HSPT Reading : Making Predictions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Making Predictions In Humanities Passages

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 and 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 will most likely contain __________.

Possible Answers:

a comparison of cowboy and Arthurian legends

a description of cowboy songs

a critique of the Wild West lifestyle

a discussion of profitable ranching

an introduction of the American cowboy

Correct answer:

a description of cowboy songs


This paragraph is an introduction of the American cowboy, so it is unlikely that the next will be the same. 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 discuss the songs to do so.

Example Question #41 : Literature Passages

Adapted from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time—just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired, and he was suffering to practice it undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music—the reader probably remembers how to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet—no doubt, as far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astronomer.

The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him—a boy a shade larger than himself. A newcomer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well-dressed, too—well-dressed on a weekday. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on—and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved—but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time.

Which would be the most likely event to happen next in the story, based on the end of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Tom will go swimming.

Tom and the new boy will immediately become best friends.

Tom will show the new boy around town.

Tom will forget how to whistle.

Tom and the new boy will argue or mock each other.

Correct answer:

Tom and the new boy will argue or mock each other.


The passage's second paragraph tells us that Tom "turned up his nose at [the new boy's] finery" and that the new boy's "citified air" "ate into Tom's vitals." Based on the fact that Tom is both annoyed by the new boy and snubbing him, it seems that, of the given answer choices, it is most likely that Tom and the new boy might argue or mock each other—Tom because the new boy's style of dress is incongruous with the rest of the town's, and the new boy because Tom is dressed in shabbier clothing than his own.

Example Question #361 : Hspt Reading

Adapted from An Introduction to Astronomy by Forest Ray Moulton (1916 ed.)

The ancient Greeks, at a period four or five hundred years preceding the common era, definitely undertook to find from systematic observation how celestial phenomena follow one another. They determined very accurately the number of days in the year, the period of the moon's revolution, and the paths of the sun and the moon among the stars; they correctly explained the cause of eclipses and learned how to predict them with a considerable degree of accuracy; they undertook to measure the distances to the heavenly bodies, and to work out a complete system that would represent their motions. The idea was current among the Greek philosophers that the earth was spherical, that it turned on its axis, and, among some of them, that it revolved around the sun. They had true science in the modern acceptance of the term, but it was largely confined to the relations among celestial phenomena.

The conception that the heavens are orderly, which they definitely formulated and acted on with remarkable success, has been extended, especially in the last two centuries, so as to include the whole universe. The extension was first made to the inanimate world and then to the more complicated phenomena associated with living beings. Every increase in carefully recorded experience has confirmed and strengthened the belief that nature is perfectly orderly, until now every one who has had an opportunity of becoming familiar with any science is firmly convinced of the truth of this principle, which is the basis of all science.

Based on the passage, which of the following would cause the end of all science if it were true?

Possible Answers:

The arrogance of unmethodical scientists

The ignorance of superstitious people

A lack of patterns in natural phenomena

A strict focus on celestial phenomena

None of the other answers

Correct answer:

A lack of patterns in natural phenomena


The last paragraph stresses the role of orderliness in making science possible. If the phenomena of the world did not exhibit regularity, it would be impossible for there to be science at all. That is, where there is no law seen, there will be no law recorded. 

Example Question #1 : Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from H.G Wells' Anticipations (1901)

Democracy of the modern type—manhood suffrage and so forth—became a conspicuous phenomenon in the world only in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. Its genesis is so intimately connected with the first expansion of the productive element in the State, through mechanism and a co-operative organization, as to point at once to a causative connection. The more closely one looks into the social and political life of the eighteenth century the more plausible becomes this view. New and potentially influential social factors had begun to appear—the organizing manufacturer, the intelligent worker, the skilled tenant, and the urban abyss, and the traditions of the old land-owning non-progressive aristocratic monarchy that prevailed in Christendom, rendered it incapable—without some destructive shock or convulsion—of any re-organization to incorporate or control these new factors. In the case of the British Empire an additional stress was created by the incapacity of the formal government to assimilate the developing civilization of the American colonies. Everywhere there were new elements, not as yet clearly analyzed or defined, arising as mechanism arose; everywhere the old traditional government and social system, defined and analyzed all too well, appeared increasingly obstructive, irrational, and feeble in its attempts to include and direct these new powers.

But now comes a point to which I am inclined to attach very great importance. The new powers were as yet shapeless. It was not the conflict of a new organization with the old. It was the preliminary dwarfing and deliquescence of the mature old beside the embryonic mass of the new. It was impossible then—it is, I believe, only beginning to be possible now—to estimate the proportions, possibilities, and inter-relations of the new social orders out of which a social organization has still to be built in the coming years. No formula of definite reconstruction had been evolved, or has even been evolved yet, after a hundred years. And these swelling inchoate new powers, whose very birth condition was the crippling, modification, or destruction of the old order, were almost forced to formulate their proceedings for a time, therefore, in general affirmative propositions that were really in effect not affirmative propositions at all, but propositions of repudiation and denial. "These kings and nobles and people privileged in relation to obsolescent functions cannot manage our affairs"—that was evident enough, that was the really essential question at that time, and since no other effectual substitute appeared ready made, the working doctrine of the infallible judgment of humanity in the gross, as distinguished from the quite indisputable incapacity of sample individuals, became, in spite of its inherent absurdity, a convenient and acceptable working hypothesis.

