TACHS Reading : Social Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for TACHS Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #4 : Tachs: Reading

Adapted from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax (1910)

The big ranches of the West are now being cut up into small farms. The nester has come, and come to stay. Gone is the buffalo, the Indian warwhoop, the free grass of the open plain—even the stinging lizard, the horned frog, the centipede, the prairie dog, the rattlesnake, are fast disappearing. Save in some of the secluded valleys of southern New Mexico, the old-time round-up is no more; the trails to Kansas and to Montana have become grass-grown or lost in fields of waving grain; the maverick steer, the regal longhorn, has been supplanted by his unpoetic but more beefy and profitable Polled Angus, Durham, and Hereford cousins from across the seas. The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song. The last figure to vanish is the cowboy, the animating spirit of the vanishing era. He sits his horse easily as he rides through a wide valley, enclosed by mountains, clad in the hazy purple of coming night,—with his face turned steadily down the long, long road, "the road that the sun goes down." Dauntless, reckless, without the unearthly purity of Sir Galahad though as gentle to a woman as King Arthur, he is truly a knight of the twentieth century. A vagrant puff of wind shakes a corner of the crimson handkerchief knotted loosely at his throat; the thud of his pony's feet mingling with the jingle of his spurs is borne back; and as the careless, gracious, lovable figure disappears over the divide, the breeze brings to the ears, faint and far yet cheery still, the refrain of a cowboy song.

Why does the author open the passage with a list of disappearing species of the plains?

Possible Answers:

To describe the sparse economic resources that cowboys had available to them

To highlight the bravery of the cowboys

To compare the cowboy to other disappearing figures of the American West

To give the reader important quantitative data about the ecology of the American West

Correct answer:

To compare the cowboy to other disappearing figures of the American West

Explanation:

The author starts the paragraph by describing how the whole of the western landscape, including the animals that live there, is changing. He then shifts into a discussion of cowboys with this transition: “The last figure to vanish is the cowboy, the animating spirit of the vanishing era.” In this way, the author puts the cowboy into context by comparing him to other classic—and disappearing—figures of the American West.

Example Question #1 : Meaning Of Words And Phrases

Adapted from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax (1910)

 The big ranches of the West are now being cut up into small farms. The nester has come, and come to stay. Gone is the buffalo, the Indian warwhoop, the free grass of the open plain;—even the stinging lizard, the horned frog, the centipede, the prairie dog, the rattlesnake, are fast disappearing. Save in some of the secluded valleys of southern New Mexico, the old-time round-up is no more; the trails to Kansas and to Montana have become grass-grown or lost in fields of waving grain; the maverick steer, the regal longhorn, has been supplanted by his unpoetic but more beefy and profitable Polled Angus, Durham, and Hereford cousins from across the seas. The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song. The last figure to vanish is the cowboy, the animating spirit of the vanishing era. He sits his horse easily as he rides through a wide valley, enclosed by mountains, clad in the hazy purple of coming night,—with his face turned steadily down the long, long road, "the road that the sun goes down." Dauntless, reckless, without the unearthly purity of Sir Galahad though as gentle to a woman as King Arthur, he is truly a knight of the twentieth century. A vagrant puff of wind shakes a corner of the crimson handkerchief knotted loosely at his throat; the thud of his pony's feet mingling with the jingle of his spurs is borne back; and as the careless, gracious, lovable figure disappears over the divide, the breeze brings to the ears, faint and far yet cheery still, the refrain of a cowboy song.

Which of the following options best expresses the meaning of the underlined and bolded section of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Arthurian knights and cowboys are exactly the same

While cowboys might not be spoken about in as lofty terms, their behavior is as praiseworthy as that of Arthurian knights

None of these

While their behavior is similar, cowboys are more venal and greedy than Arthurian knights

Correct answer:

While cowboys might not be spoken about in as lofty terms, their behavior is as praiseworthy as that of Arthurian knights

Explanation:

This sentence makes a comparison between Arthurian heroes and cowboys. The key distinction here is one of class, while the knights are high class, and thus ascribed in legend a level of "purity" the cowboys are working class people. They are not valorized as pure or virtuous in the same way, but according to the author his behavior would justify such a comparison.

Example Question #1 : Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax (1910)

 The big ranches of the West are now being cut up into small farms. The nester has come, and come to stay. Gone is the buffalo, the Indian warwhoop, the free grass of the open plain;—even the stinging lizard, the horned frog, the centipede, the prairie dog, the rattlesnake, are fast disappearing. Save in some of the secluded valleys of southern New Mexico, the old-time round-up is no more; the trails to Kansas and to Montana have become grass-grown or lost in fields of waving grain; the maverick steer, the regal longhorn, has been supplanted by his unpoetic but more beefy and profitable Polled Angus, Durham, and Hereford cousins from across the seas. The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song. The last figure to vanish is the cowboy, the animating spirit of the vanishing era. He sits his horse easily as he rides through a wide valley, enclosed by mountains, clad in the hazy purple of coming night,—with his face turned steadily down the long, long road, "the road that the sun goes down." Dauntless, reckless, without the unearthly purity of Sir Galahad though as gentle to a woman as King Arthur, he is truly a knight of the twentieth century. A vagrant puff of wind shakes a corner of the crimson handkerchief knotted loosely at his throat; the thud of his pony's feet mingling with the jingle of his spurs is borne back; and as the careless, gracious, lovable figure disappears over the divide, the breeze brings to the ears, faint and far yet cheery still, the refrain of a cowboy song.

The next paragraph is most likely to contain __________.

Possible Answers:

a comparison to Southern American revolutionaries

a scathing critique of the Wild West lifestyle

a specific description of cowboy songs

a discussion of best practices for the ranching industry

Correct answer:

a specific description of cowboy songs

Explanation:

This passage functions as an introduction of the American cowboy, so it is unlikely that the next paragraph will do the exact same thing. More likely, the next paragraph will expound on what this one mentioned at the end: the cowboy song. Also, earlier in the paragraph the author mentions that, “The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song.” If he wants to tell us more about the West, it would make sense that he discusses the songs to do so.

Example Question #1 : Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax (1910)

The big ranches of the West are now being cut up into small farms. The nester has come, and come to stay. Gone is the buffalo, the Indian warwhoop, the free grass of the open plain—even the stinging lizard, the horned frog, the centipede, the prairie dog, the rattlesnake, are fast disappearing. Save in some of the secluded valleys of southern New Mexico, the old-time round-up is no more; the trails to Kansas and to Montana have become grass-grown or lost in fields of waving grain; the maverick steer, the regal longhorn, has been supplanted by his unpoetic but more beefy and profitable Polled Angus, Durham, and Hereford cousins from across the seas. The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song. The last figure to vanish is the cowboy, the animating spirit of the vanishing era. He sits his horse easily as he rides through a wide valley, enclosed by mountains, clad in the hazy purple of coming night,—with his face turned steadily down the long, long road, "the road that the sun goes down." Dauntless, reckless, without the unearthly purity of Sir Galahad though as gentle to a woman as King Arthur, he is truly a knight of the twentieth century. A vagrant puff of wind shakes a corner of the crimson handkerchief knotted loosely at his throat; the thud of his pony's feet mingling with the jingle of his spurs is borne back; and as the careless, gracious, lovable figure disappears over the divide, the breeze brings to the ears, faint and far yet cheery still, the refrain of a cowboy song.

Which of the following does NOT fit with the author’s description of the cowboy?

Possible Answers:

Heroic

Romantic

Hot-headed

Symbolic

Correct answer:

Hot-headed

Explanation:

The author describes the cowboy in a very positive light: “Dauntless, reckless . . . he is truly a knight of the twentieth century.” From that section alone, the reader can tell that the author thinks of the cowboy not only as daring, but also as a romanticized hero and a symbol of the era. He does not mention anything about the cowboys’ temper, and “hot-headed” does not fit with this description.

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