We explain real ACT® questions

ACT Form 74H Reading Answer Explanations

Explain to me:



Questions 1-10


Questions 1-3 ask about Passage A.

  1. According to Passage A, for the author of the passage, being an American writer means that her sense of place is:
    A. deeply personal.
    B. constantly shifting.
    C. tied to her family.
    D. somewhat irrelevant.

B. lines 4-5:

“I am an American writer, and so my sense of place is fluid, ever shifting.”

  1. Which of the following statements regarding the passage author’s Washington novel is best supported by Passage A?
    F. She wrote the novel about people she met while traveling.
    G. She could not finish writing it.
    H. She patterned it after other novels about Washington, D.C.
    J. She thought that she would never write it.

J. lines 16-23:

“If you sell your first piece of writing in Manhattan, give birth to your only child in Lagos, experience Paris in the spring with someone you love, and return to Washington after thirteen years of self-imposed exile to write the Washington novel nobody else had (and you thought you never would), tickets, visas, lingua franca will all become irrelevant.”

The author thought she would never write the Washington novel no one else had written.

  1. Base on how she presents herself in the third paragraph (lines 32-39), the author of Passage A can best the described as someone who:
    A. overcame many obstacles before achieving success.
    B. embraces the various elements of her identity.
    C. gets inspiration from people and everyday things.
    D. found a place to live that suits her personality.

B. lines 32-39:

“I am a Washington writer, who keeps one bag in the closet packed, just in case. I am an American, who knows the true color of the nation’s culture and its heart, a stubborn, wrenching, rainbow. I am Africa’s yearning stepchild, unforgotten, misunderstood, necessary. Writers are always headed or looking for home. The best of us embrace and rename it when we get there.

The bolden words in the underlined sentences indicate that the author understands that the essence (“true color”) of America is its diversity (rainbow). Therefore the author would embrace all elements of what make her an American.

Question 4-7 ask about Passage B.

  1. The “losing battle” in line 47 of Passage B most nearly refers to the passage author’s efforts to:
    F. inspire a new generation of Texas authors to write about their home state.
    G. understand the lives of those who lived in 1930s and 1940s rural Texas.
    H. preserve 1930s and 1940s rural Texas through his writing.
    J. find new ways to write about his childhood.

H. The phrase “losing battle” appears in lines 42-47:

“The rural Texas where I grew up in the 1930s and 1940s simply does not exist anymore. It exists only in memory or on pages or stages where a few of us have attempted to lock it in against the ravages of time. And it is, of course, a losing battle.”

The authors tried to preserve the rural Texas where he grew up in his writing which may be a futile attempt.

  1. In the context of Passage B, when the passage author state, “I sometimes feel that I am writing about pharaohs” (line 49-50), he most nearly means that he feels as if he is writing about:
    A. a well-known subject.
    B. an influential time period.
    C. powerful tyrants.
    D. the distant past.

D. Closely following the quoted sentence above, the author lamented that rural Texas feels as distant in the past as pharaohs.  

  1. Based on Passage B, McMurtry’s comment that Texas authors write about old Texas too much was received with what can best be described as:
    F. ambivalence; several writers had already written books that followed McMurtry suggestion.
    G. indignation; most writers thought McMurtry was a hypocrite because of Lonesome Dove.
    H. displeasure; many writers openly disagreed with McMurtry’s suggestion.
    J. surprise; many writers didn’t know that McMurtry cared about Texas literature.

H.Let’s analyse the second paragraph (lines 52-63):

First, the author’s friend caused a controversy  by saying that Texas writers insisted on writing about the old Texas, but saying nothing about its modernity.

“My friend Larry McMurtry a few years ago stirred up a Texas tornado with an essay in which he charged that Texas writers stubbornly insist on writing of old Texas, the Texas of myth and legend, while shirking our responsibilities to write of the complexities of modern Texas. ”

McMurtry, however, wrote a novel about old Texas of his own. The author sarcastically said that the part about cowboys and legends were a little long, while the part about Texas’s modern skyscrapers were non-existent:

“Hardly had the anguished cries of the wounded faded away on the Texas wind, until Mr. McMurtry himself delivered a novel called Lonesome Dove, A cracking good yarn, if a bit long on cowboy myths and frontier legends. And decidedly short of skyscraper observations or solutions to urban riddles. ”

At last, the author was glad that McMurtry changed his mind and focused on writing about old Texas’s ancient myths:

“But not only did Larry McMurtry have a perfect right to change his mind. I’m delighted that he did.”

