Digital SAT Practice: Writing/Verb Choice Questions #2

1. The mother of Dr. Haddock was Abigail Webster, a favorite sister of Ezekiel and Daniel Webster, who, with Sarah, ______ the only children of the Hon. Ebenezer Webster by his second wife, Abigail Eastman, who survived her husband and all her daughters.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. was
B. were
C. are
D. is

2. Mr. Layard in excavating beneath the great pyramid at Nimroud, had penetrated a mass of masonry, within which he had discovered the tomb and statue of Sardanapalus, accompanied by full annals of the monarch’s reign engraved on the walls! He had also found tablets of all sorts, all of them being historical, but the crowning discovery he _____________________

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. had yet to describe.
B. still has to describe.
C. yet describes.
D. hadn’t yet to describe.

3. It is indeed a painful or rather a terrible condition in which Heine now is and _________ for the past year; though the paralysis has made no progress, it has at least experienced no alleviation. He has now lain near two years in bed, and during that time has not seen a tree nor a speck of the blue sky.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. were
B. was
C. has been
D. will be

4. Dr. Otto Zirckel has just published at Berlin a volume called “Sketches from and concerning the United States,” which has some curious peculiarities to the eyes of an American. It is intended as a guide for Germans who wish either _________________ to this country or to send their money here for investment.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. to have emigrated
B. to emigrate
C. emigration
D. emigrating

5. The omissions by Mr. Sparks—sometimes from carelessness, sometimes from ignorance, and sometimes from an indisposition to revive memories of old feuds, or to cover with disgrace names which should be dishonored—and his occasional verbal alteration of Washington’s letter, _________ that general satisfaction with which his edition of Washington would otherwise be regarded.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. prevents
B. has prevented
C. preventing
D. prevent

6. Bauer treats the political and religious parties of modern Germany with the same scornful satire and destructive analysis which __________ in his theological writings.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. appear
B. will appear
C. has appeared
D. appears

7. Dr. Laing, one of those restless English travelers who have printed books about the United States, _____ now a prominent personage in Australia, where he has been elected a member of the newly instituted Legislature, for the city of Sidney.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?

A. was
B. is
C. are
D. were

8. The first two volumes of Oehlenschlager’s Lebens Erinnerungen have appeared at Vienna, and ___________ more observation than anything else in the late movements in the German literature.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. attract
B. attracts
C. will attract
D. attracted

9. The character of Sir Roger de Coverley is a creation which, in its way, has never been surpassed; never perhaps __________ except by the Vicar of Wakefield.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?

A. equals
B. equaling
C. equal to
D. equaled

10. When the public understands how perfectly Parodi identifies herself with the emotions and passions she has to portray,—when they appreciate the immense variety of intonations with which she illustrates her characters, and the earnestness and intensity with which she _________her whole nature into all she does—then she will be hailed as the greatest artist ever on this continent, and one of the greatest in the world.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?

A. throw
B. throws
C. has thrown
D. can throw

  1. A. The subject of the verb is both Abigail Webster and her Sarah. This makes our subject plural. In addition, this passage is in the past tense, which makes B the best option since it is plural and in the past tense.
  2. A. The passage is primarily written in the past perfect, the tense which uses a helping verb like “has” or “had” along with the past participle of the verb. To continue this style, we should use answer option A. Answer option B is not in the past perfect as it uses the word “still”. Answer C does not use a helping verb. Answer D incorrectly uses the word not.
  3. C. Heine is currently in this bad condition and for the past year and up until this moment he “has been” in this condition. Option A is plural where our subject is singular. Option B implies that he was in this condition in the past but is not still in the condition, and option D put this into the future despite it being in the “past year”. This makes option C the best answer.
  4. B. Look for parallel structure within the sentence. The Germans may wish to do two things. The second thing is “to send”. We therefore need to match that with our choice “to emigrate”. This makes option B correct and all other options incorrect.
  5. D. Be careful in identifying the subject of the verb. Ask yourself, “what is it that is going to prevent the satisfaction?” In this case, it is the omissions all the way at the beginning of the passage. “Omissions” is plural and so the correct verb choice would be “prevent”. This makes option D correct and the others incorrect.
  6. A. Be careful in identifying the subject of the verb. Ask yourself, “what is it that we’re talking about appears in his theological writings?” It is the scornful satire and destructive analysis. This means that the subject of our verb is plural. Our verb must work with a plural subject eliminating options C and D. Option B is incorrectly in the future tense. This just leaves option A as the correct answer.
  7. B. Be careful in identifying the subject of the verb. Ask yourself, “who is a prominent personage?” it can’t be “the United States”. Because the U.S. is neither a person nor in Australia. The person is Dr. Laing. This means that we must pick a singular verb, eliminating options C and D. Since it is “now” we must pick the present tense option B and not the past tense option A.
  8. D. These first two volumes have done two things they have “appeared” and “attracted”. The second verb must match the tense of the first making option D correct and the other options incorrect.
  9. D. Make sure to maintain parallel structure. Sir Roger de Coverley has never been “surpassed” so then we must say he has also never been “equaled”. This makes option D correct and the others incorrect.
  10. B. Make sure to maintain parallel structure. People appreciate two things about Parodi: how she “illustrates” her character and how she “throws” her whole nature. Both verbs need to be in the present tense making option B correct and the other options incorrect.

DSAT Reading Words in Context Practice Questions #2

1. Up to this moment the young earl had stood still, as if spell-bound; but being now convinced that the spirit had fled, he pressed forward, and, ere many seconds, emerged from the brake. The full moon was rising as he ______________ and illuminating the glades and vistas, and the calmness and beauty of all around seemed at total variance with the fearful vision he had just witnessed.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise phrase?
A. went from,
B. issued forth,
C. cropped up,
D. came across,

2. They walked on in silence, for the earl could not help dwelling upon the vision he had witnessed, and his companion appeared equally ____________ In this sort they descended the hill near Henry the Eighth’s Gate, and entered Thames Street.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?
A. unconcerned.
B. worried.
C. abstracted.
D. alive.

3. Turning off on the left into the lower road, ________ around the north of the castle, and following the course of the river to Datchet, by which it was understood the royal cavalcade would make its approach, the procession arrived at an open space by the side of the river, where it came to a halt.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?
A. dressing
B. skirting
C. avoiding
D. leaving

4. Presently the sound of trumpets smote his ear, and a numerous and splendid retinue was seen advancing, consisting of nobles, knights, esquires, and gentlemen, ranged according to their degrees, and all sumptuously ___________ in cloths of gold and silver, and velvets of various colors, richly embroidered.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?
A. worn
B. addressed
C. redressed
D. appareled

5. The person who thus spoke then stepped forward, and threw a glance so full of significance at Anne Boleyn that she did not care to dispute the order, but, on the contrary, laughingly ______________ it.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?
A. railed to
B. railed against
C. acquiesced against
D. acquiesced to

6. The favor in which he stood with his royal master procured him admittance to his presence at all hours and at all seasons, and his influence, though seldom exerted, was very great. He was especially serviceable in turning aside the edge of the king’s displeasure, and more frequently exerted himself to _______ the storm than to raise it.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?
A. allay
B. allow
C. align
D. stoke

7. He took her hand, and led her to the upper part of the chamber, where two chairs of state were set beneath a canopy of crimson velvet embroidered with the royal arms, and placed her in the seat hitherto allotted to the previous queen. A smile of triumph irradiated Anne’s lovely countenance at this ________________ nor was her satisfaction diminished as Henry turned to address the assemblage.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise phrase?
A. show of force,
B. mark of distinction,
C. level of crime,
D. morbid scene,

8. This ghostly rider wore the antlered helmet described by Surrey, and seemed to be habited in a garb of deer-skins. Before him flew a large owl, and a couple of great black dogs ran beside him. Staring in _____________ wonder at the sight, the two youths watched the mysterious being scour a glade brightly illumined by the moon, until, reaching the pales marking the confines of the Home Park, he leaped them and disappeared.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?
A. speechless
B. unspeakable
C. amazed
D. lonely

9. Before they reached the hill, at the end of the long avenue, a heavy thunderstorm came on, and the lightning, playing among the trees, seemed to reveal a thousand fantastic forms to their half-blinded gaze. Presently the rain began to descend in torrents, and compelled them to ___________beneath a large beech-tree.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise phrase?
A. abide beneath
B. stay wet
C. align themselves
D. take refuge

10. A verdant path, partly beneath the trees, and partly on the side of the lake, led Wolsey to the forester’s hut. Constructed of wood and clay, with a thatched roof, green with moss, and half overgrown with ivy, the little building was in __________ keeping with the surrounding scenery.

Which of the following choices best completes the text with the most logical and precise word?
A. admiring
B. admirable
C. poor
D. abominable

  1. B. The young earl “emerged from the brake”. We are looking for a word that would fit the context of the sentence and describe his emerging. Answer option A does not fit the structure of the sentence as there is no further description of where he went from. Answer C implies something slowly sneaking up over time, which is not the proper in this context. Answer D does not mean “emerging” and is therefore incorrect. This only leaves answer option B, that he issued forth (meaning “emerged”).
  2. C. The earl is dwelling on the vision, not on his companion or on making conversation. He is distracted by what they have seen. His companion, then, is equally distracted. Abstracted is a synonym for distracted, making option C the best answer. Answer A is the opposite of the correct answer. Answer B is incorrect as there is no evidence the earl is worried, only that he is distracted and thinking about the vision. There is no discussion of them feeling or being alive or dead, making answer option D incorrect.
  3. B. Given that the blank is followed by the word “around” we must choose an answer that can be done “around the north of the castle”. A procession could not dress around a castle, nor could it avoid or leave around it. This leaves answer B as the correct answer. To “skirt around” means to go around the edges of something.
  4. D.  The context is describing what the gentlemen are wearing. This makes options B and C incorrect as they are both words that look similar to the word “dressed” but have different meanings. “Worn” does not fit the context of the sentence. This leaves answer option D. The men are “sumptuously appareled in cloths”. Appareled is a synonym for “dressed”.
  5. D. We see in the first part of the sentence that Anne is not going to dispute (go against) the order. The author then sets up a contrasting statement by saying “but, on the contrary”. We therefore need to pick an answer that means the opposite of “dispute”. To acquiesce means to give in. The appropriate preposition for acquiesce is “to”. This makes option D correct. You cannot acquiesce against something, making option C incorrect and options A and B would not show contrast with “dispute” since “to rail against” means to speak aggressively against something.
  6. A. We learn in the first sentence that this man is favored by the king and has great influence over the king. The second sentence shows us how the man uses that influence to turn “aside the edge of the king’s displeasure.” The final phrase sets up a contrast. Rather than raising the storm of anger he is more likely to subdue it. This is the meaning of the word “allay” (related to the word alleviate) which makes answer option A correct. Answer options B and D mean close to the opposite of the author’s intended meaning. Answer option C is incorrect as “align” is not something that can be done with storms or anger.
  7. B. Anne is taken to sit in the seat of the queen this is a good thing for Anne and elicits from her a “smile of triumph”, making options C and D incorrect. Option A is incorrect as there is no evidence that Henry has shown any force toward her. Instead, being sat in the queen’s chair is a “mark of distinction” setting her apart from anyone else who might be watching.
  8. A. The boys are watching a ghostly rider, which makes their wonder understandable. They are together and so option D doesn’t fit. Their wonder isn’t unspeakable, a word for things so horrible they can’t be said. “Amazed wonder” would be redundant. This leaves option A. They are speechless with wonder.
  9. D. Given the storm, the people need to find a safe place. They “take refuge” under a tree to escape the storm. They are not living beneath the tree, making option A incorrect. They would not want to stay wet, but rather, dry making option B incorrect. They are not aligning themselves with anything, making option C incorrect.
  10. B. We see that the house is beneath trees, and on the side of the lake. It is made of natural materials and therefore matches the scenery. This makes options C and D incorrect as they would imply that the house does not match the scenery. The house is not admiring, making option A incorrect.


