SAT Critical Reading and Writing Practice Exam (page 3)

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


  1. C Read the question and think of a word you'd like to see fill the blank. Choose a word right from the sentence when possible; we can use "scale."
    1. decline—No.
    2. transfer—No.
    3. ascend—Yes.
    4. escalate—Maybe.
    5. allude—No.
  2. Choice C is the best choice. "Ascend" means "climb," whereas "escalate" means "to become greater or more intense."

  3. D Watch for key words ("but," "however," "though,"… ) that tell you to look for an opposite.
  4. "Although" tells us that the second part of the sentence might be opposite the first, so at home he is "not selfish:"

    1. egotistical—No.
    2. theatrical—No, don't be tricked by this answer. "Theatrical" relates to the sentence, but not the blank. That's why we think of a word we'd like to see before we look at the choices.
    3. thunderous—No.
    4. giving—Yes.
    5. ascetic—No, "ascetic" means "austere" or "frugal."
  5. A If there is a word you don't know in the question, cross it out! You can get this question even if you don't know "panned," which means "criticized." To fill the blank, we want a word meaning "length."
    1. span—Maybe.
    2. beauty—No.
    3. creativity—No.
    4. expertise—No.
    5. hostility—No.
  6. Cool question. Even though I didn't love "span" as a choice, by using the process of elimination, it is the only one that works!

  7. B This is a classic sentence completion setup; the blank is defined by the phrase that follows it. We want a word meaning "store owned jointly by its members." Who the heck knows a word for this? We can use the process of elimination. Cross out answer choices that are definitely wrong, and choose the best from what's left. The correct answer should make sense with all the parts of the sentence.
    1. frugality—No, "frugality" means "stinginess."
    2. cooperative—Yes, sounds like "owning something jointly."
    3. claim—No.
    4. definition—No.
    5. request—No.
  8. Lots of students skip this question, thinking that they can't come up with a word for the blank. But if you just use "store owned jointly by its members" and the process of elimination, it's easy!

  9. A When you see two blanks, answer one blank at a time, using the process of elimination.
  10. If you can't come up with a word to fill a blank, just decide if it should be +, –, or neither. Usually we begin with the second blank, but in this case, the first might be easier. For the first blank, we want a word meaning "hilarity."

    1. wit… clarity—Maybe.
    2. presentation… precision—No.
    3. situation… astuteness—No.
    4. humor… resolve—Yes.
    5. charisma… transmission—Maybe.

    Then think of a word for the other blank and use the process of elimination. We want a word meaning "insight." We do not need to try choices that we eliminated already.

    1. wit… clarity—Maybe.
    1. humor… resolve—Probably not.
    2. charisma… transmission—No.

    If you have a few choices left, pick the best choice. You can test them in the sentence and see which makes the most sense. Choice A is better than choice D because "resolve" means "firmness," not "insight."

  11. D Notice the key word "though" tells that the two parts of the sentence are opposites. To fill the blank, we want a word meaning "not peacefully," a negative word. If you don't know the meaning of a word in the choices, determine if it sounds positive, negative, or neither.
    1. corruption—Maybe, it is a negative word.
    2. magnificence—No.
    3. flippancy—Maybe.
    4. belligerence—Yes, "belligerence" means "hostility."
    5. sophistication—No.
  12. Then choose the best of what's left. Choice D is best; it is most clearly opposite "peaceful."

  13. E Let's begin with the second blank. Think of a word that you'd like to see, maybe "free of hatred."
    1. anger… livid—No, "livid" means "very angry."
    2. disagreement… denial—No.
    3. disregard… compelling—No.
    4. evasion… compassionate—Yes.
    5. malice… serene—Yes, "serene" means peaceful.
  14. For the first blank we want a word that means "hate."

    1. evasion… compassionate—No, "evasion" means "avoidance."
    2. malice… serene—Yes, remember from Skill 7 movie quotes (Lord of the Rings) that "malice" means "hatred."
  15. A For the second blank, we want a word meaning "lack of humidity."
    1. varied… arid—Yes, "arid" means "dry."
    2. beguiling… tonifying—No, "tonifying" means "strengthening."
    3. florid… ecological—No.
    4. temperate… sultry—No, "sultry" means "hot and damp."
    5. stunning… scorched—Yes, "scorched" means "very dry."
  16. Remember that sentence completions always use parallel structure, so for the first blank we want a word meaning something to do with "having four seasons."

    1. varied… arid—Yes, "varied" could imply "having four seasons."
    1. stunning… scorched—No.

    You may think that New England is stunning, but "stunning" does not fit the blank, and "varied" does.

