PSAT Critical Reading : Context-Dependent Meaning of Phrases or Sentences in Social Science / History Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Question #2 : Specific Phrases And Sentences In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from "Co. Aytch," Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment; or, A Side Show of the Big Show by Samuel Rush Watkins (1900 ed.)

In giving a description of this most memorable battle, I do not pretend to give you figures, and describe how this general looked and how that one spoke, and the other one charged with drawn saber, etc. I know nothing of these things—see the history for that. I was simply a soldier of the line, and I only write of the things I saw. I was in every battle, skirmish and march that was made by the First Tennessee Regiment during the war, and I do not remember of a harder contest and more evenly fought battle than that of Perryville. If it had been two men wrestling, it would have been called a "dog fall." Both sides claim the victory—both whipped.

I stood picket in Perryville the night before the battle—a Yankee on one side of the street, and I on the other. We got very friendly during the night, and made a raid upon a citizen's pantry, where we captured a bucket of honey, a pitcher of sweet milk, and three or four biscuits. The old citizen was not at home—he and his whole household had gone visiting, I believe. In fact, I think all of the citizens of Perryville were taken with a sudden notion of promiscuous visiting about this time; at least they were not at home to all callers.

At length the morning dawned. Our line was drawn up on one side of Perryville, the Yankee army on the other. The two enemies that were soon to meet in deadly embrace seemed to be eyeing each other. The blue coats lined the hillside in plain view. You could count the number of their regiments by the number of their flags. We could see the huge war dogs frowning at us, ready at any moment to belch forth their fire and smoke, and hurl their thunderbolts of iron and death in our very midst.

I wondered why the fighting did not begin. Never on earth were our troops more eager for the engagement to open. The Yankees commenced to march toward their left, and we marched almost parallel to our right—both sides watching each other's maneuvers and movements. It was but the lull that precedes the storm. Colonel Field was commanding our brigade, and Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson our regiment. About 12 o'clock, while we were marching through a corn field, in which the corn had been shocked, they opened their war dogs upon us. The beginning of the end had come. Here is where Captain John F. Wheless was wounded, and three others, whose names I have forgotten. The battle now opened in earnest, and from one end of the line to the other seemed to be a solid sheet of blazing smoke and fire. Our regiment crossed a stream, being preceded by Wharton's Texas Rangers, and we were ordered to attack at once with vigor. Here General Maney's horse was shot. From this moment the battle was a mortal struggle. Two lines of battle confronted us. We killed almost everyone in the first line, and were soon charging over the second, when right in our immediate front was their third and main line of battle from which four Napoleon guns poured their deadly fire.

We did not recoil, but our line was fairly hurled back by the leaden hail that was poured into our very faces. Eight color-bearers were killed at one discharge of their cannon. We were right up among the very wheels of their Napoleon guns. It was death to retreat now to either side. Our Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson halloed to charge and take their guns, and we were soon in a hand-to-hand fight—every man for himself—using the butts of our guns and bayonets. One side would waver and fall back a few yards, and would rally, when the other side would fall back, leaving the four Napoleon guns; and yet the battle raged. Such obstinate fighting I never had seen before or since. The guns were discharged so rapidly that it seemed the earth itself was in a volcanic uproar. The iron storm passed through our ranks, mangling and tearing men to pieces. The very air seemed full of stifling smoke and fire which seemed the very pit of hell, peopled by contending demons.

Our men were dead and dying right in the very midst of this grand havoc of battle. It was a life to life and death to death grapple. The sun was poised above us, a great red ball sinking slowly in the west, yet the scene of battle and carnage continued. I cannot describe it. The mantle of night fell upon the scene. I do not know which side whipped, but I know that I helped bring off those four Napoleon guns that night though we were mighty easy about it.

Based on how the phrase is used in the third paragraph, what are "war dogs"?

Possible Answers:

Combat dogs

Skirmishers

Infantrymen

Cannons

Cavalrymen

Correct answer:

Cannons

Explanation:

We can infer from the passage that the various references to “war dogs” are references to the enemies' cannons, as they are said to be ready to “belch forth their fire and smoke, and hurl their thunderbolts of iron and death in [the narrator's army's] very midst.”

