ACT Practice Test 2020 1874FPRE Reading Test Page 1

Below are answer explanations to the full-length Reading test of the previously released ACT from the current 2020-2021 “Preparing for the ACT Test” (form 1874FPRE) free study guide available here from ACT for free.

The ACT Reading test explained below begins on page 32 of the guide. Please note that the 2020-2021 guide features the same practice test as the 2019-2020 guide. Other answer explanations in this series of articles:

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ACT Reading Test Answer Explanations

Passage I

Question 1, “The narrator of the passage can best be described as a swimmer who primarily..” The answer is “recalls the swim of his life and the factors that motivated him during that swim.”

  1. The passage describes the narrator’s “best race” and his thought process as he attempted to qualify for the USA Junior Nationals.
  2. The answer choice “contrasts the joy of winning competitions early in the season with his later struggles to succeed” can be ruled out because the narrator does not mention early wins in competitions. 
  3. The answer choice “chronicles his swimming career, from childhood through high school” can be ruled out because the narrator does not talk about how he started swimming or his swimming progress throughout his childhood.
  4. The answer choice “remembers the events that inspired him to participate in a time trial at the Junior Nationals” is incorrect. Although the narrator does describe why he is participating in the time trial, the passage focuses more on the actual race in the trial than on what inspired him to participate.
  5. The correct answer is “recalls the swim of his life and the factors that motivated him during that swim” because the narrator focuses on his thought process and motivation behind his “greatest effort” in this passage.

Question 2, “Which of the following events mentioned in the passage happened first chronologically?” The answer is “The narrator leapt out over the diving well in late September.”

  1. The sentence “Now it was March” indicates that the time trial occurred in March of the narrator’s senior year. 
  2. The 500 yard freestyle at his high school regional meet occurred the day before the time trial, so it can be assumed that this also happened in March.
  3. The leap out over the diving well occurred in late September of the narrator’s senior year.
  4. The boy from a rival school cheered on the narrator at the time trial, which occurred in March of his senior year.
  5. Because academic years consist of a fall semester followed by a spring semester, we know that the events in September of the narrator’s senior year occurred before the events in March of the narrator’s senior year.
  6. Therefore, the first chronological answer choice is “The narrator leapt out over the diving well in late September.”

Question 3, “The narrator describes the natatorium as being nearly empty…” The answer is “illustrate that the perfect racing conditions the narrator had hoped for weren’t likely to occur.”

  1. The narrator describes the “right confluence of circumstances” as being “cold water, an aggressive heat, and an energetic meet.” With these circumstances, he believed that he could qualify. 
  2. However, he also states that at the time trial, he “had little belief that [he] could go any faster.” This indicates that the trial did not meet any of his ideal circumstances. 
  3. The answer choice “demonstrate that, contrary to the narrator’s expectations, the meet was energetic” can be ruled out. If the trial did not meet his ideal circumstances of being aggressive and energetic, then the description of the empty natatorium cannot demonstrate the energy of the meet.
  4. The answer choice “identify why the narrator felt a rush of energy before the race” can be ruled out because the narrator did not indicate that he felt any rush of energy before the race. Rather, he describes his doubt and lack of hope in his time trial.
  5. The answer choice “explain why the narrator’s coach paced at the sound of the horn” can be ruled out because the narrator does not indicate that the coach’s pacing and the empty natatorium are related.
  6. The correct answer choice is “illustrate that the perfect racing conditions the narrator had hoped for weren’t likely to occur” because the narrator has already indicated that the time trial did not meet his ideal circumstances.

Question 4, “The narrator indicates that when he swam the 1,000-yard freestyle…” The answer is “slow down, allowing him to reflect in real time.”

  1. In the passage, the narrator describes how “the world slows down, and though everything else moves around us at the same frenetic speed, we’re afforded the opportunity to reflect in real-time rather than in retrospect.”
  2. He says this about his race during the time trial. This indicates that the world did not “speed up” or “rush past,” so answer choices “speed up, blurring past and present events” and “rush past, forcing him to reflect in retrospect” can be ruled out.
  3. The answer choice “move in slow motion, as did everything around him” can be ruled out because the narrator indicated that everything else around him moved at “the same frenetic speed.” The word “frenetic” indicates that everything around him moved energetically and uncontrollably, not in slow motion.
  4. The correct answer is “slow down, allowing him to reflect in real time” because the narrator described how the world slowed down and he was able to “reflect in real-time rather than in retrospect.”

Question 5, “The passage indicates that during the narrator’s swim at the time trial…” The answer is “the swim was an event that was important to him alone.”

