New SAT Reading : Evidence

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Reading

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Evidence

The following passage is adapted from Ricki Lewis, "Did Donkeys Arise from an Inverted Chromosome?", originally published 2018 in PLOSOne Blogs.

In the world of genome sequencing, donkeys haven’t received nearly as much attention as horses. But now a report on a new-and-improved genome sequence of Willy, a donkey (Equus asinus) jack 5 born at the Copenhagen Zoo in 1997, appears in the new issue of Science Advances, from Gabriel Renaud, of the Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark. (A female is a jenny or jennet.) The new view provides clues to how donkeys may have branched from horses along the tree of evolution.

Horses and their relatives, past and present, are genetically peculiar in that their chromosomes are rearranged, with respect to each other. That should  prevent them from producing viable hybrids – yet they do. Donkeys have 62 chromosomes and horses have 64. A mule comes from the mating of a male donkey and a female horse, and has 63 chromosomes. Mules are known for their  intelligence, calm, stamina, and persistence. Their horse-like bodies perched on donkey-like limbs make them ideal for hauling tourists around the Grand Canyon and schlepping supplies in combat situations. The ears are large like those of the horse mom, and mules make a sound that begins as a whinny and becomes a bray.

The complementary couple, a female donkey and a male horse, produces a hinny, smaller than a mule. Hinnies are the flip side of the mule, with a donkey’s physique atop horsey limbs, and short donkey ears. They’re rarer than mules, but also have 63 chromosomes. It’s easy to mix them up.

Comparing Willy’s genome to a horse genome revealed their close evolutionary relationship. [Sentence 1]Only about 15% of horse genes aren’t also in the donkey genome, and only about 10% of a donkey’s genes don’t have counterparts in the horse. Most of the genes that they share provide basic “housekeeping” functions like dismantling proteins, repairing DNA, enabling embryonic development, and controlling cell division. So that’s why a copy of each genome can smush together to yield mules and hinnies.

A second form of information encoded in genomes, in addition to the A, C, T, G sequence, is the pattern of whether the two variants of individual genes are different (heterozygous) or the same (homozygous). Many contiguous homozygous genes form a “run of homozygosity” (ROH).

[Sentence 2] An ROH indicates a chromosome chunk, perhaps as long as millions of DNA bases, that’s the same from each of an individual’s parents, who in turn inherited it from a shared ancestor, like a grandparent that cousins share.  [Sentence 3] The longer the ROH, the more recent the shared ancestor, because it takes time for mutations to accrue that would break the sameness of the sequence.

Scrutinizing ROHs can reveal recent inbreeding and domestication, help to reconstruct possible branching patterns of evolution, and, more practically, help ancestry companies assign the DNA in spit samples to geographic areas where people’s ancestors might have come from. The new study compared ROHs for the three zebra and three ass species, confirming that Willy’s most recent ancestors were Somali wild asses.

The researchers used Chicago HiRise assembly technology to up the quality of Willy’s genome sequence. [Sentence 4] “This new assembly allowed us to identify fine chromosomal rearrangements between the horse and the donkey that likely played an active role in their divergence and, ultimately, speciation,” they write. 

The bigger pieces enabled them to zero in on DNA sequences where chromosomes contort, such as inversions (where a sequence flips) or translocations (where different chromosome types exchange parts). These events could have fueled the reproductive isolation of small populations that can expand into speciation.

If eventually sperm with one inverted chromosome fertilized eggs with the same inversion, animals would have been conceived in which both copies of the chromosome are inverted – and they’d be fertile with each other, but not with horses. Once a subpopulation with the inversion became established, further genetic changes would separate them further from the ancestral horse.

Which of the following choices provides the best support for the statement below?

According to the passage, one can infer that donkeys have longer ROHs in common with asses than they do with zebras.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 4 ("This new ... speciation")

Sentence 3 ("The longer ... sequence")

Sentence 1 ("Only about ... horse")

Sentence 2 ("An ROH ... cousins share")

Correct answer:

Sentence 3 ("The longer ... sequence")

Explanation:

The evidence for this statement is in Sentence 3 ("The longer ... sequence"). The longer a shared ROH, the more closely related the two species are - and since donkeys and asses are more closely related than are zebras and donkeys, the former must have more ROHs in common than the latter.

Example Question #1 : Evidence

The following passage and corresponding figure are from Emilie Reas. "How the brain learns to read: development of the “word form area”", PLOS Neuro Community, 2018.

The ability to recognize, process and interpret written language is a uniquely human skill that is acquired with remarkable ease at a young age. But as anyone who has attempted to learn a new language will attest, the brain isn’t “hardwired” to understand written language. In fact, it remains somewhat of a mystery how the brain develops this specialized ability. Although researchers have identified brain regions that process written words, how this selectivity for language develops isn’t entirely clear. 

