Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts : Reading: Informational Text

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Example Question #1 : Reading: Informational Text

“Stone Trees”

Have you ever seen a stone tree? While the idea of a stone tree may sound fantastic, fallen trees can turn to stone in very specific circumstances, producing what scientists call “petrified wood.” “Petra” means stone in ancient Greek, so something “petrified” has been turned to stone. You may have heard the word “petrified” used to describe someone so scared that they have frozen as if turned to stone, but scientists use the word literally to refer to actual stone. Petrified trees are stone trees, not scared trees!

 

A Type of Fossil

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone. It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved. You can even count the tree rings in some petrified trees and estimate how old the tree grew to be before it was petrified.

 

From Tree to Stone

In order for a tree to become petrified wood, it must have died and been buried a very long time ago. This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare. The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone. 

The environment has to have two more specific characteristics to produce petrified wood: there has to be water in the ground around the tree, and that water has to contain minerals. If mineral-containing water is present, water will go into and out of the tree’s cells and, over time, the minerals in the water will accumulate in the tree’s cells. When the tree’s cells eventually decay, the minerals are left. Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.

Petrified wood is found all over the world, and there are even entire forests of petrified trees that you can travel to go see today. One national park in the United States, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, is famous for its many petrified trees. The next time you see a tree, remember, after a few million years in the right environment, it could turn to stone!

“Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons.”

“The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone.”

Which of the following inferences is supported by the above sentences taken from the text?

Possible Answers:

Oxygen probably helped preserve the footprints of dinosaurs as fossils.

Most fossils involve bodies of creatures that are completely preserved from rotting.

The bark and wood of a petrifying tree preserve the tree’s interior by blocking its exposure to oxygen.

Mineral-containing water must have gotten to the dinosaur bones and turned them to stone.

The bodies of dinosaurs whose bones became fossils were probably exposed to oxygen.

Correct answer:

The bodies of dinosaurs whose bones became fossils were probably exposed to oxygen.

Explanation:

Before we look at the answer choices, let's first consider which topics the given sentences discuss. After all, the sentences can't easily support inferences that are about topics they don't talk about! The first sentence is from the section "A Type of Fossil." It's talking about how most fossils are imprints of ancient creatures or only partial remains of their bodies, such as their skeletons. The second sentence is from the section "From Tree to Stone." It is talking about how for petrification to occur, a tree has to be buried so that oxygen cannot get to it, oxygen being the cause of rotting.

Now that we've reviewed these sentences closely, let's look at each of the answer choices and figure out which inference the sentences support.

"The bark and wood of a petrifying tree preserve the tree’s interior by blocking its exposure to oxygen." - This isn't true at all; the second sentence says that during petrification, oxygen cannot get to a tree's bark and wood. The second sentence contradicts this statement directly, so this statement can't be the correct answer.

"Most fossils involve bodies of creatures that are completely preserved from rotting." - The sentences don't support this answer choice. The first sentence tells us that "most fossils" are only partial remains of creatures or imprints they made, which is at odds with this answer choice. Since it's contradicted by the first sentence, it can't be correct.

"Oxygen probably helped preserve the footprints of dinosaurs as fossils." - This answer choice discusses both oxygen (mentioned in the second sentence) and footprints (mentioned in the first sentence); however, it suggests that oxygen helps preserve the footprints. We're told that oxygen causes things to rot, but we're not told anything that would support the claim that it helps preserve footprints. This answer choice isn't correct either.

"Mineral-containing water must have gotten to the dinosaur bones and turned them to stone." - Neither of the sentences mention water at all, much less mineral-containing water, so this claim isn't supported by them.

"The bodies of dinosaurs whose bones became fossils were probably exposed to oxygen." - This is the correct answer. In the second sentence, we're told that oxygen is the cause of making trees rot. In the first sentence, we're told that some fossils are just the bones of dinosaurs, not the rest of their bodies. Putting these two concepts together, we can arrive at the conclusion that the bodies of the dinosaurs whose skeletons became fossils probably rotted away due to contact with oxygen.

 

Example Question #1 : Reading: Informational Text

“The Petrified Forest of Arizona” by E.A. J. Seddon, Associate Editor, Southern Division in The Mountain States Monitor, September 1918.

