New SAT Reading : Using Evidence

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Inference

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. 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).

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.

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.

The passage suggests that an individual with a high level of homozygosity

Possible Answers:

had parents with a recent common ancestor.

is likely to be reproductively isolated.

may have been domesticated within the last few hundred years.

recently split off from a common ancestor.

Correct answer:

had parents with a recent common ancestor.

Explanation:

This question asks you to draw a conclusion about an individual with a large amount of homozygosity - that is, an individual with long ROHs. Remember that you are told in the sixth paragraph that shared ROHs between two individuals indicate that the individuals had a recent common ancestor. While this might point you towards "recently split off from a common ancestor" as your answer, note that there is no other organism with which to make the comparison, so there is no recent common ancestor to compare to. "Had parents with a recent common ancestor" is correct - remember that the passage also states that ROHs can reveal "recent inbreeding." Having two parents who are closely related certainly qualifies.

Between the other two answers, "may have been domesticated within the last few hundred years" can be eliminated because, while ROHs can reveal recent domestication, the passage doesn't indicate the definition of recent and "is likely to be reproductively isolated" can be eliminated because there is no indication as to the likelihood that an organism is reproductively isolated based on its ROHs according to the passage.

Example Question #1 : Inference

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

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 thus does the plan proposed, offer, as the object of legislative bounty, to elevate the whole character of the community.

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. 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.

It can be inferred that the author of this passage would most likely agree with which of the following statements?

Possible Answers:

A woman’s most important societal role is as a mother in the rearing of her children.

 Improving women’s education will also improve the laws and regulations of the United States.

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

Women have an obligation to improve the educational status and virtue of men.

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

Whenever a question asks which answer the author would most likely agree with, it is probably referring back to the main idea of the passage. In this passage, Willard argues that we should educate women not just for their own sakes, but because they, as mothers, affect the education and development of the men who will one day run the country. This best matches "One of the reasons to improve women’s education is that doing so will ensure that men can be better educated" , that one of the reasons to improve women's education is to help men become more educated. While "A woman’s most important societal role is as a mother in the rearing of her children" is close, mothers are used just as an example and Willard does not discuss whether this is a woman's most important role, or just one of many important roles a woman fills in her life. "Women have an obligation to improve the educational status and virtue of men" does include the effect of women on men's education, but the author does not state whether women have a moral obligation to improve men's lives. And " improving women’s education will also improve the laws and regulations of the United States" can be eliminated because improvement of laws and regulations are not directly discussed in Passage 1.

Example Question #3 : Inference

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

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 thus does the plan proposed, offer, as the object of legislative bounty, to elevate the whole character of the community.

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. 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.

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." 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. 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. 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.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. 

The author of Passage 1 would most likely respond to the sentiments of “some men” in the highlighted line by stating that

Possible Answers:

Anyone who would restrict the education of women is by nature despotic and barbaric.

It is more important that women improve the education of their sons than it is to create domestic harmony.

Educating women in fact increases their importance within the domestic sphere.

Women who are educated elevate the status of not only their sons but also their husbands.

Correct answer:

Educating women in fact increases their importance within the domestic sphere.

Explanation:

Whenever a question asks how one author would respond to a statement made in another passage, your job is to first understand what the author would be responding to and then relating that quotation to one or more stances that the author makes in their own passage. In this case, Rush states that some men believe that educating women makes them worse within the domestic sphere (and therefore unattractive). Since Passage 1's main idea is that educating women is important to helping women educate their sons, the author of Passage 1 obviously believes that women's education makes them more useful in the domestic sphere, which matches "educating women in fact increases their importance within the domestic sphere".

Among the other answer choices, "it is more important that women improve the education of their sons than it is to create domestic harmony" can be eliminated because the author of Passage 1 does not discuss the relative merits of educating sons versus increasing harmony (although it can be inferred that she would believe both are important). "Anyone who would restrict the education of women is by nature despotic and barbaric" can be eliminated because she describes some nations that prevent women's education as despotic and barbaric, but does not discuss individuals. "Women who are educated elevate the status of not only their sons but also their husbands" can be eliminated because Passage 1 exclusively deals with women as mothers, not as wives.

