HSPT Language Skills : Relevance and Scope

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Language Skills

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Developing Topic Sentences

Choose the sentences that best develop the topic sentence shown below.

Succulents are a type of plant, and they have much in common with cacti.

Possible Answers:

Growing cacti at home is easy. They are a great starter plant for someone who is not very confident in their gardening skills.

Like cacti, succulents require very little water and are well-adapted to desert environments. Many types of succulents also produce flowers when they bloom, like certain types of cacti do.

Unlike cacti, succulents do not have sharp spines. Succulents are also much smaller than many cacti.

Desert animals rely on cacti for water; that is why cacti have evolved sharp spines to protect themselves.

Correct answer:

Like cacti, succulents require very little water and are well-adapted to desert environments. Many types of succulents also produce flowers when they bloom, like certain types of cacti do.

Explanation:

The first sentence of the paragraph that we are given introduces succulents to the reader and compares them with cacti, suggesting they have several similarities ("much in common"). The best answer choice will focus on succulents but also continue to develop the comparison between succulents and cacti in a way that stresses their similarities.

"Growing succulents at home is easy. They are a great starter plant for someone who is not very confident in their gardening skills." - 

"Desert animals rely on cacti for water; that is why cacti have evolved sharp spines to protect themselves." - This sentence talks about desert animals and cacti, but it doesn't mention succulents at all. The first sentence focuses on succulents more than cacti. This answer choice is incorrect because it only mentions one of the two things being compared in the first sentence.

"Growing cacti at home is easy. They are a great starter plant for someone who is not very confident in their gardening skills." - This answer choice only mentions cacti. Like the last incorrect answer, this one only mentions cacti, but the first sentence is about succulents, a topic not mentioned in this answer choice. This answer choice is incorrect as well.

"Unlike cacti, succulents do not have sharp spines. Succulents are also much smaller than many cacti." - This answer choice compares succulents to cacti, but it does so in a way that emphasizes their differences, not their shared features. This isn't the best answer choice, because it clashes with the first sentence's claim that the two types of plants "have much in common."

"Like cacti, succulents require very little water and are well-adapted to desert environments. Many types of succulents also produce flowers when they bloom, like certain types of cacti do." - This is the correct answer! It mentions succulents and cacti, and focuses on succulents a bit more than cacti. It also compares succulents and cacti while emphasizing their shared features.

Example Question #1 : Omitting Irrelevant Sentences

[1] The Boston Tea Party was a protest that occurred in Boston during the buildup to the American Revolution. [2] The event was provoked by a period of tense relations between Britain and the British colonies that would eventually become the United States. [3] The colonists were angry that they had to pay taxes on items they imported from Britain, like tea, without having representatives in British government to voice their opinions and vote on whether or not to levy such taxes. [4] This was the issue summarized by the now-famous phrase, “No taxation without representation.” [5] If people don’t pay their taxes today, it is a crime called tax evasion, and they can get in big trouble with the government and go to jail. [6] Taxed tea was sent back to Britain in many colonies as a form of protest, but in Boston, the Governor refused to return the tea. [7] In response, Bostonians boarded a ship carrying taxable tea and dumped it into the harbor on December 16th, 1773. [8] Britain responded by tightening control of the colonies, but eventually, the country fought its colonies directly in the American Revolution after they declared independence.

Which of the following sentences should be omitted from the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Sentence 5

Sentence 4

Sentence 7

Sentence 6

Correct answer:

Sentence 5

Explanation:

Sentence 5 should be omitted from the paragraph because the information it presents is irrelevant to the topic of discussion. Sentence 5 reads, "If people don’t pay their taxes today, it is a crime called tax evasion, and they can get in big trouble with the government and go to jail." The passage as a whole focuses on the causes and effects of the Boston Tea Party. Sentence 5's shift to a present-day tax issue is outside of the passage's scope, making the sentence irrelevant.

