SAT Reading: Practice Test 1

Directions: The SAT Reading test consists of five passages on a variety of topics. Each passage is followed by a series of 10 or 11 questions. Carefully read the passage that is provided and answer the multiple choice questions based on what is stated or implied. The answers and explanations will be provided at the end of the test

Questions 1–10 are based on the following passage.

The following passage is adapted from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural address delivered Friday, January 20, 1961.

So let us begin a new remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again; not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are; but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself. Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility; I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on Earth God’s work must truly be our own.

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Question 1
The central idea that Kennedy expresses in the speech is that Americans

A
are better off now than they have been in any other generation.
B
have lost their faith and should renew it.
C
are selfish and should do more for the benefit of mankind.
D
should defend freedom and fight tyranny.
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). In the passage, Kennedy states that Americans should be concerned with “what together we can do for the freedom of man.” Kennedy’s tone is positive and encouraging rather than critical of Americans. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to categorize Americans as “selfish” or for his tone to be described as accusatory (“lost their faith”). Answer (A) is an idea that is somewhat discussed in one part of the passage, but is not the “central idea” for the passage.
Question 2
Kennedy uses the metaphor of a “beachhead” and “jungle” in the first paragraph mainly to

A
paint a visual presentation to entertain his audience.
B
emphasize the difficulty of the battle he wants people to fight in a memorable way.
C
compare politics to ecology.
D
suggest that jungles are more prevalent than beaches.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). By using landscape imagery, Kennedy emphasizes the scale of the ideas he is discussing: “cooperation” and “suspicion.” The speech focuses on lofty ideas that Kennedy considers important. Answer (A) might be tempting, but Kennedy’s ultimate goal is not simply to “entertain.” The issues he is discussing are too important and far-reaching.
Question 3
The second paragraph serves mainly to

A
urge a call to arms.
B
set realistic expectations.
C
reveal criticism for the prior generation.
D
detail Kennedy’s own personal opinion.
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). This paragraph reads, “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” The last sentence is a call to arms, but that is not the main purpose of this paragraph. The first two sentences encapsulate the main idea: we need to understand that our goals will not necessarily be accomplished.

While the entire passage conveys Kennedy’s personal opinion (D), the purpose of the passage is to persuade the audience, not just present an opinion. The fact that Kennedy never uses the pronoun “I” reinforces his assurance that this is more than just his opinion.
Question 4
In paragraph 4, “common” most nearly means

A
universal.
B
ordinary.
C
unimportant.
D
unnecessary.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). In context, “common” is mentioned as “a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself,” meaning these struggles are shared by people everywhere, making them universal. Kennedy does not believe that the issues of tyranny and freedom are “unimportant” or “ordinary,” since he emphasizes those ideas throughout the passage. Thus, answers (B), (C), and (D) are not logically correct.
Question 5
The question marks that end the final sentences of paragraph 4 have primarily which effect?

A
They invite the readers to see themselves as active participants in the fight against tyranny.
B
They are placed there to soften the message that Americans cannot independently fight wars.
C
They allude to the idea that some questions, such as how Americans should behave, have no concrete answers.
D
They help to criticize previous generations for leaving the work of freedom unfinished.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The question marks act as a “call to arms”—Kennedy is inviting his fellow Americans to be active participants in the fight for freedom, the spread of democracy, and the dismantling of tyranny. He wants Americans to help build a global alliance and maintain peace.
Question 6
According to Kennedy, which of the following is somewhat unique to this generation of Americans?

A
The opportunity to defend their freedom by fighting abroad.
B
Their ability to have a clean conscience.
C
The opportunity to defend freedom at a time when it is most severely threatened.
D
Their ability to fight tyranny.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Kennedy mentions that other generations have been able to answer the summons to fight tyranny and defend freedom, but only a few generations have had the chance to defend freedom in “its hour of maximum danger.”
Question 7
Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

(Use the left arrow below to go back and review the previous question.)

A
“Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind?” (Paragraph 4, Sentence 2)
B
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.” (Paragraph 5, Sentence 1)
C
“I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation” (Paragraph 5, Sentence 3)
D
“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” (Paragraph 6, Sentence 2)
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). By using the phrase “only a few generations,” he is claiming that this opportunity is somewhat unique. When he refers to freedom's “hour of maximum danger,” he is referring to a time when freedom is facing very severe threats.
Question 8
In paragraph 6, the use of the phrase “my fellow Americans” is likely intended to

A
unite the audience with Kennedy in a fight towards a common goal.
B
recruit the audience to vote for Kennedy for president.
C
to highlight the differences between Kennedy and the audience.
D
encourage the audience to join the military to fight for freedom.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The phrase reinforces the idea that Kennedy and his audience are equals in their duty as Americans. It is likely that Kennedy included this phrase to continue to draw in his audience and make them feel that, even though they are not the President, they still have a duty to defend freedom and fight against tyranny alongside him.
Question 9
What idea does Kennedy mention in the final paragraph that is not discussed elsewhere in the passage?

A
Citizenship
B
The world outside America
C
Religion
D
Justice
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Kennedy mentions God in the final paragraph, which is not an idea that is present elsewhere in the passage. “Justice” is not mentioned in the final paragraph. The world outside America is previously discussed in the fourth paragraph, in which Kennedy says, “grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West.” Citizenship is mentioned throughout the passage, and does not appear for the first time in the final paragraph.
Question 10
Overall, the tone of the passage can BEST be described as

A
logical and calculated.
B
emotional and esoteric.
C
desperate and intellectual.
D
moralistic and impassioned.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The tone here is emphatic and emotional. Kennedy is making a moral argument: Americans should step up and fight for freedom because it is the “right” thing to do. The words “logical” and “intellectual” suggest a level of critical thinking and formal thought that are not characteristic of this passage. Kennedy’s language is full of passion. It is not, however, “esoteric,” which implies that it was intended for only small number of people—Kennedy’s speech was made for the general public. The word “desperate” is too negative. There is nothing to suggest Kennedy is “desperate” or in a weak position in any way. Answer (D) provides the best pairing of words.
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