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Einstein Circle

2017-2018 SHSAT ELA Exam B (Full):

  • 6 Reading Passages (37 questions total)
  • 2 Edit-Revise Passage (15 questions)
  • 5 Stand Alone Edit-Revise Questions

PDF Exams (Print Format):

  • PDF exam begins on page:
    • 92 (2017-2018 SHSAT Handbook)
  • PDF answer key begins on page:
    • 127 (2017-2018 SHSAT Handbook)

 2017-2018 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook (Open page 92 in new window/tab)

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PASSAGES

EDIT-REVISE PASSAGE 1

The Local Library

(1) According to a 2015 survey, more than two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, which means that obtaining information or communicating with people is easier than ever before. (2) With the swipe of a finger or the tap of an icon, people have instant access to articles, blogs, news, and social networking websites. (3) Even with all these immediate sources, one of the best resources also happens to be one of the oldest. (4) The public library is a great place for people to get information. (5) The public library serves a truly critical role in promoting community. (6) There has been an explosion of digital media in recent years. (7) This now allows people in different places to communicate almost instantaneously. (8) And yet many people complain of feeling more isolated and alone than ever before. (9) The library stands in a unique position to help community members meet this universal need for human connection and companionship. (10) Furthermore, libraries offer free assistance, training programs, and Internet access to all people. (11) A student who does not have a computer at home can research and type a paper for school. (12) An unemployed adult without access to the Internet can make use of library resources to find job opportunities. (13) A library’s selection of materials, known as its collection, can include classic novels, reference books, magazines, periodicals, CDs, and DVDs. (14) The stuff that is found at the library can help people get a lot done. (15) Public libraries also offer a variety of resources to community members. (16) One important resource is the local librarian, who does far more than check out books and collect fines. (17) Other library resources include free or low-cost tutoring and training programs. (18) Additionally, lectures, book groups, and town meetings promote critical thinking and community engagement. (19) A typical librarian holds a master’s degree and can help library patrons navigate through the flood of information available in print or on the Internet. (20) The hallmark of a public library is that its materials and services are accessible to all. (21) The library connects people to a network of information and resources and is an important part of a community.

EDIT-REVISE PASSAGE 2

Moving Through Mountains

(1) An age-old proverb says that necessity is the mother of invention. (2) Centuries of human ingenuity in the face of obstacles prove this to be true. (3) For many years the Swiss Alps, a mountain range spanning southern Switzerland and northern Italy, were such an obstacle. (4) Roads and railways had to navigate around the mountains or through winding tunnels inside the mountains. (5) Transportation of people and goods was difficult and time consuming. (6) In 2016 these burdens were eased with the completion of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. (7) Construction of the high-speed railway tunnel began in 1996. (8) The tunnel was created through the use of tunnel-boring machines, which are giant drills with a rotating head. (9) Each of the tunnel-boring machines used during the construction of the tunnel was about the length of four football fields arranged end-to-end. (10) During the seventeen-year construction period, 28 million tons of rock were removed, enough to rebuild the Great Pyramid at Giza five times. (11) This massive construction project is reported to have cost $12 billion. (12) After that, 4 million cubic meters of concrete, or enough concrete to build eighty-four Empire State Buildings, were used to construct and support the tunnel. (13) By 2020 the high-speed railway will carry more than 250 freight trains and fifty-five passenger trains a day, with most traveling at speeds of around 100 to 125 miles an hour. (14) It will be faster for people to travel between northern and southern Europe. (15) The travel time between the European cities of Zurich, Switzerland, and Milan, Italy, will be reduced by an hour. (16) Many European leaders compare the Gotthard Base Tunnel to the Channel Tunnel, a 33-mile underwater tunnel that connects the United Kingdom and France. (17) While there is no roadway in the Channel Tunnel, people can drive their cars onto special trains that will carry vehicles through to the other side. (18) The Gotthard Base Tunnel project was successful, so now there is renewed interest in solving other problems associated with traveling to and from certain places. (19) Just as traffic congestion in major cities led to the construction of underground local transportation, natural formations, such as mountain ranges, have also sent people underground for faster, easier, and cheaper methods of transportation across larger areas.