  1. The answer choice “his goals would always be one step farther on” can be ruled out because the narrator claims in the passage that he “was out of laters, this was the end..” This indicates that his end goal was no longer one step farther on because this race was the culmination of his end goal.
  2. The answer choice “he had trained for this swim for over a year” can be ruled out. Although the narrator describes how he had “spent more than a year training for this one swim,” this is not something that he is realizing for the first time. He knows how much time he has spent training.
  3. The answer choice “swimming is a choice between the now and the later” is incorrect because the narrator claims that “swimming, I had long understood, is a constant choice between the now and the later.” If this is something that he has understood for a long time, then he is not understanding it for the first time at the time trials.
  4. The correct answer is “the swim was an event that was important to him alone.” The narrator says “what I understood–not later, but right then, in the water–was how little this swim added up to in the world […] the swim was mine alone.” He is realizing for the first time that the swim only matters to him because it doesn’t affect the rest of the world.

Question 6, “Based on the passage, the ‘end’ the narrator mentions…” The answer is “last chance to qualify for Junior Nationals.”

  1. Throughout the passage, the narrator describes how the time trials were his last chance to qualify for USA Junior Nationals. 
  2. The answer choices “final pursuit of fitness” and “memory of his final Friday night practice” can be ruled out because these are not the ultimate goal of the narrator. 
  3. The answer choice “ultimate realization that he had defeated the other competitors in the race” can be ruled out because the narrator is the only one in the race. He is not competing against anyone because he is simply trying to reach a certain qualification time.
  4. The correct answer is “last chance to qualify for Junior Nationals” because the narrator describes how this race was his “last opportunity.” In the last sentence, he claims how he knew he “had made it,” which refers to qualifying for Junior Nationals. Therefore, his ultimate goal/endgame was to qualify for Junior Nationals.

Question 7, “The narrator of the passage characterizes the time trial in Houston as…” The answer is “an informal swimming event put together at the last minute.”

  1. The answer choice “one long sprint in which swimmers attempted to improve their times” can be ruled out because the narrator describes how most of the swimmers requested races that were “short, flapping sprints.” The time trial had multiple races, most of which were short sprints. Therefore, the time trial cannot be characterized as one long sprint.
  2. The answer choice “a meet advertised as a way to qualify for Junior Nationals” is incorrect because the narrator describes the event as “informal” and “unadvertised.” 
  3. The answer choice “a regional meet that featured only the 500-yard freestyle and 1000-yard freestyle” is incorrect because the narrator has already indicated that many of the races were “short, flapping sprints.” This means that the time trial had more races than just the 500-yard and 1000-yard freestyle.
  4. The correct answer is “an informal swimming event put together at the last minute” because the narrator literally claims that the time trial was “an informal, unadvertised event thrown together at the last minute.”

Question 8, “The statement ‘That’s where you’re going, now hurry up’ (lines 35-36) can most directly…” The answer is “narrator, as he speculates about what the cheering boy meant when the boy pointed at the pool.”

  1. The passage states that the cheering boy “pointed his finger toward the end of the pool, as if to say ‘That’s where you’re going, now hurry up.’”
  2. The phrase “as if to say” implies that the narrator is interpreting the cheering boy’s actions. He doesn’t actually know what the cheering boy is saying, but he can speculate.
  3. Therefore, the statement cannot be directly attributed to the cheering boy, because we do not actually know what he means by pointing at the end of the pool. 
  4. The answer choices “cheering boy, as he verbally criticizes the narrator’s efforts” and “cheering boy, as he shouts encouragement to the narrator” can be ruled out.
  5. The answer choice “narrator, as he angrily contemplates his response to the cheering boy” is incorrect because the narrator is not angry, and he is not thinking of how to respond to the cheering boy. He is simply trying to figure out what the cheering boy’s actions mean.
  6. The correct answer is “narrator, as he speculates about what the cheering boy meant when the boy pointed at the pool” because the narrator describes how he thinks that he must be close if the boy is cheering.

Question 9, “For the narrator, compared to practicing in the outdoor pool…” The answer is “less appealing.”

  1. The narrator describes the indoor pool as “dank and moldy,” while with the outdoor pool, he swam “under an open sky” during the entire summer. 
  2. The correct answer is “less appealing” because the description of “dank and moldy” indicates how unappealing indoor practices are to the narrator. 
  3. The other answer choices can be ruled out because the narrator does not describe the productivity, freedom, or competitiveness of the indoor pool versus the outdoor pool.

Question 10, “When the narrator heard ‘Jump!’ in his mind…” The answer is “his teammate’s command the day the narrator caught the flag line.”