Example Question #4 : Inference

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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 

 

Which of the following is a phenomenon that fits in with the prediction within the study?

Possible Answers:

Cultures that teach reading after age 10 will have lower literacy rates than cultures who teach reading earlier.

The VWFA within an adult learning to read does not develop after a certain age.

Literate children are worse at recognizing faces than are illiterate children.

The part of the brain that recognizes spoons is not affected by learning to read.

Correct answer:

The part of the brain that recognizes spoons is not affected by learning to read.

Explanation:

When the quesiton asks you to determine whether a general statement fits with statements made in the passage, you are going to need to match something within the answer choice to the main idea of the passage (or at least to the main idea of a paragraph). Remember that the main idea of this passage is all about the VWFA - how it develops and how it works. You're told that the VWFA develops as individuals learn to read. "Literate children are worse at recognizing faces than are illiterate children" states that children who can read aren't as good at recognizing faces as children who can't read are. The passage states that this is a possibility, but it doesn't come to a clear conclusion about whether or not this is true. "The VWFA within an adult learning to read does not develop after a certain age" claims that the VWFA doesn't develop in adults learning to read. This is incorrect. The passage states that while VWFA development might not correlate with reading speed in adults, that the VWFA does indeed develop.

"The part of the brain that recognizes spoons is not affected by learning to read" is correct. The passage states that information relating reading is mapped onto adjacent sites and does not overwrite what is already there. That means that the ability to recognize a spoon should not be affected by learning to read. "Cultures that teach reading after age 10 will have lower literacy rates than cultures who teach reading earlier" is close but doesn't quite work: while it's implied that children learn to read more quickly at younger ages, there is nothing in the passage that directly leads to a decrease in overall literacy rates for cultures that teach children to read at a later age.

Example Question #5 : Inference

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. 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).

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.

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.

According to the passage, which of the following can be inferred about donkeys?

Possible Answers:

They are more genetically similar to horses than to other animals.

They have longer ROHs in common with asses than they do with zebras.

Their genomes contain large ROHs compared to horses.

They are less related to horses than scientists previously believed.

Correct answer:

They have longer ROHs in common with asses than they do with zebras.

Explanation:

Of the four choices, choices "they are less related to horses than scientists previously believed" and "they are more genetically similar to horses than to other animals." can be eliminated quickly. While horses are less related to donkeys than asses are, there is no indication that this study has made scientists seriously change their understanding. "They are more genetically similar to horses than to other animals" is incorrect because horses are less closely related to donkeys than are asses. 

Between "their genomes contain large ROHs compared to horses" and "they have longer ROHs in common with asses than they do with zebras", "their genomes contain large ROHs compared to horses" can be eliminated based on the fact that the study focuses on comparing ROHs between species, not in measuring the ROHs themselves. The correct answer is "they have longer ROHs in common with asses than they do with zebras". Because you are told in the passage that asses are more closely related to donkeys than are zebras, the asses must have longer ROHs in common with donkeys than do zebras.

Example Question #6 : Inference

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

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. 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. 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 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.

It can be inferred that Fanny

Possible Answers:

is disappointed that her cousins do not like her more.

regrets her decision to come to Mansfield Park.

is indifferent to the kindness the Bertrams have shown her.

misses her family more because of her diminished position at Mansfield Park.

Correct answer:

misses her family more because of her diminished position at Mansfield Park.

Explanation:

The answer to this question can be found in the last sentence of the passage: " 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." states that when Fanny thought about the fact that she was important as a friend and sister among her siblings, her feelings of sadness about being at Mansfield Park deepened. This matches the inference that she misses her family more because of her diminished position at Mansfield Park.

