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Answer Explanations for: PSAT Wednesday 2012 (Form W)

Section 1: Critical Reading

Sentence Completions

1)      D) The blank requires a word that describes the profession of a member of the House of Representatives.  Because representatives make and pass laws (legislation) for a living, D is the correct answer.

2)      C) The blank requires a word that fits the description after the colon, so you need a word that means conventional, or lacking in creativity.

3)      E) Because Nathan decided to shop elsewhere, he must have become angry or offended, so E is the only answer choice that works for the second blank.  Also, the first blank must mean dismissed or downplayed, so only B or E could work for the first blank.  E is therefore the correct answer, since it is the only option that works for both blanks.

4)      C) The part of the sentence after the comma reveals that the second blank must feature a word that is the opposite of “center,” so C or E could work for the second blank.  Because her art is now garnering the attention of critics, the first blank must feature a word that means increase, so A, C, or D could work for the first blank.  C is therefore the correct answer, since it is the only option that works for both blanks.

5)      B) Here you need a synonym of unselfishness, so B is the only option that works.

6)      C) The word “although” tells you that the portion of the sentence after the comma will be questioning the reports described in the first part of the sentence.  Therefore, the first blank requires a word that means questionable or unsubstantiated, so C and possibly A or E could work for the first blank.  The second blank requires a word that describes the property of snowflakes that makes reports of extremely large snowflakes tough to substantiate.  Clearly, this property is the fact that snowflakes melt or mix with other snowflakes on the ground and therefore cease to exist as individual flakes.  Therefore, the second blank requires a word that means fleeting or impermanent, so C is the only option that works for the second blank.

7)      D) Here you need a word that fits the description after the colon, so you need an adjective that describes a work that shows great foresight.  Therefore, D is the only option that works.

8)      D) The structure of the sentence indicates that the first blank must be the opposite of the “rank-and-file,” or ordinary, members.  Therefore, the first blank must mean leaders, so D is the only option that works for the first blank.  The contrast made in the sentence also makes it apparent that the second blank must feature a near synonym of the word “rights” from the first part of the sentence.  In the context of the sentence, A or D could fit this meaning.  D is therefore the correct answer, since it is the only option that works for both blanks.

 

Passage Based Reading

9)      A) In this passage, the author describes his view that minimalism is undesirable in art and that “completeness” (line 4) is preferable.  This viewpoint could be summarized as the author’s artistic “philosophy,” so A is the best answer.  B could be tempting because the author relates this philosophy to some ideas he found in Africa, but he does not describe Africa as the ultimate origin of this philosophy; instead, he makes it clear that he preferred completeness to minimalism well before his Africa trip.  On questions like this that use vague terms to refer to specific things, it is important to know exactly what specific things the vague terms refer to before choosing your answer.

10)  D) In this analogy, the author compares the repetition in his art to the repetition of a blues singer, so D is the correct answer.  E could be tempting, since the author does seem to admire blues singers for the fact that they, like him, value repetition; however, answer choice D more accurately describes the main purpose of the comparison as it relates the passage as a whole.

11)  D) Lines 4-9 indicate that Benny was unhappy with the rain because it was interfering with his ability to finish filming the film he was working on.

12)  B) Undeniable textual evidence supports the fact that Benny is working on a film (line 6) and that the studio is putting pressure on him to finish making it quickly (lines 6-9), so B is the correct answer.  Answer choice A could be quite tempting, but the passage does not go in depth into Benny’s overall psychology; it simply notes his frustration in dealing with the weather that is interfering with his ability to satisfactorily complete his film.

13)  C) On questions like this that use vague terms to refer to specific things, it is important to know exactly what specific things the vague terms refer to before choosing your answer.  C is the correct answer because Passage 1 outlines the “idea” that hydrogen fuel cell technology can eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, while Passage 2 takes a more even-handed approach, describing both the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cells as an energy solution for automobiles.  Answer choice A is incorrect because Passage 2 is uncertain about whether fuel cells are a practical solution.  B is incorrect because Passage 2 does not primarily describe the problem of our dependence on foreign oil, which is the problem that Passage 1 outlines a solution to.  D is incorrect because Passage 1 does not describe the difficulties of using fuel cells as an energy solution.  E is incorrect because neither passage focuses on “cost savings.”

14)  B)  If this situation is a “menace” and poses a danger to our “national security,” answer choice B offers the best description.

15)  B) These lines indicate that both congress and scientists did what was necessary to make the program successful, so B is the correct answer.  A is incorrect because nothing in lines 12-15 indicates caution.  C is incorrect because nothing in these lines indicates fear.  D is incorrect because neither word fits with the description in these lines.  E is incorrect because there is no uncertainty in these lines.

16)  D) Passage 1 frames its argument for the widespread use of fuel cells primarily in terms of the need to achieve independence from foreign oil, as is shown in lines 16-32.  Therefore, the author of Passage 1 would argue that even if fuel cells are not more environmentally friendly than existing technologies, as suggested by Passage 2 in lines 92-95, fuel cells would still have the enormous benefit of eliminating our dependence on foreign oil.

17)  A) The use of the word “only” in both sentences in lines 33-38 shows that the author is resolute in his stance that hydrogen fuel cell technology is the solution to our dependence on foreign oil.  Therefore, A is the best answer, since the author is unwavering in his stance.

18)  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, “conducted” means poised or set, so B is the correct answer.

19)  C) C is the correct answer because the fact that fuel cell technology allows a car to travel much further using a given amount of energy, compared with the internal combustion engine, is a reason why fuel cells could make sense in automobiles.  A is incorrect because these lines do not get into the science of how fuel cells work.  B is incorrect because although battery powered cars are mentioned as a comparison to fuel cell cars, these lines primarily compare fuel cell cars with gasoline powered cars.  D is incorrect because these lines state that fuel cell cars can travel further, not faster, than conventional cars.  E is incorrect because these challenges are not mentioned in these lines.

20)  D) In these lines, the passage describes three necessary characteristics of automobiles that could present challenges in the incorporation of fuel cell technology.  Up until this sentence, the passage deals primarily with the promise of fuel cell technology in automobiles.  Beginning with this sentence, the passages moves to a discussion of the challenges and problems with fuel cell technology, so D is the correct answer.

21)  A) Passage 1 is extremely enthusiastic about the potential of fuel cell technology, so C and E can be immediately eliminated.  The correct answer is A because much of Passage 1’s argument in favor of fuel cells is based on their efficiency, as is shown in lines 38-43.  Therefore, Passage 1 would argue that their efficiency makes up for the energy used to procure the hydrogen.  D is a tempting answer, but it is incorrect because Passage 1 argues that hydrogen is “plentiful” (line 43), indicating that its production is not a serious concern.

22)  C) These lines indicate that “reforming” is not particularly beneficial because it negates the environmental benefits of fuel cell technology, so C is the correct answer.

23)  D) 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, “yield” means create or offer, so D is the correct answer.

24)  C) Passage 2 describes both the pros and cons of fuel cell technology in automobiles, while Passage 1 describes fuel cell technology as the ideal solution to our dependence on foreign oil, so C is the correct answer.