Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts : Reading to Understand Structure

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

All Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 59 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

← Previous 1

Example Question #61 : Reading

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

07627v

 

Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

The author’s description of his interaction with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds appears in the section __________ because his anecdote __________.

Possible Answers:

“Appearance and Behavior” . . . describes the appearance of Ruby-throated hummingbirds

“Appearance and Behavior” . . . describes how hummingbirds are curious

“What Do They Eat?” . . . serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar

“Geographical Range and Migration” . . . describes where the author saw Ruby-throated hummingbirds

“What Do They Eat?” . . . demonstrates how easy it is for other animals to catch Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to eat

Correct answer:

“What Do They Eat?” . . . serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar

Explanation:

The author only presents a description of his interaction with hummingbirds in the last paragraph of the passage. In it, he describes watching Ruby-throated hummingbirds feeding from flowers near his window. He describes how he could catch them in the flowers, they would play dead, and then as soon as they could get away, away they flew. 

This question asks specifically about why this anecdote appears in the section that it does. We can knock out a few answer choices by identifying the correct section: this part of the passage appears in the section called "What Do They Eat?" Now we have two answer choices to pick from. Is this story in this section because it "serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar"? Or is it in this section because it "demonstrates how easy it is for other animals to catch Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to eat"? The author never talks about other animals catching and eating hummingbirds, so this isn't the correct answer. Consider the sentence that precedes this one: "They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers." The author tells his story to provide evidence that the hummingbirds do indeed like to drink flower nectar. The best answer choice is "“What Do They Eat?” . . . serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar."

Example Question #1 : Reading To Understand Structure

Adapted from “Theodore Roosevelt the Rancher.” National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 1 July 2016. <https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/historyculture/theodore-roosevelt-the-rancher.htm>.

Theodore Roosevelt originally came to Dakota Territory in 1883 to hunt bison. The locals showed little interest in helping this eastern tenderfoot. The promise of quick cash, however, convinced Joe Ferris—a 25-year-old Canadian living in the Badlands—to act as Roosevelt's hunting guide.

Through terrible weather and awful luck, Roosevelt showed a determination which surprised his exasperated hunting guide. Finding a bison proved difficult; most of the herds had been slaughtered in recent years by commercial hunters. When they were not sleeping outdoors, Roosevelt and Ferris used the small ranch cabin of Gregor Lang as a base camp. Evenings at Lang's ranch saw an exhausted Ferris falling asleep to conversations between Roosevelt and their host. Spirited debates on politics gave way to discussions about ranching, and Roosevelt became interested in raising cattle in the Badlands.

Cattle ranching in Dakota was a boom business in the 1880s. With the northern plains recently devoid of bison, cattle were being driven north from Texas to feed on the nutritious grasses. The Northern Pacific Railroad offered a quick route to eastern markets without long drives that reduced the quality of the meat. Entrepreneurs like the Marquis de Morès were bringing money and infrastructure to the region. The opportunity struck Roosevelt as a sound business opportunity.

With Roosevelt's interest sparked, he entered into business with his guide's brother, Sylvane Ferris, and Bill Merrifield, another Dakota cattleman. Roosevelt put down an initial investment of $14,000—significantly more than his annual salary. Roosevelt returned to New York with instructions for Ferris and Merrifield to build the Maltese Cross Cabin. His investment was not purely for business; Roosevelt saw it as a chance to immerse himself in a western lifestyle he had long romanticized.

Which of the following best describes the effect of the underlined phrase?

Possible Answers:

to convey that Roosevelt didn’t make very much money at this point in his life

to help the reader understand how much money $14,000 represented to Roosevelt

to suggest that Roosevelt paid much more than the other investors did

to provide a point of comparison for the amount of money the passage says that Roosevelt made from the cattle ranch

to provide evidence that Roosevelt often went into debt

Correct answer:

to help the reader understand how much money $14,000 represented to Roosevelt

Explanation:

Let's examine the underlined part of the passage:

With Roosevelt's interest sparked, he entered into business with his guide's brother, Sylvane Ferris, and Bill Merrifield, another Dakota cattleman. Roosevelt put down an initial investment of $14,000—significantly more than his annual salary.

Why is the author providing this information? What effect does it have on the reader's experience of reading the passage? $14,000, we're told, is a lot more than all of the money Roosevelt made in a year. This gives us a point of comparison and helps us figure out that this was a lot of money to Roosevelt at the time.

The answer choice "to provide a point of comparison for the amount of money the passage says that Roosevelt made from the cattle ranch" can't be correct because the passage never tells us exactly how much Roosevelt made from the cattle ranch. The answer choice "to provide evidence that Roosevelt often went into debt" isn't true either—nothing in the passage supports the claim that he "often" went into debt. "To suggest that Roosevelt paid much more than the other investors did" isn't the best answer, either; the other investors could have paid just as much money as Roosevelt did. We simply don't know this information. And "to convey that Roosevelt didn’t make very much money at this point in his life" isn't correct either. The passage isn't focusing on Roosevelt's salary. The underlined comparison is provided in order "to help the reader understand how much money $14,000 represented to Roosevelt." By comparing his investment to his annual salary, the passage helps the reader understand the scale of the investment Roosevelt made in the cattle ranch.

Example Question #2 : Reading To Understand Structure

Adapted from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) (1876)

Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged.

He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work—the very thought of it burnt him like fire. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.

He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presently—the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben’s gait was the hop-skip-and-jump—proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to star-board and rounded to ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstance—for he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:

“Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!” The headway ran almost out, and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.

Tom went on whitewashing—paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: “Hi-yiYou’re up a stump, ain’t you!”

No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom’s mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

“Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?”

Tom wheeled suddenly and said:

“Why, it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”

“Say—I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work—wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t that work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticized the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

“No—no—I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”

“No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme, just try. Only just a little—I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”

“Ben, I’d like to; but Aunt Polly—well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it—”

“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I’ll give you the core of my apple.”

“Well, here—No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard—”

“I’ll give you all of it!”

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was tired, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

Consider the underlined sentence. What does the long list of items that Tom receives do in the passage as a whole?

Possible Answers:

It suggests that one person gave Tom all of those items to let him or her paint the fence.

It suggests that Tom will find little use for all of the items he has received.

It suggests to the reader that Tom has convinced many people to paint the fence for him.

It suggests that Tom will trade all of these items away immediately.

It suggests that most of the people Tom talks to about painting the fence are not not convinced that it’s an interesting opportunity.

Correct answer:

It suggests to the reader that Tom has convinced many people to paint the fence for him.

Explanation:

What do you notice about the underlined part of the passage? 

And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

That's a lot of objects! Consider that earlier in the passage, Tom is given an apple by Ben for the privilege of whitewashing the fence—that is, doing Tom's work for him. After Tom successfully gets Ben to whitewash the fence, we're told that "the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash." Then we read the above quotation and the long list. The items in this list are like the apple. We're told that Tom gets more people to paint the fence for him, suggesting that he gets them to give him things for the privilege, like Ben did with the apple. He receives a wide variety of things, but for this question, the variety of things is less important than the fact that the list is very long. If each person Tom gets to paint the fence gives Tom something, this list conveys to the reader that "Tom has convinced many people to paint the fence for him." 

"It suggests that most of the people Tom talks to about painting the fence are not not convinced that it’s an interesting opportunity" is the opposite conclusion of the one the correct answer comes to; "It suggests that one person gave Tom all of those items to let him or her paint the fence" is not correct, as earlier in the scene, Ben gave Tom an apple (one item) to let him paint the fence and we are told that he gets many other people to paint the fence later in the day; and there is no evidence suggesting Tom will trade all of these items away immediately or that they are of little use to him. (On the contrary to this last point, the narrator describes Tom as "literally rolling in wealth," suggesting that the items are somehow valuable to him.)

Example Question #1 : Reading To Understand Structure

Adapted from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) (1876)

Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged.

He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work—the very thought of it burnt him like fire. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.

He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presently—the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben’s gait was the hop-skip-and-jump—proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to star-board and rounded to ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstance—for he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:

“Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!” The headway ran almost out, and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.

Tom went on whitewashing—paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: “Hi-yiYou’re up a stump, ain’t you!”

No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom’s mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

“Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?”

Tom wheeled suddenly and said:

“Why, it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”

“Say—I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work—wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t that work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticized the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

“No—no—I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”

“No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme, just try. Only just a little—I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”

“Ben, I’d like to; but Aunt Polly—well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it—”

“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I’ll give you the core of my apple.”

“Well, here—No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard—”

“I’ll give you all of it!”

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was tired, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

What does the underlined sentence about the dimensions of the fence (“Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high”) accomplish in the first paragraph?

Possible Answers:

It conveys to the reader that Tom will run out of paint as he’s painting the fence.

It emphasizes the scale of the job Tom has in front of him.

It suggests that Tom has more than enough paint to paint the fence.

It suggests that it won’t take Tom that long to paint the fence.

