HSPT Reading : Drawing Conclusions in Social Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Drawing Conclusions In Social Science Passages

Historical stereotypes are generally unhelpful, for many times we can overly simplify a period based on the thoughtlessly repeated remarks of others. For example, while the American revolution was certainly an epoch-making event, the ideas of liberty and a new conception of the state were very important topics throughout much of the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries in all of Western society. Likewise, the Middle Ages are often understood as being dark times of ignorance, without any significant learning.

Which of the following would best conclude this paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Though there are several exceptions to this stereotype, it generally holds for this period after the collapse of the great Roman Empire.

However, there was a significant culture of learning that developed in different ways and to different degrees throughout this period, making it to be far from the dark, barbarous era implied by so many accounts. 

In fact, modern history is unthinkable without the events of the Middle Ages.

However, this view neglects the important farming practices of the period.

This view completely misses the fact that religion played an important role in the daily lives of most people, making them quite content and happy.

Correct answer:

However, there was a significant culture of learning that developed in different ways and to different degrees throughout this period, making it to be far from the dark, barbarous era implied by so many accounts. 

Explanation:

This paragraph wants to convey the fact that we should not believe in simplified stereotypes about historical periods. An example is provided regarding the ideals of the American Revolution, showing that it was not as unique to its period as is generally thought. It is important to pay strict attention to the focus of the last sentence. It remarks that the Middle Ages are believed to be times of ignorance. The implied conclusion must be in contrast to this notion of ignorance. Be careful not to be tempted by options that are not as directly related to this. Likewise, be careful not to choose something that does not make it clear that this interpretation is very insufficient.

Example Question #1 : Considering Analogous Concepts In Social Science / History Passages

"The Sociology of Deviance" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociologically, deviance is defined as behaviors or actions that violate informal or formal social sanctions. A formal social sanction is one set by a proper authority, such as a state or federal legislature. Formal laws and sanctions are often enforced and propagated by an official body or organization, such as police departments and court houses. Informal sanctions are known as "folkways" and "mores." Informal sanctions are not proposed as law and are enforced by informal means such as exclusion, avoidance, or negative sentiments. Deviance and the enforcement of social norms, both formal and informal, play important roles in the construction of society and its values.

Sociologist Emile Durkheim hypothesized that deviance is an important and necessary part of the organization of society. He stated that deviance performs the following functions: it affirms cultural norms, defines moral boundaries, strengthens society’s bonds through its enforcement, and advances social revolution. This is considered to be a structural-functionalist theory because it outlines deviance’s function in the structure and construction of society.

Robert Merton outlined deviance as the product of the interactions between an individual’s cultural goals and the means to obtain these goals as produced by society or institutions. Cultural goals can be described as financial success, acquisition of academic degrees, or the pursuit of "the American Dream." Institutionalized means are best described as society’s proposed paths to achieve cultural goals. Merton hypothesized that the acceptance or rejection of cultural goals and institutionalized means of achievement defined an individual’s level of deviance. Conformists accept cultural norms and institutionalized means while retreatists reject both norms and means. An innovator will accept cultural goals but reject the institutionalized means to obtain them. A ritualist will embrace the rules set forth by society but will lose sight of and reject cultural norms. Lastly, rebellious individuals will create a counter-culture that not only rejects a society's goals and means, but also creates new cultural norms and means to achieve these goals.

Deviance plays a role in society that has been studied by various sociologists. Some feel that it is a necessary element utilized in the structure and function of society, while others feel that it defines an individual’s outlook on societal norms and means of achievement. Deviance can be described as behavior that goes against the grain of conduct deemed acceptable by society. The phenomena that exist in its composition and purpose will continue to be studied by researchers in an effort to better understand society and culture.

A middle-class individual works at a typical job and is thus able to achieve monetary success and afford an education. This individual is best described by which of the following terms?

Possible Answers:

Rebel

Conformist

Innovator

Retreatist

Correct answer:

Conformist

Explanation:

Conformist

The middle-class individual is a conformist because he/she accepts the goals of society (success or education) and the institutionalized goals set forth to achieve them (a middle-class job). This is supported by the passage.

