Praxis Reading : Key Ideas and Details in Long Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Praxis Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Long Passages (200 400 Words)

Adapted from "The Colors of Animals" by Sir John Lubbock in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The color of animals is by no means a matter of chance; it depends on many considerations, but in the majority of cases tends to protect the animal from danger by rendering it less conspicuous. Perhaps it may be said that if coloring is mainly protective, there ought to be but few brightly colored animals. There are, however, not a few cases in which vivid colors are themselves protective. The kingfisher itself, though so brightly colored, is by no means easy to see. The blue harmonizes with the water, and the bird as it darts along the stream looks almost like a flash of sunlight.

Desert animals are generally the color of the desert. Thus, for instance, the lion, the antelope, and the wild donkey are all sand-colored. “Indeed,” says Canon Tristram, “in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary. Hence, without exception, the upper plumage of every bird, and also the fur of all the smaller mammals and the skin of all the snakes and lizards, is of one uniform sand color.”

The next point is the color of the mature caterpillars, some of which are brown. This probably makes the caterpillar even more conspicuous among the green leaves than would otherwise be the case. Let us see, then, whether the habits of the insect will throw any light upon the riddle. What would you do if you were a big caterpillar? Why, like most other defenseless creatures, you would feed by night, and lie concealed by day. So do these caterpillars. When the morning light comes, they creep down the stem of the food plant, and lie concealed among the thick herbage and dry sticks and leaves, near the ground, and it is obvious that under such circumstances the brown color really becomes a protection. It might indeed be argued that the caterpillars, having become brown, concealed themselves on the ground, and that we were reversing the state of things. But this is not so, because, while we may say as a general rule that large caterpillars feed by night and lie concealed by day, it is by no means always the case that they are brown; some of them still retaining the green color. We may then conclude that the habit of concealing themselves by day came first, and that the brown color is a later adaptation.

The example of the mature caterpillar in the third paragraph is primarily intended to demonstrate _____________.

Possible Answers:

None of these

how caterpillars have developed their specific coloring

the extreme variability of color patterns among insects

how genetic adaptation follows and aids behavioral patterns

the difficulty of explaining the reason behind specific color patterns in animals

Correct answer:

how genetic adaptation follows and aids behavioral patterns

Explanation:

In the third paragraph, the author describes the development of a brown coloring among certain mature caterpillars, which aids their survival in the daytime, when they hide among the sticks and twigs below their foods sources. It is clear that the author is arguing that the caterpillar’s coloring (“genetic adaptation”) follows and aids its habit of eating by night and hiding during the day (“behavioral patterns”) from the excerpt that reads, “We may then conclude that the habit of concealing themselves by day came first, and that the brown color is a later adaptation.”

Example Question #2 : Long Passages (200 400 Words)

Adapted from "The Colors of Animals" by Sir John Lubbock in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The color of animals is by no means a matter of chance; it depends on many considerations, but in the majority of cases tends to protect the animal from danger by rendering it less conspicuous. Perhaps it may be said that if coloring is mainly protective, there ought to be but few brightly colored animals. There are, however, not a few cases in which vivid colors are themselves protective. The kingfisher itself, though so brightly colored, is by no means easy to see. The blue harmonizes with the water, and the bird as it darts along the stream looks almost like a flash of sunlight.

Desert animals are generally the color of the desert. Thus, for instance, the lion, the antelope, and the wild donkey are all sand-colored. “Indeed,” says Canon Tristram, “in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary. Hence, without exception, the upper plumage of every bird, and also the fur of all the smaller mammals and the skin of all the snakes and lizards, is of one uniform sand color.”

The next point is the color of the mature caterpillars, some of which are brown. This probably makes the caterpillar even more conspicuous among the green leaves than would otherwise be the case. Let us see, then, whether the habits of the insect will throw any light upon the riddle. What would you do if you were a big caterpillar? Why, like most other defenseless creatures, you would feed by night, and lie concealed by day. So do these caterpillars. When the morning light comes, they creep down the stem of the food plant, and lie concealed among the thick herbage and dry sticks and leaves, near the ground, and it is obvious that under such circumstances the brown color really becomes a protection. It might indeed be argued that the caterpillars, having become brown, concealed themselves on the ground, and that we were reversing the state of things. But this is not so, because, while we may say as a general rule that large caterpillars feed by night and lie concealed by day, it is by no means always the case that they are brown; some of them still retaining the green color. We may then conclude that the habit of concealing themselves by day came first, and that the brown color is a later adaptation.

The example of the kingfisher in the first paragraph is intended to prove ______________.