PASSAGE 1

nixon_kennedy

On Monday evening, September 26, 1960, sixty million Americans turned on their TV sets to view the first televised political debate in a campaign for the presidency of the United States. As of that date, it was by far the largest number ever to witness a political discussion. The novelty of the event drew even those with little or no interest in politics. The candidates, Republican Vice President
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Richard M. Nixon and Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy, had agreed to face each other and the nation in four one-hour sessions that the press dubbed the “Great Debates.” Many expected Vice President Nixon to win the debates easily. He was ahead in the newspaper polls, he was an experienced public speaker, and he had served as vice president for nearly eight years. Senator Kennedy was less well known
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and, at forty-three, was the youngest man ever to run for president. Throughout the presidential race, his opponents criticized him for his relative youth and inexperience. By mutual agreement, the first session was limited to domestic issues. Each candidate was given eight minutes to make his opening remarks. During the remainder of the hour, the candidates took turns responding
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to questions posed by selected reporters. Both Kennedy and Nixon dealt with the issues calmly and carefully. Viewers who expected to see a free-for-all were disappointed

The way the two men appeared on the television screen, however, may have been as important as what they said. Kennedy looked at the camera while answering questions, appearing to speak directly to his viewers and give them straight answers.
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Nixon was recovering from a severe bout of influenza, and he appeared tense and tired. He looked at the reporters who asked the questions instead of at the camera, giving some viewers the impression that he avoided eye contact with his audience, and thus suggesting that he was not trustworthy. Most commentators agreed that Kennedy gained from the encounter: many viewers who had previously felt he lacked
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the maturity necessary to be president were won over by his charm, poise, and confident manner. While far fewer people watched the three later sessions, much discussion ensued regarding the influence of the Great Debates on the outcome of the 1960 presidential election. Some feared that the better TV performer was bound to come across as being the better candidate. “Is
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this a good way to judge a person’s ability to serve as president of the United States?” they asked. Kennedy ultimately won the election, but it was by the narrowest popular vote marginin more than eighty years. Some observers concluded that, had the Great Debates been broadcast on radio and not on television, Nixon would have won.

PASSAGE 2

SlipIce

If you have ever watched someone fall on the ice, you’ve seen slipperiness at work. But have you wondered what makes ice slippery, or why skates or skis glide across ice so easily? The answer might seem obvious: ice is smooth. Yet smoothness in itself does not explain slipperiness. Imagine, for example, skating on a smooth surface of glass or sheet metal. Surprisingly, scientists do not fully
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understand why ice is slippery. Past explanations of slipperiness have focused on friction and pressure. According to the friction theory, a skate blade rubs across the ice, causing friction. The friction produces heat, melting the ice and creating a slippery, microscopically thin layer of water for the skate to glide on. The friction theory, however, cannot explain why ice is slippery even when someone
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stands completely motionless, creating no friction. The pressure theory claims that pressure from a skate blade melts the ice surface, creating a slippery layer of water. The water refreezes when the pressure is lifted. Science textbooks typically cite this explanation, but many scientists disagree, claiming that the pressure effect is not great enough to melt the ice. Nor can the pressure theory explain why someone
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wearing flat-bottomed shoes—which have a greater surface area than skate blades and thus exert less pressure per square inch—can glide across the ice or even go sprawling. During the 1990s, another theory found acceptance: the thin top layer of ice is liquid, or “liquid-like,” regardless of friction or pressure. This notion was first proposed more than 150 years ago by physicist Michael Faraday. Faraday’s
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simple experiment illustrates this

property: two ice cubes held against each other will fuse together. This happens, Faraday explained, because liquid on the cubes’ surfaces froze solid when the surfaces made contact.
Faraday’s hypothesis was overlooked, in part because scientists did not have the means to detect molecular structures. However, technological advances during

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recent decades allow scientists to measure the thin layer on the surface of the ice. For example, in 1996, a chemist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory shot electrons at an ice surface and recorded how they rebounded. The data suggested that the ice surface remained “liquid-like,” even at temperatures far below freezing. Scientists speculate that water molecules on the ice surface are always in motion because
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there is nothing above them to hold them in place. The vibration creates a slippery layer of molecules. According to this interpretation of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory experiments, the molecules move only up and down; if they also moved side to side, they would constitute a true liquid. Thus it could be said that people are skating on wildly vibrating molecules! The phenomenon of a slippery
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liquid-like surface is not limited to ice, although ice is the most common example. Lead crystals and even diamond crystals, made of carbon, also show this property under certain temperature and pressure conditions.