It foreshadows the fact that Tom will convince someone else to paint the fence for him.

Correct answer:

It emphasizes the scale of the job Tom has in front of him.

Explanation:

Let's take a look at the passage's first paragraph with the sentence in question underlined:

Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged.

In this scene, Tom is about to paint a fence on a Saturday morning. After he "surveys" (looks at the whole area of) the fence, we're told that "all gladness left him." Then we encounter the underlined sentence: "Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high." In terms of area, this sounds like quite a large area. At the end of the passage, we're told that Tom's first few brushstrokes form an "insignificant whitewashed streak" in comparison to "the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence." This confirms that the fence is huge. The best answer is that the underlined sentence "emphasizes the scale of the job Tom has in front of him." It demonstrates to the reader that Tom has a large area of fence to paint, not that Tom will finish painting the fence soon. On the contrary, it makes it look like it will take all day to paint the fence. The underlined sentence doesn't foreshadow that Tom will get someone else to paint the fence for him, and it doesn't suggest that he will run out of paint or that he has more than enough paint to paint the fence.

 

Example Question #2 : Reading To Understand Structure

Adapted from “The Open Window” in Beasts and Super-Beasts by H. H. Munro (Saki) (1914)

"My aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel," said a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen. "In the meantime you must try and put up with me."

Framton Nuttel endeavored to say the correct something which should duly flatter the niece of the moment without unduly discounting the aunt that was to come. Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits on a succession of total strangers would do much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.

"I know how it will be," his sister had said when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat. "You will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from moping. I shall just give you letters of introduction to all the people I know there. Some of them, as far as I can remember, were quite nice."

Framton wondered whether Mrs. Sappleton, the lady to whom he was presenting one of the letters of introduction, came into the "nice" division.

"Do you know many of the people round here?" asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.

"Hardly a soul," said Framton. "My sister was staying here, at the rectory, you know, some four years ago, and she gave me letters of introduction to some of the people here."

He made the last statement in a tone of distinct regret.

"Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?" pursued the self-possessed young lady.

"Only her name and address," admitted the caller. He was wondering whether Mrs. Sappleton was in the married or widowed state. An undefinable something about the room seemed to suggest masculine habitation.

"Her great tragedy happened just three years ago," said the child. "That would be since your sister's time."

"Her tragedy?" asked Framton; somehow in this restful country spot tragedies seemed out of place.

"You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an October afternoon," said the niece, indicating a large French window that opened on to a lawn.

"It is quite warm for the time of the year," said Framton, "but has that window got anything to do with the tragedy?"

"Out through that window, three years ago to a day, her husband and her two young brothers went off for their day's shooting. They never came back. In crossing the moor to their favorite snipe-shooting ground they were all three engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog. It had been that dreadful wet summer, you know, and places that were safe in other years gave way suddenly without warning. Their bodies were never recovered. That was the dreadful part of it." Here the child's voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human. "Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back someday, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to do. That is why the window is kept open every evening till it is quite dusk. Poor dear aunt, she has often told me how they went out, her husband with his white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ronnie, her youngest brother, singing 'Bertie, why do you bound?' as he always did to tease her, because she said it got on her nerves. Do you know, sometimes on still, quiet evenings like this, I almost get a creepy feeling that they will all walk in through that window—"

She broke off with a little shudder. It was a relief to Framton when the aunt bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for being late in making her appearance.

"I hope Vera has been amusing you?" she said.

"She has been very interesting," said Framton.

"I hope you don't mind the open window," said Mrs. Sappleton briskly. "My husband and brothers will be home directly from shooting, and they always come in this way. They've been out for snipe in the marshes today, so they'll make a fine mess over my poor carpets. So like you menfolk, isn't it?"

She rattled on cheerfully about the shooting and the scarcity of birds, and the prospects for duck in the winter. To Framton it was all purely horrible. He made a desperate but only partially successful effort to turn the talk on to a less ghastly topic, he was conscious that his hostess was giving him only a fragment of her attention, and her eyes were constantly straying past him to the open window and the lawn beyond. It was certainly an unfortunate coincidence that he should have paid his visit on this tragic anniversary.

"The doctors agree in ordering me complete rest, an absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical exercise," announced Framton, who labored under the tolerably widespread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one's ailments and infirmities, their cause and cure. "On the matter of diet they are not so much in agreement," he continued.

"No?" said Mrs. Sappleton, in a voice which only replaced a yawn at the last moment. Then she suddenly brightened into alert attention—but not to what Framton was saying.

