SAT Reading Practice Tests


You have 65 minutes to finish the task.Your response will be judged on the quality of your writing and on how well your response presentsthe key points presented in the lectures


Passage 1

"Most economists in the United states seem captivated by spell of the free market. Consequently, nothing seems good ornormal that does not accord with the requirements of the free market. A price that is determined by the seller or for that matter, established by anyone other than the aggregate of consumers seems pernicious, Accordingly, it requires a major act of will to think of price – fixing (the determination of prices by the seller) as both “normal” and having a valuable economic function. In fact, price-fixing is normal in all industrialized societies because the industrial system itself provides, as an effortless consequence of its own development, the price-fixing that requires, Modern industrial planning requires and rewards great size. Hence a comparatively small number of large firms will be competing for the same group of consumers. That each large firm will act with consideration of its own needs and thus avoid selling its products for more than its competitors charge is commonly recognized by advocates of free-markets economic theories. But each large firms will also act with full consideration of the needs that it has in common with the other large firms competing for the same customers. Each large firm will thus avoid significant price cutting, because price cutting would be prejudicial to the common interest in a stable demand for products. Most economists do not see price-fixing when it occurs because they expect it to be brought about by a number of explicit agreements among large firms; it is not. More over those economists who argue that allowing the free market to operate without interference is the most efficient method of establishing prices have not considered the economies of non socialist countries other than the United States. These economies employ intentional price-fixing usually in an overt fashion. Formal price fixing by cartel and informal price fixing by agreements covering the members of an industry are common place. Were there something peculiarly efficient about the free market and inefficient about price fixing, the countries that have avoided the first and used the second would have suffered drastically in their economic development. There is no indication that they have. Socialist industry also works within a frame work of controlled prices. In early 1970’s, the soviet union began to give firms and industries some of the flexibility in adjusting prices that a more informal evolution has accorded the capitalist system. Economists in the United States have hailed the change as a return to the free market.But Soviet firms are no more subject to prices established by free market over which they exercise little influenced than are capitalist firms.

Question 1.
The primary purpose of the passage is to

A. refute the theory that the free market plays a useful role in the development of industrialized societies.
B. suggest methods by which economist and members of the government of the United States can recognize and combat price-fixing by large firms
C. explain the various ways in which industrialized societies can fix in order to stabilized the free market
D. argue that price-fixing, in one form or another, is an inevitable part of and benefit to the economy of any industrialized society.
E. Analysis of free markets in different economies

Question 2.
The passage provides information that would answer which of the following questions about price-fixing?
I.What are some of the ways in which prices can be fixed?
II.For what products is price-fixing likely to be more profitable than the operation of the free market
III.Is price-fixing more common in socialist industrialized societies or in nonsocialist industrialized societies?

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

Question 3.
The author’s attitude toward “Most economists in the United States” can best be described as

A.spiteful and envious
B. scornful and denunciatory
C. critical and condescending
D. ambivalent but deferential
E. uncertain but interested

Question 4.
It can be inferred from the author’s argument that a price fixed by the seller “seems pernicious” because

A. people do not have confidence in large firms
B. people do not expect the government to regulate prices
C. most economists believe that consumers as a group should determine prices.
D. most economists associate fixed prices with communist and socialist economies.
E. Most economists believe that no one group should determine prices.

Question 5.
The suggestion in the passage that price-fixing in industrialized societies is normal arises from the author’s statement that price-fixing is

A. a profitable result of economic development
B. an inevitable result of the industrial system
C. the result of a number of carefully organized decisions.
D. a phenomenon common to industrialized and to industrialized societies.
E. a phenomenon best achieved cooperatively by government and industry.

Question 6.
According to the author, priced-fixing in nonsocialist countries is often.
A. accidental but productive
B. illegal but useful
C. legal and innovative
D. traditional and rigid
E. intentional and widespread.

Question 7.
According to the author, what is the result of the Soviet Union’s change in economic policy in the 1970’s?
A. Soviet firms show greater profit
B. Soviet firms have less control over the free market
C. Soviet firms are able to abject to technological advances.
D. Soviet firms have some authority to fix prices.
E. Soviet firms are more responsive to the free market.