  17. B For the second blank we want a word meaning "able to identify with others' suffering." If you don't know the meaning of a choice, see if it has parts that you can dissect.
    1. passionate… lithe—Nope, "lithe" means "flexible."
    2. compassionate… empathetic—totally, "pathos" means "grief."
    3. heartful… sophistic—No, "soph" means "knowledge."
    4. openhanded… diminutive—No, "diminutive" means "small."
    5. philanthropic… divisive—No, "divisive" means "troublesome."
  18. B When there is not enough info to determine the words for two blanks, decide if the two words should be synonyms, opposites, or cause and effect. If you can't tell, put a positive word in the first blank and see if the second blank should then be positive also or negative. The words in this sentence should be synonyms.
    1. somber… amiable—No, they are sorta opposites.
    2. just… evenhanded—Yes, synonyms, and probably rare qualities for a pirate.
    3. staid… vindictive—No, they are not related.
    4. versatile… thwarting—No, unrelated.
    5. virtuous… solitary—No, unrelated.
  19. E Usually it's easier to think of a word to fit the second blank. Here's an example where the first blank might be easier. For the first blank, we want a word meaning "bad."
    1. catastrophic… heartily—Maybe.
    2. soporific… reasonably—No, "soporific" means "causing sleep."
    3. propitious… mindfully—No, "propitious" means "favorable."
    4. harmful… plentifully—Yes.
    5. deleterious… moderately—Yes, "deleterious" means "harmful."
  20. For the second blank we want a word meaning "not overeating" or "moderately."

    1. catastrophic… heartily—No.
    1. harmful… plentifully—No.
    2. deleterious… moderately—Yes.

    This is a great question. Some of these words are tough, like "soporific" and "deleterious", so some kids skip this one. But by using the process of elimination, you can get it!

  21. B Always begin a reading passage by reading the italics; in the passage the author is "exploring his heritage." This is confirmed throughout the passage. So, let's use the process of elimination, looking for "exploring his heritage."
    1. persuade—No, she or he is not persuading us.
    2. inform—Yes.
    3. apologize—No.
    4. eulogize—No, he respects his grandparents, but it's not a eulogy.
    5. synchronize—No.
  22. This is a great example of why the process of elimination is so great. I might not have looked for the answer "inform," but it is certainly the best of the choices and the correct answer.

  23. D The answer should be in the lines referred to or soon after them. In this case, the answer comes in the next two sentences; the author D B E considers Judaism, rather than being Austrian, his or her heritage. Choice D is the best answer.
  24. B To answer a "most nearly means" question, reread a few lines before and a few lines after. "While my mother's…, my paternal… " indicates that "paternal" is the opposite of "mother's", so it is "father's." The word "while" indicates that the two parts of the sentence are in opposition.
  25. C The answers are in the sentences following the line referred to. The sentences tell us that "he completed high school, college, and graduate degrees… worked as a principal… was a talented teacher." Choice C "prone to worry" is mentioned in the passage but not as a reason for being an "academic."
  26. For a "direct info" question, always read before and after a line and find proof. Sometimes you need to read even more for an EXCEPT question; so if you are pressed for time, you can skip and come back to an EXCEPT question. Sometimes they're easy, and at other-times they're like four questions in one and you have to search the whole passage for info.

  27. B The answer comes in the previous part of the sentence. Even though Judaism is a large part of the narrator's identity, she or he rarely thinks of it and does not observe holidays. Be careful of choice C which is mentioned, but has nothing to do with the question. The answer to a "suggest" question is often a rewording of something in the passage, and rarely a direct quote, like choice C. For "suggest" questions look for the answer that is hinted at in the passage. Though it might have different language, it should be pretty close to what is actually said.
  28. E Since the italics state that the passage is from a scientific paper that explores water resources, we can assume that it will be scientific, in other words, that it will be unbiased, detached, and analytical.
  29. C The author's tone in the first sentence is reflected by the language, "The city of Meadville is particularly well blessed in terms of water resources." The tone is analytical and almost enthusiastic. Use the process of elimination. It is not choice B or D, "contemptuous" (disapproving) or "mischievous." Choice A, "joyous," is too extreme. And even though the writer uses the phrase "well blessed," the tone is not solemn (somber). Choice C, "diagnostic," is best.
  30. A We definitely want to use the process of elimination here. It might be initially tough to come up with a difference between the two paragraphs, but going through the choices shows that only choice A even remotely makes sense. The third paragraph tells about precipitation, which is only briefly mentioned in the second paragraph. The other choices do not work because there is no time order, no emotion, and no fiction. Remember, don't get intimidated. Stay with it and give it a try, and sometimes, like on this question, you get one right that you thought you had no chance on!
  31. E If you need help with the main idea, reread the first and last lines of the paragraph. The final paragraph explores precipitation replenishing the water supply. This is demonstrated clearly in the first and last lines of the paragraph.
  32. This question is another great reminder to read the whole answer and not just pick a choice based on the first few words. For example, the first few words of choice A look great, but the last few are clearly not related to the paragraph—there was no mention of a shortage.

    Answering questions based on the first few words alone is the most common careless error I see on the reading section.