Example Question #62 : Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Extermination of the American Bison by William T. Hornaday (1889)

We come now to a history which I would gladly leave unwritten. Its record is a disgrace to the American people in general, and the Territorial, State, and General Government in particular. It will cause succeeding generations to regard us as being possessed of the leading characteristics of the beast of prey—cruelty and greed. We will be likened to the blood-thirsty tiger of the Indian jungle, who slaughters a dozen bullocks at once when he knows he can eat only one.

The men who killed buffaloes for their tongues and those who shot them from the railway trains for sport were murderers. In no way does civilized man so quickly revert to his former state as when he is alone with the beasts of the field. Give him a gun and something which he may kill without getting himself in trouble, and, presto! He is instantly a killer again, finding exquisite delight in bloodshed, slaughter, and death, if not for gain, then solely for the joy and happiness of it. There is no kind of warfare against game animals too unfair, too disreputable, or too mean for white men to engage in if they can only do so with safety to their own precious carcasses. They will shoot buffalo and antelope from running railway trains, drive deer into water with hounds and cut their throats in cold blood, kill does with fawns a week old, kill fawns by the score for their spotted skins, slaughter deer, moose, and caribou in the snow at a pitiful disadvantage, just as the wolves do; exterminate the wild ducks on the whole Atlantic seaboard with punt guns for the metropolitan markets; kill off the Rocky Mountain goats for hides worth only 50 cents apiece, destroy wagon loads of trout with dynamite, and so on to the end of the chapter.

Perhaps the most gigantic task ever undertaken on this continent in the line of game-slaughter was the extermination of the bison in the great pasture region by the hide-hunters. Probably the brilliant rapidity and success with which that lofty undertaking was accomplished was a matter of surprise even to those who participated in it. The story of the slaughter is by no means a long one.

The period of systematic slaughter of the bison naturally begins with the first organized efforts in that direction, in a business-like, wholesale way. Although the species had been steadily driven westward for a hundred years by the advancing settlements, and had during all that time been hunted for the meat and robes it yielded, its extermination did not begin in earnest until 1820, or thereabouts. As before stated, various persons had previous to that time made buffalo killing a business in order to sell their skins, but such instances were very exceptional. By that time the bison was totally extinct in all the region lying east of the Mississippi River except a portion of Wisconsin, where it survived until about 1830. In 1820 the first organized buffalo hunting expedition on a grand scale was made from the Red River settlement, Manitoba, in which five hundred and forty carts proceeded to the range. Previous to that time the buffaloes were found near enough to the settlements around Fort Garry that every settler could hunt independently; but as the herds were driven farther and farther away, it required an organized effort and a long journey to reach them.

The American Fur Company established trading posts along the Missouri River, one at the mouth of the Teton River and another at the mouth of the Yellowstone. In 1826 a post was established at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, at the head of the Arkansas River, and in 1832 another was located in a corresponding situation at the head of the South Fork of the Platte, close to where Denver now stands. Both the latter were on what was then the western border of the buffalo range. Elsewhere throughout the buffalo country there were numerous other posts, always situated as near as possible to the best hunting ground, and at the same time where they would be most accessible to the hunters, both white and Native American.

Which of these most accurately restates the meaning of “In no way does civilized man so quickly revert to his former state as when he is alone with the beasts of the field”?

Possible Answers:

Men of agriculture are no more civilized than hunters.

With the ability to hunt many more animals than he needs to survive, man is much more uncivilized now than he ever was in the past.

Humans are quicker to show uncivilized bloodlust when left unaccompanied with wild creatures. 

We are not like our ancestors at all when we hunt.

We are more eager to hunt animals when outside the confines of cities.

Correct answer:

Humans are quicker to show uncivilized bloodlust when left unaccompanied with wild creatures. 