Question 8.
With which of the following statements regarding the behavior of large firms in industrialized societies would the author be most likely to agree.
A. The directors of large firms will continue to anticipate the demand for products
B. The directors of large firms are less interested in achieving a predictable level of profit tan in achieving a large profit.
C. The directors of large firms will strive to reduce the costs of their products.
D. Many directors of large firms believe that the government should establish the prices that will be charged for products
E. Many directors of large firms believe that the price charged for products is likely to increase annually.

Question 9.
In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with
A. predicting the consequences of a practice
B. criticizing a point of view
C. calling attention to recent discoveries.
D. proposing a topic for research.
E. summarizing conflicting opinions.

Passage 2

The discoveries of the white dwarf, the neutron star, and the black hole, coming well after the discovery of the red giant are among eh most exciting developments in decades because they may be well present physicists with their greatest challenge since thefailure of classical mechanics. In the life cycle of the star, after all of the hydrogen and helium fuel has been burned, the delicate balance between the outer nuclear radiation.pressure and the stable gravitational force becomes disturbed and slow contraction begins. As compression increases, a very dense plasma forms. If the initial star had mass of less than 1.4 solar masses (1.4 times the mass of our sun), the process ceases at the density of 1,000 tons per cubic inch, and the star becomes the white dwarf. However, if the star was originally more massive, the white dwarf plasma can’t resist the gravitations pressures, and in rapid collapse, all nuclei of lthe star are converted to a gas of free neutrons. Gravitational attraction compresses this neutron gas rapidly until a density of 10 tons per cubic inch is reached; at this point the strong nuclear force resists further contraction. If the mass of the star was between 1.4 and a few solar masses, the process stops here, and we have a neutron star. But if the original star was more massive than a few solar masses, even the strong nuclear forces cannot resist the gravitational orunch. The neutrons are forced into one another to form heavier hadrons and these in turn coalesce to form heavier entities, of which we as yet know nothing. At this point, a complete collapse of the stellar mass occurs; existing theories predict a collapse to infinite density and infinitely small dimensions Well before this, however, the surface gravitational force would become so strong that no signal could ever leave the star - any photon emitted would fall back under gravitational attraction – and the star would become black hole in space. This gravitational collapse poses a fundamental challenge to physics. When the most widely accepted theories predict such improbable things as infinite density and infinitely small dimensions, it simply means that we are missing some vital insight. This last happened in physics in the 1930’s, when we faced the fundamental paradox concerning atomic structure. At that time, it was recognized that electrons moved in table orbits about nuclei in atoms. However, it was also recognized that if charge is accelerated, as it must be to remain in orbit, it radiates energy; so, theoretically, the electron would be expected eventually to spiral into the nucleus and destroy the atom. Studies centered around this paradox led to the development of quantum mechanics. It may well be that an equivalent t advance awaits us in investigating the theoretical problems presented by the phenomenon of gravitational collapse.

Question 10.
The primary purpose of the passage is to

A. offer new explanations for the collapse of stars.
B. explain the origins of black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs.
C. compare the structure of atoms with the structure of the solar system.
D. explain how the collapse of stars challenges accepted theories of physics.
E. describe the imbalance between radiation pressure and gravitational force.

Question 11.
According to the passage, in the final stages of its devedlopment our own sun is likely to take the form of a

A. white dwarf
B. neutron star
C. red giant
D. gas of free neutrons
E. black hole

Question 12.
According to the passage, an imbalance arises between nuclear radiation pressure and gravitational force in stars because

A. the density of a star increases as it ages
B. radiation pressure increases as a star increases in mass
C. radiation pressure decreases when a star’s fuel has been consumed
D. the collapse of a star increases its gravitational force.
E. a dense plasma decreases the star’s gravitational force.

Question 13.
The author asserts that the discoveries of the white dwarf, the neutron star, and the black hole are significant because these discoveries.

A. demonstrate the probability of infinite density and infinitely small dimensions
B. pose the most comprehensive and fundamental problem faced by physicists in decades
C. clarify the paradox suggested by the collapse of electrons into atomic nuclei
D. establish the relationship between the mass and gravitational pressure.
E. assist in establishing the age of the universe by tracing the life histories of stars.

