New SAT Reading Practice Test 29: Three Men in a Boat

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Three Men in a Boat

The following passage is adapted from the nineteenth-century novel Three Men in a Boat. In this scene, George, William Samuel, Harris, Jerome, and a dog named Montmorency take a typical boating holiday of the time on a Thames River camping skiff. Jerome, the narrator, shares the story of how the journey with his friends began.

George had towed us up to Staines, and we had
taken the boat from there, and it seemed that we
were dragging fifty tons after us, and were walking
forty miles. It was half-past seven when we were
05through, and we all got in, and sculled up close to
the left bank, looking out for a spot to haul up in.
We had originally intended to go on to Magna
Carta Island, a sweetly pretty part of the river,
where it winds through a soft, green valley, and to
10camp in one of the many picturesque inlets to be
found round that tiny shore. But, somehow, we did
not feel that we yearned for the picturesque nearly
so much now as we had earlier in the day. A bit of
water between a coal-barge and a gas-works would
15have quite satisfied us for that night. We did not
want scenery. We wanted to have our supper and
go to bed. However, we did pull up to the point—
"Picnic Point," it is called—and dropped into a
very pleasant nook under a great elm-tree, to the
20spreading roots of which we fastened the boat.
Then we thought we were going to have supper
(we had dispensed with tea, so as to save time), but
George said no; that we had better get the canvas
up first, before it got quite dark, and while we could
25see what we were doing. Then, he said, all our work
would be done, and we could sit down to eat with
an easy mind.
That canvas wanted more putting up than
I think any of us had bargained for. It looked so
30simple in the abstract. You took five iron arches,
like gigantic croquet hoops, and fitted them up
over the boat, and then stretched the canvas over
them, and fastened it down: it would take quite ten
minutes, we thought.
35That was an under-estimate.
We took up the hoops, and began to drop them
into the sockets placed for them. You would not
imagine this to be dangerous work; but, looking
back now, the wonder to me is that any of us are
40alive to tell the tale. They were not hoops, they were
demons. First they would not fit into their sockets
at all, and we had to jump on them, and kick them,
and hammer at them with the boat-hook; and,
when they were in, it turned out that they were the
45wrong hoops for those particular sockets, and they
had to come out again.
But they would not come out, until two of us
had gone and struggled with them for five minutes,
when they would jump up suddenly, and try and
50throw us into the water and drown us. They had
hinges in the middle, and, when we were not look-
ing, they nipped us with these hinges in delicate
parts of the body; and, while we were wrestling
with one side of the hoop, and endeavouring to
55persuade it to do its duty, the other side would
come behind us in a cowardly manner, and hit us
over the head.
We got them fixed at last, and then all that was
to be done was to arrange the covering over them.
60George unrolled it, and fastened one end over the
nose of the boat. Harris stood in the middle to take
it from George and roll it on to me, and I kept by
the stern to receive it. It was a long time coming
down to me. George did his part all right, but it
65was new work to Harris, and he bungled it.
How he managed it I do not know, he could
not explain himself; but by some mysterious
process or other he succeeded, after ten minutes of
superhuman effort, in getting himself completely
70rolled up in it. He was so firmly wrapped round
and tucked in and folded over, that he could not get
out. He, of course, made frantic struggles for free-
dom… and, in doing so, knocked over George.…

1. The men change their minds about their destination because

  • A. the weather is turning bad.
  • B. they are too tired to go farther.
  • C. they have lost interest in scenery.
  • D. the supplies are running low.

2. As used in line 22, "dispensed with" most nearly means

  • A. administered.
  • B. distributed.
  • C. served.
  • D. skipped.

3. From paragraphs 1-3, it can be reasonably inferred that the men are

  • A. thirsty and sore.
  • B. tired and hungry.
  • C. panicked and frantic.
  • D. curious and content.

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

  • A. Lines 1-4 ("George had … forty miles")
  • B. Lines 13-15 ("A bit of water … for that night")
  • C. Lines 16-17 ("We wanted … to bed")
  • D. Lines 25-27 ("Then, he said, … easy mind")

5. What theme does the passage communicate through the experiences of its characters?

  • A. It's important to plan in advance.
  • B. Conflicts among friends should be avoided.
  • C. False confidence can lead to difficulties.
  • D. Every group benefits from a leader.

6. It can be reasonably inferred that which of the following is true?

  • A. None of the men were skilled boaters.
  • B. Some of the men were skilled boaters.
  • C. The narrator is the only one with boating experience.
  • D. George is the only one with boating experience.

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

  • A. Lines 23-25 ("we had better … doing")
  • B. Lines 28-29 ("That canvas … bargained for")
  • C. Lines 58-59 ("We got … over them")
  • D. Lines 70-72 ("He was so … get out")

8. As used in line 30, "in the abstract" most nearly means

  • A. in summary.
  • B. in the directions.
  • C. in the ideal.
  • D. in theory.

9. In paragraph 7, the main rhetorical effect of the author's descriptions of the hoops is to

  • A. convey anger through the use of hyperbole.
  • B. convey humor through the use of personification.
  • C. convey severity through the use of understatement.
  • D. convey confidence through the use of active verbs.

10. The tone of the passage is primarily one of

  • A. fear and panic.
  • B. comic reflection.
  • C. arrogant frustration.
  • D. mockery and disgust.