"Here they are at last!" she cried. "Just in time for tea, and don't they look as if they were muddy up to the eyes!"

Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring out through the open window with a dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

In the deepening twilight three figures were walking across the lawn towards the window, they all carried guns under their arms, and one of them was additionally burdened with a white coat hung over his shoulders. A tired brown spaniel kept close at their heels. Noiselessly they neared the house, and then a hoarse young voice chanted out of the dusk: "I said, Bertie, why do you bound?"

Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall door, the gravel drive, and the front gate were dimly noted stages in his headlong retreat. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to avoid imminent collision.

"Here we are, my dear," said the bearer of the white mackintosh, coming in through the window. "Fairly muddy, but most of it's dry. Who was that who bolted out as we came up?"

"A most extraordinary man, a Mr. Nuttel," said Mrs. Sappleton. "Could only talk about his illnesses, and dashed off without a word of goodbye or apology when you arrived. One would think he had seen a ghost."

"I expect it was the spaniel," said the niece calmly. "He told me he had a horror of dogs. He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of pariah dogs, and had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. Enough to make anyone lose their nerve."

Romance at short notice was her speciality. 

In the context of the entire story, the underlined sentence (also shown below) can be interpreted as demonstrating which of the following?

“Here the child's voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human.”

Possible Answers:

The niece does not believe in ghosts.

The niece is authentically afraid at this point in the story.

The niece’s confidence is only an act, and that she is afraid of her aunt.

The niece is a good actress and storyteller.

The niece is a ghost.

Correct answer:

The niece is a good actress and storyteller.

Explanation:

This question asks us to consider a particular line after reading the entire story. The line is, "Here the child's voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human." It appears as the niece is telling Mr. Nuttel about why (supposedly) the open window is left open. The niece is talking about "dreadful" things—the hunters never coming back and their bodies never being recovered, and her aunt always keeping the window open waiting for them. If her voice becomes "falteringly human," it shows emotion.

In the context of the entire story, what role does this particular part play? The story the niece tells Mr. Nuttel gets him to run away at the end of the story, and it seems as if the niece made it up, since Mrs. Framton talks about the window as if the hunters have simply gone out hunting. Thus, if the niece made up the story, the underlined line is her acting, trying to get Mr. Nuttel to believe it. Thus, considering the entire story, this line doesn't suggest that the niece is actually afraid of that she believes in ghosts: it just serves as evidence that she "is a good actress and storyteller.

Example Question #1 : Reading To Understand Structure

Use the following poem to answer related questions.

Mother to Son By Langston Hughes (1922)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

What is the structure used to organize this piece of poetry?

Possible Answers:

Free verse

Limerick

Haiku

Lyrical

Correct answer:

Free verse

Explanation:

This poem does not make use of rhyming, line counts, word counts, or any pattern. The poem is freeform and does not follow a specific “rule.”

Example Question #1 : Reading To Understand Structure

Use the following poem to answer related questions.

Mother to Son By Langston Hughes (1922)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

What does the organizational structure add to the poem?

Possible Answers:

The structure helps the reader follow the events, climax, and denouement in the poem

The rhythmic flow helps a reader fall asleep

The rhyme scheme helps the reader to understand its meaning

The free-flowing format allows the poem to sound more authentic

Correct answer:

The free-flowing format allows the poem to sound more authentic

Explanation:

The poem sounds more like a real conversation between a mother and a son because it is not restricted to a line count, word count, repetition, or rhyming. It seems like a dialogue that could take place from a mother to a son so the reader may be able to connect with that in a different way.

Example Question #21 : Craft And Structure

Young Enterprise Services (YES) is a program created to encourage entrepreneurship in 14- to 18-year-olds who have already shown a clear ability for starting businesses. The program started in 2002, has provided loans, grants, and counseling—in the form of workshops and individual meetings with entrepreneurs—to over 7500 young people. The future of YES, however, is now at risk.

One complaint is that the funds that YES distributes have disproportionately gone to young people from low-income families. Though no one has claimed that any of the recipients of YES funds have been undeserving, several families have brought lawsuits claiming that their requests for funding were rejected because of the families’ high levels of income.

Another challenge has been the task of making sure that a young person, not his or her family, is receiving the funding. The rules state that the business plan must be created by the youth and that any profits in excess of $1,000 be placed in a bank account. The rules say that the money can only be used for education, investment in the business, and little else. There have been cases of parents or even a neighbor using the money for their business.