Question 14.
The author introduces the discussion of the paradox concerning atomic structures in order to

A. Show why it was necessary to develop quantum mechanics
B. Compare the structure of an atom with the structure of star
C. Demonstrate by analogy that a vital insight in astrophysics is missing
D. Illustrate the contention that improbable things do happen in astrophysics
E. Argue that atoms can collapse if their electrons do not remain in orbit.

Passage 3

Those examples of poetic justice that occur in medieval and Elizabethan literature, and that seem so satisfying, have encouraged a whole school of twentieth-century scholars to "find" further examples. In fact, these scholars have merely forced victimized character into a moral framework by which the injustices inflicted on them are, somehow or other, justified. Such scholars deny that the sufferers in a tragedy are innocent; they blame the victims themselves for their tragic fates. Any misdoing is enough to subject a character to critical whips. Thus, there are long essays about the misdemeanors of Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, who defined her brothers, and he behavior of Shakespeare’s Desdemona, who disobeyed her father.\n\nYet it should be remembered that the Renaissance writer Matteo Bandello strongly protests the injustice of the severe penalties issued to women for acts of disobedience that men could, and did, commit with virtual impunity. And Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Webster often enlist their readers on the side of their tragic heroines by describing injustices so cruel that readers cannot but join in protest. By portraying Griselda, in the Clerk’s Tale, as a meek, gentle victim who does not criticize, much less rebel against the prosecutor, her husband Waltter, Chaucer incites readers to espouse Griselda’s cause against Walter’s oppression. Thus, efforts to supply historical and theological rationalization for Walter’s persecutions tend to turn Chaucer’s fable upside down, to deny its most obvious effect on reader’s sympathies. Similarly, to assert that Webster’s Duchess deserved torture and death because she chose to marry the man she loved and to bear their children is, in effect to join forces with her tyrannical brothers, and so to confound the operation of poetic justice, of which readers should approve, with precisely those examples of social injustice that Webster does everything in his power to make readers condemn. Indeed. Webster has his heroin so heroically lead the resistance to tyranny that she may well in spire members of the audience to imaginatively join forces with her against the cruelty and hypocritical morality of her brothers. Thus Chaucer and Webster, in their different ways, attack injustice, argue on behalf of the victims, and prosecute the persecutors. Their readers serve them as a court of appeal that remains free to rule, as the evidence requires, and as common humanity requires, in favour of the innocent and injured parties. For, to paraphrase the noted eighteenth-century scholar, Samuel Johnson, despite all the refinements of subtlety and the dogmatism of learning, it is by the common sense and compassion of readers who are uncorrupted by the characters and situations in mereval and Dlizabetahn literature, as in any other literature, can best be judged.

Question 15.
According to the passage, some twentieth-century scholars have written at length about
A. Walter's persecution of his wife in Chaucer's the Clerk's Tale
B. the Duchess of Malfi's love for her husband
C. the tyrannical behaviour of the Duchess of Malfi's brothers
D. the actions taken by Shakespeare's Desdemona
E. the injustices suffered by Chaucer's Griselda

Question 16.
The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. describe the role of the tragic heroine in medieval and Elizabethan literature
B. resolve a controversy over the meaning of "poetic justice" as it is discussed in certain medieval and Elizabethan literary treatises
C. present evidence to support the view that characters in medieval and Elizabethan tragedies are to blame for their fates
D. assert that it is impossible for twentieth-century readers to fully comprehend the characters and situations in medieval and Elizabethan literary works
E. argue that some twentieth-century scholars have misapplied the concept of "poetic justice" in analyzing certain medieval and Elizabethan literary works.