Example Question #1 : Adding Relevant Sentences

Ancient Egyptian pharaohs weren’t always men: Hatshepsut, for example, is a famous ancient Egyptian female pharaoh. She accomplished a great deal while on the throne. She created trade routes and tried to import foreign trees to Egypt to grow there. [1] She died after reigning as pharaoh for twenty-two years. Afterward, someone tried to erase all mention of her in hieroglyphics and destroy any monuments dedicated to her. Luckily, some mentions of her still survived, which is why we still know about her rule today.

Assuming that all of the following statements are true, which would make the most sense if added to the paragraph at Location [1]?

Possible Answers:

Some sphinxes portraying Hatshepsut are adorned with false beards to show she held the title of pharaoh.

Hatshepsut is recorded as having worn eyeliner.

One female pharaoh that we know about who preceded Hatshepsut is Sobekneferu.

She also commissioned many temples, monuments, and other buildings throughout Egypt.

Correct answer:

She also commissioned many temples, monuments, and other buildings throughout Egypt.

Explanation:

The best answer is "She also commissioned many temples, monuments, and other buildings throughout Egypt." This sentence provides another example supporting the claim that Hatshepsut "accomplished a great deal during her reign." The use of "also" helps the reader recognize that like the sentence preceding Location [1] it is providing an example.

"Hatshepsut is recorded as having worn eyeliner." - This answer choice's detail is off-topic in the context of Location [1], which occurs when the paragraph is talking about Hatshepsut's major accomplishments.

"One female pharaoh that we know about who preceded Hatshepsut is Sobekneferu." - While female pharaohs are discussed at the beginning of this paragraph, Location [1] occurs in the middle of a discussion about Hatshepsut's accomplishments. Introducing another female pharaoh, Sobekneferu, wouldn't make much sense at this point in the paragraph. 

"Some sphinxes portraying Hatshepsut are adorned with false beards to show she held the title of pharaoh." - While this sentence discusses both Hapshetsut and female pharaohs, it would be out of place at Location [1].

Example Question #1 : Clarity, Relevance, And Scope

[1] Before the printing press and moveable type were in use, copyists had to spend a great deal of time hand-printing books. [2] This made books time-consuming to produce, relatively rare, and very expensive. [3] Books printed using a printing press relied not on human writers to spell out their messages, but on arrangements of metal or wooden blocks with letters on them. [4] Printing a book was much faster than hand-copying it.

The following sentence would make the most sense if added to the paragraph at which of the following locations?

"These blocks are known as 'type.'”

Possible Answers:

Location [2]

Location [1]

Location [4]

Location [3]

Correct answer:

Location [4]

Explanation:

The sentence "These blocks are known as 'type'" would make the most sense if added to the paragraph at Location [4]. Consider how the sentence to be placed starts with the word "these." This word references back to something that was just mentioned; if it can't do this, it is ambiguous and confusing. So, this sentence needs to be placed in the paragraph at a location that immediately follows something that "these" can refer back to—specifically, "these blocks." At what point does the paragraph discuss the blocks that form type? The sentence preceding Location [4] ends with the phrase, "arrangements of metal or wooden blocks with letters on them." Even if you don't know what "type" refers to in this context, you can tell that the sentence to be placed makes the most sense at Location [4], where "these blocks" can refer to the phrase "arrangements of metal or wooden blocks with letters on them." Location [4] is the correct answer.

Example Question #1 : Relevance And Scope

Which of the following is an appropriate topic for a one-paragraph essay/theme?

Possible Answers:

Ancient Ruins of South America

Birds I've Seen in My Backyard

The History of Libraries

The Architecture of Performance Venues

Correct answer:

Birds I've Seen in My Backyard

Explanation:

The correct answer is "Birds I've Seen in My Backyard." This topic could be addressed and explained fully in a few sentences, whereas the other topics are much broader and would not be able to be fully discussed or explained in a single paragraph. 

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Topic Scope

Which of the following topics would be most appropriate for a one-paragraph essay/theme?