    If you would like to expand your vocabulary by reading of the story of Anne, Henry, and ghostly riders, the whole book is available for free through Project Gutenberg:
    https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2866/pg2866-images.html

Digital SAT Practice Questions: Command of Evidence

1. The following is an excerpt from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The farmer imagines power and place are fine things. But the President has paid dear for his White House.  It has commonly cost him all his peace, and the best of his many attributes. To preserve for a short time so conspicuous an appearance before the world, he is content to eat dust before the real masters who stand erect behind the throne. Or, do men desire the more substantial and permanent grandeur of genius? Neither has this an immunity. He who by force of will or of thought, is great, and overlooks thousands, has the charges of that eminence. With every influx of light comes new danger.

Based on the passage, which of the following would best describe the author’s attitude toward power?
A. Power is something to which all men strive and few men attain. Power once found will always corrupt.
B. While men see power as something laudable and to be sought after, they forget that it comes at a steep price.
C. Power should be avoided by all men who can stay away from it. Each man should be content where he is.
D. Power is all well and fine for the president and similar lofty persons, but is not suitable for the common farmer.

2.  The following is an excerpt from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him life; it went out from him truth. It came to him short-lived actions; it went out from him immortal thoughts. It came to him business; it went from him poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Based on the passage, what is the “it” referred to throughout the paragraph?
A. Poetry
B. Music
C. The world
D. Actions

3. The following is an excerpt from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

According to the text, what does society provide in return for the surrender of liberty and culture?
A. Food security
B. Names and customs.
C. Stocks
D. Manhood.

4. The following is adapted from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

We have a great deal more kindness than is ever spoken. Barring all the selfishness that chills like east winds the world, the whole human family is bathed with an element of love like a fine ether. How many persons we meet in houses, whom we scarcely speak to, whom yet we honor, and who honor us! How many we see in the street, or sit with in church, whom, though silently, we warmly rejoice to be with! The effect of the indulgence of this human affection is a certain cordial exhilaration. The emotions of benevolence and complacency which are felt toward others, are likened to the material effects of fire; so swift, or much more swift, more active, more cheering are these fine inward irradiations. From the highest degree of passionate love, to the lowest degree of good will, they make the sweetness of life.

Based on the passage, what is the general approach of each member of society to each other member of society?
A. They treat one another with chilly selfishness.
B. When they see one another in the street or church they silently ignore them.
C. They see one another in a complacent and benevolent kindness.
D. They experience passionate love for one another.

5. The following is adapted from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Friendship requires that rare mean betwixt likeness and unlikeness, that piques each with the presence of power and of consent in the other party. Let him not cease an instant to be himself. Better be a nettle in the side of your friend, than his echo. The condition which high friendship demands is ability to do without it. That high office requires great and sublime parts. There must be very two before there can be very one. Let it be an alliance of two large formidable natures, mutually beheld, mutually feared, before yet they recognize the deep identity which beneath these disparities unites them.

Based on the passage, what must be true in order for friendship to thrive?
A. Each friend must strive to be as much like the other as possible.
B. Each friend must be great and sublime or the friendship will perish.
C. Each friend must be wholly different from the other.
D. Each friend must be true to himself and have a mutual appreciation for the other.

6. The following is an excerpt from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

A plentiful fortune is reckoned necessary, in the popular judgment, to the completion of this man of the world: and it is a material deputy which walks through the dance which the first has led. Money is not essential, but this wide affinity is, which transcends the habits of clique and caste, and makes itself felt by men of all classes. If the aristocrat is only valid in fashionable circles, and not with truckmen, he will never be a leader in fashion; and if the man of the people cannot speak on equal terms with the gentleman, so that the gentleman shall perceive that he is already really of his own order, he is not to be feared.

According to the passage, what needs to be true in order for men to be a complete man of the world?
A. He must be wealthy and able to use his fortune well.
B. He must be humble, regardless of his wealth.
C. He must be able to connect with men of all social classes.
D. He must be fashionable and a gentleman.

7. The following is an adaptation from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In it, Emerson discusses the works of William Shakespeare:

His lyric power lies in the genius of the piece. The sonnets, though their excellence is lost in the splendor of the dramas, are as inimitable as they: and it is not a merit of lines, but a total merit of the piece; like the tone of voice of some incomparable person, so is this a speech of poetic beings, and any clause as unproducible now as a whole poem. Though the speeches in the plays, and single lines, have a beauty which tempts the ear to pause on them for their euphuism, yet the sentence is so loaded with meaning, and so linked with its foregoers and followers, that the logician is satisfied. His means are as admirable as his ends; every subordinate invention, by which he helps himself to connect some irreconcilable opposites, is a poem too.

According to the text, what makes the work of Shakespeare so admirable?
A. It is part of a greater body of works by English authors.
B. Each part is beautiful on its own and as a part of a beautiful whole.
C. Shakespeare’s tone is incomparable to that of any other writer.
D. Each line is better than the one that is written before it.

8. The following is an adaptation from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Prudence is the virtue of the senses. It is the science of appearances. It is the outermost action of the inward life. It moves matter after the laws of matter. It is content to seek health of body by complying with physical conditions, and health of mind by the laws of the intellect. The world of the senses is a world of shows; it does not exist for itself, but has a symbolic character; and a true prudence or law of shows recognizes the co-presence of other laws and knows that its own office is subaltern; knows that it is surface and not center where it works. Prudence is false when detached. It is legitimate when it is the Natural History of the soul incarnate, when it unfolds the beauty of laws within the narrow scope of the senses.

Prudence, as expressed by the passage, exists for what reason?
A. Not for itself, but to work on the surface seeking the health of the person.
B. To seek only after appearances in order to best present the body to the world.
C. To be a symbol of good moral character when interacting with the world.
D. Not for itself, but to seek good in the world around.

9. The following is an excerpt from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The actions and events of our childhood and youth are now matters of calmest observation. They lie like fair pictures in the air. Not so with our recent actions,—with the business which we now have in hand. On this we are quite unable to speculate. Our affections as yet circulate through it. We no more feel or know it than we feel the feet, or the hand, or the brain of our body. The new deed is yet a part of life,—remains for a time immersed in our unconscious life. In some contemplative hour it detaches itself from the life like a ripe fruit, to become a thought of the mind. Instantly it is raised, transfigured; the corruptible has put on incorruptibly. Henceforth it is an object of beauty, however base its origin and neighborhood.

Based on the passage, why are recent memories so difficult to calmly observe compared to older memories?
A. Recent memories are still filled with emotions and still part of our life.
B. Older memories have had more time to process and fade to nothingness.
C. Recent memories have detached from life like an unripe fruit and cannot be eaten.
D. Older memories are far more precious than recent memories and so must be often thought of.

10. The following is an adaptation from Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. They are punished by fear. Whilst I stand in simple relations to my fellow-man, I have no displeasure in meeting him. We meet as water meets water, or as two currents of air mix, with perfect diffusion and interpenetration of nature. But as soon as there is any departure from simplicity, an attempt at halfness, or good for me that is not good for him, my neighbor feels the wrong; he shrinks from me as far as I have shrunk from him; his eyes no longer seek mine; there is war between us; there is hate in him and fear in me.

Based on the passage, what causes the relationship between two people to sour?
A. Simple relations that never progress to deeper understanding of one another.
B. Meeting as two currents of air that must mix together in unity.
C. Any complication of a simple interaction or show of selfishness.
D. A war or argument between mutual friends and neighbors.

  1. B. In the first sentences we see that men without power (farmers) think that power and place are good things while forgetting the cost that “the president” has paid for his position of power in the White House. The rest of the passage builds on this idea, explaining the costs of gaining and maintaining power. This makes answer B correct and answers C and D incorrect. Answer A is incorrect as the author does not state power will always corrupt.
  2. C. This question is answered in the first sentence where the author says that the scholar of the first age received “the world”. He then brooded thereon and gave “it” the new arrangement. From thereon “it” refers to “the world”. All other answers are incorrect readings of the context.
  3. A. In the second sentence the author contends that “society is a… company in which members agree, for the better securing of his bread… to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.” In other words, in order to survive and have food on the table, people agree to conform to the rules of society. This make answer A correct and the others incorrect.
  4. C. The author says extensively throughout the passage that, even toward strangers, people tend to be “a great deal more kind than is ever spoken”. While Emerson does admit that there is some “selfishness that chills” he maintains that “the whole human family is bathed with an element of love like a fine ether.” This best fits with answer C. Answers A and B are too negative and answer D is incorrect because while some members of society will feel passionate love for some, they do not feel it for all members of society.
  5. D. The author maintains that friendship requires a balance between similarity and difference and holds that no one should “cease… to be himself”. He goes on to say that friends must “recognize the deep identity which beneath these disparities unites them.” In other words, each friend must be true to himself and appreciate the other, making option D correct. Option A is incorrect as the author thinks there should be some differences. Option B is incorrect as there is no discussion of them having to be great. Option C is incorrect as the friends must have a common “deep identity” to unite them.
  6. C. The first sentence tells us that most people think a fortune is necessary for the “competition of this man of the world”. He goes on to say that there are other necessary qualification and that “money is not necessary.” One of the author’s stated qualifications is an affinity which “transcends the habits of clique and caste and makes itself felt by men of all classes.” The author goes on to give examples of men who are not complete me of the world because they lack the ability to transcend class. This makes option C correct and the other options incorrect.
  7. B. The author says that “single lines have a beauty which tempts the ear to pause… yet the sentence is so loaded with meaning, and so linked with its foregoers and followers that the logician is satisfied.” In other words, he sees great beauty in individual lines yet “it is not a merit of lines, but a total merit of the piece.” Both the lines and the whole are beautiful. No other answer encompasses this concept.
  8. A. Answer option B is incorrect as the passage does not talk about appearances. Answer option C is incorrect as prudence has a symbolic character, but is not symbolic in and of itself. Answer option D is incorrect as there is no discussion of seeking good.
  9. A. We see in the passage that older memories are matters of calmest observation, but “not so with our recent actions” because “our affections as yet circulate through it.” Our affections could also be called our emotions. Later on, the author clarifies that “the new deed is yet a part of life”, giving further reason why detached observation is difficult. This makes option A the best answer. The other options are all wrong due to misreading of the passage.
  10. C. In the passage the author describes the simplicity of human interactions, but holds that “as soon as there is any departure from simplicity, an attempts at… good for me that is not good for him, my neighbor feels the wrong” and the hate ensues. Something that is attempted that is good for one’s self but not the neighbor could be described as selfishness, which makes answer C the best option. The author does not describe a relationship that is always simple as bad, making answer A wrong. The simple mixing of two currents of air is seen as the positive relationship prior to it souring, so answer B is wrong, and the war and argument in answer D must happen after the relationship has already soured. It is therefore not causal.

Digital SAT Text Structure and Purpose Reading Practice Questions #2

1. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. In it, Mrs. Bennet seeks to get to know her new neighbor, Mr. Bingley:

An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards dispatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet planned the courses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived which deferred it all. Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and consequently unable to accept the honor of their invitation. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what business he could have in town so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might always be flying about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be. What choice best describes the function of the third sentence in the overall structure of the text?