Question 17.
It can be inferred from the passage that the author consider Chaucer's Grisselda to be
A. an innocent victim
B. a sympathetic judge
C. an imprudent person
D. a strong individual
E. a rebellious daughters

Question 18.
The author's tone in her discussion of the conclusion's reached by the "school of twentieth-century scholars" is best described as
A. plaintive
B. philosophical
C. disparaging
D. apologetic
E. enthusiastic

Question 19.
It can be inferred from the passage that the author believes that most people respond to intended instances of poetic justice in medieval and Elizabethan literature with
A. annoyance
B. disapproval
C. indifference
D. amusement
E. gratification

Question 20.
As described in the passage, the process by which some twentieth-century scholars have reached their conclusions about the blameworthiness of victims in medieval and Elizabethan literary works is mot similar to which of the following?
A. Derivation of logically sound conclusions from well-founded premises
B. Accurate observation of data, inaccurate calculation of statistics, and drawing of incorrect conclusions form the faulty statistics
C. Establishment of a theory, application of the theory to ill-fittings data, and drawing of unwarranted conclusions from the data
D. Development of two schools of thought about a factual situation, debate between the two schools, and rendering of a balanced judgment by an objective observer
E. Consideration of a factual situation by a group, discussion of various possible explanatory hypotheses and agreement by consensus on the most plausible explanation

Question 21.
The author's paraphrase of a statement by Samuel Johnson serves which of the following functions in the passage?
A. it furnishes a specific example
B. it articulates a general conclusion
C. it introduces a new topic
D. it provides a contrasting perspective
E. it clarifies an ambiguous assertion

Question 22.
The author of the passage is primarily concerned with
A. reconciling opposing viewpoints
B. encouraging innovative approaches
C. defending an accepted explanation
D. advocating an alternative interpretation
E. analyzing an unresolved question

Question 23.
The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. criticize the inflexibility of American economic mythology
B. contrast "Old World" and "New World" economic ideologies
C. challenge the integrity of traditional political leaders
D. champion those Americans whom the author deems to be neglected
E. suggests a substitue for the traditional metaphor of a race

Passage 4

Woodraw Wilson was referring to the liberal idea of the economic market when he said that the free enterprise system is the most efficient economic system. Maximum freedom means maximum productiveness; our "openness" is to be the measure of our stability. Fascination with this ideal has made Americans defy the "Old World" categories of settled possessiveness versus unsettling deprivation., the cupidity of retention versus the cupidity of seizure, a "status quo" defended of attacked. The United States, it was believed, had no status quo ante. Our only "station" was the turning of a stationary wheel, spinning faster and faster. We did not base our system on property but opportunity-which meant we based it not on stability but on mobility. The more things changed, that is, the more rapidly the wheel turned, the steadier we would be. The conventional picture of class politics is composed of the Haves, who want a stability to keep what they have, and Have-Nots, who want a touch of instability and change in which to scramble for the things they have not. But Americans imagined a condition in which speculators, self-makers, runners are always using the new opportunities given by our land. These economic leaders (front-runners) would thus be mainly agents of Change. The nonstarters were considered the ones who wanted stability, a strong referee to give them some position in the race, a regulative hand to calm manic speculation; an authority that can call things to a half begin things again from compensatorily staggered "starting lines".:Reform" in America has been sterile because it can imagine no change except through the extension of this metaphor of the race, wider inclusion of competitors, "a piece of the action." As it were, of the disenfranchised. There is no attempt to call off the race. Since our only stability is change. America seems not to honor the quite work that achieves social interdependence and stability. There is, in our legends, no heroism of the office clerk, no stable industrial work force of the people who actually make the system work. There is no pride in being an employee (Wilson asked for a return to the time when everyone was an employer). There has been no boasting about our social workers-they are need; empty boasts from the past make us ashamed of our present achievements, make us try to forget or deny the, move away from them. There is no honor but in the wonderland race we must all run, all trying to win, none winning in the end (for there is no end).

Question 24.
According to the passge, "Old World" values were based on
A. ability
B. property
C. family connections
D. guild hierarchies
E. education

Question 25.
In the context of the author's discussion of regulat ing change, which of the following could be most probably regvarded as a "strong referee" (lin e 30) in the United States?
A. A school principle
B. A political theorist
C. A federal court judge
D. A social worker
E. A government inspector

Question 26.
The author sets off the word "Reform" with quotation marks in order to
A. emphasize its departure from the concept of settled possessiveness
B. show his support for a systematic program of change
C. underscore the flexibility and even amorphousness of United States society
D. indicate that the term was one of Wilson's favorites
E. assert that reform in the United States has not been fundamental