Example Question #32 : Narrative Social Science Passages

"The Sociology of Deviance" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociologically, deviance is defined as behaviors or actions that violate informal or formal social sanctions. A formal social sanction is one set by a proper authority, such as a state or federal legislature. Formal laws and sanctions are often enforced and propagated by an official body or organization, such as police departments and court houses. Informal sanctions are known as "folkways" and "mores." Informal sanctions are not proposed as law and are enforced by informal means such as exclusion, avoidance, or negative sentiments. Deviance and the enforcement of social norms, both formal and informal, play important roles in the construction of society and its values.

Sociologist Emile Durkheim hypothesized that deviance is an important and necessary part of the organization of society. He stated that deviance performs the following functions: it affirms cultural norms, defines moral boundaries, strengthens society’s bonds through its enforcement, and advances social revolution. This is considered to be a structural-functionalist theory because it outlines deviance’s function in the structure and construction of society.

Robert Merton outlined deviance as the product of the interactions between an individual’s cultural goals and the means to obtain these goals as produced by society or institutions. Cultural goals can be described as financial success, acquisition of academic degrees, or the pursuit of "the American Dream." Institutionalized means are best described as society’s proposed paths to achieve cultural goals. Merton hypothesized that the acceptance or rejection of cultural goals and institutionalized means of achievement defined an individual’s level of deviance. Conformists accept cultural norms and institutionalized means while retreatists reject both norms and means. An innovator will accept cultural goals but reject the institutionalized means to obtain them. A ritualist will embrace the rules set forth by society but will lose sight of and reject cultural norms. Lastly, rebellious individuals will create a counter-culture that not only rejects a society's goals and means, but also creates new cultural norms and means to achieve these goals.

Deviance plays a role in society that has been studied by various sociologists. Some feel that it is a necessary element utilized in the structure and function of society, while others feel that it defines an individual’s outlook on societal norms and means of achievement. Deviance can be described as behavior that goes against the grain of conduct deemed acceptable by society. The phenomena that exist in its composition and purpose will continue to be studied by researchers in an effort to better understand society and culture.

An individual decides to move to the wilderness and abandon his job and goals in return for seclusion and independence. This individual is best described by which of the following terms?

Possible Answers:

Retreatist

Innovator

Conformist

Rebel

Correct answer:

Retreatist

Explanation:

The individual is a retreatist. He has rejected both cutural norms and means in return for independence and seclusion. The individual rejects both norms and means; therefore, he is best described as a retreatist as indicated by the passage in its third paragraph when it states, "retreatists reject both norms and means."

Example Question #33 : Narrative Social Science Passages

"The Sociology of Deviance" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociologically, deviance is defined as behaviors or actions that violate informal or formal social sanctions. A formal social sanction is one set by a proper authority, such as a state or federal legislature. Formal laws and sanctions are often enforced and propagated by an official body or organization, such as police departments and court houses. Informal sanctions are known as "folkways" and "mores." Informal sanctions are not proposed as law and are enforced by informal means such as exclusion, avoidance, or negative sentiments. Deviance and the enforcement of social norms, both formal and informal, play important roles in the construction of society and its values.

Sociologist Emile Durkheim hypothesized that deviance is an important and necessary part of the organization of society. He stated that deviance performs the following functions: it affirms cultural norms, defines moral boundaries, strengthens society’s bonds through its enforcement, and advances social revolution. This is considered to be a structural-functionalist theory because it outlines deviance’s function in the structure and construction of society.

Robert Merton outlined deviance as the product of the interactions between an individual’s cultural goals and the means to obtain these goals as produced by society or institutions. Cultural goals can be described as financial success, acquisition of academic degrees, or the pursuit of "the American Dream." Institutionalized means are best described as society’s proposed paths to achieve cultural goals. Merton hypothesized that the acceptance or rejection of cultural goals and institutionalized means of achievement defined an individual’s level of deviance. Conformists accept cultural norms and institutionalized means while retreatists reject both norms and means. An innovator will accept cultural goals but reject the institutionalized means to obtain them. A ritualist will embrace the rules set forth by society but will lose sight of and reject cultural norms. Lastly, rebellious individuals will create a counter-culture that not only rejects a society's goals and means, but also creates new cultural norms and means to achieve these goals.

