Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze complex sets of ideas or sequences: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.3

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Example Question #1 : Analyze Complex Sets Of Ideas Or Sequences: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.11 12.3

Adapted from the First Inaugural Address of Thomas Jefferson (March 4th, 1801)

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety.

But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

What is the relationship between the first and second paragraphs?

Possible Answers:

The first paragraph sets up a conflict of which the second paragraph provides a detailed description

The first paragraph sets up a conflict to which the second paragraph proposes a solution

None of these

The first paragraph introduces the speaker as a figure of authority; the second paragraph provides historical context

Correct answer:

The first paragraph sets up a conflict to which the second paragraph proposes a solution

Explanation:

This question interrogates your literal understanding of the content of the text, while also querying your ability to understand the ways in which different parts of the text relate to one another in terms of sequence. First, let's establish the subject and purpose of the opening paragraph. Right away, you should get the sense that the option that suggests that the function of this paragraph is to "introduce the speaker as a figure of authority" is inaccurate or, at least, not the strongest interpretation. The focus of this passage is on the "contest of opinion through which we have passed" as a nation. By including himself in the group of his listeners with "we" the author is seeking to do the opposite of introducing himself as of authority over his audience. He is seeking common ground with his listeners, not seeking to establish his individual ability or authority to rule over them.

The key phrase to solve this question can be found at the very opening of the second paragraph, where Jefferson's use of the the imperative ("Let us") acts as a clear signal that he is proposing action, and the method by which he and his audience can resolve the various "contest[s] of opinion" that have led to the division of society he is describing. The "solution" he proposes is found in the very actions he exhorts of his listeners.

Example Question #2 : Analyze Complex Sets Of Ideas Or Sequences: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.11 12.3

Adapted from “Geographical Evolution” by Archibald Geikie (1879)

In the quaint preface to his Navigations and Voyages of the English Nation, Hakluyt calls geography and chronology "the sunne and moone, the right eye and the left of all history." The position thus claimed for geography three hundred years ago by the great English chronicler was not accorded by his successors, and has hardly been admitted even now. The functions of the geographer and the traveller, popularly assumed to be identical, have been supposed to consist in descriptions of foreign countries, their climate, productions, and inhabitants, bristling on the one hand with dry statistics, and relieved on the other by as copious an introduction as may be of stirring adventure and personal anecdote. There has indeed been much to justify this popular assumption. It was not until the key-note of its future progress was struck by Karl Ritter, within the present century, that geography advanced beyond the domain of travellers' tales and desultory observation into that of orderly, methodical, scientific progress. This branch of inquiry, however, is now no longer the pursuit of mere numerical statistics, nor the chronicle of marvelous and often questionable adventures by flood and fell. It seeks to present a luminous picture of the earth's surface, its various forms of configuration, its continents, islands, and oceans, its mountains, valleys, and plains, its rivers and lakes, its climates, plants, and animals. It thus endeavours to produce a picture which shall not be one of mere topographical detail. It ever looks for a connection between scattered facts, tries to ascertain the relations which subsist between the different parts of the globe, their reactions on each other and the function of each in the general economy of the whole. Modern geography studies the distribution of vegetable and animal life over the earth's surface, with the action and reaction between it and the surrounding inorganic world. It traces how man, alike unconsciously and knowingly, has changed the face of nature, and how, on the other hand, the conditions of his geographical environment have moulded his own progress.

With these broad aims geography comes frankly for assistance to many different branches of science. It does not, however, claim in any measure to occupy their domain. It brings to the consideration of their problems a central human interest in which these sciences are sometimes apt to be deficient; for it demands first of all to know how the problems to be solved bear upon the position and history of man and of this marvelously-ordered world wherein he finds himself undisputed lord. Geography freely borrows from meteorology, physics, chemistry, geology, zoology, and botany; but the debt is not all on one side. Save for the impetus derived from geographical research, many of these sciences would not be in their present advanced condition. They gain in vast augmentation of facts, and may cheerfully lend their aid in correlating these for geographical requirements.

In no respect does modern geography stand out more prominently than in the increased precision and fullness of its work. It has fitted out exploratory expeditions, and in so doing has been careful to see them provided with the instruments and apparatus necessary to enable them to contribute accurate and definite results. It has guided and fostered research, and has been eager to show a generous appreciation of the labours of those by whom our knowledge of the earth has been extended. Human courage and endurance are not less enthusiastically applauded than they once were; but they must be united to no common powers of observation before they will now raise a traveller to the highest rank. When we read a volume of recent travel, while warmly appreciating the spirit of adventure, fertility of resource, presence of mind, and other moral qualities of its author, we instinctively ask ourselves, as we close its pages, what is the sum of its additions to our knowledge of the earth? From the geographical point of view - and it is to this point alone that these remarks apply - we must rank an explorer according to his success in widening our knowledge and enlarging our views regarding the aspects of nature.

The demands of modern geography are thus becoming every year more exacting. It requires more training in its explorers abroad, more knowledge on the part of its readers at home. The days are drawing to a close when one can gain undying geographical renown by struggling against man and beast, fever and hunger and drought, across some savage and previously unknown region, even though little can be shown as the outcome of the journey. All honour to the pioneers by whom this first exploratory work has been so nobly done! They will be succeeded by a race that will find its laurels more difficult to win - a race from which more will be expected, and which will need to make up in the variety, amount, and value of its detail, what it lacks in the freshness of first glimpses into new lands.

What is the relationship between geography and other sciences outlined in the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Geography and other sciences have a directly adversarial relationship, as both demand the same limited resources

Geography borrows extensively from the other sciences, while contributing little in return

Geography and the other sciences, while sometimes coinciding in subject matter, are separate and unrelated fields

Geography and other sciences have a mutually beneficial relationship, to which both contribute in equal but different ways

Correct answer:

Geography and other sciences have a mutually beneficial relationship, to which both contribute in equal but different ways

Explanation:

Here, you are being asked to correctly identify the relationship between two ideas in a specific paragraph of the text. Note that for this question, you are restricted to the content of the second paragraph.

The first answer that we can safely and easily eliminate is the one that claims a "direct and adversarial relationship" between the fields. The second sentence of the paragraph specifically tells us that geography "does not, however, claim to occupy [the sciences'] domain."

Now, the answer that claim that, although they overlap in subject matter, the fields are unrelated is also dismissible, since we've just read an entire paragraph talking about the ways in which they are, in fact, related.

So, having eliminated these options, we are left to decide if the relationship is characterized as mutually beneficial or one-sided in favor of the geographers. The first sentence of the paragraph asserts geography's debt to "many different branches of science," but later the argument is made that geography "brings to the consideration of their problems a central human interest in which these sciences are sometimes apt to be deficient, thereby filling a gap and bringing their own contribution to science. The relationship, then, is characterized as mutually beneficial.

All Common Core: 12th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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