Question 27.
It can be inferred from the passage that the author most probably thinks that giving the disenfranchised" ‘ a piece of action'" is
A. a compassionate, if misdirected, legislative measure
B. an example of American's resistance to profound social change
C. an innovative program for genuine social reform
D. a monument to the efforts of industrial reformers
E. a surprisingly " Old World" remedy for social ills

Question 28.
Which of the following metaphors could the authors most appropriately use to summarize his own assessment of the American economic system ?
A. A windmill
B. A water fall
C. A treadmill
D. A gyroscope
E. A bellows

Question 29.
It can be inferred from the passage that Woodrow Wilson's idea's about the economic market
A. encouraged those who "make the system work"
B. perpetuated traditional legends about America
C. revealed the prejudices of a man born wealthy
D. foreshadowed the stock market crash of 1929
E. began a tradition of presidential proclamations on economics

Passage 5

Robinson Crusoe, a novel first published in England in 1719, was written by Daniel Defoe. It relates the story of Crusoe's successful efforts to make a tolerable existence for himself after being shipwrecked alone on an apparently uninhabited island. The passages below are adapted from two twentieth-century commentaries by Ian Watt and James Sutherland on the novel's main character.
Passage 1
That Robinson Crusoe is an embodiment of economic individualism hardly needs demonstration. All of Defoe's heroes and heroines pursue Linemoney, and they pursue it very methodically. Crusoe's bookkeeping conscience, indeed, has established an effective priority over all of his other thoughts and emotions. The various forms of traditional group relationship—family, village, a sense of nationality—all are weakened, as are the competing claims of noneconomic individual achievement and enjoyment, ranging from spiritual salvation to the pleasures of recreation. For the most part, the main characters in Defoe's works either have no family or, like Crusoe, leave it at an early age never to return. Not too much importance can be attached to this fact, since adventure stories demand the absence of conventional social ties. Still, Robinson Crusoe does have a home and family, and he leaves them for the classic reason of economic individualism—that it is necessary to better his condition." Something fatal in that propension of nature" calls him to the sea and adventure, and against "settling to business" in the station to which he is born—and this despite the elaborate praise that his father heaps upon that condition. Leaving home, improving the lot one was born to, is a vital feature of the individualist pattern of life. Crusoe is not a mere footloose adventurer, and his travels, like his freedom from social ties, are merely somewhat extreme cases of tendencies that are normal in modern society as a whole since, by making the pursuit of gain a primary motive, economic individualism has much increased the mobility of the individual. More specifically, the story of Robinson Crusoe is based on some of the many volumes recounting the exploits of those voyagers who in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had assisted the development of capitalism. Defoe's story, then, expresses some of the most important tendencies of the life of his time, and it is this that sets his hero apart from most other travelers in literature. Robinson Crusoe is not, like Ulysses, an unwilling voyager trying to get back to his family and his native land: profit is Crusoe's only vocation, and the whole world is his territory.
Passage 2
To Ian Watt, Robinson Crusoe is a characteristic embodiment of economic individualism. "Profit," 50 he assures us, "is Crusoe's only vocation," and "only money--fortune in its modern sense--is a proper cause of deep feeling." Watt therefore claims that Crusoe's motive for disobeying his father and leaving home was to better his economic condition, and that the argument between Crusoe and his parents in the early pages of the book is really a debate "not about filial duty or religion, but about whether going or staying is likely to be the most advantageous course materially: both sides accept the economic motive as primary." We certainly cannot afford to ignore those passages in which Crusoe attributes his misfortunes to an evil influence that drove him into "projects and undertakings beyond my reach, such as are indeed often the ruin of the best heads in business." But surely the emphasis is not on the economic motive as such, but on the willingness to gamble and seek for quick profits beyond what "the nature of the thing permitted." Crusoe's father wished 70 him to take up the law as a profession, and if Crusoe had done so, he would likely have become a very wealthy man indeed. Crusoe's failure to accept his father's choice for him illustrates not economic individualism so much as Crusoe's lack of economic prudence, indifference to a calm and normal bourgeois life, and love of travel. Unless we are to say—and we have no right to say it—that Crusoe did not know himself, profit hardly seems to have been his "only vocation." 80 Instead, we are presented with a man who was driven (like so many contemporary Englishmen whom Defoe either admired or was fascinated by) by a kind of compulsion to wander footloose about the world. As if to leave no doubt about his restless desire to travel, Crusoe contrasts himself with Line85 his business partner, the very pattern of the economic motive and of what a merchant ought to be, who would have been quite happy "to have gone like a carrier's horse, always to the same inn, backward and forward, provided he could, as he called it, find his account in it." Crusoe, on the other hand, was like a rambling boy who never wanted to see again what he had already seen. "My eye," he tells us, "was never satisfied with seeing, was still more desirous of wandering and seeing. "

