SAT Critical Reading and Writing Practice Exam

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 10, 2011

This practice exam contains 50 questions that review the 50 Skills that can be found at

SAT Critical Reading and Writing Prep. Take the test. Then check your answers and review the skills for any questions that were difficult.


  1. Even after she had scaled Mount Graylock, the highest mountain in the state, Clara felt that she needed to prove her ability and continued to _______ mountains.
    1. decline
    2. transfer
    3. ascend
    4. escalate
    5. allude
  2. Although both on stage and behind the scenes Jim Edwards is known for selfish outbursts, at home, to his family, he is _______.
    1. egotistical
    2. theatrical
    3. thunderous
    4. giving
    5. ascetic
  3. Since critics panned Selma's new novel for its _______, she has shortened several chapters and cut others entirely.
    1. span
    2. beauty
    3. creativity
    4. expertise
    5. hostility
  4. The River Valley Market is a natural foods _______, which means that it is a grocery store owned jointly by its members.
    1. frugality
    2. cooperative
    3. claim
    4. definition
    5. request
  5. The movie Superbad was successful for its _______ and _______; it presented with hilarity and insight the plight of teens in suburban areas.
    1. wit . . clarity
    2. presentation . . precision
    3. situation . . astuteness
    4. humor . . resolve
    5. charisma . . transmission
  6. Ants have a reputation for treating other ant colonies with _______, though this is not always the case; sometimes they coexist peacefully.
    1. corruption
    2. magnificence
    3. flippancy
    4. belligerence
    5. sophistication
  7. Milton believed that Theo had no _______ in him, and Milton hoped Theo would stay that way, _______ and free of hatred.
    1. anger . . livid
    2. disagreement . . denial
    3. disregard . . compelling
    4. evasion . . compassionate
    5. malice . . serene
  8. Although it is not as _______ as New England, Arizona's _______ climate provided welcomed relief for Martha's allergies; she missed the four seasons, but enjoyed her increased health and Arizona's lack of humidity.
    1. varied . . arid
    2. beguiling . . tonifying
    3. florid . . ecological
    4. temperate . . sultry
    5. stunning . . scorched
  9. Max is _______ and Sylvia is _______; while Max has concern for the sufferings of others, Sylvia can identify with and understand their suffering.
    1. passionate . . lithe
    2. compassionate . . empathetic
    3. heartful . . sophistic
    4. openhanded . . diminutive
    5. philanthropic . . divisive
  10. Red Beard of South Salem is widely known for the rare quality of being a _______ pirate; _______ to friends and enemies alike.
    1. somber . . amiable
    2. just . . evenhanded
    3. staid . . vindictive
    4. versatile . . thwarting
    5. virtuous . . solitary
  11. Since overeating and lack of exercise can have _______ health consequences, doctors recommend that their patients eat _______ and get ample physical activity.
    1. catastrophic . . heartily
    2. soporific . . reasonably
    3. propitious . . mindfully
    4. harmful . . plentifully
    5. deleterious . . moderately

Note: Here is a passage you read earlier in Skill 13. Now, let's answer some questions about it.

The following passage was adapted from a 1998 essay written by a psychology graduate student exploring his heritage.

While my mother's parents spent their lives in New York, my paternal grandparents were born and raised in neighboring villages of Austria. My grandfather's father owned a liquor store and was very religious. My grandfather was the academic of the family. He completed high school, college and graduate degrees. He worked as a teacher and principal, much more respected positions then than now. I connected deeply with this grandfather, Herman. He and I are sensitive, loving, prone to worry, and innately talented teachers.

Though my grandparents and great-grandparents were born in Austria, I am not Austrian. This, I believe, is the case for many Jews in the United States. Belonging to this religion is a cultural heritage as well as a faith. Though I rarely think of myself as Jewish and pay small heed to the holidays, Judaism is a large part of my identity.

  1. The main purpose of the passage is to
    1. persuade
    2. inform
    3. apologize
    4. eulogize
    5. synchronize
  2. The narrator does not consider himself Austrian (line 14) because
    1. his great grandparents were not born there
    2. he does not think of himself as Jewish
    3. his grandfather left at a young age
    4. his religion defines his heritage
    5. he is most connected to his grandfather
  3. In line 2, the word "paternal" most nearly means
    1. great
    2. on my father's side
    3. on my mother's side
    4. adopted
    5. Austrian
  4. The author gives all of the following as support for his grandfather being an "academic" (line 6) EXCEPT
    1. he was a talented teacher
    2. he completed graduate degrees
    3. he was prone to worry
    4. he worked as a principal
    5. he completed high school
  5. What does the narrator imply in lines 18 and 19 by "pay small heed to the holidays"?
    1. The narrator contributes very little money to religious organizations.
    2. The narrator rarely observes Jewish holidays.
    3. Judaism is a large part of the narrator's identity.
    4. The narrator is not Jewish.
    5. The narrator does not enjoy the holidays.

This passage is from a 2007 scientific paper that explores the water resources of the town of Meadville.

The city of Meadville is particularly well blessed in terms of water resources. The town's two municipal aquifers, the Cussewago sandstone bedrock aquifer and the glacial outwash aquifer, are capable of producing a more than sufficient yield for industry and residents. The outwash aquifers exist mainly in the valleys and produce far better yields, since the thick drifts of sand and gravel are far more permeable.

