Practice Problems
Practice Problems
On test day, you’re likely to see one long RC passage and a couple of short ones. This practice set includes an example of each. Don’t forget to go over the answers and explanations that follow.

Directions: After reading each passage, choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions following a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.

         Pure science is a science of discovery, a science of
    figuring out the physical, chemical, and biological laws
    governing the universe. A scientist engaged in pure science gains
Line    knowledge of a limited sort. He or she may gain an understanding
(5)    of the actions of particles under certain circumstances, or of
    the processes which make up the nitrogen cycle, but a researcher
    who discovers the whys and hows of scientific laws does not
    attempt to change those laws. Pure scientific research thus does
    not impinge on the rights or privacy of particular individuals or
(10)    communities.
         Applied science, in contrast, involves an effort to harness
    the knowledge gained by pure science for the purpose of achieving
    specific ends. As a result, applied science holds the potential
    to greatly benefit humanity, but it also holds the potential to
(15)    cause great harm, such as the construction of the atomic bomb
    built specifically to destroy. It is only when science has become
    manifest in society through application that it can impinge on
    human rights.
         Literary audiences have traditionally favored writers whose
    works appear to spring from the richness of lived experience.
    Ernest Hemingway and Jack London come to mind as semi-mythic
Line    action figures who documented their experiences in art. Next to
(5)    the travails of nineteenth-century Russian novelist Fyodor
    Dostoyevsky, the adventures of even these lively American writers
    pale in comparison. Dostoyevsky was arrested for treason against
    the state, kept in solitary confinement for ten months, tried and
    condemned to death, and brought to the scaffold only to have his
(10)    execution stayed at the last moment by an order of the Czar
    delivered dramatically on horseback. To say that his life was as
    dark and dramatic as the books he wrote is no mere marketing
    gimmick, no ritual of hyperbole characterizing the incessant and
    obligatory hype announcing the release of every modern novel and
(15)    Hollywood spectacular.
         Considering such a biography, it is commonplace to emphasize
    the direct link between Dostoyevsky’s life and his novels. This
    view is not without merit: Dostoyevsky suffered greatly, and he
    wrote with great power and passion about the prospect of
(20)    attaining redemption through suffering. Years of communing with
    hardened criminals in a Siberian prison yielded passages of
    penetrating insights into the criminal mind. Dostoyevsky suffered
    from a destructive gambling addiction and debilitating epileptic
    seizures, maladies he imparted to some of his characters. He
(25)    faithfully and poignantly reproduced in his writing his most
    harrowing personal experience: the excruciating moments awaiting
    execution and the confused euphoria following its sudden,
    seemingly miraculous annulment.
         However, the popular view of Dostoyevsky as a preeminent
(30)    example of the synergistic relation between the artist and his
    work tends to obscure the contradictions that inevitably infuse
    even the most coherent artist’s life. As Dostoyevsky himself
    taught via brilliantly realistic character portrayals, each human
    being consists of a labyrinth of internal inconsistencies,
(35)    competing desires, and mysterious motivations that belie the
    notion of a completely unified personality. One of Dostoyevsky’s
    most vital insights concerns the individual’s struggle to bring
    his contradictory being into harmony with the world. The fact
    that Dostoyevsky himself fused his being with his art to a near
(40)    miraculous extent does not suggest the absence of contradiction
    between the two. He was, by fellow Russian writer Ivan Turgenev’s
    account, an odious and obstinate individual who nonetheless
    managed to portray the highest human types in characters such as
    Prince Myshkin in The Idiot and Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov
(45)    . In his writings Dostoyevsky vehemently challenged rationality
    as the supreme guide to human affairs, yet in his life he strove
    to perfect an ultra-rational gambling methodology to alleviate
    his crushing financial difficulties. Far from masking his
    brilliance, such contradictions reveal the fallible human behind
(50)    it, making Dostoyevsky’s accomplishments all the more remarkable.
Guided Explanations
1. E
Step 1: Skim and Outline. We trust that you made your way through the passage and jotted down its main features in a way that makes sense to you.
Step 2: Read the Question and Search for Triggers. The triggers are According to the passage, which tells us we’re dealing with a Detail question, and differs, which tells us we’re looking for differences between pure and applied science.
Step 3: Locate Relevant Information and Make a Prediction. The phrase in contrast in the first line of paragraph 2 is a great clue as to where the difference between pure and applied science will be found. Reread that part carefully if you feel you need to enhance your quick skim of that section.
The contrast cited is that applied science tries to harness scientific knowledge to have an effect on the world, so it does differ from pure science in the scope of its intentions, statement III. The last line of both paragraphs also indicate that statement I is correct: Applied science can impact negatively upon people’s lives in a way that pure science cannot. Statement II is cited as well in the author’s discussion of the idea that applied science has the potential to produce both benefits and harm, a more complex scenario than the neutral fact-seeking of pure scientific endeavors.
Step 4: Match Your Prediction to the Answer Choices. E is correct because as we have seen, statements I, II, and III all represent differences between pure and applied science.
2. D
Step 1: Skim and Outline. You’ve already done this before tackling the first question, so move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Read the Question and Search for Triggers. The trigger phrase is author consider an example of pure science, which tells us we’ll need to reason from the information presented to deduce something about the author’s beliefs. That means this is an Implied Information question.
Step 3: Locate Relevant Information and Make a Prediction. Our trigger words tell us that pure science is the subject of this one, and we know from our skim of the passage and our brief notes that that subject is treated mainly in paragraph 1. So that’s the paragraph to head for if you need to quickly review what pure science is all about. To this author, pure science is research that has no relation to human industry or other activities.
