New SAT Reading Practice Test 65: The Downfall of Democracy?

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The Downfall of Democracy?

"The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

The statement above, made by the 34th
President of the United States, paints a dismal
picture when one considers the trends
of the American youth. Those under the age
05of 35, in general, do not vote, do not participate
in politics, and frankly, have no interest
or trust in the government itself. The retreat
of youngsters from the political realms can
be seen in election turnouts surely, but it
10can also be noted in the miniscule numbers
of young Americans who identify as either
Democrats or Republicans. It is not only
disinterest but also distaste that keep the
next generation of representatives far from
15the poll booths and even further from office.
In fact, a recently published book Running
From Office: Why Young Americans Are
Turned Off to Politics
found that only about
ten percent of high school and university
20students would even consider running for
public office, with disdain for federal positions
at the highest.
It might be easy to chalk up the younger
generation as careless and unconcerned
25and altogether misdirected, but that's the
easy way out, and it is flawed. Students are
largely civic-minded; they volunteer, worry
about public policies, and even congregate
debate solutions to everything from environmental
30issues to human rights to healthcare.
Significant events like the war in Iraq or
Barack Obama running for President or gay
marriage rights may generate an influx in
youth participation, but overall, young voters
35are disengaged from American democracy
and looking at other ways of tackling society's
problems. It is not that they are merely apathetic,
but instead that they have lost faith in
electoral politics and are highly suspicious of
40party labels.
If it is distrust and suspicion that keep
youngsters away, the U.S. must ask what has
changed to trigger this worrying trend. One
doesn't have to prepare extensive research
45methods to find that today's millennials
view themselves as in an altogether worse
situation than that of their parents or grandparents.
Widespread opinion has them in a
bitter, unrewarding job market bankrupted
50by the university and crushed underneath a
stifling national debt. Their path is difficult
and uncertain at best; behind these obstacles
lies an inefficient and wasteful government
that they are less than anticipatory to inherit.
55The aforementioned book found that 25%
of student-aged Americans showed absolute
indifference to politics. More worrying
were the 60% who held negative views of
politics, avoided the subject at all costs, and
60thought of all politicians as devious and
untrustworthy. More and more Americans
are shunning away from the loaded labels of
"conservative" and "liberal," instead finding
themselves somewhere in the middle,
65socially liberal but fiscally conservative.
Alienated by the two-party system, young
Americans would rather not be included in
either disagreeable side.
Disinterested in a bleak future of more
70debt and less freedom, and wary of aligning
themselves within partisanship, today's
youth are doubtful of a government that
promises few of the assurances it once
pledged. Naturally, this trend is disquieting
75for a nation that depends on its voters and
an interest in representation, both of which
are in a state of deterioration. Yet, some
may applaud the veer from partisanship—
a phenomena that has left more undone
80than accomplished. Still, if democracy is to
survive, something must be done to align
the cynical millennials with a system that
desperately needs their interference.

Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections by Age

Source: 2012 U.S. Census Bureau:

1. What is the overall point of the essay?

  • A. To argue against the continuation of the two-party political system
  • B. To raise specific concerns about the lack of millennial political engagement
  • C. To suggest that mandatory voting would alleviate much of the skepticism towards the political process
  • D. To explain why millennials are more interested in pursuing political office than people from past generations

2. The tone of the essay is best described as

  • A. panicked.
  • B. wavering.
  • C. concerned.
  • D. optimistic.

3. As used in line 23, the phrase "chalk up" most closely means

  • A. ascribe.
  • B. draw.
  • C. blame.
  • D. dispute.

4. The author most strongly suggests that those Americans under age 35 are most likely to take what approach to solving societal problems?

  • A. Active participation in the political process
  • B. General apathy and lack of activity
  • C. Attacking problems outside of a governmental paradigm
  • D. Focusing on their own individual interests above all

5. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 1-4 ("The statement . . . youth")
  • B. Lines 34-37 ("young . . . problems")
  • C. Lines 43-48 ("One . . . grandparents")
  • D. Lines 77-80 ("Yet . . . accomplished")

6. As used in line 36, the word "tackling" most closely means

  • A. beginning.
  • B. discovering.
  • C. solving.
  • D. dismissing.

7. The primary purpose of the paragraph in lines 55-68 is to

  • A. give evidence pertaining to the lack of interest in politics on the part of young Americans.
  • B. explain the inherent flaws with the American two-party political system.
  • C. describe the specific reasons why young people find party labels distasteful.
  • D. analyze why older Americans are more likely to participate in the political process than younger Americans.

8. What is the purpose of the sentence in lines 77-80 ("Yet . . . accomplished.")?

  • A. To state the thesis of the essay
  • B. To give details about the pitfalls of partisanship
  • C. To acknowledge a contrasting viewpoint
  • D. To cite an expert point of view

9. According to the information in the graph, during what year were the voter turnout rates of Americans ages 65 and older and Americans ages 18-24 closest to one another?

  • A. 1992
  • B. 2000
  • C. 2004
  • D. 2008

10. The variation in the ages 18-24 voter turnout can most directly be accounted for by what selection from the passage?

  • A. Lines 4-7 ("Those . . . itself")
  • B. Lines 31-34 ("Significant . . . participation")
  • C. Lines 57-61 ("More . . . untrustworthy")
  • D. Lines 74-77 ("Naturally . . . deterioration")