  1. Previously in the passage, the narrator described how “one of [his] teammates called out ‘Jump!’ and he was able to grab the flag line. Therefore, when he is hearing this in his mind, he is probably remembering that moment.
  2. The correct answer is “his teammate’s command the day the narrator caught the flag line” because ‘Jump!’ was the command that his teammate issued in order to urge the narrator to grab the flag line.
  3. The other answer choices can be ruled out because ‘Jump!’ was not shouted by the narrator himself or by the cheering boy or to indicate the start of his race.

Passage II

Question 11, “The author’s use of the words and phrases ‘thickets,’ ‘stretching in every direction,’ and…” The answer is “The magnitude of wild apples in Kazakhstan is stunning.”

  1. Lines 6-7 describe the wild apples in Kazakhstan and how they grow thickly. The correct answer is “the magnitude of wild apples in Kazakhstan is stunning” because the phrases that the narrator used serve to describe how impressive the apple forests of Kazakhstan are.
  2. The other answer choices can be ruled out because while they are all technically true, these are not the points that the author is emphasizing. Vavilov was “amazed by what he saw;” he did not struggle to navigate or catalog the apple varieties. 
  3. Additionally, the author does not mention the importance of plant species diversity other than to say that it was “incredible.”

Question 12, “The author of Passage A most likely states that the wild apples growing…” The answer is “in the Tian Shan, Vavilov had likely found the wild ancestors of the domesticated apple.”

  1. Before the statement that the wild apples in Tian Shan looked like apples found at the local grocery store, the author described how Vavilov “suggested that the wild apples he had seen growing in the Tian Shan were in fact the ancestors of the modern apple.”
  2. Thus, the author likely inserted the statement to provide support for Vavilov’s theory. The correct answer is “in the Tian Shan, Vavilov had likely found the wild ancestors of the domesticated apple.”
  3. The answer choice “many of the apples stocked in grocery stores are harvested in the Tian Shan” can be ruled out because the author does not ever indicate that the apples from the grocery store are the same as the apples from the Tian Shan.
  4. The answer choice “the wild apples growing in the Tian Shan are among the most popular varieties with customers” can be ruled out because the author does not claim that grocery store customers prefer wild apples from the Tian Shan.
  5. The answer choice “in the Tian Shan, Vavilov had found new apple varieties to introduce to food producers” is incorrect because Vavilov had no interactions with food producers.

Question 13, “Passage A makes which of the following claims about plant species that are found in Kazakhstan?” The answer is “Aside from apples, at least 157 plant species found in Kazakhstan are either direct precursors or close wild relatives of domesticate crops.”

  1. The answer choice “Approximately 157 species of cultivated temperate fruits originated in Kazakhstan” is incorrect. The passage states that 157 other plant species in Kazakhstan are closely related to 90 percent of all cultivated temperate fruits. However, this does not mean that 157 species of cultivated temperate fruits originated in Kazakhstan.
  2. The answer choice “ninety percent of all domesticated crops are either direct precursors or close wild relatives of plant species found in Kazakhstan” is incorrect because domesticated crops cannot be the wild relatives of other plant species. 
  3. The answer choice “of the plant species found in Kazakhstan, ninety percent are species of apples” is incorrect because the passage does not state the percentage of apple species that comprise the plant species in Kazakhstan.
  4. The correct answer is “aside from apples, at least 157 plant species found in Kazakhstan are either direct precursors or close wild relatives of domesticated crops.” This is precisely what the passage states when you ignore the “90 per cent of all cultivated temperate fruits” piece of information.

Question 14, “Passage B most strongly suggests that Vavilov was motivated…” The answer is “hoped to help feed others.”

  1. The passage states that “Vavilov himself was personally motivated to become an agricultural scientist by witnessing several famines during the czarist era of Russia. He hoped that […] the number of Russian families suffering from hunger might be reduced.”
  2. The correct answer is “hoped to help feed others” because the passage describes how Vavilov became an agricultural scientist because he saw Russian families who suffered from hunger and he hoped to reduce their suffering by helping to feed them.
  3. The other answer choices can be ruled out because they have nothing to do with helping those who are suffering from hunger.

Question 15, “The author of Passage B uses the phrase ‘whittle away’…” The answer is “gradually lost from nursery catalogs, farmers’ markets, and the American table.”