On the other hand, YES has had some real success stories. A 14-year-old girl in Texas used the knowledge and funding she received through the program to connect with a distributor who now carries her line of custom-designed cell phone covers. Two brothers in Alaska have developed an online travel service for young people vacationing with their families. Both of these businesses are doing well and earning money. Unfortunately, these and other successes have received little media coverage. This is a shame, but one that can be fixed.

What text structure is used to organize this passage?

Possible Answers:

Descriptive

Cause and Effect

Chronological

Problem and Solution

Correct answer:

Descriptive

Explanation:

This text is describing the program Young Enterprise Services (YES). The text gives examples of challenges and successes that the program has encountered since inception. It is describing the purpose of the program and some of the rules to qualify.

Example Question #5 : Reading To Understand Structure

Young Enterprise Services (YES) is a program created to encourage entrepreneurship in 14- to 18-year-olds who have already shown a clear ability for starting businesses. The program started in 2002, has provided loans, grants, and counseling—in the form of workshops and individual meetings with entrepreneurs—to over 7500 young people. The future of YES, however, is now at risk.

One complaint is that the funds that YES distributes have disproportionately gone to young people from low-income families. Though no one has claimed that any of the recipients of YES funds have been undeserving, several families have brought lawsuits claiming that their requests for funding were rejected because of the families’ high levels of income.

Another challenge has been the task of making sure that a young person, not his or her family, is receiving the funding. The rules state that the business plan must be created by the youth and that any profits in excess of $1,000 be placed in a bank account. The rules say that the money can only be used for education, investment in the business, and little else. There have been cases of parents or even a neighbor using the money for their business.

On the other hand, YES has had some real success stories. A 14-year-old girl in Texas used the knowledge and funding she received through the program to connect with a distributor who now carries her line of custom-designed cell phone covers. Two brothers in Alaska have developed an online travel service for young people vacationing with their families. Both of these businesses are doing well and earning money. Unfortunately, these and other successes have received little media coverage. This is a shame, but one that can be fixed.

How do individual sections contribute to the whole text?

Possible Answers:

Each section contributes to the text by describing a different part. First, an introduction to the purpose of the program, then the paragraphs state the challenges faced, and finally the successes the program has seen.

Each section moves in sequential order. The passage begins when the program started and moves through to the current time.

Individual sections of text are their own structure and do not contribute to the whole text.

Individual sections contribute to the whole text by first describing the problem the program is facing and then later a separate section provides the solution.

Correct answer:

Each section contributes to the text by describing a different part. First, an introduction to the purpose of the program, then the paragraphs state the challenges faced, and finally the successes the program has seen.

Explanation:

The passage is written in a descriptive structure and each section of the text describes something individually that builds understanding for the entire passage.

Example Question #6 : Reading To Understand Structure

Nearly all the workers of the Lowell textile mills of Massachusetts were unmarried daughters from farm families. Some of the workers were as young as 10. Many people in the 1820s were upset by the idea of working females. The company provided well-kept dormitories for the women to live in. The meals were decent and church attendance was mandatory. Compared to other factories of the time, the Lowell mills were clean and safe. There was even a journal, The Lowell Offering, which contained poems and other material written by the workers, and which became known beyond New England. Ironically, it was at the Lowell mills that dissatisfaction with working conditions brought about the first organization of working women.

The work was difficult. When wages were cut, the workers organized the Factory Girls Association. 15,000 women decided to “turn out,” or walk off the job. The Offering, meant as a pleasant creative outlet, gave the women a voice that could be heard elsewhere in the country, and even in Europe. However, the ability of women to demand changes was limited. The women could not go for long without wages with which to support themselves and families. This same limitation hampered the effectiveness of the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association (LFLRA), organized in 1844.

No specific changes can be directly credited to the Lowell workers, but their legacy is unquestionable. The LFLRA’s founder, Sarah Bagley, became a national figure, speaking before the Massachusetts House of Representatives. When the New England Labor Reform League was formed, three of the eight board members were women. Other mill workers took note of the Lowell strikes and were successful in getting better pay, shorter hours, and safer working conditions. Even some existing child labor laws can be traced back to efforts first set in motion by the Lowell mills women.

What text structure is used to organize this passage?

Possible Answers:

Descriptive

Chronological

Cause and Effect

Problem and Solution

Correct answer:

Problem and Solution

Explanation:

This text is organized using a problem and solution structure. The author introduces readers to the Lowell mill workers and outlines the problems and challenges the women face. The author continues on to explain how they attempted to solve the problem by forming together, walking off the job, and how their movement made long-lasting labor law changes. As readers, we are introduced to a problem and a solution or path to a solution was explained.

← Previous 1

All Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 59 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors