LSAT Reading : Humanities

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Humanities

Adapted from "The Grand Romantic" in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914) by Oscar Wilde.

It is when he deals with a sinner that Christ is most romantic, in the sense of most real. The world had always loved the saint as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of God. Christ, through some divine instinct in him, seems to have always loved the sinner as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of man. His primary desire was not to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to a relieve suffering. To turn an interesting thief into a tedious honest man was not his aim. He would have thought little of the Prisoners’ Aid Society and other modern movements of the kind. The conversion of a publican into a Pharisee would not have seemed to him a great achievement. But in a manner not yet understood of the world he regarded sin and suffering as being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection.

It seems a very dangerous idea. It is—all great ideas are dangerous. That it was Christ’s creed admits of no doubt. That it is the true creed I don’t doubt myself. Of course the sinner must repent. But why? Simply because otherwise he would be unable to realise what he had done. The moment of repentance is the moment of initiation. More than that: it is the means by which one alters one’s past. The Greeks thought that impossible. They often say in their Gnomic aphorisms, "Even the Gods cannot alter the past." Christ showed that the commonest sinner could do it, that it was the one thing he could do. Christ, had he been asked, would have said—I feel quite certain about it—that the moment the prodigal son fell on his knees and wept, he made his having wasted his substance with harlots, his swine-herding and hungering for the husks they ate, beautiful and holy moments in his life. It is difficult for most people to grasp the idea. I dare say one has to go to prison to understand it. If so, it may be worth while going to prison.

There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given him at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis was the true Imitatio Christi, a poem compared to which the book of that name is merely prose. Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ.

The primary argument of the second paragraph is that ___________.

Possible Answers:

to sin offers one the opportunity to be redeemed

it is worth going to prison in order to understand the notion of repentance and redemption

the Greeks did not understand redemption in the same manner as Christ did

a man can alter the significance of his past

every good idea has an element of danger and subversion behind it

Correct answer:

a man can alter the significance of his past

Explanation:

In the second paragraph the author is primarily contending that a man can alter the significance of his past. This is seen in the reference to the prodigal son and how the author interprets Christ’s reaction and can also be clearly evidenced when the author states “More than that: it is the means by which one alters one’s past.” And, “Christ showed that the commonest sinner could do it, that it was the one thing he could do.” The answer choice “To sin offers one the opportunity to be redeemed” is closer to the thesis of the whole passage. The other ideas are either secondary arguments or else pieces of evidence used to furnish the primary argument.

Example Question #2 : Humanities

Adapted from "The Grand Romantic" in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914) by Oscar Wilde.

It is when he deals with a sinner that Christ is most romantic, in the sense of most real. The world had always loved the saint as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of God. Christ, through some divine instinct in him, seems to have always loved the sinner as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of man. His primary desire was not to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to a relieve suffering. To turn an interesting thief into a tedious honest man was not his aim. He would have thought little of the Prisoners’ Aid Society and other modern movements of the kind. The conversion of a publican into a Pharisee would not have seemed to him a great achievement. But in a manner not yet understood of the world he regarded sin and suffering as being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection.

It seems a very dangerous idea. It is—all great ideas are dangerous. That it was Christ’s creed admits of no doubt. That it is the true creed I don’t doubt myself. Of course the sinner must repent. But why? Simply because otherwise he would be unable to realise what he had done. The moment of repentance is the moment of initiation. More than that: it is the means by which one alters one’s past. The Greeks thought that impossible. They often say in their Gnomic aphorisms, "Even the Gods cannot alter the past." Christ showed that the commonest sinner could do it, that it was the one thing he could do. Christ, had he been asked, would have said—I feel quite certain about it—that the moment the prodigal son fell on his knees and wept, he made his having wasted his substance with harlots, his swine-herding and hungering for the husks they ate, beautiful and holy moments in his life. It is difficult for most people to grasp the idea. I dare say one has to go to prison to understand it. If so, it may be worth while going to prison.

There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given him at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis was the true Imitatio Christi, a poem compared to which the book of that name is merely prose. Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ.

The primary purpose of the first paragraph is to __________.

