the “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” so terming it, not on account of its knotted trailing stems, but because of the belief that it would hinder the growth of a child.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined selection in the text as a whole?
A. It introduces a term from literature that will later be clarified.
B. It provides direct evidence for a previous claim.
C. It gives the exact words of a noted botanist.
D. It explains the use of a previously explained.

5. Despite the difference in the spelling of the names, it has been suggested [about the pokeweed] that the plant was called after President Polk. This is most improbable, as it was common throughout the country long before his birth, and its twigs are said to have been plucked and worn by his followers during his campaign for the Presidency.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It provides evidence as to the origin of the name Pokeweed.
B. It explains where a term originated.
C. It presents chronological information to assuage the reader’s doubts.
D. It refutes a claim as to the origin of a term.

6. This [Queen Anne’s Lace] is believed to be the stock from which the garden carrot was raised. The vegetable was well known to the ancients, and we learn from Pliny that the finest specimens were brought to Rome from Candia. When it was first introduced into Great Britain is not known, although the supposition is that it was brought over by the Dutch during the reign of Elizabeth. In the writings of Parkinson, we read that the ladies wore carrot leaves in their hair in place of feathers. One can picture the dejected appearance of a ball-room belle at the close of entertainment.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It presents literary evidence of a novel use for carrots.
B. It explains the depth and breadth of a tradition.
C. It helps the reader visualize Queen Elizabeth.
D. It gives evidence for the previous thought.

7. Some October day, as we pick our way through the salt marches which lie back of the beach, we may spy in the distance a thicket which looks as though composed of such white-flowered shrubs as belongs to June. Hastening to the spot we discover that the silky-tufted seeds of the female groundsel tree are responsible for our surprise. The shrub is much more noticeable and effective at this season than when—a few weeks previous—it was covered with its small white or yellowish flower-heads.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It sets the scene for a shocking discovery later in the text.
B. It describes an interesting discovery that is later explained in the text.
C. It sets the scene for an unusual activity.
D. It helps the reader visualize a normal setting.

8. The yellow lady’s slipper usually blossoms in May or June, a few days later than its pink sister, C. acaule. Regarding its favorite haunts, Mr. Baldwin says: “Its preference is for maples, beeches, and particularly butternuts, and for sloping of hilly ground, and I always look with glad suspicion at a knoll covered with ferns, cohoshes, and trilliums, expecting to see a clump of this plant among them. Its sentinel-like habit of choosing ‘slightly places’ leads it to venture well up on mountain sides.”


What choice best describes the function of the underlined phrase in the text as a whole?
A. It explains why the author does not believe Mr. Baldwin.
B. It gives a reason why Mr. Baldwin is suspicious of the yellow lady’s slipper.
C. It explains where Mr. Baldwin expects to find yellow lady’s slipper.
D. It explains what plants Mr. Baldwin expects to find on knolls.

9. If Emerson’s definition of a weed, as a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered, be correct, we can hardly place the dandelion in that category, for its young sprouts have been valued as a pot-herb, its fresh leaves enjoyed as a salad, and its dried roots used as a substitute for coffee in various countries and ages. The feathery-tufted seeds which form the downy balls beloved as “clocks” by country children, are delicately and beautifully adapted to dissemination by the wind. The common name is a corruption of the French dent de lion.


What choice best describes the function of the quotation marks around the underlined word in the overall structure of the text?
A. They place emphases on the word.
B. They show that the word is a direct quote from Emerson.
C. They show that, while they are treated like clocks, dandelions are not actual clocks.
D. They show that the word inside is not truly part of the sentence.

10. “Too well known as a pernicious weed which is difficult to extirpate,” is the scornful notice which the botany gives to Common St. John’s-wort whose bright yellow flowers are noticeable in waste fields and along roadsides nearly all summer. Its rank, rapid growth proves very exhausting to the soil, and every New England farmer wishes it had remained where it rightfully belongs—on the other side of the water.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined phrase in the overall structure of the text?
A. It explains the origin of St. John’s-wort.
B. It explains the origin of the farmers.
C. It clarifies the location of the St. John’s-wort.
D. It clarifies the location of the farmers.

