ACT Form 74C Reading Answer Explanations
Passage I: literary narrative
1. Which of the following questions is specifically answered in Passage A?
A. Why is the character referred to as “you” leaving Memphis?
B. Why is the blond woman traveling to Palm Beach?
C. What is the blond woman thinking about at the end of the passage?
D. Where is the blond woman from originally?
The answer can be found in lines 21 to 21:
She tells you about the man she’s taking the bus to see.
The blond woman is traveling to Palm Beach to see a man.
Lines 22 – 25:
Says my eyes are as blue as the Atlantic Ocean, and he can’t bear to look at the thing but one more time if I’m not there with him.
The phrase “the thing” has to refer to a singular noun that has been said in previous sentences. Therefore, it can’t be “eyes”; choice G is wrong. Of the other choices (“A construction job”, “the Atlantic Ocean”, and “A bus”), only the Atlantic Ocean is something that people would commonly ‘see’ with romantic partners.
3. As it is used in line 35, the phrase “every occasional home” most nearly suggests that on the bus trip, the main characters of Passage A are passing through an area in which:
A. the porches of some homes intermittently glow from the light of fireflies.
B. most homes do not have a porch light on.
C. particularly large and bright fireflies swarm around a few of the homes.
D. the few homes built there are situated far apart.
Lines 34 – 35:
Firefly porch lights are perched, fat and throbbing, outside every occasional home you pass.
The word ‘occasional’ suggests that the bus passes by each home infrequently, meaning that homes are situated far apart.
4. Throughout Passage B, the girl’s reaction to the narrator is to:
F. pay no attention to him.
G. engage him in conversation.
H. view him as an annoying intruder.
J. express surprise to discover she’s not alone.
The narrator throughout Passage B only acts as a passive observer of the girl, and had no direct interaction with her.
5. The narrator of Passage B hopes that the girl will fail at opening the window. Based on Passage B as a whole, this hope most strongly captures the:
A. girl’s helplessness and her uncertain future.
B. narrator’s typical foul mood and dark state of mind.
C. three young boys’ pleasure in seeing their sister off.
D. train conductor’s impatience with the girl’s behavior.
The last paragraph:
Elated, I raised my head and gazed at the girl with very different eyes. For the first time I was able to forget, at least for a moment, my unspeakable fatigue and this tedious life.
The underlined sentence suggests that knowing why the girl opened the window (so that she could give oranges to her younger brothers for seeing her off) changed the narrator’s dark state of mind that views life as unspeakably tedious.
6. It can most reasonably be inferred from Passage B that the girl frantically tries to open the window because she needs to:
F. be able to throw oranges to her brothers.
G. prove to herself that she would be able to open the heavy window in an emergency.
H. create space between herself and the narrator.
J. freshen the stagnant air in the train with a cool breeze.
Lines 81 – 85:
I knew immediately the meaning of it all. This girl, perhaps leaving home now to go into service as a maid or an apprentice, had been carrying in her bundle these oranges and tossed them to her younger brothers as a token of gratitude for coming to see her off.
The underlined indicates that the girl tried to open the window because she need to throw oranges to her bothers who came to see her off.
7. In Passage B, which of the following pairs of actions most clearly cues the narrator that someone is about to board the train at the last minute?
A. The cursing of the conductor and the screech of the train’s brakes
B. The bursting open of the second-class-carriage door and the rustle of paper parcels
C. The clattering of clogs and the cursing of the conductor
D. The shouting of a young girl and the clattering of clogs
Lines 44 – 48:
But then I heard coming from the ticket-gate the clattering of dry weather clogs, followed immediately by the cursing of the conductor. The door of the second-class carriage was flung open, and a 13- or 14-year-old girl came bursting in.
The clattering of clogs and the cursing of the conductor was followed by the ‘bursting in’ of “a 13- or 14-year-old girl”. The clattering of clogs was likely caused by the conductor’s sudden braking on the train because he need to stop the train to let the girl in, and the conductor was apparently annoyed by having to do this so much that he cursed.
