SAT Reading Practice Test 3

Directions: The SAT Reading test consists of five passages, and each passage is followed by a series of questions. After reading each passage, answer the questions based on what is stated or implied in the passage.

Questions 1-10 are based on the following passage.

This passage is adapted from Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth.”

Selden paused in surprise. In the afternoon rush of the Grand Central Station his eyes had been refreshed by the sight of Miss Lily Bart.

It was a Monday in early September, and he was returning to his work from a hurried dip into the country; but what was Miss Bart doing in town at that season? If she had appeared to be catching a train, he might have inferred that he had come on her in the act of transition between one and another of the country-houses which disputed her presence after the close of the Newport season; but her desultory air perplexed him. She stood apart from the crowd, letting it drift by her to the platform or the street, and wearing an air of irresolution which might, as he surmised, be the mask of a very definite purpose. It struck him at once that she was waiting for someone, but he hardly knew why the idea arrested him. There was nothing new about Lily Bart, yet he could never see her without a faint movement of interest: it was characteristic of her that she always roused speculation, that her simplest acts seemed the result of far-reaching intentions.

An impulse of curiosity made him turn out of his direct line to the door, and stroll past her. He knew that if she did not wish to be seen she would contrive to elude him; and it amused him to think of putting her skill to the test.

“Mr. Selden — what good luck!”

She came forward smiling, eager almost, in her resolve to intercept him. One or two persons, in brushing past them, lingered to look; for Miss Bart was a figure to arrest even the suburban traveller rushing to his last train.

Selden had never seen her more radiant. Her vivid head, relieved against the dull tints of the crowd, made her more conspicuous than in a ball-room, and under her dark hat and veil she regained the girlish smoothness, the purity of tint, that she was beginning to lose after eleven years of late hours and indefatigable dancing. Was it really eleven years, Selden found himself wondering, and had she indeed reached the nine-and-twentieth birthday with which her rivals credited her?

“What luck!” she repeated. “How nice of you to come to my rescue!”

He responded joyfully that to do so was his mission in life, and asked what form the rescue was to take.

“Oh, almost any — even to sitting on a bench and talking to me. One sits out a cotillion — why not sit out a train? It isn’t a bit hotter here than in Mrs. Van Osburgh’s conservatory — and some of the women are not a bit uglier.” She broke off, laughing, to explain that she had come up to town from Tuxedo, on her way to the Gus Trenors’ at Bellomont, and had missed the three-fifteen train to Rhinebeck. “And there isn’t another till half-past five.” She consulted the little jewelled watch among her laces. “Just two hours to wait. And I don’t know what to do with myself. My maid came up this morning to do some shopping for me, and was to go on to Bellomont at one o’clock, and my aunt’s house is closed, and I don’t know a soul in town.” She glanced plaintively about the station. “It IS hotter than Mrs. Van Osburgh’s, after all. If you can spare the time, do take me somewhere for a breath of air.”

He declared himself entirely at her disposal: the adventure struck him as diverting. As a spectator, he had always enjoyed Lily Bart; and his course lay so far out of her orbit that it amused him to be drawn for a moment into the sudden intimacy which her proposal implied.

“Shall we go over to Sherry’s for a cup of tea?”

She smiled assentingly, and then made a slight grimace.

“So many people come up to town on a Monday — one is sure to meet a lot of bores. I’m as old as the hills, of course, and it ought not to make any difference; but if I’M old enough, you’re not,” she objected gaily. “I’m dying for tea — but isn’t there a quieter place?”

He answered her smile, which rested on him vividly. Her discretions interested him almost as much as her imprudences: he was so sure that both were part of the same carefully-elaborated plan. In judging Miss Bart, he had always made use of the “argument from design.”

“The resources of New York are rather meagre,” he said; “but I’ll find a hansom first, and then we’ll invent something.” He led her through the throng of returning holiday-makers, past sallow-faced girls in preposterous hats, and flat-chested women struggling with paper bundles and palm-leaf fans. Was it possible that she belonged to the same race? The dinginess, the crudity of this average section of womanhood made him feel how highly specialized she was.

A rapid shower had cooled the air, and clouds still hung refreshingly over the moist street.

“How delicious! Let us walk a little,” she said as they emerged from the station.