Step 4: Match Your Prediction to the Answer Choices. Only D fits this description, since merely estimating how much the earth weighs doesn’t in and of itself accomplish anything other than adding to our knowledge of the universe. The other four choices describe things that fit quite well into the author’s definition of applied science: undertakings meant “for the purpose of achieving specific ends.”
3. A
Step 1: Skim and Outline. As always, perform a quick skim of the passage and take note on your scrap paper of what you consider the most relevant points.
Step 2: Read the Question and Search for Triggers. Since this is a Primary Purpose question, there are no trigger words to speak of, and the correct answer will reflect a general understanding of what the author set out to accomplish.
Step 3: Locate Relevant Information and Make a Prediction. There is no specific information to look for as we’re looking for the overall purpose of the entire passage. Rather than make a prediction, the best thing to do is work from the answer choices, so we’ll test the answers one by one. Remember, we encourage you to “be flexible” as to how to apply the step method.
A: Choice A comes closest to capturing the author’s main purpose in the passage. The author doesn’t discount the popular view regarding the link between Dostoyevsky’s life and works—indeed, he says that Dostoyevsky “fused his being with his art to a near miraculous extent.” And if he wanted to disavow the popular view entirely, he wouldn’t have gone out of his way to support the general merit of this view with numerous examples in paragraph 2. Instead, he’s trying to take it down a notch; trying to show that while there was a remarkable amount of synergy between Dostoyevsky’s life and works, it didn’t reach the epic proportions that some would have us believe. The author tries to complete the story by suggesting that there were also contradictions.
B: Achieving harmony with the world is merely an idea from paragraph 3 that doesn’t encompass the author’s main intention of discussing synergy and contradiction in Dostoyevsky’s life and works.
C: The author states that the contradictions between Dostoyevsky’s life and art don’t detract from his accomplishments and even make them more remarkable. That’s not to say that the author is arguing that these contradictions enabled his achievements.
D harks back to role players Jack London and Ernest Hemingway, who aren’t important enough figures to be included as part of the author’s primary concern. The author didn’t write all of this to merely compare Dostoyevsky to his American counterparts.
E gets it backward. The author believes that the popular view of the synergy between Dostoyevsky’s life and art overshadows the contradictions between those things, not that the contradictions overshadow the popular view.
4. E
Step 1: Skim and Outline. You’ve already done this, so move right on to Step 2.
Step 2: Read the Question and Search for Triggers. The passage cites indicates that this is a Detail question testing your understanding of some fact presented in the passage. Elements of novels drawn from personal experience tells us which fact is being tested, so that is your trigger. Moreover, the word EXCEPT tells us that this is a special kind of question looking for the one choice that doesn’t represent something from Dostoyevsky’s experience that wound up in one of his books.
Step 3: Locate Relevant Information and Make a Prediction. Elements of Dostoyevsky’s life encapsulated in his novels are found in paragraph 2, so it makes sense to refresh your memory of those before trying to answer the question. As we are looking for the exception, it makes more sense to work from the answer choices and cross off the ones that appear in paragraph 2.
A, B, C, and D are explicitly mentioned in the second paragraph as elements of Dostoyevsky’s life that he wrote about in his books.
E, however, is the odd man out: While the author states in paragraph 1 that Dostoyevsky was kept in solitary confinement following his arrest, this event is not mentioned in paragraph 2 as something from Dostoyevsky’s life that he depicted in his novels.
5. D
Step 1: Skim and Outline. One final question to handle, so get right to Step 2 to see what it’s after.
Step 2: Read the Question and Search for Triggers. This one’s a Detail Purpose question that’s interested in why the author mentions Turgenev’s view of Dostoyevsky. Turgenev is our trigger word.
Step 3: Locate Relevant Information and Make a Prediction. Turgenev is only mentioned once near the middle of paragraph 3. So it pays to reacquaint yourself with this detail by reading a few lines above and a few lines below the Turgenev bit to put that reference in context. Dostoyevsky, according to Turgenev, was a revolting and stubborn person, yet Dostoyevsky portrayed in his works characters embodying the highest human ideals. This information appears in the passage immediately following the assertion that there was contradiction between Dostoyevsky’s being and his art.
Therefore, it is likely that Turgenev’s opinion of Dostoyevsky is provided as part of an example supporting the author’s contention that contradiction existed between Dostoyevsky’s life and works.
Step 4: Match Your Prediction to the Answer Choices. Choice D is the closest paraphrase to our prediction above.
As for the other choices:
A: The author supplies no evidence that Dostoyevsky wasn’t odious and obstinate, as Turgenev maintained. Turgenev’s depiction therefore isn’t provided to contrast the perception of Dostoyevsky’s personality with the reality of what he was really like.
B is difficult to decipher, but it appears to be saying that even an odious and obstinate person can only create characters of the highest human type. Not only does this make little sense, but the author’s purpose seems to be the opposite: to illustrate the contradiction inherent in the fact that such a revolting person can create such characters at all.
C: The detail in question supports the notion of contradiction, not synergy. The evidence referred to in C is found in paragraph 2, not where Turgenev appears in paragraph 3.
E refers to Dostoyevsky’s insight regarding human contradiction mentioned earlier in paragraph 3. Turgenev’s view of Dostoyevsky, expressed later in the paragraph, relates to the author’s theory regarding Dostoyevsky’s contradictions.
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