Possible Answers:

explain the author’s belief in predestination

undermine the work of the Prisoners’ Aid Society and suggest a better course of action

condemn the traditional understanding of Christ’s mission on Earth

illustrate the author’s understanding of the character and mission of Christ

compare mankind’s reverence for the saints with Christ’s reverence for sinners

Correct answer:

illustrate the author’s understanding of the character and mission of Christ

Explanation:

The primary purpose of the first paragraph for the author is to demonstrate his personal understanding of Christ’s mission on Earth. It is clear that the author holds an unconventional view of the life and work of Jesus Christ, and he seems to wish to make clear the deficiencies he views in the conventional understanding before proceeding further with the argument. Evidence to support this conclusion can be seen in excerpts such as “Christ, through some divine instinct in him, seems to have always loved the sinner as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of man. His primary desire was not to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to a relieve suffering,” and “But in a manner not yet understood of the world he regarded sin and suffering as being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection.”

Example Question #1 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from "The Grand Romantic" in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914) by Oscar Wilde.

It is when he deals with a sinner that Christ is most romantic, in the sense of most real. The world had always loved the saint as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of God. Christ, through some divine instinct in him, seems to have always loved the sinner as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of man. His primary desire was not to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to a relieve suffering. To turn an interesting thief into a tedious honest man was not his aim. He would have thought little of the Prisoners’ Aid Society and other modern movements of the kind. The conversion of a publican into a Pharisee would not have seemed to him a great achievement. But in a manner not yet understood of the world he regarded sin and suffering as being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection.

It seems a very dangerous idea. It is—all great ideas are dangerous. That it was Christ’s creed admits of no doubt. That it is the true creed I don’t doubt myself. Of course the sinner must repent. But why? Simply because otherwise he would be unable to realise what he had done. The moment of repentance is the moment of initiation. More than that: it is the means by which one alters one’s past. The Greeks thought that impossible. They often say in their Gnomic aphorisms, "Even the Gods cannot alter the past." Christ showed that the commonest sinner could do it, that it was the one thing he could do. Christ, had he been asked, would have said—I feel quite certain about it—that the moment the prodigal son fell on his knees and wept, he made his having wasted his substance with harlots, his swine-herding and hungering for the husks they ate, beautiful and holy moments in his life. It is difficult for most people to grasp the idea. I dare say one has to go to prison to understand it. If so, it may be worth while going to prison.

There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given him at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis was the true Imitatio Christi, a poem compared to which the book of that name is merely prose. Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ.

Which of these most closely reflects why the author believes sin and suffering are “modes of perfection?”

Possible Answers:

Because they allow one the opportunity to be saved and redeemed

Because they reveal the true nature of humanity

Because they undermine the work of Christ on earth

Because they allow one to understand oneself

Because they offer opportunities for forgiveness and repentance

Correct answer:

Because they allow one the opportunity to be saved and redeemed

Explanation:

Answering this question requires an understanding of the overall thesis of this passage. The author believes that Christ would have had great affection for those who have sinned, because in doing so they are offered the opportunity to repent and in doing so be saved and redeemed. This idea is best captured in the second paragraph, where the author discusses the story of the prodigal son: “Christ, had he been asked, would have said—I feel quite certain about it—that the moment the prodigal son fell on his knees and wept, he made his having wasted his substance with harlots, his swine-herding and hungering for the husks they ate, beautiful and holy moments in his life. It is difficult for most people to grasp the idea.” The answer choice, “Because they offer opportunities for forgiveness and repentance,” is close to correct, but the author places great emphasis on the manner in which an individual is saved and redeemed into Christianity, rather than simply forgiven.

Example Question #2 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from "The Grand Romantic" in Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde (1914) by Oscar Wilde.

It is when he deals with a sinner that Christ is most romantic, in the sense of most real. The world had always loved the saint as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of God. Christ, through some divine instinct in him, seems to have always loved the sinner as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of man. His primary desire was not to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to a relieve suffering. To turn an interesting thief into a tedious honest man was not his aim. He would have thought little of the Prisoners’ Aid Society and other modern movements of the kind. The conversion of a publican into a Pharisee would not have seemed to him a great achievement. But in a manner not yet understood of the world he regarded sin and suffering as being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection.

