Digital SAT Poetry Practice Reading Questions #4

1. The following is a poem by Alfred Tenison:

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

What is the main idea of the text?
A. Cats and milkmaids share much in common: both are seen by the owl.
B. As the sun rises and the world comes to life, the owl settles in to rest.
C. The routine of each day is predictable and common.
D. The cat and the rooster are the waking signs of each morning.

2. “An Incident of the French Camp” is a poem by Robert Browning. Having read it, a student claims that the town of Ratisbon has been taken. Which quotation from the text best supports the claim?

A. You know, we French storm’d Ratisbon/ A mile or so away/ On a little mound, Napoleon/ Stood on our storming-day;
B. Just as perhaps he mus’d “My plans/ That soar, to earth may fall. Let once my army leader Lannes/ Waver at yonder wall,”
C. “Well,” cried he, “Emperor, by God’s grace/ We’ve got you Ratisbon!/ The Marshal’s in the market-place/ And you’ll be there anon!”
D. “You’re wounded!” “Nay,” the soldier’s pride/ Touched to the quick, he said: “I’m killed, Sire!” And his chief beside, Smiling the boy fell dead.

3. The following is the poem “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Homes:

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood
And waves were white below.
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee;
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

O, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

Based on the text, what fate would Holmes prefer for Old Ironsides?
A. That she be destroyed by a lightning strike
B. That she be taken ashore and preserved for posterity
C. That she lose her flag and decks
D. That she sink in glory to the depths of the sea

4. “Warren’s Address to the American Soldiers” is a poem by John Peirpont. A writer, knowing that that the poem echoes Warren’s rallying cry to American soldiers, claims that it aims to glorify a coming battle. Which quotation from the poem most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. Look behind you! They’re afire!/ And, before you, see/ Who have done it! – From the vale/ On they come!
B. Will ye look for greener graves?/ Hope ye mercy still?
C. What’s the mercy despots feel?/ Hear it in that battle-peal!
D. In the God of battles trust!/ Die we may, and die we must/ But, O, where can dust to dust/ Be consigned so well.

5. “My Own Shall Come to Me” is a poem by John Burroughs. A teacher tells her class that it is a poem about patience and the inevitability of fate. Which quotation from “My Own Shall Come to Me” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate/For lo! My own shall come to me…/ No wind can drive my bark astray,/ Nor change the tide of destiny.
B. The stars come nightly to the sky;/ the tidal wave comes to the sea;/ Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,/ Can keep my own away from me.
C. The waters know their own and draw/ The brook that springs in yonder heights;/ So flows the good with equal law/ Unto the soul of pure delights.
D. Serene I fold my hands and wait,/ Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea…/ What matter if I stand alone?/ I wait with joy the coming years;

6. The following is the poem “A Wish” by Samuel Rogers:
Mine be a cot beside the hill;
A bee-hive’s hum shall soothe my ear;
A willowy brook that turns a mill
With many a fall shall linger near.

The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,
And share my meal, a welcome guest.

Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew;
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet gown and apron blue.

The village church among the trees,
Where first our marriage-vows were given,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze
And point with taper spire to Heaven.

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?
A. To describe the garden of the narrator
B. To paint a picture of an idyllic country life
C. To help the reader visualize all that the narrator has lost
D. To illustrate the domestic part of what the narrator is wishing for

7. “L’Envoi” is a poem by Rudyard Kipling. A commenter claims that if the entire poem is read as if Kipling approving of what he describes, then Kipling believes that artists should paint not because they must, but for the love of it. Which quotation from “L’Envoi” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. And only the Master shall praise us/ and only the Master shall blame;/ And no one shall work for money,/ and no one shall work for fame;/ But each for the joy of the working
B. And those who were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;/ They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet’s hair;
C. When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died,/ We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it—lie down for an eon or two.
D. They shall find real saints to draw from – Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;/ They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

8. The following is the poem “Little Things” by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer:

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.

Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

8. Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?
A. To illustrate how small and individual moments build into all of history.
B. To discuss time lost while visiting the ocean.
C. To contrast the relentless progression of time with the endless movement of the ocean
D. To encourage the reader to take their time as they go through life.

9. The following is the poem “The Butterfly and the Bee” by William Lisle: BowlesMethought I heard a butterfly
Say to a laboring bee:
“Thou hast no colors of the sky
On painted wings like me.”

“Poor child of vanity! those dyes,
And colors bright and rare,”
With mild reproof, the bee replies,
“Are all beneath my care.

“Content I toil from morn to eve,
And scorning idleness,
To tribes of gaudy sloth I leave
The vanity of dress.”

What is the main idea of the text?
A. In an imaginary conversation, a butterfly and a bee have little in common.
B. As a personal quality, work ethic is far preferable to beauty.
C. Being judgmental of others is not an admirable pastime.
D. Even creatures as small as bees have lessons to teach us all.

10. The following is the poem “Ingratitude” by William Shakespeare: Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

Thou are not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen
Because thou are not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot;
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?
A. To explain that winter is a harsh time through which all men must suffer.
B. To illustrate that emotional pain can hurt far worse than physical pain.
C. To paint a picture of various harms that many befall the narrator.
D. To show the readers the dangers of making friends with the wrong people.

Answer Explanations

  1. B. Each stanza starts with a description of the morning. These descriptions include the cat coming home, the light coming, the milkmaid leaving her house, and the rooster crowing. Each stanza ends with the owl sitting and warming himself in his belfry. This best fits answer option B. We have no evidence that the owl sees the world waking, making option A incorrect. The daily routine is described, but not focused on as predictable, making option C incorrect. The cat and the rooster are only mentioned to highlight the time of day, making option D incorrect.
  2. C. Choice C best shows that Ratisbon has been taken. In it, we hear words spoken to the Emperor that “we’ve got you Ratisbon”. The army has taken the city and the Emperor will be in Ratisbon’s market place “anon” or soon. Option A proves that an army has stormed the town, but not that the town fell to that army. Option B shows that the leader is concerned they might not succeed in their military efforts. Option D shows the death of the messenger who came to the emperor.
  3. D. When reading the second stanza, we see that Holmes would prefer that the “harpies of the shore” not pluck “the eagle of the sea”. He says “O, better that her shattered hulk should sink beneath the wave.” Through the rest of the second stanza he clarifies that he would prefer to give her to the “god of storms”. He does not say that he wants her to be struck by lightning, so answer A is too specific. Answer B is the opposite of his preference. Option C is not described in the poem.
  4. D. Answer option D best glorifies the coming battle. It calls on the soldiers to trust in the God of battles, tells them that some will die, and then explains that such a death (dust to dust) will be consigned well. Answer option A talks of an oncoming foe, but does not glorify. Option B asks the soldiers if they are hoping to avoid the battle. Option C points out that the opposition will have no mercy.
  5. A. Option A best shows both patience and fate. The narrator does not rave against time or fate, but rather waits patiently for his “own” to come to him. He knows he cannot change destiny, so he does not try. Option B could prove his feelings about fate, but they do not show his patience. Option C speaks to neither fate nor patience. Option D speaks to patience, but not fate.
  6. D. The key in answering this question is in the title of the poem: A Wish. The entire poem describes what the narrator wishes for. Each stanza describes part of his wish. The underlined stanza describes his home and wife—these are domestic things, making option D the best answer. Answer A is incorrect as the garden is not the only thing described in the stanza and we have no evidence that the wish has been granted and that the garden actually exists. Option B is incorrect as this is not a generic picture of country life, but a specific hope for the future that the narrator has. Option C is incorrect as there is no evidence that the narrator once had this and lost it.
  7. A. A key note in the question is that the assumption is that Kipling approves of what he describes in the poem. This makes answer A the best option, as Kipling would approve of artists working, not for money or fame, but rather because it brings them joy. Option B describes happy painters, but not their motivations. Option C describes exhausted artists taking a rest. Option D describes what they paint.
  8. A. The first stanza describes how the vastness of land and sea are made up of tiny grains of sand and drops of water. This illustration, then is used in the second stanza to show how tiny moments of time make up all of extant history. This best fits answer option A. Answer option B is too literal. Answer options C and D draw conclusions not supported by the text.
  9. B. In the text, the butterfly points out that the bee does not have beautiful wings. The bee then pities and reproofs the butterfly for her vanity and highlights the hardworking nature of the humble bee. This best fits with option B. Answer option A is incorrect as the main idea is that of vanity and work, not that bees and butterflies have nothing in common. Answer option C is incorrect as while it is true, it is not the main idea. Option D is true, but not the message of the author.
  10. B. In each of the two stanzas, Shakespeare first describes horrible winter conditions and then says that ingratitude and “friend remembered not” respectively are far worse. These emotional pains are pointed out as worse than freezing winter weather, making option B the best choice. It isn’t option A as there is an emotional component to the poem. It isn’t option C as Shakespeare doesn’t mean to highlight physical harms, rather emotional ones. It isn’t D as there is no evidence that the emotional pain comes only from “the wrong people”.

Each poem is taken from “Poems Every Child Should Know”, edited by Mary E. Burt. If you wish to improve your poetry skills, you can read more poems from this book on Project Gutenberg:

Digital SAT Poetry Practice Reading Questions #3

1. “In a Library” is a poem written by Emily Dickinson. A student who read the poem claims that Dickinson personifies an antique book, seeing it as a man whom she joys to meet. Which quotation from “In a Library” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. What interested scholars most/ what competitions ran/ When Plato was a certainty/ And Sophocles a man
B. He traverses familiar/ As one should come to town/ And tell you all your dreams were true/ He lived where dreams were sown.
C. His presence is enchantment/ you beg him not to go/ old volumes shake their vellum heads/ and tantalize just so.
D. A precious moldering pleasure ‘tis/ To meet an antique book.

2. The following is the poem The Book of Martyrs (adapted), by Emily Dickinson

Read, sweet, how others strove,
Till we are stouter;
What they renounced,
Till we are less afraid;
How many times they bore
The faithful witness,
Till we are helped,
As if a kingdom cared!

Read then of faith
That shone above the fray;
Clear strains of hymn
The river could not drown;
Brave names of men
And celestial women,
Passed out of record
Into renown!

What is the main idea of the text?

A. Students should read diligently and memorize names of men and women who have passed away.
B. We should read of and look to the examples of those who went before us to gain strength, courage, and help.
C. Those who came before us are gone, passed out of the record, and no longer worth the effort to learn about.
D. Life is difficult; those older than us can attest to the fear and weakness of this mortal life.