The question asked how the public reacted to McMurtry’s complaint that writers focused too much on the old Texas. The public reacted negatively of that suggestion. 

  1. As it is used in line 85, the word fancy most nearly means:
    A. consider.
    B. theorize.
    C. enjoy.

A. Line 85:

“I fancy myself a guide to the recent past.”

In this context, fancy means consider.

Questions 8-10 ask about both passages.

  1. It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that, regarding its effect on their lives, both passage authors would agree that leaving their native places:
    F. led to their deciding to move away permanently.
    G. influenced them to write about visiting new places.
    H. changed their perspectives about home.
    J. showed them the value of family.

H. Note the rhetorical question in lines 23-24:

“When all places fingerprint the soul, which grasp is judged to be strongest?”

Even though the author had lived in many places, all of them are similar in their impacts on the author.

And in lines 74-76:

“So if my native place has been guilty of change, then so have I.”

All the traveling has changed the author’s perspectives.

  1. The passage most strongly indicate that in their various moves, both passage authors have:
    A. resided in Washington, D.C.
    B. written novels while living in New York City.

    C. relocated because of the military.
    D. lived in places outside of the United States.


The author of Passage A returned to Washington to finish the novel:

“…return to Washington after thirteen years of self-imposed exile to write the Washington novel…”

The author of Passage B came to Washington to work in Congress at the age of 25(lines 70-71):

“…at the age of twenty-five, I came to Washington, D.C. to work in Congress…”

  1. Which of the following statements best compares the concluding lines of the passages?
    F. Both passages end with the authors describing how they see their roles as writers.
    G. Both passages end with the authors emphasizing the importance that history has for writers.
    H. The author of Passage A describes her characters, whereas the author of Passage B emphasizes the value of home.
    J. The author of Passage A describes her approach to starting new books, whereas the author of Passage B explains why his sense of place in illusionary.

F. At the end of the passage, the author of Passage A said the best writers embrace and rename a place when they get there (line 38-39):

“Writers are always headed or looking for home. The best of us embrace and rename it when we get there.”

At the end of the passage, the author of Passage B said writers’ roles are guides to the recent past:

“I fancy myself a guide to the recent past. In an age when the past seems not much value, I think that is not a bad function for the writer.”

Questions 11-20


  1. One main idea of the passage is that the Grateful Dead:
    A. used an innovative, recession-proof approach to business that other companies have learned from.
    B. wouldn’t have become financially successful if they hadn’t used the Internet for marketing.
    C. displayed a talent for songwriting that few other bands have matched.
    D. organized the band in a way that mimicked the structure of Japanese companies.

A. lines 11-14:

Without intending to – while intending, in fact, to do just the opposite – the band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by corporate America.

Unintentionally, the band’s pioneering ideas were subsequently adopted by American companies.

lines 78-83:

The Dead thrived for decades, in good times and bad. In a recession, Barnes says, strategic improvisation is more important than ever. “If you’re going to survive an economic downturn, you better be able to turn on a dime,” he says.

  1. The passage most strongly implies that one way Grateful Dead fans are similar to some Internet users is that the fans:
    F. were willing to pay more quality merchandise.
    G. displayed a lack of generosity toward strangers.
    H. formed communities across distances.
    J. had diverse musical tastes.

H.lines 56-58:

“Giving something away and earning money on the periphery is becoming the blue-print for more and more companies doing business on the Internet. Today, everybody is intensely interested in understanding how communities from across distances, because that’s what happens online.”

The band’s mode of business is similar to many businesses operating on line. The communities formed across long distances are also similar to communities online.

  1. The author includes quotations from Barnes and Barlow most likely in order to:
    A. illustrate that business leaders have implemented the Grateful Dead’s methods.
    B. provide expert support for the idea that the Grateful Dead used savvy business practices.
    C. suggest that scholars find the band’s history more instructive than that of other bands.
    D. verify that the Grateful Dead were extremely naive about running a business.

B. lines 22-25:

“The Dead were masters of creating and delivering superior customer value”, Barry Barnes, a business professor at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida, told me.

lines 64-70:

In 1994, Barlow posited that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.” As Barlow explained to me: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back then – the important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value.

The quotations above are expert support for the band’s savvy business practice.

  1. The passage indicates that one component of the Grateful Dead’s business model was that the band:
    F. increased its fan base by giving away tickets and merchandise at performances.
    G. discovered that a fan given something for free would buy other merchandise.
    H. appointed one member as CEO to streamline decision making.
    J. resisted significant change because being consistent produced financial stability.

G. 见lines 43-48:

According to Barnes, the decision was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets.