Possible Answers:

that the color of an animal is not always adapted to match the background color of its environment

that the color of an animal is always adapted to match the background color of its environment

that the color of an animal is an extraneous detail, evolutionarily speaking

that the color of an animal is, statistically speaking, most likely to be adapted to match the background color of its environment

None of these answers; it is an anecdotal story designed to inject some levity into the passage

Correct answer:

that the color of an animal is not always adapted to match the background color of its environment

Explanation:

This question asks you to read the first paragraph carefully and to understand the argument that the author is making. Lubbock says, “Perhaps it may be said that if coloring is mainly protective, there ought to be but few brightly colored animals. There are, however, not a few cases in which vivid colors are themselves protective.” So, while the colors of different animals generally match their environment, sometimes there are cases in which vivid colors offer better protection, as in the case of the kingfisher. There is no one rule about how an animal’s coloring might be adapted. As the author says, “The blue harmonizes with the water, and the bird as it darts along the stream looks almost like a flash of sunlight.” So, the kingfisher is better protected by vibrant colors. This question asks you to relate a specific detail to the larger argument and logic of the passage.

Example Question #2 : Long Passages (200 400 Words)

Adapted from "The Colors of Animals" by Sir John Lubbock in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The color of animals is by no means a matter of chance; it depends on many considerations, but in the majority of cases tends to protect the animal from danger by rendering it less conspicuous. Perhaps it may be said that if coloring is mainly protective, there ought to be but few brightly colored animals. There are, however, not a few cases in which vivid colors are themselves protective. The kingfisher itself, though so brightly colored, is by no means easy to see. The blue harmonizes with the water, and the bird as it darts along the stream looks almost like a flash of sunlight.

Desert animals are generally the color of the desert. Thus, for instance, the lion, the antelope, and the wild donkey are all sand-colored. “Indeed,” says Canon Tristram, “in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary. Hence, without exception, the upper plumage of every bird, and also the fur of all the smaller mammals and the skin of all the snakes and lizards, is of one uniform sand color.”

The next point is the color of the mature caterpillars, some of which are brown. This probably makes the caterpillar even more conspicuous among the green leaves than would otherwise be the case. Let us see, then, whether the habits of the insect will throw any light upon the riddle. What would you do if you were a big caterpillar? Why, like most other defenseless creatures, you would feed by night, and lie concealed by day. So do these caterpillars. When the morning light comes, they creep down the stem of the food plant, and lie concealed among the thick herbage and dry sticks and leaves, near the ground, and it is obvious that under such circumstances the brown color really becomes a protection. It might indeed be argued that the caterpillars, having become brown, concealed themselves on the ground, and that we were reversing the state of things. But this is not so, because, while we may say as a general rule that large caterpillars feed by night and lie concealed by day, it is by no means always the case that they are brown; some of them still retaining the green color. We may then conclude that the habit of concealing themselves by day came first, and that the brown color is a later adaptation.

What is the main idea of this passage?

Possible Answers:

Animals inherit their coloration from their parents and pass on the same genes to their offspring

None of these

The color of an animal is not coincidental, but is an adaptation developed over time to aid its survival

The coloring of animals changes widely over time and in different parts of the world

The coloring of mature caterpillars is very difficult to explain without considering the behavior patterns they exhibit

Correct answer:

The color of an animal is not coincidental, but is an adaptation developed over time to aid its survival

Explanation:

The main argument made in this excerpt is that the coloring of animals is not coincidental, and that every animal is a particular color for a reason. Either the coloring matches with the environment to offer the animal some protection, or else it somehow supports the animal’s behavioral patterns. This idea is most clearly stated by the author in the opening sentence where he says, "The color of animals is by no means a matter of chance; it depends on many considerations . . . "

Example Question #4 : Long Passages (200 400 Words)

Adapted from "The Colors of Animals" by Sir John Lubbock in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The color of animals is by no means a matter of chance; it depends on many considerations, but in the majority of cases tends to protect the animal from danger by rendering it less conspicuous. Perhaps it may be said that if coloring is mainly protective, there ought to be but few brightly colored animals. There are, however, not a few cases in which vivid colors are themselves protective. The kingfisher itself, though so brightly colored, is by no means easy to see. The blue harmonizes with the water, and the bird as it darts along the stream looks almost like a flash of sunlight.

Desert animals are generally the color of the desert. Thus, for instance, the lion, the antelope, and the wild donkey are all sand-colored. “Indeed,” says Canon Tristram, “in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary. Hence, without exception, the upper plumage of every bird, and also the fur of all the smaller mammals and the skin of all the snakes and lizards, is of one uniform sand color.”

