SAT Reading: Practice Test 5

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 1–11 are based on the following passage.

The following passage is adapted from an editorial in “The Atlantic Monthly.”

It would seem to be folly for anyone to maintain that grass is not green, that sugar is not sweet, that the rose has no odor and the trumpet no tone. A man would seem to be out of his senses deliberately to doubt what the world thinks to be simple truths. Is grass green? First, let us consider what “green” really is,—what “color” is. Light is understood to be an undulation of the interstellar ether, that inconceivably rare, elastic expanse of matter which occupies all space,—an undulation communicated by the incandescent envelope of suns. It moves with such wondrous rapidity as to traverse hundreds of thousands of miles in a second. Such is the generally received explanation of the phenomenon of light; but there is much yet to be explained for which this simple undulation of matter seems to be an insufficient cause. These waves of motion have different lengths and rates of velocity; but the union of them all gives to the human eye the impression of white light. The chart below shows how energy and wavelengths relate to one another.

Color, then, is the sensation of the brain, responsive to the touch of the motion of ether; and the brain is only thus affected when these waves are thrown back from some object to the eye. The multiplicity of tints and hues are reflections from the objects which appear to possess them as structural characters. Some of the waves pass into the objects and through them, others are arrested by them and absorbed, others rebound from them like a ball from a wall; and these last, breaking upon the optic nerve, give to it certain sensations which we designate as colors. A wave of a certain velocity and length gives us a certain sensation which we call blue; another awakens the sensation we call yellow. The two series of waves, mingling, produce a new sensation which we call green.

The necessity of reflection for the production of these sensations is evident. The mingled waves have no color in their incident flow; but, striking some object, these waves become separated, some being absorbed, and the reflected ones produce the peculiar sensation we call color. One of the ancient philosophies maintained that all Nature is but the phantasm of our senses. Had it, after first granting that the senses themselves were evidences of matter and motion, maintained that Nature was only evident to us through them, it would have been simple truth.

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Question 1
Which of the following is a statement with which the author would most likely agree?

A
Fragrance is not an inherent quality, but a cerebral sensation
B
Grass is not actually green
C
Reflection is unnecessary in a sensory-deprived environment
D
Interstellar ether is required for the optic nerve to perceive color
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This is an Inference question, indicated by the phrase “would most likely agree.” The correct answer will not be directly stated in the passage, but will be supported and strongly implied by details from the passage. Answer (B) is a misinterpretation. The author is questioning the common sense notion that things “are” a certain color irrespective of an individual’s perception. He does not mean that grass is not actually green — he uses this example as an entry point to a broader discussion. Answer (C) is outside the scope of the passage — sensory-deprivation is not mentioned and there is nothing in the passage to support the idea that reflection would be “unnecessary” without the five senses. Answer (D) is a misinterpretation of several details from the passage. The “ether” described is something intangible that occupies all space; it is not something that is “required” by the optic nerve to function.
Question 2
The author is primarily concerned with

A
revealing the complexities of human perception
B
discussing the details of a new theory
C
criticizing a long-established scientific fact
D
challenging a common assumption
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The author’s usage of the word “seem” in the first paragraph establishes a questioning tone. He is primarily concerned with questioning the accepted ideas that color, taste, smell, etc. are absolute. The explanation of color and light in the middle portion of the passage is used to clarify for the reader that these “absolutes” (e.g. “grass is green”) are simply interpretations based on our sensory stimuli. As the author states in the final sentence “Nature was only evident to us through them [the senses].” The purpose of this passage is persuasive rather than informational. The verb “discussing” in choice (B) is too neutral to be correct. In choice (A), “revealing the complexities of human perception” is too broad a topic to be covered in a one-page article, and is consequently beyond the scope of the passage. The interpretation of the senses — specifically color — is the scope of this passage. If anything, human perception here is distilled and simplified, rather than revealed to be complex. The verb “criticizing” in choice (C) is too extreme. The author spends time explaining how color is perceived via light waves. If he were focused on criticizing a specific fact, the language of the passage would be much harsher. “Challenging” is a softer, more appropriate verb that fits the tone of the passage best.
Question 3
What function does the discussion of tints and hues in Paragraph 2 serve?

A
Narrowing the scope of a question previously posed
B
Comparing and contrasting scientific wavelengths
C
Changing a preconceived idea about Nature
D
Defining a common term using specific terminology
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The first sentence of the second paragraph reads: “Color, then, is the sensation of the brain, responsive to the touch of the motion of ether.” The paragraph’s topic is a common term, “color,” and the author’s intention is to re-define what “color” is by using scientific vocabulary. Choice (A) is tempting, but this paragraph broadens the discussion of the question, “is grass green?” by discussing color in general and how the human brain perceives it through light. Choice (B) is too specific to be the function of the entire paragraph. Wavelengths are mentioned, but only within a larger discussion of color perception. Choice (C) is too broad to be the function of only the second paragraph. It is closer to the function of the entire passage as a whole. In addition, “Nature” is not mentioned anywhere in this paragraph.
Question 4
According to the passage, which qualities can be attributed to waves of light?

A
Rare and expansive
B
Malleable and pervasive
C
Variable and commingled
D
Tactile and finite
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This is a Detail question because of the phrase “according to the passage.” The correct answer must match what is directly stated in the passage as closely as possible. The first paragraph states that “waves of motion have different lengths and rates of velocity,” so it is accurate to describe them as “variable.” The end of the second paragraph describes the waves as “mingling” to produce different colors, such as green. The third paragraph reiterates that the waves can be “mingled.” If you chose (A): the “ether,” and not the waves of light, is described in this way. If you chose (B): “malleable” means pliable and having the ability to change one’s shape. The wave lengths are described as having various lengths, but there is nothing in the passage indicating that the lengths can be easily changed. In choice (D), although light waves can be detected by the eyes, they are not perceptible by touch (i.e. tactile) or finite (i.e. having limits or bounds).
Question 5
The passage implies that which of the following is true of the ancient philosophies?

A
In general, they had a limited perception of Nature
B
Their proponents may have failed to consider a fundamental paradox
C
They neglected to take into account the true origin of sense memory
D
They focused more on the Nature of Man than on the earth sciences
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). This is an Inference question because of the word “implies.” A correct inference must be based on what is strongly implied in the passage’s details. We must “read between the lines” in order to get this question right without straying too far from what is expressly stated in the passage. The word “paradox” refers to two things that seem contradictory but are somehow both true. The philosophy states that “Nature is a phantasm of our senses,” but the author believes that “Nature” is “only evident…through them.” These ideas don’t seem to make sense together, yet the author describes this as a “simple truth.” It isn’t too great an inference to call this a “paradox,” due to the contradictory nature of the statements. Choice (A) is too extreme to be correct. The end of the passage briefly touches upon “one” of the ancient philosophies and while it does present it as somewhat lacking, we cannot draw a broad inference about all the ancient philosophies based on the author’s idea about one single philosophy. If you chose (C): the idea of “sense memory” is not found anywhere in the passage. This answer choice is misleading because it takes wording from the passage and attempts to apply it to an idea that is outside the passage’s scope. Watch out for answer choices that introduce completely new ideas. Choice (D) is entirely outside the scope of the passage.
Question 6
Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

(Previous question, “The passage implies that which of the following is true of the ancient philosophies? Their proponents may have failed to consider a fundamental paradox.”)

A
Paragraph 1, Sentences 4-5 (“First, let us…suns.”)
B
Paragraph 1, Sentence 7 (“Such is the…cause.”)
C
Paragraph 2, Sentences 2-3 (“The multiplicity…colors.”)
D
Paragraph 3, Sentences 3-4 (“One of the…simple truth.”)
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The author mentions the “ancient philosophies” in the following context: “One of the ancient philosophies maintained that all Nature is but the phantasm of our senses. Had it, after first granting that the senses themselves were evidences of matter and motion, maintained that Nature was only evident to us through them, it would have been simple truth.” This occurs at the end of paragraph 3.
Question 7
As used in paragraph 1, the word “wondrous” most nearly means

A
benevolent
B
deleterious
C
prodigious
D
doubtful
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This is a Vocab-in-Context question. The word “wondrous” describes “rapidity” in context. The author is conveying amazement at the speed of the movement. A word such as “amazing” or “incredible” would be a good fit. The best match for that kind of positive meaning is “prodigious.” When answering vocabulary questions, always consider the tone established in the passage in conjunction with the connotations of the answer choices. The correct answer will convey or possess a connotation that is in line with the tone of the passage — whether it is positive, negative, or neutral.
Question 8
The graphic accompanying the passage indicates that as wavelengths decrease

A
energy decreases
B
energy increases
C
visible light decreases
D
visible light increases
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). This is a Detail question. In order to get this question right, carefully examine the details presented in the graphic. Notice the energy and wavelengths drawn at the top of the graphic. The “increasing energy” arrow moves to the left as the “increasing wavelength” arrow moves to the right. The two have an inverse relationship: as one decreases, the other increases. This is best described by choice (B).
Question 9
Based on the graphic, which choice gives a wavelength for the color green?

A
280 nm
B
400 nm
C
530 nm
D
610 nm
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This is a Detail question. The color green appears in the graphic between 500 nm and 600 nm.
Question 10
According to the graphic, which type of wave has the most energy?

A
Gamma rays
B
Ultraviolet light
C
Visible light
D
TV waves
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This is a Detail question. Review the graphic carefully, and select the choice that is supported by the data provided. According to the graphic, as the amount of energy increases, the length of the wavelength decreases. The types of wavelengths with the most energy will be those on the left side of the graphic, starting with gamma rays.
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