The Petrified Forest of Arizona is an area covered with the fossil remains of prehistoric trees. The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs. They were buried thousands of feet beneath the bottom of an inland sea. This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area. 

Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock. Iron oxides were present in the silica. These oxides created brilliant and beautiful brown, yellow, and red colors in the rock. 

Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory. The wrappings of the dead monarchs were slowly washed away by erosion and corrosion. Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.

The author uses personification in the passage to develop a comparison of the petrified trees to human monarchs. Which of the following sentences does NOT use personification to characterize the trees as if they were people?

Possible Answers:

"Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs."

"They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature."

"This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems."

"Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure."

"They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica."

Correct answer:

"This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems."

Explanation:

Personification is the act of describing a non-living thing as if it were human. Authors might describe non-sentient things as feeling a certain way or as performing human actions or having human traits. The author does this quite frequently in this passage in order to develop an extended metaphor in which he describes the petrified trees as monarchs. Let's look at each of the sentences given as answer choices to pick out the one in which the author does NOT do this.

"Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs." - The word "embalming" and the reference to the trees as "fallen monarchs" compares them with royalty in this sentence, so this isn't the correct answer.

"Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure." - In this sentence, the author again refers to the trees undergoing the petrification process as "fallen monarchs." This sentence isn't correct either.

"They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature." - 

"They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica."

"This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems." - This sentence uses not one but two metaphors, calling the underground environment in which petrification takes place "a vast pickling vat" and the petrified wood that results from the process "living gems." Neither of these metaphors involve describing the trees as if they are people, though, so this is the correct answer!

Example Question #1 : Analyze How Individuals, Events, And Topics Interact In A Text: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.7.3

“Stone Trees”

Have you ever seen a stone tree? While the idea of a stone tree may sound fantastic, fallen trees can turn to stone in very specific circumstances, producing what scientists call “petrified wood.” “Petra” means stone in ancient Greek, so something “petrified” has been turned to stone. You may have heard the word “petrified” used to describe someone so scared that they have frozen as if turned to stone, but scientists use the word literally to refer to actual stone. Petrified trees are stone trees, not scared trees!

 

A Type of Fossil

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone. It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved. You can even count the tree rings in some petrified trees and estimate how old the tree grew to be before it was petrified.

 

From Tree to Stone

In order for a tree to become petrified wood, it must have died and been buried a very long time ago. This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare. The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone. 

The environment has to have two more specific characteristics to produce petrified wood: there has to be water in the ground around the tree, and that water has to contain minerals. If mineral-containing water is present, water will go into and out of the tree’s cells and, over time, the minerals in the water will accumulate in the tree’s cells. When the tree’s cells eventually decay, the minerals are left. Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.

Petrified wood is found all over the world, and there are even entire forests of petrified trees that you can travel to go see today. One national park in the United States, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, is famous for its many petrified trees. The next time you see a tree, remember, after a few million years in the right environment, it could turn to stone!

In what way does petrified wood differ from dinosaur fossils?

Possible Answers:

Dinosaur fossils are much more valuable than petrified wood is.

Dinosaur fossils can only form when oxygen does not get to the organism being fossilized, but petrification requires that a tree be exposed to oxygen.

Dinosaur fossils are two-dimensional imprints, but petrification creates a three-dimensional stone tree.

Dinosaur fossils are parts of ancient creatures, but petrification preserves the likeness of an entire tree.

Dinosaur fossils are always bigger than petrified trees.

Correct answer:

Dinosaur fossils are parts of ancient creatures, but petrification preserves the likeness of an entire tree.

Explanation:

In the section "A Type of Fossil," the passage compares petrified wood to other fossils like dinosaur bones and imprints. The section begins by setting up for discussion of "a big difference" between petrified wood and most other fossils:

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone.

