New SAT Writing and Language Practice Test 17

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Taking Stock of Modern Investing

Time is a funny thing. Often, we can feel that we've been studying for hours and hours only to realize that it's been, say, 40 minutes. Or, if we're watching a football game, we may have a sense of constant action, 1 and that's what sports fandom is all about. Each of these 2 is plausible when we sit and think about it: we know that "time flies when you're having fun" and that it drags when you're not, but some statistics about time may surprise us. If time flies when you're having fun, what about when there's no "you" at all, or any other human for that matter?

1. Which of the following true choices best matches the style and tone of this paragraph?

  • B. while the average NFL play lasts only 6 to 7 seconds.
  • C. yet people continue to watch football every Sunday.
  • D. but there are some who find football boring as all get-out.


  • B. are
  • C. was
  • D. were

Increasingly, computers are running the world, and these computers operate on a completely separate time scale 3 than us. They can process many millions of operations in seconds, operations that would take us multiple lifetimes to complete. That's all fine if the computers are doing the work of computers—making calculations, assimilating data, or accessing that data. 4 But what about when computers 5 start working in human fields and competing with the human mind?


  • B. from ours.
  • C. from us.
  • D. than we do.

4. If the writer were to delete the phrase making calculations, assimilating data, or accessing that data from the previous sentence (ending the sentence at the word computers), the essay would primarily lose

  • A. a clarification of a term used earlier in the same sentence.
  • B. a complete list of the tasks that computers perform well.
  • C. a metaphor for the intrusion of technology into modern life.
  • D. nothing at all, because the information is stated explicitly in the following paragraph.


  • B. take the human field and the mind in competition with its working?
  • C. field the human mind and start working and competing with it?
  • D. work starting and competing in human fields and the mind?

Broader questions of artificial intelligence 6 aside; the contemporary stock market offers an interesting test case. There's no question that the average holding period has gone down significantly since the 1950s, but a recent study has shown that the data no longer fits an obvious trend. In 2014, the average holding period for a stock in the U.S. was 22 seconds. 7 In 1920, it was even lower! Granted, the stock market has gone through some troubling permutations: many young people treat investing in the stock market like "investing" in the poker tables at Las Vegas, and people are less likely than ever to stay loyal to certain brands.8


  • B. aside. The
  • C. aside—the
  • D. aside, the

7. Which of the following gives information consistent with the graph?

  • B. It peaked in 1975!
  • C. What a change a decade makes!
  • D. In 1940, it was 10 years!

8. If the author were to remove the quotation marks from the preceding sentence, the sentence would primarily lose

  • A. nothing at all, because the punctuation does not influence the meaning of the word in quotations.
  • B. a suggestion that the author wishes he could find a more precise word.
  • C. an indication that the author is using the word investing ironically.
  • D. a direct quotation from one of the investors discussed in the essay.

However, 22 seconds is simply not a human time. That essentially means owning a stock for less time than it takes to complete the transaction online or with a broker. The number is so low because stock trading has come to be almost exclusively the 9 province of powerful trading computers, which can buy and sell stocks in milliseconds. After all, 22 seconds is the average, so if there are still some human traders keeping 10 your stocks for 10 years, that must make a stunning number of computer transactions.

In the end, 11 the trend toward mechanized training is probably irreversible, regardless of what governments try to do to intervene. The question remains, though, what are the purely human activities left to us? Is there anything they can do that we can do better?

9. Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would be LEAST acceptable?

  • A. work
  • B. responsibility
  • C. realm
  • D. state


  • B. their
  • C. they're
  • D. his or her


  • B. the trend, toward mechanized training, is probably irreversible,
  • C. the trend toward mechanized training is, probably, irreversible,
  • D. the trend, toward mechanized training, is, probably, irreversible,