Possible Answers:

How I Celebrated My Birthday

The Importance of Public Parks in Major Metropolitan Areas

The Declaration of Independence

The Culinary History of Cajun Cooking

Correct answer:

How I Celebrated My Birthday

Explanation:

A one-paragraph essay/theme needs to have a relatively small-scale topic in order for the writer to be able to discuss the topic with an appropriate level of detail. Trying to discuss too large-scale of a topic in a single paragraph would mean that a writer would have to leave out important information and wouldn't have the space to discuss all of the key points about the topic necessary to covering it effectively.

The answer choice that would be most appropriate for a single-paragraph essay/theme is "How I Celebrated My Birthday." This is the smallest-scale topic of the ones presented. The topics presented in the other answer choices are far more expansive and would require the room provided by a longer assignment in order to be treated effectively.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Relevance To Topic

Which of the following sentences would make sense in an article titled “Digital and Traditional Writing Methods: Which is Better?”

Possible Answers:

Writing on a computer has many advantages that are missing when you write with pen and paper: you can save multiple versions of your work, check it for spelling errors, and use features like copy, cut, and paste to reorganize large sections of text.

The ancient Egyptians wrote on scrolls of papyrus, some of which were preserved well enough that they can still be read today. They wrote using a system of hieroglyphics.

For many people, journaling allows them to keep a record of their thoughts and experiences while their memories and emotions are still fresh. Many famous people throughout history have kept personal journals that have become valuable sources of their particular perspective on major events.

Calligraphy, the art of decorative handwriting, is becoming a popular hobby, and all you need to get started is paper and a special type of pen.

Correct answer:

Writing on a computer has many advantages that are missing when you write with pen and paper: you can save multiple versions of your work, check it for spelling errors, and use features like copy, cut, and paste to reorganize large sections of text.

Explanation:

The sentence that is most relevant to the topic is "Writing on a computer has many advantages that are missing when you write with pen and paper: you can save multiple versions of your work, check it for spelling errors, and use features like copy, cut, and paste to reorganize large sections of text." This sentence directly compares the process of writing on a computer with the process of writing using a pen and paper. The title of the article, "Digital and Traditional Writing Methods: Which is Better?" implicitly calls for these two methods to be compared. In order to figure out which one is better, it is necessary to compare them. The sentences about ancient Egyptian writing methods, journaling, and calligraphy are off-topic and do not mention both digital and traditional writing methods.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing Relevance To Topic

Which of the following sentences would make sense in an article titled "Deciphering Recyclable Materials”?

Possible Answers:

Currently, the task of separating paper from plastic most often falls on the individual recycler, though such sorting is occasionally performed at a plant after materials have been collected.

Most major cities in the United States have some sort of recycling program, and many smaller towns participate in programs as well.

You may see recyclable materials labeled with one of several different acronyms: "PET" or "PETE," both of which mean "post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate," or "HDPE," which indicates "high-density polyethylene."

Some cities have started to ban or tax various materials that are difficult or impossible to recycle, like takeout containers and plastic bags.

Correct answer:

You may see recyclable materials labeled with one of several different acronyms: "PET" or "PETE," both of which mean "post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate," or "HDPE," which indicates "high-density polyethylene."

Explanation:

First, let's take a look at the topic of the (hypothetical) article that the correct answer choice will make sense under: "Deciphering Recyclable Materials." "Deciphering" means decoding or translating from a code into something someone can understand, and "recyclable materials" are things that can be recycled. With that in mind, let's look at the answer choices.

Each of these answer choices has to do with recycling, so we'll need to focus on what differentiates them. Only two of them focus on recyclable materials as opposed to the process of recycling:

"Currently, the task of separating paper from plastic most often falls on the individual recycler, though such sorting is occasionally performed at a plant after materials have been collected."

"You may see recyclable materials labeled with one of several different acronyms: 'PET' or 'PETE,' both of which mean "post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate," or 'HDPE,' which means 'high-density polyethylene.'"

Now we need to pick out the answer choice that makes the most sense in an article about "deciphering" these materials. The answer choice here listed first talks about the process of separating recyclable materials, but it doesn't seem to have much to do with "deciphering" anything. The answer choice here listed second, on the other hand, conveys information about what different acronym labels one might find on recyclable materials each mean. In this way, the sentence connects the topic of "deciphering" with recyclable materials, and this makes it the best answer choice.

Example Question #1 : Selecting Topic Sentences

Which of the following sentences makes the best topic sentence for the paragraph shown above?

Stegosaurus is named for the characteristic bony plates that stick up from its back, making it easily recognizable. Its name is a combination of  “stagē,” Greek for covering—a reference to those bony plates—and “sauros,” Greek for lizard. On its tail, Stegosaurus had spikes that it could use to defend itself from predators. Its brain was about the size of a curled human fist.

Possible Answers:

Dinosaurs have fascinated modern humans since we started uncovering their massive bones buried in the Earth.

Many carnivorous dinosaurs ate herbivores like StegosaurusBrontosaurus, and Apatosaurus to survive.

Stegosaurus was a large herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period, the same period during which dinosaurs like Archaeopteryx, Pterodactylus, and Brontosaurus lived.

Museums are great places to learn more about dinosaurs as well as other ancient animals like mammoths and saber-toothed cats.

Correct answer:

Stegosaurus was a large herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period, the same period during which dinosaurs like Archaeopteryx, Pterodactylus, and Brontosaurus lived.

Explanation:

The best answer choice is "Stegosaurus was a large herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period, the same period during which dinosaurs like Archaeopteryx, Pterodactylus, and Brontosaurus lived." This answer choice provides a general introduction of Stegosaurus that works well as a sentence preceding the details about Stegosaurus and its name found in the rest of the paragraph. 

"Many carnivorous dinosaurs ate herbivores like StegosaurusBrontosaurus, and Apatosaurus to survive." - This answer choice introduces three dinosaurs, so it doesn't function as well as the correct answer does as an introductory sentence to a paragraph about Stegosaurus

Dinosaurs have fascinated modern humans since we started uncovering their massive bones buried in the Earth." - This answer choice introduces the concept of dinosaurs in general, but is too general to serve as a good introduction to the rest of the paragraph's details about one particular kind of dinosaur.

"Museums are great places to learn more about dinosaurs as well as other ancient animals like mammoths and saber-toothed cats." - This sentence introduces the concept of museums as a location to learn about many types of ancient animals. It is far removed from the details about Stegosaurus found in the rest of the paragraph.

Example Question #1 : Selecting Concluding Sentences

[1] The Boston Tea Party was a protest that occurred in Boston during the buildup to the American Revolution. [2] The event was provoked by a period of tense relations between Britain and the British colonies that would eventually become the United States. [3] The colonists were angry that they had to pay taxes on items they imported from Britain, like tea, without having representatives in British government to voice their opinions and vote on whether or not to levy such taxes. [4] This was the issue summarized by the now-famous phrase, “No taxation without representation.” [5] If people don’t pay their taxes today, it is a crime called tax evasion, and they can get in big trouble with the government and go to jail. [6] Taxed tea was sent back to Britain in many colonies as a form of protest, but in Boston, the Governor refused to return the tea. [7] In response, Bostonians boarded a ship carrying taxable tea and dumped it into the harbor on December 16th, 1773. [8] Britain responded by tightening control of the colonies, but eventually, the country fought its colonies directly in the American Revolution after they declared independence.

Which of the following sentences would best conclude the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

In countries all over the world, people have developed different culturally significant ways of brewing and serving tea.

The Governor must have been really mad when his citizens dumped all that tea in the harbor!

Events like the Boston Tea Party are important on their own, but take on extra significance when viewed as part of the chain of events that led to a revolution.

It’s important to study patterns in history, not just individual events.

Correct answer:

Events like the Boston Tea Party are important on their own, but take on extra significance when viewed as part of the chain of events that led to a revolution.

Explanation:

The sentence that would best conclude this paragraph is "Events like the Boston Tea Party are important on their own, but take on extra significance when viewed as part of the chain of events that led to a revolution." The paragraph as a whole discusses the causes and effects of the Boston Tea Party. The last sentence in the paragraph as it's presented focuses on how the Boston Tea Party was one of the causes of and events leading up to the American Revolution.

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