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Answer Explanations for: PSAT Saturday 2011 (Form S)

Section 1: Critical Reading

Sentence Completions

1)      D) For the first blank, you need something that means “eager” or committed, so B, D, and E all work for the first blank.  For the second blank, you need something that means learn, so D is the only option that works.

2)      B) Here you need a word that means having to do with manufacturing, so B is the best option.  It is very possible, in this question, that the word you initially came up with for the blank was too broad.  For example, you could have easily thought you needed something that meant other.  Looking at the specificity of the answer choices, you would then recognize that your word for the blank was too broad.  At that point, your best approach is to see which answer choice most specifically describes manufacturing cardboard, which is B.

3)      E) Here you need an answer that means a very strong and “compelling” “fascination.”  E is the only answer that fits this definition.

4)      C) For the first blank, you need something that means “doubt” or do not believe. This meaning is arrived at based on the word “although” at the beginning of the sentence and the discussion of “doubts” in the second part of the sentence. Answer choices B, C, and D are all acceptable for the first blank.  The second blank requires a word that means possibility or reality.  In the context, answer choice C is the only word that has an appropriate word for the second blank, so C is the correct answer.

5)      E) For the first blank, you need a synonym of “unclear” or another adjective that could describe poor writing.  D or E could work for the first blank.  For the second blank, the word “lacked” tips you off to the fact that you need a word that is a characteristic of good writing, since the sentence is generally criticizing the essay.  B and E are the only options that work for the second blank.  E is correct because it is the only option that works for both blanks.

6)      C) The second part of the sentence indicates that the first blank must be a word or phrase that indicates Moira loves detective fiction, something along the lines of really into or in love with. C is the only answer that fits this definition.

7)      D) The “not merely reprimanded” in the first part of the sentence tells you that the word in the blank must have a similar meaning to “reprimanded” but must be even stronger.  D is the only answer that fits this definition.

8)      A) Here you need a word that means reduce.  A is the only option that fits this definition.

 

Passage Based Reading

9)      A) The answer choices for this question use vague terms to refer to specific things.  Before choosing an answer, you should know specifically what each vague term refers to.  Answer choice A is correct because the passage discusses one downside to the “phenomenon” of the internet.  Specifically, this downside is that the internet delivers information so quickly that it reduces the author’s ability to focus and think deeply, as described in lines 7-8.

10)  D) The quoted metaphor describes how the author’s mind processes information in the age of the internet.  The metaphor of the water skier shows that his mind emphasizes speed at the expense of depth; the way his mind now processes information is superficial, so D is the correct answer.  This metaphor is contrasted with the metaphor of the scuba diver, which describes how the author’s mind used to process information before the internet: slowly but with great depth.  A is a tempting answer choice because the passage is about the internet, but the metaphor is meant to describe the workings of the author’s mind, not the workings of the internet.

11)  E) The answer choices to this question use vague terms to refer to specific things.  Before choosing an answer, you should know specifically what each vague term refers to.  E is correct because the parenthetical admits that the topic of Native American pottery, though not discussed in the passage, is also impressive.

12)  C) This question is largely a vocabulary question.  To understand the cause of these changes in the pottery, you must consider the sentence as a whole.  The latter part of the sentence (lines 9-12) indicates that the changes in pottery arose due to practical concerns involving the use or purpose of the pottery or financial concerns rather than artistic concerns.  Because these changes were primarily practical, C is the correct answer.

13)  B) Line 1 and lines 26-27 of Passage 1 and lines 53-59 of Passage 2 indicate the belief that people do not have much privacy in the modern world, so B is the correct answer.  A is incorrect because of Passage 1 clearly values privacy and the Passage 2 acknowledges that many people are very concerned with privacy in lines 47-48. C is incorrect because Passage 2 does not consider privacy necessary; instead, Passage 2 describes the economic benefits of reduced privacy. D is incorrect because Passage 1 argues, in the last three paragraphs, that privacy and economic growth should not be considered mutually exclusive.  E is incorrect because neither passage indicates that privacy is more important for political extremists.

14)  D) In the referenced lines, Passage 1 argues that government does not constitute a great threat to people’s privacy.  The author of Passage 2 would disagree, arguing in lines 79-81 that the government is indeed the primary threat to people’s privacy, so D is the correct answer.

15)  A) Passage 1 feels that the collection of electronic consumer information in databases and the resulting electric surveillance as described in the quote from line 10, are a threat to privacy.  Passage 2, on the other hand, argues that the collection of such data is a good thing because it increases market efficiency (line 70) and consequently gives consumers cheaper access to goods, so A is correct.  B is incorrect because it summarizes the viewpoint of Passage 1, not Passage 2.  C and E are incorrect because the author of Passage 2 claims a distinct positive economic effect, as described above.  D is incorrect because although Passage 2 believes such things are nonthreatening, it does not deny their existence.