This answers the question at hand: dinosaur fossils are parts of ancient creatures, but petrification preserves the likeness of an entire tree. This is the correct answer. The passage doesn't say anything about dinosaur fossils always being bigger than petrified trees, nor does it say anything about the relative value of dinosaur fossils and petrified wood. The answer choice "Dinosaur fossils can only form when oxygen does not get to the organism being fossilized, but petrification requires that a tree be exposed to oxygen" may seem correct, but read it carefully, and you'll find that its last part, "petrification requires that a tree be exposed to oxygen," is incorrect based on what we learn in the rest of the passage. Petrified trees only form when fallen trees are prevented from rotting by being buried so oxygen can't get to them and make them rot. "Dinosaur fossils are two-dimensional imprints, but petrification creates a three-dimensional stone tree" may also look like a great answer choice; however, the passage states, "Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons." Skeletons aren't two-dimensional imprints, so we can't claim that "Dinosaur fossils are two-dimensional imprints."

 

Example Question #1 : Determine Figurative, Connotative, And Technical Word Meanings And The Impact Of Word Choice: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.7.4

“The Petrified Forest of Arizona” by E.A. J. Seddon, Associate Editor, Southern Division in The Mountain States Monitor, September 1918.

The Petrified Forest of Arizona is an area covered with the fossil remains of prehistoric trees. The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs. They were buried thousands of feet beneath the bottom of an inland sea. This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area. 

Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock. Iron oxides were present in the silica. These oxides created brilliant and beautiful brown, yellow, and red colors in the rock. 

Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory. The wrappings of the dead monarchs were slowly washed away by erosion and corrosion. Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.

Which of the following best describes the effects of the author’s use of the word “embalming,” underlined in the first sentence of the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

The word returns to the author’s statement about how words can be misnomers, as “embalming” is a misnomer suggesting that the tree is being preserved.

The word evokes ancient Egypt and pharaohs, strengthening the comparison between the ancient trees and monarchs.

The word brings to mind gravestones, suggesting that something on the Earth’s surface marks spots where you can find trees being petrified underground.

The word has to do with the process of preserving a deceased person and compares the effects of water with those of an undertaker.

The word has to do with death, so it explains for the first time to the reader that the trees have been knocked down and are no longer growing when the process of petrification begins.

Correct answer:

The word evokes ancient Egypt and pharaohs, strengthening the comparison between the ancient trees and monarchs.

Explanation:

It's important to understand what the word "embalming" means and how the author uses it in the passage before you try to answer this question. Here is the sentence in which the word appears:

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs.

"Embalming" refers to the process by which a corpse is preserved. Thus, when the author refers to petrification as "embalming," he is implicitly comparing the trees with people. The author refers to the trees as "fallen monarchs" in the same sentence. Encouraged to think of both royalty and the preservation of a corpse in the same sentence, many readers may associate "embalming" with mummification in ancient Egypt, a process used to preserve the bodies of deceased rulers and other people considered to be important.

Now that we've analyzed the word's usage, let's consider the answer choices. Each answer choice consists of two parts: the subtle meaning that the word's usage has, and the effect this has in the passage. Four of the answer choices describe "embalming" as being associated with death; any of those might be correct. Its use has nothing to do with the author's description of misnomers, so let's ignore the answer choice "The word returns to the author’s statement about how words can be misnomers, as “embalming” is a misnomer suggesting that the tree is being preserved." This leaves us with four answer choices:

"The word has to do with the process of preserving a corpse, strengthening the personification of the ancient trees."

"The word has to do with undertakers and compares the effects of water with those of an undertaker."

"The word brings to mind gravestones, suggesting that something on the Earth’s surface marks spots where you can find trees being petrified underground."

"The word has to do with death, so it explains for the first time to the reader that the trees have been knocked down and are no longer growing when the process of petrification begins."

The answer choice discussing "gravestones" isn't correct; nothing about the word's usage specifically has to do with gravestones or tells the audience that certain spots identify where trees are being petrified underground, and nothing in the rest of the passage supports this. The answer choice that says "explains for the first time to the reader that the trees have been knocked down" isn't correct either, because the author explained this point at the end of the first paragraph, not for the first time in this sentence. The answer choice about the word "[comparing] the effects of water with those of an undertaker" isn't correct either because water hasn't even been mentioned as being part of the petrification process at this point in the passage. The correct answer is that "the word has to do with the process of preserving a corpse, strengthening the personification of the ancient trees." As we noted earlier, by using the word "embalming," the author is implicitly comparing the trees with humans.

Example Question #1 : Structurally Analyze A Text As Parts And A Whole: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.7.5

“The Petrified Forest of Arizona” by E.A. J. Seddon, Associate Editor, Southern Division in The Mountain States Monitor, September 1918.

The Petrified Forest of Arizona is an area covered with the fossil remains of prehistoric trees. The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs. They were buried thousands of feet beneath the bottom of an inland sea. This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area. 

Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock. Iron oxides were present in the silica. These oxides created brilliant and beautiful brown, yellow, and red colors in the rock. 

Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory. The wrappings of the dead monarchs were slowly washed away by erosion and corrosion. Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.

Which of the following best describes the passage’s structure?

Possible Answers:

The passage describes the Petrified Forest of Arizona as it exists in the author’s own time.

The passage provides a lengthy, poetic description of a single piece of petrified wood.

The passage follows the process of petrification chronologically.

The passage explains what the author thinks about the value of petrified wood as a resource.

The passage focuses on how petrification occurs and then considers how this process differs from that which produces dinosaur skeleton fossils.

Correct answer:

The passage follows the process of petrification chronologically.

Explanation:

To figure out what kind of structure the passage employs, let's summarize what each of its paragraphs talk about and consider how the paragraphs connect to one another. In the first paragraph, the author introduces the Petrified Forest of Arizona and describes the ancient trees and how they fell. In the second paragraph, the author describes how the trees were buried underneath an inland sea. In the third paragraph, he talks about how the woody material of the trees was replaced by silica, a type of rock. In the fourth paragraph, the author describes how the trees made their way back to the surface. 

This summary shows us that the passage as a whole doesn't "[provide] a lengthy, poetic description of a single piece of petrified wood" or "[describe] the Petrified Forest of Arizona as it exists in the author’s own time." It certainly doesn't "[explain] what the author thinks about the value of petrified wood as a resource," because this point is never mentioned. In addition, the passage does not "[focus] on how petrification occurs and then [consider] how this process differs from that which produces dinosaur skeleton fossils." While it focuses on how petrification occurs, it never mentions dinosaur fossils!

The correct answer is that the passage "follows the process of petrification chronologically." Did you notice when summarizing the passage that each paragraph described a sequential step in the process of petrification? The author starts by describing the trees before they fell and concludes by describing how the petrified wood arrived back on the Earth's surface, and he outlines each step in chronological order.

Example Question #6 : Reading: Informational Text

“Stone Trees”

Have you ever seen a stone tree? While the idea of a stone tree may sound fantastic, fallen trees can turn to stone in very specific circumstances, producing what scientists call “petrified wood.” “Petra” means stone in ancient Greek, so something “petrified” has been turned to stone. You may have heard the word “petrified” used to describe someone so scared that they have frozen as if turned to stone, but scientists use the word literally to refer to actual stone. Petrified trees are stone trees, not scared trees!

 

A Type of Fossil

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone. It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved. You can even count the tree rings in some petrified trees and estimate how old the tree grew to be before it was petrified.

 

From Tree to Stone

In order for a tree to become petrified wood, it must have died and been buried a very long time ago. This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare. The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone. 

The environment has to have two more specific characteristics to produce petrified wood: there has to be water in the ground around the tree, and that water has to contain minerals. If mineral-containing water is present, water will go into and out of the tree’s cells and, over time, the minerals in the water will accumulate in the tree’s cells. When the tree’s cells eventually decay, the minerals are left. Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.

Petrified wood is found all over the world, and there are even entire forests of petrified trees that you can travel to go see today. One national park in the United States, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, is famous for its many petrified trees. The next time you see a tree, remember, after a few million years in the right environment, it could turn to stone!

In the section “A Type of Fossil,” the author __________, but in the section “From Tree to Stone,” the author __________.

