SAT Reading: Practice Test 4

Directions: The SAT Reading test consists of five passages on a variety of topics. Each passage is followed by a series of eleven 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, “An Introduction to the Prose and Poetical Works of John Milton” by Hiram Corson. Originally published in 2014.

John Milton’s prose works are perhaps not read, at the present day, to the extent demanded by their great and varied merits. Some of his poetical works are extensively “studied” in the schools, and a somewhat reasonable stab at the study of some of his prose works is made in departments of rhetoric, but his prose works cannot be said to be read in the best sense of the word,—that is, with all faculties focused upon the subject-matter as one of major importance, with an openness of heart, and with an accompanying interest in the general loftiness of Milton’s diction. In short, everyone should train himself or herself to read any great author with the fullest loyalty to the author — by which is not meant that all the author’s thoughts, opinions and beliefs are to be accepted, but that what they really are be adequately apprehended. In other words, loyalty to an author means that every reader fully attempt to understand and receive the work’s intended meaning and spirit.

Mark Pattison, in his Life of Milton, while fully recognizing the grand features of the prose works as monuments of the English language, undervalues, or rather does not value at all, Milton’s services to the cause of political and religious liberty as a polemic prose writer, and considers it a thing to be much regretted that he engaged at all in the great contest for political, religious, and other forms of liberty. This seems to be the one unacceptable feature of his very able life of the poet. Looking upon the life of Milton the politician merely as a sad and ignominious interlude in the life of Milton the poet, Pattison cannot be expected to entertain the idea that the poem is in any sense the work of the politician. Yet we cannot help thinking that the tension and elevation which Milton’s nature had undergone in the mighty struggle, together with the heroic dedication of his faculties to the most serious objects, must have had not a little to do both with the final choice of his subject and with the tone of his poems. Milton’s great Puritan poetry could hardly have been written by anyone but a militant Puritan.

Milton was writing prose when, some think, he should have been writing poetry, and, as Pattison claims, these works of Milton had no influence whatsoever on current events. But they certainly had an influence, and a very great influence, on current events not many years after. The restoration of Charles II did not mean that the work of Puritanism was undone, and that Milton’s pamphlets were to be of no effect. It was in a large measure due to that work and to those pamphlets that in a few years—only fourteen after Milton’s death—the constitutional basis of the monarchy underwent a radical change for the better,—a change which would have been a great pleasure to Milton, if he could have lived to see it. A man constituted as Milton was could not have kept himself apart from the great conflicts of his time. Although the direct subjects of his polemic prose works may not hold a huge interest for the general reader in the present-day, they are all, independently of their subjects, charged with inherent truth and as profoundly expressive as his poetry. All of Milton’s work, both poetry and prose, are full of bright gems of enduring truth.

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Question 1
The main purpose of the first paragraph is

A
to describe a failure to appreciate Milton’s prose.
B
to explain how readers can understand what an author intends.
C
to criticize Pattison for missing the importance Milton’s politics had on his poetry.
D
to explain the lasting impact and value of Milton prose.
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). In the first paragraph, the author makes the point that John Milton’s prose should be read “with all faculties focused upon the subject-matter as one of major importance…”, indicating that while Milton’s writing is “studied,” the prose is not read correctly for what the author intends. Overall, the author is critical of how the general public has rated Milton’s prose, reflected in answer choice (A). He goes on to discuss the lasting impact of Milton’s prose later, but that isn’t reflected in this paragraph. Pattison is not mentioned until the second paragraph, so (C) cannot be correct.
Question 2
Why does the author use quotation marks around the word “studied” in sentence 2?

A
To show that most English teachers are not qualified for their positions.
B
To explain why Milton is little understood by the general public.
C
To indicate students rarely complete their homework on poets such as Milton.
D
To emphasize the incompleteness with which Milton is understood and examined.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Throughout paragraph one, the author reveals a strong distaste for how Milton is read and interpreted. Choice (B), however, goes too far in its assertion that the general public does not understand Milton. Choice (A) is unsupported by the passage—there is nothing to indicate that the author believes “most English teachers” are unqualified. Answer choice (C) is incorrect for the same reason choice (A) is incorrect—it is outside the scope of the passage, it is neither explicitly stated nor implied by the author.
Question 3
As used in the first sentence of paragraph 2, “polemic” most nearly means

A
having an intricate or exquisite quality.
B
covering many different topics.
C
socially engaged in activism.
D
incongruously political.
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). In context, “polemic” appears in the following sentence:

“Mark Pattison, in his Life of Milton, while fully recognizing the grand features of the prose works as monuments of the English language, undervalues, or rather does not value at all, Milton’s services to the cause of political and religious liberty as a polemic prose writer, and considers it a thing to be much regretted that he engaged at all in the great contest for political, religious, and other forms of liberty.”

The author is contrasting Milton’s admirable prose with the elements of his speech that were more politically and religiously aggressive. A word such as “activist” would be an ideal synonym for this context.
Question 4
Which sentence(s) best detail(s) the author’s criticism of Mark Pattison’s work?

A
Paragraph 2, Sentence 1 (“Mark…liberty.”)
B
Paragraph 2, Sentences 2–3 (“This…politician.”)
C
Paragraph 2, Sentence 4 (“Yet…poems.”)
D
Paragraph 2, Sentence 5 (“Milton’s…Puritan.”)
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The 2nd and 3rd sentences of paragraph 2 really hone in on the author’s criticism of Pattison’s work:

This seems to be the one unacceptable feature of his very able life of the poet. Looking upon the life of Milton the politician merely as a sad and ignominious interlude in the life of Milton the poet, Pattison cannot be expected to entertain the idea that the poem is in any sense the work of the politician.”

The passage states here that there is “one unacceptable feature” to Pattison’s work, and then spends the next sentence covering this feature in more detail.
Question 5
The author included the sentence, “But they certainly had an influence, and a very great influence, on current events not many years after” (2nd sentence of paragraph 3) in order to

A
refute the sentence immediately before it.
B
change to a new topic before ending the essay.
C
praise the far-reaching impact of Pattison’s work.
D
introduce a criticism that has not yet been discussed.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This is a function question. Ask yourself: why did the author include this specific sentence? In context, the author states that Pattison believes Milton did not have a political influence, and then refutes that idea with this sentence. Choice (C) may be tempting, but it is Milton’s work, and not Pattison’s, that the author ultimately finds long-lasting and impactful. If you chose (D): the author has been critical of Pattison prior to this sentence. This is not the first time a criticism is being introduced.
Question 6
The primary purpose of this passage is to

A
compare Milton’s poetry to his prose works, and emphasize the latent value of the latter.
B
decry the unwarranted criticism Milton’s prose works have received.
C
recommend a reevaluation of Milton’s prose works by Pattison and similar scholars.
D
criticize Pattison’s interpretation of Milton’s motives and emphasize the true value of his prose work.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). This is a main idea question. The correct answer must be broad enough to encompass all three of the paragraphs of the passage without veering outside its scope. While all the answer choices hold some merit, only answer choice (D) emphasizes Corson’s critique of Pattison as he emphasizes the value of Milton’s prose. This is a more complete and accurate answer than the other choices.
Question 7
Which of the following best summarizes the author’s interpretation of Pattison’s work on Milton?

A
It does not appreciate Milton’s writing.
B
It is regrettable and ignominious.
C
It is notable but inadequate.
D
It fails to consider both Milton’s poetical and prose contributions.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The author acknowledges Pattison for recognizing Milton’s prose writing, but also stresses that Pattison fails to appreciate its impact. Pattison DOES consider Milton’s prose contribution. The author believes that Pattison incorrectly assesses the significance of Milton’s prose.

If you chose (A): the author states that Pattison does not recognize Milton’s “services” in his prose writing, but that Pattison does see the “grand features” of the prose works. This choice is too extreme. If you chose (B): this is how Pattison characterizes Milton’s preoccupation with his activist prose writings. Remember this question asks about the author’s point of view, not Pattison’s. If you chose (D): note that the author praises Pattison for recognizing and considering Milton’s prose writing, but also stresses that Pattison fails to appreciate its impact.
Question 8
The author of the passage implies all of the following about Milton EXCEPT

A
Milton’s polemical writing favored the ideals of the Puritan movement.
B
Milton’s interest in polemic prose did not influence his poetry.
C
Milton was actively engaged in the politics of his day.
D
Milton likely opposed monarchism and totalitarian rule.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). This is an inference question. Because of the word “EXCEPT,” three of the four answer choices WILL be facts implied by the passage. The correct answer will NOT be implied in the passage. Eliminate choices that comply with the passage’s details first. The passage implies Milton’s political writing DID influence his poetry. This is one of the main ideas the author emphasizes throughout the passage. Each of the other three choices is also something the author implies. The word “not” in choice (B) makes this an incorrect statement, and therefore the correct answer.
Question 9
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
Paragraph 2, Sentence 4 (“Yet…poems.”)
B
Paragraph 3, Sentences 1–2 (“Milton…after.”)
C
Paragraph 3, Sentences 3–4 (“The restoration…it.”)
D
Paragraph 3, Sentences 5–6 (“A man…poetry.”)
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The author states at the end of the second paragraph:

“Yet we cannot help thinking that the tension and elevation which Milton’s nature had undergone in the mighty struggle, together with the heroic dedication of his faculties to the most serious objects, must have had not a little to do both with the final choice of his subject and with the tone of his poems.”

The phrase “not a little” implies a great deal, indicating that Milton’s prose influenced both the subject and tone of his poetry.
Question 10
As used in paragraph 3, the word “constituted” most nearly means

A
with a repetitive behavioral pattern.
B
initiated in a particular manner.
C
with a certain predisposition.
D
in a position of leadership.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This is a vocab-in-context question—remember to go back to the passage and carefully re-read in order to fully comprehend the context in which the word appears. In context, the word “constituted” appears in the following sentence:

“A man constituted as Milton was could not have kept himself apart from the great conflicts of his time.”

The author means that Milton was inclined to involve himself in current affairs, almost as if he had a genetic predisposition for doing so.
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