SAT Writing and Language Practice Test: The Promise of Bio-Informatics

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The Promise of Bio-Informatics

Although scientists have always been interested in data, modern biologists are increasingly becoming "information scientists." Biological information science is the study of how chemical signals govern life processes. The most familiar biomolecular code is of course DNA, 12 serving as the chemical compound for the blueprint of life. Another biochemical code tells a fertilized egg how to differentiate into scores of unique cell types-heart, muscle, bone, nerve, gland, 13 blood-that assemble themselves into organs, which in turn assemble themselves into a complex organism.

Yet another code governs 14 how the immune system "reads" the chemical signatures of invading pathogens and then manufactures specialized attack cells to fight infections.

15 Today we are seeing dramatic progress in all three of these areas of biochemistry. The science of genomics is developing better, cheaper, and faster ways to decode our DNA, and doctors are becoming more 16 apropos at using this information to create "personalized medicine." Other researchers are learning how to turn the most rudimentary human cells, "stem cells," into specialized tissues 17 for helping to repair damaged human organs. And oncologists-cancer specialists-are now coming to understand how the human immune system can be decoded to provide a crucial weapon against the most dangerous tumors.

18 In particular, the success of these new biological technologies 19 depends on our ability in translating vast quantities of chemical information into digital form. Specialized software and hardware 20 is needed to be developed to turn biochemical data into information that doctors and researchers can use to streamline research and make patients' lives better. Fortunately, the progress has so far been good. Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, the National Human Genome Research Institute has monitored the cost of decoding a single human-sized genome. A famous law in computer science, known as "Moore's Law," says that the cost of processing a given quantity of information should decline by 50% every two years or so. In fact, with "second generation" techniques developed in 2008, the cost of decoding human genomes has plummeted even faster than Moore's Law predicted. 21

This integration of medicine and information technology is perhaps today's most promising scientific development. Using these new resources, perhaps 22 treatments and even cures for the most intractable diseases can be discovered by researchers.


  • B. this is the chemical compound serving as
  • C. the chemical compound that serves as
  • D. which is the chemical compound that is serving as


  • B. blood, that assemble themselves
  • C. blood; assembling themselves
  • D. blood-assembling itself

14. Which of the following would not be an acceptable replacement for the underlined phrase?

  • B. the way of the immune system
  • C. the way the immune system
  • D. the way that the immune system


  • B. Therefore,
  • C. Nevertheless,
  • D. Ironically,


  • B. adept
  • C. liable
  • D. essential


  • B. in helping repair of
  • C. in order to help repairing
  • D. to help repair

18. Which choice most effectively establishes the main topic of the paragraph?

  • A. Some scientists are skeptical about the viability of such radical new therapies.
  • B. Researchers from all over the world are collaborating in these new discoveries.
  • C. These new therapies and cures depend heavily on progress in the computer sciences.
  • D. Many forms of alternative medicine are being combined with traditional therapies to treat a wide range of diseases.


  • B. depend on our ability to translate
  • C. depends on the ability of our translating
  • D. depends on our ability to translate


  • B. must be developed
  • C. must develop
  • D. needs developing

21. Which of the following statements is best supported by the data in Figure 1?

  • A. Since 2003, more people have been taking advantage of genome sequencing technologies, thereby reducing costs.
  • B. By the start of 2014, the cost per genome was less than 1% what Moore's Law had predicted.
  • C. Nevertheless, it still costs more than $10,000 to decode a single genome.
  • D. The cost of genome sequencing is declining more rapidly than that of any other information-based technology.


  • B. researchers will discover treatments and even cures for the most intractable diseases
  • C. treatments and even cures will be discovered by researchers for the most intractable diseases
  • D. researchers have discovered treatments and even cures for the most intractable diseases