Earlier studies have shown that the ventral visual cortex supports recognition of an array of visual stimuli, including objects, faces, and places.[Sentence 1] Within this area, a subregion in the left hemisphere known as the “visual word form area” (VWFA) shows a particular selectivity for written words. However, this region is characteristically plastic. It’s been proposed that stimuli compete for representation in this malleable area, such that “winner takes all” depending on the strongest input. That is, how a site is ultimately mapped is dependent on what it’s used for in early childhood. But this idea has yet to be confirmed, and the evolution of specialized brain areas for reading in children is still poorly understood.

In their study, Dehaene-Lambertz and colleagues monitored the reading abilities and brain changes of ten six-year old children to track the emergence of word specialization during a critical development  period. Over the course of their first school-year, children were assessed every two months with reading evaluations and functional MRI while viewing words and non-word images (houses, objects, faces, bodies). As expected, reading ability improved over the year of first grade, as demonstrated by increased reading speed, word span, and phoneme knowledge, among other measures.

Even at this young age, when reading ability was newly acquired, words evoked widespread left-lateralized brain activation. This activity increased over the year of school, with the greatest boost occurring after just the first few months. Importantly, there were no similar activation increases in response to other stimuli, confirming that these adaptations were specific to reading ability, not a general effect of development or education. Immediately after school began, the brain volume specialized for reading also significantly increased.[Sentence 2] Furthermore, reading speed was associated with greater activity, particularly in the VWFA. The researchers found that activation patterns to words became more reliable with learning. In contrast, the patterns for other categories remained stable, with the exception of numbers, which may reflect specialization for symbols (words and numbers) generally, or correlation with the simultaneous development of mathematics skills.

What predisposes one brain region over another to take on this specialized role for reading words? Before school, there was no strong preference for any other category in regions that would later become word-responsive. However, brain areas that were destined to remain “non-word” regions showed more stable responses to non-word stimuli even before learning to read. Thus, perhaps the brain takes advantage of unoccupied real-estate to perform the newly acquired skill of reading.

These findings add a critical piece to the puzzle of how reading skills are acquired in the developing child brain. Though it was already known that reading recruits a specialized brain region for words, this study reveals that this occurs without changing the organization of areas already specialized for other functions. The authors propose an elegant model for the developmental brain changes underlying reading skill acquisition. In the illiterate child, there are adjacent columns or patches of cortex either tuned to a specific category, or not yet assigned a function.[Sentence 3] With literacy, the free subregions become tuned to words, while the previously specialized subregions remain stable.

The rapid emergence of the word area after just a brief learning period highlights the remarkable plasticity of the developing cortex. In individuals who become literate as adults, the same VWFA is present. [Sentence 4] However, in contrast to children, the relation between reading speed and activation in this area is weaker in adults, and a single adult case-study by the authors showed a much slower, gradual development of the VWFA over a prolonged learning period of several months. Whatever the reason, this region appears primed to rapidly adopt novel representations of symbolic words, and this priming may peak at a specific period in childhood. This finding underscores the importance of a strong education in youth. The authors surmise that “the success of education might also rely on the right timing to benefit from the highest neural plasticity. Our results might also explain why numerous academic curricula, even in ancient civilizations, propose to teach reading around seven years.”

The figure below shows different skills mapped to different sites in the brain before schooling and then with and without school. Labile sites refer to sites that are not currently mapped to a particular skill.

Screen shot 2020 08 20 at 3.23.45 pm

Which choice provides the best evidence for the statement below?

VWFA grows more quickly in children than it does in adults.

Possible Answers:

 Sentence 3 ("With literacy ... stable")

Sentence 1 ("Within ... written words")

Sentence 4 ("However, ... several months")

Sentence 2 ("Furthermore ... VWFA")

Correct answer:

Sentence 4 ("However, ... several months")

Explanation:

 In Sentence 4, the author states that adults experience slower growth of the VWFA than do children.

Example Question #3 : Evidence

This passage is adapted from Jane Austen, Mansfield Park. Originally published 1814. Fanny has recently moved to live with her relatives at Mansfield Park.

[Sentence 1:] The little girl performed her long journey in safety; and at Northampton was met by Mrs. Norris, who thus regaled in the credit of being foremost to welcome her, and in the importance of leading her  in to the others, and recommending her to their kindness.

Fanny Price was at this time just ten years old, and though there might not be much in her first appearance to captivate, there was, at least, nothing to disgust her relations. She was small of her age, with no glow of complexion, nor any other striking beauty; exceedingly timid and shy, and shrinking from notice; but her air, though awkward, was not vulgar, her voice was sweet, and when she spoke  her countenance was pretty. Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram received her very kindly; and Sir Thomas, seeing how much she needed encouragement, tried to be all that was conciliating: but he had to work against a most untoward gravity of deportment; and Lady Bertram, without taking half so much trouble, or speaking one word where he spoke ten, by the mere aid of a good-humored smile, became immediately the less awful character of the two. 

The young people were all at home, and sustained their share in the introduction very well, with much good humor, and no embarrassment, at least on the part of the sons, who, at seventeen and sixteen, and tall of their age, had all the grandeur of men in the eyes of their little cousin. The two girls were more at a loss from being younger and in greater awe of their father, who addressed them on the occasion with rather an injudicious particularity. [Sentence 2:] But they were too much used to company and praise to have anything like natural shyness; and their confidence increasing from their cousin's total want of it, they were soon able to take a full survey of her face and her frock in easy indifference. 

