HiSET: Language Arts - Reading : Meaning of words and phrases

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HiSET: Language Arts - Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Meaning Of Words And Phrases

Passage adapted from "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1818)

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

5  And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear: 

10  'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away."

What is meant by the word "antique" as it is used in the poem?

Possible Answers:

Picturesque

Ancient

Bustling

Charming

Correct answer:

Ancient

Explanation:

The poem describes the ruins of an ancient civilization, so we know that "antique" means "ancient" in this poem. The setting is clearly not "crowded" or "bustling." Instead of being "charming," it is described as lonely and barren. Since the setting is described somewhat negatively "boundless and bare," picturesque is not the best answer. 

Example Question #2 : Meaning Of Words And Phrases

Passage adapted from Mark Twain's "Advice to Youth" (1882)

Being told I would be expected to talk here, I inquired what sort of talk I ought to make. They said it should be something suitable to youth-something didactic, instructive, or something in the nature of good advice. Very well. I have a few things in my mind which I have often longed to say for the instruction of the young; for it is in one’s tender early years that such things will best take root and be most enduring and most valuable. First, then. I will say to you my young friends -- and I say it beseechingly, urgently -- 
   Always obey your parents, when they are present. This is the best policy in the long run, because if you don’t, they will make you. Most parents think they know better than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your own better judgment.
   Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any, also to strangers, and sometimes to others. If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. That will be sufficient. If you shall find that he had not intended any offense, come out frankly and confess yourself in the wrong when you struck him; acknowledge it like a man and say you didn’t mean to. Yes, always avoid violence; in this age of charity and kindliness, the time has gone by for such things. Leave dynamite to the low and unrefined.
   Go to bed early, get up early -- this is wise. Some authorities say get up with the sun; some say get up with one thing, others with another. But a lark is really the best thing to get up with. It gives you a splendid reputation with everybody to know that you get up with the lark; and if you get the right kind of lark, and work at him right, you can easily train him to get up at half past nine, every time -- it’s no trick at all.
   Now as to the matter of lying. You want to be very careful about lying; otherwise you are nearly sure to get caught. Once caught, you can never again be in the eyes to the good and the pure, what you were before. Many a young person has injured himself permanently through a single clumsy and ill finished lie, the result of carelessness born of incomplete training. Some authorities hold that the young out not to lie at all. That of course, is putting it rather stronger than necessary; still while I cannot go quite so far as that, I do maintain , and I believe I am right, that the young ought to be temperate in the use of this great art until practice and experience shall give them that confidence, elegance, and precision which alone can make the accomplishment graceful and profitable. Patience, diligence, painstaking attention to detail -- these are requirements; these in time, will make the student perfect; upon these only, may he rely as the sure foundation for future eminence.

Why does Twain believe that children should be careful about lying?

Possible Answers:

Because lying is never beneficial

Because lying injures you

Because lying is morally wrong

None of these

Correct answer:

None of these

Explanation:

The correct answer is "none of these." Twain states that the reason for being careful when lying is so as not to get caught. He also states that lying can be the "foundation for future eminence," showing us that he does think it can be beneficial. He encourages children to practice lying, and thus, does not believe it is morally wrong. He does not imply that lying injures for the same reason, unless one is caught lying. 

Example Question #3 : Meaning Of Words And Phrases

Passage adapted from Mark Twain's "Advice to Youth" (1882)

Being told I would be expected to talk here, I inquired what sort of talk I ought to make. They said it should be something suitable to youth-something didactic, instructive, or something in the nature of good advice. Very well. I have a few things in my mind which I have often longed to say for the instruction of the young; for it is in one’s tender early years that such things will best take root and be most enduring and most valuable. First, then. I will say to you my young friends -- and I say it beseechingly, urgently -- 
   Always obey your parents, when they are present. This is the best policy in the long run, because if you don’t, they will make you. Most parents think they know better than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your own better judgment.
   Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any, also to strangers, and sometimes to others. If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. That will be sufficient. If you shall find that he had not intended any offense, come out frankly and confess yourself in the wrong when you struck him; acknowledge it like a man and say you didn’t mean to. Yes, always avoid violence; in this age of charity and kindliness, the time has gone by for such things. Leave dynamite to the low and unrefined.
   Go to bed early, get up early -- this is wise. Some authorities say get up with the sun; some say get up with one thing, others with another. But a lark is really the best thing to get up with. It gives you a splendid reputation with everybody to know that you get up with the lark; and if you get the right kind of lark, and work at him right, you can easily train him to get up at half past nine, every time -- it’s no trick at all.
   Now as to the matter of lying. You want to be very careful about lying; otherwise you are nearly sure to get caught. Once caught, you can never again be in the eyes to the good and the pure, what you were before. Many a young person has injured himself permanently through a single clumsy and ill finished lie, the result of carelessness born of incomplete training. Some authorities hold that the young out not to lie at all. That of course, is putting it rather stronger than necessary; still while I cannot go quite so far as that, I do maintain , and I believe I am right, that the young ought to be temperate in the use of this great art until practice and experience shall give them that confidence, elegance, and precision which alone can make the accomplishment graceful and profitable. Patience, diligence, painstaking attention to detail -- these are requirements; these in time, will make the student perfect; upon these only, may he rely as the sure foundation for future eminence.

The word "didactic" most nearly means ___________.

Possible Answers:

educational

memorable

comical

serious

Correct answer:

educational

Explanation:

The word "didactic" means "educational." One can infer this meaning from the context, next to the synonym "instructive." Since we can infer from the title that he is speaking to youth and trying to give them advice, we can assume the authorities did not ask him for a comical speech. Twain seems to ironically suggest that the youth don't remember these speeches, and his tone is not serious, so the best choice is "educational."

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