Possible Answers:

introduces the passage . . . explains a process

focuses on a comparison . . . explains different requirements for a process

describes the history of a word . . . focuses on a comparison

explains a process . . . focuses on a comparison

explains a process. . . describes the history of a word

Correct answer:

focuses on a comparison . . . explains different requirements for a process

Explanation:

This question asks you to summarize the general structure of two labeled sections in the passage "Stone Trees." To do this, let's first consider what the author does in each of the sections. In "A Type of Fossil," the author contrasts petrified wood against other fossils like dinosaur bones and imprints. The author then uses this contrast to discuss petrified wood's special qualities. In "From Tree to Stone," the author describes how petrified wood forms, walking the reader through each requirement.

This summary can help us answer the question: the section "A Type of Fossil" does not "introduce the passage" or "describe the history of a word"—the first paragraph does that! It's important not to confuse paragraphs when answering questions; if you do, you can easily end up with the wrong answer. The section "A Type of Fossil" also does not "explain a process." It "focuses on a comparison." This means that the correct answer must be "focuses on a comparison . . . explains different requirements for a process," but let's check that second part of the answer to make sure it's correct. The section "From Tree to Stone" does indeed explain different environmental characteristics necessary for petrification to occur. This answer is correct!

Example Question #2 : Reading: Informational Text

“Stone Trees”

Have you ever seen a stone tree? While the idea of a stone tree may sound fantastic, fallen trees can turn to stone in very specific circumstances, producing what scientists call “petrified wood.” “Petra” means stone in ancient Greek, so something “petrified” has been turned to stone. You may have heard the word “petrified” used to describe someone so scared that they have frozen as if turned to stone, but scientists use the word literally to refer to actual stone. Petrified trees are stone trees, not scared trees!

 

A Type of Fossil

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone. It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved. You can even count the tree rings in some petrified trees and estimate how old the tree grew to be before it was petrified.

 

From Tree to Stone

In order for a tree to become petrified wood, it must have died and been buried a very long time ago. This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare. The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone. 

The environment has to have two more specific characteristics to produce petrified wood: there has to be water in the ground around the tree, and that water has to contain minerals. If mineral-containing water is present, water will go into and out of the tree’s cells and, over time, the minerals in the water will accumulate in the tree’s cells. When the tree’s cells eventually decay, the minerals are left. Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.

Petrified wood is found all over the world, and there are even entire forests of petrified trees that you can travel to go see today. One national park in the United States, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, is famous for its many petrified trees. The next time you see a tree, remember, after a few million years in the right environment, it could turn to stone!

Which of the following best describes the author’s purpose in this passage?

Possible Answers:

To discuss the history of the name “petrified wood”

To provide a general description of petrified wood, including how it forms

To recount the author’s experiences of finding petrified wood in national parks

To discuss one aspect of the process of petrification in particular

To explain how petrified wood differs from dinosaur fossils

Correct answer:

To provide a general description of petrified wood, including how it forms

Explanation:

Let's consider what the author does in each of the paragraphs in this passage. The first paragraph introduces the concept of petrified wood and discusses the history of the name. The second paragraph compares petrified wood to other types of fossils to help the reader understand the features that make it special. The third and fourth paragraphs talk about specific qualities of the environment necessary for petrified wood to form. Finally, the last paragraph talks about where petrified wood can be found.

Based on that reading, we can conclude that the author's purpose in the passage is not "to discuss one aspect of the process of petrification in particular." While parts of the passage "discuss the history of the name “petrified wood” and "explain how petrified wood differs from dinosaur fossils," neither of these is the focus of the entire passage. The author mentions national parks at the end of the passage, but doesn't talk about his or her experience of finding petrified wood there, so it's not the purpose of the passage "to recount the author’s experiences of finding petrified wood in national parks."

The best answer is that the author's purpose in the passage is "to provide a general description of petrified wood, including how it forms." The passage discusses a number of different topics related to the general topic of petrified wood, and does spend time explaining how it forms.

Example Question #1 : Analyze The Strength And Reasoning Of Claims While Evaluating Written Arguments: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.7.8

“Stone Trees”

Have you ever seen a stone tree? While the idea of a stone tree may sound fantastic, fallen trees can turn to stone in very specific circumstances, producing what scientists call “petrified wood.” “Petra” means stone in ancient Greek, so something “petrified” has been turned to stone. You may have heard the word “petrified” used to describe someone so scared that they have frozen as if turned to stone, but scientists use the word literally to refer to actual stone. Petrified trees are stone trees, not scared trees!