They turned into Madison Avenue and began to stroll northward. As she moved beside him, with her long light step, Selden was conscious of taking a luxurious pleasure in her nearness: in the modelling of her little ear, the crisp upward wave of her hair — was it ever so slightly brightened by art? — and the thick planting of her straight black lashes. Everything about her was at once vigorous and exquisite, at once strong and fine. He had a confused sense that she must have cost a great deal to make, that a great many dull and ugly people must, in some mysterious way, have been sacrificed to produce her. He was aware that the qualities distinguishing her from the herd of her sex were chiefly external: as though a fine glaze of beauty and fastidiousness had been applied to vulgar clay. Yet the analogy left him unsatisfied, for a coarse texture will not take a high finish; and was it not possible that the material was fine, but that circumstance had fashioned it into a futile shape?

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Question 1
As used in paragraph 1, the word “refreshed” most nearly means

Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). This is a vocab-in-context question. In context, the passage states, “In the afternoon rush of the Grand Central Station his eyes had been refreshed by the sight of Miss Lily Bart.” The word “refreshed” is used metaphorically here to reflect the pleasant surprise Selden feels at seeing Lily. He finds her beautiful and interesting. The best word to express that is reinvigorated. None of the other options allow for that meaning.
Question 2
Over the course of the passage, the main focus of the narrative shifts from the

curiosity a character has about a person he has just run into to a growing fondness the character has for that person’s beauty.
annoyance a character feels about the volatile nature of another person to the character’s recognition of the common ground between the two.
nervousness a character feels regarding another person to the character’s concern that their romantic feelings are not reciprocated.
value a character attaches to the wonders of the natural world to a rejection of that sort of beauty in favor of human artistry.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The passage begins with Mr. Selden observing Lily Bart at the train station and silently musing to himself. After he agrees to take Lily away for tea, the passage ends by focusing on a more thoughtful evaluation of her beauty, stating, “As she moved beside him, with her long light step, Selden was conscious of taking a luxurious pleasure in her nearness.” Selden’s attitude towards Lily went from “detached and bemused” at the beginning of the passage, to “invested and sentimental” by the end of the passage. Answer choice (A) best reflects the transition from curiosity to fondness.
Question 3
In the context of the passage, the author’s use of the sentence, “There was nothing new about Lily Bart,” (paragraph 2) is primarily meant to convey the idea that

Lily Bart’s income doesn’t allow her to keep up with the latest fashions.
Lily Bart is twenty-nine years old, and older than most of Selden’s peers.
Selden and Lily have been acquaintances for some time.
Lily’s manner and behavior has a timeless quality in Selden’s eyes.
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This is an inference question. Based on the entire passage, ask yourself: what is most likely to be true? Selden doesn’t criticize Lily’s fashion as outdated, nor describe her as older than their peers. More likely, he means she isn’t “new” to him — that they have known each other for a while, and that she hasn’t changed much. Otherwise, it would not make sense why Lily greets Selden so warmly, and asks him to take her to tea while she waits for her train to arrive.
Question 4
The description in the second paragraph indicates that what Selden values most about Lily is her

physical attractiveness.
ability to incite curiosity.
kind and generous nature.
way of standing out in a crowd.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The final sentence of the second paragraph states, “it was characteristic of her that she always roused speculation, that her simplest acts seemed the result of far-reaching intentions.” Selden finds Lily fascinating, and the second paragraph highlights his interest in her ability to arouse interest. It is only in later paragraphs that he focuses more on her physical beauty, so (A) is not the correct answer. If you chose (D): while it is true that Lily stands out to Selden in the crowd, there is nothing in the first paragraph to indicate that this is what Selden “values most” about her.
Question 5
Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

(You can use the left arrow below to go back and review the previous question.)

First 3 sentences (“Selden…season?”)
Paragraph 2, Sentence 2 (“If she had…perplexed him.”)
Paragraph 2, Sentences 3-4 (”She stood…arrested him.”)
Paragraph 2, Sentence 5 (“There was…intentions.”)
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The answer to the previous question is found in the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph: (“There was…intentions.”). The sentence states, “it was characteristic of her that she always roused speculation, that her simplest acts seemed the result of far-reaching intentions.” It is likely that Selden values this most because he “could never see her without,” and that “she always roused speculation.” The key words “never” and “always” indicate an important and prominent feature.
Question 6
The author includes the following detail: “it amused him to think of putting her skill to the test” (paragraph 3) in order to