It seems a very dangerous idea. It is—all great ideas are dangerous. That it was Christ’s creed admits of no doubt. That it is the true creed I don’t doubt myself. Of course the sinner must repent. But why? Simply because otherwise he would be unable to realise what he had done. The moment of repentance is the moment of initiation. More than that: it is the means by which one alters one’s past. The Greeks thought that impossible. They often say in their Gnomic aphorisms, "Even the Gods cannot alter the past." Christ showed that the commonest sinner could do it, that it was the one thing he could do. Christ, had he been asked, would have said—I feel quite certain about it—that the moment the prodigal son fell on his knees and wept, he made his having wasted his substance with harlots, his swine-herding and hungering for the husks they ate, beautiful and holy moments in his life. It is difficult for most people to grasp the idea. I dare say one has to go to prison to understand it. If so, it may be worth while going to prison.

There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given him at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis was the true Imitatio Christi, a poem compared to which the book of that name is merely prose. Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ.

The author’s tone in this passage is primarily __________.

Possible Answers:

assured

demanding

impious

obstinate

piteous

Correct answer:

assured

Explanation:

Throughout this passage the author’s tone could most accurately be described as “assured.” That the author is sure of himself and will allow for no debate or doubt can be evidenced in such excerpts as “that it was Christ’s creed admits of no doubt. That it is the true creed I don’t doubt myself,” and, “I feel quite certain about it.” The author is neither overwhelmingly “demanding” nor “obstinate.” Depending on the religious beliefs of the reader, it might be reasonable to declare the author “impious,” but this is closer to an audience reaction than it is to a description of the tone.

Example Question #5 : Humanities

Adapted from The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (1915)

Our English has changed with the years so that many words now connote more than they did originally. This is true of the word "monotonous." From having but one tone, it has come to mean more broadly, lack of variation.

The monotonous speaker not only drones along in the same volume and pitch of tone, but uses always the same emphasis, the same speed, the same thoughts—or dispenses with thought altogether.

Monotony, the cardinal and most common sin of the public speaker, is not a transgression—it is rather a sin of omission.

Emerson says, "The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety." That is just what the monotonous speaker fails to do—he does not detach one thought or phrase from another; they are all expressed in the same manner.

To tell you that your speech is monotonous may mean very little to you, so let us look at the nature—and the curse—of monotony in other spheres of life, then we shall appreciate more fully how it will blight an otherwise good speech.

If the Victrola in the adjoining apartment grinds out just three selections over and over again, it is pretty safe to assume that your neighbor has no other records. If a speaker uses only a few of his powers, it points very plainly to the fact that the rest of his powers are not developed. Monotony reveals our limitations.

In its effect on its victim, monotony is actually deadly—it will drive the bloom from the cheek and the luster from the eye as quickly as sin, and often leads to viciousness. The worst punishment that human ingenuity has ever been able to invent is extreme monotony—solitary confinement. Lay a marble on the table and do nothing eighteen hours of the day but change that marble from one point to another and back again, and you will go insane if you continue long enough.

Which of the following, if true, would most undermine the author's point?

Possible Answers:

A scientific study showing that repeating phrases and ideas enhances the understanding by a listener to public speaking.

A report on political candidates that indicates monotonous public speakers tend to win fewer elections.

An essay by an expert on public speaking that advocates a calm demeanor and even tone.

A history of public speaking showing that the most well regarded public speakers were the ones who had the most variation in their style and ideas.

A piece of research showing that most public speakers are often quite monotonous.

Correct answer:

A scientific study showing that repeating phrases and ideas enhances the understanding by a listener to public speaking.

Explanation:

The author's point about monotony as the biggest problem with speakers rests on the idea that a speaker who is monotonous will lose the interest of the listener. The correct answer choice needs to go directly against this main point in order to truly undermine the author's argument. A scientific study that shows the very ideas that the author rails against are actually effective would be what undermines the author's point the most.

Example Question #1 : Business Passages

While hotels have traditionally held a firm grip on the market of vacation-goers, the emergence of companies fostering short-term rentals are dramatically changing the landscape of the travel industry. Before the advent of the modern online forum, short-term rentals were an arrangement limited by sheer logistics. Information about the availability of (and desire for) a short-term rental was difficult to transmit and share. However, with the current explosion of social media and cyber enterprise, the business model of short-term rentals has blossomed.