Explanation:

The author compares the wasteful hunting of buffaloes for their tongues to the hunting methods of wild animals and says that we become much like those wild animals when we are given the chance to hunt wild creatures. There is no allusion to cities or agriculture.

Example Question #61 : Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Extermination of the American Bison by William T. Hornaday (1889)

We come now to a history which I would gladly leave unwritten. Its record is a disgrace to the American people in general, and the Territorial, State, and General Government in particular. It will cause succeeding generations to regard us as being possessed of the leading characteristics of the beast of prey—cruelty and greed. We will be likened to the blood-thirsty tiger of the Indian jungle, who slaughters a dozen bullocks at once when he knows he can eat only one.

The men who killed buffaloes for their tongues and those who shot them from the railway trains for sport were murderers. In no way does civilized man so quickly revert to his former state as when he is alone with the beasts of the field. Give him a gun and something which he may kill without getting himself in trouble, and, presto! He is instantly a killer again, finding exquisite delight in bloodshed, slaughter, and death, if not for gain, then solely for the joy and happiness of it. There is no kind of warfare against game animals too unfair, too disreputable, or too mean for white men to engage in if they can only do so with safety to their own precious carcasses. They will shoot buffalo and antelope from running railway trains, drive deer into water with hounds and cut their throats in cold blood, kill does with fawns a week old, kill fawns by the score for their spotted skins, slaughter deer, moose, and caribou in the snow at a pitiful disadvantage, just as the wolves do; exterminate the wild ducks on the whole Atlantic seaboard with punt guns for the metropolitan markets; kill off the Rocky Mountain goats for hides worth only 50 cents apiece, destroy wagon loads of trout with dynamite, and so on to the end of the chapter.

Perhaps the most gigantic task ever undertaken on this continent in the line of game-slaughter was the extermination of the bison in the great pasture region by the hide-hunters. Probably the brilliant rapidity and success with which that lofty undertaking was accomplished was a matter of surprise even to those who participated in it. The story of the slaughter is by no means a long one.

The period of systematic slaughter of the bison naturally begins with the first organized efforts in that direction, in a business-like, wholesale way. Although the species had been steadily driven westward for a hundred years by the advancing settlements, and had during all that time been hunted for the meat and robes it yielded, its extermination did not begin in earnest until 1820, or thereabouts. As before stated, various persons had previous to that time made buffalo killing a business in order to sell their skins, but such instances were very exceptional. By that time the bison was totally extinct in all the region lying east of the Mississippi River except a portion of Wisconsin, where it survived until about 1830. In 1820 the first organized buffalo hunting expedition on a grand scale was made from the Red River settlement, Manitoba, in which five hundred and forty carts proceeded to the range. Previous to that time the buffaloes were found near enough to the settlements around Fort Garry that every settler could hunt independently; but as the herds were driven farther and farther away, it required an organized effort and a long journey to reach them.

The American Fur Company established trading posts along the Missouri River, one at the mouth of the Teton River and another at the mouth of the Yellowstone. In 1826 a post was established at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, at the head of the Arkansas River, and in 1832 another was located in a corresponding situation at the head of the South Fork of the Platte, close to where Denver now stands. Both the latter were on what was then the western border of the buffalo range. Elsewhere throughout the buffalo country there were numerous other posts, always situated as near as possible to the best hunting ground, and at the same time where they would be most accessible to the hunters, both white and Native American.

Which of these is the best antonym of the phrase “in earnest” underlined in the fourth paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Casually

Repeatedly

With sobriety

In a state of joviality

Solemnly

Correct answer:

Casually

Explanation:

As it is used in the text, “in earnest” means earnestly or seriously. A good antonym for this is “casually."

Example Question #13 : Social Science Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

I proceed to inquire whether the federal government or the state governments will have the advantage with regard to the predilection and support of the people. Notwithstanding the different modes in which they are appointed, we must consider both of them as substantially dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States. I assume this position here as it respects the first, reserving the proofs for another place. The federal and state governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject, and to have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other. Truth, no less than decency, requires that the event in every case should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.

To which group of people does the underlined phrase "these gentlemen" refer?

Possible Answers:

"common constituents"

"The adversaries of the Constitution"

"mutual rivals and enemies"

"trustees of the people"

"the people"

Correct answer:

"The adversaries of the Constitution"

Explanation:

It's not possible to tell what is meant by "These gentlemen" based solely on a consideration of the sentence in which the phrase appears. Considering the context surrounding the phrase is necessary: "The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject, and to have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error." When we consider the sentence that precedes the one with the specified phrase in it, we can see that "These gentlemen" refers to "The adversaries of the Constitution." It's important to consider the meaning of the whole sentence, and not just pick out the last noun that could potentially be the antecedent.

Example Question #12 : Context Dependent Meanings Of Words And Phrases In Argumentative Social Science Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

Many considerations, besides those suggested on a former occasion, seem to place it beyond doubt that the first and most natural attachment of the people will be to the governments of their respective states. Into the administration of these a greater number of individuals will expect to rise. From the gift of these a greater number of offices and emoluments will flow. By the superintending care of these, all the more domestic and personal interests of the people will be regulated and provided for. With the affairs of these, the people will be more familiarly and minutely conversant. And with the members of these, will a greater proportion of the people have the ties of personal acquaintance and friendship, and of family and party attachments; on the side of these, therefore, the popular bias may well be expected most strongly to incline.

Experience speaks the same language in this case. The federal administration, though hitherto very defective in comparison with what may be hoped under a better system, had, during the war, and particularly whilst the independent fund of paper emissions was in credit, an activity and importance as great as it can well have in any future circumstances whatever. It was engaged, too, in a course of measures which had for their object the protection of everything that was dear and the acquisition of everything that could be desirable to the people at large. It was, nevertheless, invariably found, after the transient enthusiasm for the early Congresses was over, that the attention and attachment of the people were turned anew to their own particular governments; that the federal council was at no time the idol of popular favor; and that opposition to proposed enlargements of its powers and importance was the side usually taken by the men who wished to build their political consequence on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens.

What does the author mean when he states in the underlined sentence, “Experience speaks the same language in this case”?

Possible Answers:

People that the author has asked about his argument have all supported it.

Experiential evidence supports the author's theoretical predictions.

The author thinks that experience will prove his ideas correct.

The author has heard people talking about these issues and coming to the same conclusions as he has.

While the author's predictions may seem sound, experience will be likely to disprove them.

Correct answer:

Experiential evidence supports the author's theoretical predictions.

Explanation:

This sentence is an important one because it functions as the transition between the passage's first and second paragraphs. While both "The author thinks that experience will prove his ideas correct" and "Experiential evidence supports the author's theoretical predictions" may look correct, the latter is the better answer because it references the author's "theoretical predictions," the subject of the first paragraph. It's important to recognize this subtle difference, as referring back to the ideas discussed in the previous paragraph is a large part of what makes the sentence a good transition.

Example Question #3 : Specific Phrases And Sentences In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

Many considerations, besides those suggested on a former occasion, seem to place it beyond doubt that the first and most natural attachment of the people will be to the governments of their respective states. Into the administration of these a greater number of individuals will expect to rise. From the gift of these a greater number of offices and emoluments will flow. By the superintending care of these, all the more domestic and personal interests of the people will be regulated and provided for. With the affairs of these, the people will be more familiarly and minutely conversant. And with the members of these, will a greater proportion of the people have the ties of personal acquaintance and friendship, and of family and party attachments; on the side of these, therefore, the popular bias may well be expected most strongly to incline.

Experience speaks the same language in this case. The federal administration, though hitherto very defective in comparison with what may be hoped under a better system, had, during the war, and particularly whilst the independent fund of paper emissions was in credit, an activity and importance as great as it can well have in any future circumstances whatever. It was engaged, too, in a course of measures which had for their object the protection of everything that was dear and the acquisition of everything that could be desirable to the people at large. It was, nevertheless, invariably found, after the transient enthusiasm for the early Congresses was over, that the attention and attachment of the people were turned anew to their own particular governments; that the federal council was at no time the idol of popular favor; and that opposition to proposed enlargements of its powers and importance was the side usually taken by the men who wished to build their political consequence on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens.