PASSAGE 3

Man and Nature

One of the books that has done the most to alert the world to the dangers of environmental degradation was George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature. Its message—that Western society was in the process of causing irreparable harm to the environment—greatly influenced ecologists during the beginning of the modern environmentalist movement in the 1960s. Marsh was not, however,
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part of this movement. Surprisingly, Man and Nature was first published in 1864. Marsh first observed the environmentally destructive effects of human activities while growing up in Vermont in the early nineteenth century. The heavy demand for firewood had depleted the forests, and extensive sheep grazing had stripped the land. The result was flooding and soil erosion.
Furthermore, streams
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were fouled by wastes dumped from numerous mills and dye houses. Much later in his life, after careers in law, business, farming, and politics, Marsh served as ambassador to Italy. There he noticed land abuse similar to what he had seen in Vermont. Overgrazing and forest mismanagement had rendered desolate areas that had been productive farmland since the days of the Roman Empire.
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Marsh attributed this to what he called “man’s ignorant disregard for the laws of nature.” In Italy, Marsh began to organize his observations and theories. He wrote in a way intended to educate readers about the impact of industrial and agricultural practices on the environment. In Man and Nature, he evaluated the important relationships between animals and plants, discussed forestry
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practices in great detail, and analyzed the ways natural water supplies are affected by human use.
Man and Nature challenged the popular belief that nature could heal any damage that people inflict upon it. Marsh argued that

people may use and enjoy, but not destroy, the riches of the earth. Furthermore, he asserted that everything in nature is significant and that even the tiniest
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organism affects the fragile environmental balance. His belief that drastic alteration of this balance would be dangerous is now accepted as a fundamental principle of modern environmental science. Although he pointed out environmental damage caused by irresponsible human activities, Marsh did not oppose every human alteration to the environment. To him, the goal was proper management, not a return to
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wilderness conditions. People should consider the consequences of their actions, he wrote, and become “co-worker[s] with nature.” Marsh praised the Suez Canal, the human made waterway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Aden, as “the greatest and most truly cosmopolite physical improvement ever undertaken by man.” He believed that the advantages of the canal— improved transportation and commerce—
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would outweigh any environmental damage. Yet he also warned of possible unintended consequences, such as destructive plants and animals spreading from one body of water to the other. Marsh was considered a radical thinker during his lifetime. By the late nineteenth century, however, his writings, along with those of John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and others, had inspired what became known as the
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conservation movement. The conservationists of that time sought to educate the public that wilderness areas were worth preserving, and they were responsible for creating the National Park Service and the National Forest Service.

PASSAGE 4

windmillSMALL

Anyone who has watched TV news coverage of a hurricane has seen how destructive wind energy can be. But the power of the wind can also be put to constructive use. From sailboats to old-fashioned windmills to the high-tech, modern wind machines called turbines, people have devised ways to harness wind energy for thousands of years. The first known attempt to use wind power was the sailboat. Ancient shipbuilders
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understood how to use forces like lift and momentum, even if they could not explain those forces scientifically. The principles behind sailing led to the development of the windmill. The first known windmills originated in Persia, an area that is now Iran, as early as a.d. 500. They were created to help with the demanding chores of grinding grain and pumping water. By the tenth century, windmills were used throughout
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central Asia; they were used in China as early as the thirteenth century. In Europe, windmills came into widespread use during the twelfth century. As in other parts of the world, they were used for milling grain and pumping water. Windmills replaced the water wheel, which was turned by the movement of running water over paddles mounted around a wheel. The windmill was more adaptable and efficient
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than the water wheel and quickly became popular. For example, Holland, famous for its windmills, used the machines to pump seawater away from low-lying coastal bogs. This allowed the Dutch to reclaim large areas of land from the sea. Windmills eventually became sophisticated enough for use in a broad range of work, from sawmills and drainage pumping to processing goods such as dyes, tobacco, cocoa, and spices.
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In the 1700s, as steam engines gained in popularity, the use of wind machines for many types of work declined. However, windmills still played an essential role in pumping water on farms throughout the American West and Midwest. Between 1850 and 1970, over six million small windmills were installed on American farms for watering livestock and meeting other water needs. In many remote areas even today, livestock
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production would be impossible without the use of windmills to provide water. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, windmills were adapted to generate electricity. During the 1930s and ’40s, thin-bladed windmills provided electricity for hundreds of thousands of farms across the United States. By the 1950s, however, power lines connected almost every household in America to a central power source,
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such as a utility company. After that, there was little need for wind turbines until the energy crisis of the 1970s. At that time, interest in wind turbines was renewed due to rising energy costs and concern about the future availability of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. The last several decades have seen the development of “wind farms,” clusters of wind turbines that generate electricity. Efficient, clean, and
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fairly inexpensive to operate, wind farms may prove to be as important in the future as earlier windmills were in the past.