A. It explains Mrs. Bennet’s reaction to the dishes that were planned for dinner that evening.
B. It connects the description of Mr. Bingley’s actions to an explanation of his trip out of town.
C. It shows Mrs. Bennet’s feelings about her invitation to dinner being rejected.
D. It highlights the variety of emotions which Mrs. Bennet is known for.

2. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt, and to a milliner’s shop just over the way. The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in these attentions: their minds were more vacant than their sisters’, and when nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and, however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of a militia regiment in the neighborhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the head-quarters.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the overall structure of the text?
A. It paints a cruel picture of the abilities of Catherine and Lydia that is then qualified by a description of their meaningful trips to Meryton.
B. It addresses one reason why Catherine and Lydia so enjoy their time in Meryton which is then further explained in the subsequent sentences.
C. It shows the author’s general disregard for the shopping, gossip, and visiting that often occupy the time of young women.
D. It shows that the two girls in question have a greater capacity for learning than their sisters, as they haven’t filled their minds with the silly things that are described before and after.

3. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were engaged; Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered; Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard. Her sisters were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole evening without intermission; Jane certainly could not come back.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the overall structure of the text?
A. It uses a seeming contradiction to foreshadow what many might see as bad luck, but what the mother sees as a very positive turn of events.
B. It shows the mother’s general lack of care for her daughters and the outcome of their day it then transitions into a description of that poor day.
C. It highlights the lack of understanding the mother has as to the weather and her daughter’s lack of safety on horseback.
D. It sets up a paradox which is further built upon in subsequent portions of the passage.

4. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she could not leave her. Bingley urged Mr. Jones’s being sent for immediately; while his sisters, convinced that no country advice could be of any service, recommended an express to town for one of the most eminent physicians. This she would not hear of; but she was not so unwilling to comply with their brother’s proposal; and it was settled that Mr. Jones should be sent for early in the morning, if Miss Bennet were not decidedly better. Bingley was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable. They solaced their wretchedness, however, by duets after supper; while he could find no better relief to his feelings than by giving his housekeeper directions that every possible attention might be paid to the sick lady and her sister.

What choice best describes the function of the final sentence in the overall structure of the text?
A. It completes the description of the dinner party by describing the after-supper entertainment taken up by the guests.
B. It explains the two very different ways that Bingley and his sisters deal with the illness of Miss Bennet.
C. It clarifies the prior description of the search for a good physician for the sick woman.
D. It explains Mr. Bingley’s orders to the housekeeper and her skill in working to heal the young lady who is ill.

5. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace in all families within the reach of my influence; and on these grounds I flatter myself that my present overtures of good-will are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you to reject the offered olive branch. I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to apologize for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends.

What choice best describes the function of the first sentence in the overall structure of the text?
A. It explains the profession of the speaker so that the reader can empathize with the speaker’s situation.
B. It shows the speaker’s mission to find a way to bring peace to all families which is then followed up with a description of his plan.
C. It explains why the speaker feels it is his duty to make amends by offering up an olive branch.
D.  It introduces the idea of the speaker as a man of authority who each reader should do well to listen to.

6. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

In describing to her all the grandeur of Lady Catherine and her mansion, with occasional digressions in praise of his own humble abode, and the improvements it was receiving, he was happily employed until the gentlemen joined them; and he found in Mrs. Philips a very attentive listener, whose opinion of his consequence increased with what she heard, and who was resolving to retail it all among her neighbors as soon as she could. To the girls, who could not listen to their cousin, and who had nothing to do but to wish for an instrument, and examine their own indifferent imitations of china on the mantel-piece, the interval of waiting appeared very long. It was over at last, however. The gentlemen did approach.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined passage in the overall structure of the text?
A. It explains Mrs. Phillips’s plan to sell to her neighbors the china from her mantel-piece.
B. It clarifies why Mrs. Philips was willing to listen to him when his cousins were not.
C. It builds on the previous description of Lady Catherine and her home.
D. It tells the reader what Mrs. Philips is planning to do with the information from the conversation.

7. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

Elizabeth had heard, soon after her arrival, that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course of a few weeks; and though there were not many of her acquaintance whom she did not prefer, his coming would furnish one comparatively new to look at in their Rosings parties, and she might be amused in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley’s designs on him were, by his behavior to his cousin, for whom he was evidently destined by Lady Catherine, who talked of his coming with the greatest satisfaction, spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration, and seemed almost angry to find that he had already been frequently seen by Miss Lucas and herself.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the overall structure of the text?
A. To explain Elizabeth’s negative feelings toward Mr. Darcy
B. To clarify why Elizabeth was looking forward to Mr. Darcy’s arrival
C. To introduce Mr. Darcy as one of the many friends of Elizabeth
D. To explain Elizabeth’s reaction toward Mr. Darcy’s arrival

8. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

The whole party were in hopes of a letter from Mr. Bennet the next morning, but the post came in without bringing a single line from him. His family knew him to be, on all common occasions, a most negligent and dilatory correspondent; but at such a time they had hoped for exertion. They were forced to conclude, that he had no pleasing intelligence to send; but even of that they would have been glad to be certain.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined phrase in the overall structure of the text?
A. It gives a possible explanation for the situation described in the first sentence.
B. It introduces an aspect of Mr. Bennet’s character that is later disputed.
C. It helps the reader understand why Mr. Bennet lacks pleasing intelligence to send to his family.
D. It shows the family’s depth of knowledge of Mr. Bennet’s character which contrasts with the further characterization of their relationship.

9. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

Her husband allowed her to talk on without interruption while the servants remained. But when they had withdrawn, he said to her, “Mrs. Bennet, before you take any, or all of these houses, for your son and daughter, let us come to a right understanding. Into one house in this neighborhood they shall never have admittance. I will not encourage the imprudence of either, by receiving them at Longbourn.”

What choice best describes the function of the final sentence in the overall structure of the text?
A. It explains why all the homes of the neighborhood might be open to them.
B. It clarifies the earlier statement by stating which house the son and daughter will not be allowed into.
C. It completes Mr. Bennet’s explanation of the housing shortage in the neighborhood.
D. It shows Mr. Bennet’s feelings about the imprudence of his wife.

10. The following is an excerpt from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice:

She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was a union that must have been to the advantage of both: by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.

What choice best describes the function of underlined portion in the overall structure of the text?
A. It explains how each of them might benefit from a relationship with the other.
B. It clarifies the differences between the two and why she is inclined to give him a chance.
C. It explains how he might benefit from a connection to her.
D. It explains how she might benefit from a connection to him.

  1. C. In the first two sentences we learn that Mrs. Bennet had invited Mr. Bingley to dinner and had already planned the meal when Mr. Bingley responded to the invitation with a rejection, for he was to be out of town that evening. This leads to Mrs. Bennet’s reaction of being “disconcerted.” The sentence thereafter gives us further insight into her thoughts on the matter. This makes option C the best answer. Answer A is incorrect as she is disconcerted that her invitation has been refused, not at the dishes that were planned. Answer B is incorrect as the later half of the passage does not describe his trip out of town. Answer D is incorrect for while it does show Mrs. Bennet’s feelings on the matter, it does not show a variety of emotions.
  2. B. The first sentence explains that the young ladies often go to Meryton to visit their aunt and to shop. The next sentence then clarifies that Catherine and Lydia are especially likely to do so because they have vacant minds and needed constant amusement which Meryton provides. This best fits with answer option B. Their vacant minds are one reason why they so enjoy shopping and visiting in Meryton. Answer option A is incorrect as their trips to Meryton are not very meaningful. In addition, while this description seems cruel to our eyes, there is no evidence that the author means it as anything more than an accurate explanation of the characters. Option C is incorrect as there is no evidence that the author is making a general statement about the merit of these activities. Option D is incorrect as the “empty minds” are not shown to be a positive thing.
  3. A. In the underlined portion of the text, the mother is very cheerful about her predictions of a bad day. The following part of the passage clarify that the rain that the mother predicted forces Jane to stay away and “delights” the mother. This best fits with option A. The underlined text seems to be a contradiction, but is setting up the rain, a negative, being seen as a positive in the mother’s eyes. Option B is incorrect as there is no evidence that the mother does not care for her daughter, simply that for some reason she wishes her to be kept away for awhile. Answer C is incorrect as the mother understands the weather quite well and even predicts the rain. Answer D is incorrect as this is not a paradox which is a statement which contradicts itself.
  4. B. The sentence prior to the underlined part tells that Mr. Bingley is uncomfortable and his sisters miserable due to the illness of Miss Bennet. The final sentence describes their reactions to their discomfort and misery. The sisters sing duets to find solace and Mr. Bingley orders his housekeeper to give as much attention to the sick lady and her sister as possible. This best fits answer option B. Answer option A is incorrect as there is no evidence of a dinner party prior to these activities. Answer C is incorrect as it does not have anything to do with a physician (doctor). Answer option D is incorrect as that answer option ignores the sisters’ duets and falsely claims that the housekeeper is working to heal the sick lady when there is no evidence of that.
  5. C. In the underlined portion the speaker explains that he is a clergyman, or a priest. He clarifies that because of this profession he believes he must encourage peace in any family he can influence. In the rest of the passage, then he is apologizing to the listener and offering an olive branch, a well known symbol of peace. This best fits answer C. The speaker, as a clergyman, feels he must apologize and make amends for the sake of peace. Answer A is incorrect as the reader is not asked to empathize with the speaker. Answer B is incorrect as there is no plan to bring peace to all families, rather an attempt to bring peace to one. Answer D is incorrect as the reader is not admonished to listen to the speaker.
  6. D.  In the underlined portion we learn that Mrs. Philips is resolving to retail “it” among her neighbors. The “it” in question is the conversation she is having with the man and “retailing it” could also be described as passing on the information. This makes choice D the best answer. It is not choice A as she is not literally selling anything. It is not choice B, as we do not know why Mrs. Philips is listening to him. It is not choice C as it does not further describe the home in question.
  7. A. Be careful with the negatives in the underlined portion. There are two “nots” which essentially cancel out leaving us with the meaning: there were many of her acquaintances whom she did prefer. In other words, the underlined portion is explaining that Elizabeth does not prefer the company of Mr. Darcy. This best fits with answer option A. The rest of the passage explains why she might look forward to his arrival, but the underlined portion does not, making option B incorrect. Mr. Darcy is a not well like acquaintance of Elizabeth, not a friend, making option C incorrect. Mr. Darcy has not yet arrived, making option D incorrect.
  8. A. In the first sentence we learn that Mr. Bennet had not written them a letter. In the underlined portion this is explained by saying that his family is aware that is a negligent correspondent. In other words, he doesn’t do a good job of writing letters regularly. This makes option A the best answer. Option B is incorrect because the idea of Mr. Bennet being a poor correspondent is not later disputed. Option C is incorrect because it doesn’t not explain why Mr. Bennet has no good news for his family. Option D  is incorrect as there is no later contrast or further description of the relationship.
  9. B. The final statement is clarifying Mr. Bennet’s earlier declaration that there is one house into which the son and daughter will not be allowed: they are not allowed at Longbourn. This makes answer B the best option. It is not answer A as it does not explain why the children are welcome at other homes. Answer C is incorrect as they are not discussing a housing shortage. Answer D is incorrect as Mr. Bennet is discussing the imprudence of the son and daughter, not of his wife.
  10. D. Earlier in the sentence the speaker clarifies that a union between the two would benefit both. Then it explains how he would be benefited (improved manners) and finally, the underlined portion explains the benefit to her (greater importance). This makes option D correct and the others incorrect.