Which of the following best paraphrases the underlined clause, "opposition to proposed enlargements of its powers and importance was the side usually taken by the men who wished to build their political consequence on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens"?

Possible Answers:

Citizens did not favor the growth of the federal government.

Anyone wanting political power had to support the federal government's growth, or they would not be popular with their constituents.

Men seeking political power based on the preferences of their constituents tended to oppose expansion of the federal government.

The federal government was increasing in scale and power despite what being opposed by most politicians and their constituents.

Politicians favored increasing the power and importance of the federal government, but their constituents did not.

Correct answer:

Men seeking political power based on the preferences of their constituents tended to oppose expansion of the federal government.

Explanation:

The clause in question is "opposition to proposed enlargements of its powers and importance was the side usually taken by the men who wished to build their political consequence on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens." This is a long and complex clause with confusing syntax, so let's break it down a bit: "oppositions to proposed enlargements of its powers"—what does the "its" stand for? In context, we can tell that "its" means "the federal government's." So this first part of the clause means "proposed enlargements of the federal government." The clause continues with "was the side usually taken by the men." This is confusing syntax; let's straighten it out. So, these men, which will be described by the rest of the clause, took the side of opposing the growth of the federal government. What else do we learn about these men? They "wished to build their political consequence"—or gain political importance—"on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens," or on the biases of their constituents. So let's put all that together in an order that makes more sense. "Men seeking political power based on the preferences of their constituents tended to oppose expansion of the federal government"—that's the correct answer.

Example Question #1 : Drawing Evidence From Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from Harvard University Address by Booker T. Washington (1896)

Why you have called me from the Black Belt of the South, from among my humble people, to share in the honors of this occasion, is not for me to explain; and yet it may not be inappropriate for me to suggest that it seems to me that one of the most vital questions that touch our American life, is how to bring the strong, wealthy and learned into helpful touch with the poorest, most ignorant, and humble and at the same time, make the one appreciate the vitalizing, strengthening influence of the other.

How shall we make the mansions on Beacon street feel and see the need of the spirits in the lowliest cabin in the Alabama cotton fields or the Louisiana sugar bottoms? This problem Harvard University is solving, not by bringing itself down, but by bringing the masses up.

If through me, an humble representative, seven millions of my people in the South might be permitted to send a message to Harvard — Harvard that offered up on death's altar, young Shaw, and Russell, and Lowell and scores of others, that we might have a free and united country, that message would be: Tell them that the sacrifice was not in vain. Tell them that by the way of the shop, the field, the skilled hand, habits of thrift and economy, by way of industrial school and college, we are coming.

We are crawling up, working up, yea, bursting up. Often through oppression, unjust discrimination and prejudice, but through them all we are coming up, and with proper habits, intelligence and property, there is no power on earth that can permanently stay our progress.

Which of these statements most nearly reflects the author’s belief in the “the vitalizing, strengthening influence of the other?”

Possible Answers:

The knowledge of the rich can benefit the poor greatly.

The wealthy and poor can learn from one another.

It is impossible to understand the relationship between poverty and intelligence.

The perspective of the poor is necessary for the continued advancement of American society.

The wealthy are distinct from the poor for a good reason.

Correct answer:

The wealthy and poor can learn from one another.

Explanation:

Three of these answer choices reflect the opinion of the author. However, only one summarizes the statements made by the author at the close of the introduction. The author states that both the wealthy and the poor can benefit greatly from increased contact and that they would both be “vitalized” and “strengthened” by the experience. The answer choices “the knowledge of the rich can benefit the poor greatly” and “the perspective of the poor is necessary for the continued advancement of American society” are both correct, but only in part. The best answer is that “the wealthy and poor can learn from one another.”

