New SAT Writing and Language Practice Test 24

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Question 11 questions

Time 9 minutes

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As Mars-bound rockets are still being tested, NASA, along with the space agencies of other countries, [1] have continued to evaluate risks of manned missions to the Red Planet, including radiation exposure and the effects of microgravity, [2] the risks of which we don’t yet fully understand, although [3] it’s a slam dunk that when left untreated they can adversely affect health. [4] To be sure, harmful radiation from galactic cosmic rays and solar energetic particles can easily penetrate typical shielding. With regard to gravity, we don’t know precisely how much gravity is needed to avoid the potential problem of too little. However, of the two planets, Mars and the Earth, the latter has [5] the strongest gravity by far—66 percent to be exact—and six times stronger than the Moon. Mars also has readily available resources such as water and its roughly 24-hour day/night cycle is closer to the Earth’s than that of any other planet or moon. [6] The risk from radiation is visualized more easily when compared to other risks.

The world’s space agencies have put in place radiation exposure limits for astronauts over their careers. [7] At Mars, the risk can be managed by monitoring each crew member’s radiation exposure and limiting the surface exploration time of those most at risk. The limits depend on the sex and the age of the astronaut, and are designed to keep the risk of radiation-induced fatal cancer below 3 percent. Based on a report by the National Council on Radiation Protections, [8] for females under 30, the threat of radiation exposure virtually exceeds the maximum allowable for their lifetime.

Comparing the Risks of Radiation on Mars


Current Exposure Limits, Depending on Age

Lines show resulting exposure for crew members arriving on Mars at age 35 and spending an average of two hours per day outside a habitat built on the planet.

But in the end, why are we even considering such a journey? In a word: life. [9] To go there to see if we can find evidence of life, a second genesis, and if we don’t find it, we want to establish new life on Mars—[10] our own. But here is the thing: for the first time in history a species on Earth has the knowledge and technology to ensure its own survival on new worlds. For many enthusiasts it is an escape, a chance for a new start and the challenge of a lifetime. This is the broad-brush view of why we need to go to Mars, but on a more personal level, what is it that drives people to want to go to such places, so far away, so hostile to life? [11]


  • B. continued
  • C. continues
  • D. will continue


  • B. that we don’t yet fully understand the risk of
  • C. a risk not yet fully understood by us
  • D. risks we don’t yet fully understand,


  • B. it is a near certainty
  • C. it’s a veracity
  • D. you can depend on it

4. The writer wants to develop the paragraph with evidence about the risk to health posed by radiation. Which choice best accomplishes this goal?

  • B. Recently, in fact, space researchers, using a Cosmic Ray Telescope, have documented, quantified, and correlated the impact of radiation on human health.
  • C. Clearly, the environment of space poses significant risks to both humans and satellites.
  • D. Indeed, the relationship between exposure to radiation and the menace of cancer has long been known.


  • B. the stronger gravity by far—66 percent higher to be exact—and six times stronger than the Moon
  • C. the stronger gravity by far—66 percent stronger to be exact—and six times stronger than that of the Moon
  • D. the strongest gravity by far—66 percent higher to be exact—and six times stronger than the Moon’s

6. For the sake of paragraph cohesion, what is the best thing to do with this sentence?

  • B. Change it from passive to active voice and leave it where it is.
  • C. Delete it.
  • D. Delete as many words as possible and combine it with the next sentence.


  • B. In Mars risks are managed
  • C. The risks on Mars can be managed
  • D. Managing risks on Mars is

8. Which choice completes the sentence with accurate data drawn from the graph?

  • B. limits of allowable exposure for females between 35 and 45, increase at approximately the same rate as the limits for men of the same age.
  • C. limits of cumulative exposure for men age 45 and older increase at a rate that is slower than that for women age 45 and older.
  • D. all other conditions being equal, it is more harmful for men than it is for women to be exposed to radiation.


  • B. We want to go there
  • C. Going there
  • D. It is to go there


  • B. our own. And here is the clincher: for the first time in history a species on Earth has
  • C. our own, and furthermore, for the very first time in the history of our species on Earth, we have
  • D. our own, and for the first time in history our species on Earth have

11. The writer wants to conclude the passage by answering the question with a sentence that emphasizes the romantic lure of space travel and settling on Mars in spite of the risks involved. Which choice would best accomplish that goal?

  • A. The answer is that Mars is a new frontier.
  • B. The answer is that, while Mars is not for everyone, our planet is teeming with men and women who burn with desire to take chances in the interest of science.
  • C. The answer is that humans like challenges that test their knowledge, resourcefulness, and abilities.
  • D. The answer is that the risks of radiation are no worse than the everyday risks we face here on earth—such as smoke that causes lung cancer.