Which of the following best describes a phenomenon that likely was problematic in the older form of government?  Select all that apply:

A. The older forms of government were not able to regulate the wage system arising in the new forms of industry.

B. The rulers of the old government were irrationally clinging to the rights of kings against the people.

C. The older government was unable to organize the cities, all of which required new services and ordinances as they grew.

Possible Answers:

A and C

A and B

A, B, and C



Correct answer:

A and C


As regards B, this answer may be tempting, given that the older governmental structures are described as seeming "irrational." This refers, however, to the fact that they did not make much sense vis-à-vis the demands of new societal forms. They could not rationally address the new problems.

For A and C, these two options are supported by the passage. It is stated that among the issues faced, there were "the organizing manufacturer, the intelligent worker, the skilled tenant, and the urban abyss." This describes both a new kind of working environment as well as a the development of complex, expanding forms of city life.

Example Question #1 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from "Errors in Our Food Economy" in Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

Scientific research, interpreting the observations of practical life, implies that several errors are common in the use of food.

First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare. And, unfortunately, those who are most extravagant in this respect are often the ones who can least afford it.

Secondly, the food which we eat does not always contain the proper proportions of the different kinds of nutritive ingredients. We consume relatively too much of the fuel ingredients of food, such as the fats of meat and butter, and the starch which makes up the larger part of the nutritive material of flour, potatoes, sugar, and sweetmeats. Conversely, we have relatively too little of the protein of flesh-forming substances, like the lean of meat and fish and the gluten of wheat, which make muscle and sinew and which are the basis of blood, bone and brain.

Thirdly, many people, not only the well-to-do, but those in moderate circumstances, use needless quantities of food. Part of the excess, however, is simply thrown away with the wastes of the table and the kitchen; so that the injury to health, great as it may be, is doubtless much less than if all were eaten. Probably the worst sufferers from this evil are well-to-do people of sedentary occupations.

Finally, we are guilty of serious errors in our cooking. We waste a great deal of fuel in the preparation of our food, and even then a great deal of the food is very badly cooked. A reform in these methods of cooking is one of the economic demands of our time.

Given the option between two identical meals, one of which costs ten dollars and another five dollars, the author would most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

It is impossible to say.

pick the more expensive meal

try and barter the more expensive meal down in value

pick the cheaper meal

investigate the reputations of those who have cooked the two meals

Correct answer:

pick the cheaper meal


Answering this question requires you to pick up on one key argument made by the author. The author says, “First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare.” From this, we can determine that when given the choice between two identical meals, we should choose the one which is cheaper, for this would be less detrimental to our ability to purchase other food at a later date. The author clearly believes that the dignity attached to purchasing more expensive food is a false impression.

Example Question #1 : Making Predictions Based On Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Wild Animals in Captivity" by W. A. Atkinson in Chatterbox Periodical (1906, ed. J. Erskine Clark)

Notwithstanding all the care which is now bestowed upon wild animals in our zoological gardens and menageries, nearly all of them suffer a little in some way or other by confinement. When we think of the great difference which exists between the surroundings natural to a free wild animal, and those of even the best zoological gardens, we cannot but be surprised that so many animals from all parts of the world can be kept alive and in good condition in a climate so changeable as ours. Every effort is made by the keepers to copy as far as possible the natural conditions to which each animal is accustomed.

It was usual, for instance, to deprive all the flesh-eating animals of one of the greatest traveling menageries of food during one day in each week. It was found by experience that the animals were healthier when they suffered periods of fasting like this, than they were when they were fed regularly every day without a break. The explanation of this was very simple. These animals, when they were living wild in the jungles, forests, deserts, or ice-fields, obtained all their food by hunting. When game was scarce or difficult to catch, they were compelled to go hungry; and this occurred so often as to be a natural condition to which they were well accustomed. When, therefore, they were placed in cages, and were fed as regularly, though not as frequently as human beings, their health was more or less impaired.

Animals in confinement often undergo slight changes even when no alteration in their appearance or falling-off in health is noticeable. Many of them, for instance, rarely have young ones, and even when they have, the young are seldom as healthy and robust as if born in a wild state. The keepers have frequently the utmost difficulty in rearing animals which are born in menageries and zoological gardens. Yet if these animals were born in their own countries and under natural conditions, they would grow up healthy and strong, without receiving any more care than a kitten receives from its mother.

An incident which occurred in the Zoo not long ago affords a striking illustration of these facts. A wolf had an ordinary family of eight young ones. The keepers, probably thinking that these were too many for the captive wolf to bring up alone, divided the family. Four of them were left with their mother, and four of them were placed in charge of a collie. The dog took kindly to her foster-children, and reared them successfully with her own. This was only what the keepers expected. But when they placed the young ones together again, and compared the collie's family with the wolf's family, they were surprised to find that the four which had been nurtured by the collie were stronger and better animals than their four brothers and sisters. The best explanation of this result is that the collie was living a healthy natural life, while the wolf, though to all appearance quite well, was not enjoying the full vigor which results from a free and active life.

Based on this whole passage, what can you predict is the best way for zookeepers to best provide for the health of their captive animals?

Possible Answers:

Imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.

Ensure that each animal is allowed out of its cage on a regular basis to experience a taste of freedom.

Keep male and female animals of the same species separate to avoid confrontation between males.

Separate animals' young at birth to ensure the most young survive.

Keep the animals well fed and meticulously nurtured.

Correct answer:

Imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.


The overall argument of this passage, as demonstrated by the stories about the study of the wolf and the collie raising the wolf's pups and the discussion of why it is best to deny captive animals an occasional meal, is that the best way for zookeepers to provide for the health of their captive animals is to “imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.” 

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