HSPT Reading : Drawing Conclusions in Contemporary Life Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Drawing Conclusions In Contemporary Life Passages

Huge amounts of books are published every year without ever being read by anyone at all. Questionnaires have been mailed to many Americans in an attempt to understand why the publishing industry is so seemingly unpopular in the twenty-first century. While some lament the poor reading education of the past 20 years for causing this problem, researchers insist that it is important to notice the buying habits of people purchasing electronic readers and many electronic books.

Which of the following can be inferred from the paragraph.

Possible Answers:

Though people are buying fewer physical books, there still is a reading culture that uses electronic devices for reading.

Publishers should stop publishing so many physical books because they are losing money.

The books on the electronic readers are much simpler than classics in print.

Because of the poor reading education of the past 20 years, people actually cannot even read the books they are buying for their digital readers.

People do not read the books on the readers but merely purchase them on a whim.

Correct answer:

Though people are buying fewer physical books, there still is a reading culture that uses electronic devices for reading.

Explanation:

The fact that is cited at the end of the paragraph is meant to lead you to draw a conclusion. Clearly, the passage implies that fewer physical books are being bought. The paragraph does not necessarily imply that they are unprofitable but instead wishes to consider the reasons for this decline. A first fact is provided regarding the poor state of reading education in recent years; however, the closing remark shows that there is a pertinent counter fact, namely that people are still buying many books, only now in electronic forms. The safest conclusion from the details given is, "Though people are buying fewer physical books, there still is a reading culture that uses electronic devices for reading."

Example Question #2 : Drawing Conclusions In Contemporary Life Passages

Common-sense phrases should not be quickly forgotten, for much wisdom lies in such homely words. For instance, take the old expression, “An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.” Certainly, this language is metaphorical, for one cannot weigh out preparation like it were some kind of vegetables being purchased at the store. 

Which of the following best concludes this paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Such simple expressions are well attuned to the limited intelligence of common people, and even if they are somewhat annoyed by them, more intelligent people should indulge such language.

Such metaphorical expressions arose from the imagery of farm life and perhaps have little application in the fast-paced world of modernity.

Metaphors often lead to misunderstandings, but with adequate time, they can make sense even to the dullest of people.

Still, in spite of its non-literal character, the phrase is a very useful expression and should be understood by more people today, who often do not adequately prepare for the future.

These expressions sadly have all but died in our culture, which only communicates by small bits and bites on the internet.

Correct answer:

Still, in spite of its non-literal character, the phrase is a very useful expression and should be understood by more people today, who often do not adequately prepare for the future.

Explanation:

The main point of this paragraph is to support the worth of such expressions as the one cited as an example. The correct answer is the only one that completes the paragraph by supporting the continued usefulness of these metaphorical figures of speech.

Example Question #3 : Drawing Conclusions In Contemporary Life Passages

My dear old friend Sebastian used to tell me that he had something of a sliding scale regarding the musicians to which he could listen. For him, Bach was the most celestial of musicians, and he could listen to him for an eternity without ever being wearied. Mozart was likewise favorably judged, though Sebastian said that he could only endure his music for approximately three to five hours at a time. When it came to Richard Wagner, however, my dear friend was quite unable to bear the intensity of the composer’s works. In stark contrast to his great patience and love for the music of Bach, he could spend little more than five minutes listening to compositions by Wagner.

Based on what this paragraph states, what would Sebastian likely think of the very overpowering musical movement "Mars" by Gustav Holst?

Possible Answers:

He would like it less than he likes Mozart but more than he likes Wagner.

He would likely enjoy it for a time at least.

He would love such a moving and inspiring piece of music.

He would like it as much as he likes Bach.

He would likely not enjoy listening to it.

Correct answer:

He would likely not enjoy listening to it.

Explanation:

You do not have to have any knowledge regarding Gustav Holst's "Mars" to infer what Sebastian would think about it. The song is described as being "very overpowering." Thus, it is very intense. Given Sebastian's inability to listen to Wagner for very long, it is likely that he will not enjoy this piece by Holst.

Example Question #4 : Drawing Conclusions In Contemporary Life Passages

Penmanship has reached abysmally poor quality after many years of steady neglect. Laura could remember a day when her mother would encourage her to continue utilizing the writing skills that had been taught for generations. Now, she could barely convince her children to write on the lines, let alone retain the dignity of a former era.

Which of the following is implied by this selection?