Deviance plays a role in society that has been studied by various sociologists. Some feel that it is a necessary element utilized in the structure and function of society, while others feel that it defines an individual’s outlook on societal norms and means of achievement. Deviance can be described as behavior that goes against the grain of conduct deemed acceptable by society. The phenomena that exist in its composition and purpose will continue to be studied by researchers in an effort to better understand society and culture.

A drug dealer accepts society's cultural goals but obtains them through illicit activities. This individual is best described by which of the following terms?

Possible Answers:

Innovator

Ritualist

Rebel

Retreatist

Conformist

Correct answer:

Innovator

Explanation:

The drug dealer in the scenario accepts societal norms of goals; however, the individual does not accept the institutionalized means to achieve them. Instead, the individual uses a new set of illicit means to obtain the goals of wealth and status, so he or she is best described as an "innovator." In its third paragraph, the passage states, "An innovator will accept cultural goals but reject the institutionalized means to obtain them," supporting this answer.

Example Question #1 : Considering Analogous Concepts In Social Science / History Passages

"The Sociology of Deviance" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociologically, deviance is defined as behaviors or actions that violate informal or formal social sanctions. A formal social sanction is one set by a proper authority, such as a state or federal legislature. Formal laws and sanctions are often enforced and propagated by an official body or organization, such as police departments and court houses. Informal sanctions are known as "folkways" and "mores." Informal sanctions are not proposed as law and are enforced by informal means such as exclusion, avoidance, or negative sentiments. Deviance and the enforcement of social norms, both formal and informal, play important roles in the construction of society and its values.

Sociologist Emile Durkheim hypothesized that deviance is an important and necessary part of the organization of society. He stated that deviance performs the following functions: it affirms cultural norms, defines moral boundaries, strengthens society’s bonds through its enforcement, and advances social revolution. This is considered to be a structural-functionalist theory because it outlines deviance’s function in the structure and construction of society.

Robert Merton outlined deviance as the product of the interactions between an individual’s cultural goals and the means to obtain these goals as produced by society or institutions. Cultural goals can be described as financial success, acquisition of academic degrees, or the pursuit of "the American Dream." Institutionalized means are best described as society’s proposed paths to achieve cultural goals. Merton hypothesized that the acceptance or rejection of cultural goals and institutionalized means of achievement defined an individual’s level of deviance. Conformists accept cultural norms and institutionalized means while retreatists reject both norms and means. An innovator will accept cultural goals but reject the institutionalized means to obtain them. A ritualist will embrace the rules set forth by society but will lose sight of and reject cultural norms. Lastly, rebellious individuals will create a counter-culture that not only rejects a society's goals and means, but also creates new cultural norms and means to achieve these goals.

Deviance plays a role in society that has been studied by various sociologists. Some feel that it is a necessary element utilized in the structure and function of society, while others feel that it defines an individual’s outlook on societal norms and means of achievement. Deviance can be described as behavior that goes against the grain of conduct deemed acceptable by society. The phenomena that exist in its composition and purpose will continue to be studied by researchers in an effort to better understand society and culture.

An individual despises cultural norms and means. He decides to establish a commune with a new set of goals and means to achieve them. Which of the following terms best describes this individual?

Possible Answers:

Rebel

Retreatist

Ritualist

Conformist

Innovator

Correct answer:

Rebel

Explanation:

The individual is best described as rebellious because he has rejected society's traditional norms and means and created his own counter-culture. This is supported by evidence in the passage's third paragraph when it is stated, "rebellious individuals will create a counter-culture that not only rejects a society's goals and means, but also creates new cultural norms and means to achieve these goals."

Example Question #23 : Drawing Conclusions

"The Sociology of Deviance" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociologically, deviance is defined as behaviors or actions that violate informal or formal social sanctions. A formal social sanction is one set by a proper authority, such as a state or federal legislature. Formal laws and sanctions are often enforced and propagated by an official body or organization, such as police departments and court houses. Informal sanctions are known as "folkways" and "mores." Informal sanctions are not proposed as law and are enforced by informal means such as exclusion, avoidance, or negative sentiments. Deviance and the enforcement of social norms, both formal and informal, play important roles in the construction of society and its values.

Sociologist Emile Durkheim hypothesized that deviance is an important and necessary part of the organization of society. He stated that deviance performs the following functions: it affirms cultural norms, defines moral boundaries, strengthens society’s bonds through its enforcement, and advances social revolution. This is considered to be a structural-functionalist theory because it outlines deviance’s function in the structure and construction of society.

Robert Merton outlined deviance as the product of the interactions between an individual’s cultural goals and the means to obtain these goals as produced by society or institutions. Cultural goals can be described as financial success, acquisition of academic degrees, or the pursuit of "the American Dream." Institutionalized means are best described as society’s proposed paths to achieve cultural goals. Merton hypothesized that the acceptance or rejection of cultural goals and institutionalized means of achievement defined an individual’s level of deviance. Conformists accept cultural norms and institutionalized means while retreatists reject both norms and means. An innovator will accept cultural goals but reject the institutionalized means to obtain them. A ritualist will embrace the rules set forth by society but will lose sight of and reject cultural norms. Lastly, rebellious individuals will create a counter-culture that not only rejects a society's goals and means, but also creates new cultural norms and means to achieve these goals.

Deviance plays a role in society that has been studied by various sociologists. Some feel that it is a necessary element utilized in the structure and function of society, while others feel that it defines an individual’s outlook on societal norms and means of achievement. Deviance can be described as behavior that goes against the grain of conduct deemed acceptable by society. The phenomena that exist in its composition and purpose will continue to be studied by researchers in an effort to better understand society and culture.

An individual works at a minimum wage job. This person has little chance of social mobility and has lost sight of society's goals of success. This individual is best described by which of the following terms?

Possible Answers:

Ritualist

Rebel

Conformist

Innovator

Retreatist

Correct answer:

Ritualist

Explanation:

The individual is best described as a ritualist because he or she has lost sight of and rejected society's goals of success in what could be described as a "dead-end" job. In doing so, he or she has accepted society's means to achieve success through work. The individual has accepted means of success and rejected cultural goals; therefore, he or she can be described as a ritualist, as in its third paragraph, the passage states, "A ritualist will embrace the rules set forth by society but will lose sight of and reject cultural norms."

Example Question #144 : Argumentative Humanities Passages

Adapted from "On the Death of Marie Antoinette" by Edmund Burke (1793)

It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and splendor and joy.

Oh, what a revolution! And what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.

But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophistry, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unsought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.

It can be inferred from the passage that the Queen of France __________.

Possible Answers:

was the victim of an assassination attempt

improved French quality of life

has suffered a disaster

was well protected

reigned for several decades

Correct answer:

has suffered a disaster

Explanation:

From the whole of this passage, you can infer that some disaster must have befallen the Queen of France. This is apparent because the author laments her “fall” and the “disasters” that she suffered. You might suppose that it can be inferred that the Queen was the victim of an assassination attempt; however, this is a far more specific answer and would require much more evidence in order to be reliably inferred.

Example Question #2 : Drawing Conclusions In Social Science Passages

Adapted from A Child’s History of England by Charles Darwin (1905) 

On Christmas Day, William was crowned in Westminster Abbey under the title of William the First, but he is best known as William the Conqueror. It was a strange coronation. One of the bishops who performed the ceremony asked the Normans, in French, if they would have William the Conqueror for their king. They answered "Yes." Another of the bishops put the same question to the Saxons, in English. They too answered "Yes," with a loud shout. The noise was heard by a guard of Norman horse-soldiers outside, and was mistaken for resistance on the part of the English. The guard instantly set fire to the neighboring houses, and chaos ensued, in the midst of which the king, being left alone in the abbey with a few priests (and they all being in a terrible fright together) was hurriedly crowned. When the crown was placed upon his head, he swore to govern the English as well as the best of their own monarchs. I dare say you think, as I do, that if we except the great Alfred, he might pretty easily have done that.

“Alfred” was most probably __________.

Possible Answers:

a former king of England

an attending noble at the coronation

a former Norman warrior

a former English bishop

the bishop who crowned William

Correct answer:

a former king of England

Explanation:

The author says, “When the crown was placed upon his head, he swore to govern the English as well as the best of their own monarchs. I dare say you think, as I do, that if we except the great Alfred, he might pretty easily have done that.” In context, the author is talking about how William governed the English about as well as any of their "own kings,” with the possible exception of “the great Alfred.” So, it stands to reason that “Alfred” was “a former king of England.”

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