HSPT Reading : Making Inferences in Contemporary Life Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from The Principles of Breeding by S. L. Goodale (1861)

The Jersey cow, formerly known as the Alderney, is almost exclusively employed for dairy purposes, and may not be expected to give satisfaction for other uses. Their milk is richer than that of any other cows, and the butter made from it possesses a superior flavor and a deep rich color, and consequently commands an extraordinary price in all markets where good butter is appreciated.

Jersey cattle are of Norman origin, and are noted for their milking properties. The cows are generally very docile and gentle, but the males when past two or three years of age often become vicious and unmanageable. It is said that the cows fatten readily when dry.

There is no branch of cattle husbandry which promises better returns than the breeding and rearing of milch cows. In the vicinity of large towns and cities are many cows which having been culled from many miles around, on account of dairy properties, are considerably above the average, but taking the cows of the country together they do not compare favorably with the oxen. Farmers generally take more pride in their oxen, and strive to have as good or better than any of their neighbors, while if a cow will give milk enough to rear a large steer calf and a little besides, it is often deemed satisfactory.

The author would most likely view using a Jersey cow as a source of beef as __________.

Possible Answers:

a foolish, but understandable mistake

It is impossible to say.

a viable way to make a profit

a waste of resources

a situational consideration

Correct answer:

a waste of resources


Answering this question requires you to read the first paragraph carefully and make an inference from what the author says: “These cattle, formerly known as Alderney, are almost exclusively employed for dairy purposes, and may not be expected to give satisfaction for other uses.” He goes on to say that the milk and butter produced from these cows is very valuable, so if a farmer employed a Jersey cow for different purposes, the author would probably view the decision as “a waste of resources.”

Example Question #2 : Making Inferences In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from The Spoiled Children of Civilization (1912) by Samuel McChord Crothers

To spoil a child is no easy task, for Nature is all the time working on behalf of the childish virtues and veracities, and is gently correcting the abnormalities of education. Still it can be done. The secret of it is never to let the child alone, and to insist on doing for him all that he would otherwise do for himself—and more.

In that "more" is the spoiling power. The child must be early made acquainted with the feeling of satiety. There must be too much of everything. If he were left to himself to any extent, this would be an unknown experience. For he is a hungry little creature, with a growing appetite, and naturally is busy ministering to his own needs. He is always doing something for himself, and enjoys the exercise. The little egoist, even when he has "no language but a cry," uses that language to make known to the world that he wants something and wants it very much. As his wants increase, his exertions increase also. Arms and legs, fingers and toes, muscles and nerves and busy brain are all at work to get something which he desires. He is a mechanic fashioning his little world to his own uses. He is a despot who insists on his divine right to rule the subservient creatures around him. He is an inventor devising ways and means to secure all the ends which he has the wit to see. That these great works on which he has set his heart end in self is obvious enough, but we forgive him. Altruism will come in its own time if we can train ourselves.

The “virtues and veracities” of childish nature most literally correspond to __________.

Possible Answers:

respectfulness and godliness

hunger and desire

laziness and temerity

goodness and honesty

wants and needs

Correct answer:

goodness and honesty


The easiest manner by which to solve this question is matching definitions. Virtue refers to the quality of goodness and veracity means honesty; however, if you were not aware of the definitions you can still solve the question by understand the context within which “virtues and veracities” are discussed. In the first paragraph the author constructs a contrast between the “correcting” aspect of nature and the spoiling “abnormalities” of education and human interference. This means the description of the affects of nature have to be positive. Of the answer choices goodness and honesty represent the best match for a positive description.

Example Question #3 : Making Inferences In Contemporary Life Passages

"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.

It can be inferred from the passage that the Great Depression __________.

Possible Answers:

only affected the Los Angeles Zoo

made it difficult for zoos to stay open

made cities want to eliminate zoos

precipitated zoos' moves to larger spaces

caused no changes to American society

Correct answer:

made it difficult for zoos to stay open


The Great Depression is only mentioned once, and in connection with World War II. This means the passage says almost nothing about what the Great Depression truly was. What the passage does note is that "zoos were struggling to remain open," during the Great Depression.

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