In 2011, 40% of travelers reported that they would be staying in a short-term rental during the year, as opposed to a traditional hotel. By 2013, this figure had jumped up to a staggering 49%. The short-term rental business is a $24 billion market, holding 8% of the total market of U.S. travel. Rapidly expanding and growing with the innovations of creative renters, the question that hangs in the air is what this means for communities. Short-term rentals have had a polarizing effect in many ways, becoming a source of joy for venturists and cause of dismay for many homeowners.

In recent news, there have been incredible scandals in which short-term renters have abused the property loaned to them, causing thousands of dollars' worth of property damage. Other accusations include disturbing the peace and the commission of criminal acts. Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) have been up in arms, and the legal backlash has been significant. New York enacted firm restrictions on short-term renters, and many HOAs now embed limits on the purposes that a space may be used for, barring short-term rentals.

However, this reaction is an over-reaction, and a detrimental one at that. Cities and towns that set hard limits against short-term rentals are halting the economic growth that would otherwise accompany them. Vacationers are likely to be deterred from venturing out to towns that have banned more affordable short-term rentals. While some vacationers might opt to stay at a hotel in desirable locations, as the short-term rental industry continues to grow, it will become more and more likely that vacation-goers will simply choose alternative destinations that actually allow for short-term rentals.

This is not to say, however, that short-term rentals should be completely unregulated. The key is imposing useful regulations that are mutually beneficial to both communities and to the proprietors of short-term rentals. One potential solution would be to impose reasonable taxes on visitors that use short-term rentals; having requirements for minimum stays could also ensure more consistency for the communities. This also has the added benefit of generating income for towns and cities. There is no reason why communities should see the short-term rental industry as an adversary, when it can just as easily be made into an ally.

Which of the following, if true, best supports the author's contention that bans against short-term rentals would inhibit economic development?

Possible Answers:

Vacationers who enjoy short-term rentals tend to spend more money in tourist destinations.

The average vacationer is very flexible with respect to the types of housing that they will use when travling, which includes the use of short-term rentals.

Many vacationers enjoy short-term rentals and could visit a town or city without them.

Many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals and would be unlikely to visit a town or city without them.

All vacationers enjoy short-term rentals, but would substitute hotels if they were not available.

Correct answer:

Many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals and would be unlikely to visit a town or city without them.

Explanation:

The author's conclusion that bans against short-term rentals would inhibit economic development hinges on the fact that short-term rentals are a non-substitutable commodity that consumers seek out. 

The only answer choice that describes short-term rentals as a non-substitutable commodity is "Many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals and would be unlikely to visit a town or city without them."

If many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals, then that means they will not use hotels as a replacement. As a result, towns and businesses would lose the business that these patrons would otherwise provide. 

A tempting wrong answer is "Vacationers who enjoy short-term rentals tend to spend more money in tourist destinations." This answer is not as strong as the correct answer because it does not make an argument that short-term rentals are non-substitutable. There is nothing to suggest that vacationers who enjoy short-term rentals would not settle for hotels if short-term rentals were not available.

Example Question #1 : Humanities

The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) can help countries throughout the world have a more uniform way of navigating the challenging waters of international law surrounding trade. It is not uncommon for two countries to have adopted different laws on international trade that conflict with each other. This becomes a serious problem when trade disputes arise. To help make this concept more tangible, consider the following hypothetical.

Suppose China ships three million dollars' worth of electronics to Uganda using standard bulk shipping transportation methods via a commonly traveled sea route. However, the packaging isn't secured in a manner sufficient to withstand unforeseen weather conditions. As a result, the goods become damaged in transit and are no longer fit for resale. Given that two countries are involved in this transaction–China and Uganda–the question arises as to which country’s trade laws will apply to resolve the matter at hand.

In this scenario, it is fortunate that both China and Uganda are parties to the CISG, which provide for a uniform set of laws governing trade. Such laws cover which party would be responsible for the damaged goods in this scenario. As a result, there will be no dispute as to whether China’s or Uganda's trade laws apply. Given that both countries are parties to the CISG, the laws set forth by the CISG would be applicable.

