Varsity Tutors always has a different PSAT Critical Reading Question of the Day ready at your disposal! If you’re just looking to get a quick review into your busy day, our PSAT Critical Reading Question of the Day is the perfect option. Answer enough of our PSAT Critical Reading Question of the Day problems and you’ll be ready to ace the next test. Check out what today’s PSAT Critical Reading Question of the Day is below.

Question of the Day: PSAT Critical Reading

Adapted from "Taking a Second Look: An Analysis of Genetic Markers in Species Relatedness" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Phylogenetics is the study of genetic composition in various species and is used by evolutionary biologists to investigate similarities in the molecular sequences of proteins in varying organisms. The amino acid sequences that build proteins are used to construct mathematical matrices that aid in determining evolutionary ties through the investigation of percentage similarities. The study of these matrices helps to expose evolutionary relationships between species that may not have the same overt characteristics.

Species adapt and evolve based on the pressures that exist in their environment. Climate, food source, and habitat availability are only a few factors that act on species adaptation. These stressors can alter the physical characteristics of organisms. This divergence in evolution has made it difficult to determine the interrelatedness of organisms by analyzing their physical characteristics alone.

For instance, looking only at physical characteristics, the ghost bat resembles a pigeon more than a spider monkey; however, phylogenetics has found that the amino acid sequences that construct the beta hemoglobin molecules of bats are twenty percent more similar to those of mammalian primates than those of birds. This helps reject the assumption that common physical characteristics between species are all that is needed to determine relatedness. 

The differences produced by divergent evolution observed in the forest-dwelling, arboreal spider monkey and the nocturnal, airborne ghost bat can be reconciled through homology. Homologous characteristics are anatomical traits that are similar in two or more different species. For instance, the bone structure of a spider monkey’s wrist and fingers greatly resembles that of a bat’s wing or even a whale’s fin. These similarities are reinforced by phylogenetic evidence that supports the idea that physically dissimilar species can be evolutionarily related through anatomical and genetic similarities.

According to the passage, the hemoglobin structure of a bat is most similar to which of the following animals?




Spider monkey

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.

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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.

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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.

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