New SAT Reading Practice Test 96: Humanity's Code

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Humanity's Code

A protein is a large, complex macromolecule
composed of one or more long chains
of amino acids. Proteins are 15–25% nitrogen
and an equal amount of oxygen, and are
05present in and vital to every living cell. They
are essential for the structure, function, and
regulation of the body's tissues and organs.
As a matter of fact, proteins hold together,
protect, and provide structure to the body of
10a multi-celled organism. Furthermore, they
are responsible for catalyzing and regulating
the body chemistry. Yet, before Frederick
Sanger—one of only two people to ever
receive two Nobel Prizes in the same category—
15little was known about proteins and
the sequence of their amino acid chains.
Frederick Sanger graduated with a doctorate
in biochemistry from St. John's College
in 1943, where he had spent three years
20researching the metabolism of the amino
acid lysine. Yet, it wasn't until his work with
insulin that Sanger differentiated himself
in the field of chemistry. His first true
accomplishment occurred when he successfully
25determined the complete amino acid
sequence of the two polypeptide chains of
bovine insulin A and B in the early 1950s. His
research proved that proteins have a defined
chemical composition, and he ultimately
30concluded that every protein had a unique
sequence. In 1958, Sanger was awarded the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry for showing how
amino acids link together to form insulin,
and, therefore, providing the tools for scientists
35to analyze any protein in the body. Much
later, after his retirement, he would describe
himself as "just a chap who messed about in
a lab."
Four years later, Sanger took a position as
40the head of the Protein Chemistry Division
on the Medical Research Council, where he
began to work on the sequencing of ribonucleic
acid. He developed methods for
separating ribonucleotide fragments generated
45with specific nucleases which triggered
the discovery of formylmethionine tRNA,
responsible for initiating protein synthesis
in bacteria. Yet his earlier work with insulin
helped him to form and deliberate on
50ideas of how DNA codes for proteins. When
he turned to sequencing DNA—the blueprint-
like molecule that carries the genetic
instructions for all living organisms—Sanger
collaborated with Alan Coulson to publish
55the "Plus and Minus Technique," a sequencing
procedure he developed to determine the
order of the chemical bases adenine, thymine,
guanine, and cytosine which spell out
the genetic code for all living things.
60When he devised a more efficient method
for reading the molecular letters that make
up the genetic code in 1977, he christened it
the "Sanger Method." The "Sanger Method"
allows long stretches of DNA to be rapidly
65and accurately sequenced, which earned him
his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980.
He employed his invention to decipher the
sixteen thousand letters of mitochondria.
More significantly, this method eventually
70allowed scientists to decode the three billion
letters of the human genetic code, giving
science the ability to distinguish between
normal and abnormal genes. In the same
way, Sanger's work directly contributed to
75the development of biotechnology drugs like
human growth hormone.
In 1986, the celebrated chemist accepted
an Order of Merit. Shortly after, he helped
open the Sanger Institute outside of
80Cambridge, which is now one of the world's
largest genomic research centers. Sanger died
in November 2013; his obituary documented
his supreme modesty in an autobiographical
account of himself as "academically not
85brilliant." At any rate, Sanger's research
prompted the decoding of the human
genome.

Nobel Prize Winners as of 2013

1. The organization of the passage is

  • A. somewhat chronological.
  • B. mostly chronological.
  • C. somewhat argumentatively sequenced.
  • D. mostly argumentatively sequenced.

2. As used in line 5, the word "vital" most closely means

  • A. vibrant.
  • B. essential.
  • C. biological.
  • D. dynamic.

3. According to the passage, Sanger's attitude toward his own accomplishments could best be described as

  • A. humiliated.
  • B. humble.
  • C. confident.
  • D. arrogant.

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

  • A. Lines 12-16 ("Yet . . . chains")
  • B. Lines 31-35 ("In 1958 . . . body")
  • C. Lines 73-76 ("In the . . . hormone")
  • D. Lines 81-85 ("Sanger . . . brilliant")

5. Which option could best be cited as evidence in support of the claim that Sanger was confident in the significance of his research?

  • A. Lines 23-27 ("His first . . . 1950s")
  • B. Lines 39-43 ("Four . . . acid")
  • C. Lines 60-63 ("When he . . . Method")
  • D. Lines 73-76 ("In the . . . hormone")

6. Sanger's quote in lines 37-38 ("just . . . lab") has a tone best described as

  • A. playful.
  • B. somber.
  • C. bombastic.
  • D. careless.

7. As used in line 67, the word "employed" most closely means

  • A. tried.
  • B. hired.
  • C. created.
  • D. utilized.

8. The primary purpose of lines 69-76 ("More . . . hormone") is to

  • A. elaborate on the practical applications of a discovery.
  • B. anticipate and address objections to the author's thesis.
  • C. explain Sanger's primary methods of research.
  • D. show the negative side effects of Sanger's findings.

9. It is most likely that one of the "other" countries that has the most Nobel Prize winners has a percentage of the total number of prize winners in what range?

  • A. Between 12% and 33%
  • B. Between 11% and 12%
  • C. Between 6% and 11%
  • D. Between 0% and 6%

10. What is the probability that a randomly selected Nobel Prize winner from the set of winners from Germany and the United States will be from Germany?

  • A. 33
  • B. 0.33
  • C. 11
  • D. 0.25