They were a remarkably fine family, the sons very well-looking, the daughters decidedly handsome, and all of them well-grown and forward of their age, which produced as striking a difference between the cousins in person, as education had given to their address; and no one would have supposed the girls so nearly of an age as they really were. There were in fact but two years between the youngest and Fanny. Julia Bertram was only twelve, and Maria but a year older.

The little visitor meanwhile was as unhappy as possible. Afraid of everybody, ashamed of herself, and longing for the home she had left, she knew not how to look up, and could scarcely speak to be heard, or without crying. [Sentence 3]  Mrs. Norris had been talking to her the whole way from Northampton of Fanny’s wonderful good fortune, and the extraordinary degree of gratitude and good behavior which it ought to produce, and her consciousness of misery was therefore increased by the idea of its being a wicked thing for her not to be happy.

The fatigue, too, of so long a journey, became soon no trifling evil. In vain were the well-meant condescensions of Sir Thomas, and all the officious prognostications of Mrs. Norris that she would be a good girl; in vain did Lady Bertram smile and make her sit on the sofa with herself and pug, and  vain was even the sight of a gooseberry tart towards giving her comfort; she could scarcely swallow two mouthfuls before tears interrupted her, and sleep seeming to be her likeliest friend, she was taken to finish her sorrows in bed.

“This is not a very promising beginning,” said Mrs. Norris, when Fanny had left the room. “After all that I said to her as we came along, I thought she would have behaved better; I told her how much might depend upon her acquitting herself well at first. I wish there may not be a little sulkiness of temper—her poor mother had a good deal; but we must make allowances for such a child—and [Sentence 4] I do not know that her being sorry to leave her home is really against her, for, with all its faults, it was her home, and she cannot as yet understand how much she has changed for the better; but then there is moderation in all things.”

It required a longer time, however, than Mrs. Norris was inclined to allow to reconcile Fanny to the novelty of Mansfield Park, and the separation from everybody she had been used to. Her feelings were very acute and too little understood to be properly attended to. Nobody meant to be unkind, but nobody put themselves out of their way to secure her comfort.

Fanny, whether near or from her cousins, whether in the schoolroom, the drawing-room, or the shrubbery, was equally forlorn, finding something to fear in every person and place. She was disheartened by Lady Bertram's silence, awed by Sir Thomas's grave looks, and quite overcome by Mrs. Norris's admonitions. Her elder cousins mortified her by reflections on her size, and abashed her by noticing her shyness: Miss Lee wondered at her ignorance, and the maid-servants sneered at her clothes; and when to these sorrows was added the idea of the brothers and sisters among whom she had always been important as playfellow, instructress, and nurse, the despondence that sunk her little heart was severe.

Which of the following best supports the claim that Fanny understood why she should enjoy her time with her new family?

Possible Answers:

Sentence 4 ("I do not ... in all things.")

Sentence 1 ("The little ... their kindness.")

Sentence 3 ("Mrs. Norris ... to be happy.")

Sentence 2 ("But they ... easy indifference.")

Correct answer:

Sentence 3 ("Mrs. Norris ... to be happy.")

Explanation:

This evidence-based reading example provides you with an inference (or claim as it's stated in the question) and asks you to go find the "proof." The question asks for an answer that supports the claim that Fanny knew that she should enjoy her time with her new family. The correct answer will be in a portion of the text where Fanny's feelings are discussed. Since her feelings are discussed in the fifth paragraph and the ninth paragraph, the correct answer is probably somewhere in one of those. Only one answer, "Sentence 3 ("Mrs. Norris ... to be happy.")", occurs in either place. "Sentence 3 ("Mrs. Norris ... to be happy.")" states that Fanny was made more miserable by the fact that she should be happy - a clear indication that she understands that she should enjoy her time.

Among the other answers,"Sentence 1 ("The little ... their kindness.")" describes Mrs. Norris's statement that Fanny should be happy, "Sentence 2 ("But they ... easy indifference.")" deals with the Bertram sisters' reactions to Fanny rather than Fanny's own emotions, and choice "Sentence 4 ("I do not ... in all things.")" again describes Mrs. Norris's feelings about Fanny's situation.

Example Question #4 : Evidence

Passage 1 is adapted from Emma Hart Willard, "Improving Female Education." Originally published in 1819.

[Sentence 1] If the improvement of the American female character, and that alone, could be affected by public liberality, employed in giving better means of instruction; such improvement of one half of society, and that half, which barbarous and despotic nations have ever degraded, would of itself be an object, worthy of the most liberal government on earth; but if the female character be raised, it must inevitably raise that of the other sex; and [Sentence 2] thus does the plan proposed, offer, as the object of legislative bounty, to elevate the whole character of the community.

[Sentence 3] As evidence that this statement does not exaggerate the female influence in society, our sex  need but be considered, in the single relation of mothers. In this character, we have the charge of the whole mass of individuals, who are to compose the succeeding generation; during that period of youth, when the pliant mind takes any direction, to which it is steadily guided by a forming hand. How important a power is given by this charge! yet, little do too many of my sex know how, either to appreciate or improve it. Unprovided with the means of acquiring that knowledge, which flows liberally to the other sex- having our time of education devoted to frivolous acquirements, how should we understand the nature of the mind, so as to be aware of the importance of those early impressions, which we make upon the minds of our children? -or how should we be able to form enlarged and correct views, either of the character, to which we ought to mold them, or of the means most proper to form them aright?

Considered in this point of view, were the interests of male education alone to be consulted, that of females becomes of sufficient importance to engage the public attention. [Sentence 4] Would we rear the human plant to its perfection, we must first fertilize the soil which produces it. If it acquire its first bent and texture upon a barren plain, it will avail comparatively little, should it be afterwards transplanted to a garden.

Which of the following provides the best evidence to support the following statement?

One of the reasons to improve women’s education is that doing so will ensure that men can be better educated.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 1 ("If the improvement ... earth")

Sentence 3 ("As evidence ... of mothers")

Sentence 2 ("Thus does ... the community")

Sentence 4 ("Would we... produces it")

Correct answer:

Sentence 4 ("Would we... produces it")

Explanation:

The key here is to look at that piece of evidence in context - the author states that in order to improve humanity (particularly men, as set up in the previous sentence), we need to improve education for their mothers.  If "the soil which produces" male education/intelligence, the mothers who raise them, is fertilized through education, then the analogy holds that "the plant" (the male) will be reared to perfection.  Note here the importance of not merely reading each highlighted sentence alone, but also reading that important context around them; this analogy is set up by the previous sentence which states that even if one were only to consider male education alone, education for females still becomes important.

Among the other choices, Sentence 1 states that the improvement of the female character "would of itself be an object," so it does not include the idea that improving female education would also extend to improving education for males.  And Sentence 2 discusses raising "the character" of both genders, but is not specific to education the way that Sentence 4 is.  Sentence 3 discusses whether improving education for women would "exaggerate the female influence in society" but does not discuss the impact that the author's proposal would have on male education.  Only correct Sentence 4 properly strengthens the specific statement "...doing so will ensure that men can be better educated."

Example Question #1 : Evidence

Passage 2 is adapted from Benjamin Rush, "Thoughts upon Female Education". Originally published 1787.

A philosopher once said, "let me make all the ballads of a country and I care not who makes its laws." [Sentence 1] He might with more propriety have said, let the ladies of a country be educated properly, and they will not only make and administer its laws, but form its manners and character. It would require a lively imagination to describe, or even to comprehend, the happiness of a country where knowledge and virtue were generally diffused among the female sex. Our young men would then be restrained from vice by the terror of being banished from their company. The loud laugh and the malignant smile, at the expense of innocence or of personal infirmities– the feats of successful mimicry and the low priced wit which is borrowed from a misapplication of scripture phrases– would no more be considered as recommendations to the society of the ladies. [Sentence 2] A double-entendre in their presence would then exclude a gentleman forever from the company of both sexes and probably oblige him to seek an asylum from contempt in a foreign country.

If I am wrong in those opinions in which I have taken the liberty of departing from the general and fashionable habits of thinking I am sure you will discover and pardon my mistakes. But if I am right, I am equally sure you will adopt my opinions for to enlightened minds truth is alike acceptable, whether it comes from the lips of age or the hand of antiquity or whether it be obtruded by a person who has no other claim to attention than a desire of adding to the stock of human happiness.

To you, young ladies, an important problem is committed for solution: whether our present plan of education be a wise one and whether it be calculated to prepare you for the duties of social and domestic life. [Sentence 3] I know that the elevation of the female mind, by means of moral, physical, and religious truth, is considered by some men as unfriendly to the domestic character of a woman. But this is the prejudice of little minds and springs from the same spirit which opposes the general diffusion of knowledge among the citizens of our republics.[Sentence 4] If men believe that ignorance is favorable to the government of the female sex, they are certainly deceived, for a weak and ignorant woman will always be governed with the greatest difficulty. It  will be in your power ladies, to correct the mistakes and practice of our sex upon these subjects by demonstrating that the female temper can only be governed by reason and that the cultivation of reason in women is alike friendly to the order of nature and to private as well as public happiness. 

Which of the following provides the best evidence to support the statement below?

Educated women are easier to govern than are uneducated women.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 2 ("A double ... country")

Sentence 3 ("I know ... woman")

Sentence 4 ("If men ... difficulty")

Sentence 1 ("He might ... character")

Correct answer:

Sentence 4 ("If men ... difficulty")

Explanation:

When you're asked to determine which sentence provides evidence for a conclusion, your job is to visit each sentence and hold it up to that conclusion to see if you have a match.  Among these sentences:

Sentence 1's quotation states that if women are educated, society will improve in many different ways. This doesn't support the statement

Sentence 2's quotation gives one of the consequences of educating women - that men will be more careful of their manners - but doesn't support the statement

Sentence 3's quotation just states that some men are against women's education. 