  1. The author of the passage describes how “our society whittles the resilience in our field and orchards down to its breaking point.” He then goes on to describe how the number of apple varieties has decreased to the point where thousands of varieties have been “lost from nursery catalogs, farmers’ markets, and from the American table.”
  2. The answer choice “modified by plant breeders, entomologists, and pathologists to meet specialized needs” is incorrect because these actions do not “whittle away” and reduce the number of apple varieties. Rather, we use such modifications in order to reintroduce diversity into fields and orchards.
  3. The answer choices “weeded out by scientists until only the few thousand most resilient varieties remained” and “pared down in 1904 to the few varieties that nursery catalogs wanted to feature” are incorrect because the passage never blames specific individuals in society for the decline of apple varieties. “Our society” is to blame, not “scientists” or “nursery catalogs.”
  4. The correct answer is “gradually lost from nursery catalogs, farmers’ markets, and the American table” because the last sentence of the passage states the same thing. Apple varieties have been whittle away, to the point where they have been lost from our society.

Question 16, “As it is used in lines 82-83, the phrase named and nurtured...” The answer is “identified and cultivated.”

  1. In lines 82-83, the author of the passage uses the phrase “named and nurture” to describe how apple varieties have been treated over the last four centuries.
  2. The correct answer is “identified and cultivated” because these verbs are appropriate to describe the treatment of plants. 
  3. The other answer choices are incorrect because their verbs are not appropriate in the context of plants. Plants cannot be groomed, fed, cited, or nominated.

Question 17, “In Passage B, it can most reasonably be inferred from the third paragraph…” The answer is “problems with a cultivated crop require experts to research a new variety of the crop.”

  1. The answer choice “plant breeders would like to learn more about the plant species of central Asia” is incorrect because this is not the reason why “centers of crop diversity” are really important. The third paragraph does not mention plant breeders who specifically wish to learn more about plant species in Asia.
  2. The answer choice “consumers would like more variety in grocery produce departments” is incorrect because the passage does not mention consumers of produce and their preferences.
  3. The answer choice “disputes among plant breeders, pathologists, and entomologists lead to a reduction in crop variety” is incorrect. These different types of people actually work together to prevent reductions in crop variety, as described in the third paragraph.
  4. The correct answer is “problems with a cultivated crop require experts to research a new variety of the crop.” The third paragraph states that the “centers of crop diversity” are turned to when resilience in cultivated crops is pushed to a breaking point. This implies that these cultivated crops have problems, so experts such as “plant breeders, pathologists, and entomologists” must research “centers of crop diversity” to solve the problem.

Question 18, “Which of the following statements best describes the difference in the tone of the two passages?” The answer is “Passage A is celebratory, whereas Passage B is cautionary.”

  1. The answer choice “Passage A is defensive, whereas Passage B is dispassionate” can be ruled out because Passage A is not defending anything, and Passage B indicates passion for crop diversity.
  2. The answer choice “Passage A is solemn, whereas Passage B is optimistic” can be ruled out because Passage A is not very solemn. In fact, Passage B seems to be more serious than Passage A, so this answer choice is incorrect.
  3. The answer choice “Passage A is accusatory, whereas Passage B is sentimental” can be ruled out because Passage A does not accuse anyone or anything. Additionally, Passage B is less sentimental than Passage A.
  4. The correct answer is “Passage A is celebratory, whereas Passage B is cautionary.” Passage A celebrates the variety and history of wild apples in Kazakhstan, while Passage B cautions and informs readers about the importance of crop diversity.

Question 19, “Compared to the author of Passage A, the author of Passage B provides…” The answer is “reduction in the number of apple varieties in North America over the past four centuries.”

  1. The correct answer is “reduction in the number of apple varieties in North America over the past four centuries.” The fourth paragraph of Passage B describes this reduction in apple varieties, while Passage A does not mention it at all.
  2. The answer choice “methods Vavilov used to prove to other scientists that the apples growing in the Tian Shan are the ancestors of the modern apple” is incorrect because Passage A provides more information about this than Passage B does. 
  3. The answer choice “number of apple varieties that are thriving in Kazakhstan today” is incorrect because Passage A describes the abundance of apple varieties in Kazakhstan more vividly than Passage B does. Additionally, neither passage specifically mentions the number of apple varieties in Kazakhstan.
  4. The answer choice “techniques used by researchers to determine the regions with the greatest genetic diversity in plants” is incorrect because neither passage provides any specific information about techniques for determining genetic diversity in plants.

Question 20, “Passage A quotes Vavilov as saying…” The answer is “paraphrased by Salova.”

  1. In Passage B, Salova describes how Valivov was amazed by the apple forests in Kazakhstan, which was “one reason why he stated that this is probably where the apple was born..”
  2. The correct answer is “paraphrased by Salova” because the quote from Passage A is basically summarized in Salova’s statements in Passage B.
  3. The other answer choices can be ruled out because the USDA scientists and Bussey do not mention Vavilov or the quote from Passage A, and the passage B author does not attempt to imagine what Kazakhstan looked like centuries ago.