Question 30.
The primary focus of this pair of passages is
A. earlier commentaries on Defoe's Robinson Crusoe
B. the exact nature of the flaws in Crusoe's character
C. the style and structure of Robinson Crusoe
D. Defoe's positive portrayal of greed
E. Crusoe's motivation for leaving home and traveling abroad

Question 31.
The first paragraph of Passage 1 primarily explores the contrast between
A. economics and religion
B. business and adventure
C. family responsibilities and service to one's country
D. Crusoe's sense of duty and his desire for pleasure
E. economic individualism and group-oriented behavior

Question 32.
Watt refers to "spiritual salvation" as an example of
A. something in which Crusoe seemed to show relatively little interest
B. the ultimate goal in life for most of Defoe's contemporaries
C. an important difference in priorities between Crusoe and his father
D. something that Defoe believed was incompatible with the pursuit of pleasure
E. a crucial value that Crusoe's family failed to pass on to him

Question 33.
In both passages, Crusoe's attitude toward the idea of "settling to business" (lines 23-24) like his father is described as
A. eager anticipation
B. conventional acceptance
C. confused uncertainty
D. moral suspicion
E. innate opposition

Question 34.
Which statement about Crusoe is most consistent with the information in Passage 1?
A. He left home because his father forced him to do so.
B. He single-mindedly pursued financial gain.
C. He was driven to seek pleasure through world travel.
D. He had a highly developed sense of morality.
E. He was economically imprudent to a fault.

Question 35.
The authors of the two passages would apparently agree that Crusoe was
A. motivated only by personal financial gain
B. profoundly unaware of his basic nature and calling in life
C. commendable in his devotion to his family and his business partners
D. willing to take risks
E. responsible for whatever misfortunes befell him in life

Question 36.
Both passages indicate that Crusoe's father was
A. similar to the parents of main characters in other works by Defoe
B. confident that his son would succeed in whatever field he chose
C. in favor of more prudent behavior by his son
D. opposed to the business partners chosen by his son
E. proud of his son's ability to survive comfortably after being shipwrecked

Question 37.
"pattern" most nearly means
A. configuration
B. duplicate
C. decoration
D. perfection
E. model

Question 38.
In context, the phrase "find his account in it" can best be interpreted to mean
A. be exposed to new experiences
B. make a reasonable profit
C. seek adventure around the world
D. become popular and well known
E. acquire great power and responsibility

Question 39.
Crusoe's self-assessment quoted at the end of Passage 2 serves primarily to
A. reveal that Crusoe did not know himself as well as he thought he did
B. suggest that vision entails more than merely seeing
C. suggest that, though boylike, Crusoe was more like Ulysses than Watt acknowledges
D. provide support for Sutherland's view of Crusoe
E. introduce one of Crusoe's traits