However, not all countries are parties to the CISG. One example is Rwanda. Even though Rwanda is not a party to the CISG, the fact of the matter is that CISG laws can still apply to it. The CISG applies to trade between countries so long as one of those countries is a party to the CISG (unless the parties expressly specify that the CISG will not apply to their specific trade arrangement). Several of Rwanda's main trade partners, such as the United States, China, Belgium, and Uganda, are parties to the CISG, so the laws of the treaty will apply in those trade agreements. Meanwhile, there is a different story when it comes to Rwanda's trade agreements with Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Thailand, which are not parties to the CISG. Due to these countries’ lack of membership in the CISG, if a problem ever arose in a trade agreement between Rwanda and one those countries, it would be unclear as to which country’s laws would apply.

There has been heated discussion as to whether Rwanda should sign the CISG. The United Nations Development Program takes the stance that it would behoove Rwanda to join. Whether or not Rwanda decides to become a member, the CISG will still apply to a large portion of its trade agreements, as about 100 countries are in fact CISG members, with a strong portion of those members also being trade partners with Rwanda. On the flip side, some Rwandan politicians believe that valuable autonomy would be lost if Rwanda assented to the CISG. However, given the potential benefits that Rwanda stands to gain from the CISG, these fears do not merit forgoing such a valuable opportunity.

Which of the following, if true, would be most likely to weaken the author’s argument that Rwanda should join the CISG?

Possible Answers:

The article was written several years ago, and in the elapsed time, many member countries to the CISG have withdrawn their membership.

Most Rwanda politicians encourage Rwanda to join the CISG. 

Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Thailand have since become CISG members.

The United States has a neutral stance as to whether Rwanda should join the CISG. 

The majority of Rwanda’s trade is conducted with Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Thailand.

Correct answer:

The article was written several years ago, and in the elapsed time, many member countries to the CISG have withdrawn their membership.

Explanation:

The option that would be most likely to weaken the author's argument is, "The article was written several years ago, and in the elapsed time, many member countries to the CISG have withdrawn their membership." Given that the CISG draws its power from the fact that many countries are a member, if countries began withdrawing their membership, the CISG would lose power. This would make it less enticing for Rwanda to join. 

A tempting wrong answer choice is "The United States has a neutral stance as to whether Rwanda should join the CISG." While this would not necessarily help the author's argument, it would not weaken it as much as the correct answer choice.

Example Question #1 : Humanities

Adapted from a text by Charles William Eliot in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

The third characteristic contribution that the United States has made to civilization has been the safe development of suffrage. The experience of the United States has brought out several principles with regard to the suffrage that have not been clearly apprehended by some eminent political philosophers.

In the first place, American experience has demonstrated the advantages of a gradual approach to universal suffrage over a sudden leap. Universal suffrage is not the first and only means of attaining democratic government; rather, it is the ultimate goal of successful democracy. It is not a cure-all for political ills; on the contrary, it may itself easily be the source of great political evils. When constituencies are large, it aggravates the well-known difficulties of party government; so that many of the ills which threaten democratic communities at this moment, whether in Europe or America, proceed from the breakdown of party government rather than from failures of expanded suffrage. The methods of party government were elaborated where suffrage was limited and constituencies were small. Manhood suffrage has not worked perfectly well in the United States, or in any other nation where it has been adopted, and it is not likely very soon to work perfectly anywhere. It is like freedom of the will for the individual—the only atmosphere in which virtue can grow, but an atmosphere in which vice can also grow. Like freedom of the will, it needs to be surrounded with checks and safeguards, but is the supreme good, the goal of perfected democracy. 

Secondly, like freedom of the will, expanded suffrage has an educational effect that has been mentioned by many writers, but seldom been clearly apprehended or adequately described. This educational effect is produced in two ways. In the first place, the combination of individual freedom with the social mobility a wide suffrage tends to produce permits the capable to rise through all grades of society, even within a single generation; and this freedom to rise is intensely stimulating to personal ambition. Thus capable Americans, from youth to age, are bent on bettering themselves and their conditions. Nothing can be more striking than the contrast between an average American laborer conscious that he can rise to the top of the social scale and a European worker who knows that he cannot rise out of his class and is content with his hereditary classification. 

In the second place, it is a direct effect of a broad suffrage that the voters become periodically interested in the discussion of grave public problems. In no field of human endeavor have the fruits of the introduction of steam and electrical power been more striking than in the methods of reaching multitudes of people with instructive narratives, expositions, and arguments. The multiplication of newspapers, magazines, and books is only one of the immense developments in the means of reaching the people. The interest in the minds of the people that prompts to the reading of these multiplied communications comes from the frequently recurring elections. The more difficult the intellectual problem presented in any given election, the more educative the effect of the discussion.

In these discussions, the people who supply the appeals to the receptive masses benefit alongside them. There is no better mental exercise for the most highly trained person than the effort to expound a difficult subject in so clear a way that an untrained person can understand it. The position of the educated and well-to-do is a thoroughly wholesome one in this respect: they cannot depend for the preservation of their advantages on land-owning, hereditary privilege, or any legislation not equally applicable to the poorest and humblest citizen. They must compete. They cannot live in a too-safe corner.

Which of the following, if true, would contradict the author's argument and opinions?

Possible Answers:

Elections in a nation are canceled, but people continue to read just as many newspapers and magazines at the same rate as before.

Many newspapers and pamphlets contain slanderous claims against political candidates not aligned with the paper's politics.

A prominent philosopher argues against women's suffrage in the United States.

Women read the newspapers even though they cannot vote.

Legislation favoring poorer citizens above wealthy ones is rejected.

Correct answer:

Elections in a nation are canceled, but people continue to read just as many newspapers and magazines at the same rate as before.

Explanation:

In the fourth paragraph, the author states, "The interest in the minds of the people that prompts to the reading of these multiplied communications comes from the frequently recurring elections," where "multiplied communications" refers to the increased number of "newspapers, magazines, and books" available due to technological advancements. If it were shown that people read just as many newspapers and magazines at the same rate when elections were canceled as before they were canceled, this would contradict the author's point that people are prompted to read newspapers and magazines by "the frequently recurring elections."

Example Question #1 : Humanities

Adapted from History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria in Light of Recent Discoveries by L. W. King and H. R. Hall (1906)

The killing and entombment of the royal servants is of the highest anthropological interest, for it throws a vivid light upon the manners of the time. The king was dead. But yet how could one really die? Shadows, dreams, and all kinds of phenomena which the primitive mind could not explain induced the belief that, though the outer man might rot, there was an inner man which could not die and still lived on. And where should this inner man still live on but in the tomb to which the outer man was consigned? And here, doubtless it was believed, in the house to which the body was consigned, the ghost lived on. And as each ghost had his house with the body, so no doubt all ghosts could communicate with one another from tomb to tomb; and so there grew up the belief in a tomb-world, a subterranean Egypt of tombs, in which the dead Egyptians still lived and had their being. Over this dread realm of dead men presided a dead god, Osiris of Abydos.

Now none could live without food, and men living under the earth needed it as much as men living on the earth. The royal tomb was thus provided with an enormous amount of earthly food for the use of the royal ghost. Royal slaves were needed to take care of all this provision, and to serve the ghost of the king. Ghosts only could serve ghosts, so that of the slaves ghosts had to be made. That was easily done; they died when their master died and followed him to the tomb. No doubt it seemed perfectly natural to all concerned, to the slaves as much as to anybody else. But it shows that an animate thing was hardly distinguished at this period from an inanimate thing. The most ancient Egyptians buried slaves with their kings as naturally as they buried jars of wine and bins of corn with them. Both were buried with a definite object. Of the sanctity of human life as distinct from other life, there was probably no idea at all. The royal ghost needed ghostly servants, and they were provided as a matter of course.

But as time progressed, the ideas of the Egyptians changed on these points, and in the later ages of the ancient world they were more humane, far more so than the Greeks, in fact. The cultured Hellenes murdered their prisoners of war without hesitation. Who has not been troubled in mind by the execution of Mkias and Demosthenes after the surrender of the Athenian army at Syracuse? When we compare this with Grant's refusal even to take Lee's sword at Appomattox, the difference is striking. But the Egyptians of Gylippus's time were probably more humane than the Greeks as well. When Amasis had his rival Apries in his power, he did not put him to death, but kept him as his coadjutor on the throne. Apries fled from him, allied himself with Greek pirates, and advanced against his generous rival. After his defeat and murder at Momemphis, Amasis gave him a splendid burial. When we compare this generosity to a beaten foe with the lack of it shown by the Assyrians, for instance, we see how far the later Egyptians had progressed in developing a respect for the lives of others.

Which of the following, if true, would most greatly contradict the author's opinions?

Possible Answers:

Neither the Ancient Egyptians nor their Ancient Greek contemporaries practiced human sacrifice.

Amasis wrote a eulogy for Apries praising his prowess in battle.

The Ancient Egyptians killed more of their prisoners of war than the contemporary Ancient Greeks did.

The Ancient Greeks who lived at the same time as the Ancient Egyptians discussed also had a belief system that involved an afterlife.

 When the pharaoh died, his or her pets were also killed and entombed with his or her remains.

Correct answer:

The Ancient Egyptians killed more of their prisoners of war than the contemporary Ancient Greeks did.

Explanation:

Of the provided answer choices, "The Ancient Egyptians killed more of their prisoners of war than the contemporary Ancient Greeks did" would most contradict the opinions that the author demonstrates in the passage. The author makes a point in the last paragraph to compare the Ancient Egyptians with the Ancient Greeks and argue that the Ancient Egyptians were more humane than the Ancient Greeks. He supports his argument with evidence in the form of the anecdotes, contrasting the execution of Mkias and Demosthenes by the Athenian army with the story about the Ancient Egyptian Amasis being lenient toward his rival, Apries. Thus, if it turned out that the Ancient Egyptians actually killed more of their prisoners of war than did the Ancient Greeks, this would provide evidence that would oppose the author's anecdotal evidence and suggest that the Ancient Egyptians were less humane than the contemporary Ancient Greeks.

Example Question #1 : Humanities

Adapted from Jack London’s The Road (1907)

Barring accidents, a good hobo, with youth and agility, can hold a train down despite all the efforts of the train-crew to "ditch" him—given, of course, night-time as an essential condition. When such a hobo, under such conditions, makes up his mind that he is going to hold her down, either he does hold her down, or chance trips him up. There is no legitimate way, short of murder, whereby the train-crew can ditch him. That train-crews have not stopped short of murder is a current belief in the tramp world. Not having had that particular experience in my tramp days I cannot vouch for it personally.

But this I have heard of the "bad" roads. When a tramp has "gone underneath," on the rods, and the train is in motion, there is apparently no way of dislodging him until the train stops. The tramp, snugly ensconced inside the truck, with the four wheels and all the framework around him, has the "cinch" on the crew—or so he thinks, until some day he rides the rods on a bad road. A bad road is usually one on which a short time previously one or several trainmen have been killed by tramps. Heaven pity the tramp who is caught "underneath" on such a road—for caught he is, though the train be going sixty miles an hour.

The "shack" (brakeman) takes a coupling-pin and a length of bell-cord to the platform in front of the truck in which the tramp is riding. The shack fastens the coupling-pin to the bell- cord, drops the former down between the platforms, and pays out the latter. The coupling-pin strikes the ties between the rails, rebounds against the bottom of the car, and again strikes the ties. The shack plays it back and forth, now to this side, now to the other, lets it out a bit and hauls it in a bit, giving his weapon opportunity for every variety of impact and rebound. Every blow of that flying coupling-pin is freighted with death, and at sixty miles an hour it beats a veritable tattoo of death. The next day the remains of that tramp are gathered up along the right of way, and a line in the local paper mentions the unknown man, undoubtedly a tramp, assumably drunk, who had probably fallen asleep on the track.

If the author included the perspective of the train crew, what effect would that have on the overall perspective of the passage?

Possible Answers:

It would portray the hobos in a less favorable light.

It would portray the train crew as malicious and vindictive.

It would make train crews much less sympathetic to the reader.

It would make the local newspapers look more untrustworthy.

It would create confusion over the actual circumstances of a hobo's death.

Correct answer:

It would portray the hobos in a less favorable light.

Explanation:

The author is fully on the side of the hobos, both because he was one and because he knows their stories better. The perspective of the train crew is in opposition to the author's statements about the unfortunate hobo who got caught underneath. Presumably a train crew would describe the hobo's actions in a much less favorable manner than the author does.

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