SAT Writing and Language Practice Test: A Sweet Discovery

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A Sweet Discovery

1 Like most chemists, a laboratory was where Constantin Fahlberg worked on his research. However, the discovery for which he is famous occurred not in the laboratory, but at supper.

2 Chemical compounds are derived from coal tar, which is what Fahlberg began working on as a research chemist in a laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in early 1878. Coal tar was a by-product of steel manufacturing, and compounds derived 3 from them had been used as medicines and in dye formulations. Fahlberg, and others in the laboratory, were studying ways to add different chemicals to molecules found in coal tar to see if the new compounds formed had other useful properties.

One night in June, Fahlberg finished a long day of work; he had been so 4 demanding in his research that he forgot to eat lunch, so he hurried to his supper without stopping to wash his hands. He might have considered hand washing unnecessary because he had not handled any toxic chemicals that day, or he might have just been so hungry he did not think about it. 5

The bread tasted so sweet that Fahlberg thought he might have picked up some cake by mistake. He rinsed out his mouth with water and then patted his mustache dry with a napkin. He was surprised to find that the napkin tasted sweet as well. He took another sip of water and realized that the water now tasted sweet. 6 The bread, napkin, and glass of water had something in common. He then tasted his thumb, and it tasted sweeter than any candy he had ever had.

[1] Fahlberg rushed back into the lab and began to taste the contents of every beaker he had used that day. [2] Fortunately, he had not worked with anything poisonous or corrosive, or the story 7 may have a different ending. 8 [3] He had discovered saccharin, which he named for its intense sweetness. [4] He found a sweet-tasting mixture of chemicals and worked for weeks to isolate the sweet substance from the rest and to determine its chemical composition. [5] Although it is many times more sweet tasting than sugar, it cannot be used for energy by the body and therefore does not contribute to calories consumed or energy use. [6] Soon after Fahlberg started 9 making saccharin commercially in 1886, it became popular with people who needed to lose weight and with diabetic patients who needed to avoid sugar. 10

1.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. Like most chemists, Constantin Fahlberg worked on his research in a laboratory.
  • C. Constantin Fahlberg worked on his research, like most chemists, in a laboratory.
  • D. A laboratory, like most chemists, is where Constantin Fahlberg worked on his research.

2.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. Johns Hopkins University is where Fahlberg began working as a research chemist in a laboratory, making chemical compounds derived from coal tar in early 1878.
  • C. Coal tar creates chemical compounds. This is what Fahlberg began working on as a research chemist in a laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in early 1878.
  • D. In early 1878, Fahlberg began working as a research chemist in a laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, making chemical compounds derived from coal tar.

3.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. from it
  • C. from these
  • D. from him

4.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. delayed
  • C. engrossed
  • D. excited

5. Which sentence should be inserted in this position to create an ideal transition to the next paragraph?

  • A. Later, hand washing would become a critical protocol in the laboratory.
  • B. Thankfully, he didn't, or he never would have discovered what came next.
  • C. Fahlberg had not eaten any cake, or indeed anything sweet, that day.
  • D. Either way, he picked up his bread in his unwashed hands and took a bite.

6.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. Was there something that the bread, napkin, and glass of water had in common, he wondered?
  • C. In fact, everything Fahlberg touched seemed to taste sweeter than usual, which intrigued his scientific mind.
  • D. Fahlberg quickly realized that the one thing the bread, napkin, and glass of water had in common was that they had all touched his fingers.

7.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. would have had
  • C. might have
  • D. might have had

8. How should sentence 3 be revised to most clearly and effectively convey the central idea of the paragraph?

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. The substance was saccharin, and it became known as an artificial sweetener.
  • C. Instead, the substance was a harmless sweetener called saccharin.
  • D. Interestingly, the substance was extremely sweet and would later be known as saccharin.

9.

  • A. NO CHANGE
  • B. inventing
  • C. creating
  • D. producing

10. Where should sentence 4 logically be placed within the paragraph?

  • A. Where it is now
  • B. Before sentence 1
  • C. Before sentence 3
  • D. Before sentence 6

11. Which of the following sentences would make the best conclusion to the passage?

  • A. Clearly, Constantin Fahlberg's legacy of research, along with his accidental discovery, continues to have lasting effects on society even today.
  • B. If Fahlberg had stopped to wash his hands that day, he might have continued his experiments on coal tar derivatives, never knowing that an important substance sat at the bottom of one of his laboratory beakers.
  • C. In addition to his discovery of saccharin, his work on coal tar proved that Constantin Fahlberg was a talented scientist whose work has applications in the present day, even though a number of new artificial sweeteners have been developed.
  • D. Fahlberg's discovery of saccharin is just one of the many examples of times when science was advanced through what some might call a happy accident.