Practice your reading comprehension skills by reading more of Pride and Prejudice for free online:
https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1342/pg1342-images.html

Digital SAT Practice Rhetorical Synthesis #2

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

  • Egyptians had three kinds of paintings: one on flat surfaces, a second on bas-reliefs, and a third on designs in intaglio.
  • Intaglio designs are those hollowed out from a flat surface. Bas-reliefs are designs which are raised from the surface.
  • Egyptian painting is generally found on walls in temples and tombs as well as on columns and cornices. It is also found on small articles.
  • Egyptian painting lacks the perspective of modern art. All paintings are represented in the same plane, not painted to give the appearance of depth.
  • Painting was not signed or attributed to certain artists in ancient Egypt. For this reason, modern scholars have no knowledge of the people who created the paintings from that time period.

The student wants to educate someone unfamiliar with Egyptian paintings as to the difference between intaglio and bas-relief painting. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Intaglio and bas-relief paintings are both forms of art that were prevalent in Ancient Egypt, and were found on walls, columns, and cornices.
B. Intaglio designs are those painted on hallowed out sections of a flat surface while bas-relief paintings are raised from the surface. Both were common in Ancient Egyptian art.
C. Modern scholars do not know the names of Ancient Egyptian painters, because their work is not signed. However, they do know that both intaglio and bas-relief painting were common.
D. In both intaglio and bas-relief painting, there is a lack of perspective that makes the art appear flat, especially to the modern eye.

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

  • So few fragments of Assyrian painting survive today that very little is known about the artwork of this civilization.
  • Assyrian painters appear to have done much of their work on walls, both on plaster and directly on brick.
  • When Assyrian plaster paintings are discovered, they often quickly disappear due to being exposed to the air for the first time in centuries.
  • Assyrians painted on tiles as well. Tile painting survives much longer than wall painting, but is prone to breaking. No complete Assyrian tile paintings have been assembled.

The student wants to give an overview of Assyrian painting to an audience who has no knowledge of it. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. While little is known about Assyrian painting, it seems that it was largely done on walls and on tiles.
B. Unearthed Assyrian wall painting often degrades quickly when exposed to the air, which makes it difficult to learn about this style of art.
C. Very little Assyrian painting survives today, so art historians know nothing about the art of this civilization.
D. Painted Assyrian tiles, or shards thereof, are often found. However, archeologists have been unable to assemble entire paintings.

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

  • In  6th century B.C.E. Babylon under king Nebuchanezzar, tile-painting was the peak of artistic expression.
  • The Babylonians were known for their rich and glowing cities, which shone with the bright and vibrant colored tiles.
  • The Babylonian tiles could be a solid color or could have intricate patterns on them. Some tiles were used to assemble vast scenes similar to those found on medieval tapestries.
  • Only a few remnants of Babylonian tile painting still exist today.

The student wants to explain to readers the beauty of Babylonian tile painting. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Babylonian cities were rich and glowing, covered in bright and vibrantly colored tiles which made up intricate designs, some even as complex as medieval tapestries.
B. Under King Nebuchanezzar, tile-painting was the peak of artistic expression, however, few examples remain.
C. Babylonian tiles were often a solid color, though many could be covered with a painted pattern.
D. Painted tiles covered the Babylonian cities of the 6th century B.C. E. The cities were, in fact, known for their colored tiles.

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

  • Apelles could be described as the greatest of all Greek painters.
  • Apelles’s art is known for exquisite finishing as well as an abundance of grace and sweetness.
  • Apelles painted both King Phillip of Macedon and his son: Alexander the Great. This work lead to Apelles being the court painter and granted the exclusive rights to paint the monarch.
  • Late in his career, Apelles traveled as far as Egypt and painted a diverse range of mythological beings including Venus.

The student wants to include in her essay a sentence that will highlight Apelles’s connections to the Greek court. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The greatest of all Greek painters, Apelles was well known at court for the grace and sweetness in his work.
B. While he was well known in Greece, Apelles also traveled widely to seek inspiration for his work
C. Apelles painted a wide variety of subjects, from Phillip of Macedon, to mythological beings like Venus.
D. Both Phillip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great, retained Apelles as their official portrait painter and the general court painter as well.

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

  • One well known form of Roman art is mosaics, which were used not just as artistic pieces, but also as wall and floor decorations.
  • The Romans did not invent the mosaic art form, but they did develop their own unique style of placing thousands of tiny shards of stone, glass, and pottery to create pictures.
  • Romans spread their mosaic art so far and wide that it is still common today for excavations in far flung parts of the former Roman empire to find amazing pieces of art buried in fields and under buildings.
  • Due to the prolific nature of Roman mosaics, many mosaics that are discovered are not preserved.

The student would like to explain to a friend already familiar with mosaics why Roman mosaics often are not preserved after discovery. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Roman mosaics were used as wall and floor decorations and were made up of shards of glass, stone, or pottery, which made them quite durable.
B. Mosaics are still commonly found in far flung parts of the former Roman empire as the durability of the materials has allowed them to survive significantly longer than other art forms.
C. Due to the widespread nature of Roman mosaics, newly unearthed mosaics are often not preserved: there are simply too many to keep them all.
D. Mosaic tiling was known prior to the Romans adopting the art form, but the Romans perfected and spread the art form.

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

  • Roman catacomb paintings from the 3rd and 4th centuries C.E. often have Christian themes and are found in the underground catacombs near Rome itself since early Christians often had to hide their religious activities for fear of persecution.
  • These paintings exhibit majesty and earnestness as the painters tried to express their faith through their artwork.
  • Many of these artworks had not just literal meanings, but also symbolic meanings that would only be apparent to others who understood the significance of the chosen symbols.
  • One example of this symbolism would be a literal painting of a river of water which also had a figurative meaning in regards to baptism: a spiritual washing away of sin.

The student would like to explain the symbolism often found in catacomb paintings. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Catacomb paintings in Rome often have both obvious and symbolic themes. The obvious would be apparent to any viewer, while the symbolic would only be known to those who could decipher them.
B. Christian symbols are often found in catacomb paintings as the painters strove to express their faith through art and still avoid persecution. One example of such a symbol would be an artist painting flowing water to symbolize baptism.
C. Known for their majesty and earnestness, many early Christian catacomb paintings from the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C.E. are still visible in Rome today.
D. Due to fear of religious persecution, many early Christian artists used symbols in their paintings and in their every day life.

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

  •  During the Romanesque period (950-1250) painting was not seen as an elevated art form. Rather, it was looked at as a form of visual story telling.
  • Most painting in Europe was done to illustrate religious stories and concepts and so was under the control and direction of the church.
  • Because of this connection, glass painting (what we know today as stained-glass) was developed, though historians argue whether the technique originated in Germany or France.
  • While most glass painting was very colorful as we are accustomed to seeing today, some factions of the church rejected highly colorful paintings and instead opted for grisaille glass which utilized the same patterns, but only applied paints in shades of grey, green, and brown with only very small bursts of other colors.

The student wants to emphasize the difference in how painting was seen in the Romanesque Period compared to how we see it today. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. During the Romanesque period, painting was primarily done on glass in order to illustrate religious concepts.
B. Today, painting is seen as a form of high art, while in the Romanesque period, it was used merely as a way to tell stories.
C. During the Romanesque period, most painting was done in bright and vibrant colors, however, some religious orders preferred to paint mostly in shades of grey, green, and brown.
D. Stained glass art in the Romanesque period was seen as a way to tell the stories of the church. Today, it is also used in a wide variety of non-religious settings.

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

  • The Gothic Period of Medieval painting was highly influenced by the well known Gothic style of architecture.
  • In the Gothic Period, painting moved out from the influence of the clergy and painters were more and more free to paint how and what they wanted, backed by powerful guild associations.
  • Gothic painting includes a lot of images from nature and starts to attempt to introduce perspective (which had previously been missing) into artistic renderings of scenes.
  • Due to the highly decorative nature of Gothic architecture, not much space was left on walls for painting. Glass painting, therefore, remained very common.

The student wants to explain the change during the Gothic period and the results of that change. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Influenced by Gothic architecture, Gothic painting was both highly decorative, and often created on windows.
B. Both Gothic architecture and a lack of clerical oversight influenced a change in painting arts during the Gothic period.
C. While art had previously been quite flat, Gothic painters started to experiment with adding dimension and perspective to their paintings.
D. During the Gothic period, the church lost much influence over artists. This led to paintings incorporating perspective and natural themes.

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

  • Giotto was a well known artist in Italy  in the late 13th and early 14th century.
  • Giotto’s earliest known work is a portrait of the author Dante, painted on the wall of the Podesta at Florence.
  • Dante was exiled from Florence and his portrait was whitewashed over, which preserved it for modern scholars to examine.
  • There are many other works of Giotto in Florence and is also known for his frescoes in Assisi, and his pictures at Padua
  • In addition to his painting, Giotto is remembered as the great architect who designed the tower in Florence.

The student wants to give an overview of Giotto’s work in Florence. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this work?

A. Giotto’s first work is found on a wall in Florence. It is a painting of the author Dante. In addition to his paintings, Giotto is also known for his frescoes in Assisi and his pictures at Padua.
B. The painting of Dante at the Podesta is the first known work of Giotto and was preserved when it was whitewashed over following Giotto’s exile from Florence.
C. Giotto’s first work, a painting of Dante, as well of several other paintings still exist in Florence. In addition, he is remembered as the architect of the tower in Florence.
D. Despite being exiled from Florence, Dante is still associated with the city because of his work designing the tower in Florence.

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

  • The Van Eyck family, of Flemish origin, is well known for its artistic creations.
  • The family had four painters: three brothers and one sister, the eldest of which was Hubert Van Eyck.
  • Hubert Van Eyck work and discoveries on the use of colors led to modern day oil painting. After Hubert passed away, his brother, Jan, perfected the technique and became a celebrated painter.
  • Prior to the work of the Van Eyck brothers, oil painting was a very unsatisfactory process and led to mixed results. The Van Eyck method vastly improved the process and results of oil painting.

The student wants to explain to a friend the influence the Van Eyck family had on oil painting. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. There were four painters in the Van Eyck family. Two of them, Hubert and Jan, are the best remembered of the family.
B. Huber and Jan Van Eyck worked to perfect the process of oil painting and discovered techniques which led to modern oil painting.
C. Traditional oil painting was a very unpredictable process which caused issues for most painters, including all four of the Van Eyck siblings.
D. The Va Eyck family is a well known painting family. The three brothers and one sister are well known for their artistic masterpieces.