16)  E) On vocabulary in context questions, examine the context of the word as it is used in the passage and come up with your own idea of what it means before looking at any of the answer choices.  It is important to do so even if you think you know what the word means, because these questions often feature uncommon secondary definitions of words.  Having your own idea of what the word means before looking at the answer choices will help prevent you from being tempted by words that sound good but are ultimately incorrect.  Here, “degree” means amount, so E is the correct answer.

17)  D) The answer choices for this question use vague terms to refer to specific things.  Before choosing an answer, you should know specifically what each vague term refers to. This statement illustrates in concrete, real-world terms the statement made in the previous sentence (lines 27-29), that privacy is a necessary casualty of modern convenience.  It is important to note that the author of Passage 1 does not agree with the viewpoint characterized by the statement or the illustration.

18)  A) Read the quoted portion in the context of the previous sentence (line 36-37).  The quoted portion represents the author’s characterization of big business, which once argued that destroying the environment was a necessary part of environmental progress.  The author likens this outdated view to the people who currently argue that a loss of privacy is a necessary part of economic progress.

19)  C) In lines 60-66, Passage 2 describes the many economic benefits that result from increasing “databasification” (line 62) and downplays the privacy concerns.  The author of Passage 1 thinks that these privacy concerns are enormously important in today’s digital age and that we should not sacrifice privacy in the name of economic benefit.  Therefore, the author of Passage 1 would think that lines 60-66 of Passage 2 focus only on the economic benefits of “databasification” (line 62) and neglect to adequately discuss privacy issues.

20)  E) On vocabulary in context questions, examine the context of the word as it is used in the passage and come up with your own idea of what it means before looking at any of the answer choices.  It is important to do so even if you think you know what the word means, because these questions often feature uncommon secondary definitions of words.  Having your own idea of what the word means before looking at the answer choices will help prevent you from being tempted by words that sound good but are ultimately incorrect.  Here, “dark” means bad, evil, or sinister so E is the correct answer. B is tempting, but it is incorrect because although the “dark side” (line 79) of government snooping is “concealed,” the problem goes beyond the fact that it is “concealed.”  D is also tempting, but is too strong, since it implies that the “dark side” has to do with death when in reality it has only to do with a loss of privacy.

21)  B) Lines 24-41 use corporations’ previous claims that environmental destruction was a necessary cost of economic progress as an analogy to current claims that the destruction of privacy is a necessary cost of economic progress.  Lines 81-85 use the idea to prevent the manufacture of binoculars simply because police could use them to illegally spy on people as an analogy to the idea to regulate databases simply because the government could use the databases to spy on people.  Therefore, B is the correct answer.

22)  B) In lines 44-46, Passage 1 argues the need technology must be better employed to protect our rights and liberties (lines 45-46).  In lines 85-86, Passage 2 argues that measures are necessary to prevent police from spying on people online, much in the way that such measures currently exist to limit the police’s ability to physically spy on people.  Therefore, both passages argue that some “protective measures” are necessary.  Answer choice A is tempting, but it ultimately goes too far.  Neither author argues that rights need to be expanded; they simply argue that “protective measures” are needed to protect the rights we have.

23)  D) Passage 2 describes the “dark side” of the information age as information getting into the hands of the government, which can use the information to spy on people.  In lines 7-14, Passage 1 states that the government, contrary to Orwell’s prediction, is not the primary threat to people’s privacy and that instead the primary threat to people’s privacy is the personal information collected and used by business.

24)  C) The two passages agree that privacy can be protected without giving up modern services we have grown to depend on and enjoy.  Passage 1 argues in lines 30-34 that it is not necessary to give up privacy in order to gain modern technological conveniences and that privacy and modern services can coexist.  Passage 2 argues that modern technological conveniences do not threaten people’s privacy because privacy does not need to be protected from corporations, which provide these technological conveniences, but instead from the government.  A is a tempting answer choice, but it is incorrect because Passage 2 believes that privacy can be protected from the government, the only entity we need to protect our privacy from, at zero cost to business.  B is incorrect because although the last sentence of Passage 1 discusses the use of technology to protect people’s privacy, Passage 2 suggests regulations, not technology, as a means of protecting people’s privacy.  D is incorrect because although Passage 2 discusses regulations, a form of government intervention, as a way of protecting privacy, Passage 1 does not mention government intervention as a solution.  E is not offered as a solution by either passage.