Allowing tape sharing would encourage fans to buy other stuff.

  1. What connection does Barlow make between the Grateful Dead’s business model and Smith’s teachings?
    A. By delaying the release of its music, the Grateful Dead illustrated Smith’s teaching that scarcity decreases profits.
    B. By successfully marketing its music on the Internet, the Grateful Dead disproved Smith’s teaching that new markets should be entered cautiously.
    C. By running its own company, the Grateful Dead exemplified Smith’s teaching that controlling the image of a brand adds value.
    D. By choosing to allow fans to share copies of its songs, the Grateful Dead acted counter to Smith’s teaching that scarcity increases value.

D. Barlow’s words in lines 64-78):

In 1994, Barlow posited that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.” As Barlow explained to me: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back then – the important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully.   But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my    value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.

Barlow thinks that the value of a band increases with people’s familiarity of it, in contrary to Adam Smith’s theory.

  1. The main point of the first paragraph is that various scholars have studied the Grateful Dead because:
    F. few bands have produced such an extensive catalog of music.
    G. the band’s fans found ways to make the band relevant to their own careers.
    H. the band displayed rare qualities in a number of different areas.
    J. the band’s traditional approach to music made its members attractive subjects.

H. The first paragraph:

Since the 1970s, the Grateful Dead has invited academic examination. Musicologists showed interest, although the band’s sprawling repertoire and tendency to improvise posed a significant challenge. Engineers studied the band’s sophisticated sound system, radical at the time but widely emulated today. Other disciplines have also found relevant elements of the band’s history and cultural impact to be worth examining.

Musicologists, engineers and scholars from other discipline studies the band because of its rare qualities in so many aspects.

  1. As it is used in line 5, the word radical most nearly means:
    A.     dangerous.
    B.     revolutionary.
    C.     characteristic.
    D.     awesome.

B. In the context, radical means revolutionary. The band’s sound system was revolutionary and was not widely emulated (line 5):

Engineers studied the band’s sophisticated sound system, radical at the time but widely emulated today.

  1. Which of the following questions is directly answered by the passage?
    F. What aspect of the Grateful Dead’s music most appeals to fans?
    G. How did the Grateful Dead maintains contact with its fans?
    H. Which businesses decided to ignore the Grateful Dead’s strategies?
    J. Why haven’t more economists studied the Grateful Dead’s success?

G. lines 15-19:

It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house.

The band used telephone hotline to maintains contact with its fans.

  1. The passage indicates that the Grateful Dead “were masters of creating and delivering superior customer value” (line 23-24) in part because they:
    A. reserved some of the best seats for loyal fans and capped the price of tickets.
    B. copied method displayed by successful Japanese corporations.
    C. disguised but still used the top-down organizational strategy of many firms.
    D. provided travel assistance for fans to see shows far from home.

A. lines 15-19:

It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house.

The underlined is how the band created superior customer value.

  1. According to the passage, American CEOs revised their approach to customers in the 1980s in response to:
    F. shareholder desire reorganization.
    G. incorporation by smaller, faster businesses.
    H. demand for better value from customers.
    J. increased competition from Japan.                                      

J. 见lines 26-31:

Treating customers well may sound like common sense. But it represented a break from the top-down ethos of many organizations in the 1960s and 1970s. Only in the 1980s, faced with competition from Japan, did American CEOs and management theorists widely adopt a customer-first orientation.

Questions 21-30


  1. The main purpose of the passage is to:
    A. argue that Lievens’s artworks are superior to Rembrandt’s and deserve to be shown in their own retrospective.
    B. bring Lievens out of obscurity by discussing him as both a peer of Rembrandt and an artist in his own right.
    C. criticize the art world’s belated recognition of Rembrandt and Lievens as an artistic pair.
    D. illustrate the profound differences between Lievens’s artistic training and Rembrandt’s.

B. The purpose of the passage is to argue that the obscure artist Lievens was an equal of Rembrandt.

  1. In the passage, both the author and Wheelock describe the effect that Rembrandt’s popularity had on Lievens by:
    F. analyzing biographical similarities between the two artists.
    G. comparing Lievens’s early work to his later work.
    H. personifying Lievens’s painting style.
    J. using astronomy metaphors.

J. Both the author and Wheelock used astronomy metaphors to describe the impact of Rembrands’s reputation on Lievens:

lines 1-8:

Telescopes trained on the night sky, astronomers observe the phenomenon of the binary star, which appears to the naked eye to be a single star but consists in fact of two, orbiting a common center of gravity. Sometimes, one star in the pair can so outshine the other that its companion may be detected only by the way its movement periodically alters the brightness of the greater one.