3. The following is a poem by Emily Dickinson:

If you were coming in the fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I’d count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity. But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Based on the text, what is it that goads the narrator “like the goblin bee”?

A. The constant turn of the seasons of the year
B. The centuries of life she has lived
C. A fly, buzzing around her head
D. The uncertainly of time

4. “In Vain” is a poem by Emily Dickinson. A literature professor tells her class that the poem shows Dickinson’s anxiety around losing loved ones. Which quotation from the poem best illustrates this claim?

A. I cannot live with you/ It would be life/ And life is over there/ behind the shelf.
B. Glow plain and foreign/ On my homesick eye/ Except that you, than he/ Shone closer by.
C. And were you lost, I would be/ Though my name/ Rang loudest/ On the heavenly frame.
D. So we must keep apart/ you there, I here/ With just the door ajar


5. The following is a poem by Emily Dickinson:

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. To explain what is most important to the common honey bee.
B. To make a statement on the aristocratic nature of pollinating insects.
C. To make a point about hierarchy, using a nature metaphor.
D. To show the reader what is truly important in life.

6. “A Service of Song” is a poem by Emily Dickinson, a poet who was active in 19th century America.
Note: a bobolink is a type of songbird.

Some keep the Sabbath going to church;
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolink for a chorister,
And an orchard for a dome.

Some keep the Sabbath in surplice;
I just wear my wings,
And instead of tolling the bell for church,
Our little sexton sings.

God preaches, — a noted clergyman, —
And the sermon is never long;
So instead of getting to heaven at last,
I’m going all along!

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?

A. It paints a picture of an unconventional practice which is later clarified.
B. It shows that the narrator is a rebel, a fact that has later consequences.
C. It helps the reader understand why the narrator chooses to stay home.
D. It singles out the narrator as a chorister and bird lover.

7. A student reads the poem “The Grass” by Emily Dickinson and claims that the narrator envies the simple life of grass. Which quotation from “The Grass” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. The grass so little has to do/A sphere of simple green/ With only butterflies to brood/And bees to entertain.
B. The grass so little has to do/ I wish I were the hay!
C. And even when it dies, to pass/ in odors so divine
D. And stir all day to pretty tunes/ The breezes fetch along/ And hold the sunshine in its lap/ and bow to everything.

8. The following is a poem by Emily Dickinson.

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth, — the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names. Which choice best states the main idea of the text?

A. Truth is beauty and beauty is truth.
B. Finding like-minded people is worth any effort.
C. There is beauty and truth in the death of evil people.
D. Once deceased, people are as quickly forgotten as moss covers their gravestones.

9. A student reads an untitled poem by Emily Dickinson and claims that the man discussed in the passage is dying or dead. Which quotation from the poem most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. What was his furthest mind, of home, or God,/ Or what the distant say/At news that he ceased human nature/On such a day?
B. To know just how he suffered would be dear/ To know if any human eyes were near
C. And wishes, had he any?/ Just his sigh, accented,/ Had been legible to me./ And was he confident until
D. Was he afraid, or tranquil?/ Might he know/ How conscious consciousness could grow,/ Till love that was, and love too blest to be,/Meet —

10. “Trying to Forget” is a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Bereaved of all, I went abroad,
  No less bereaved to be
Upon a new peninsula, —
  The grave preceded me,

Obtained my lodgings ere myself,
  And when I sought my bed,
The grave it was, reposed upon
   The pillow for my head.

I waked, to find it first awake,
   I rose, — it followed me;
I tried to drop it in the crowd,
   To lose it in the sea, In cups of artificial drowse
  To sleep its shape away, —
The grave was finished, but the spade
  Remained in memory.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. To paint a realistic picture of the grief of a traveler.
B. To metaphorically explain how the loss of a loved one effects the narrator.
C. To describe a troubled vacation.
D. To illustrate the narrator’s struggle with the thought of death.

Answer Explanations

  1. C. Answer option A gives no evidence that a book is being personified. Rather, it says that Sophocles (a person) was a man. Answer option B would be good evidence if we knew that the author was talking about a book. However, it could just as likely be about an actual man. Answer option D shows the author’s joy in “meeting” a book, but does not go so far as to personify the book as a man. Option C, therefore is the best option. It refers to the “old volumes” as “him” and it says that his presence is “enchantment”. Meaning, the author gets joy from the presence.
  2. B. The first stanza of the text commands us to read about how others strove, renounced, and bore witness until we are stouter, less afraid, and helped. The second stanza commands us to read of the faith that others had and the men and women who passed into renown. Passing into renown could be otherwise stated as passing from this life into memory. The poems main idea, therefore best fits with option B. Option A is incorrect as there is no encouragement of memorization. Option C is the opposite of the message of the poem. Option D is incorrect as the author wants us to look to those gone as examples of good things, not fear and weakness.
  3. D. In the first stanza of the poem, the author discusses what she would do if “you” were coming in the fall. She is waiting for seasons to pass. In the second stanza she talks about years. In the third stanza she is waiting centuries. However, in the last stanza she talks about how she doesn’t know which of these (seasons, years, centuries) she will have to wait. She is “ignorant of the length of time’s uncertain wing”. Time, therefore is the bee that goads her. D is the only answer that makes sense.   
  4. C. Answer option C tells of the narrator’s belief that even heavenly exultation would not be enough for her if “you were lost”. This shows her intense fear around losing a loved one. She believes she would be lost no matter what, were the object of the poem also lost. Answer option A is incorrect as it shows that Dickinson does not want to live with the object of the poem. Answer option B is incorrect as it shows her attachment to the object of the poem, not her anxiety about losing him or her. Answer option D is incorrect as it shows that the narrator wishes to remain apart from the object of the poem, not that she fears losing him or her.
  5. C. The poem is saying that bees like all honey regardless of pedigree and that clovers are all seen as “aristocracy”. The metaphor applies to humans, that we should all regard one another as bees regard honey and aristocracy. This makes C the best answer.  Answer A is incorrect as we find out that bees regard all honey and clover equally, not with some more important than others. Answer B is incorrect, as the author is not saying that bees are aristocratic. Answer option D is incorrect, as the poem makes not allusion to what humans should value the most, rather, that we should value all humans equally. 
  6. A. The underlined portion points out that the narrator, instead of going to church on Sunday, which would have been the accepted practice in 19th century America, stays at home. The songbirds are her choir and the orchard is the roof of her church. This is an unconventional practice for the time. Later in the poem, she clarifies that she does this as she believes that this place, the orchard, is her heaven where she has been “going all along”. This makes option A the best answer and the other options incorrect.
  7. B. Answer option B shows the envy of the narrator as she wishes she were the hay. Hay is just another word for grass. The other options all show what might be enviable qualities of grass, but not that the narrator actually envies it.
  8. A. The poem tells a story of someone who dies and, “in the tomb” meets a man who asks why she died. She replies that she died for beauty and he responds by saying that he died for truth and that “the two are one; we brethren are”. They then form a bond, a friendship, in death, over their similar causes. This best fits with answer option A. Answer B is incorrect as the main idea is that truth and beauty are the same and worth dying for, not that finding like-minded people is worth dying for. Answer C is incorrect as there is no evidence either of these people are evil. Answer option D is incorrect, as it captures only a part of the last stanza, not the main idea of the whole text.
  9. A. Answer option A is the best option because it talks about the man as having “ceased human nature” which is another way of saying to die. This excerpt is asking what the man was thinking of as he passed away. The other options do not as clearly prove the claim, but rather offer only peripheral evidence in the context of answer option A.
  10. D. In the first stanza the author goes to “a new peninsula” but the grave proceeds her there. In the second stanza she finds a place to stay and yet the grave waited for her in her new bed. In the third stanza, the grave follows her as she wakes and goes about her day. She can only escape these thoughts of grave and death when she sleeps in the fourth stanza. This makes option D the best answer.

All poems were taken from Book of Poems by Emily Dickinson.  You can read more of this book here:

Digital SAT Poetry Practice Reading Questions #2

1. The following is “The Land of Counterpane” by Robert Louis Stevenson:

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

Which of the following options best explains the main purpose of the poem “The Land of Counterpane” by Robert Louis Stevenson?

A. To illustrate a child’s fertile imagination.
B. To tell a story of high adventure.
C. To show the journeys of a young child.
D. To build an understanding of physical malady.

2. The following is the poem “The Sun Travels” By Robert Louis Stevenson:

The sun is not a-bed, when I
At night upon my pillow lie;
Still round the earth his way he takes,
And morning after morning makes.

While here at home, in shining day,
We round the sunny garden play,
Each little Indian sleepy-head
Is being kissed and put to bed.

And when at eve I rise from tea,
Day dawns beyond the Atlantic Sea;
And all the children in the West
Are getting up and being dressed.

What is the main idea of the poem “The Sun Travels”?

A. Not all parts of the world are on the same time.
B. The daily routine of an ordinary child can be mundane.
C. The patterns of the sun and earth are predictable.
D. Cultural differences lead to differences in the time of day when people eat and sleep.

3. The following is the poem “The Moon” by Robert Louis Stevenson:

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and field and harbor quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

Which of the following is the main idea of the poem “The Moon”?

A. The moon looks over the night and observes all the bad things that are awake when the sun sets.
B. Nighttime is just as interesting and active as the day, but it belongs to different actors.
C. The moon, like a kindly woman, oversees her own distinct world while the world of day sleeps.
D. Some animals are active during the day and some animals are active at night.

4. The following is the poem “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson:

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

What is the purpose of the poem “The Swing”?

A. To describe the great swing of emotions which is common in a small child.
B. To show a child’s delight in the simple pleasure of riding a common swing.
C. To illustrate the beautiful view that is visible from great heights.
D. To describe the physical sensation often felt when riding a swing.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­5. A student, having read a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, claims that the children in the poem are peering into a river as they would a mirror. Which quotation from the poem most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. Smooth it glides upon its travel/ Here a wimple, there a gleam/ O the glean gravel/ O the smooth stream.
B. We can see our colored faces/ Floating on the shaken pool/ Down in cool places/ Dim and very cool;
C. Patience, children, just a minute/ See the spreading circles die/ The stream and all in it/ Will clear by-and-by.
D.  Sailing blossoms, silver fishes/ Paven pools as clear as air/ How a child wishes/ To live down there!

6. The following is the poem “From a Railway Carriage” by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?

A. It describes the inability of the narrator to visualize the world around him.
B. It explains to the reader the energy of the child described later on in the poem.
C. It paints a picture of the “glimpse gone forever” that the narrator will later introduce.
D. It helps the reader realize that the poem is a description of the world from a fast-moving train.