Sentence 4 does compare educated and uneducated women, stating that educated women are easier to govern - to control - than are uneducated ones. 

Example Question #671 : New Sat

The following passage and corresponding figure are from Emilie Reas. "How the brain learns to read: development of the “word form area”", PLOS Neuro Community, 2018.

The ability to recognize, process and interpret written language is a uniquely human skill that is acquired with remarkable ease at a young age. But as anyone who has attempted to learn a new language will attest, the brain isn’t “hardwired” to understand written language. In fact, it remains somewhat of a mystery how the brain develops this specialized ability. Although researchers have identified brain regions that process written words, how this selectivity for language develops isn’t entirely clear. 

Earlier studies have shown that the ventral visual cortex supports recognition of an array of visual stimuli, including objects, faces, and places. Within this area, a subregion in the left hemisphere known as the “visual word form area” (VWFA) shows a particular selectivity for written words. However, this region is characteristically plastic. It’s been proposed that stimuli compete for representation in this malleable area, such that “winner takes all” depending on the strongest input. That is, how a site is ultimately mapped is dependent on what it’s used for in early childhood. But this idea has yet to be confirmed, and the evolution of specialized brain areas for reading in children is still poorly understood.

In their study, Dehaene-Lambertz and colleagues monitored the reading abilities and brain changes of ten six-year old children to track the emergence of word specialization during a critical development  period. Over the course of their first school-year, children were assessed every two months with reading evaluations and functional MRI while viewing words and non-word images (houses, objects, faces, bodies). As expected, reading ability improved over the year of first grade, as demonstrated by increased reading speed, word span, and phoneme knowledge, among other measures.

[Sentence 1]Even at this young age, when reading ability was newly acquired, words evoked widespread left-lateralized brain activation. This activity increased over the year of school, with the greatest boost occurring after just the first few months. Importantly, there were no similar activation increases in response to other stimuli, confirming that these adaptations were specific to reading ability, not a general effect of development or education. Immediately after school began, the brain volume specialized for reading also significantly increased. Furthermore, reading speed was associated with greater activity, particularly in the VWFA. The researchers found that activation patterns to words became more reliable with learning.[Sentence 2] In contrast, the patterns for other categories remained stable, with the exception of numbers, which may reflect specialization for symbols (words and numbers) generally, or correlation with the simultaneous development of mathematics skills.

What predisposes one brain region over another to take on this specialized role for reading words? Before school, there was no strong preference for any other category in regions that would later become word-responsive. [Sentence 3]However, brain areas that were destined to remain “non-word” regions showed more stable responses to non-word stimuli even before learning to read. Thus, perhaps the brain takes advantage of unoccupied real-estate to perform the newly acquired skill of reading.

These findings add a critical piece to the puzzle of how reading skills are acquired in the developing child brain. Though it was already known that reading recruits a specialized brain region for words, this study reveals that this occurs without changing the organization of areas already specialized for other functions. The authors propose an elegant model for the developmental brain changes underlying reading skill acquisition. In the illiterate child, there are adjacent columns or patches of cortex either tuned to a specific category, or not yet assigned a function. With literacy, the free subregions become tuned to words, while the previously specialized subregions remain stable.

[Sentence 4] The rapid emergence of the word area after just a brief learning period highlights the remarkable plasticity of the developing cortex. In individuals who become literate as adults, the same VWFA is present. However, in contrast to children, the relation between reading speed and activation in this area is weaker in adults, and a single adult case-study by the authors showed a much slower, gradual development of the VWFA over a prolonged learning period of several months. Whatever the reason, this region appears primed to rapidly adopt novel representations of symbolic words, and this priming may peak at a specific period in childhood. This finding underscores the importance of a strong education in youth. The authors surmise that “the success of education might also rely on the right timing to benefit from the highest neural plasticity. Our results might also explain why numerous academic curricula, even in ancient civilizations, propose to teach reading around seven years.”

The figure below shows different skills mapped to different sites in the brain before schooling and then with and without school. Labile sites refer to sites that are not currently mapped to a particular skill.

Screen shot 2020 08 20 at 3.23.45 pm

Which of the following provides the best evidence for the claim below?

A finding that non-word regions continue to solidify in students who remain illiterate may call into question the claim that learning to read does not affect parts of the brain other than the VWFA.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 4 ("The rapid ... cortex")

Sentence 1 ("Even at ... activation")

Sentence 2 ("In contrast ... skills")

Sentence 3 ("However, brain ... read")

Correct answer:

Sentence 2 ("In contrast ... skills")

Explanation:

When you're asked to find evidence for an inference or claim, follow the directions in each answer choice to return to the passage and consider each proposed sentence to see which fits the claim. Here, sentence 2 states that learning to read also aids in the development of number recognition. This implies that something to do with learning to read affects an area of the brain not specific to reading itself - a finding that is seemingly at odds with the information presented in the rest of the passage, so this is the correct answer.

