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Answer Explanations for: PSAT Wednesday 2011 (Form W)

Section 1: Critical Reading

Sentence Completions

1)      B) For the first blank, you need a word that means knowing or determining, so B and D would both work for the first blank.  For the second blank, you need a word that means plan or figure out, so B and C would both work for the second blank.  Because it works for both blanks, B is the correct answer.

2)      B) For the first blank, you need a word that means examining or consulting, so B and D would both work for the first blank.  For the second blank, you need a synonym of “funding,” so A and B would both work for the second blank.  Because it works for both blanks, B is the correct answer

3)      D) This is a rare sentence completion question on which it probably makes the most sense to consider both blanks at once.  Generally, it is wise to use process of elimination and only consider one blank at a time.  On this question, however, the only thing you know about the blanks is that they must be opposite words to describe a person’s study habits.  D is the correct answer because it is the only answer choice that features words that are opposite in meaning.  Even if you did not know the word “industrious,” you may have been able to figure out that it means productive or hard working, since it is obviously based on the word industry, and industry is characterized by productivity.

4)      C) For the first blank, you need a word that means display, so C and possibly B would work for the first blank (C is better than B).  For the second blank, you need a word that means replicate, since it is unlikely that the museums sell original artifacts in their gift shops.  Therefore, C is the only option that works for the second blank.  Because it is offers the best word for each blank, C is the correct answer.

5)      A) Here you need a word that describes the appearance of something characterized by “intense colors,” so A is the correct answer.

6)      D) Here you need a word that means “free and open,” so D is the correct answer.

7)      D) Here you need a word that embodies the description in the second part of the sentence, so D is the best answer.

8)      C) For the first blank, you need a word that is synonymous with “schemes,” so B and C would both work for the first blank.  For the second blank, you need a word that means scam, so only C works for the second blank.  Because it works for both blanks, C is the correct answer.

 

Passage Based Reading

9)      C) The quotation marks indicate that these are the words of the critics, not the author.  By putting these words in quotations, the author makes it clear that these are not his words and that he does not subscribe to the beliefs implied by these words, so C is the correct answer.  A is a tempting answer, but it is incorrect because the author is not quoting any one critic in particular but is instead indicating the terminology common to such critics.

10)  A) Passage 1 bemoans sprawl as a disastrous phenomenon that destroys a place, while Passage 2 argues that, while sprawl might currently seem distasteful, it will later seem normal and even a treasured part of our history.  Therefore, Passage 1 is far more negative than Passage 2 towards sprawl, so A is the correct answer.

11)  B) Passage 2 likens our current distaste for sprawl to our previous distaste for other changes to the urban landscape.  Passage 2 argues that we will one day grow to accept and even treasure sprawl just as we have grown to accept and treasure other changes to the urban landscape that were once seen as distasteful.  Because Passage 1 does not take the historical context that Passage 2 does, Passage 2 would consider Passage 1 “shortsighted.”  Passage 2 would also consider Passage 1 “elitist” because Passage 2 describes critics of sprawl as a “highbrow” (line 16) group that looks down upon the masses.  A and C are incorrect because the second word does not work for either answer choice.  D and E don’t work because neither of the two words in either answer summarizes Passage 2’s attitude towards critics of sprawl.

12)  E) Passage 1 describes such housing as “copycat houses” (line 12) and Passage 2 describes such housing as “look-alike stucco boxes” (line 21), so E is the correct answer.