Example Question #7 : Inference

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

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. 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. [Sentence 1] 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 2] 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 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. [Sentence 3] 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; [Sentence 4] 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 choice provides the best evidence for the statement below?

It can be inferred that Fanny misses her family more because of her diminished position at Mansfield Park.

Possible Answers:

Sentence 2 ("Mrs. Norris ... to be happy")

Sentence 4 ("and when ... was severe.")

Sentence 3 ("Her feelings ... comfort")

Sentence 1 ("Afraid of everybody ... without crying")
Correct answer:

Sentence 4 ("and when ... was severe.")

Explanation:

This evidence-based inference question provides you with an inference and asks you to find the evidence to support it. These questions make for good use of process-of-elimination as each answer choice directs you to a sentence in the passage, which you can then use to determine whether it works with your inference.

"Sentence 1 ("Afraid of everybody ... without crying")"  is simply a short statement that Fanny is miserable at Mansfield Park so far. This does not match the inference made. 

"Sentence 2 ("Mrs. Norris ... to be happy")"  discusses the fact that Fanny knows that she should be happy with her family at Mansfield Park, but is not. 

"Sentence 3 ("Her feelings ... comfort")"  states that the Bertrams were not being unkind, but that they weren't going out of their way to help her settle in.

"Sentence 4 ("and when ... was severe.")" states that when Fanny thought about the fact that she was important as a friend and sister among her siblings, her feelings of sadness about being at Mansfield Park deepened. This matches the inference.

Example Question #8 : Inference

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. 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).

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.

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.

It can be inferred that donkeys and horses can mate because

Possible Answers:

 key portions of their genetic code are the same.

they have complementary chromosomes.

they have a recent common ancestor.

around 25% of their genetic code is shared.

Correct answer:

 key portions of their genetic code are the same.

Explanation:

When the SAT asks you to draw an inference, your job is always to go find concrete proof in the passage to support the inference you choose. Note that often times the next question after an inference question will directly point you to specific sentences in the passage to potentially serve as evidence - these question pairings are called "evidence-based pairs" - but for this single question, the best course of action is to look to see where in the passage horse and donkey mating - and why they are able to mate in the first place - is discussed. Paragraph 4 states that "That's why a copy of each genome can smush together to yield mules a hinnies" - this means that whatever comes before that statement must explain why horses and donkeys can mate. The discussion before states that even though some genes aren't the same between horses and donkeys, housekeeping genes, the genes that control embryonic development and cell division, are the same. This matches "key portions of their genetic code are the same." While not all of their genome is the same, the important parts are held in common.

Among the other answers, "they have complementary chromosomes" can be eliminated because they do not have complementary chromosomes, but rather a different number of chromosomes. "Around 25% of their genetic code is shared" and "they have a recent common ancestor" can be eliminated because while this is true, it is not the reason given for their ability to mate.

Example Question #1 : Inference

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." 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. 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. 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.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. 

It can be inferred that the author of Passage 2 believes that educated women

Possible Answers:

are less appealing to men than are uneducated women.

are worse within the domestic sphere than are uneducated women.

are easier to govern than are uneducated women. 

are less able to regulate the behavior of men to ensure virtue than are uneducated women.

Correct answer:

are easier to govern than are uneducated women. 

Explanation:

Whenever you're asked to draw an inference, you should look to the passage to provide proof.  Here the answer to this question can be found in the last paragraph: 

"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."

Since the author thinks that men who believe that ignorant women are easier to govern are wrong, you can conclude that the author believes that, actually, more educated women are the ones who are easier to govern. 

Example Question #10 : Inference

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.

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. 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. 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. 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

Based on the passage, which of the following is true about VWFA?

Possible Answers:

Its growth is associated with reading speed in all individuals.

It is not present in illiterate children.

The input into this area overpowers nearby areas.

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

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

The answer to this question can be found in the in the last paragraph: "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"

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