7. The following is the poem “The Hayloft” by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Through all the pleasant meadow-side
The grass grew shoulder-high,
Till the shining scythes went far and wide
And cut it down to dry.

Those green and sweetly smelling crops
They led in wagons home;
And they piled them here in mountain tops
For mountaineers to roam.

Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail, Mount Eagle and Mount High;—
The mice that in these mountains dwell,
No happier are than I!

Oh, what a joy to clamber there,
Oh, what a place for play,
With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air,
The happy hills of hay!

According to the text, what is it that Mount Clear, Mont Rusty-Nail, Mount Eagle, and Mount High are made from?
A. The homes of mice.
B. The shoulder high grass, growing in the meadows
C. The imagination of a child
D. The dried hay.

8. “The Unseen Playmate” is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Having read the poem to her class, a teacher claims that the playmate described in the poem is only present when children play by themselves. What quotation from “The Unseen Playmate” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A.  Nobody heard him and nobody saw/ His is a picture you never could draw.
B. Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig/ ‘Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin/ That sides with the Frenchmen and never can win.
C. When children are happy and lonely and good/ The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.
D. When’er you are happy and cannot tell why/ The Friend of the Children is sure to be by!

9. “My Kingdom” is a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson. After reading it, a class is confused as to whether the kingdom is literal. A student claims that it is figurative. Which quotation from “My Kingdom” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. I played there were no deeper seas/ Nor any wider plains than these/ Nor other kings than me.
B. Down by a shining water well/ I found a very little dell
C. This was the world and I was king/ For me the bees came by to sing
D. How very big my nurse appeared/ How great and cool the rooms!

10.“My Treasures” is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Having read it, a child claims that the narrator’s treasures are just pointless pieces of nature. Which quotation from “My Treasures” most effectively disproves this claim?

A. The stone, with the white and the yellow and grey/ We discovered I cannot tell how far away;
B. This whistle we made (and how clearly it sounds)/ By the side of a field at the end of the grounds/ of a branch of a plane, with a knife of my own
C. But of all my treasures the last is the king/ For there’s very few children possess such a thing/ And that is a chisel, both handle and blade.
D. And I carried it back, although weary and cold/ For though father denies it, I’m sure it is gold.

Answer Explanations

  1. A.  The poem tells of a child who, though sick, still explores a vast imaginary land complete with soldiers, ships, cities, and countryside. It is an exploration of imagination. The things described are not literal, so it is not answer B or C. The poem mentions physical malady only once, and it is not the main focus or purpose, so it is not D.
  2. A. In the poem, we read the reflections of a child who points out that as he or she does each of his or her daily tasks, other people in other parts of the world will be doing something else as it is different times of day in different places. This best fits with answer option A. Answer option B is incorrect as it does not address different parts of the world. Answer option C is incorrect because, while the earth and sun are mentioned, discussing them is not the main idea. Option D is incorrect as it is not because of cultural differences that people do things at different times, it is because of their varying geography.
  3. C. Notice how the poem personifies the moon, giving it a face, calling it “she”. In addition, the poem points out the normally active parts of the day that are quiet at night and vice versa. The poem is painting an image of a different world, that only comes to life under the watchful eye of the moon. This makes option C the best answer. Option A is incorrect as there is no evidence that there are many bad things at night (even though the poem mentions thieves). Option B is incorrect as it neglects to mention the moon. Option D is incorrect as it is a description of one thing the poem mentions, but fails to show the bigger main idea.
  4. B.  In the first stanza, the narrator says that riding a swing is “the pleasantest thing/ever a child can do”. He goes on to describe the pleasantness, joy, and delights of such a ride. This makes option B the best answer. The narrator does not describe the physical sensations that he feels, making option D incorrect. Emotions are not discussed, making option A incorrect. While the narrator does describe the incredible view, this is not the main purpose of the passage, but rather, just part of the evidence proving why he delights in riding a swing.
  5. B. Answer options A, C, and D all give evidence that the narrator or child is near a river, or even looking at a river; however, only option B gives evidence that they are using the river as a mirror. The evidence states that they can see their faces floating on the water. This makes B the best proof of the claim that they are “peering into a river as they would a mirror.”
  6. D. The underlined portion essentially says that “stations” are whizzing by “in the wink of an eye”. This is what leads the reader to realize that the narrator is on a train, traveling at quick speeds. This brings the rest of the poem into focus as the reader realizes it’s a description of all the things zipping past outside the windows. Without the underlined portion, the poem makes no sense. This makes option D the best answer. The other options don’t capture what the underlined portion is saying, but rather connect it to singular details elsewhere in the poem, not to the poem as a whole.
  7. D. We see in the poem that the shoulder-high grass is cut down (with scythes) and dried before being transported in wagons and then piled high into the mountains of hay on which the narrator plays. The grass is therefore not still growing in the meadows, making option B incorrect. The hills of hay contain mice, but are not made up of mice homes, making option A incorrect. The hills are literal stacks of hay, making option C incorrect.
  8. C. The teacher claims that the playmate only emerges when children play by themselves, or when they are alone. Option C clearly states that when children are lonely, the Friend of the Children (the unseen playmate) emerges. The other options all describe him in one way or another, but they don’t clarify that he only comes to play when a child is alone.
  9. A. A literal kingdom would be a country that is actually ruled over by a monarch. The question asks for evidence that this is not literal, but rather figurative, in other words, that the “kingdom” is not real. Answer option A best fits this description by showing that this is all play. The narrator is “playing” or pretending that he is the only king over deep seas and wide plains. Answer option B could be literal or figurative. Answer C has some figurative language in the bees singing, but does not prove that the narrator is not a literal king with a literal kingdom. Option D gives no evidence of a literal or figurative kingdom.
  10. C.  The question is a bit different in that is asks you to disprove a claim. We are therefore looking for evidence that not all the narrator’s treasures are pointless pieces of nature. Choice A describes a treasure which is a rock. Choice B describes a treasure which is a whistle made of a branch. Both these could be described as pointless pieces of nature. Choice C, however, is a man-made object. This, as a treasure, disproves the claim that all the treasures are pieces of nature.

If you’d like to read more poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson, you can explore his work on Project Gutenberg. Below is a link to the book from which each of these poems was taken.

General ACT and SAT Test-Taking Tips

  1. Schedule your test well in advance, and try to select a site that is connected to a high school. Sites that are not connected to high schools have less accountability to the students and tend to be more likely to cancel tests at the last moment. Taking the test at your high school is generally best. If your school isn’t a testing center, consider asking the administration why that is.
  2. Make sure to read your emails! The ACT and SAT will both email you occasionally with important information. It might be a reminder to upload your picture (which you can’t take the ACT without). It might be an update to your testing location (so you show up at the right place). It might be the notification to set up your SAT prior to arriving at your test center (you can’t do it once you arrive). Many students ignore these emails and then have big problems on test day.
  3. Have a regular schedule for practice and tutoring. Having a scheduled time in your week to practice or meet with a tutor will provide better results than intermittent or random practice squeezed into any free spot.
  4. Practice like you play. When doing practice at home, make sure you are giving it your all and treating it like test day. Practicing while lounging on the couch, eating a snack, and intermittently texting a friend will be far less effective than sitting at a desk or table, timing yourself, and focusing without interruption.
  5. Practice what you’re good at too. A lot of students make the mistake of only focusing on their weaknesses. It is often easy to improve what you’re already good at, so don’t forget to put effort into each section of your test.
  6. Don’t cut yourself slack. It’s very tempting to ignore small mistakes. “Oh, it was just a silly slip up” is easy to say. Small mistakes lead to wrong answers, just like big mistakes do, so treat a small mistake just as seriously as a big one. Identify why that small mistake happened and work towards eliminating what caused it.
  7. Sleep. High school students generally need over 8 hours of sleep each night. Just because you can exist on less doesn’t mean that is ideal. Best brain function occurs when students are well rested the week or two prior to the test. Start practicing healthy sleep habits today.

Old ACT vs. Digital SAT: Which One is Better for Me?

With the Digital SAT upon us, conventional advice about which test on which to focus has gone out the window. Students find themselves unsure as to which test is best for them. With colleges accepting either test, which one is best for you? Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between the tests. Take a look at our info-graphic, and then read below to help decide which test is best for you or your student!

English, Reading, and Writing

On the ACT you’ll see a long English section that tests grammar, mechanics, and composition skills. There will also be a reading comprehension section later on in the test that requires that students read four long passages and answer 10 questions about each of them. On the Digital SAT these two sections have been combined into modules that cover both reading and writing. The reading passages are far shorter (max 150 words each) but the writing questions overlap many concepts covered on the ACT. The relative brevity of the passages on the SAT gives students with shorter focus periods a better chance at showing their skills. However, the constantly changing topics may be distracting.


The ACT math tends to cover a wide range of topics from elementary school up through introductory pre-calculus. Students will need a broad understanding of many topics and the ability to do math quickly in order to do well on the ACT. The ACT focuses on testing simple concepts in diverse settings. The SAT covers fewer subjects, but does so more in depth. Students must have a much deeper understanding of algebra and linear geometry to succeed on the SAT.


The SAT, in general, is a deep, narrow test. The test expects students to have a thorough understanding of fewer concepts compared to the ACT which expects a shallower understanding of more concepts. For this reason, the ACT expects students to think quickly and adroitly while the SAT grants more time for deep thinking. Most students can expect to run out of time on at least one section of the ACT, while on the SAT this is less of a concern.


The SAT is now adaptive; the ACT is not. Depending on how a student does on the first reading and writing module and the first math module of the SAT, their second modules may be easier or harder. Consequently, the SAT can be shorter than the ACT and still collect a large amount of information on a student’s skills. It also means that students sitting next to one another will have different tests, thus reducing the risk of cheating.

Students who prefer the ACT

Students who prefer the ACT tend to be big readers and quick thinkers. Students who read a lot in their free time (or who did in the past) tend to have an advantage in terms of speed and skill on the ACT. In addition, students who are good with data and scientific concepts will have an advantage on the science portion of the ACT. Students who receive extended time or other accommodations often prefer the ACT as well.

Students who prefer the SAT

Students who are strong in math (especially Algebra) tend to do well on the SAT. Students who prefer to have more time to think deeply about concepts, wording, and nuance also tend to prefer the SAT. Students with a shorter attention span, will often prefer the shorter passages and more direct wording of the questions on the reading and writing portion of the SAT.