The next point is the color of the mature caterpillars, some of which are brown. This probably makes the caterpillar even more conspicuous among the green leaves than would otherwise be the case. Let us see, then, whether the habits of the insect will throw any light upon the riddle. What would you do if you were a big caterpillar? Why, like most other defenseless creatures, you would feed by night, and lie concealed by day. So do these caterpillars. When the morning light comes, they creep down the stem of the food plant, and lie concealed among the thick herbage and dry sticks and leaves, near the ground, and it is obvious that under such circumstances the brown color really becomes a protection. It might indeed be argued that the caterpillars, having become brown, concealed themselves on the ground, and that we were reversing the state of things. But this is not so, because, while we may say as a general rule that large caterpillars feed by night and lie concealed by day, it is by no means always the case that they are brown; some of them still retaining the green color. We may then conclude that the habit of concealing themselves by day came first, and that the brown color is a later adaptation.

Why is it particularly important for desert animals to match their coloration to the color of the desert?

Possible Answers:

Because the barren, sparse environment of the desert ensures a lack of natural protection and cover

Because the predators in the desert are especially quick and deadly

Because the color of the desert is remarkably similar to the natural colors of many animals

Because food and water are especially scarce in the desert

Because the color tones of the desert are particularly suited to swift evolutionary adaptation

Correct answer:

Because the barren, sparse environment of the desert ensures a lack of natural protection and cover

Explanation:

This question requires that you to pay attention to details and be able to interpret a small portion of text. In the relevant section, the author says, "in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary.” So, in the desert, there are no trees or changes in the surface of the earth to provide cover and protection (“inherent desolation”); therefore, it is especially vital for desert animals to mimic the color of their environment to ensure they can remain hidden. Understanding the reasoning behind this specific detail reveals an understanding of the overall logic of the passage.

Example Question #5 : Long Passages (200 400 Words)

Adapted from "The Colors of Animals" by Sir John Lubbock in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The color of animals is by no means a matter of chance; it depends on many considerations, but in the majority of cases tends to protect the animal from danger by rendering it less conspicuous. Perhaps it may be said that if coloring is mainly protective, there ought to be but few brightly colored animals. There are, however, not a few cases in which vivid colors are themselves protective. The kingfisher itself, though so brightly colored, is by no means easy to see. The blue harmonizes with the water, and the bird as it darts along the stream looks almost like a flash of sunlight.

Desert animals are generally the color of the desert. Thus, for instance, the lion, the antelope, and the wild donkey are all sand-colored. “Indeed,” says Canon Tristram, “in the desert, where neither trees, brushwood, nor even undulation of the surface afford the slightest protection to its foes, a modification of color assimilated to that of the surrounding country is absolutely necessary. Hence, without exception, the upper plumage of every bird, and also the fur of all the smaller mammals and the skin of all the snakes and lizards, is of one uniform sand color.”

The next point is the color of the mature caterpillars, some of which are brown. This probably makes the caterpillar even more conspicuous among the green leaves than would otherwise be the case. Let us see, then, whether the habits of the insect will throw any light upon the riddle. What would you do if you were a big caterpillar? Why, like most other defenseless creatures, you would feed by night, and lie concealed by day. So do these caterpillars. When the morning light comes, they creep down the stem of the food plant, and lie concealed among the thick herbage and dry sticks and leaves, near the ground, and it is obvious that under such circumstances the brown color really becomes a protection. It might indeed be argued that the caterpillars, having become brown, concealed themselves on the ground, and that we were reversing the state of things. But this is not so, because, while we may say as a general rule that large caterpillars feed by night and lie concealed by day, it is by no means always the case that they are brown; some of them still retaining the green color. We may then conclude that the habit of concealing themselves by day came first, and that the brown color is a later adaptation.

The tone of this passage is __________.

Possible Answers:

serene

noble

irate

abrasive

authoritative

Correct answer:

authoritative

Explanation:

This passage reads like an academic essay with a clear and focused thesis. There is little tonal inflection one way or another, so answering this question is probably most easily done by eliminating answer choices that are definitely incorrect. For example, the author is definitely not “irate” (angry) or “abrasive” (rude and offensive). Likewise, he is not really “serene” (peaceful). That leaves “humble” and “authoritative,” which are in many ways opposites of one another. As the author’s argument is well laid out and seems to offer little room for compromise, we can reasonably deduce his tone is more “authoritative” than it is “noble.”

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