Passage III

Question 21, “Based on the passage, how did Berry’s personality affect his career?” The answer is “His modest and easygoing personality kept him out of the spotlight and, consequently, he received less attention as a performer.”

  1. The answer choice “His ambitious, competitive personality was off-putting to other musicians, who were reluctant to play with him” is incorrect because the passage states that “the people who loved Berry were […] other tenor players. This indicates that Berry was well-liked by other musicians. Additionally, the passage characterizes Berry as “laid-back” and “affable” which is the opposite of ambitious and competitive.
  2. The answer choice “His genial personality endeared him to other musicians, but his career suffered when he spent more time socializing than practicing” can be ruled out. Although Berry’s geniality did endear him to other musicians, his career did not suffer because of how much he socialized. The passage states that his career suffered because “it wasn’t in his nature to call attention to himself.”
  3. The answer choice “His shy, introspective personality was misunderstood as snobbish arrogance, so he was offered few recording-session jobs” is incorrect because the passage does not state that Berry was ever perceived as arrogant or snobbish. Additionally, the passage claims that Berry “was a solid session player,” which indicates that he was offered more than a few recording-session jobs.
  4. The answer choice “His modest and easygoing personality kept him out of the spotlight, and consequently, he received less attention as a performer” is correct. The passage claims that “Berry’s geniality might help explain his failure to court history’s favor: it wasn’t in his nature to call attention to himself.” The passage also mentions that Berry was willing to play ensemble passages instead of solo breaks. Thus, Berry was laid-back and genial, to the point where he did not receive the recognition that he deserved.

Question 22, “The author mentions Berry’s solo in…” The answer is “provide an example of Berry’s musical excellence.”

  1. The author talks about Berry’s solo in “Oh, Lady Be Good” in the first paragraph and compliments Berry’s playing ability during this solo. The author claims that when listening to this solo, “we are treated to no less than the musical personification of mind and body working together in divine tandem.”
  2. Because this first paragraph is meant to introduce Berry, the author is likely including this information about the solo to emphasize Berry’s abilities in music.
  3. The correct answer is “provide an example of Berry’s musical excellence,” because the author mentioned Berry’s solo in “Oh, Lady Be Good” in order to emphasize Berry’s talent. 
  4. The answer choices “contrast Berry’s later work with Berry’s early work” and “establish that Berry’s solo was better than Count Basie’s” are incorrect because the author does not compare Berry’s solo to anything else in the first paragraph.
  5. The answer choice “illustrate why most people haven’t heard of Berry” is incorrect because the description of Berry’s solo does not imply that most people haven’t heard of Berry, nor does it give a legitimate reason for this. If Berry’s solo is so “divine,” then how could this explain why most people haven’t heard of him?

Question 23, “The author points out that many serious jazz enthusiasts…” The answer is “explain why it’s likely that readers would be unfamiliar with Berry.”

  1. The author states in the passage: “why you’ve never heard of him is pretty simple: a lot of hard-core jazz buffs don’t know much about him.” Thus, it is likely that the author mentioned that many serious jazz enthusiasts don’t know very much about Berry in order to explain why the reader of the passage hasn’t heard of him.
  2. The correct answer is “explain why it’s likely that readers would be unfamiliar with Berry.” 
  3. The answer choice “criticize scholarship that has provided an unbalanced history of jazz” is incorrect because the author does not have a critical tone and does not criticize anyone for Berry’s lack of posterity.
  4. The answer choice “demonstrate that the author is more knowledgeable than most jazz scholars” is incorrect because the author never claims to be more knowledgeable than serious jazz enthusiasts.
  5. The answer choice “illustrate the secrecy Berry demanded in order to preserve his family’s secrecy” is incorrect because the passage does not mention Berry’s or his family’s secrecy at any point. 

Question 24, “According to the author, Berry’s solos as a recording-session musician…” The answer is “worked within the recording constraints of the era.”

  1. The passage states that “when he soloed, he worked within the recording constraints of the era and the swing genre–fast-moving 78s with solos often lasting for a mere 32 beats.” This sentence indicates that Berry’s solos were short because he worked within the recording constraints of his time.
  2. The correct answer is “worked within the recording constraints of the era” because this fits with the information provided in the passage.
  3. The answer choice “wasn’t a very good saxophone player until late in his career” is incorrect because the passage never states that Berry was ever a bad/untalented saxophone player.
  4. The answer choice “drew more attention playing ensemble passages” is incorrect because the fact that Berry often played ensemble passages had nothing to do with the duration of his solos.
  5. The answer choice “preferred playing many short solos to playing a few long ones” is incorrect because the passage indicates that Berry wasn’t given much a choice when it came to his solos and their length due to the recording constraints at the time.

Question 25, “The author indicates that during Berry’s time as a musician, swing music…” The answer is “music for dance parties but not music for study”

  1. The passage states that “swing was fodder for dance parties, not music worthy of study.” Thus, the correct answer is “music for dance parties but not music for study” because this fits the information that was provided by the passage.
  2. The other answer choices can be ruled out because the passage never mentions any of their possibilities.

Question 26, “As it is used in line 35, the word court most nearly means to…” The answer is “seek to attract.”

  1. The word court is used in the sentence “Oddly enough, Berry’s geniality might help explain his failure to court history’s favor: it wasn’t in his nature to call attention to himself or his playing.”
  2. The answer choices “romantically pursue” and “dangerously provoke” can both be ruled out because Berry did not attempt to romantically pursue or dangerously provoke the favor of history.
  3. The answer choice “pass judgment upon” can be ruled out because Berry did not have the ability or power to pass judgment upon history’s favor. 
  4. The correct answer is “seek to attract.” The second half of the sentence describes how it wasn’t Berry’s nature to call attention to himself. This implies that he was attempting to call attention to himself in order to draw in or attract history’s favor.

Question 27, “In the seventh paragraph (lines 57-75), the author compares sidemen…” The answer is “illustrate sidemen’s supportive role in a band.”

  1. In the seventh paragraph, the author talks about the jazz orchestras of the swing era which were led by famous musical directors/arrangers and supported by “sidemen,” who were “musical traveling salesmen who sold someone else’s wares in the best style they could manage.” From these two sentences, it is clear that the sidemen were mostly there to support the famous musical directors of jazz orchestras and bands. 
  2. The correct answer is “illustrate sidemen’s supportive role in a band” because the main message of this paragraph is to describe how Berry went from having a supportive role in jazz orchestras to having some bigger solos in more important pieces.
  3. The answer choice “make clear how often musicians had to travel” is incorrect because the travel of such jazz musicians isn’t really relevant to the paragraph.
  4. The answer choice “indicate that musicians often had side jobs” is incorrect because the author never claims that these “sidemen” treat music as their side jobs; they are simply not recognized for their work as musical directors are.
  5. The answer choice “show how hard sidemen worked to get hired” is incorrect because the author does not elaborate on the difficulty of being hired as a sidemen.

Question 28, “The author describes Henderson’s ‘Blues in C Sharp Minor’ as…” The answer is “odd, haunting, and relaxing.”

  1. The passage states “‘Blues in C Sharp Minor,’ for instance, is odd, haunting, and ultimately relaxing.”
  2. From this information, the correct answer is clearly “odd, haunting, and relaxing” because these adjectives perfectly fit the ones that the author used in the passage.
  3. The other answer choices can be ruled out because the author never uses these adjectives or synonyms of these adjectives to describe “Blues in C Sharp Minor.”

Question 29, “According to the author, what is unique about the June 1940…” The answer is “It’s the only recorded piece that features Berry from beginning to end.”

  1. The author states “in June 1940, Cab Calloway granted Berry a showcase piece, ‘A Ghost of a Chance,’ the sole recording in Berry’s career to feature him from start to finish.”
  2. The correct answer is “it’s the only recorded piece that features Berry from beginning to end” because this fits the information that was provided in the passage.
  3. The answer choice “Berry plays an alto saxophone instead of his usual tenor saxophone” is incorrect because the author never states this about Berry’s solo in “A Ghost of a Chance.”
  4. The answer choice “It was the only public performance Berry gave in 1940” is incorrect because the author never states that “A Ghost of a Chance” was Berry’s only public performance in 1940. Additionally, the author mentions that it was a recording, which would not be a public performance.
  5. The answer choice “Berry showcases his unrivaled ability to play a solo that blends into the background” is incorrect because the author describes his solo as his “one and only instance of indulgence on a record, a cathedral of a solo in its flourishes, angles, ornamentations, reflexivity.” This does not indicate that Berry’s solo blended into the background at all.

Question 30, “The author uses the phrase ‘a cathedral of a solo’…” The answer is “an intricate, awe-inspiring masterpiece.”

  1. A cathedral is usually a large, impressive, and imposing building. Additionally, the following sentence in the passage states that “if sunlight could pass through music, ‘A Ghost of a Chance’ would funnel it out in the broadest spectrum of colors.” Therefore, we can infer that “a cathedral of a solo” is a solo that is impressive and complicated.
  2. The correct answer is “an intricate, awe-inspiring masterpiece” because this properly embodies the description of a “cathedral of a solo.” 
  3. The answer choice “a somber, mournful hymn” is incorrect because this conflicts with the description that Berry’s solo would funnel out the “broadest spectrum of colors.” This description indicates a more uplifting, impressive solo than a somber, mournful one.
  4. The answer choice “a crumbling remnant of Berry’s once-great skill” is incorrect because the author has already claimed that this solo was Berry’s showcase piece. Therefore, his solo cannot be a demonstration of a deterioration of Berry’s skill.
  5. The answer choice “a testament of Calloway’s band leadership” is incorrect because the phrase “cathedral of a solo” describes Berry’s solo, not the overall band and its leadership.