Example Question #52 : Identifying And Analyzing Main Ideas In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)

 In the middle rank of life, to continue the comparison, men, in their youth, are prepared for professions, and marriage is not considered as the grand feature in their lives; whilst women, on the contrary, have no other scheme to sharpen their faculties. It is not business, extensive plans, or any of the excursive flights of ambition, that engross their attention; no, their thoughts are not employed in rearing such noble structures. To rise in the world, and have the liberty of running from pleasure to pleasure, they must marry advantageously, and to this object their time is sacrificed, and their persons often legally prostituted. A man when he enters any profession has his eye steadily fixed on some future advantage (and the mind gains great strength by having all its efforts directed to one point) and, full of his business, pleasure is considered as mere relaxation; whilst women seek for pleasure as the main purpose of existence. In fact, from the education, which they receive from society, the love of pleasure may be said to govern them all; but does this prove that there is a sex in souls? It would be just as rational to declare that the courtiers in France, when a destructive system of despotism had formed their character, were not men, because liberty, virtue, and humanity, were sacrificed to pleasure and vanity.—Fatal passions, which have ever domineered over the whole race!

The same love of pleasure, fostered by the whole tendency of their education, gives a trifling turn to the conduct of women in most circumstances: for instance, they are ever anxious about secondary things; and on the watch for adventures, instead of being occupied by duties.

A man, when he undertakes a journey, has, in general, the end in view; a woman thinks more of the incidental occurrences, the strange things that may possibly occur on the road; the impression that she may make on her fellow travelers; and, above all, she is anxiously intent on the care of the finery that she carries with her, which is more than ever a part of herself, when going to figure on a new scene; when, to use an apt French turn of expression, she is going to produce a sensation.—Can dignity of mind exist with such trivial cares? This observation should not be confined to the fair sex; however, at present, I only mean to apply it to them.

What is the main idea of the underlined question, "Can dignity of mind exist with such trivial cares?"

Possible Answers:

The author is asking if seriousness, self-control, and respect can be gained if women are taken up with niggling details. 

All of these answers are correct.

The author is asking if men think women's opinions are valid, with reference to their habits.

The author is asking if women will be thought of as less intelligent than men by society.

The author is asking if women can retain their mental capabilities under the pressure of daily life.

Correct answer:

The author is asking if seriousness, self-control, and respect can be gained if women are taken up with niggling details. 

Explanation:

We can interpret “dignity of mind” to be a seriousness or self-control of the mind which gains respect. Then if we look at the end of the question “with such trivial cares” we can see that “niggling details” is synonymous with “trivial cares” The author is not concerned, when asking the question, about society's view of women. The use of the rhetorical question is an imploring for women to attempt to retain their “dignity of mind.”  

Example Question #3 : Specific Phrases And Sentences In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from “Introductory Remarks” in The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (trans. 1913)

In attempting to discuss the interpretation of dreams, I do not believe that I have overstepped the bounds of neuropathological interest. For, when investigated psychologically, the dream proves to be the first link in a chain of abnormal psychic structures whose other links—the hysterical phobia, the obsession, and the delusion—must interest the physician for practical reasons. The dream can lay no claim to a corresponding practical significance; however, its theoretical value is very great, and one who cannot explain the origin of the content of dreams will strive in vain to understand phobias, obsessive and delusional ideas, and likewise their therapeutic importance.

While this relationship makes our subject important, it is responsible also for the deficiencies in this work. The surfaces of fracture, which will be frequently discussed, correspond to many points of contact where the problem of dream formation informs more comprehensive problems of psychopathology which cannot be discussed here. These larger issues will be elaborated upon in the future.

Peculiarities in the material I have used to elucidate the interpretation of dreams have rendered this publication difficult. The work itself will demonstrate why all dreams related in scientific literature or collected by others had to remain useless for my purpose. In choosing my examples, I had to limit myself to considering my own dreams and those of my patients who were under psychoanalytic treatment. I was restrained from utilizing material derived from my patients' dreams by the fact that during their treatment, the dream processes were subjected to an undesirable complication—the intermixture of neurotic characters. On the other hand, in discussing my own dreams, I was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of my psychic life than I should like, more so than generally falls to the task of an author who is not a poet but an investigator of nature. This was painful, but unavoidable; I had to put up with the inevitable in order to demonstrate the truth of my psychological results at all. To be sure, I disguised some of my indiscretions through omissions and substitutions, though I feel that these detract from the value of the examples in which they appear. I can only express the hope that the reader of this work, putting himself in my difficult position, will show patience, and also that anyone inclined to take offense at any of the reported dreams will concede freedom of thought at least to the dream life.