Answer Explanations

1. C. In the passage, we learn that a story of wind passing over a field of anemones causing the wind to be poisoned and lead to disease. The next sentence uses the word “perhaps” to speculate that this may have been where an ancient symbol of disease originated. This makes (C) the best answer option. It is not (A) since this is a story, not a historical fact. It is not (B) as this is not something Pliny believed, but rather something modern historians hypothesize. It is not (D) since it does not argue against this belief.

2. A. We learn in the first sentence of the text that the text is discussing the plant Ginseng. The parenthetical information (the information between the parenthesis) clarifies that from this name comes “a corruption” of the Chinese title of the plant: Jinchen. This makes option (A) the best answer. Answer (B) is incorrect since Ginseng is an English word with a Chinese origin, not a mispronunciation of a Chinese word. Answer (C) is incorrect since the information is not irrelevant to the discussion. Answer (D) is incorrect as it does not give any idea of Ginseng’s visual appearance.

3. B. In the text, we learn that evergreens have bright berries that are often eaten by birds or deer. The underlined sentence then concludes that if they are not eaten, they fall or rot, thus spreading the seeds. With the spread of seeds, the evergreens also spread. This makes option (B) the best answer. Option (A) is incorrect as the underlined portion does not give any details about the safety of consuming berries. Option (C) is incorrect as it does not explain the nutritional value of eating the berries. Option (D) is incorrect as the previous sentence does not make a claim about uneaten berries.

4. A. The term “hindering knotgrass” is an unknown term when first introduced. The rest of the sentence explains that this was a term used by Shakespeare and that the author believes that Shakespeare may have been referring to the plant knotweed and why. This makes answer (A) the best option. (B) is incorrect as “hindering knotgrass” is not evidence of anything. (C) is incorrect as Shakespeare is not a noted botanist. (D) is incorrect as the term is not previously explained term.

5. D. The second sentence explains why it isn’t possible that pokeweed was named after President Polk. This makes sentence (D) the best option—the term “pokeweed” didn’t come from President Polk. (A) and (B) are the exact opposite of what the sentence is doing. (C) is incorrect as it does not assuage doubts.

6. D. In the previous sentence the author states that it is thought that the carrot came to England during the reign of Elizabeth. The next sentence gives evidence for this by explaining that ladies were wearing carrot leaves in their hair, meaning the carrots must have been brought over. Option (A) is incorrect as it is historical evidence, not literary evidence. Option (B) is incorrect as there is no evidence that the wearing of carrot leaves is a tradition, rather it seems to have been a fad. Option (C) is incorrect as the sentence does not describe how Queen Elizabeth looked, but rather an accessory that she might have worn.

7. B. The sentence in question notes that “we” are out walking in October, yet see plants in the distance that look like they have June flowers on them. This is an interesting discovery. The rest of the text goes on to explain the plant that has these curious late-season flowers. This makes (B) the best option. (A) is incorrect as we can’t describe this as a shocking discovery. Option (C) is incorrect as the plant is unusual, not the activity. (D) is incorrect as the sentence helps the reader visualize an unusual setting (with flowers in October) not a normal setting.

8. C. The underlined sentence explains that the speaker, Mr. Balwin, always looks with “glad suspicion” at certain areas, “expecting to see a clump of this plant” (C. Acaule). This means he expects to find C. Acaule among the other plants mentioned, making option (C) the best answer. Answer (A) is incorrect as these are Mr. Baldwin’s words, not suspicion on the part of the author. Option (B) is incorrect as Mr. Baldwin is not suspicious of a plant, but rather looks “suspiciously” at where the plant grows. Option (D) is incorrect as he doesn’t expect knolls in general to have certain plants, but when they have fens, cohoshes, and trilliums, he expects to find yellow lady’s slipper as well.