 

A Type of Fossil

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone. It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved. You can even count the tree rings in some petrified trees and estimate how old the tree grew to be before it was petrified.

 

From Tree to Stone

In order for a tree to become petrified wood, it must have died and been buried a very long time ago. This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare. The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone. 

The environment has to have two more specific characteristics to produce petrified wood: there has to be water in the ground around the tree, and that water has to contain minerals. If mineral-containing water is present, water will go into and out of the tree’s cells and, over time, the minerals in the water will accumulate in the tree’s cells. When the tree’s cells eventually decay, the minerals are left. Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.

Petrified wood is found all over the world, and there are even entire forests of petrified trees that you can travel to go see today. One national park in the United States, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, is famous for its many petrified trees. The next time you see a tree, remember, after a few million years in the right environment, it could turn to stone!

In which of the following sentences does the author of the passage provide evidence supporting the claim that petrified wood is rare and only forms in specific environments? 

Possible Answers:

“It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved.”

“This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare.”

"Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils."

“Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.”

“If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone.”

Correct answer:

“If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone.”

Explanation:

One way to approach this question is to imagine that you're trying to convince a friend that petrified wood is rare and only forms in specific environments. Which of the answer choices could you point to in the passage to help convince your friend that you are correct?

"Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils." - This answer choice talks about fossils and petrified wood; it says nothing about the specific environment petrified wood needs in order to form.

"It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved.” - This answer choice describes some characteristics of petrified wood, but doesn't mention the environment it needs to form at all.

“Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.” - This answer choice also describes petrified wood. It mentions "the tree's preserving environment," but doesn't tell us anything about it other than that different elements in it produce different colors of minerals in petrified wood.

“This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare.” - This answer choice talks about the "specific environment" in which petrified wood forms, but it doesn't actually tell us what makes this environment "specific."

"If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone.” - This is the correct answer. Petrified wood forms when trees are preserved in environments where oxygen cannot get to them to make them rot. Instead, over time, they become petrified wood. 

Example Question #8 : Reading: Informational Text

“The Petrified Forest of Arizona” by E.A. J. Seddon, Associate Editor, Southern Division in The Mountain States Monitor, September 1918.

The Petrified Forest of Arizona is an area covered with the fossil remains of prehistoric trees. The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs. They were buried thousands of feet beneath the bottom of an inland sea. This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area. 

Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock. Iron oxides were present in the silica. These oxides created brilliant and beautiful brown, yellow, and red colors in the rock. 

Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory. The wrappings of the dead monarchs were slowly washed away by erosion and corrosion. Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.

The passage could be improved if the evidence presented in which of the following sentence pairs were explained more?

Possible Answers:

“The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees.”

“Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock.”

“At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.”

“Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.”

“This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area.”

Correct answer:

“This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area.”

Explanation:

“The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees.” - These sentences go together well and neither seems to present evidence, so this isn't the correct answer.

“Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.” - These sentences conclude the passage. They are primarily descriptive, and neither presents evidence supporting a claim.

“At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.” - The first sentence in this pair tells readers that the petrified wood found in the Petrified Forest of Arizona was originally part of a forest. The second sentence personifies the trees as it describes them being knocked down. This doesn't seem like the correct answer either, as no evidence for a claim is presented.

“Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock.” - These sentences appear as the passage is describing part of the process of petrification. It lists two sequential steps in the process, but not a claim and evidence.

 “This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area.” - This is the correct answer! The first sentence describes the area in the Petrified Forest of Arizona was "a vast pickling vat" in which conditions were right for petrification to take place. The second sentence states that the reason we know this to be the case is that "volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area." The passage does not make it clear why the presence of volcanic cones and mineral springs means that the area had conditions in which petrification could take place. If this connection were explained more clearly, the passage would make more sense to readers and be improved.