Answer Explanations:

  1. B. The question is asking for the difference between intaglio and bas-relief painting. Options A and D give the similarities between the two and are therefore incorrect. Option C focuses on the artists, not the art and only gives a similarity between the two approaches. Option B takes information from the second bullet point to point out the differences between the two approaches and is therefore correct.
  2. A. Given that the audience has no knowledge of Assyrian painting, the student must give even the most basic information. Option A best gives a basic understanding of Assyrian painting based on the notes. Option B explains why we struggle to understand Assyrian art, but does not give an overview of what we do know. Option C explains why we don’t know much but doesn’t explain what we do know. Option D is not an overview of Assyrian painting, but rather a fact about only one type of Assyrian painting.
  3. A. The student wants to explain the beauty of the Babylonian tile painting. Options B, C and D explain different facts about Babylonian tiles and painting, but do not explain their beauty. Option A explains their brightness and vibrancy, their intricate designs, and even compares them to tapestries, giving a clear understanding of the beauty of this art form.
  4. D. The student wants to talk not about Appelles’s work, but rather his connection to the Greek court (the organization surrounding the Greek monarch). The answer, therefore, must focus on Apelles’s connections to the kings Phillip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. This eliminates options A and B. Option C mentions Phillip of Macedon, but only as a subject of a painting. Option D best explains Apelles’s close connection to the court of Phillip and Alexander.
  5. C. The student’s friend is already familiar with mosaics in general, so the concept does not need to be explained, eliminating option A. The student wants to explain why Roman mosaics, once discovered, are often not preserved. Options B and D do not explain this, but rather give other details about the mosaics. Option C explains that there are simply too many mosaics to preserve them all, giving the explanation the student wants.
  6. B. The student wants to explain the symbolism found specifically in catacomb paintings. Option A talks about the existence of symbols, but does not give an explanation of them. Option D does not discuss catacomb paintings specifically. Option C does not address symbols at all. Option B, therefore, is the best answer since it addresses catacomb painting specifically, addresses why they were used, and gives an explanation of one specific symbol.
  7. B. The student wants to emphasize the difference between how we see art today (as an elevated art form) and how people saw it in the Romanesque period (as a means of visual storytelling). Only option B provides this contrast. Options  A and C speak to Romanesque painting, but not to modern painting. Option B does not discuss how the painting is seen, but rather how stained glass is used.
  8. D. The correct answer must include both the change during the Gothic period and the results of that change. Option A does not discuss how Gothic painting changed. Option B discusses why a change occurred, but not what that change was. Option C discusses a change, but not the effects thereof. Option D is the best answer since it discusses a change (the church lost influence) and the effects thereof (artists started using perspective and natural themes).
  9. C.  The correct answer must give a broad overview of Giotto’s work specifically in Florance. Option A speaks of his work in multiple places. Options B and C speak of just one Florentine work of Giotto. Option C gives the best general overview of Giotto’s work in Florence.
  10. B. In order to understand the influence the family as a whole had on oil painting, option B is the best answer since it discusses the influences of multiple members of the family. Option A says they are remembered, but not any influence that they had. Option C discusses an issue they had. D presents the idea that they are well known, but not that they had any influence on oil painting in general.

The information for all notes is taken from History of Art for Beginners and Students. If you wish to read more it is available in the public domain from Project Gutenberg:

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/24726/pg24726-images.html#CHAPTER_I

Digital SAT Standard English Conventions Practice Questions: Punctuation

1.  The hour of noon had just struck, and the few visitors still lingering among the curiosities of the great museum were suddenly startled by the sight of one of the attendants running down the broad, central staircase, loudly shouting, “Close the doors! Let no one out! An accident has ____________________ to leave the building.”

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. occurred, while nobody’s
B. occurred, while nobodies
C. occurred, and nobody is
D. occurred, and nobodies

2. She did not answer. She did not even look his way. With a rapid glance into the faces __________________ in one of deep compassion directed toward herself, he repeated his question.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. about him, ending
B. about him; ending
C. about him ending
D. about him ending,

3. With an air of relief Mr. Jewett stepped again into the court and, repelling with hasty gestures the importunities of the small group of men and women who had lacked the courage to follow the more adventurous ______________________ to where the door-man stood on guard over the main entrance.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. ones upstairs—crossed
B. ones upstairs crossed
C. ones upstairs crossed,
D. ones upstairs, crossed

4. They were standing at the foot of the great staircase connecting the two floors. __________________ away on either side, ran the two famous, highly ornamented galleries, with their row of long low arches indicating the five compartments into which they were severally divided.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. Above them, stretching
B. Above, them stretching
C. Above them stretching
D. Above them—stretching

5. The Curator offered his arm. The old man made a move to ___________________ himself up with an air of quiet confidence.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. take it then, drew
B. take it then drew
C. take it—then drew
D. take it: then drew

6. She was near ______________________ being a woman of great nerve, she fought her weakness and waited patiently for the next question. It was different, without doubt, from any she had expected.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. collapsing again, however,
B. collapsing again; however,
C. collapsing again: however,
D. collapsing again, however;

7. As he was meditating how he could best convey to her the necessity of detaining her further, he heard a muttered exclamation from the young woman standing near her and, following the direction of her pointing finger, saw that the strange silence which had fallen upon the room had a _______________ had fainted away in her chair.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. cause; Mrs. Taylor,
B. cause: Mrs. Taylor
C. cause, Mrs. Taylor
D. cause Mrs. Taylor,

8. But the detective was not so hasty. With a thousand things in mind, he stopped to peer along the gallery and down into the court before giving himself away to any prying eye. Satisfied that he might make the desired move with impunity, Mr. Gryce was about to turn in the desired direction when, struck by a ______________ again stopped short.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. new fact: he
B. new fact, he,
C. new fact he
D. new fact, he

9. The detective, thus appealed to, hesitated a ____________________ an irrelevance perhaps natural to the occasion, he inquired where this door so conveniently hidden from the general view led to.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. a moment then; with
B. a moment; then, with
C. a moment, then, with
D. a moment then with

10. The detective, working his way back around the pedestal, cast another glance up and down the _________________ into the court. Still no spying eye, save that of the officer opposite.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. gallery and over
B. gallery, and over
C. gallery and, over
D. gallery: and over

11. Silence. Heads moving, eyes peering, excitement visible in every face, but not a word from anybody. Mr. Gryce turned and pointed up at the clock. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_________________ still no word from man or woman.

Which choice completest the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. All looked however
B. All looked: but
C. All looked, or
D. All looked—but

12. He decided upon the northern one, which you will remember was the one holding _________________ __ finding anybody there, no matter whom, would certainly settle the identity of the person responsible for that flying arrow.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. the tapestry; since
B. the tapestry, since,
C. the tapestry since,
D. the tapestry: since,

13. A man was there: man going down—_________________ this man, as he soon saw from his face and uniform, was Correy the attendant.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. no—coming up—
B. no, coming up;
C. no coming up;
D. no, coming up,

14. As he did this, two ____________________ Sweetwater, who had stolen upon the scene, possibly at some intimation from Mr. Gryce, took a step toward them which brought him in alignment with the Englishman, of whose height in comparison with his own he seemed to take careful note; and secondly, the sensitive skin of the foreigner flushed red again as he noticed the Coroner’s sarcastic smile, and heard his dry remark.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. things happened; first
B. things happened; first,
C. things happened: first,
D. things happened: first

15. But nowhere in the great city of which we write on this night of May 23, 1913, was there to be found a scene of greater ______________________ the court and galleries of its famous museum.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. contradictions: than in
B. contradictions than, in
C. contradictions than in
D. contradictions than in,

16. Gems of antique art, casts in which genius had stored its soul and caused to live before us the story of the _________________ from desert sands, friezes from the Parthenon and bas-reliefs from Nineveh and Heliopolis, filled every corner, commanding the eye to satisfy itself in forms of deathless grace or superhuman power.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. ancients pillars
B. ancients, pillars
C. ancients pillars,
D. ancients: pillars

17. The Inspector, finding himself very much disturbed by the doubt just mentioned, felt inclined to _________________ any perceptible advancement had been made by this freak business of his canny subordinate.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. question: whether
B. question whether,
C. question; whether
D. question whether

18. In saying this, Mr. Gryce studiously avoided the _____________________ the Inspector in his turn looked up, then down—anywhere but in the detective’s direction.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. Inspectors’ eye;
B. Inspector’s eye;
C. Inspector’s eye:
D. Inspectors’ eye,

19. For the next three days the impatience of the public met with nothing but disappointment. The police were reticent—more reticent far than __________________________ to add to the facts already published, had little but conjectures to offer.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. usual—and the papers, powerless
B. usual, and the papers, powerless
C. usual—and the papers—powerless
D. usual, and the papers—powerless

20. The other—Carleton Roberts, his bosom friend, and the museum’s chief director—is of a different _____________ no less striking to the eye.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
A. type: but
B. type, nor
C. type, but
D. type, for

  1. C. “An accident has occurred” is an independent clause. “Nobody is to leave the building” is also an independent clause. Two independent clauses can be connected with a comma and one of the FANBOYS. “While” is not one of the FANBOYS, so A and B are incorrect. “Nobodies” is the plural form of “nobody” so D is incorrect. Answer C is correct because it correctly uses comma FANBOYS and it has the correct format of the word “nobody”.
  2. A. The phrase “ending in one of deep compassion directed toward herself” is extra information in the sentence that is not crucial to the structure of the sentence. Such phrases should be surrounded by commas, dashes, or parentheses. Since there is a comma after the word “herself” there must therefore also be a comma before the word “ending” to correctly bracket the phrase with commas. This makes A the best answer and the other answers incorrect.
  3. D. The phrase starting with the word “repelling” and ending with the word “upstairs” is extra information in the sentence that is not crucial to the structure of the sentence. Such phrases should be surrounded by commas, dashes, or parentheses. Since there is a comma before the word “repelling” there must therefore also be a comma after the word “upstairs” to correctly bracket the phrase with commas. This makes option D the best answer and the other options incorrect.
  4. A. The phrase starting with the word “stretching” and ending with the word “side” is extra information in the sentence that is not crucial to the structure of the sentence. Such phrases should be surrounded by commas, dashes, or parentheses. Since there is a comma after the word “side” there must therefore also be a comma before the word “stretching” to correctly bracket the phrase with commas. This makes option A the best answer and the other options incorrect.
  5. C. The first clause in the second sentence is an independent clause. The second clause is dependent. To connect an independent and dependent clause you should use a comma, however, this is not an option. A dash can replace a comma, giving a heavier pause. This makes answer C the best answer. Answer A puts a comma in the wrong place, answer B does not give punctuation where a pause is needed, answer D is incorrect as the second part of the sentence is not clarifying or explaining the first part.
  6. B. In this situation, the word “however” logically belongs with the second independent clause. The semicolon connecting the two independent clauses, therefore, must go after the word “again”. The word “however” is then an introductory word to the second independent clause, making it logical to place a comma thereafter. This makes option B correct and the other options incorrect.
  7. B. Options C and D are both run on sentences in which two independent clauses are incorrectly connected with a comma. The second clause is clarifying or explaining something from the first clause, namely, the reason the silence has fallen on the room. This makes a colon the best possible answer since a colon connects an independent clause to a clarification or explanation of that clause.
  8. D. The phrase “struck by a new fact” is extra information in the sentence that is not crucial to the structure of the sentence. Such phrases should be surrounded by commas, dashes, or parentheses. Since there is a comma after the word “when” there must therefore also be a comma before the word “again” to correctly bracket the phrase with commas. This makes D the best answer and the other answers incorrect.
  9. B. This sentence is really made up of two sentences. The first one ends after the word “moment”. The second sentence is made up of a dependent clause connected to an independent clause with the comma after the word “occasion”. To connect two sentences, we need to put a period or a semicolon between them. This makes option B the best answer.
  10. A. In this portion of the sentence no clauses are ending or beginning, no extra information exists, and no lists are being enumerated. In other words, there is no reason to put any sort of punctuation. This makes answer A the best option. Answer B would be correct only if the “and” were connecting two independent clauses.
  11. D. In this sentence, there is a contrast between all looking, and no one saying anything. This makes answers A and C incorrect. In addition, the second part of the sentence is not clarifying or explaining the first part, meaning that option B is incorrect. This just leaves answer D which uses the versatile dash to connect two clauses.
  12. A. The first part of this passage is a sentence made up of a dependent clause connected to an independent clause with a comma after the word “one”. The second part of the passage is an independent clause interrupted by the extra information “no matter whom”. To connect these two complete sentences, we need to use a semicolon. This makes option A correct and the other options incorrect.
  13. B. The first part of this passage is a sentence made up of an independent clause with a colon and then clarifying information ending after the word “up.” The second part of the passage is an independent clause interrupted by the extra information “as he soon saw from his face and uniform.” In order to connect these two sentences, we need to use a semicolon. This eliminates option D. The confusion of having two dashes around essential information eliminates option A. The need for a pause after “no” leads us to B as the best answer.
  14. C. A colon goes after an independent clause and before a clarification or explanation of that independent clause. A comma goes after an introductory word or phrase like “first”. This makes answer option C the best choice.
  15. C. In this portion of the sentence no clauses are ending or beginning, no extra information exists, and no lists are being enumerated. In other words, there is no reason to put any sort of punctuation.
  16. B. This sentence starts with a list. Among the items in the list are “casts in which genius had stored its soul and caused to live before us the story of the ancients” and “pillars from desert sands”. These two items must be separated with a comma, making option B the correct answer.
  17. D. In this portion of the sentence no clauses are ending or beginning, no extra information exists, and no lists are being enumerated. In other words, there is no reason to put any sort of punctuation.
  18. B. In this sentence there is a single inspector who has possession over his eye. This means that the apostrophe must go before the “s”, making options A and D incorrect. In addition, we are connecting two independent clauses, making the semicolon the best option.
  19. A. “More reticent far than usual” is extra information in the sentence. Since it begins with a dash before the word “more” we must end it with a dash after the word “usual”. The phrase “powerless to add to the facts already published” is also extra information. Since it ends with a comma after the word “published” we must start it with a comma before the word “powerless”. This makes option A the correct answer.
  20. C. The first clause of the sentence says that Carleton Roberts is a different type, this contrasts with him being “no less striking”. The contrasting word “but” therefore fits the author’s meaning. A comma to connect the independent clause to a dependent one would also be appropriate, making option C the best answer.

All passages are adapted or taken from The Mystery of the Hasty Arrow by Anna Katharine Green. You can read who whole exciting mystery novel about a murder in a museum for free online:

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/17763/pg17763-images.html

Digital SAT Writing Transitions Practice Questions #2

1. He felt convinced, in his own mind, that he had been attacked by some fatal disease. When he arrived in London, ___________ he was relieved to find that the specialists whom he consulted, while they mostly gave him his money’s worth of polite interest, did not display any anxiety as to his condition.

Which choice competes the text with the most logical translation?
A. after a bit,
B. however,
C. on the other hand,
D. in addition

2. I want to talk to you about the child, little Juliet,” she said, a day or two later. She is not mine ________________  beyond that her parentage must remain a secret, even from you. Yet this I may say: she is the child of a friend of mine” A. consequently, and
B. however, but
C. of course, but
D. also, and

3. Besides, there was no getting over the fact that she was no relation whatever, and was, in addition, a considerable drain on the family resources, all of which Lady Byrne felt entirely equal to disbursing alone and unassisted. ___________ her presence led to disagreements between Sir Arthur and his wife.

A. Eventually,
B. Nonetheless,
C. In contrast,
D. Regardless,

4. The room in which she sat was so dark, so gloomy, so bare and cheerless, that Juliet began to wonder whether she would not have been wiser not to have come. This was not a place, _________ which fond parents would choose for a long-deferred meeting with their child, after years of separation.

A. therefore,
B. however,
C. fortunately,
D. surely,

5. He is one of the most respectable, the most domesticated of peers. Not very cheerful company, _____________ no one in the world can justly say a word against him in any way. He has had a sad time lately; his wife and only child died within a month of each other, only two or three years ago. A. maybe, and
B. for
C. though, so
D. perhaps, but

6. From the quickness with which Lord Ashiel answered her, he might have been sitting waiting at the end of the wire, and he expressed great pleasure at her acceptance of his invitation. ________ she could hear from the tone of his voice that his gratification was no mere empty form.

A. While,
B. Conversely,
C. Indeed,
D. Nevertheless,

7. No one was more conscious than himself that he was far from being infallible; _______ his admirers appeared to him to be willfully blind to that elementary truth; so that when he failed to bring a case to a successful issue people were apt to show an amount of disappointment that he, for his part, thought very unreasonable.

A. subsequently,
B. as has been noted,
C. for instance,
D. in fact,

8. In spite of her extremely hazy ideas on the subject of other people’s property, there was, he admitted, something attractive about her. __________ he was very glad she had gone.

A. Still,
B. As a result,
C. Naturally,
D. Moreover,

9. For a long while he sat on, huddled in the corner of an arm-chair, his elbows on the arm, his chin resting on his hand, and in his eyes the look of one who wrestles with obscure and complicated problems of mental arithmetic. ________________ but without relaxing his expression of concentrated effort, he stretched out long artistic fingers to a box on the table, took from it a chocolate, and transferred it mechanically to his mouth.

A. From time to time,
B. In brief,
C. In conclusion,
D. On the other hand,

10. Juliet did not really enjoy grouse-driving, but she tried to appear as if she did, since everyone else seemed to, and at all events there were intervals between drives when she could be happy in the glory of the hills and the wild free air of the moors. ____________she knelt in her corner of the butt beside her host’s big retriever, and waited. There was a little bunch of heather growing level with her nose, and she bent forward silently and sniffed at it. But the honey-sweet scent was drowned for the moment by the smell of gunpowder and dog.

A. For example,
B. Meanwhile,
C. Accordingly,
D. Because,

  1. B. In the first sentence, we learn that the man believes himself to be fatally ill. In the next sentence, though we learn that the doctors are not worried about him at all. These two ideas are in contrast to one another, making “however,” the best option.
  2. C. “She is not mine” is an independent clause, as is “beyond that her parentage must remain a secret”. To connect these two independent clauses, we need a comma and one of the FANBOYS like “but” or “and”. In this situation the two independent clauses are contrasting with one another, making “but” a better option than “and”. Since “but” is a contrasting word, we do not need a second contrasting word like “however”.
  3. A. In the first part of the passage, we learn that the woman is not a relative and is a financial drain of the family. We also learn that Lady Byrne wants to control the finances without input from the woman. It only makes sense, then, that her presence would “eventually” cause disagreements between Sir Arthur and Lady Byrne.
  4. D. Juliet, hoping for a meeting with her parents, looks at the dark and gloomy room and thinks that “surely” no parents would plan a reunion in such a place. Options A, B, and C do not fit the authors intended meaning.
  5. D. The first part of the sentence reveals that the man is not very cheerful company (a negative statement). The second part of the sentence reveals that no one can say anything bad about him (a positive statement). These two statements contrast, making “but” the ideal one of the FANBOYS to pair with the comma in connecting the two independent clauses.
  6. C. “Indeed” could also mean “in addition.” The author here is trying to add more information to the previous statement about Lord Ashiel’s “great pleasure at her acceptance”, making “indeed” the best option.
  7. D. Since it has not previously been stated that his admirers were blind to the truth, answer B is incorrect. The second sentence is not an example of the first, so answer C is incorrect. The first sentence is not caused by the first, so answer A is incorrect. Option D is the best answer.
  8. A. The author is setting up a contrast. Even though he finds her attractive, he is glad she is gone. Only answer A shows this contrast.
  9. A.  The second sentence is not summing up the first, making choices B and C incorrect. The second sentence is not contrasting with the first sentence, making choice D incorrect. Only answer option A correctly describes the actions of the man.
  10. B.  Juliet does not enjoy the activity at hand, but she is there because she enjoys “the glory of the hills and wild free air”. At the time described in the passage “meanwhile” she is not enjoying the hills and air, she is crouched in the corner with a dog, waiting. This makes answer option B the best. We need a description of time, which A, C, and D are not.

All passages are exerts or adaptations from The Ashiel Mystery: A Detective Story, by Mrs. Charles Bryce. If you’d like to read the story in it’s entirety, it is available on Project Gutenberg:

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/9746/pg9746-images.html

Digital SAT Practice: Writing/Verb Choice Questions

1. The officer nodded, took the boy by the arm, and in a trice ___________ with him into the adjoining store.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. have disappeared
B. disappears
C. disappeared
D. disappear

2. ________ the white light burn on, Mr. Gryce, by a characteristic effort, shifted his attention to the walls, covered, as I have said, with tapestries and curios.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. Letting
B. Let
C. Had let
D. Have let

3. And sure enough, in another instant this strange being, losing all semblance to his former self, entered upon a series of pantomimic actions which to the two men who watched him seemed both to explain and illustrate the crime which _________________________ there.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. had just been enacted
B. have just been enacted
C. were just enacted
D. had just enacted

4. The butler’s lips opened and a string of strange gutturals poured forth, while with his one disengaged hand (for the other was held to his side by Styles) he _________ his ears and his lips, and violently shook his head.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. touches
B. was touching
C. touched
D. had touched

5. This absence of the usual means of eliciting knowledge from the surrounding people, adds to, rather than detracts from, the interest which Mr. Gryce  feels in the case, and a little before midnight the army of reporters, medical men, officials, and such others as had followed in the coroner’s wake, _______ out of the front door and leave him again, for a few hours at least, master of the situation.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. files
B. file
C. filing
D. filed

6. The hour was late, and only certain portions of the city showed any real activity. Into one of these thoroughfares they presently came, and before the darkened window of one of the lesser shops ________, while Jake pointed out the two stuffed frogs engaged with miniature swords in mortal combat at which he had been looking when the lady came up and spoke to him.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. paused,
B. pausing,
C. pause,
D. pauses,

7. The officer went out, and Mr. Gryce sat for a few moments communing with himself, during which he took out a little package from his pocket, and __________ out on his desk the five little spangles it contained, regarded them intently.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. emptied
B. empties
C. had emptied
D. emptying

8. Sweetwater, to whom the song of the sirens would have sounded less sweet, listened with delight and ______________ with a frank smile.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. respond
B. had responded
C. responds
D responded

9. This time he approached with considerable feebleness, passed slowly into the study, ­­­­­­­­­­­______________ to the table, and reached out his hands as if to lift something which he expected to find there.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. advances
B. advanced
C. have advanced
D. advance

10. But her ears, and attention, _______________toward two girls chatting on a bench near her as freely as if they were quite alone on the lawn.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. was turned
B. are turned
C. were turned
D. is turned

11. Was it that courage comes with despair? Or was he too absorbed in his own misery to note the shadow it cast about him? His brooding brow and vacant eye _______ of a mind withdrawn from present surroundings.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. speaks
B. speak
C. spoke
D. spoken

12. So I wrote to my brother, Felix Cadwalader, or, rather, Felix Adams, as he preferred to be called in later years for family reasons entirely disconnected with the matter of his sudden demise, and, ________ him I had become interested in a young girl of good family and some wealth, asked him to settle upon me a certain sum which would enable me to marry her with some feeling of self-respect.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. told
B. tells
C. telling
D. had told

13. Eva, to whom I had said little of this brother, certainly nothing which would lead her to anticipate ___________ either so handsome a man or one of such mental poise and imposing character, looked frightened and a trifle awe-struck.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. seeing
B. to see
C. having seen
D. saw

14. Your stay in Mr. Adams’s house was quite productive, ma’am. Did you prolong it after the departure of this old man?” “No, sir, I _____________my fill of the mysterious, and left immediately after him.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. had had
B. have had
C. was having
D. could have

15. Mr. Gryce, with something of the instinct and much of the deftness of a housewife, proceeded to pull up a couple of rugs from the parlor floor and ­­_________ them over these openings.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. strung
B. string
C. had strung
D. strings

16. Miss Butterworth drew a long breath, ________ Mr. Gryce with some curiosity, and then triumphantly exclaimed, “Can you read the meaning of all that? I think I can.”

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. eyes
B. had eyed
C. eying
D. eyed

17. Mr. Gryce, whose eye is travelling over the wall, reaches over her shoulder to one of the dozen pictures hanging at intervals from the bottom to the top of the staircase, and pulling it away from the wall, on which it hangs decidedly askew, _________ a round opening through which pours a ray of blue light which can only proceed from the vault of the adjoining study.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. revealed
B. revealing
C. reveals
D. has revealed

18. The study—that most remarkable of rooms—________ a secret which has not been imparted to you; a very peculiar one, madam, which was revealed to me in a rather startling manner.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?