The Long and the Short of It

If by now it isn’t obvious which test you should focus on, consider taking one of each to compare. Nothing beats the real-world experience of giving it a try.  If you’re having a hard time making a decision based on your scores and skills, please reach out: we’re always happy to help!

Digital SAT Practice Questions–Command of Evidence: Quantitative

Here are 10 original questions to practice the new Digital SAT Quantitative Command of Evidence questions.

  1. Consumption of Sugar, Coffee, and Tea:

CountrySugar (lbs)Coffee (lbs)Tea (lbs)
Great Britain35.960.903.190
United States24.635.68—–

The entire consumption of sugar in Europe has averaged, during the last few years, 3,410,000 pounds, and for the whole world is it set down at nearly twice that amount. It is estimated that three fourths of the sugar is made from cane, and one fourth from beet. The consumption of coffee has doubled in most countries during the last twenty years.

A scientist wishes to use data from the table to try to back up the initial claim of the author as to European sugar consumption. Which of the following procedures should the scientist undertake in order to utilize the data?

A. Add up all the sugar from European countries and see if it is roughly 3,410,000 pounds.
B. Add up all the sugar from all countries and see if it is exactly 3,410,000 pounds
C. Add up all the coffee from the European countries and see if it is double 3,410,000 pounds
D. Add up all the coffee from the all the countries and see if it is exactly 3,410,000 pounds.

2. Annual report to Congress of the Commissioner of Patents, 1876:

Number of applications for patents in 187621,425
Number of patents issued, including reissues and designs15,595
Number of applications for extension of patents2
Number of patents extended3
Number of caveats filed during the year2,697
Number of patents expired during the year814
Number of patents allowed but not issued for want of final fee3,353
Number of applications for registering of trademarks1,081
Number of trademarks registered959
Number of applications for registering of labels650
Number of labels registered402

The number of applications for patents was a little less than during the previous year. The Commissioner suggests that Congress should appropriate $50,000 to promote the printing of the old patents; that additional examiners be employed, and more clerks, for the purpose of expiating the business of the office; that the price of the Official Gazette be reduced, also the fee for trademark registration; that the library fund be increased; that more space be provided for models, and the transaction of business.

The author is requesting additional funds to hire employees for the patent office. Which answer, if true, would support his claim that more examiners and clerks are needed?

A. Of the 15,595 patents issued, most were to citizens of the United States.
B. Of the roughly 21,425 applications, over half could not be reviewed in time for the annual report.
C. Three patent extensions were needed in 1876
D. The 3,353 patents not issued for lack of fee were mostly to non-Americans


 Without ConductorWith Conductor
Moisture %78.2179.84
Tartaric acid0.8000.791
Bitartrate of potash0.1800.186

Macagno, also believing that the passage of electricity from air through the vine to earth would stimulate growth, selected a certain number of vines, all of the same variety and all in the same condition of health and development. Sixteen vines were submitted to experiment and sixteen were left to natural influences. In the ends of the vines under treatment, pointed platinum wires were inserted, to which were attached copper wires, leading to the tops of tall poles near the vines; at the base of these same vines other platinum wires were inserted and connected by copper wires with the soil. At the close of the experiment, the wood, leaves, and fruit of both sets of vines were submitted to careful analysis with the above results.

Which answer would be the best summary statement to make based on the results in the chart as they relate to Mocagno’s hypothesis?

A. The plants without the conductor and the plants with the conductor had no measurable difference in bitartrate of potash.
B. The plants with the conductor had higher levels of moisture, sugar, and bitartrate of potash, which created growth and proves Macagno’s hypothesis correct.
C. Because the plants without a conductor had higher tartaric acid levels, they would have grown more than the plans with the conductor, proving Macagno’s hypothesis incorrect.
D. Because we do not have data on the size or height of the plants, we can not draw conclusions as to the effect of the conductor on plant growth. Macagno’s hypothesis remains untested.

4. The following table gives the absolute sensitiveness of several of the best known kinds of American and foreign photography plates, when developed with oxalate, in terms of pure silver chloride taken as a standard. As the numbers would be very large, however, if the chloride were taken as a unit, it was thought better to give them in even hundred thousands.

Sensitiveness of Plates:

Carbutt transparency0.7
Allen and Rowell1.3150
Richardson Standard1.310
Marchall and Blair2.7140
Blair Instantaneous3.0140
Carbutt Special4.020
Wratten and Wainwright4.010
Eastman special5.330
Richardson Instantaneous5.320
Walker Reid and Inglis11.0600

It will be noted that the plates most sensitive to gaslight are by no means necessarily the most sensitive to daylight; in some instances, in fact,                                                                . It should be said that the above figures cannot be considered final until each plate has been tested separately with its own developer, as this would undoubtedly have some influence on the final result.

Which answer option best completes the passage with information consistent with the data in the table?

A. there is no gaslight sensitivity whatsoever
B. the gaslight and daylight sensitivity seem to be nearly the same
C. the reverse seems to be true
D. The daylight sensitivity is far below the gaslight sensitivity

5. So much has been claimed for natural gas as regards the superiority of its heating properties as compared with coal, that some analyses of this gas, together with calculations showing the comparison between its heating power and that of coal, may be of interest. These calculations are, of course, theoretical in both cases, and it must not be imagined that the total amount of heat, either in a ton of coal or 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas, can ever be fully utilized. In making these calculations I employed as a basis what in my estimation was a gas of an average chemical composition, as I have found that gas from the same well caries continually in its compositions. Thus, samples of gas from the same well, but taken on different days, _______________________________________  and so with all the component gases.

Analysis of Natural Gas- given as percents

Date tested10/28/8410/29/8411/24/8412/4/8410/18/8410/25/84
Carbonic Acid0.8.60.400.3
Carbonic Oxide1.00.8.580.41.00.30
Olefiant Gas0.70.80.980.60.80.6
Ethylic Hydride3.65.57.9212.305.24.8
March Gas72.1865.2560.7049.5857.8575.16
Heat Units728,746698,170627,170745,813592,380745,591

Which answer option best completes the passage with information from the chart?

A. vary in olefiant gas from .98 to .6, Ethylic Hydride from 12.3 to 3.6, heat units from 745,813 to 592,380,
B. vary in nitrogen from 23 percent to zero percent, carbonic acid from two percent to zero percent, oxygen from four percent to 0.4 percent,
C. vary in nitrogen from 23 percent to zero percent, carbonic acid from two percent to zero percent, heat units from 745,813 to 592,380,
D. vary in nitrogen from 23.41 to 0, carbonic acid from .08 to .3, Oxygen from 1.1 to 1.2

6. The following table gives some particulars of the Great Lakes and the discharge from them:

LakeElevation above mean tideArea of Basin (square miles)Area of lake (square miles)RainfallEvaporationDischarge
Huron and Michigan581.28121,94150,400262,96466,754216,435

The average variation in level of the lakes is from 18 inches to 24 inches during the year, and the range in evaporation from year to year is also very considerable; thus the evaporation per second on Huron and Michigan, as given in the table above, _____________________  but the figures for another year show nearly 89,000 feet per second, which would represent a difference of 6.5 inches in water level. As a discharge of 10,000 cubic feet a second into the new canal would lower the level of these two lakes by 2.87 inches in a year, it follows that the difference between a year of maximum and one of minimum evaporations is more than twice as great as would be required for the canal, and even under the most unfavorable conditions the volume taken from the whole chain of lakes would not lower them an inch.

Which answer option best completes the passage with relevant data from the table?

A. is nearly 67,000 feet,
B. is around 250,000 feet,
C. is nearly 14,000 feet,
D. is nearly 35,000 feet,

7. The portion of the flame which is supposed to be the hottest is about half an inch above the tip of the inner zone of the flame, and it is at this point that most vessels containing water to be heated are made to impinge on the flame; and it is this portion of the flame, also, which is utilized for raising various solids to a temperature at which they radiate heat.

In order to gain an insight into the amount of contamination which the air undergoes when a geyser or cooking stove is at work, I have determined the composition of the products of a combustion, and the unburned gases escaping when a vessel containing water at the ordinary temperatures is heated up to the boiling point by a gas flame, the vessel being placed, in the fist case, half an inch above the inner cone of the flame, and in the second, at the extreme outer tip of the flame.

Gases Escaping During Combustion:

 Luminous flame InnerLuminous flame Outer
Water Vapor11.8019.24
Carbon Dioxide4.938.38
Carbon Monoxide2.452.58
March Gas0.950.39

Based on the passage and the table, what inference could be made about the placement of the water vessel and the resulting effects on the air in the room the experiment was conducted?

A.  When water was heated in a vessel placed in the hottest part of the flame, less of every type of contaminant was released into the air, leading to better air quality than when the vessel was placed in a cooler part of the flame.
B. When water was heated in a vessel placed in the hottest part of the flame, more nitrogen, march gas, acetylene, and hydrogen were released into the air while less water vapor, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide were released. The resulting effect on air quality is unknown.
C. When water was heated in a vessel placed in the hottest part of the flame, less nitrogen, march gas acetylene, and hydrogen were released into the air while more water vapor, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide were released. The resulting effect on air quality is positive.
D. When water was heated in a vessel placed in the hottest part of the flame, more of every type of contaminant was released into the air, leading to poorer air quality than when the vessel was placed in a cooler part of the flame.

8. Eggs Laid and Gain in Weight in Hens over the course of three periods.

Live Weight, July 26th23.5323.56
Live weight, November 2721.3122.00
Number of Eggs laid79.0026.00
Weight of eggs laid (lb)8.252.92
Average weight of eggs (oz)1.671.80
Gain in weight, including eggs (lb)6.031.36

During the first week the carbonaceous fed hens laid three eggs while the others laid two. The two groups were, therefore, practically evenly divided at the start as to the condition of the laying stage. At the end of the first period the nitrogenous fed hens had laid forty-three eggs and the carbonaceous fed hens had laid twenty. During the next twenty-five days the former laid thirty and the latter six; ___________________________________     From this time on no eggs were received from either group. The decline in egg production was probably due in large part to the fact that the hens began to molt during the second period, and continued to do so during the rest of the experiment.

Which answer option best uses information from the table to complete the passage?

A. during the third period the former laid six and the latter not any.
B. during the third period the former laid 79 and the later laid 26.
C. during the third period the former laid non and the latter laid six.
D. during the third period it was no possible to tabulate the number of eggs laid.