PASSAGE 5

tree-rings

Archaeologists first succeeded in using tree-ring dating while excavating ancient Pueblo Indian villages in the southwestern United States during the 1920s. At that time, no one knew when the villages had been occupied, or for how long, but the logs used in the buildings provided a clue. Scientists had long known that trees add a new growth ring to their circumferences during each growing season. Drought or early frost results in little
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growth and narrow rings. Good growing years result in wide rings. Archaeologists knew that by matching identical patterns of wide and narrow rings in sections of two different logs, they could determine which log was older. For example, a log with a certain pattern of rings near its outside edge would indicate a specific series of good and bad growing seasons. This log would have been cut down before a log of comparable
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size that shows the identical pattern near its center. But how could these ring patterns help determine the actual dates for the abandoned Pueblo villages? Archaeologists had already used the ring patterns of trees with overlapping lifetimes to establish a tree-ring chronology for the southwestern United States that went back to a.d. 1260. That work had been done in a Hopi village called Oraibi. Oraibi had been continuously inhabited since
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before the arrival of the first Spanish explorers in 1540.

That same team of archaeologists also developed a relative, or “floating,” chronology for the abandoned Pueblo villages by matching up the ring patterns of the various logs used in the buildings. With this “floating” chronology, the archaeologists could tell which logs were older and which were more recent. None
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could be precisely dated, since no log had a pattern of tree rings that matched any part of the established chronology. It was clear from this evidence, however, that the buildings must have been constructed before a.d. 1260.
Finally, continued excavations turned up a “key” beam. The outer ring pattern of the key beam overlapped the earliest rings in the established chronology. Furthermore, its

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inner ring pattern matched the pattern formed by the most recent rings of the “floating” chronology. Thus, the chronology for the abandoned Pueblo villages could be known with certainty. Counting backward from the present, the archaeologists estimated that the villages had been occupied between a.d. 900 and a.d. 1300. The tree rings also suggested why the villages had been abandoned. The rings
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for the years a.d. 1276 to 1299 were very thin, indicating a severe drought that lasted for 23 years. Most likely the villagers had left their homes to search for a more hospitable climate.

PASSAGE 6

nighthwaks

The decade that began with the stock market crash in 1929 and ended with the declaration of war in Europe in 1939 was a turning point for art in the United States. Rejecting European trends, such as abstract art, American painters searched for a style that was distinctly American. It was a time of great social change—a society based on rural and small-town life was rapidly being replaced by a society focused on city life and values. Although members of
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various groups are all referred to as “American Scene” painters, different groups painted their images of the United States in very different ways.
One group, sometimes called the Regionalists, included Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and John Steuart Curry, all from the Midwest. Their art was intensely patriotic and frequently glorified an older, simpler United States. Their subject matter included church steeples,
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New England fishing villages, and Midwestern cornfields. Grant Wood’s most famous canvas is probably American Gothic, which shows a stiff and proper farm couple, the husband holding a pitchfork. The Regionalists were often muralists as well, painting local scenes on walls of state capitols and other public buildings. Enormously popular during the 1930s, Regionalist art is still treasured by many as a fond memory of times gone by.
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While the Regionalists remembered the past, other American Scene artists painted the drab realities of the contemporary urban
environment, testifying to its loneliness and anonymity. The Urban Realists, including

Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop, and the Soyer brothers, were associated with the Art Students League in New York. These painters showed the high price paid
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by individual men and women struggling to survive the Depression. The names of some of their works illustrate the style: Office Girls, Waiting, The Bowery. For various reasons, their work has been largely forgotten today. Edward Hopper was an artist who was associated with the American Scene but otherwise escaped further classification. Like the Urban Realists, he painted the tired dinginess of
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the urban streets during the Depression. Yet Hopper often found beauty in the midst of the city’s monotony. For example, one of Hopper’s best-known paintings, Nighthawks, shows several people sitting like robots in a brightly lit coffee shop at night, each apparently unaware of the others. Hopper was not interested in a return to the past. He presented what he saw without apology or sentimentality. The American Scene art
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movement of the 1930s was characterized by realistic paintings that expressed the traditions and interests of people in the United States at that time. Because the paintings presented common images and mirrored the lives of many people, the general public readily identified with the subjects of the paintings. With the onset of World War II, a new spirit of internationalism swept through the art of
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the United States, and the American Scene painters became out of date. Although the movement did not last, it had reflected its own time with profound understanding.

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