Passage 6

The passage below is from a 1991 autobiography that focuses on an African American woman's adolescent experiences at a prestigious boarding school. The passage describes one part of a meeting of parents, admissions officers, and prospective students. The story the mother recounts at this meeting took place in 1965. My mother began to tell a story about a science award I had won in third grade. She started with the winning- the long, white staircase in the auditorium, and how the announcer called my name twice because we were way at the back and it took me so long to get down those steps. Mama's eyes glowed. She was a born raconteur, able to increase the intensity of her own presence and fill the room. She was also a woman who seldom found new audi- ences for her anecdotes, so she made herself happy, she insisted, with us children, her mother, her sisters, her grandparents—an entire clan of storytellers competing for a turn on the family stage. This time all eyes were on my mother. Her body, brown and plump and smooth, was shot She told them how my science experiment almost did through with energy. This time the story had a purpose. not get considered in the citywide competition. My third- grade teacher, angry that I'd forgotten to bring a large box for displaying and storing the experiment, made me pack it up to take home. (Our teacher had told us that the boxes were needed to carry the experiments from our class to the exhibition room, and she'd emphasized that she would not be responsible for finding thirty boxes on the day of the fair. Without a box, the experiment would have to go home. Other kids, White kids, had forgotten boxes during the week. They'd brought boxes the next day. I asked for the same dispensation, but was denied. The next day was the fair, she said. That was different.)
I came out of school carrying the pieces of an experi- ment my father had picked out for me from a textbook. This was a simple buoyancy experiment where I weighed each object in the air and then in water, to prove they weighed less in water. I had with me the scale, a brick, a piece of wood, a bucket, and a carefully lettered poster. Well, my mother marched me and my armload of buoyant materials right back into school and caught the teacher before she left. The box was the only problem? Just the box? Nothing wrong with the experiment? An excited eight year old had forgotten a lousy, stinking box that you can get from the supermarket and for that, she was out of the running? The teacher said I had to learn to follow directions. My mother argued that I had followed directions by doing the experiment by myself, which was more than you could say for third graders who'd brought dry-cell batteries that lit light bulbs and papier-maché volcanoes that belched colored lava.
"Don't you ever put me in a position like that again," Mama said when we were out of earshot of the classroom. "You never know who is just waiting for an excuse to shut us out."
We got the box; my experiment went into the fair; I won the prize at school. I won third prize for my age group in the city.
When Mama finished her story, my ears began to burn. I could not help but believe that they would see through this transparent plug, and before I had even laid hands on an application. They'd think we were forward and pushy. I forgot, for the moment, how relieved I'd felt when Mama had stood in front of that teacher defending me with a blinding sense of purpose, letting the teacher know that I was not as small and Black and alone as I seemed, that I came from somewhere, and where I came from, she'd better believe, somebody was home. The other mothers nodded approvingly. My father gave me a wide, clever-girl smile. The officials from the school looked at me deadpan. They seemed amused by my embarrassment.
The story was an answer (part rebuke and part condo- lence) to the school stories that the admissions people told, where no parents figured at all. It was a message about her maternal concerns, and a way to prove that racism was not some vanquished enemy, but a real, live person, up in your face, ready, for no apparent reason, to mess with your kid. When I was in third grade, Mama could do her maternal duty and face down a White teacher who would have deprived me of an award. Who at this new school would stand up for her child in her stead?

Question 40.
"competing" portrays the members of the author's family as
A. vying for the mother's attention
B. feeling eager to tell their own stories
C. taking issue with each other over household duties
D. selectively sharing information about their experiences
E. comparing educational accompolishments

Question 41.
"dispensation" refers to permission for the author to
A. have an additional day to complete the experiment
B. bring a container for her experiment the next day
C. ask her father to help her design the display
D. leave school early to look for a box
E. discuss her experiment with the other children

Question 42.
The mother most probably intended the questions
A. underscore the absurdity of the teacher's position
B. request clarification from the child about the incident
C. express concern over her daughter's forgetfulness
D. lessen the child's preoccupation with how her project would be received
E. help herself understand her child's defensiveness about the box issue

Question 43.
Between the mention of a hypothetical "box" and its characterization the box has changed from a
A. requirement to something that is no longer needed
B. necessity to something that has little inherent value
C. diversion to something that requires a desperate search
D. tool to something that is a source of entertainment
E. puzzle to something that provides clarity and strength

Question 44.
the author uses the word "plug" primarily to emphasize her feeling that
A. the conversational void was nearly intolerable
B. the boarding school had been highly overrated
C. her mother had gone too far in promoting her
D. her mother's words and actions were entirely at odds
E. the interviewers' praise would prove to be insincere

Question 45.
"blinding" suggests all of the following EXCEPT
A. unswerving
B. dazzling
C. overpowering
D. determined
E. sudden

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