Passage IV

Question 31, “Which of the following statements best expresses the main idea…” The answer is “Evidence suggests that the warp in the Milky Way’s disk results from the Milky Way’s interaction with a small satellite galaxy.”

  1. The passage starts by introducing the Milky Way and then discussing potential causes for its warp. Eventually, it provides circumstantial evidence that small satellite galaxies (perhaps the Sagittarius Dwarf) have caused the Milky Way warp. 
  2. The answer choice “Bailin began studying the Sagittarius Dwarf when he was a graduate student in astronomy” is incorrect because the passage only mentions how Bailin began studying the Sagittarius Dwarf as a graduate student once. Bailin is clearly not the main focus of the passage, because he is only mentioned a few other times.
  3. The answer choice “the gravitational tidal forces of the Milky Way are destroying the Sagittarius Dwarf” is incorrect because only one paragraph in the paragraph focuses on the destruction of the Sagittarius Dwarf by the Milky Way’s gravity.
  4. The answer choice “Most astronomers have come to an agreement that evidence about how galaxies have formed is, at best, circumstantial” is incorrect because the passage does not focus on the formation of galaxies. Additionally, the passage does not largely focus on the statement that evidence is circumstantial.

Question 32, “It can reasonably be inferred that the problem the author…” The answer is “the question of which physical processes caused the warp in the Milky Way.”

  1. The sentence before the one that mentions “the problem” states that “number of physical processes can warp a galaxy, so it’s a matter of figuring out which scenario applies.” We can assume that the problem the author mentions is referring to figuring out which physical process is causing the warp in the Milky Way.
  2. The correct answer is “the question of which physical processes caused the warp in the Milky Way” because this matches the information that was provided in the passage.
  3. The answer choice “ a particular aspect of Bailin’s theory for which there is little evidence” is incorrect because Bailin’s theory has not even been introduced yet. Additionally, the author never indicates that his theory does not have much evidence to support it.
  4. The answer choice “a mathematical computation that led Bailin to focus on the Sagittarius Dwarf” is incorrect because the author has not yet introduced the Sagittarius Dwarf in the passage yet. Additionally, the mathematical computation is not the larger question that is mentioned in the paragraph.
  5. The answer choice “the potential impact of wobbly gyrations on the Milky Way’s rotation” is incorrect because these gyrations were mentioned in the previous paragraph, but they were not elaborated on as something that needed to be figured out by scientists.

Question 33, “It can be reasonably inferred from the passage that the small satellite galaxy…” The answer is “the Sagittarius Dwarf.”

  1. The passage states that “a small satellite galaxy” is “being ripped to shreds by the gravity of the Milky Way” at the end of the third paragraph. The fourth paragraph begins with the sentence “The Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy…” and talks about how the Sagittarius Dwarf now looks like “spaghetti” due to “the galaxy’s matter being drawn out […] by intergalactic tides.”
  2. From this information, we can infer that the small satellite galaxy is the Sagittarius Dwarf.
  3. The correct answer is “the Sagittarius Dwarf.”
  4. The answer choice “the Small Magellanic Cloud” is incorrect because it is not mentioned until the fifth paragraph, which states that the Small Magellanic Cloud is too far away to warp the Milky Way. If the Small Magellanic Cloud is too far away to warp the Milky Way, then it is probably not close enough to be the small satellite galaxy that is being ripped to shreds by the Milky Way.
  5. The other answer choices “a known but as yet unnamed galaxy” and “hypothetical galaxy that is believed to exist but has not yet been found” are incorrect because the passage specifically describes the “small satellite galaxy” in the fourth paragraph.

Question 34, “Based on the passage, which of the following statements best describes Bailin’s study…” The answer is “It provided evidence for an idea that scientists had long considered a possibility but had not yet proved.”