9. Cost of living for a man in Great Britain and the United States, in shillings:

 Great BritianUnited States
Total:1200 Shillings
(60 pounds)
1536.2 Shillings (77 pounds, 16 shillings)

Having agreed that wages are probably 62 percent higher in Massachusetts than in Great Britain, it would be easy, if we could ascertain what proportion of a working man’s income is spent respectively in groceries, provisions, clothing etc., to determine what advantage an operative derives from the higher wages of the United States. Dr. Engle, the chief of the Prussian Bureau of Statistics, puts us in possession of this information, and, as the result of a laborious inquiry, has formulated a certain economic law which governs the relations between income and expenditure. We learn, consequently ___________________________ .

Which answer best uses information from the table and the passage to draw a conclusion about wage equity between the United States and Great Britain?

A. that a workman earning 1200 shillings per year in Great Britain would also have to pay more in food costs, thus further reducing his available funds, and making the advantage of working in the United States even stronger. 
B. that workers in the United States have to pay more for everything from food to Sundries, making their income lower than that of a man in a comparable job in Great Britain.
C. that a workman in Great Britain earns only 60 pounds per year while a comparable workman in the United States earns over 77 pounds, creating a wealth gap of 17 pounds, 16 shillings between English and American workers.
D. that a workman earning 60 pounds per annum in Great Britain would receive 99 pounds in the States, but living there would cost him 77 pounds, or 17 pounds more than here, giving him a net advantage of only 22 pounds.

10. The following table, which has been prepared by the French Ministry of Public Works, gives the railway mileage of the various countries of Europe and the United States up to the end of 1881, with the number of miles constructed in that year, and the population per mile:

CountryTotal MilesMiles Built in 1881Population per Mile
Great Britain18,1571641,939
Sweden and Norway4,6162731,408
United States104,8139,358502

It appears from this that the United States Mileage was only 2,493 less than the total of all Europe, and at the present time it exceeds it, as the former country has built about 6,000 miles this year, whereas Europe has not exceeded 1,500. The difference in the number of persons per mile in the two cases is also

Which answer, if true, would best complete the author’s thought, using data from the table?

A. generally minimal, with the difference between countries varying from 5,870 in Portugal to 1,405 in Sweden and Norway with two outliers: the United States and Greece.
B. very great: Greece has one mile of rail for every 28,000 people while Sweden and Norway have one mile of rail for every 1,408 people largely due to the density of their population.
C. very great, Europe taking six times as many persons to support a mile of railway as the States, and can only be accounted for by the fact that American railways are constructed much cheaper than the European ones.
D. marginal, with the average population per mile in Europe hovering around 4,750.

Answer Solutions

1.  A. The passage claims that Europe has, in the past few years, had a sugar consumption around 3,410,000 pounds. If a scientist wanted to support this, he or she could find the total European sugar consumption for the year in the table and see if it is close to the average. Of course, any given year might be an outlier, but given the limited data in the table, this is still the best option. Option B is incorrect because it includes non-European countries. Options C and D are correct because the scientist is trying to make a claim about sugar, not coffee.
2. B. In the passage, the commissioner requests additional funds in order to employ more examiners and clerks for the patent office “for the purpose of expiating the business of the office”. In other words, they need more people so that the office can move more quickly in processing the patent and other applications. If it were true that only half of the submitted patents had been able to be reviewed by the time the end of the year report came out, that would support the idea that more workers are needed, making option B correct. Option A is incorrect, as the citizenship of the applicants does not impact the need for more funds. Options C and D are incorrect for the same reason.
3. D. The hypothesis posited by Mscagno was that electricity would stimulate the growth of the plants. Because plant height, weight, or other indicators of growth were not measured, the data cannot be used to support Macagno’s hypothesis. This makes option D correct and the other answers incorrect. The presence of moisture, sugar, tartaric acid, and bitartrate of potash are not indicators of growth.
4. C. The first sentence points out that there seems to be no positive correlation between plate sensitivity to daylight and gaslight. The passage continues by saying that “in some instances, in fact”. This is leading into a contrasting statement from the first sentence, making option C the best answer. Answer option A is only correct for Carbutt transparencies, not for the plates in general. Answer B is incorrect as there is a clear and measurable difference between daylight and gaslight sensitivity for all the plates. Option D is incorrect as it does not contrast with the first sentence of the passage.
5. B. The correct answer must include the variances for different components of the gas. Heat units are not components of gas, but rather a measure of energy, and thus answers A, and C are incorrect. Answer option D incorrectly measures the highest and lowest measurements of the components, leaving only answer B as a correct option.
6. A. A careful reading of the graph shows that the evaporation on lakes Huron and Michigan is 66,754 which makes option A correct and the other options incorrect.
7. B. We learn in the first paragraph that the hottest part of the flame is about half an inch above the tip of the inner zone of the flame. This makes “luminous flame inner” our hotter option and “luminous flame outer” our cooler option. Based on this, we can see that the hotter option has higher outputs of nitrogen, march gas, acetylene, and hydrogen and lower outputs of water vapor, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. However, we do not have evidence of the impact of these outputs on air quality. This makes option B the best answer. The other answer options are all incorrect as they misunderstand either which one is hotter, or they assume the impact on the air quality without evidence.
8. A. We learn in the table that the nitrogenous fed (former) hens laid a total of 79 eggs and the carbonaceous fed (later) hens laid a total of 26.  The passage tells us that in the first and second periods the nitrogenous fed hens laid 43 and 25 eggs and the carbonaceous fed hens laid 20 and 6. 79-43-25=6 therefore in the third period the nitrogenous fed hens laid six eggs. 26-20-6=0 therefore in the third period the carbonaceous fed hens laid 0. This is best stated in answer option A.
9. D. We see in the table that in Great Britain the cost of living is 1200 shillings, or 60 pounds. In the United States, the cost of living is 1536.2 shillings, or 77 pounds, 16 shillings. We learn in the passage that wages are higher in Massachusetts than in Great Britain. This makes answer D the most logical conclusion. A that pays 60 pounds in Great Britain would likely pay more in the United States, but some of that advantage would be eaten away by the higher cost of living.
10. C.  Note the word “also” before the blank. In the previous sentence, the author pointed out a large discrepancy in the 6000 miles built in the U.S. compared to the only 1500 built in Europe. We now need a similar comparison for that “also” to make sense. This would mean that answers A and D are incorrect as they do not show a similarly large difference. Answer B is incorrect as it compares one European country to another instead of continuing the author’s comparison of all of Europe to the United States.


All information and data are taken from or adapted from various editions of Scientific American and the supplements thereof. You can improve your reading skills by reading more of similar texts. Specific links for the information from each question can be found below.


Is the Digital SAT easier than the old paper SAT?

Many students and parents who were familiar with the old paper-based SAT are wondering whether the new Digital SAT will be easier.  The Digital SAT is designed to maintain the same level of rigor and predictive value for colleges as the paper SAT—otherwise, it wouldn’t be a useful tool to assess freshman-year readiness.  The College Board has done extensive research to ensure that Digital SAT scores align with paper SAT scores.  That being said, students I have tutored have generally found the new Digital SAT to be much less intimidating and more approachable than the paper SAT.  Here are ten reasons why most students will find the Digital SAT easier than the paper SAT. 

1.  Test fatigue is much less of an issue.  While the paper SAT was over three hours long, the Digital SAT is only a little over two hours.  This is possible because of the section-adaptive format of the Digital SAT:  students start with modules of average difficulty and then progress to either more or less challenging modules based on their first module performance.  Most students find that sustaining their attention for a little over two hours is quite manageable, making the Digital SAT less overwhelming than the paper SAT. 

2.  Less time wasted on double-checking.  On the paper SAT, many students found it difficult to avoid looking back at their previous answers since they could easily be seen.  Also, they had concerns about their bubbling in of the paper answer sheets. On the Digital SAT, students will only view one question at a time, making it much easier to compartmentalize their focus on one task.  Also, students click on the answer instead of physically bubbling, and they can easily see that the answer choice they selected is recorded by the computer. 

3.  Calculators are available throughout the math section.  The paper SAT had a no-calculator section; even though all the problems on this section could have been done without a calculator, many students found it more challenging than the calculator math section.  On the Digital SAT, students can bring a calculator of their own to use for the math sections.  Moreover, they have access to the powerful Desmos™ calculator that is built into the testing interface.  The functionality of the Desmos™ calculator allows students to easily graph parabolas, systems of equations, and even tables. 

4.  Fewer questions on obscure grammar concepts.  The Digital SAT focuses on grammar fundamentals:  subject-verb agreement, verb tense, punctuation, modifier placement, and transitions.  Unlike the old SAT, which also tested idioms, diction, and wordiness, students will find that they can focus their grammar study on certain concepts.  For example, understanding the rules of semicolon and colon usage can go a long way on the Digital SAT. 

5. The question stems are more predictable.  Unlike the paper SAT, which had a wide variety of question wording, the questions on the Digital SAT are quite consistent.  Students will find certain question stems repeated over and over: 

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?  

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

Which choice most logically completes the text? 

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?  Which choice completes the text with the most logical transition?  

Having these consistent question stems allows students to get in a better testing rhythm and devote more time to thinking about their answers instead of trying to understand what they are asked to do. 

6.  The reading and writing selections are concise.  The old paper SAT had just a few reading and writing passages, each of which was several hundred words.  If a student found a topic uninteresting on these sorts of passages, it was easy for them to lose focus.  On the Digital SAT, the reading and writing passages are no longer than 150 words and are accompanied by a single question.  While a shorter text doesn’t necessarily mean an easier text, it does mean that students will often find them less daunting than the longer old SAT passages. 

7.  Proctor errors are less of a concern.  I have had some past tutoring students experience proctor errors during their testing—in particular, the proctor called “time” too early or too late.  Since the timing on the Digital SAT is done within the testing application, students need not worry about time being called early.  If they hide the countdown clock, it will automatically reappear when 5 minutes remain.  That way, students can be sure they answer every question before they run out of time. 

8. Students can use their own tablet or computer.  Familiarity brings comfort—students can practice on the same tablet or computer they want to use on test day.  Students can take control of their testing process by ensuring their computer is fully charged and in good working order.  There should be a minimal disconnect between practice tests and real tests when the device is the same for each. 

9.  The questions are less wordy.  Both the reading/writing and the math questions on the Digital SAT are generally shorter than those found on the paper SAT.  If students take their time carefully reading the questions, they are unlikely to make careless reading errors. 

10.  The Digital SAT is almost exactly like the Digital PSAT.  While there are slight differences in the content tested on the SAT and PSAT, the two tests have the same format and time restrictions.  Students who took the PSAT in the fall will feel comfortable knowing that they have already seen the computer interface and question types they will see on the Digital SAT. 