9. C. In this instance the quotation marks are being used as a person might use what we call “air quotes” to show that the speaker does not mean the literal use of the word. (C) is the best option as the author does not mean to say that the dandelions are being used as literal clocks. Option (A) is incorrect as the quotes are used to show non-standard use of the word, not to place emphasis. Option (B) is incorrect as the word is not a direct quote. Option (C) is incorrect as the word “clocks” is indeed part of the sentence.

10. A. The New England farmer wishes that the plant had remained “on the other side of the water”. In this case, there is only one body of water that all New England farmers could refer to in such a vague way—the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, St. Joh’s Wort must have origins somewhere on the other side of the ocean. This makes option (A) the best answer. Option (B) is incorrect as it is the origin of the plant, not the farmers, to which is being referred. Option (C) is incorrect as St. John’s wort has spread, and so its original location is no longer its only location. It is not option (D) as the farmers are in New England.

Using Your PSAT Scores

The first Digital PSAT was administered to students throughout the United States in October of 2023. In past years, most students did not receive their results until December. This year, PSAT results will be available much earlier–some PSAT test scores will come out on November 6th, and some will come out on November 16th. How can you make the best use of your PSAT results?

See if you may qualify for National Merit Scholarship Recognition. Look at your National Merit Selection Index, which ranges between 48-228 and is calculated by doubling your Reading/Writing score and adding this to your Math score. Depending on the state or territory in which you live, the selection index is likely to be anywhere between 207 and 223. For example, New Mexico and North Dakota have lower selection indices, while New Jersey and Massachusetts have higher selection indices.

Use the BigFuture application to connect with colleges and scholarship opportunities. Go to https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/bigfuture-school-mobile-app to download the app. One of the biggest reasons for the PSAT is so that colleges can use the results to connect with students who may be a good fit for their student body. Be prepared to get plenty of emails from colleges who are interested in having you apply.

Do targeted review using Khan Academy. Be sure your College Board account is connected to Khan Academy. Here is an article on how to do this. Once your account is connected, Khan Academy can provide review materials for you based on the types of questions you missed on the PSAT.

Prepare for the Digital SAT that starts in March of 2024. The Digital PSAT gave you an excellent preview of the Digital SAT, since both tests have the same format, timing, and interface. Use your PSAT results to help you determine where you most need to focus your preparation leading up to the actual SAT. If you need help with your preparation, our highly trained Digital SAT tutors are ready to assist.

Preparing for the Digital PSAT

Schools across the United States will administer the new Digital PSAT/NMSQT for the first time this October. Unlike in previous years, schools have much more flexibility in scheduling the PSAT when it is convenient for their students. Accordingly, some schools will have the PSAT early in the month and some later in the month. What are some specific things students can do to prepare for the Digital PSAT?

  1. Download the Bluebook Application and take one full-length Digital PSAT. Doing this will help students become familiar with the computer interface of the new PSAT, with its built-in calculator, timer, highlighter, annotating features, and more. Students will also become comfortable with the adaptive format and pace for the Digital PSAT. In general students will feel more comfortable with the timing on this test, so they should try to slow down instead of speed up.
  2. Take additional Bluebook SAT tests as needed–there are four available in the Bluebook application that students may try. The timing and format of the Digital PSAT and Digital SAT are identical; the only major difference between the two tests is in the allocation of math concepts, with the Digital SAT having slightly more advanced material. So, by trying Digital SATs, students will be well-prepared for the Digital PSAT.
  3. Practice with the Barron’s Digital PSAT review book. I made four full-length practice PSATs that students can try, along with a wealth of review exercises.

For further free Digital PSAT resources, check our page here. Best of luck to everyone taking the upcoming Digital PSAT!

Educator Question Bank for the Digital SAT

The College Board has made a comprehensive Digital SAT Question bank available on their website:

https://satsuitequestionbank.collegeboard.org/digital/search

You can select certain question types, like Rhetorical Synthesis or Transitions, and create a PDF document that features those questions. It looks like many of the questions are repeats from the Bluebook SAT tests and the Khan Academy questions, so be prepared to have some overlap between the questions in this database and the questions in those other resources. Even so, this will be a valuable tool for students trying to prepare for the Digital SAT and Digital PSAT.