When he uses the underlined phrase “the inevitable,” the author is referring to __________.

Possible Answers:

the discomfort that everyone feels when discussing dreams with other people

the fact that he had to publish some of his own dreams, which made him uncomfortable

the scorn of many important psychologists upon his publication of his work on dreams

the gradual loss of detail in what one can remember about a dream

the idea that all dreams contain significant meaning

Correct answer:

the fact that he had to publish some of his own dreams, which made him uncomfortable

Explanation:

The author uses the phrase “the inevitable” in the third paragraph when he states, “This was painful, but unavoidable; I had to put up with the inevitable in order to demonstrate the truth of my psychological results at all.” But what is he actually discussing at this point? To figure this out, we need to consider the preceding sentence: “On the other hand, in discussing my own dreams, I was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of my psychic life than I should like, more so than generally falls to the task of an author who is not a poet but an investigator of nature.” From this, we can correctly say that in this context, “the inevitable” refers to “the fact that [the author] had to relate some of his own dreams in his work, which made him uncomfortable.”

Example Question #1 : Specific Phrases And Sentences In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from "Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft" by George Eliot (1855)

There is a notion commonly entertained among men that an instructed woman, capable of having opinions, is likely to prove an unpractical yoke-fellow, always pulling one way when her husband wants to go the other, oracular in tone, and prone to give lectures. But surely, so far as obstinacy is concerned, your unreasoning animal is the most difficult of your creatures. For our own parts, we see no reason why women should be better kept under control rather than educated to be mans rational equal.  

If you ask me what offices women may fill, I reply—any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will. I do not doubt there are women well fitted for such an office, and, if so, I should be glad to welcome the Maid of Saragossa. I think women need, especially at this juncture, a much greater range of occupation than they have, to rouse their latent powers. In families that I know, some little girls like to saw wood, and others to use carpenters' tools. Where these tastes are indulged, cheerfulness and good-humor are promoted. Where they are forbidden, because "such things are not proper for girls," they grow sullen and mischievous.

Men pay a heavy price for their reluctance to encourage self-help and independent resources in women. The precious meridian years of many a man of genius have to be spent in the toil of routine, that an "establishment" may be kept up for a woman who can understand none of his secret yearnings, who is fit for nothing but to sit in her drawing-room like a doll-Madonna in her shrine. No matter. Anything is more endurable than to change our established formulae about women, or to run the risk of looking up to our wives instead of looking down on them. So men say of women, let them be idols, useless absorbents of previous things, provided we are not obliged to admit them to be strictly fellow-beings, to be treated, one and all, with justice and sober reverence.

When the author discusses women’s “latent powers,” she most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

that women can never achieve true equality

the ability to resist patriarchal humiliation with pride and dignity

the capabilities women have to overcome male dominance

that male subservience to women is the natural and inevitable result of female empowerment

the present but unexpressed faculties of women

Correct answer:

the present but unexpressed faculties of women

Explanation:

The easiest way to answer this question is to know the meaning of the word latent, which is hidden. This should help you identify that the correct answer is “the present but unexpressed faculty of women.” For clarification in this instance faculty means capabilities. If you did not know the meaning of latent it is necessary to read-in-context and then make an assumption based on what you know of the author’s overall intention throughout the passage. The sentence in which “latent powers” is contained reveals that the author believes those “powers” need to be “roused.” To rouse means to elevate. This should provide a clue as to the meaning behind “latent powers.” The other four answer choices can generally be eliminated on the grounds that they represent the opposite arguments to the primary point made by the author.

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