Wheelock in lines 53-55 (note the use of trajectory, gravity pull):

‘We’ve always seen Lievens through the bright light of Rembrandt, as a pale reflection,’ says Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern Baroque paintings at the National Gallery. ‘This show lets you embrace Lievens from beginning to end, to understand that this man has his own trajectory and that he wasn’t always in the gravity pull of Rembrandt.’

  1. In the context of the passage, the main purpose of the first paragraph is to introduce:
    A. a scientific phenomenon that mirrors the relationship between Rembrandt and Lievens.
    B. an exceptional painting by Lievens that was attributed to Rembrandt.
    C. the innovative culture in which Rembrandt and Lievens lived.
    D. a historical event that inspired both Rembrandt and Lievens.

A.The first paragraph describes the phenomenon of binary star to mirror the relationship between Rembrandt and Lievens. 

  1. The passage most nearly suggests that, in contrast to Rembrandt and Lievens, other artists who are considered members of artistic pairs have tended to:
    E. build their reputations by staying in just one city.
    F. be underappreciated during their lifetimes.
    G. achieve equal recognition in the art world.
    H. have few biographical similarities.

H. Members of artistic pairs have few in common in their upbringing, life experience etc.

  1. In the context of the passage, the description of the subjects featured in the painting The Feast of Esther (lines 72-79) mainly serves to:
    A. provide an analogy for the tense relationship between Rembrandt and Lievens.
    B. demonstrate how Lievens’s art reflected Dutch political dynamics.
    C. illustrate Lievens’s bold painting style and attention to detail.
    D. exemplify techniques common to Dutch painting of the time.

C.Firstly, the boldness of Lievens is striking (lines 60-62):

Wheelock   has been   particularly struck by muscularity and boldness of Lievens, which is in marked contrast to most Dutch painting of the time.

Then in lines 80-82, Lievens showed great skill in his attention to details:

Silks, satins and brocades, elegant plumes and gemstones – details like these give Lievens ample scope to show off his flashy handling of his medium.

  1. The passage indicates that Lievens’s recognition in the art community declined most significantly at which of the following times?
    F. When Lievens returned to Amsterdam.
    G. While Lievens was painting The Feast of Esther.
    H. When Rembrandt returned to Leiden.
    J. After Rembrandt and Lievens died.

J.The answer is in lines 19-20: 

After their deaths, Lievens dropped out of sight-for centuries.

  1. The passage most strongly suggests that Lievens might have attained more recognition if he had painted:
    A. in collaboration with other artists.
    B. more historical subjects.
    C. in one specific style.
    D. in smaller formats.

C.Lievens failed to have attained more recognition because he tried too many styles:

Quality aside, there are many reasons why one artist’s star shines while another’s fades. It mattered that Rembrandt spent virtually his entire career in one place, cultivating a single, highly personal style, whereas Lievens moved around, absorbing many different influences.

  1. The passage indicates that Rembrandt appealed to the Romantics because:
    F. he fit their ideal of the lonely and brilliant artist.
    G. he traveled widely and absorbed many influences.
    H. his artwork featured scenes of courtship and love.
    J. his artwork shaped the tastes of later generations.

F. The answer is in lines 40-43:

Equally important, Rembrandt lent him-self to the role of the lonely genius, a figure dear to the Romantics, whose preferences would shape the tastes of generations to come.

  1. The fact that The Feast of Esther was misidentified as an early Rembrandt painting is most directly used in the passage to support the author’s claim that Lievens’s work:
    A. is considered by modern art critics to be inferior to Rembrandt’s.
    B. peaked in quality during Lievens’s early adulthood.
    C. may be familiar to some even though Lievens’s name is not.
    D. can be difficult for art exhibitors to obtain.

C. The answer is inlines 44-45:

While Lievens’ name will be new to many, his work may not be.

  1. The last sentence of the passage most nearly serves to:
    F. summarize the passage’s arguments about why Lievens did not achieve lasting fame.
    G. suggest that Lievens may have influenced Rembrandt artistically.
    H. argue that Lievens and Rembrandt collaborated while they were in Leiden.
    J. outline a controversy regarding the authenticity of some Rembrandt paintings.

G. The final sentence of the passage said Rembrandt might have learned something from Lievens:

This tac-tile quality is one of Rembrandt’s hallmarks as well; there are now those who think he picked it up from Lievens.