Possible Answers:

Laura's mother was a strict disciplinarian.

Laura's mother taught her important life lessons.

Laura's mother forced conventionalism on all of her children.

Laura's mother had grown up in an era when penmanship was of high quality.

Laura's mother was a woman of her time.

Correct answer:

Laura's mother had grown up in an era when penmanship was of high quality.

Explanation:

This brief selection discusses the apparent decline in the quality of writing (penmanship) during the generation of Laura's children. This is contrasted with her own youth, during which her mother would encourage her to follow older customs of writing. The implication is that these older customs are in contrast to newer trends not only because they were older but likewise because they weren't of such poor quality as the writing of Laura's children. Thus, the safest inference that we can draw from the selection is, "Laura's mother had grown up in an era when penmanship was of high quality."

Example Question #4 : Drawing Conclusions In Contemporary Life Passages

"Online Shopping Options" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

Often, online retailers provide special “favored customer” options that allow customers to spend a small subscription fee in order to receive special pricing and shipping options. Often, these customers believe that they are receiving a great deal of savings, particularly if this option greatly reduces the costs of having items shipped. While such an arrangement can allow someone to make previously planned purchases at a great discount, it likewise can become a great temptation to spend much more money than they would ever have spent had they not had the “favored customer” status.

Which of the following sentences would best conclude the paragraph in a way that follows from the main idea of the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Such customers almost always spend all of their money because of these dishonest ploys.

This dishonest practice has grown in recent years with the increase in logistics systems and improvement in delivery methods.

Therefore, customers should be aware that "favored customer" statuses ultimately aim to generate outcomes in favor of the seller as well as the customer.

These plans are extremely new and will only prove their profitability with the test of time.

The extraordinary greed of such companies is beyond belief and should be prosecuted in court.

Correct answer:

Therefore, customers should be aware that "favored customer" statuses ultimately aim to generate outcomes in favor of the seller as well as the customer.

Explanation:

The paragraph discusses both positive and negative aspects that result from "favored customer" status: while customers may "receive special pricing and shipping options," they also might be "[tempted] to spend much more money than they would ever have spent had they not had the "favored customer" status." "Therefore, customers should be aware that "favored customer" statuses ultimately aim to generate outcomes in favor of the seller as well as the customer" is an appropriate closing sentence for the paragraph because it recognizes that such practices benefit not only consumers, but also online retailers, as the paragraph has considered in its main body.

Example Question #4 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

"American Students and Foreign Languages" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

American students often find it difficult to understand the need for learning a foreign language. In part, this lack of understanding seems to occur because of the insulated nature of American geography. Unlike Europe, America is a massive country, comprised of states that all speak the same language. When an American travels from state to state, he or she is not confronted with a completely different language group as is the case when, for example, a Frenchman travels from his native land to the neighboring country of Italy or to England. Although America does have Canada to its north and Mexico to its south, still it does not have the great internal variety of languages as one finds in the small European continent; therefore, students often do not have the experience of the practical importance of knowing other languages.

Of course, America has always been called the “melting pot,” for many peoples have arrived on these shores bringing their own distinctive cultures and languages. Still, this very expression—“melting pot”—shows that these immigrant cultures do not forever retain their own particular manners and languages. With time, these varied cultures become part of the American culture as a whole. While they do influence and change the culture, they likewise become assimilated into it. Their spoken language becomes English. Even if they retain their mother tongue, they generally speak it privately. This is done as a matter of personal heritage, not as part of the day-to-day life in the culture.

Additionally, America’s global dominance likewise allows Americans to avoid learning other languages. Since America has such influence over the rest of the world, it is generally in the interests of other peoples to learn English in order to be part of the economic, political, and military world in which America operates; therefore, even at international meetings that are filled with people from many nationalities and language groups, English-speakers are at an advantage because they can talk with almost anyone. The work and learning of other peoples thus allows the Americans to convince themselves that there is no need to learn another language.

Lastly, American education has come to emphasize mathematics and science to such a great degree that things such as language can often seem unimportant. The main goals of education are said to be the training of students for the technology workforce. If this is presented as the main goal of school, few children will understand why any of the non-science subjects are included in the curriculum. If a subject does not help in learning math and science, it will appear to be irrelevant. In particular, foreign languages do not seem to add to the teaching of math and science, which can be done very easily and effectively in English alone.

Of course, many other reasons could be considered, and a more detailed discussion would undertake such a lengthy investigation. Still, the factors discussed above do provide some sense as to why American students find it difficult to understand the importance of learning a foreign language.

Based on what is said in the fourth paragraph (the one beginning “Lastly . . .”), what sort of change in American education could help make it easier for students to see the importance of learning foreign languages?

Possible Answers:

American education could choose to show how math and science has been studied in other countries throughout history.

American education could choose to focus on all branches of knowledge instead of making math and science the singular goal of education.

American educators could be trained in foreign countries. These experiences would make the teachers more likely to understand the importance of foreign languages.

American education could use other languages while teaching math and science, thus exposing their students to other languages.

American educators could explain that other countries do find languages important, even if it is not important for Americans.

Correct answer:

American education could choose to focus on all branches of knowledge instead of making math and science the singular goal of education.

Explanation:

The fourth paragraph clearly states that the problem is one of emphasis. It is claimed that American education over-emphasizes math and science, making languages appear to be unimportant. This colors the very goals of education itself: "The main goals of education are said to be the training of students for the technology workforce." The implication is that improvement could come by showing that education has broader goals than this. The best answer among those provided is "American education could choose to focus on all branches of knowledge instead of making math and science the singular goal of education."

Example Question #31 : Ssat Middle Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

The rowboat Fox, of the port of New York, manned by George Harbo, thirty-one years of age, captain of a merchantman, and Frank Samuelson, twenty-six years of age, left New York for Havre on the sixth of June. Ten days later the boat was met by the German transatlantic steamer Fürst Bismarck proceeding from Cherbourg to New York. On the eighth, ninth and tenth of July, the Fox was cast by a tempest upon the reefs of Newfoundland. The two men jumped into the sea, and thanks to the watertight compartments provided with air chambers fore and aft, it was possible for them to right the boat; but the unfortunates lost their provisions and their supply of drinking water. On the fifteenth they met the Norwegian three-masted vessel Cito, which supplied them with food and water. The captains of the vessels met with signed the log book and testified that the boat had neither sail nor rudder. The Fox reached the Scilly Islands on the first of August, having at this date been on the ocean fifty-five days. It arrived at Havre on the seventh of August.

Cost what it might, the men were bent upon reaching this port in order to gain the reward promised by Mr. Fox, of the Police Gazette. Thanks to the wind and a favorable current, they made one hundred and twenty-five miles in twenty-four hours. One slept three hours while the other rowed. Their skins and faces were tumefied by the wind, salt water, and sun; the skin of their hands was renewed three times; their legs were weakened; and they were worn out.

For how long were the two men at sea?

Possible Answers:

Sixty-one days

Eighty days

It is impossible to say. 

Fifty-five days

Eighty-five days

Correct answer:

Sixty-one days

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read carefully in detail and also to be careful not to fall for the trick answer. The author tells you, “The Fox reached the Scilly Islands on the first of August, having at this date been on the ocean fifty-five days. It arrived at Havre on the seventh of August.” So, on the first of August, they had been at sea for fifty-five days, but they then continued on six more days until the seventh of August, when they finally arrived at their destination. This means that in total they were at sea for “sixty-one days.”

Example Question #111 : Inferential Comprehension

"Political Representation" by Will Floyd

Pundits often decry the gridlock in Washington, D.C. Partisanship frequently makes legislators oppose bills they have supported in the past. Political grandstanding regularly takes the place of reasoned compromise or deal-making. Many political scientists are trying to find ways to resolve these issues within constitutional boundaries. One of the more popular suggestions is a different voting system called proportional representation. Proportional representation operates under the theory that each vote will help place a candidate in the legislature, rather than the current winner take all method of elections in the United States. Under proportional representation, candidates do not run for a specific seat in a particular district, but instead are part of a ranked list of candidates for each political party; therefore, if a political party receives thirty percent of the votes, thirty percent of the seats will be held by this party. Critics of proportional representation claim the system gives too much power to fringe candidates and political parties, whose only goal would be to destroy the political system. This cynical view of proportional representation stems from the example of countries currently using proportional representation. As it is, political scientists who do argue for proportional representation are trying to find a way around the current problems that exist in the United States’ political system, and feel a third party might create new pressures on the two party system currently causing such problems. The advocates of proportional representation do not argue that proportional representation is a perfect system, but also argue that we are not currently using a perfect system and that we need something to change.

The author would agree with the statement that __________.

Possible Answers:

the current political system in the United States is imperfect, but as good as it can be

proportional representation would never work in the United States

proportional representation is only argued for by outsiders and crazy people

the current political system in the United States works perfectly

proportional representation could introduce new voices into the legislature

Correct answer:

proportional representation could introduce new voices into the legislature

Explanation:

The author's own opinions are largely kept away from the passage, but by discussing proportional representation in the manner it does, some thoughts can be deduced. The use of "a third party might create new pressures" as the final word in the argument does indicate this idea is close to what  the author truly believes.

Example Question #5 : Drawing Conclusions In Contemporary Life Passages

Science-fiction and Society by Will Floyd

Science-fiction and fantasy novels are often seen as pure escapism; however, many authors use the fantasy or futuristic aspects of their work to comment on contemporary problems. Normally this is done by having things that seem quite familiar to a reader, but giving them small twists rooted in the author’s fabricated world. Subjects like racism are often hard for certain writers to analyze without causing an uproar among certain readers. By subverting the prejudice to being directed against a space alien, a completely unfamiliar being, a science fiction author can reinterpret why humans possess hatred for other groups. This can take the form of prejudice against things that people in reality are not normally prejudiced against. These analyses show the erratic and arbitrary nature of racism.

Fantasy books can offer a similar level of surprise for readers who think they know what the usual course of events would be in the regular world. By making the fantasy the focus of what's occurring in the narrative, love stories, war stories, and simple tales of overcoming obstacles can become pleasantly mystifying. Fantasy authors can create interesting takes on basic morality by simply injecting a small amount of magic into an old tale. Black-and-white approaches to good and evil seem much less trite and hackneyed when set in a fantastical, magical world. The ability for an audience to get lost in a magical world changes the expectations of the reader. Often, the threat of destruction in a beloved fantasy world will seem a darker occurrence than the threat to the world in which they live. This attachment to a created world allows science fiction and fantasy authors to discuss serious issues in a different manner to authors in other genres.

The author would NOT agree with the statement that __________.

Possible Answers:

science fiction and fantasy readers appreciate the created worlds the authors establish more than the real world

science fiction and fantasy authors are most succesful when they somewhat relate to the real world

an author's fabricated world is key to both science fiction and fantasy as genres

science fiction and fantasy can tackle weighty subjects

science fiction and fantasy genres are light reading that are pure pleasure

Correct answer:

science fiction and fantasy genres are light reading that are pure pleasure

Explanation:

The author absolutely supports science fiction and fantasy's ability to deal with the weighty issues of the real world.  This is, in fact, the central argument of the passage.  The author even criticizes the idea that the genres are "pure escapism." Therefore, the author would not agree that the "genres are light reading that are pure pleasure."

Example Question #112 : Inferential Comprehension

"A Short History of Recent Zoos" by Will Floyd

Throughout the twentieth century, zoos underwent large-scale transformations. Before World War I, zoos were small parts of larger municipal parks, and featured sparse cages with little room for their inhabitants. This model held sway until mid-century, with many zoos struggling to remain open during the Great Depression and World War II. The successful zoos survived through making themselves cheap family entertainment. In the 1960s, zoos began to change in drastic ways. With the growing strength of environmental and animal rights movements, the public clamored for more naturalistic and spacious environments in which the animals could live.

The most emblematic of these transformations was the development of the Los Angeles Zoo. In 1966, the cramped and antiquated zoo used grants from the city government to move to a brand-new facility. Although the zoo moved just two miles away, the new location was exponentially bigger, and it featured fresh landscapes that resembled the animals’ natural habitats, instead of dilapidated cages. As the Los Angeles Zoo developed, it was able to work on preservation and conservation efforts for endangered species. New educational programs also became key elements of the Zoo’s mission. Now the old Zoo’s cages stand as ruins and reminders of what past generations saw when they visited years ago.

The author would NOT agree with the statement that __________.

Possible Answers:

the new model of zoos is preferrable to the old one

zoos do important preservation and conservation work

animals in zoos need plenty of space in their habitats

zoos provide excellent educational opportunities

zoos have become useless tools of the animal rights movement

Correct answer:

zoos have become useless tools of the animal rights movement

Explanation:

Above all, the author is critical of the early-twentieth-century model of zoos and applauds all of the efforts zoos undertake currently. Also, the author only mentions the animal rights movement in a positive manner.

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