  1. The passage states that “Bailin’s study is the first to find” a link between “the orbital motion of the Sagittarius Dwarf” and “the rotation of the Milky Way’s disk.” From this information, we can infer that Bailin’s study was the first to provide circumstantial evidence for the question of why the Milky Way is warped. 
  2. The correct answer is “It provided evidence for an idea that scientists had long considered a possibility but had not yet proved. 
    1. The passage states that “gravitational collisions between small satellite galaxies and big spiral galaxies have long been regarded as possible culprits in the warping of a larger galaxy’s disk.” This is the “idea that scientists had long considered a possibility.” 
    2. Bailin’s study was the “first to find a link,” indicating that he was able to provide evidence for their idea. 
    3. Therefore, this answer makes the most sense given the information in the passage.
  3. The answer choice “It led astronomers to the discovery of a warp in the Milky Way’s disk” is incorrect because the warp in the Milky Way was discovered long before Bailin’s study. The passage states that “theoretical and computational models have shown that a number of physical processes can warp a galaxy,” indicating that much research has been performed to determine the cause of the warp before Bailin’s study even occurred.
  4. The answer choice “It convinced more astronomers to focus their attention on the center of the Milky Way” is incorrect because the passage never states that Bailin’s study resulted in astronomers focusing on the center of the Milky Way.
  5. The answer choice “It revealed problems with basic assumptions held by most astronomers” is not correct because the passage did not state that Bailin’s study revealed problems with the fundamental assumptions of astronomers.

Question 35, “According to the passage, Bailin discovered that the angular momentum of the warped portion…” The answer is “identical in both quantity and direction.”

  1. The passage states that Bailin compared the angular momentums of the warped portion and of the Sagittarius Dwarf, and he found “for the first time […] that the two angular momenta are identical in both quantity and direction.”
  2. The correct answer is “identical in both quantity and direction” because this is the only answer choices that matches completely with the information given in the passage.

Question 36, “According to the passage, the central bulge of the Milky Way…” The answer is “older stars and a black hole.”

  1. The passage states “the plum is the slightly oblong central bulge […] comprised of mostly older stars; it makes up the core of the Milky Way, and includes a black hole two and a half million times the mass of the Sun.”
  2. From this, we can infer that the central bulge of the Milky Way is comprised of older stars and this gigantic black hole.
  3. The correct answer is “older stars and a black hole” because this matches the information given in the passage.
  4. The other answer choices can be ruled out because they all make up the “galactic disk” or “crust” of the Milky Way, according to the passage.

Question 37, “The author refers to the swirling pattern of a hurricane…” The answer is “help explain the shortcomings of the plum-and-pizza metaphor.”

  1. The second paragraph of the passage explains how the plum-and-pizza metaphor “breaks down if you push it.” The pattern of a hurricane is mentioned to provide an example of a better metaphor of “our spinning galaxy” because the plum-and-pizza metaphor is no longer sufficient.
  2. The correct answer is “help explain the shortcomings of the plum-and-pizza metaphor” because the entire second paragraph is dedicated to this topic.
  3. The other answer choices can be ruled out because they are not the focus of the second paragraph and are therefore unrelated to why the author introduced the new “hurricane” metaphor.

Question 38, “The passage directly compares the Milky Way’s disk as it is affected by its warp to…” The answer is “pizza dough being spun in the air by a chef.”

  1. The passage states “our galaxy’s disk isn’t flat; it’s warped. Picture a disk of pizza dough spun into the air by a skilled chef: our galaxy goes through the same…”
  2. From this, it is clear that the warped shape of the Milky Way is being compared to pizza dough being spun in the air.
  3. The correct answer is “pizza dough being spun in the air by a chef” because this corresponds to the comparison that was stated in the passage.
  4. The answer choice “a pasta maker churning out spaghetti” is incorrect because this comparison was used to describe the way that a small satellite galaxy has been torn apart by the Milky Way’s gravity.
  5. The answer choice “a thin-crust pizza balanced on top of a plum” is incorrect because this was the initial metaphor that was used to describe the Milky Way, but it does not account for the warped shape of the Milky Way.
  6. The answer choice “two figure skaters coming together for a combination spin” is incorrect because this description was used to exemplify the angular momentums of two spinning objects, not the warped shape of the Milky Way.

Question 39, “According to the passage, which of the following statements best describes the movement of the Sagittarius Dwarf…” The answer is “It appears to be in a roughly polar orbit around the Milky Way.”

  1. The passage states that the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy “appears to be in a roughly polar orbit around the Milky Way…”
  2. The correct answer is “It appears to be in a roughly polar orbit around the Milky Way” because this matches the information in the passage.
  3. The other answer choices are incorrect because the passage never describes the Sagittarius Dwarf as moving in these patterns.

Question 40, “The passage describes angular momentum as the amount of a system’s…” The answer is “spin or rotation.”

  1. The passage states that angular momentum is “a measure of how much a system is spinning or rotating.”
  2. Therefore, the correct answer is “spin or rotation,” because this matches the information in the passage.
  3. The other answer choices are incorrect because they do not correctly describe angular momentum.