All told, students should look at the new Digital SAT not as something to be feared, but as an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate their academic skills to colleges. 

Digital SAT Writing Transitions Practice Questions

1. The following is an excerpt from The Dorrington Deed-box by Arthur Morrison:

As for Dorrington, he had his hundred pounds reward. But the bill for £10,000 he never presented. Why, I do not altogether know, unless he found that Mr. Mallows’s financial position, as he had hinted, was not altogether so good as was supposed.  __________ it was found among the notes and telegrams in this case in the Dorrington deed-box.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. In other words,
B. At any rate,
C. Whatever,
D. On the other hand,

2. The following is an excerpt from Sanders of the River, By Edgar Wallace:

The Hon. George Tackle had the good fortune to be the son of his father; otherwise, I am free to confess he had no claim to distinction.  __________ his father, being the proprietor of the Courier and Echo (with which are incorporated I don’t know how many dead and gone stars of the Fleet Street firmament), George had a “pull” which no amount of competitive merit could hope to contend with.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. But
B. While
C. So
D. Thus

3. The following is an excerpt from The Pathless Trail by Arthur O. Friel:

Sleep enveloped the huts. Snores and gurgles rose and fell. Tim himself, for the sake of effect, snored heartily at intervals, __________ his eyes never closed. Through his mosquito bar he could see only vaguely, but he knew any man walking from the crew’s quarters must cast a very visible shadow across that net, and to him the shadow would be as good a warning as a clear view of the substance. But the hours crept on, and no shadow came.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. and
B. though
C. since
D. for

4. The Following is an excerpt from Bones in London, By Edgar Wallace:

The Tibbetts-Jelf Lamp was something new in motor lamps. It was a lamp which had all the advantages of the old lamp, plus properties which no lamp had ever had before, and it had none of the disadvantages of any lamp previously introduced, and, __________ had no disadvantages whatsoever. So Jelf told Bones with great earnestness.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. however,
B. finally,
C. in fact,
D. therefore,

5. The following is an excerpt from The Keepers of The King’s Peace by Edgar Wallace:

The Wiggle, moreover, possessed many attributes which are denied to other small steamers. She had, __________  a Maxim gun on her tiny forecastle. She had a siren of unusual power and diabolical tone, she was also fitted with a big motor-horn, both of which appendages were Bones’s gift to his flagship.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. on the other hand,
B. however,
C. completely,
D. for example

6. The following is an excerpt from Kidnapped by Robert Lois Stevenson:

I was abashed how to find expression for my thanks; but she was no less abashed at the thought of hearing them; begged us to lose no time and to hold our peace, saying (very properly) that the heart of our matter was in haste and silence; __________ what with one thing and another, she had set us on the Lothian shore not far from Carriden, had shaken hands with us, and was out again at sea and rowing for Limekilns, before there was one word said either of her service or our gratitude.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. therefore,
B. because,
C. but,
D. and,

7. The following is an excerpt from Caves of Terror by Talbot Mundy

The tiny portions that melted and liquefied became full of motion, __________ the motion was never in one place for more than about a minute at a time; and wherever the motion had been the lump lost bulk, so that gradually the whole piece shrank and shrank.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. while
B. although
C. so
D. because

8. The following is an excerpt from The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope:

After that we called on Bertram Bertrand, a versifier of some repute and Paris correspondent to The Critic. He had a very comfortable suite of rooms, and we found some pleasant fellows smoking and talking. It struck me, __________ that Bertram himself was absent and in low spirits, and when everybody except ourselves had gone, I rallied him on his moping preoccupation.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. however,
B. on one hand,
C. therefore,
D. nevertheless,

9. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to She, by H. Rider Haggard:

That same evening my visit came to an end, and this was the last I saw or heard of “Charon” and “the Greek god” for many a long day. __________ I have never seen either of them from that hour to this, and do not think it probable that I shall. But a month ago I received a letter and two packets, one of manuscript, and on opening the first found that it was signed by “Horace Holly,” a name that at the moment was not familiar to me.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. While,
B. Therefore,
C. Indeed,
D. Nevertheless,

10. The following is an excerpt from The Lion of Petra by Talbot Mundy:

The beginning as concerns me was when I moved into quarters in Grim’s mess in Jerusalem. As a civilian and a foreigner I could not have done that, __________ if it had been a real mess; but Grim, who gets fun out of side-stepping all regulations, had established a sort of semi-military boarding-house for junior officers who were tired of tents, and he was too high up in the Intelligence Department for anybody less than the administrator to interfere with him openly.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. but,
B. in addition,
C. while,
D. of course,


1. B.  The information before the blank is saying that the author doesn’t exactly know why Dorrington never cashed the 10,000-pound check. The sentence with the blank is saying that the check was found in his possession. The author is not repeating previous information, so answer A is incorrect. Answer C makes no logical sense. Answer D is incorrect because the author is not contrasting the two sentences. Instead, the author is offering more information about the check, making option B the best answer.

2. A. The general meaning of this passage is that George Tackle had no reason to be notable, except that his father was notable. This makes option A the best answer since we are contrasting the lack of importance of the son with the “pull” he gets from his father. Option B is incorrect as it makes the second sentence a fragment. Options C and D are incorrect as the author is not showing cause and effect. 

3. B. Here, the author is setting up a contrast. We learn that Tim is making snoring noises, but he is still watching through the mosquito netting for a shadow. Therefore, he isn’t actually asleep. The only answer option that shows the contrast between the snoring noises and his being awake is option B.

4. C. Notice the word “and” before the blank. This eliminates option A. Option B is incorrect as we are not placing things in order. Option D is incorrect as the author is not concluding. The author is offering additional information, making option C the best answer.

5. D. In this passage, the second sentence is showing an example of an attribute The Wiggle had which other small steamers did not have. This makes option D the only appropriate answer.

6. D. The author is offering more information here. The woman has refused thanks and set them on the shore. This makes option D the best answer. The author is not showing cause and effect, making A and B incorrect and is not showing contrast, making option C incorrect.

7. B. The sentence shows that the portions are full of motion. The author wants to contrast this with the motion never being regular or in one place. This contrast is best shown in answer B. Answer A leaves the sentence a fragment. Options C and D do not show contrast.

8. A. The context clue here is that they found “pleasant fellows” but Bertram was “in low spirits” these are two contrasting emotions, making “however” the best answer. Option B would need to be placed with the first item of contrast, not the second. Option C shows cause and effect, not contrast. Option D does not fit into the context of the sentence.

9. C. In this sentence, the author is adding more information to emphasize the information in the first sentence that “this was the last I saw or heard of [them] for many a long day”. This makes option C the best answer as it shows that what is coming next is additional information. Option A does not fit into the sentence structure of the second sentence. Option B shows cause and effect. Option D shows contrast.

10. D. The first sentence sets up that he could not do what he did. The second sentence explains why he could do that after all (by breaking rules). The keeping of the rules is to be assumed, thus “of course” is the best answer. The breaking of rules is not to be assumed. Options A, B, and C do not fit into the structure of the sentence.

Digital SAT Rhetorical Synthesis Practice Questions

1. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • In Rome, there still remain ruins of the Temple of Apollo Palatinus which was constructed in the first century BCE.
  • In the late 1st century CE the temple underwent a restoration after being fire damaged in the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE
  • The temple was almost completely destroyed in another fire in 363 CE
  • If you visit Rome today you will only be able to see the core of the temple’s podium and some other fragments which were excavated in the mid-1800s.

The student wants to educate visitors to Rome as to why they can’t see the entire temple today. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Because of an excavation in the 1800s, parts of the temple including the podium, are visible to modern visitors to the site.
B. After the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE the entire temple underwent a restoration so that it could continue being used.
C. The Temple of Apollo Palatinus was originally built over 2000 years ago.
D. After its nearly complete destruction in a fire in 363, the Temple of Apollo Palatinus was not restored, leaving only fragments.

2. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • The Fountain and Tallman Museum is located in the historic Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building in Placerville California.
  • The building is unique in its construction as it has stone walls that are over two feet thick—originally designed to keep ice and other soda making equipment cool. The thick walls are why it still stands when most other buildings from that era have not survived.
  • In addition to being a soda water factory, the building was also used as a jail and an office space for a gas company.
  • In the late 1900s the building was donated to a local historical society and was set up as a museum of local history.

The student wants to introduce the historic Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building to an audience that has never heard of it before. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The Fountain- Tallman Soda Works building is a historic building in Placerville California that was built as a soda water factory but has served the community in several capacities since its construction.
B. The Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building is currently a museum with walls that are over two feet thick.
C. The Fountain and Tallman Museum started with the donation of a building to a local historical society in the late 1900s.
D. The Fountain and Tallman Museum was originally built as a soda water factory, but does not remain a factory today.

3. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (BVM) and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (TBV) are two different products with different standards.
  • BVM has lower standards, and is much less expensive, is often aged only briefly, and contains  some ingredients that are not traditional.  It is protected under the weak European protected geographical indication (PGI).
  • TBV is aged at least 12 years, but often much longer, and has stricter controls on ingredients as well as origin as it is regulated under the strong European protected designation of origin (PDO).
  • Neither PGI nor PDO are able to be enforced in the U.S. so if consumers want to purchase real balsamic vinegar, they must be careful to read the name and look for the PDO or PGI seal on the label.

The student wants to explain to readers in the United States the variety of goods they might see labeled as “balsamic vinegar” in the grocery store. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Both BVM and TBV can be found in the United States, but only if a discerning shopper knows where to look.
B. Because PGI and PDO are not enforced in the United States, a wide range of products, from artificially dyed vinegar to authentic TBV and BVM, may be labeled as balsamic vinegar in American stores.
C. Authentic BVM and TBV both have strict quality controls at their points of origin in northern Italy. Shoppers can be confident of authenticity by looking for PDO and PGI seals.
D. BVM and TBV are both protected in some way, with BVM having lower standards and TBV having higher standards.

4. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • As a type of antibody, Immunoglobulin G (IgG), binds with many pathogens in the body in order to protect the body from infections brought on by viruses, bacteria, and fungi, among others.
  • IgG is the most common antibody in blood circulation and makes up around 75% of serum antibodies in humans.
  • If doctors suspect certain conditions, they may measure a patient’s levels of IgG as a diagnostic tool.
  • IgG plays a key role in newborn immunity as infants inherit IgG from their mothers through both placenta while in utero and through breast milk once born.