indicate that Lily has some experience in avoiding unwanted conversations.
imply that Lily has had numerous suitors in the past.
reveal that Lily has snubbed Selden on previous occasions.
show that Lily has a strong and stubborn sense of pride.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This is a function question. In order to correctly answer this question, you must consider WHY the author chose to include a specific detail; what was the author hoping to establish for the audience? While it may be true that Lily has had numerous suitors in the past, has perhaps been less than kind to Selden, or has a strong and stubborn sense of pride, there is nothing specific from the passage to indicate that these are true. More likely, the author includes this detail to continue to establish Lily’s social class and desirability. She is an upper-class woman with experience in high society, and Selden sees her as someone who is very much a product of her social class.
Question 7
What is implied by the author’s inclusion of the detail, “she regained the girlish smoothness, the purity of tint, that she was beginning to lose after eleven years of late hours and indefatigable dancing” (paragraph 6)?

Though attractive, Lily Bart was not as energetic and youthful as she had once been.
Lily’s skin and hair were as smooth as Selden had remembered them to be years earlier.
Selden had not seen Lily for eleven years.
Lily had been participating in the social activities of high society for quite some time.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). This is an inference question as identified by the word “implied.” Selden spends much time marveling over Lily’s beauty. If he had not seen Lily in eleven years, it is not likely Lily would have greeted him in such a casual manner, so (C) is unlikely to be correct. Selden does say she is “beginning to lose” some youthfulness but (A) goes one step too far. Selden does not imply Lily has less energy than she previously had, nor does this section indicate he specifically finds the “smoothness” of her hair and skin lacking. More likely, this section is here to indicate to the audience that Lily Bart has been “out” in society for eleven years, and has spent the past eleven years participating in social activities such as parties and dances.
Question 8
The author’s statement that, “his course lay so far out of her orbit,” (paragraph 10) has mainly which effect?

It explains why Selden has not run into Lily in several years.
It describes how inferior Selden feels in relation to Lily.
It shows that they do not live in the same neighborhood in London.
It reveals that they move in different social circles.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Although Selden is intrigued by Lily and admires her beauty, the passage indicates that they are most likely not quite in the same social sphere. Choice (C) might be true, but it is not specifically revealed in the passage. Additionally, the passage implies that, while Selden and Lily are not regular friends, they know each other at least well enough socially that they feel comfortable having an impromptu tea together. More likely, the “orbit” discussed refers to social spheres. Selden comes across as intelligent and perceptive. While he is amazed by Lily, there is nothing to indicate he feels “inferior” to her, so (B) is incorrect. The best answer is choice (D).
Question 9
Based on the details from the passage, who are the Trenors?

Members of Lily’s social class.
Personal friends of Selden.
London acquaintances of both Lily and Selden.
Members of Lily’s extended family.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This is a detail question. In order to get this question correct, go back and re-read the specific detail that mentions the Trenors. Lily mentions going to stay with this family in Bellomont. Lily explains that she’s on her way to Bellomont, the Trenors’ house, but missed her train and has two hours to wait. Selden may know this family, but there is nothing to indicate that they are his personal friends, as choice (B) states. If the Trenors were members of Lily’s family, she would probably speak of them with more detail and familiarity. Since other details from the passage imply Lily and Selden are in different social circles, it is more likely that the Trenors are members of Lily’s social class and friends of hers.
Question 10
Why does Selden say, “The resources of New York are rather meagre…but I’ll find a hansom first, and then we’ll invent something” (paragraph 15)?

Selden is frustrated with the speed of the city’s public transportation.
Selden is making a joke for Lily’s benefit.
Selden is confident is his ability to impress Lily.
There is nowhere close by where they can have tea.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Selden says that New York’s resources are “meager,” when in fact New York City is a huge metropolitan city. Selden is being sarcastic. When he uses the word “invent,” he doesn’t mean that he and Lily are actually going to become inventors, he means they will come up with some plan to amuse themselves before she has to return to catch her train. The entire mood of the conversation is light-hearted and flirtatious. Answer choice (C), however, goes too far. We cannot be sure if Selden feels truly confident, or if he is simply putting on a show for Lily’s benefit. Since he mentions he is “out of her orbit,” most likely he is not too confident in his ability to impress Lily.
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