The two most significant bedrock aquifers are found in Sharpsville Sandstone and in Cusswego Sandstone. The Meadville aquifers are recharged through precipitation. The recharge zone for these aquifers is large, consisting of all ground areas within the groundwater divide of the French Creek valley watershed. Stream flow and groundwater levels are highest in early spring as snowmelt is discharged, and lowest in late summer, when precipitation is low and evaporation high. Evaporation is particularly important since Woodcock Creek is influenced by the reservoir, and the water level of the reservoir changes from evaporation in warmer weather. French Creek and its tributaries run through rural, subtropical terrain and, thusly, transpiration affects the hydrologic cycle significantly.

French Creek and the Meadville aquifer are recharged through precipitation, as has been said before. But this isn't a simple process. Precipitation that falls anywhere within the French Creek valley, as long as it's on the correct side of the water divide, will end up in French Creek or in an aquifer eventually (and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean). But how it gets there varies considerably. Some water will precipitate and enter the system promptly.

Some will precipitate in the form of snow, and be released at a later time, usually in larger volume. Water traveling from higher, more distant locations takes longer to reach French Creek than does water closer to the discharge area.

  1. From the italicized introductory material, the reader can assume that the primary tone of the passage as a whole will be
    1. affectionate nostalgia
    2. awe and fear
    3. uncertainty and impatience
    4. sadness and confusion
    5. analytical detachment
  2. The author's tone in the first sentence is best described as
    1. joyous
    2. contemptuous
    3. diagnostic
    4. mischievous
    5. solemn
  3. A major difference between paragraph 2 and paragraph 3 is
    1. paragraph 3 explores a statement of paragraph 2 in greater detail
    2. paragraph 2 describes events that happened before those of paragraph 3
    3. paragraph 3 describes three types of aquifers
    4. paragraph 3 is more emotive
    5. paragraph 3 is fictional whereas paragraph 2 is expository
  4. The final paragraph is primarily concerned with
    1. the water supply shortage in Meadville
    2. Meadville's European exchange program
    3. Meadville's municipal budget
    4. Meadville's geological foundation
    5. how Meadville's water supply replenishes
  5. The parentheses around "and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean" (lines 35 and 36) serve to
    1. emphasize the vast size of the Atlantic Ocean
    2. criticize Meadville's water politics
    3. emphasize the limitations in a theory
    4. demonstrate the geological significance of Meadville
    5. indicate that the information is interesting but inessential
  6. Which of the following is an example of "Some water will precipitate and enter the system promptly" described in lines 37 and 38?
    1. Water treated in an adjacent plant
    2. Rain that falls directly on the area
    3. Snow that falls in the aquifer
    4. Water that evaporated at high altitudes
    5. Drinking water brought into the area
  7. The passage is primarily
    1. a reflection on a educational journey
    2. a dispassionate plea for government funding to save an endangered aquifer
    3. a report on a water system
    4. a criticism of water resource management in Meadville
    5. a scathing social commentary
  8. Being as she is the best on the team, Raquel was unanimously chosen to take the goal kick.
    1. Being as she is the best on the team
    2. She being the best on the team
    3. With her as the best on the team
    4. Being as good or better than everyone else
    5. The best on the team
  9. A great teacher, writing books is now what Tolle does to spread his teachings to a wider audience.
    1. writing books is now what Tolle does
    2. Tolle now writes books
    3. book writing is now what Tolle does
    4. writing is now what Tolle does with books
    5. Tolle now does the writing of books
  10. Running to town went Nedly to tell his friends about his new bicycle.
    1. Running to town went Nedly
    2. Nedly ran to town
    3. Running to town is where Nedly went
    4. To run to town Nedly went
    5. Nedly went running to town
  11. Which of the following is the best way to revise and combine the underlined portion of the sentences reproduced below?
  12. Tree frogs are typically found in trees. They are also found in other high-growing vegetation.

    1. found in trees; also being found in
    2. found in trees, since they are also found in
    3. found in trees and
    4. found in trees and also found in
    5. found in trees, as well as typically in
  13. Francis Stacey Smith, who is from Canada, is sweet, kind, and intelligent.
    1. who is from Canada, is sweet, kind, and intelligent
    2. who is from Canada, is sweet, kindly, and has intelligence
    3. being Canada, is sweet, kind, and intelligent
    4. which is Canadian, is sweet, kind, and intelligent
    5. who is from Canada, she is sweet, kind, and intelligent

Skills 39 to 49: Essay

See Essay prompt on next page.

  1. The morning of the test you should
    1. eat as huge a breakfast as you can stuff into your face
    2. eat a normal (healthy) breakfast
    3. drink 4 Jolt colas for energy
    4. wake up at 4:30 a.m., run 10 km, study until test center opens
    5. leave your house without your ID, calculator, pencils, and admission slip

Time: 25 minutes

The essay gives you an opportunity to show how effectively you can develop and express ideas. You should, therefore, take care to develop your point of view, present your ideas logically and clearly, and use language precisely.

Your essay must be written on the lines provided on your answer sheet—you will receive no other paper on which to write. You will have enough space to write if you write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting to a reasonable size. Remember that people who are not familiar with your handwriting will read what you write. Try to write or print so that what you are writing is legible to those readers.

Important Reminders:

  • A pencil is required for the essay. An essay written in ink will receive a score of zero.
  • Do not write your essay in your test book. You will receive credit only for what you write on your answer sheet.
  • An off-topic essay will receive a score of zero.

You have 25 minutes to write an essay on the topic assigned below.

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