13)  C) The passage is a discussion of the difficulty in producing a clear biographical picture of Emily Bronte due to the limited sources available, so C is the correct answer.  This main point is introduced in the first two paragraphs and explored in the remainder of the passage.  A is incorrect because the passage deals primarily with the difficulty in understanding Emily Bronte as a person rather than praising her abilities.  B is incorrect because the passage does not go into detail about Wuthering Heights.  When Wuthering Heights is discussed in lines 49-62, it is only to draw a parallel between biographers of Emily Bronte and one of the characters in Wuthering Heights.  D is tempting, as the passage does discuss the nuances of the relationship between Emily and Charlotte Bronte in lines 71-92, but it is incorrect because their relationship is discussed only as an evaluation of Charlotte as a source of biographical information about Emily.  D is incorrect because no specific biographies are discussed in the passage

14)  A) Lines 20-23 reveal that the diary papers are the best source of direct information about Emily Bronte of the sources mentioned in lines 4-9.  This question is difficult, since the answer is found far from the lines referred to in the question.  If the lines referred to in the question do not provide the information you need, look first at the immediate context of those lines.  If the immediate context is of no help, the information could be found anywhere in the passage.

15)  C) 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, “odd” means random or occasional, so C is the correct answer.  A is a tempting answer choice, since it fits with the most common definition of “odd,” but it makes no sense for “odd” to mean strange or unusual in this context.

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, “serious” means difficult or substantial, so E is the correct answer.

17)  A) As described in lines 12-16, readers find it surprising and unusual that such a great novel was written by somebody of relatively humble roots, so A is the correct answer.  To understand this sentence, it is critical to know the word “aberration” (line 16), which means anomaly or abnormality.  C could be tempting, since her origins are discussed in lines 12-16, but a close reading reveals that C is the exact opposite of the meaning of lines 12-16.

18)  D) A simile is a comparison using like or as, so a simile is used in line 25 to compare the diary papers to “gold dust.”  Understatement is the intentional downplaying or de-emphasizing of something, so understatement is not present in these lines.  Personification is the attribution of human qualities to non-human entities, so the diary papers are personified in lines 28-30, when they are given the human abilities to “invite” (line 29) and “warn” (line 29).  Therefore, D is the correct answer.

19)  A) Lines 24-25 discuss “access” to the private inner life of a person, so A would best provide this type of “access.”  The documents in the other answer choices are all either third party accounts or writing intended for the public’s eyes, neither of which give “access” to a person’s inner life.

20)  C) In this sentence, the author presents an analogy between biographers who read Emily Bronte’s diary papers and Lockwood, a character from Wuthering Heights who read somebody else’s diary.  This analogy is detailed in lines 49-70.  D could be tempting, but it is incorrect because this sentence merely presents the analogy and does not get into providing evidence for the analogy.

21)  E) The fifth and sixth paragraphs constitute the two parts of the analogy, first presented in lines 49-50, between biographers who read Emily Bronte’s diary papers and Lockwood, a character from Wuthering Heights who read somebody else’s diary.  The fifth paragraph describes the character of Lockwood, and the sixth paragraph describes biographers of Bronte in an analogous manner.  Therefore, E is the correct answer, since the sixth paragraph clarifies the analogy suggested at the beginning of the fifth paragraph by comparing biographers of Emily Bronte to Lockwood.

22)  A) The italics give added meaning to the word “between,” indicating that it is being used a bit differently than the way it was just used in the previous sentence (lines 66-70).  In line 69, “between” simply indicates that Emily needed somebody to help interpret her thoughts, statements, and actions for the benefit of the world.  In line 71, “between” is used more pointedly to suggest that Charlotte actually impeded the world’s understanding of Emily.

23)  B) 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, “slippery” means questionable or undependable, so B is the correct answer.

24)  B) The “actions” referred to in the question are Charlotte’s destruction of artifacts that may have helped the world better understand Emily, as is indicated by lines 84-86.  B is the correct answer because the author laments the destruction of these artifacts in lines 90-92 but excuses the actions as having arisen out of Charlotte’s strong emotions in lines 87-89.  A is incorrect because it indicates that the destruction of artifacts was mean-spirited, which is contrary to the statement in line 89.  C is incorrect because the author claims in lines 84-86 and 90-92 that the damage was in fact consequential.  D and E are both incorrect because neither word in either answer choice fits with the sentiments of the passage.