New SAT Reading Practice Test 30: Kennedy Speech

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Kennedy Speech

The following passage is adapted from President John F. Kennedy's 1962 speech, which has come to be called "We Choose to Go to the Moon." Kennedy delivered the speech at Rice University in Texas.

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a
city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength,
and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an
hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope
05and fear, in an age of both knowledge and igno-
rance. The greater our knowledge increases, the
greater our ignorance unfolds.…
No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we
have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years
10of man's recorded history in a time span of but a
half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little
about the first forty years, except at the end of them
advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals
to cover them. Then about ten years ago, under this
15standard, man emerged from his caves to construct
other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned
to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began
less than two years ago. The printing press came this
year, and then less than two months ago, during this
20whole fifty-year span of human history, the steam
engine provided a new source of power.
Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last
month electric lights and telephones and auto-
mobiles and airplanes became available. Only last
25week did we develop penicillin and television and
nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft
succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally
reached the stars before midnight tonight.
This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace
30cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old,
new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely
the opening vistas of space promise high costs and
hardships, as well as high reward.
So it is not surprising that some would have us
35stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But
this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this coun-
try of the United States was not built by those who
waited and rested and wished to look behind them.
This country was conquered by those who moved
40forward—and so will space.
William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the
founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all
great and honorable actions are accompanied with
great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and
45overcome with answerable courage.
If this capsule history of our progress teaches
us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowl-
edge and progress, is determined and cannot be
deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead,
50whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the
great adventures of all time.…
This generation does not intend to founder in
the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean
to be a part of it—we mean to lead it. For the eyes
55of the world now look into space, to the moon and
to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we
shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of con-
quest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We
have vowed that we shall not see space filled with
60weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments
of knowledge and understanding.
Yet the vows of this nation can only be fulfilled if
we in this nation are first.… In short, our leader-
ship in science and in industry, our hopes for peace
65and security, our obligations to ourselves as well
as others, all require us to make this effort … to
become the world's leading space-faring nation.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new
knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won,
70and they must be won and used for the progress of
all people.…
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict
in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to
us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind,
75and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may
never come again. But why, some say, the moon?
Why choose this as our goal? And they may well
ask why climb the highest mountain? Why,
thirty-five years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does
80Rice play Texas?1
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go
to the moon in this decade and do the other things,
not because they are easy, but because they are
hard, because that goal will serve to organize and
85measure the best of our energies and skills.…

1This is a college sports reference. Kennedy's audience (at Rice University) would have understood the University of Texas at Austin to be the challenging athletic opponent of Rice.

1. What is Kennedy's purpose for giving this speech?

  • A. To present a chronology of human achievements
  • B. To explain the threat that other countries pose to the United States
  • C. To encourage students to support the United States in the race to reach the moon
  • D. To promote increased funding for NASA and space exploration

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

  • A. Lines 8-11 ("No man … half-century")
  • B. Lines 46-49 ("If this … deterred")
  • C. Lines 49-51 ("The exploration … all time")
  • D. Lines 81-85 ("We choose … skills")

3. As used in line 44, "enterprised" most nearly means

  • A. undertaken.
  • B. funded.
  • C. promoted.
  • D. determined.

4. What does Kennedy suggest about the motivations of other countries attempting to reach the moon?

  • A. They wish to embarrass the United States by reaching the moon first.
  • B. They are trying to advance technology for the good of humanity.
  • C. They want to use the moon for hostile military actions.
  • D. They lack the scientific knowledge to accomplish their goals.

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

  • A. Lines 24-28 ("Only last … tonight")
  • B. Lines 29-31 ("This is … new dangers")
  • C. Lines 58-61 ("We have … understanding")
  • D. Lines 68-71 ("We set … all people")

6. As used in line 52, "founder" most nearly means

  • A. begin.
  • B. innovate.
  • C. dissolve.
  • D. sink.

7. According to Kennedy, what is true of progress?

  • A. It creates new problems as it solves old ones.
  • B. It was minimal until the invention of written language.
  • C. It must be accomplished cooperatively with other countries.
  • D. It leads to an increase in global hostilities.

8. The statement in lines 63-67 ("In short, … space-faring nation") is important to the overall argument in its suggestion that

  • A. the monetary rewards for space exploration are too great to pass up.
  • B. the U.S. military will never use space for strategic operations.
  • C. the United States is better equipped than other nations to ensure that space remains a peaceful frontier.
  • D. the space race is an opportunity to solidify the position of the United States as a military superpower.

9. Based on the information in the passage, to what group can Kennedy's audience best be compared?

  • A. Soldiers who were drafted for service and bravely served their country
  • B. Farmers who have worked in the field for months and now see their harvest
  • C. Students who are studying and preparing for graduation
  • D. Pioneers who are about to embark on a difficult but important journey

10. Kennedy most likely included paragraphs 2 and 3 in order to

  • A. persuade the audience to fund the race to the moon.
  • B. frame space exploration as a logical next step in human progress.
  • C. warn of the potential hazards of technological advances.
  • D. encourage audience members to be leaders of their generation.