Question of the Day: PSAT Critical Reading
Adapted from “Two Ways of Seeing a River” in Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain (1883)
Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry had gone out of the majestic river! I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steam boating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the somber shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring.
I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home. But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight wrought upon the river's face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should have looked upon it without rapture, and should have commented upon it, inwardly, in this fashion: "This sun means that we are going to have wind tomorrow; that floating log means that the river is rising, small thanks to it; that slanting mark on the water refers to a bluff reef which is going to kill somebody's steamboat one of these nights, if it keeps on stretching out like that; that silver streak in the shadow of the forest is the 'break' from a new snag, and he has located himself in the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats; that tall dead tree, with a single living branch, is not going to last long, and then how is a body ever going to get through this blind place at night without the friendly old landmark?"
No, the romance and the beauty were all gone from the river. All the value any feature of it had for me now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of a steamboat. Since those days, I have pitied doctors from my heart. What does the lovely flush in a beauty's cheek mean to a doctor but a "break" that ripples above some deadly disease? Are not all her visible charms sown thick with what are to him the signs and symbols of hidden decay? Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesn't he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesn't he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?
The author references the experience of a doctor observing beauty to __________.
compare the rigors of medical practice with river boating
demonstrate the lack of romance in the medical profession
give additional detail about the nature of beauty
make a counterpoint about the perception of beauty
compare his experience with a similar one
When you are working toward a great college career and aiming for scholarships, you will need to prepare for the PSAT. This standardized test helps you qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, and is one of the points on your high school resume that proves to colleges that you are serious about your education. However, you shouldn’t cram at the last minute for this test, but instead, get in the habit of daily test practice with Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools, including Question of the Day.
As you prepare for the PSAT, you will prepare for two sections of this test – the Critical Reading, and the Mathematics sections. The Critical Reading section involves reading passages from famous works, then asking multiple-choice questions based on your understanding. One of the best ways to prepare for this section of the exam is using Learning Tools. With Question of the Day, you get a new question every day of the week, so you can spend at least a few minutes on daily test review leading up to your exam. This question is also based on past PSAT Critical Reading questions, so you get the best understanding of how the PSAT Critical Reading section will be formatted.
After you answer PSAT Critical Reading Question of the Day, you can immediately see whether you go the answer right or wrong. This alone is very helpful as you structure your PSAT Critical Reading test review, but it is not the only great study function that is offered. PSAT Critical Reading Question of the Day also tracks your progress as you answer more and more questions each day. You can watch your test review improve as you work hard using this great tool, because Question of the Day will show you a pie chart on the answer page that tracks your percentage of right and wrong answers as you go. You can even compare your answers to those of other students using Question of the Day to prepare for this complex section of the exam.
If you scroll to the bottom of the answer page, you will see an explanation of the correct answer. Even if you answered the question right, you might get new information from this detailed explanation that will help you on the PSAT Critical Reading section of the exam.
Most importantly, Question of the Day has a timer feature. You can take as much time answering this practice question as you need, but the actual PSAT has time limits on both sections. In order to prepare for the high pressure environment of the exam, you can use the timer feature on PSAT Critical Reading Question of the Day to get used to answering multiple-choice questions fast, but correctly. You can also discover how hard certain types of literature are for you to understand, so you can focus your PSAT study sessions on improving your understanding of literary devices and reading comprehension.
The free PSAT Critical Reading practice offered with Question of the Day is just one of the great study tools offered through Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools online.