Example Question #7 : Evidence

This passage is adapted from Adam K. Fetterman and Kai Sassenberg, “The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists", first published in December 2015 by PLOS ONE.

We like to think of science as a purely rational. However, scientists are human and often identify with their work. Therefore, it should not be controversial to suggest that emotions are involved in replication discussions.[Sentence 1] Adding to this inherently emotionally volatile situation, the recent increase in the use of social media and blogs by scientists has allowed for instantaneous, unfiltered, and at times emotion-based commentary on research. Certainly social media has the potential to lead to many positive outcomes in science–among others, to create a more open science.[Sentence 2] To some, however, it seems as if this ease of communication is also leading to the public tar and feathering of scientists. [Sentence 3] Whether these assertions are true is up for debate, but we assume they are a part of many scientists’ subjective reality. Indeed, when failed replications are discussed in the same paragraphs as questionable research practices, or even fraud, it is hard to separate the science from the scientist. Questionable research practices and fraud are not about the science; they are about the scientist. We believe that these considerations are at least part of the reason that we find the overestimation effect that we do, here.

Even so, the current data suggests that while many are worried about how a failed replication would affect their reputation, it is probably not as bad as they think. Of course, the current data cannot provide evidence that there are no negative effects; just that the negative impact is overestimated. That said, everyone wants to be seen as competent and honest, but failed replications are a part of science. In fact, they are how science moves forward!

While we imply that these effects may be exacerbated by social media, the data cannot directly speak to this. However, any one of a number of cognitive biases may add support to this assumption and explain our findings.[Sentence 4] For example, it may be that a type of availability bias or pluralistic ignorance of which the more vocal and critical voices are leading individuals to judge current opinions as more negative than reality. As a result, it is easy to conflate discussions about direct replications with “witch- hunts” and overestimate the impact on one’s own reputation. Whatever the source may be, it is worth looking at the potential negative impact of social media in scientific conversations.

If the desire is to move science forward, scientists need to be able to acknowledge when they are wrong. Theories come and go, and scientists learn from their mistakes (if they can even be called “mistakes”). This is the point of science. However, holding on to faulty ideas flies in the face of the scientific method. Even so, it often seems as if scientists have a hard time admitting wrongness. This seems doubly true when someone else fails to replicate a scientist’s findings. Even so, it often seems as if scientists have a hard time admitting wrongness. This seems doubly true when someone else fails to replicate a scientist’s findings. In some cases, this may be the proper response. Just as often, though, it is not. In most cases, admitting wrongness will have relatively fewer ill effects on one’s reputation than not admitting and it may be better for reputation. It could also be that wrongness admission repairs damage to reputation.

It may seem strange that others consider it less likely that questionable research practices, for example, were used when a scientist admits that they were wrong. However, it does make sense from the standpoint that wrongness admission seems to indicate honesty. Therefore, if one is honest in one domain, they are likely honest in other domains. Moreover, the refusal to admit might indicate to others that the original scientist is trying to cover something up. The lack of significance of most of the interactions in our study suggests that it even seems as if scientists might already realize this. Therefore, we can generally suggest that scientists admit they are wrong, but only when the evidence suggests they should.

The chart below maps how scientists view others' work (left) and how they suspect others will view their own work (right) if the researcher (the scientist or another, depending on the focus) admitted to engaging in questionable research practices.

Screen shot 2020 08 26 at 9.36.40 am

Adapted from Fetterman & Sassenberg, "The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists." December 9, 2015, PLOS One.

Which choice provides the best evidence to support the statement below?

The author of this passage argues that the effect of social media may give the illusion that feedback on a study is more negative than it really is.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 4 ("For example ... reality")

Sentence 2 ("To some ... scientists")

Sentence 3 ("Whether these ... scientist")

Sentence 1 ("Adding to ... research")

Correct answer:

Sentence 4 ("For example ... reality")

Explanation:

To answer this "find the evidence" question, you need to know where to look back. Luckily the SAT has made this easy for you by giving you four options. Unless you remember exactly where to look back from your initial reading, your strategy here should be to use the answer choices to help you answer the question. When you look back at those sentences highlighted in the passage, Sentence 4 is in the middle of paragraph 3, which does discuss the negative effects social media can have on feedback of a study- making it appear more negative. Thus, sentence 4 is the correct answer.

Example Question #8 : Evidence

This passage is adapted from Adam K. Fetterman and Kai Sassenberg, “The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists", first published in December 2015 by PLOS ONE.

We like to think of science as a purely rational. However, scientists are human and often identify with their work. Therefore, it should not be controversial to suggest that emotions are involved in replication discussions. Adding to this inherently emotionally volatile situation, the recent increase in the use of social media and blogs by scientists has allowed for instantaneous, unfiltered, and at times emotion-based commentary on research. Certainly social media has the potential to lead to many positive outcomes in science–among others, to create a more open science. To some, however, it seems as if this ease of communication is also leading to the public tar and feathering of scientists. Whether these assertions are true is up for debate, but we assume they are a part of many scientists’ subjective reality.[Sentence 1] Indeed, when failed replications are discussed in the same paragraphs as questionable research practices, or even fraud, it is hard to separate the science from the scientist. Questionable research practices and fraud are not about the science; they are about the scientist. We believe that these considerations are at least part of the reason that we find the overestimation effect that we do, here.