PSAT, ACT, and SAT Planning for High School Juniors

High school juniors in the United States have a very interesting year of testing options ahead of them. There are a total of four major tests that students will have the opportunity to take: the Digital PSAT, the Paper SAT, the ACT, and the Digital SAT. Who should focus on which of these different types of tests?

Digital PSAT: Administered in the month of October through a student’s high school. Students who are trying to earn National Merit recognition should prepare for this exam. National Merit recognition generally applies to students who score in the 95th percentile or above, and National Merit Scholarships usually go to students who score above the 99th percentile. For students who do not think that a National Merit award is in reach, taking the Digital PSAT is still an excellent way to try the adaptive, digital format they will find on the Digital SAT. Scores for the Digital PSAT will be back in November, so students will have plenty of time to review their PSAT results to prepare for the Digital SAT in the spring.

Paper SAT: Administered in August, October, November, and December of 2023. After these administrations, the current paper SAT will be retired and replaced with a Digital SAT. For students who want to take advantage of the expansive body of existing practice tests and review books, taking the paper SAT before it goes away is a good idea. Results from the paper SAT will still be fully utilized by colleges, so students would have nothing to lose by giving the paper SAT a try before they no longer have the opportunity to do so.

ACT: Administered throughout 2023-2024. In general, students who are faster test takers like the ACT. This is a good test to take if you have taken through Algebra 2 and a bit of pre-calculus. The ACT covers more math material than the Digital SAT: logarithms, matrices, hyperbolas/ellipses, and combinations/permutations. It also has a broader array of grammar concepts than does the Digital SAT: wordiness, idioms, diction, and sentence placement. Fortunately, students who want to take the ACT can use many excellent books and practice tests to prepare for this well-established test.

Digital SAT: Administered in the United States beginning in March, 2024 and continuing thereafter. The Digital SAT will be offered on national test dates, and many schools will offer it during the school day given the relatively short amount of time that taking the Digital SAT requires. Students will have their Digital PSAT results back in November of 2023 so they can evaluate whether the Digital SAT is a good fit for them. There is a great deal of overlap in the content between the ACT and Digital SAT, so if students wish to switch from one test to the other, it should be fairly seamless.

Please contact us if we can advise you as to the best testing plan for this upcoming school year.

National Merit Scholarship Updates for the Digital PSAT

The College Board has released a new Preparing for the PSAT/NMSQT booklet that is updated for the Digital PSAT to be administered in October of this year:

https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/psat-nmsqt-student-guide.pdf

Here are some important takeaways:

  • The National Merit Selection Index Calculation Has Changed: Under the previous paper-based PSAT selection Index, the writing and reading sections were counted independently towards the selection index. Now, the combined reading/writing section counts twice as much as the math. The formula is as follows: [2(Reading/Writing Score) + (Math Score)]/10 = National Merit Selection Index. The Selection Index will be between 48-228. So, students should be sure to do as well as possible on the Reading/Writing sections in order to earn National Merit Recognition.
  • Students Should Review the Bluebook Application for PSAT Practice: In years past, the PSAT/NMSQT has had extensive practice. For the Digital PSAT/NMSQT, the College Board is encouraging students to go directly to the Bluebook Application and Khan Academy to get practice material. There is one PSAT practice test available on Bluebook.
  • Students Can Use the PSAT to Connect with Colleges and Scholarship Organizations: The College Board has a program called “Connections™, a free program that lets you hear directly from nonprofit colleges, scholarship programs, and educational organizations that are interested in students like you.” It is notable that in light of the recent affirmative action decision by the Supreme Court, students have the option of sharing their race/ethnicity in the Connections program. Since the PSAT is not technically used for college admissions, perhaps this will be a way that colleges can bypass the restriction on using race/ethnicity in the admissions process to encourage a more diverse selection of students to apply.

As more information becomes available, we will be sure to keep you up to date.

Thanks, Brian W. Stewart