The student wants to include in her essay a sentence that will highlight the importance of IgG to all humans. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. IgG makes up around 75% of the average human’s serum antibodies and plays a key role in protecting the body from a wide range of infections.
B. Infants receive IgG in multiple ways from their mothers, including through the placenta and through breast milk.
C. IgG levels are used by doctors occasionally as a diagnostic indicator for certain specific conditions.  
D. While important, IgG is not the only antibody that helps support immune reaction in humans who have been infected by a virus, bacteria, or fungi.

5. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Mary Quant was one of the designers who helped to define 1960’s style in the United States and Great Britain.
  • Quant specialized in youthful looks with bold colors, blocky shapes, and wild patterns, though her earlier work was a bit softer and more delicate than her later work.
  • While Quant claimed to have invented the mini-skirt, some people dispute this claim, saying that the mini-skirt was invented by one of several other designers or that it was not invented by any one person, but was rather the logical end point of a continuous trend of shorter hem lengths.
  • In addition to clothing, Quant designed headwear, household goods, and personal care items, like makeup.

The student would like to explain to designers already familiar with Quant the range of her designs. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Quant designed not just clothes we now consider classic, like the mini skirt, but also tried her hand at designing household goods, hats, and makeup.
B. Quant had a distinctive style that changed slightly over the course of her career, moving from slightly more soft and delicate to wild patterns and colors.
C. Mary Quant helped shaped style in the 1960s with her design for the now famous miniskirt.
D. With the consistently shortening hemline as a general trend, Mary Quant showed her design skill by creating the mini-skirt, a now famous look.

6. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • While China’s imperial era is often associated with Emperors, Empress Dowager Cixi who lived from 1835 until 1908 had effective rule over the country from 1861 until her death.
  • Cixi came to power when emperor Zianfeng died, leaving Cixi’s son to inherit the throne at age five.
  • Cixi schemed to overthrow other appointed regents and served as co-regent alongside another advisor Empress Dowager Ci’an for her son’s entire life, since he was seen as a weak ruler.
  • Upon her son’s death Cixi conspired to have her young nephew placed on the throne so that she could continue in her role as regent.

The student would like to explain how Cixi managed to remain regent for so long. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Empress Dowager Cixi reigned as regent for more than 70 years, an impressive feat for any ruler, but most especially for a female ruler of the 19th century.
B. As one of the backbones of China’s imperial era, Empress Dowager Cixi is likely remembered as the longest reigning female monarch, though she was only technically the regent.
C. In order to ensure her power, Cixi overthrew other regents so that she could control the monarchy through her son.
D. Cixi reigned for over 70 years by first serving for regent for her son and then, after his death, scheming to have her nephew put on the throne so that she could continue as regent.

7. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • The first woman to ever be granted membership in the Entomological Society, Cynthia Evelyn Longfield was a renowned entomologist who specialized in the study of dragonflies.
  • Born in 1896, Longfield served in the Army Service Corps in World War One. After the war she traveled extensively, collecting specimens for the Natural History Museum of London.
  • In World War Two she served in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
  • Later in life she was a cataloguer at the Natural History Museum and collected 38 species of butterflies on a trip to South America. Three of those species had never been seen before.

The student wants to emphasize Longfield’s dedication to public service. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Longfield is best remembered for her trip to South America, on which she catalogued 3 species of dragonflies which had never been seen before.
B. As the first woman to be granted membership in the Entomological Society, Longfield is well remembered in certain circles for her pioneering work with dragonflies.
C. While she is remembered for her entomological work, Longfield served her country in both World Wars I and II first in the Army Service Corps and Later in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
D. Longfield once, in her job for the Natural History Museum, collected 38 species in one single trip to South America.

8. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Kepler-90 is a star around 2,000 light years away from earth in the Draco constellation. It’s planetary system is quite similar to ours, as was discovered by the Kepler mission in the early 21st century.
  • The Kepler mission was designed to discover planets that orbit their stars by measuring dips in brightness of the stars as the plants cross them.
  • Kepler-90 has 8 planets just like our solar system’s sun does, however, it is thought that several of the planets that orbit Kepler-90 do not rotate on their axes, leaving them half in the dark, much like Earth’s moon.
  • Kepler-90 cannot be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

The student wants to explain the purpose of the Kepler mission and what it discovered at Kepler-90. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The Kepler mission measured the light coming from stars including Kepler-90—a star about 2,000 light years away from earth.
B. Designed to discover planets orbiting stars, one of the Kepler mission’s findings was the eight planets orbiting Kepler-90, some of them not turning on their axes.
C. Since Kepler-90 cannot be seen with the naked eye, it took a special mission, the Kepler mission, to discover its 8 orbiting planets.
D. The Kepler mission confirmed the presence of many planets by measuring dips in light coming from far distant stars.

9. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Yang Xiong was a Chinese author and philosopher of the early 1st century CE. He was well-known in his time in the Han dynasty.
  • Yang gained enough praise and acclaim, that he was summoned to imperial capital where he was an officer in charge or composing fu as well as poetry for the emperor.
  • Yang did not think that the nature of humanity was inherently bad or good, but rather, he philosophized that human nature was a mixture of both.
  • His most famous work, Exemplary Sayings, is remembered for his critique of his contemporaries for their overly elaborate writings and their seeming inability to address the greater moral issues of the day.  

A student wants to give an overview of the beliefs of Yang Xiong. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. As a Chinese philosopher of the early 1st century CE, Yang Xiong wrote for the emperor on a regular basis. His work was both poetry and fu as the situation demanded.
B. Exemplary Sayings is Yang Xiongs most well remembered work because  it contained criticisms of other writers.
C. Yang held that man was duel in nature, containing a mix of good and evil and that this and other philosophical concepts should be addressed in the writing of his time.
D. Yang Xiong shunned the elaborate writing of his contemporaries.

10. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • In many building trades like woodworking, masonry, and metalworking, workers use what is known as a combination square for a multitude of situations.
  • The combination square is made up of a ruler, and one of may different heads that can be slid over or along the ruler. A worker might use a standard head, a protractor head, or a center finding head.
  • The modern combination square dates back to the 1970s and can be used with its standard head to make 90 degree markings, miter corners, check whether a surface is level, gauge depth, and other activities vital in building.
  • With other heads, the abilities of the combination square are much more complex.

A student wants to explain to a friend a situation in which a combination square with a standard head might be useful. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The combination square can be used for a great many things, especially if the person using it has more than one head for the tool.
B. With a standard head, a combination square could be used in building to make sure walls are level and corners meet at exact right angles.
C. Woodworkers, masons, and metalworkers all use the combination head in their daily jobs.
D. Depending on the situation, a builder may switch out the heads of a combination square to complete different tasks.


1. D. The question requires that the answer explain why the entire temple can’t be seen today. While the notes given do include information on an early fire, it also explains that the temple was restored after that first fire in 64 CE. That would point us to the second fire in 363 CE as the final destruction of the temple and the reason why it is not visible today, making answer option D the correct answer. Answer option A explains why parts are visible today, but not why the rest of the temple is not visible. Answer option B explains the earlier destruction prior to the restoration. Answer option C includes information that does not answer the question.

2. A. The question asks for a general introduction to the building for an audience that is completely unfamiliar with the building. This makes answer A the best option as it gives the best broad background for the building. Option B gives just one detail of the building, not an introduction. Option C gives an introduction to the museum, not the building. Option D gives the origin of the building, but no information as to the rest of its history or relevance today.

3. B. The question asks about the variety found on the stores in the U.S. The final note of the set indicates that, due to lack of protections, in addition to real BVM or TBV there are many knock off products in the U.S. This makes option B the best to answer the question. Option A does not explain the variety available beyond BVM and TBV. Option C explains how to find BVM and TBV, but not what else is on shelves. Option D explains the protections on BVM and TBV but not the variety of other goods available.

4. A. The question asks about the importance of IgG to all humans. Option A best explains that IgG plays a key role in protecting all humans from illnesses. Option B explains how infants get IgG, but not its role. Option C explains how it can be a useful diagnostic, but only for people with certain conditions, not for all humans. Option D implies that IgG is plays only a part in immunity and therefore does not highlight its importance to all humans.

5. A. The question asks for an answer that assumes the reader already knows something about Mary Quant and that explains her range beyond just fashion design. Answer A fulfills this prompt by explaining that she designed household goods, hats, and makeup. Option B is incorrect as it explains a slight and gradual change over time, not a wide range of designs. Option C is incorrect as it gives a general introduction to Quant, but does not explain the range of her designs. Option D is incorrect as it addresses just one of her designs instead of showing her range.

6. D. The question asks for an explanation of how Cixi managed to rule for so long as regent. Option D explains this the best by telling the reader that Cixi ruled not just during her son’s childhood, but also by placing another child on the throne after her son’s death. Options A and B are incorrect as they do not explain how she ruled for 70 years. Option C is incorrect as it explains how Cixi came to power, but not how she retained that power for 70 years.

7. C. The question asks for information on Longfield’s public service, not her entomological activities. This makes C the best option and A, B, and D incorrect.

8. B. The question asks for the purpose of the Kepler mission and what was discovered at Kepler-90. Option B is the best answer as it explains that Kepler was designed to discover planets orbiting stars (its purpose) and what it found at Kepler-90 (8 orbiting plants, some of which do not turn on their axes). Option A explains what Kepler did, but not what it discovered at Kepler-90. Option C explains why the Kepler mission was necessary, but not what its purpose was. Option D does not explain specifically what was discovered at Kepler-90.

9. C. The question asks about Yang Xiong’s beliefs. This is best summed up in option C. Option A explains his work. Option B explains why his work Exemplary Sayings is remembered. Option D explains his attitude toward his contemporaries.

10. B. The question asks for a situation in which a combination square with a standard head would be used. We learn in the notes that with a standard head, the combination square can be used to mark 90 degree (right) angles, miter corners, check for level surfaces, and gauge depth. This makes answer B the best option and the other answer incorrect.

Digital SAT Poetry Practice Reading Questions

1. A student claims that Will Carleton’s Poem “Autumn Days” contrasts the sweetness of some autumn days in the first stanza with a far different type of autumn days in the second stanza. What pair of lines from the first and second stanzas respectively best illustrate this claim?

A. O’er the dreamy, listless haze/O’er the cheerless, withered plain.
B. Yellow, mellow, ripened days/ Shivering, quivering, tearful days.
C. And the sombre, furrowed fallow/ Woefully and hoarsely calling.
D. Winking at the blushing trees/On thy scanty vestments falling.

