HSPT Reading : Making Predictions in Contemporary Life Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Reading

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from "Errors in Our Food Economy" in Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

Scientific research, interpreting the observations of practical life, implies that several errors are common in the use of food.

First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare. And, unfortunately, those who are most extravagant in this respect are often the ones who can least afford it.

Secondly, the food which we eat does not always contain the proper proportions of the different kinds of nutritive ingredients. We consume relatively too much of the fuel ingredients of food, such as the fats of meat and butter, and the starch which makes up the larger part of the nutritive material of flour, potatoes, sugar, and sweetmeats. Conversely, we have relatively too little of the protein of flesh-forming substances, like the lean of meat and fish and the gluten of wheat, which make muscle and sinew and which are the basis of blood, bone and brain.

Thirdly, many people, not only the well-to-do, but those in moderate circumstances, use needless quantities of food. Part of the excess, however, is simply thrown away with the wastes of the table and the kitchen; so that the injury to health, great as it may be, is doubtless much less than if all were eaten. Probably the worst sufferers from this evil are well-to-do people of sedentary occupations.

Finally, we are guilty of serious errors in our cooking. We waste a great deal of fuel in the preparation of our food, and even then a great deal of the food is very badly cooked. A reform in these methods of cooking is one of the economic demands of our time.

Given the option between two identical meals, one of which costs ten dollars and another five dollars, the author would most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

It is impossible to say.

pick the cheaper meal

pick the more expensive meal

investigate the reputations of those who have cooked the two meals

try and barter the more expensive meal down in value

Correct answer:

pick the cheaper meal


Answering this question requires you to pick up on one key argument made by the author. The author says, “First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare.” From this, we can determine that when given the choice between two identical meals, we should choose the one which is cheaper, for this would be less detrimental to our ability to purchase other food at a later date. The author clearly believes that the dignity attached to purchasing more expensive food is a false impression.

Example Question #111 : Inferential Comprehension

Adapted from "Wild Animals in Captivity" by W. A. Atkinson in Chatterbox Periodical (1906, ed. J. Erskine Clark)

Notwithstanding all the care which is now bestowed upon wild animals in our zoological gardens and menageries, nearly all of them suffer a little in some way or other by confinement. When we think of the great difference which exists between the surroundings natural to a free wild animal, and those of even the best zoological gardens, we cannot but be surprised that so many animals from all parts of the world can be kept alive and in good condition in a climate so changeable as ours. Every effort is made by the keepers to copy as far as possible the natural conditions to which each animal is accustomed.

It was usual, for instance, to deprive all the flesh-eating animals of one of the greatest traveling menageries of food during one day in each week. It was found by experience that the animals were healthier when they suffered periods of fasting like this, than they were when they were fed regularly every day without a break. The explanation of this was very simple. These animals, when they were living wild in the jungles, forests, deserts, or ice-fields, obtained all their food by hunting. When game was scarce or difficult to catch, they were compelled to go hungry; and this occurred so often as to be a natural condition to which they were well accustomed. When, therefore, they were placed in cages, and were fed as regularly, though not as frequently as human beings, their health was more or less impaired.

Animals in confinement often undergo slight changes even when no alteration in their appearance or falling-off in health is noticeable. Many of them, for instance, rarely have young ones, and even when they have, the young are seldom as healthy and robust as if born in a wild state. The keepers have frequently the utmost difficulty in rearing animals which are born in menageries and zoological gardens. Yet if these animals were born in their own countries and under natural conditions, they would grow up healthy and strong, without receiving any more care than a kitten receives from its mother.

An incident which occurred in the Zoo not long ago affords a striking illustration of these facts. A wolf had an ordinary family of eight young ones. The keepers, probably thinking that these were too many for the captive wolf to bring up alone, divided the family. Four of them were left with their mother, and four of them were placed in charge of a collie. The dog took kindly to her foster-children, and reared them successfully with her own. This was only what the keepers expected. But when they placed the young ones together again, and compared the collie's family with the wolf's family, they were surprised to find that the four which had been nurtured by the collie were stronger and better animals than their four brothers and sisters. The best explanation of this result is that the collie was living a healthy natural life, while the wolf, though to all appearance quite well, was not enjoying the full vigor which results from a free and active life.

Based on this whole passage, what can you predict is the best way for zookeepers to best provide for the health of their captive animals?

Possible Answers:

Separate animals' young at birth to ensure the most young survive.

Keep male and female animals of the same species separate to avoid confrontation between males.

Imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.

Keep the animals well fed and meticulously nurtured.

Ensure that each animal is allowed out of its cage on a regular basis to experience a taste of freedom.

Correct answer:

Imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.


The overall argument of this passage, as demonstrated by the stories about the study of the wolf and the collie raising the wolf's pups and the discussion of why it is best to deny captive animals an occasional meal, is that the best way for zookeepers to provide for the health of their captive animals is to “imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.” 

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors