New SAT Reading Practice Test 19: Life and Work of Phyllis Wheatley

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Question 10 questions

Time 14 minutes

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This passage describes the life and work of Phyllis Wheatley (1753-1784), a poet from Massachusetts.

1. The primary purpose of the passage as a whole is to

  • A. criticize readers for not having read more works by authors subjected to adverse circumstances.
  • B. describe the life and work of an author while noting some of the complications of that life and work.
  • C. outline a general history of African-American literature and discuss its major figures.
  • D. praise one slaveholder for his particularly forward-thinking views by showing his kindness to slaves.

2. Based on the information in the passage, Phyllis Wheatley's life can best be described as

  • A. difficult, because she was never freed from slavery despite her fame as a poet.
  • B. charmed, because she was given so many wonderful opportunities upon arriving at the Wheatleys' home.
  • C. impressive, although it contains many aspects that are troubling or confusing to present-day readers.
  • D. contemplative, although some of the sentiments in her work show a refusal to think deeply about her own life.

3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 18-24 ("Although…Wheatley")
  • B. Lines 48-56 ("Wheatley's story…1805)")
  • C. Lines 57-69 ("Tragically…poet")
  • D. Lines 84-90 ("Wheatley's poems…groups")

4. The passage suggests which of the following about Phyllis Wheatley's popularity?

  • A. Her family was prominent in Massachusetts, and she gained all of her connections through the family.
  • B. She was admired in the United States, but she achieved greater fame in Europe.
  • C. She was considered one of the greatest poets in the country, but few people consider her a great poet today.
  • D. She was admired by prominent people, but such admiration did not make her life less difficult.

5. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 1-6 and 84-90
  • B. Lines 24-32 and 73-83
  • C. Lines 44-47 and 84-90
  • D. Lines 48-56 and 57-65

6. The reference to Frederick Douglass in lines 13-14 serves primarily to

  • A. name a writer whose life story is less interesting than Wheatley's.
  • B. allude to a type of literary achievement distinct from Wheatley's.
  • C. note a discrepancy in literary history that is not often acknowledged.
  • D. refer to a friend of Wheatley's who encouraged the publication of her work.

7. In context, the "circumstances" in line 19 refer to

  • A. precise and complete biographical details.
  • B. unintended consequences and failures.
  • C. climate and weather conditions.
  • D. general context and historical events.

8. The information in lines 41-47 primarily illustrates Phyllis Wheatley's

  • A. remarkable aptitude.
  • B. poetic nature.
  • C. vicious subjection.
  • D. confounding life.

9. The word "progressive" appears in quotations in line 39 and line 66 in order to emphasize

  • A. the remarkable achievement of those who behave well before it is common to do so.
  • B. the awkwardness of using contemporary terms to described past events.
  • C. the difficult nature of describing negative behavior in a positive way.
  • D. the fact that the word comes from Wheatley's poetry and essays.

10. As used in line 86, "hallmarks" most nearly means

  • A. distinctive features.
  • B. cordial greetings.
  • C. political leanings.
  • D. troublesome qualities.