Questions 31-40


  1. The main purpose of the passage is to:
    A. describe how sperm whales use clicks to hunt their prey.
    B. evaluate historical theories regarding sperm whale clicks.
    C. provide details about the antagonism between sperm whales and squid.
    D. explain how sperm whales generate and use clicks.

D. The main purpose of the passage is to explain how sperm whale make and use clicks.

  1. In the eighth paragraph (lines 74-77), the passage begins to focus on the relationship between:
    F. squid and their prey.
    G. sperm whales and sonar.
    H. sperm whales and codas.
    J. squid and sperm whales.

J. Sperm whales mostly look for squids in lines 74-75:

But most of a sperm whale’s clicking, if not most of its life, is devoted to one thing: finding food. And in the Sea of Cortez, the focus of its attention is Dosidicus gigas, the jumbo squid.

  1. The main purpose of the second paragraph (lines 17-30) is to:
    A. compare sperm whales to telegraph machines.
    B. explain the function of the spermaceti organ.
    C. outline how scientists came to understand the anatomy of the sperm whale.
    D. describe the sperm whale anatomy involved in creating sound.

D. The second paragraph describe the anatomy involved in making sounds.

  1. It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that codas are of particular interest because scientists don’t yet fully understand
    F. how codas help sperm whales hunt.
    G. how codas function in sperm whale socialization.
    H. why codas are emitted only by male whales.
    J. why codas are so difficult to detect.

G. In lines48-50, “codas” are defined as sounds made during socialization:

Finally, “codas” are distinct  patterns of clicks most often heard when whales are socializing.

In lines 51-59, it is said that scientists showed particular interest in codas because different clans produce different codas:

Codas are of particular interest. Whitehead has found that different groups of sperm whales, called vocal clans, consistently use different sets; the repertoire of codas the clan uses is its dialect. Vocal clans can be huge – thousands of individuals spread out over thousands of miles of ocean. Clan members are not necessarily related. Rather, many smaller, durable matrilineal units make up clans and different clans have their own specific ways of behaving.

  1. As it is presented in the passage, the study that appeared in Animal Behavior concluded that sperm whale vocal clans:
    A. each use a distinct dialect, and individuals within each clan have unique codas.
    B. can adopt the codas of other clans but individuals within each clan maintain unique dialects.
    C. each use many dialects, and individuals within each clan develop complex codas.
    D. can adopt the codas of other clans, but individuals within each clan retain unique identifiers.

A. It is said in lines 60-64 that different individuals produce different codas too:

A recent study in Animal Behaviour took the specialization of codas a step further. Not only do clans use different codas, the author argued, but the codas differ slightly among individuals. They could be, in effect, unique identifiers: names.

  1. The passage indicates that compared to the sounds beluga whales and humpback whales make, the sounds sperm whales make are:
    F. more complex and varied.
    G. more frequent and melodic.
    H. less elaborate and songlike.
    J. less enigmatic and repetitive.

H. It is said in lines 4-5 that sperm whales cannot produce sophisticated sounds like beluga whales and humpback whales do:

While they do not sing elaborate songs, like humpbacks or belugas, in fact they are not silent.

  1. According to the passage, who confirmed the observation that sperm whales make loud knocking noises?
    A. Beale
    B. Nineteenth-century whalers
    C. Woods Hole scientists
    D. Whitehead

C. lines 8-10:

Only in 1957 did two scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution confirm the sailors’ observations.

  1. As it is used in line 25, the word runs most nearly means:
    A. acts
    B. hastens
    C. operates
    D. leads

J. run means leads in this context:

The left nasal passage runs directly to  the  blow-hole at the top of the whale’s head.

  1. Based on the passage, the notion that slow clicks are related to sperm whale mating behavior is best described as a:
    A. fact that is supported by several scientific studies.
    B. fact that whalers discovered in the 1800s.
    C. reasoned judgment from an expert in biology.
    D. reasoned judgment from the passage author.

C. Biologist Whitehead made the comment, and thus it is a reasoned judgment from an expert in biology:

“Slow clicks” are made only by large males, but no one knows precisely what they signify. (“Probably something to do with mating,” Whitehead guesses). 

  1. Which of the following statements about the mystery of how sperm whales locate squid is best supported by the passage?
    F. The mystery was solved in the 1800s.
    G. The mystery was solved recently.
    H. The mystery is likely to be solved in the near future.
    J.The mystery is likely to remain unsolved until better technology is invented.

G. The last sentence indicates that it was still a puzzle how sperm whale find squid:

But the way that sperm whales find squid was until recently a puzzle.


Leave a Reply

Notify of

Scroll Up