  33. E Generally parentheses are used to include information that is interesting but inessential or to indicate a side comment to the reader. Choice E describes this best.
  34. B For a "parallel" question, don't get thrown if the choices are not from the passage. Stay relaxed and focused, and look for the choice that proves or disproves the statement. In this case, the question asks which choice will enter the system promptly. Rain falling on the area will enter fastest. Even for a "parallel" question, we want proof in the passage, and choice B has the most proof. Choice C will enter, but later, as mentioned in the next line of the passage.
  35. C The passage is primarily an unemotional account of the water system.
  36. D When something trips up your tongue or you can't get its meaning, it's probably wrong. Listen to your ear, and when in doubt, identify the subject of an underlined verb. The verb "works" should be "worked" to match "stretched."
  37. D When something trips up your tongue or you can't get its meaning, it's probably wrong. Choice D sounds weird because the verb "was" does not match its plural subject, "his songs." So "was" should be "have." Listen to your ear, and when in doubt, identify the subject of an underlined verb. Also watch for this SAT subject/verb agreement trick—the subject coming after the verb. Just ask yourself, What is doing the action of this verb?
  38. D When a pronoun is underlined, we must be totally sure what noun it is referring to. If it is unclear in any way, it is incorrect. The underlined pronoun must also match (singular or plural) the noun that it refers to. The pronoun "she" is unclear. Does it refer to Tzipora or her mom? Also, this question is a great reminder that sometimes you'll get several answers of the same letter in a row. Don't panic, it happens!
  39. C If a transition word (such as "although," "since," "but," "therefore," or "however") is underlined see if it works in the sentence. "But" would indicate that the two parts of the sentence are in opposition and does not make sense, since the second part of the sentence results from the first, and does not oppose it.
  40. E When words in a list are underlined, make sure they match. "Safety clips" matches the other words in the list.
  41. D When words being compared are underlined, make sure they match. "Demonstrate keen insight" does not match "hilarious." It should be "keenly insightful."
  42. B When a preposition is underlined, ask if it is the right preposition to use. "Contrasted to" should be "contrasted with." As long as you know to watch for this, your ear can pick it up.
  43. C Make sure to read the sentence as it is. Don't correct it in your head; that is, watch for a missing "ly." "Proud" should be "proudly." As long as you know to watch for this, your ear can pick it up.
  44. D To test if "she" is correct, use the same rule as you use for I versus Me. Try putting the "she" first or drop the other person and trust your ear. "… Was signed by she" sounds weird. "… Was signed by her" sounds good, so the sentence should say "her" instead of "she."
  45. B "Who" is used for people, and "which" is used for things. So in this sentence "which" should be "who," since it is describing the poet Emily Dickinson.
  46. E The correct answer on a "sentence correction" question will always be the most clear, direct, non redundant choice. "Being as she is the best on the team" is wordy. "The best on the team" expresses the same idea much more concisely. The SAT loves concise.
  47. B Descriptive phrases on the SAT must be clearly associated with (usually placed right next to) the noun they describe. Tolle is the great teacher described in the sentence, so the phrase "A great teacher" must be as close as possible to "Tolle." That leaves choices B and E. Choice B is more clear and concise.
  48. B On an SAT writing question, always choose active over passive voice. Choice B is the most clear, direct, active choice. Some students choose E because it corrects the sentence into active voice and looks more like the original, but choice B still keeps the meaning of the sentence and is more direct.
  49. C Use the process of elimination. Look at each choice for errors, and eliminate it when you find one. For example, choice B is incorrect since the first part does not result from the second part of the sentence, which the "since" would indicate. Choice C is the most clear and concise.
  50. A Analyze the underlined portion of the sentence, using the Skills. There are no errors. Choice B does not follow parallel structure, and choices C, D, and E are wordy.

39–49.   Did you use the Skills? Check your essay, item by item, with this checklist.

If you don't feel confident checking your own essay, ask a friend, parent, or teacher to use the list. Check off items that you mastered, and circle items that need improvement.

  1. Brainstorm for specific details, not generalizations.
  2. If something else brilliant occurs to you, of course use that; but if not, use whichever of your planned examples applies best.
  3. Jot down or circle the best details from your brainstorm. These details form the outline for the body paragraphs of the essay.
  4. Your intro paragraph should be 3 to 4 sentences: an opener, a link, and a thesis.
  5. Use transition sentences to begin each paragraph, link it to the previous paragraph, and remind the reader of your thesis.
  6. Each "body" paragraph begins with a link to the previous paragraph and is written around a single main idea.
  7. The second or third body paragraph should finish demonstrating your thesis. It should be organized around a specific example of your thesis. Ideally, it smoothly links to your previous body paragraph(s).
  8. Structure your conclusion by restating your thesis, linking, and ending with a bang.
  9. Get deep, write at least 1.5 pages, use some impressive vocab, vary your sentences, write readably, and avoid basic grammar and spelling errors.
  10. Leave a few minutes to proofread your essay for omitted words, misspellings, and punctuation errors, and to make sure that you indented new paragraphs when you meant to and wrote details accurately.

Generally, an organized essay will earn at least an 8. Details, depth of analysis, and cool vocab will earn you a 9 to 12. The more details, depth of analysis, and cool vocab, the higher your score will be.

  1. B


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