8. Which of the following elements is most clearly similar in the two passages?
F. The occasional use of the second person point of view
G. The time period in which each passage-is set
H. The- inclusion of key bits of dialogue between characters
J. The situational premise of the plot
The situation premise of both Passage A and Passage B is that the narrator encounters a stranger who is also fellow commuter.
9. Among the characters in both passages, which one is portrayed as being most interested in having a conversation?
B. The 13- or 14-year-old girl
C. The narrator of Passage B
D. The blond woman
Lines 9 – 11:
You motion to your open novel and shrug as if to say, “Can’t stop now,” but she asks, “Where you from?” and now you can’t shake her.
The narrator’s body language says, ‘don’t talk to me. I’m in the middle of something.’ But the blond woman ignored the nonverbal signs and initiated a conversation with the narrator. Therefore the blond woman is most eager to talk.
10. Which of the following statements best describes how both “you” of Passage A and the narrator of Passage B react when they first see the blond woman and the young girl, respectively?
F. They consider the other character to be somewhat pitiful looking.
G. They are angry that the other character has delayed their departure.
H. They are surprised by the other character’s reason for traveling.
J. They believe the other character is enviable because life seems so easy for her.
“You” of Passage A describes the blond woman as such in Lines 13 – 16:
It’s not the straw-blond hair teased up around her face, not even the sad, neglected teeth that make you want to turn off the overhead reading lamp and smile at her in the dark.
The narrator of Passage B describes the girl as such in lines 50 – 59:
I raised my eyes to look for the first time at the girl seated now on the opposite side. She wore her lusterless hair drawn up into a bun, in the traditional shape of a gingko leaf. Apparently from constant rubbing of her nose and mouth with the back of her hand, her cheeks were chapped and red. A grimy woolen scarf of yellowish green hung loosely down to her knees, on which she held a large bundle wrapped m cloth. To blot her existence, I took out my newspaper, and began to read.
In both cases, the narrators think that the other characters are so pitiful looking that they do not want anything to do with the other characters.
Passage II: social science
11. As it is used in line 3, the phrase “the rougher fringes” most nearly means the same as which of the following phrases?
A. “The fire of adventure” (line 9)
B. “An epic ocean voyage” (lines 32-33)
C. “A glittering hieroglyph” (line 64)
D. “Skirts of civilization” (lines 69-70)
Lines 1 – 3:
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) preferred to circumnavigate civilization, with its increasing reliance on contraptions, and steer toward the rougher fringes.
The opening sentence describes Robert Louis Stevenson as someone who ‘circumnavigate’, or, sail or fly around, civilization by its fringes, i.e. ‘skirts of civilization’.
12. It can reasonably be concluded that the passage author is a credible source of biographical information about Stevenson because the passage author:
F. traveled to several towns and countries where Stevenson lived and worked to research him.
G. has read Stevenson’s two most popular novels, Kidnapped and Treasure Island.
H. worked for a time in the offices of D. & T. Stevenson, Engineers, as Stevenson had.
J. comes from Edinburgh, where the adventure of Stevenson’s final years took place.
The detail can be found in lines 48 – 55:
I have shadowed Stevenson up to the northeast of Scotland, where he tried his hand at being an apprentice engineer, back down to the Hawes Inn at South Queensferry, where David Balfour is tricked into going to sea in Kidnapped. There are landmarks in Switzerland, France and on the Pacific Islands where the adventure of his final years took place.
13. The main idea of the second paragraph (lines 13-22) is that:
A. Stevenson’s grandfather insisted his sons become educated in civil engineering.
B. Stevenson was a modem man whose engineering talents were suppressed by his desire to be a writer.
C. Stevenson’s father earned greater esteem for his louvre-boarded screens than Stevenson’s grandfather did for his lighthouses.
D. Stevenson was the grandson, son, and nephew of men respected for their technological genius.
The details can be found in Lines 13 – 22:
Stevenson, though, was destined to be a modern man. He was born into a Scottish family of civil engineers, esteemed for its technological genius. His grandfather, also Robert, was Britain’s greatest builder of lighthouses, and his graceful towers continue to guide sailors today. Three of Robert’s sons followed him into the profession, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s father, Thomas, who made his own mark in the field of optics-his louvre-boarded screens for the protection of thermometers are still in use today.
14. The main idea of the fifth paragraph (lines 56-70) is that:
F. the plot of one of Stevenson’s books was inspired by his vision of electric lights in London.
G. Stevenson envisioned the use of electric streetlights in London before they became reality.
H. Stevenson longed for a time when electricity would replace flickering gas lamps.
J. Stevenson realized that his father’s improvements in optics would become the “technological miracle of the future.”
The fifth paragraph (lines 56-70):
Recently, I stumbled across Abernethy House where Stevenson lived briefly in London when he was 23. It stands in a secluded comer of Hampstead, high up on a hill, and separated from foggy London by farms and heath. It was while standing on Hampstead Hill one night that he gazed down on London and imagined a technological miracle of the future, “when in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the design of the monstrous city flashes into vision-a glittering hieroglyph. ” He is anticipating the effects of electricity and a time when the streetlamps would be lighted ”not one by one” by the faithful old lamplighter, but all at once, by the touch of a button. Not for him improvements in optics; give him the flickering gas lamp and the “skirts of civilization” any day.
The underlined indicates that Stevenson was merely imagining the use of electric street-lights as ‘technological miracle of the future’, and therefore had not become reality at the time.
15. According to the passage, which of the professions listed below did Stevenson enter into?
I. Apprentice engineer
A. IV only
B. I, II, and IV only
C. I, III, and IV only
D. III, IV, and V only
The detail of Stevenson going into engineer apprenticeship (I) can be found in Lines 51-51:
I have shadowed Stevenson up to the northeast of Scotland, where he tried his hand at being an apprentice engineer …
The detail of Stevenson becoming a mariner (II) can be found in Lines 87-88:
A year later, Stevenson chartered a schooner and became a mariner himself, …
That Stevenson became a writer is the whole point of the passage.
16. The passage author most likely uses the description in lines 10-12 in order to:
F. emphasize how little technological progress had taken place during Stevenson’s lifetime.
G. stress that Stevenson was increasingly dependent on modern inventions.
H. create a visual image that helps make Stevenson’s opinion about progress more vivid.
J. illustrate that Stevenson was an avid sword fighter.
Lines 10 – 12:
Stevenson loved the sound of clashing swords; he didn’t want them getting tangled up in telephone wires overhead.
Here the author was writing metaphorically. The sentence means that Stevenson prefers old ways of doing things rather than those facilitated by modern inventions.
17. As it is used in line 24, the phrase “a great wringing of hands” most nearly refers to the Stevenson family’s:
A. dismay over Stevenson’s announcement that he wasn’t joining the family business.
B. disapproval of Stevenson’s slovenly appearance and poor diet.
C. humiliation at Stevenson publicly renouncing the family business in favor of traveling.
D. consternation at receiving Stevenson’s letters pleading to have his family accept his choice.
Lines 23 – 25:
It was expected that Robert Louis would enter the family business in turn, and a great wringing of hands greeted his announcement to the contrary.
Stevenson’s ‘announcement to the contrary’ can be found in the following sentence:
He told his father that he wanted to be a writer, which Thomas Stevenson regarded as no profession at all.
Thomas Stevenson, Robert’s father, did not consider writer as a legitimate profession and expressed disappointment over Robert’s announcement that he intended to become one.
18. It can most reasonably be inferred from the passage that as a traveler, Stevenson:
F. thought reaching the destination was what made the trip worthwhile.
G. encouraged other young men, to take up traveling rather than pursue an education.
H. was searching for a model for the character David Balfour in Kidnapped.
J. was happiest when he was on an adventure with no itinerary.
Lines 35 – 38:
“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go,” he wrote in Travels With a Donkey (1879). “I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
Stevenson means that the great thing about traveling is traveling itself, not reaching the destination. Therefore, it can be inferred that traveling with no set destination in mind is what made him happy.
Line 55 – 56:
Recently, I stumbled across Abernethy House where Stevenson lived briefly in London when he was 23.
The author found Abernethy House by accident. The phrase stumbled across means ‘found by accident’.
20. According to the passage, at the time of his death, Thomas Stevenson was:
F. estranged from Robert Louis, who had refused to join the family business.
G. unaware that his name would become associated with lighthouses.
H. more famous than his son, who was by that time a popular author.
J. not widely known himself, but the results of his work were familiar the world over.
Lines 85 – 86:
Thomas Stevenson’s name may not have been widely known, yet “all the time, his lights were in every part of the world, guiding the mariner.”
Even though Thomas Stevenson’s name was not well known, lights, the results of his work, were everywhere in the world.
Passage III: Humanities
21. The passage author’s reaction to which of the following experiences best exemplifies the point that she brings her own cultural intuition to her reading and research?
A. Learning about Bruchac’s perspective on ancient traditional tales
B. Reading a portrayal of kivas in a Pueblo book
C. Presenting her research to a Pueblo community other than her own
D. Discussing the oral narrative with Silko
The detail can be found in lines 71 – 85, where the author questions the portrayal of kivas which is different from her own perception of them:
I draw upon both my cultural intuition and knowledge when reading a book about Pueblo Indians… McDermott’s kivas are frightening places of trial and battle, but I know kivas are safe places of worship and instruction.
22. The main purpose of the first paragraph (lines 1-24) is to:
F. explain how traditional stories change as they are passed from one generation to the next.
G. discuss the value of traditional stories and their functions within a community.
H. contrast the purposes of folktales with those of myths and legends.
J. demonstrate that folktales measure how a culture’s worldview has changed over time.
Lines 1 – 24:
…[Traditional stories] are more than simple entertainment. They matter in significant ways-to the well-being of the communities from which they originate… [and were] the medium by which the Pueblo people transmitted “an entire culture, a worldview complete with proven strategies for survival.”
Traditional stories are more valuable than simple entertainment, and have significant function of transmitting proven strategies for survival.
23. The passage author most strongly suggests that a particular group would deem one of its own stories to be unacceptable if, during a telling, the storyteller:
A. incorporated new details into the story.
B. used his or her own experiences to interpret one event in the story.
C. agreed with an audience member’s adding a detail to the story.
D. significantly changed the spirit of the story.
The answer can be found in lines 40 – 45:
A storyteller may revise a story according to his or her own interpretation, or according to the knowledge of the audience, but in order for it to be acceptable to the group from which the story originated, it should remain true to the spirit and content of the original.
24. One function of the passage author’s statement that her home pueblo is very different from the other pueblos in New Mexico is to:
F. describe the culture and traditions of her home pueblo.
G. help support her later analysis and critique of McDermott’s book.
H. directly compare the stories of several American Indian tribal nations to those of her tribe.
J. list the criteria she uses to evaluate books marketed as “Native American folktales.”
The author’s statement that her home pueblo is very different from the others can be found in line 67 – 69:
…my home pueblo is very different from the other pueblos in New Mexico,…
And later in the author’s analysis of McDermott’s book, she pointed out because there are so many different kinds of pueblos, it was problematic not to specify which pueblo the book is about.
25. The passage author most strongly implies that whether Pueblo elders will approve a book for the children of their community depends on the book’s:
A. entertainment value compared to similar books.
B. popularity among other tribal members.
C. appropriateness and relevance to that community’s cultural values.
D. successful representation of the worldview of many cultural groups.
The answer can be found in the last paragraph:
Depictions that are culturally acceptable at one Pueblo are not necessarily acceptable at a different Pueblo. As such, elders at one Pueblo would say the book could be used with their children, while ‘elders at another Pueblo would disagree. This is not a question of cultural authenticity; it is one of appropriateness in teaching, given a specific audience.
Elders at different pueblos will disagree upon whether certain depictions can be used with children.
26. As she is presented in the passage, Silko indicates that one purpose of Laguna Pueblo hunting stories was to help hunters:
F. locate and rescue lost hunters from other tribes.
G. document the number of successful hunts from one season to the next.
H. identify the behavior and migration patterns of game.
J. find caches of food by following trails made by pinon-nut gatherers.
The answer can be found in lines 15 – 17:
These accounts contained information of critical importance about the behavior and migration patterns of mule deer.
27. The passage author most directly connects her knowledge of the distinctions between and across American Indian tribal nations to her experiences as:
A. a scholar in American Indian studies.
B. a friend of McDermott.
C. an editor of picture books marketed as “Native American folktales.”
D. an elder in her Nambe Pueblo community.
The answer can be found in lines 65 – 67:
As a scholar in American Indian studies, I know there are great distinctions between and across American Indian tribal nations.
Lines 66 – 67:
I know there are great distinctions between and across American Indian tribal nations.
The word great means large in extent, or significant here.
29. Which of the following characteristics among the several Pueblo communities in New Mexico does the passage author most directly use as evidence of their diversity?
A. Their vast’ geographic differences
B. Their disparity in resources
C. Their varied approaches to parenting
D. Their several different language groups
The answer can be found in lines 65 – 70:
I know there are great distinctions between and across American Indian tribal nations. For instance, my home pueblo is very different from the other pueblos in New Mexico, among which there are several different language groups.
The answer can be found in lines 84- 85:
…I know kivas are safe places of worship and instruction.
Passage IV: Natural Science
31. The passage as a whole can best be described as:
A. an argument for eradicating weeds in urban areas.
B. a discussion of the factors that contribute to the survival of weeds in urban environments.
C. a report on the need for increased vegetation in cities and suburbs.
D. a discussion of how environmentalists are changing their attitudes toward so-called weeds.
The passage discusses factors that cause the survival of weeds in unban environment as such:
– How weeds are brought to urban environment (lines 1 – 21)
– How weeds are able to adapt to harsh environments (lines 49 – 70)
– Weeds need to be flexible in all aspects of its life history to be successful (lines 71 – 86)
32. Based on how the following four perspectives are outlined in the second paragraph (lines 22-39), which one would the author most likely share?
F. A utilitarian perspective
G. An agricultural perspective
H. A biological perspective
J. A city dweller’s perspective
The sentences of the second paragraph are rearranged as follows for easy reading:
From a utilitarian perspective, a weed is any plant that grows on its own where people do not want it to grow.
From the biological perspective, weeds are opportunistic plants that are adapted to disturbance in all its myriad forms, from bulldozers to acid rain. Their pervasiveness in the urban environment is simply a reflection of the continual disruption that characterizes that habitat-they are not its cause.
In an agricultural context, the competition of weeds with economic crops is the primary reason for controlling them.
In an urban area, a weed is any plant growing where people are trying to cultivate something else, or keep clear of vegetation altogether. The complaints of city dwellers are usually based on aesthetics (the plants are perceived as ugly, or as signs of blight and neglect) or on security concerns (they shield human activity or provide habitat for vermin).
This passage is categorized under “natural science”. Of course, the author will share with the biological perspective.
33. It is reasonable to infer that, in the author’s opinion, spontaneous vegetation (line 4) is most unlike which of the following types of plants mentioned in the passage?
A. Common ragweed (line 14)
B. Economic crops (line 32)
C. Urban plants (line 57)
D. Calcium-loving grassland species (lines 68-69)
The spontaneous vegetation is a type of weed (line 4) which competes with ‘economic crops’ (line 32). Therefore, the former is the opposite of the latter.
34. Which of the following opinions regarding weeds adapting to rather than causing a changing habitat is most clearly implied by the passage?
F. Removing weeds from places they are considered undesirable is simpler than people realize.
G. Weeds have wrongly been blamed for contributing to certain kinds of deterioration in urban areas.
H. Changing people’s minds about weeds has caused a pervasive acceptance of them in urban areas.
J. City vegetation reflects that the life cycle of weeds is simpler than that of cultivated plants.
Lines 28 – 31:
Their pervasiveness in the urban environment is simply a reflection of the continual disruption that characterizes that habitat – they are not its cause.
It is not the weeds that cause deterioration in urban areas. Quite the opposite, it’s the deterioration in urban areas that cause the pervasiveness of weeds.
Lines 5 – 6:
…Greenery fills the vacant spaces between our roads, homes, and businesses;…
Plants that grow in the vacant spaces between our roads, homes, and businesses are not manually grown, and are by definition weeds.
36. Based on the passage, in comparison to Gilbert’s observation in his book, the scientific study by Lundholm and Marlin can best be described as:
F. complementary; Gilbert reached a conclusion similar to the one reached by Lundholm and Marlin.
G. contrasting; Lundholm and Marlin conducted a more recent study that questions the note in Gilbert’s book.
H. interdependent; Lundholm and Marlin used Gilbert’s book as a foundation for their study.
J. irrelevant; Gilbert was studying the ecology of urban habitats, while Lundholm and Marlin studied natural environments with high pH soils.
The scientific study by Lundholm and Marlin can be located in lines 55 – 64:
Lundholm of St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and his then student Ashley Marlin, concluded that many successful urban plants are native to exposed cliffs, disturbed rock outcrops, or dry grasslands, all of which are characterized by soils with a relatively high pH. Cities, with their tall, granite-faced buildings and concrete foundations, are in a sense the equivalent of the natural limestone cliff habitats where those species originated.
Gilbert’s observation can be found in lines 64 – 70:
Similarly, as the British ecologist and “lichen hunter” Oliver L. Gilbert noted in his classic book The Ecology of Urban Habitats, the increased use of deicing salts on our roads and highways has resulted in the development of microhabitats along their margins that are typically colonized by calcium-loving grassland species adapted to limestone soils or by salt-loving plants from coastal habitats.
Notice the word similarly that linked the description of the two studies. The word suggests that the two studies are similar in their conclusions. Both conclude that man-made environment rich in salt mimick the native environment where the successful urban plants originate.
37. The last paragraph most strongly suggests that the author’s attitude toward so-called weeds in urban areas is one of:
A. alarm due to the threat they pose to native plants.
B. concern as he fears they will not survive in their new habitat.
C. annoyance over the manner in which they contribute to urban decay.
D. respect for their ability to adapt to a wide array of challenging conditions.
The last paragraph:
In general, the successful urban plant needs to be flexible in all aspects of its life history, from seed germination through flowering and fruiting; opportunistic in its ability to take advantage of locally abundant 75 resources that may be available for only a short time; and tolerant of the stressful growing conditions caused by an abundance of pavement and a paucity of soil. The plants that grow in our cities managed to survive the transition from one land use to another as cities developed. The sequence starts with native species adapted to ecological conditions before the city was built. Those are followed, more or less in order, by species preadapted to agriculture and pasturage, to pavement and compacted soil, to lawns and landscaping, to infra- 85 structure edges and environmental pollution-and ultimately to vacant lots and rubble.
The author shows respect for the plants by using the underlined words and phrases. He concluded in the last paragraph that ‘successful’ plants that ‘managed to survive’ in urban areas need to have the qualities of being ‘flexible’, ‘opportunistic’, and ‘tolerant’.
The detail about Norway maple can be found in lines 11- 13:
Others, including chicory, Japanese knotweed, and Norway maple, were brought in intentionally or unintentionally by people.
Lines 14 – 17:
And still others – among them common ragweed, path rush (Juncus tenuis), and tufted lovegrass (Eragrostis pectinacea) – arrived on their own, dispersed by wind, water, or wild animals.
The phrase on their own means the plants were dispersed by wind, water or wild animals rather than humans.
40. According to the passage, if people stopped disturbing weeds in an urban environment, eventually the weeds might:
F. compete for space and start to die out.
G. enhance landscaped gardens.
H. dry out the soil.
J. develop into woodlands.
The answer can be found in lines 18 – 21:
They can provide important ecological services at very little cost to taxpayers, and if left undisturbed long enough they may even develop into mature woodlands.