Even so, the current data suggests that while many are worried about how a failed replication would affect their reputation, it is probably not as bad as they think. Of course, the current data cannot provide evidence that there are no negative effects; just that the negative impact is overestimated. That said, everyone wants to be seen as competent and honest, but failed replications are a part of science. In fact, they are how science moves forward!

While we imply that these effects may be exacerbated by social media, the data cannot directly speak to this. However, any one of a number of cognitive biases may add support to this assumption and explain our findings. For example, it may be that a type of availability bias or pluralistic ignorance of which the more vocal and critical voices are leading individuals to judge current opinions as more negative than reality.[Sentence 2] As a result, it is easy to conflate discussions about direct replications with “witch- hunts” and overestimate the impact on one’s own reputation. Whatever the source may be, it is worth looking at the potential negative impact of social media in scientific conversations.

If the desire is to move science forward, scientists need to be able to acknowledge when they are wrong. Theories come and go, and scientists learn from their mistakes (if they can even be called “mistakes”). This is the point of science. However, holding on to faulty ideas flies in the face of the scientific method. [Sentence 3] Even so, it often seems as if scientists have a hard time admitting wrongness. This seems doubly true when someone else fails to replicate a scientist’s findings. In some cases, this may be the proper response. Just as often, though, it is not.[Sentence 4] In most cases, admitting wrongness will have relatively fewer ill effects on one’s reputation than not admitting and it may be better for reputation. It could also be that wrongness admission repairs damage to reputation.

It may seem strange that others consider it less likely that questionable research practices, for example, were used when a scientist admits that they were wrong. However, it does make sense from the standpoint that wrongness admission seems to indicate honesty. Therefore, if one is honest in one domain, they are likely honest in other domains. Moreover, the refusal to admit might indicate to others that the original scientist is trying to cover something up. The lack of significance of most of the interactions in our study suggests that it even seems as if scientists might already realize this. Therefore, we can generally suggest that scientists admit they are wrong, but only when the evidence suggests they should.

The chart below maps how scientists view others' work (left) and how they suspect others will view their own work (right) if the researcher (the scientist or another, depending on the focus) admitted to engaging in questionable research practices.

Screen shot 2020 08 20 at 3.28.58 pm

Adapted from Fetterman & Sassenberg, "The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists." December 9, 2015, PLOS One.

Which choice provides the best evidence to support the statement below?

The author of this passage would most likely believe that a researcher does not admit that the findings of a study cannot be replicated because they fear that their other work will be less trusted.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 3 ("Even so ... findings")

Sentence 1 ("Indeed ... scientist")

Sentence 4 ("In most ... reputation")

Sentence 2 ("As a result ... reputation")

Correct answer:

Sentence 3 ("Even so ... findings")

Explanation:

To find evidence for a conclusion, you must go back to the passage.  Fortunately, these questions generally include markers in the answer choices to direct you to a specific sentence; unless you remember exactly where to look back from your initial reading, your strategy here should be to use the answer choices to help you answer the question. When you look back at those sentences highlighted in the passage, Sentence 3 is in the middle of paragraph 4, which does discuss scientists having a hard time admitting when their research is wrong, especially when it can't be replicated. Thus, sentence 3 is the correct answer.

Example Question #1 : Evidence

The following passage is adapted from Ricki Lewis, "Did Donkeys Arise from an Inverted Chromosome?", originally published 2018 in PLOSOne Blogs.

In the world of genome sequencing, donkeys haven’t received nearly as much attention as horses. But now a report on a new-and-improved genome sequence of Willy, a donkey (Equus asinus) jack 5 born at the Copenhagen Zoo in 1997, appears in the new issue of Science Advances, from Gabriel Renaud, of the Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark. (A female is a jenny or jennet.) The new view provides clues to how donkeys may have branched from horses along the tree of evolution.

[Sentence 1] Horses and their relatives, past and present, are genetically peculiar in that their chromosomes are rearranged, with respect to each other. That should  prevent them from producing viable hybrids – yet they do. Donkeys have 62 chromosomes and horses have 64. A mule comes from the mating of a male donkey and a female horse, and has 63 chromosomes. Mules are known for their  intelligence, calm, stamina, and persistence. Their horse-like bodies perched on donkey-like limbs make them ideal for hauling tourists around the Grand Canyon and schlepping supplies in combat situations. The ears are large like those of the horse mom, and mules make a sound that begins as a whinny and becomes a bray.

The complementary couple, a female donkey and a male horse, produces a hinny, smaller than a mule. Hinnies are the flip side of the mule, with a donkey’s physique atop horsey limbs, and short donkey ears. They’re rarer than mules, but also have 63 chromosomes. It’s easy to mix them up.

Comparing Willy’s genome to a horse genome revealed their close evolutionary relationship. Only about 15% of horse genes aren’t also in the donkey genome, and only about 10% of a donkey’s genes don’t have counterparts in the horse. [Sentence 2] Most of the genes that they share provide basic “housekeeping” functions like dismantling proteins, repairing DNA, enabling embryonic development, and controlling cell division. So that’s why a copy of each genome can smush together to yield mules and hinnies.

A second form of information encoded in genomes, in addition to the A, C, T, G sequence, is the pattern of whether the two variants of individual genes are different (heterozygous) or the same (homozygous). Many contiguous homozygous genes form a “run of homozygosity” (ROH).

An ROH indicates a chromosome chunk, perhaps as long as millions of DNA bases, that’s the same from each of an individual’s parents, who in turn inherited it from a shared ancestor, like a grandparent that cousins share. The longer the ROH, the more recent the shared ancestor, because it takes time for mutations to accrue that would break the sameness of the sequence.

Scrutinizing ROHs can reveal recent inbreeding and domestication, help to reconstruct possible branching patterns of evolution, and, more practically, help ancestry companies assign the DNA in spit samples to geographic areas where people’s ancestors might have come from. The new study compared ROHs for the three zebra and three ass species, confirming that Willy’s most recent ancestors were Somali wild asses.

The researchers used Chicago HiRise assembly technology to up the quality of Willy’s genome sequence. “This new assembly allowed us to identify fine chromosomal rearrangements between the horse and the donkey that likely played an active role in their divergence and, ultimately, speciation,” they write.

[Sentence 3] The bigger pieces enabled them to zero in on DNA sequences where chromosomes contort, such as inversions (where a sequence flips) or translocations (where different chromosome types exchange parts). These events could have fueled the reproductive isolation of small populations that can expand into speciation.

[Sentence 4] If eventually sperm with one inverted chromosome fertilized eggs with the same inversion, animals would have been conceived in which both copies of the chromosome are inverted – and they’d be fertile with each other, but not with horses. Once a subpopulation with the inversion became established, further genetic changes would separate them further from the ancestral horse.

Which of the following choices provides the best support for the statement below?

Under some circumstances, gene inversion can lead to reproductive isolation.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 3 ("The bigger ... exchange parts")

Sentence 1 ("Horses and ... each other")  

Sentence 4 ("If eventually ... horses")

Sentence 2 ("Most of ... cell division") 

Correct answer:

Sentence 4 ("If eventually ... horses")

Explanation:

Whenever a question asks you to find evidence for an inference, a good course of action is to let the answer choices guide you to the relevant portions of the passage and then to use process of elimination.  You can then hold each potential sentence up against the inference to see which directly supports your inference.

The quotation in "Sentence 4 ("If eventually ... horses")"  states that if an egg and a sperm with the same inversion are combined, the children of that pairing would be fertile with each other but not with horses. In other words, under that particular circumstance, gene inversion could lead to reproductive isolation. This is the correct answer

The quotation in Sentence 1 ("Horses and ... each other")   states that horses have translocations in their genes compared to donkeys. This does not support the statement.

The quotation in Sentence 2 ("Most of ... cell division") states that horses and donkeys have a few key genes in common that allow them to reproduce. While this does mean that they are genetically similar, this quotation cannot be linked to the statement.

The quotation in Sentence 3 ("The bigger ... exchange parts") states that scientists were able to look at gene inversions. This does not match the statement. 

Example Question #10 : Evidence

The following passage is adapted from a speech delivered by Susan B. Anthony in 1873. The speech was delivered after Anthony was tried and fined $100 for voting in the 1872 presidential election.

Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last Presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says: “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people— women as well as men. (Sentence 1) And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government—the ballot.

(Sentence 2) For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity. To them this government had no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the right govern the poor. (Sentence 3) An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured, but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household—which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation. 

Webster, Worcester and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office. The one question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no State has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. (Sentence 4) Hence, every discrimination against women are citizenswomen in the constitutions and laws of the several States is today null and void, precisely as is every one against African Americans.

Which choice provides the best evidence for the inference below?

“​Women did not enjoy the same degree of liberty as men.​”

Possible Answers:

Sentence 4 (“Hence every…African Americans”)

Sentence 2 (“For any state…the land”)

Sentence 1 (“And it is…the ballot”)

Sentence 3 (“An oligarchy …endured”)

Correct answer:

Sentence 1 (“And it is…the ballot”)

Explanation:

In this example, we’re looking for an answer that can directly support the inference that “women did not enjoy the same degree of liberty as men.” So, we need an excerpt that gives us reason to believe that women did not have the same rights/freedoms as men. The first sentence of our options directly addresses this, as it reads “And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government—the ballot.” In this excerpt, Anthony suggests that women could not possibly have the same level of freedom when they do not have the same rights, and specifically, the ability to exercise their opinions and interests via “the ballot,” or voting. None of our remaining options, on their own, draw the direct comparison between the rights of women and those of men.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors