HSPT Reading : Making Predictions in Social Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #112 : Inferential Comprehension

Passage adapted from H.G Wells' Anticipations (1901)

Democracy of the modern type—manhood suffrage and so forth—became a conspicuous phenomenon in the world only in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. Its genesis is so intimately connected with the first expansion of the productive element in the State, through mechanism and a co-operative organization, as to point at once to a causative connection. The more closely one looks into the social and political life of the eighteenth century the more plausible becomes this view. New and potentially influential social factors had begun to appear—the organizing manufacturer, the intelligent worker, the skilled tenant, and the urban abyss, and the traditions of the old land-owning non-progressive aristocratic monarchy that prevailed in Christendom, rendered it incapable—without some destructive shock or convulsion—of any re-organization to incorporate or control these new factors. In the case of the British Empire an additional stress was created by the incapacity of the formal government to assimilate the developing civilization of the American colonies. Everywhere there were new elements, not as yet clearly analyzed or defined, arising as mechanism arose; everywhere the old traditional government and social system, defined and analyzed all too well, appeared increasingly obstructive, irrational, and feeble in its attempts to include and direct these new powers.

But now comes a point to which I am inclined to attach very great importance. The new powers were as yet shapeless. It was not the conflict of a new organization with the old. It was the preliminary dwarfing and deliquescence of the mature old beside the embryonic mass of the new. It was impossible then—it is, I believe, only beginning to be possible now—to estimate the proportions, possibilities, and inter-relations of the new social orders out of which a social organization has still to be built in the coming years. No formula of definite reconstruction had been evolved, or has even been evolved yet, after a hundred years. And these swelling inchoate new powers, whose very birth condition was the crippling, modification, or destruction of the old order, were almost forced to formulate their proceedings for a time, therefore, in general affirmative propositions that were really in effect not affirmative propositions at all, but propositions of repudiation and denial. "These kings and nobles and people privileged in relation to obsolescent functions cannot manage our affairs"—that was evident enough, that was the really essential question at that time, and since no other effectual substitute appeared ready made, the working doctrine of the infallible judgment of humanity in the gross, as distinguished from the quite indisputable incapacity of sample individuals, became, in spite of its inherent absurdity, a convenient and acceptable working hypothesis.

Which of the following best describes a phenomenon that likely was problematic in the older form of government?  Select all that apply:

A. The older forms of government were not able to regulate the wage system arising in the new forms of industry.

B. The rulers of the old government were irrationally clinging to the rights of kings against the people.

C. The older government was unable to organize the cities, all of which required new services and ordinances as they grew.

Possible Answers:

A and B


A, B, and C

A and C


Correct answer:

A and C


As regards B, this answer may be tempting, given that the older governmental structures are described as seeming "irrational." This refers, however, to the fact that they did not make much sense vis-à-vis the demands of new societal forms. They could not rationally address the new problems.

For A and C, these two options are supported by the passage. It is stated that among the issues faced, there were "the organizing manufacturer, the intelligent worker, the skilled tenant, and the urban abyss." This describes both a new kind of working environment as well as a the development of complex, expanding forms of city life.

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