Example Question #9 : Reading: Informational Text

“Stone Trees”

Have you ever seen a stone tree? While the idea of a stone tree may sound fantastic, fallen trees can turn to stone in very specific circumstances, producing what scientists call “petrified wood.” “Petra” means stone in ancient Greek, so something “petrified” has been turned to stone. You may have heard the word “petrified” used to describe someone so scared that they have frozen as if turned to stone, but scientists use the word literally to refer to actual stone. Petrified trees are stone trees, not scared trees!

 

A Type of Fossil

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone. It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved. You can even count the tree rings in some petrified trees and estimate how old the tree grew to be before it was petrified.

 

From Tree to Stone

In order for a tree to become petrified wood, it must have died and been buried a very long time ago. This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare. The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone. 

The environment has to have two more specific characteristics to produce petrified wood: there has to be water in the ground around the tree, and that water has to contain minerals. If mineral-containing water is present, water will go into and out of the tree’s cells and, over time, the minerals in the water will accumulate in the tree’s cells. When the tree’s cells eventually decay, the minerals are left. Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.

Petrified wood is found all over the world, and there are even entire forests of petrified trees that you can travel to go see today. One national park in the United States, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, is famous for its many petrified trees. The next time you see a tree, remember, after a few million years in the right environment, it could turn to stone!

 

 

Passage 2“The Petrified Forest of Arizona” by E.A. J. Seddon, Associate Editor, Southern Division in The Mountain States Monitor, September 1918.

The Petrified Forest of Arizona is an area covered with the fossil remains of prehistoric trees. The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs. They were buried thousands of feet beneath the bottom of an inland sea. This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area. 

Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock. Iron oxides were present in the silica. These oxides created brilliant and beautiful brown, yellow, and red colors in the rock. 

Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory. The wrappings of the dead monarchs were slowly washed away by erosion and corrosion. Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.

Which of the following statements is true?

Possible Answers:

Passage 1 does not discuss the history of any words, but Passage 2 does.

Passage 1 discusses the petrified wood found in a specific area, while Passage 2 discusses petrified wood in general.

Passage 1 describes how petrified wood ends up on the Earth’s surface after being petrified, whereas Passage 2 does not discuss this.

Passage 1 does not compare petrified wood to dinosaur fossils, but Passage 2 does.

Passage 1 discusses the role of oxygen in petrification, but Passage 2 doesn’t discuss oxygen at all.

Correct answer:

Passage 1 discusses the role of oxygen in petrification, but Passage 2 doesn’t discuss oxygen at all.

Explanation:

Facing a comparison question like this can be intimidating. The answer choices are rather wordy, and each one involves comparing a specific aspect about a specific passage. It's very easy to get the passages mixed up, especially if you are in a hurry. Analyze one answer choice at a time to help narrow your focus.

"Passage 1 does not discuss the history of any words, but Passage 2 does." - Does Passage 1 discuss the history of any words? Yes, it does: in the first paragraph, it talks about the history of the word "petra." This answer can't be correct.

"Passage 1 does not compare petrified wood to dinosaur fossils, but Passage 2 does." - Does Passage 1 compare petrified wood to dinosaur fossils? It does, in the section "A Type of Fossil." This section begins, "Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils." Thus, this answer choice is incorrect too.

"Passage 1 describes how petrified wood ends up on the Earth’s surface after being petrified, whereas Passage 2 does not discuss this." - Does Passage 1 describe how petrified wood ends up on the Earth's surface after being petrified? No, but Passage 2 talks about this when it states, "Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory," but Passage 1 certainly doesn't talk about it at all. This answer is incorrect. 

"Passage 1 discusses the petrified wood found in a specific area, while Passage 2 discusses petrified wood in general." - Passage 2 focuses on the Petrified Forest of Arizona and focuses all of its description on petrified wood in this area. Passage 1, on the other hand, provides a general description of petrified wood, adding in some detail about where it can be found but for the most part discussing it as a general concept. Thus, this answer choice is incorrect. 

"Passage 1 discusses the role of oxygen in petrification, but Passage 2 doesn’t discuss oxygen at all." - This answer choice is correct! In the section "From Tree to Stone," Passage 1 talks about how to be petrified, trees must be buried so that oxygen cannot get to them or they will rot. Passage 2 doesn't mention oxygen at all.

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