New SAT Reading Practice Test 31: Paired Passages—Viking Longboats

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Paired Passages—Viking Longboats

Passage 1

At the end of the eighth century, the
Scandinavians known as the Vikings took to the
seas, traveling to areas including Iceland, Greenland,
England, Ireland, France, and Russia, and even reach-
05ing the shores of America some 500 years before
Columbus. The Vikings' innovations in shipbuilding
were central to constructing their empire. They relied
on the superior ships conjured in the minds of master
shipwrights for travel and exploration. Using vessels
10such as the longboat, these fascinating seafarers
opened up new connections. The great longboat itself
attests to their outstanding maritime skills.
Before archaeologists discovered ships buried in
the muck of Danish fjords, Viking travel was a mys-
15tery, but ship reconstruction has provided some
answers. Their ships were designed and built with
uncommon ingenuity to serve the Vikings' purpos-
es. The secret of the signature Viking ship is found
in its unique construction. The invention of the
20longboat meant Vikings could travel vast distances
over treacherous open water. In contrast to modern
sailboats, the longboat was riveted together with
enough spacing so that the boat was flexible.
It could bend as it rode over waves instead of taking
25the full impact of a swell. Incredibly, simple tools
such as axes, hammers, and scrapers were all that
carpenters used to frame a ship.
Additionally, the sleek longboat was an exceed-
ingly streamlined vessel. One kind of longboat
30could ride high by skimming the waves to swiftly
transport a crew of about 30. This fast ship had a
draft of as little as 20 inches, allowing navigation in
extremely shallow water.
While its shallow draft and ease of construction
35made the Viking longboat a superior seafaring vessel,
the seamanship of the Norsemen was the most deci-
sive factor in the success of their boats. For example,
Vikings navigated by looking at the sky through
a crystal, which was known as a sunstone. The
40composition of the crystal was recently identified as
a transparent calcite common in Iceland.
The Vikings' outstanding talents in ship con-
struction, coupled with their superlative skills as
navigators, greatly impacted Scandinavia. In turn,
45through their explorations, the Vikings influenced
the rest of the world.

Passage 2

The Gokstad ship was excavated in 1880 and
dates to around AD 890; discovery of this Viking
ship revealed innovations in construction. Aptly
50named "longboats," such ships were long and
narrow and could travel on the open sea as well as
along rivers. The Gokstad ship is considered the
best preserved of the Viking longboats. It reveals
the technical achievements of the Vikings because
55the shape was different from the norm.
The Gokstad ship owes nothing to earlier boat
designs, including those of the Egyptians and
Romans. The longboat was developed specifically
for Arctic waters. Its shallow draft, plus its ability to
60change direction quickly, was a tremendous asset to
the Vikings. The Gokstad ship is 78 feet long with
two high, pointed ends. Constructed out of sturdy
oak, it features a low freeboard1 and is therefore
fast, the kind of ship used to carry Vikings on raids
65across the North Sea.
The ship has been restored to reveal the Gok-
stad's original shape. With holes for 16 oars
along each side of the ship, the crew would have
numbered about 34, counting 32 oarsmen plus a
70steerman and lookout. Oars were typically 17 to
19 feet long, constructed of pine with a narrow
blade that made each oar both efficient and light-
weight. In addition, the Gokstad features a mast
near the center that carried a large rectangular sail.
75The Gokstad is different from earlier boat
designs in its planking, or framing out, as well; its
carvel planking made the ship watertight. Carvel
planking involves attaching wooden planks to a
frame and having the planks butt up edge to edge,
80providing support from the frame and forming a
smooth surface.
Contrary to popular belief, the Vikings were
not just warriors; they were also coastal farmers,
fishers, hunters, and craftsmen. Their lands were
85harsh, however, and increases in their population
forced some men to search for other opportunities.
Vikings, therefore, turned to trade and sea raiding.
Their swift sailing ships, already perfect for coastal
fishing, enabled Vikings to attack ports and towns,
90making these seamen effective as both raiders and
Truly, the Gokstad ship is representative of a
great leap in seafaring, for this finest expression of
technical achievement could serve many purposes.
95In 1982, its swiftness and seaworthiness was proven
when a copy, the Hjemkomst, journeyed from the
United States to Norway.

1freeboard: the distance between the level of the water and the upper edge of the side of a boat

1. The central idea of Passage 1 is that Vikings

  • A. excelled at shipbuilding and navigation.
  • B. had a passion for global exploration.
  • C. helped map the known world of their time.
  • D. led European peoples in technological innovation.

2. The introductory paragraph of Passage 1 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true?

  • A. The Vikings depended on sea trade and fishing to survive.
  • B. The Vikings expanded cultural interactions through seafaring.
  • C. The Vikings relied on colonization to support a growing population.
  • D. The Vikings sustained their economic development through sea raids.

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

  • A. Lines 1-3 ("At the end … to the seas")
  • B. Lines 7-9 ("They relied … exploration")
  • C. Lines 9-11 ("Using vessels … connections")
  • D. Lines 11-12 ("The great longboat … skills")

4. The author of Passage 2 most likely chose to write about the Gokstad ship because it

  • A. contradicts prevailing beliefs about modern shipbuilding.
  • B. gives insight into various seafaring economic activities.
  • C. stands out as a unique example of early shipbuilding.
  • D. was a recent maritime archaeological discovery.

5. Passage 2 strongly suggests that the Vikings

  • A. adapted to their geography by moving often.
  • B. became seafarers to grow their civilization.
  • C. learned shipbuilding from other peoples.
  • D. used raiding as a means of livelihood.

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

  • A. Lines 56-58 ("The Gokstad … Romans")
  • B. Lines 82-84 ("Contrary to … craftsmen")
  • C. Lines 84-86 ("Their lands … opportunities")
  • D. Lines 95-97 ("In 1982 … Norway")

7. As used in line 29 of Passage 1, "streamlined" most nearly means

  • A. contoured.
  • B. efficient.
  • C. simplistic.
  • D. slight.

8. As used in line 93 of Passage 2, "expression" most nearly means

  • A. adaptation.
  • B. embodiment.
  • C. sentiment.
  • D. simplification.

9. In lines 92-94 of Passage 2 ("Truly, the Gokstad … many purposes"), the author uses the phrase "a great leap" to emphasize

  • A. the technological progress that Vikings made.
  • B. the distance that Vikings traveled.
  • C. the strong faith and traditions on which Vikings relied.
  • D. the widespread influence of Viking culture.

10. Which generalization about the Vikings is supported by both passages?

  • A. Devoted to warfare, the Vikings built an empire that reshaped the map of Europe.
  • B. Innovations in shipbuilding and navigation saved the Vikings from decline and extinction.
  • C. The Vikings were noble warriors and farmers who sought to better understand the world.
  • D. Through their seafaring skills and abilities, the Vikings expanded and changed the world.

11. Which inference from the two passages is supported by the information in the timeline on page 100?

  • A. The Vikings endeavored to relocate surplus population through colonization.
  • B. The Vikings hoped to expand their cultural influence through economic exchange.
  • C. The Vikings traveled far and wide to launch sea raids and conduct trade.
  • D. The Vikings were compelled to abandon their homelands because of scarcity.