2. The following is an excerpt from the poem “We Wait” by Will M. Carleton

Or if upon the field of war we stand,
And sword with sword for mastery we mate,
Grim Death, and radiant Glory, hand in hand,
Approaching us with silent step we see;
And one of them, we vow, for us must be;
Bravely we strive to win renown’s estate,
And still we wait.

And when we grope within the gloom of age,
When our few steps grow feeble and sedate,
We cast our eyes back o’er a blotted page;
We peer among the pictures of the past,
We gaze upon the future, overcast;
Our musings all with hopes and fears we freight;
And still we wait.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. To illustrate the abeyancy of life, even as death approaches.
B. To force the reader to consider his own fate.
C. To illustrate the futility of war.
D. To explain the purposelessness of life.

3. The following is an excerpt from the poem “We Hope” by Will M. Carleton

Then we yearn and call for comfort; but no comfort comes unto us,
And we wrap ourselves in sadness, and Despair goes thrilling thou’ us;
And the darkness gathers round us, with its horrors, half-unspoken,
And we pray again for succor: that the fearful spell be broken,
With the light of something shining, be it only but a ray.

Then within our hearts a blossom, from the dreary mould is springing,
Then the birds of Hope make music, with their sweet and cheerful singing;
Then, upon the great clouds gazing, we discern their silver lining,
And at last, through veils of blackness, bursts the sunbeam’s glorious shining,
And upon our raptured vision beams the light of perfect day

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?

A. It minimizes the role of hope to “but a ray”.
B. It firmly emphasizes the despair of the writer.
C. It clarifies the despair that was described earlier in the passage.
D. It introduces a visual for hope that will be further built upon in the poem.

4. The following is an excerpt from the poem “The House Where We Were Wed” by Will M. Carleton

I’ve been to the old farm-house, good-wife,
Where you and I were wed;
Where the love was born to our two hearts
That now lies cold and dead.
Where a long-kept secret to you I told,
In the yellow beams of the moon,
And we forged our vows out of love’s own gold,
To be broken so soon, so soon!

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. To tell someone of a trip made, in the light of a broken relationship.
B. To set the stage for a future argument.
C. To argue that marriage is a fruitless endeavor.
D. To help the reader feel the author’s pain after the death of his wife.

5. The following is an excerpt from the poem “Apple Blossoms” by Will M. Carleton

Naught within her eyes he read
That would tell her mind unto him;
Though their light, he after said,
Quivered swiftly through and through him;
Till at last his heart burst free
From the prayer with which ‘twas laden,

And he said, “When wilt thou be
Mine for evermore, fair maiden?”

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?

A. To clarify the emotional source of the following quotation.
B. To explain a medical condition from which he is suffering.
C. To show the religious fervor with which he lives his life.
D. To build on the previous description of her eyes.

6. An instructor claims that “Lines Written in Early Spring” contains the introspective thoughts of the author. Which quotation from the poem best supports this claim?

A. “And ‘tis my faith that every flower/Enjoys the air it breathes.”
B. “The birds around me hopp’d and play’d/ Their thoughts I cannot measure”
C. “In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts/ Bring sad thoughts to the mind.”
D. “I heard a thousand blended notes/While in a grove I sat reclined.”

7. The following is an excerpt from “The Dungeon” as published in Lyrical Ballads With a Few Other Poems.

And this place our forefathers made for man!
This is the process of our love and wisdom,
To each poor brother who offends against us—
Most innocent, perhaps—and what if guilty?
Is this the only cure? Merciful God?
Each pore and natural outlet shrivell’d up
By ignorance and parching poverty,
His energies roll back upon his heart,
And stagnate and corrupt; till changed to poison,
They break out on him, like a loathsome plague-spot;
Then we call in our pamper’d mountebanks—
And this is their best cure! uncomforted
And friendless solitude, groaning and tears,
And savage faces, at the clanking hour,
Seen through the steams and vapour of his dungeon,
By the lamp’s dismal twilight! So he lies
Circled with evil, till his very soul
Unmoulds its essence, hopelessly deformed
By sights of ever more deformity!

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. It examines the purpose of a dungeon form the point of view of a jailor.
B. It critiques a solution that society has found to a common issue.
C. It asks a question about the worth of humanity.
D. It sheds a negative light on how humanity handles a problem.

8. The following is an excerpt from the poem “Expostulation and Reply”. The author speaks to his friend, Matthew:

“The eye it cannot chuse but see,
“We cannot bid the ear be still;
“Our bodies feel, where’er they be,
“Against, or with our will.

“Nor less I deem that there are powers,
“Which of themselves our minds impress,
“That we can feed this mind of ours,
“In a wise passiveness.

“Think you, mid all this mighty sum
“Of things for ever speaking,
“That nothing of itself will come,
“But we must still be seeking?

“—Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
“Conversing as I may,
“I sit upon this old grey stone,
“And dream my time away.”

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?

A. It questions the author’s purpose.
B. It asks Matthew a philosophical question.
C. It highlights a subject for which the author is passionate.
D. It explains an earlier statement.

9. A student reads “Old Man Travelling; Animal Tranquility and Decay, A Sketch” and observes that the old man in the poem seems at great peace with his life. Which of the following excerpts from the poem best supports this claim?

A.”Sir! I am going many miles to take/A last leave of my son, a mariner,/ Who from a sea-fight has been brought to Falmouth/ And there is dying in an hospital.”
B. “He travels on, and in his face, his step,/ His gait, is one expression;/ every limb,/ His look and bending figure, all bespeak/ A man who does not move with pain.”
C. “He is one by whom/ All effort seems forgotten, one to whom/ Long patience has such mild composure given/ That patience now doth seem a thing, of which/He hath no need. He is by nature led.”
D. “The young behold/ With envy, what the old man hardly feels./ I asked him whither he was bound, and what/ The object of his journey.”

10. The following is the poem “Why Do Ye Call The Poet Lonely?” By Archibald Lampman

Why do ye call the poet lonely,
Because he dreams in lonely places?
He is not desolate, but only
Sees, where ye cannot, hidden faces.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. It asks and answers a question about those who write poetry.
B. It hypothesizes as to what makes people want to write poetry.
C. It gives an explanation as to why much poetry is sad.
D. It opens up the reader to ask questions of poets.

Answer Explanations

  1. B. The question asks for evidence to show a contrast between two different types of autumn days. Answer option B shows two types of days in the fall, one that is yellow (leaf color), mellow (meaning calm), and ripened (as the harvest on the vine). The other is shivering and quivering (cold) as well as tearful (raining). This makes option (B) the best answer. (A) and (C) are incorrect as they only describe one setting, not two. Option (D) is incorrect as it does not describe a day at all, but rather leaves falling.
  2. A. In this poem we see at the end of both stanzas “And still we wait”. The author describes this waiting even when death is near and in every situation. He seems to be telling the reader that life is just a game of waiting. This purpose is best described in answer option (A) since the word abeyancy describes a situation of disuse, suspension, or waiting. Answer option (B) is incorrect for, while a reader may consider his own fate, this does not seem to be the main purpose of the poem. Answer (C) is incorrect as the author seems to be describing the futility of all things, not just war. Answer (D) is incorrect as the poem gives no explanation as to the purposelessness of life that the author sees.
  3. D. In the underlined section the author introduces the idea of visual light. In the second stanza he builds on this image of a single ray of light by describing the emerging “sunbeam’s glorious shining” and “the light of perfect day.” In this way, the light represents a visual image of the hope bursting through dark clouds of sadness. This makes option (D) the best answer. The other answer options do not appropriately understand that the visual light represents hope and that it grows to a sunburst in stanza 2.
  4. A. The opening lines of this poem tells the author’s “good-wife” that he has “been to the old farm house… where you and I were wed”. He is telling her he has gone back to where their marriage started. The end of this first stanza sheds light on the current status of their relationship “we forged our vows… to be broken soon.” Their marriage vows, and thus their relationship, are broken. This makes option (A) the best answer. We have no evidence of a future argument, so option (B) is incorrect. The author knows that his marriage is over, but does not try to say that all marriages are pointless, making option (C) incorrect. There is no evidence that the wife is dead, just that they are separated, making option (D) incorrect.
  5. A. The underlined portion describes his heart “bursting free” from “the prayer with which ‘twas laden” thereafter the man spills his heart to the girl and asks her to stay with him forever. These words of his are from his heart. This makes (A) the best option. The underlined portion explains the source of his ardent outburst. Option (B) is incorrect as his heart is not literally bursting, but figuratively bursting. Option (C) is incorrect as there is no religious undertones to the underlined section. Option (D) is incorrect as the underlined portion describes the source of his words, not her eyes.
  6. C. To be introspective is to think about one’s self and one’s own thoughts and emotions. Answer option (C) is the only answer that gives us a glimpse into the author’s mind to support the teacher’s claim that the author is “introspective”. Answer (A) describes the author’s belief about flowers. Answer (B) and (D) simply describe events that happen.
  7. D. This poem describes what happens to men thrown into a dungeon. The author describes the mental effects of being imprisoned in a very negative way saying things like that the prisoner’s soul is “hopelessly deformed” and that his energy turns inward “till changed to poison”. This makes option (D) the best answer. The author is shedding negative light on how the world deals with the problem of crime. Answer option (A) is incorrect as the poem is not from the point of view of a jailor. Answer (B) is incorrect as a dungeon is not a solution to but rather a punishment for crime. Answer (C) is incorrect as the author does not question the worth of humanity in general, but rather the worth of the dungeon itself.
  8. B. The underlined section, when paraphrased in modern English, would be something like “do you ever think in the middle of all this craziness that we just have to keep going and going even though we’re not going to get anywhere?” This is equivalent to asking if life has any meaning, a deeply philosophical question. This makes answer (B) the best option. This questions the purpose of “seeking”, not of the author, so answer option (A) is incorrect. Answer option (C) is incorrect as we have no evidence that the author is particularly passionate about this topic. Answer option (D) is incorrect as the underlined passage may build on a previous statement, but it does not explain it.
  9. C. The question is asking for evidence that the man feels great peace. Answer option (A) describes a situation in which it would make sense to have little or no peace. Answer option (B) describes the man as having no pain, which is not the same as being at great peace. Answer option (D) says that the young envy him, but that does not necessarily mean they envy any great peace he might have. This leaves option (C) in which the man is described as having forgotten any and all effort, who has so mild a personality that he needs no patience, and who is led by nature. This gives the best evidence that the man is at peace.
  10. A. The first two lines of this short poem ask why the reader calls poets lonely. The second two lines responds to the question, explaining that poets are not lonely, but rather see hidden faces where we cannot. This makes answer option (A) the best solution.