A. did contain
B. contains
C. is containing
D. contain

19. Young Sweetwater, who was now all nerve, enthusiasm, and hope, ______________.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. bow
B. bowed
C. bowing
D. have bowed

20. The two gentlemen, on the contrary, with an air of total indifference to her proximity, continued their walk until they reached the end of the piazza, and then __________ and proceeded mechanically to retrace their steps.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of standard English?
A. turned
B. turning
C. turn
D. turns

  1. C. In the sentence, the officer does three things. He nods, takes the boys arm, and disappears. In the sentence the first two actions are in the past tense “nodded, took”. In order to maintain parallel structure, the third verb should also be in the past tense. This makes option C the best answer. Options B and D are in the present, and option A is the plural present perfect, not the singular simple past.
  2. A. In English we can use the present participle or gerund (word ending in ing) to indicate that something is currently happening at the point in time being discussed. In this case, Mr. Gryce is letting the light burn while in the past he shifted attention to the walls. The other answers do not appropriately choose a tense that allows the reader to understand this.
  3. A. Answer options C and D are incorrect because they say that the crime enacted something instead of the crime being enacted itself. Option B is incorrect because it uses the plural “have” to describe the singular “crime”. Answer option A is therefore the best choice because it uses the singular “had” and correctly explains that it is the crime that was enacted.
  4. C. In this sentence, the butler is doing three things. His lips open, he touches his ears and lips, and he shakes his head. All three of these actions must be in the same tense. This makes option C correct as it matches “touched” to “opened” and “shook”.
  5. A. Be careful in identifying the subject of your verb in such lengthy sentences. Who is it who is filing out the front door? It isn’t Mr. Gryce. Nor is it the reporters, medical men, officials etc. (the subject of your verb will never be in a prepositional phrase).  Rather, the subject of the verb is “army”. Army is a singular noun, so you much choose the singular “files”. In addition, the passage is in present tense, making option D incorrect.
  6. A.  Since the passage is in the past tense and “paused” is in the past tense, answer A is the only correct answer.
  7. D. While the passage is in the past tense, at that point in the past, Mr. Gryce is presently “emptying” the package out onto his desk. One way to be clued into this is to put the answers into the context of the last part of the passage “regarded them intently.” Which only makes sense when answer D is selected. If answer A is selected the sentence is awkward.
  8. D. Sweetwater is doing two things—match your answer to “listened” and the correct answer “responded” becomes obvious.
  9. B. The man did four things: approached, passed, advanced, and reached. Only answer option B correctly matches “advanced” with the others.
  10. C. Since the subject “ears” is plural, options A and D are incorrect as they have singular verbs “was” and “is”. Since the sentence is in the past tense, the verb “were” is the most appropriate answer.
  11. C. This passage is in the simple past, so our verb must be “spoke”. Options A and B are in the present, and option D is the past participle which would go with a helping verb to create the past perfect instead of building the simple past.
  12. C. Even though this passage is in the past tense, this particular sentence is put into the past with the words “had become”. What the author is saying is that at a point in the past, the author of the letter was currently “telling” his brother that he (the writer) had become interested. The only answer that fits this complicated idea is answer option C.
  13. A. Since Eva is anticipating something, that something will be happening in the future. This means that we must use the gerund form—that is—the verb with “ing” at the end. This makes option A the best answer and the other options incorrect.
  14. A. In the past, the lady had already had her fill of the mysterious. She “had had” it. While this seems intuitively wrong, it is the correct way to express that in the past someone already had something. Option B would be used if the subject were plural instead of a singular person.
  15. B. Mr. Gryce does two things the first is to “pull” and the second, therefore must be to “string” so that the tenses of the verbs match.
  16. D. Miss Butterworth “drew”, “eyed”, and “exclaimed”. In order for her three actions to be in parallel structure (all in the simple past), we must pick option D.
  17. C. Since this passage is describing Mr. Gryce’s actions in the present tense, the best option is option C, the third person present singular. Options A and D are forms of the past tense and option B is the gerund form.
  18. B. The subject of this verb is singular: the study. This make option be the only correct answer since it is the third person singular conjugation of the verb “contain”.
  19. B. The subject of the verb is “Young Sweetwater”. When you put the subject directly in front of the answers it becomes clear that only option B is the right verb. Answers A and D are both plural while the subject is singular. Option C is the gerund form which is not appropriate in this context.
  20. A. Make sure that your answer is parallel in form to the second verb “proceeded”. In this case, that would mean choosing answer option A: turned.  The other options are not parallel.


All passages have been adapted from The Circular Study by Anna Katharine Green. Read more of this mystery novel on project Gutenberg:

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/18761/pg18761-images.html


Digital SAT Poetry Practice Reading Questions #4

1. The following is a poem by Alfred Tenison:

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

What is the main idea of the text?
A. Cats and milkmaids share much in common: both are seen by the owl.
B. As the sun rises and the world comes to life, the owl settles in to rest.
C. The routine of each day is predictable and common.
D. The cat and the rooster are the waking signs of each morning.

2. “An Incident of the French Camp” is a poem by Robert Browning. Having read it, a student claims that the town of Ratisbon has been taken. Which quotation from the text best supports the claim?

A. You know, we French storm’d Ratisbon/ A mile or so away/ On a little mound, Napoleon/ Stood on our storming-day;
B. Just as perhaps he mus’d “My plans/ That soar, to earth may fall. Let once my army leader Lannes/ Waver at yonder wall,”
C. “Well,” cried he, “Emperor, by God’s grace/ We’ve got you Ratisbon!/ The Marshal’s in the market-place/ And you’ll be there anon!”
D. “You’re wounded!” “Nay,” the soldier’s pride/ Touched to the quick, he said: “I’m killed, Sire!” And his chief beside, Smiling the boy fell dead.

3. The following is the poem “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Homes:

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood
And waves were white below.
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee;
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

O, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

Based on the text, what fate would Holmes prefer for Old Ironsides?
A. That she be destroyed by a lightning strike
B. That she be taken ashore and preserved for posterity
C. That she lose her flag and decks
D. That she sink in glory to the depths of the sea

4. “Warren’s Address to the American Soldiers” is a poem by John Peirpont. A writer, knowing that that the poem echoes Warren’s rallying cry to American soldiers, claims that it aims to glorify a coming battle. Which quotation from the poem most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. Look behind you! They’re afire!/ And, before you, see/ Who have done it! – From the vale/ On they come!
B. Will ye look for greener graves?/ Hope ye mercy still?
C. What’s the mercy despots feel?/ Hear it in that battle-peal!
D. In the God of battles trust!/ Die we may, and die we must/ But, O, where can dust to dust/ Be consigned so well.

5. “My Own Shall Come to Me” is a poem by John Burroughs. A teacher tells her class that it is a poem about patience and the inevitability of fate. Which quotation from “My Own Shall Come to Me” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate/For lo! My own shall come to me…/ No wind can drive my bark astray,/ Nor change the tide of destiny.
B. The stars come nightly to the sky;/ the tidal wave comes to the sea;/ Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,/ Can keep my own away from me.
C. The waters know their own and draw/ The brook that springs in yonder heights;/ So flows the good with equal law/ Unto the soul of pure delights.
D. Serene I fold my hands and wait,/ Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea…/ What matter if I stand alone?/ I wait with joy the coming years;

6. The following is the poem “A Wish” by Samuel Rogers:
 
Mine be a cot beside the hill;
A bee-hive’s hum shall soothe my ear;
A willowy brook that turns a mill
With many a fall shall linger near.

The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,
And share my meal, a welcome guest.

Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew;
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet gown and apron blue.

The village church among the trees,
Where first our marriage-vows were given,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze
And point with taper spire to Heaven.

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?
A. To describe the garden of the narrator
B. To paint a picture of an idyllic country life
C. To help the reader visualize all that the narrator has lost
D. To illustrate the domestic part of what the narrator is wishing for

7. “L’Envoi” is a poem by Rudyard Kipling. A commenter claims that if the entire poem is read as if Kipling approving of what he describes, then Kipling believes that artists should paint not because they must, but for the love of it. Which quotation from “L’Envoi” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. And only the Master shall praise us/ and only the Master shall blame;/ And no one shall work for money,/ and no one shall work for fame;/ But each for the joy of the working
B. And those who were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;/ They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet’s hair;
C. When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died,/ We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it—lie down for an eon or two.
D. They shall find real saints to draw from – Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;/ They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

8. The following is the poem “Little Things” by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer:

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.

Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

8. Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?
A. To illustrate how small and individual moments build into all of history.
B. To discuss time lost while visiting the ocean.
C. To contrast the relentless progression of time with the endless movement of the ocean
D. To encourage the reader to take their time as they go through life.

9. The following is the poem “The Butterfly and the Bee” by William Lisle: BowlesMethought I heard a butterfly
Say to a laboring bee:
“Thou hast no colors of the sky
On painted wings like me.”

“Poor child of vanity! those dyes,
And colors bright and rare,”
With mild reproof, the bee replies,
“Are all beneath my care.

“Content I toil from morn to eve,
And scorning idleness,
To tribes of gaudy sloth I leave
The vanity of dress.”

What is the main idea of the text?
A. In an imaginary conversation, a butterfly and a bee have little in common.
B. As a personal quality, work ethic is far preferable to beauty.
C. Being judgmental of others is not an admirable pastime.
D. Even creatures as small as bees have lessons to teach us all.

10. The following is the poem “Ingratitude” by William Shakespeare: Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

Thou are not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen
Because thou are not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot;
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?
A. To explain that winter is a harsh time through which all men must suffer.
B. To illustrate that emotional pain can hurt far worse than physical pain.
C. To paint a picture of various harms that many befall the narrator.
D. To show the readers the dangers of making friends with the wrong people.


Answer Explanations

  1. B. Each stanza starts with a description of the morning. These descriptions include the cat coming home, the light coming, the milkmaid leaving her house, and the rooster crowing. Each stanza ends with the owl sitting and warming himself in his belfry. This best fits answer option B. We have no evidence that the owl sees the world waking, making option A incorrect. The daily routine is described, but not focused on as predictable, making option C incorrect. The cat and the rooster are only mentioned to highlight the time of day, making option D incorrect.
  2. C. Choice C best shows that Ratisbon has been taken. In it, we hear words spoken to the Emperor that “we’ve got you Ratisbon”. The army has taken the city and the Emperor will be in Ratisbon’s market place “anon” or soon. Option A proves that an army has stormed the town, but not that the town fell to that army. Option B shows that the leader is concerned they might not succeed in their military efforts. Option D shows the death of the messenger who came to the emperor.
  3. D. When reading the second stanza, we see that Holmes would prefer that the “harpies of the shore” not pluck “the eagle of the sea”. He says “O, better that her shattered hulk should sink beneath the wave.” Through the rest of the second stanza he clarifies that he would prefer to give her to the “god of storms”. He does not say that he wants her to be struck by lightning, so answer A is too specific. Answer B is the opposite of his preference. Option C is not described in the poem.
  4. D. Answer option D best glorifies the coming battle. It calls on the soldiers to trust in the God of battles, tells them that some will die, and then explains that such a death (dust to dust) will be consigned well. Answer option A talks of an oncoming foe, but does not glorify. Option B asks the soldiers if they are hoping to avoid the battle. Option C points out that the opposition will have no mercy.
  5. A. Option A best shows both patience and fate. The narrator does not rave against time or fate, but rather waits patiently for his “own” to come to him. He knows he cannot change destiny, so he does not try. Option B could prove his feelings about fate, but they do not show his patience. Option C speaks to neither fate nor patience. Option D speaks to patience, but not fate.
  6. D. The key in answering this question is in the title of the poem: A Wish. The entire poem describes what the narrator wishes for. Each stanza describes part of his wish. The underlined stanza describes his home and wife—these are domestic things, making option D the best answer. Answer A is incorrect as the garden is not the only thing described in the stanza and we have no evidence that the wish has been granted and that the garden actually exists. Option B is incorrect as this is not a generic picture of country life, but a specific hope for the future that the narrator has. Option C is incorrect as there is no evidence that the narrator once had this and lost it.
  7. A. A key note in the question is that the assumption is that Kipling approves of what he describes in the poem. This makes answer A the best option, as Kipling would approve of artists working, not for money or fame, but rather because it brings them joy. Option B describes happy painters, but not their motivations. Option C describes exhausted artists taking a rest. Option D describes what they paint.
  8. A. The first stanza describes how the vastness of land and sea are made up of tiny grains of sand and drops of water. This illustration, then is used in the second stanza to show how tiny moments of time make up all of extant history. This best fits answer option A. Answer option B is too literal. Answer options C and D draw conclusions not supported by the text.
  9. B. In the text, the butterfly points out that the bee does not have beautiful wings. The bee then pities and reproofs the butterfly for her vanity and highlights the hardworking nature of the humble bee. This best fits with option B. Answer option A is incorrect as the main idea is that of vanity and work, not that bees and butterflies have nothing in common. Answer option C is incorrect as while it is true, it is not the main idea. Option D is true, but not the message of the author.
  10. B. In each of the two stanzas, Shakespeare first describes horrible winter conditions and then says that ingratitude and “friend remembered not” respectively are far worse. These emotional pains are pointed out as worse than freezing winter weather, making option B the best choice. It isn’t option A as there is an emotional component to the poem. It isn’t option C as Shakespeare doesn’t mean to highlight physical harms, rather emotional ones. It isn’t D as there is no evidence that the emotional pain comes only from “the wrong people”.


Each poem is taken from “Poems Every Child Should Know”, edited by Mary E. Burt. If you wish to improve your poetry skills, you can read more poems from this book on Project Gutenberg:

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/16436/pg16436-images.html



Digital SAT Poetry Practice Reading Questions #3

1. “In a Library” is a poem written by Emily Dickinson. A student who read the poem claims that Dickinson personifies an antique book, seeing it as a man whom she joys to meet. Which quotation from “In a Library” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. What interested scholars most/ what competitions ran/ When Plato was a certainty/ And Sophocles a man
B. He traverses familiar/ As one should come to town/ And tell you all your dreams were true/ He lived where dreams were sown.
C. His presence is enchantment/ you beg him not to go/ old volumes shake their vellum heads/ and tantalize just so.
D. A precious moldering pleasure ‘tis/ To meet an antique book.

2. The following is the poem The Book of Martyrs (adapted), by Emily Dickinson

Read, sweet, how others strove,
Till we are stouter;
What they renounced,
Till we are less afraid;
How many times they bore
The faithful witness,
Till we are helped,
As if a kingdom cared!

Read then of faith
That shone above the fray;
Clear strains of hymn
The river could not drown;
Brave names of men
And celestial women,
Passed out of record
Into renown!

What is the main idea of the text?

A. Students should read diligently and memorize names of men and women who have passed away.
B. We should read of and look to the examples of those who went before us to gain strength, courage, and help.
C. Those who came before us are gone, passed out of the record, and no longer worth the effort to learn about.
D. Life is difficult; those older than us can attest to the fear and weakness of this mortal life.

3. The following is a poem by Emily Dickinson:

If you were coming in the fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I’d count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity. But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Based on the text, what is it that goads the narrator “like the goblin bee”?

A. The constant turn of the seasons of the year
B. The centuries of life she has lived
C. A fly, buzzing around her head
D. The uncertainly of time

4. “In Vain” is a poem by Emily Dickinson. A literature professor tells her class that the poem shows Dickinson’s anxiety around losing loved ones. Which quotation from the poem best illustrates this claim?

A. I cannot live with you/ It would be life/ And life is over there/ behind the shelf.
B. Glow plain and foreign/ On my homesick eye/ Except that you, than he/ Shone closer by.
C. And were you lost, I would be/ Though my name/ Rang loudest/ On the heavenly frame.
D. So we must keep apart/ you there, I here/ With just the door ajar

­

5. The following is a poem by Emily Dickinson:

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. To explain what is most important to the common honey bee.
B. To make a statement on the aristocratic nature of pollinating insects.
C. To make a point about hierarchy, using a nature metaphor.
D. To show the reader what is truly important in life.

6. “A Service of Song” is a poem by Emily Dickinson, a poet who was active in 19th century America.
Note: a bobolink is a type of songbird.

Some keep the Sabbath going to church;
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolink for a chorister,
And an orchard for a dome.

Some keep the Sabbath in surplice;
I just wear my wings,
And instead of tolling the bell for church,
Our little sexton sings.

God preaches, — a noted clergyman, —
And the sermon is never long;
So instead of getting to heaven at last,
I’m going all along!

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?

A. It paints a picture of an unconventional practice which is later clarified.
B. It shows that the narrator is a rebel, a fact that has later consequences.
C. It helps the reader understand why the narrator chooses to stay home.
D. It singles out the narrator as a chorister and bird lover.

7. A student reads the poem “The Grass” by Emily Dickinson and claims that the narrator envies the simple life of grass. Which quotation from “The Grass” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. The grass so little has to do/A sphere of simple green/ With only butterflies to brood/And bees to entertain.
B. The grass so little has to do/ I wish I were the hay!
C. And even when it dies, to pass/ in odors so divine
D. And stir all day to pretty tunes/ The breezes fetch along/ And hold the sunshine in its lap/ and bow to everything.

8. The following is a poem by Emily Dickinson.

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth, — the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names. Which choice best states the main idea of the text?

A. Truth is beauty and beauty is truth.
B. Finding like-minded people is worth any effort.
C. There is beauty and truth in the death of evil people.
D. Once deceased, people are as quickly forgotten as moss covers their gravestones.

9. A student reads an untitled poem by Emily Dickinson and claims that the man discussed in the passage is dying or dead. Which quotation from the poem most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. What was his furthest mind, of home, or God,/ Or what the distant say/At news that he ceased human nature/On such a day?
B. To know just how he suffered would be dear/ To know if any human eyes were near
C. And wishes, had he any?/ Just his sigh, accented,/ Had been legible to me./ And was he confident until
D. Was he afraid, or tranquil?/ Might he know/ How conscious consciousness could grow,/ Till love that was, and love too blest to be,/Meet —

10. “Trying to Forget” is a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Bereaved of all, I went abroad,
  No less bereaved to be
Upon a new peninsula, —
  The grave preceded me,

Obtained my lodgings ere myself,
  And when I sought my bed,
The grave it was, reposed upon
   The pillow for my head.

I waked, to find it first awake,
   I rose, — it followed me;
I tried to drop it in the crowd,
   To lose it in the sea, In cups of artificial drowse
  To sleep its shape away, —
The grave was finished, but the spade
  Remained in memory.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. To paint a realistic picture of the grief of a traveler.
B. To metaphorically explain how the loss of a loved one effects the narrator.
C. To describe a troubled vacation.
D. To illustrate the narrator’s struggle with the thought of death.


Answer Explanations

  1. C. Answer option A gives no evidence that a book is being personified. Rather, it says that Sophocles (a person) was a man. Answer option B would be good evidence if we knew that the author was talking about a book. However, it could just as likely be about an actual man. Answer option D shows the author’s joy in “meeting” a book, but does not go so far as to personify the book as a man. Option C, therefore is the best option. It refers to the “old volumes” as “him” and it says that his presence is “enchantment”. Meaning, the author gets joy from the presence.
  2. B. The first stanza of the text commands us to read about how others strove, renounced, and bore witness until we are stouter, less afraid, and helped. The second stanza commands us to read of the faith that others had and the men and women who passed into renown. Passing into renown could be otherwise stated as passing from this life into memory. The poems main idea, therefore best fits with option B. Option A is incorrect as there is no encouragement of memorization. Option C is the opposite of the message of the poem. Option D is incorrect as the author wants us to look to those gone as examples of good things, not fear and weakness.
  3. D. In the first stanza of the poem, the author discusses what she would do if “you” were coming in the fall. She is waiting for seasons to pass. In the second stanza she talks about years. In the third stanza she is waiting centuries. However, in the last stanza she talks about how she doesn’t know which of these (seasons, years, centuries) she will have to wait. She is “ignorant of the length of time’s uncertain wing”. Time, therefore is the bee that goads her. D is the only answer that makes sense.   
  4. C. Answer option C tells of the narrator’s belief that even heavenly exultation would not be enough for her if “you were lost”. This shows her intense fear around losing a loved one. She believes she would be lost no matter what, were the object of the poem also lost. Answer option A is incorrect as it shows that Dickinson does not want to live with the object of the poem. Answer option B is incorrect as it shows her attachment to the object of the poem, not her anxiety about losing him or her. Answer option D is incorrect as it shows that the narrator wishes to remain apart from the object of the poem, not that she fears losing him or her.
  5. C. The poem is saying that bees like all honey regardless of pedigree and that clovers are all seen as “aristocracy”. The metaphor applies to humans, that we should all regard one another as bees regard honey and aristocracy. This makes C the best answer.  Answer A is incorrect as we find out that bees regard all honey and clover equally, not with some more important than others. Answer B is incorrect, as the author is not saying that bees are aristocratic. Answer option D is incorrect, as the poem makes not allusion to what humans should value the most, rather, that we should value all humans equally. 
  6. A. The underlined portion points out that the narrator, instead of going to church on Sunday, which would have been the accepted practice in 19th century America, stays at home. The songbirds are her choir and the orchard is the roof of her church. This is an unconventional practice for the time. Later in the poem, she clarifies that she does this as she believes that this place, the orchard, is her heaven where she has been “going all along”. This makes option A the best answer and the other options incorrect.
  7. B. Answer option B shows the envy of the narrator as she wishes she were the hay. Hay is just another word for grass. The other options all show what might be enviable qualities of grass, but not that the narrator actually envies it.
  8. A. The poem tells a story of someone who dies and, “in the tomb” meets a man who asks why she died. She replies that she died for beauty and he responds by saying that he died for truth and that “the two are one; we brethren are”. They then form a bond, a friendship, in death, over their similar causes. This best fits with answer option A. Answer B is incorrect as the main idea is that truth and beauty are the same and worth dying for, not that finding like-minded people is worth dying for. Answer C is incorrect as there is no evidence either of these people are evil. Answer option D is incorrect, as it captures only a part of the last stanza, not the main idea of the whole text.
  9. A. Answer option A is the best option because it talks about the man as having “ceased human nature” which is another way of saying to die. This excerpt is asking what the man was thinking of as he passed away. The other options do not as clearly prove the claim, but rather offer only peripheral evidence in the context of answer option A.
  10. D. In the first stanza the author goes to “a new peninsula” but the grave proceeds her there. In the second stanza she finds a place to stay and yet the grave waited for her in her new bed. In the third stanza, the grave follows her as she wakes and goes about her day. She can only escape these thoughts of grave and death when she sleeps in the fourth stanza. This makes option D the best answer.


All poems were taken from Book of Poems by Emily Dickinson.  You can read more of this book here:
https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/12242/pg12242-images.html