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Einstein Circle

2017-2018 SHSAT ELA Exam A (Full):

  • 6 Reading Passages (37 questions total)
  • 2 Edit-Revise Passage (14 questions)
  • 6 Stand Alone Edit-Revise Questions

PDF Exams (Print Format):

  • PDF exam begins on page:
    • 40 (2017-2018 SHSAT Handbook)
  • PDF answer key begins on page:
    • 74 (2017-2018 SHSAT Handbook)

 2017-2018 Specialized High Schools Student Handbook (Open page 40 in new window/tab)

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(1) In metropolitan areas around the world, millions of cars, trucks, and taxis pack the streets every day, causing headaches for commuters and polluting the environment. (2) Public transportation eases some of this congestion, but crowding and potential delays are still an issue for many travelers. (3) In recent years, another transportation option has been gaining momentum in some cities. (4) This option is all about sharing bicycles, which is a creative and new idea for some. (5) The bike share concept is fairly simple. (6) Bike stations are set up at multiple locations in a city. (7) Frequent users can purchase a membership pass, while less-frequent users or tourists can buy a daily permit. (8) Many city bikers prefer bike sharing over ownership. (9) They are not responsible for the bike’s storage or its maintenance. (10) Tourists also benefit from having an affordable way to experience the sites of a city. (11) The largest bike sharing program in the United States today is in New York City. (12) Known as Citi Bike, the program was launched in 2013 and now boasts 10,000 bikes spread across 600 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. (13) Similarly, in Hangzhou, China, a city of 7 million residents, there are approximately 75,000 bikes offered across 2,700 stations. (14) In 2016, people used Citi Bike for a lot of trips, which turned out to be a huge increase in the number of people taking rides from the previous year. (15) These numbers are likely to increase further, since the program is set to expand into additional neighborhoods soon. (16) According to Citi Bike, the bike sharing concept has gained rapid popularity because it is “faster than walking, cheaper than a taxi, and more fun than the subway.” (17) New York City officials estimated that in 2016 the bike share program had kept nearly 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of the city’s air. (18) Officials in Montreal, Canada, and Lyon, France, have noted similar impacts on air quality. (19) As populations grow, fuel costs increase, and environmental concerns escalate, people will continue to search for more economical and environmentally friendly ways to travel. (20) Bike sharing is a new mode of transportation.


Pursuing a Hobby

(1) A hobby is an activity or interest that a person pursues for pleasure or relaxation. (2) For some it is a sport or a game, while for others it is an art, a craft, or a volunteer opportunity. (3) Becoming involved in a hobby can seem difficult and time consuming, but that should not stop people from pursuing one. (4) Hobbies can be an outlet for the stress of everyday life. (5) School, work, family responsibilities, and relationships can all compete for a person’s time and attention. (6) Many people exhibit psychological symptoms of stress, such as boredom, tension, and anxiety. (7) Others report physical symptoms, including low energy, headaches, and insomnia. (8) Reading books, creating works of art, or playing games can give the human mind a reprieve from stress. (9) But stress relief is not the only benefit of pursuing a hobby. (10) People who regularly pursue a hobby spend time in what is called active leisure. (11) Active leisure involves doing an activity that is relaxing but that also expends some mental or physical energy, such as following a pattern to knit a scarf, analyzing statistics about a favorite sports team, or doing light noncompetitive exercise. (12) During active leisure, people may experience what experts call flow, or a state of effortless concentration. (13) Pursuing a stimulating hobby can help a person find flow, which psychologists believe is more relaxing and restorative than passive leisure activities, such as watching television. (14) Many successful businesspeople and celebrities have said that they pursue hobbies in their free time. (15) Another benefit of hobbies is that they can encourage positive social interaction among people with similar interests. (16) A hobbyist might decide to do something to get better at a hobby or go to places with other people interested in the hobby. (17) Making connections and having discussions with fellow hobbyists can enhance a person’s knowledge about a hobby while fostering new friendships. (18) Free time is a precious commodity, and spending it engaged in a hobby has many advantages. (19) Finding an enjoyable hobby may take effort, but the physical, mental, and social effects of engaging in a hobby are overwhelmingly positive.



The eruption of the Philippine volcano Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 sent a huge cloud of gas and dust encircling the globe. The dust and ash from Mount Pinatubo was blamed for a two-year decrease in global temperature, changes in weather patterns, and damage to the ozone layer. The situation brings to mind a meteorological event that occurred 175 years earlier. At that time, harsh weather conditions plagued
much of eastern North America, and, to a lesser extent, northern Europe. April 1816 brought typical spring weather to upstate New York and New England; trees budded and farmers prepared to plow and plant. In May, however, the expected warm temperatures failed to arrive. Most people remained optimistic, waiting for the summer that was “just around the corner.” They waited in vain. June ushered
in what modern meteorologists call “The Year Without a Summer.” During the first week of June, ten inches of snow fell on New England. Throughout the month, temperatures rarely rose above the 30s. Many farmers replanted crops several times, only to see them stunted or destroyed by sleet, hail, and icy winds. July and August brought little improvement. During most days the temperature stayed in the 40s.
Farmers’ diaries document their daily struggles with near-freezing temperatures, failing crops, and dying farm animals. The few crops that managed to survive were killed by frost in mid-September. Winter came early in New England and was unusually severe. Even the South was affected; on July 4, the high temperature for Savannah, Georgia, was only 46 degrees!

Some religious leaders warned their congregations
that the unusual weather meant that the end of the world was drawing near. Other leaders attributed the cool weather to unusual sunspot activity. The proliferation of the newly invented lightning rod was also blamed. Some people believed that lightning rods had interrupted the natural temperature balance of the earth, causing the cooler temperatures. It was not until October that the first plausible
explanation for “The Year Without a Summer” was suggested. A German astronomer, Friedrich Bessel, reported seeing thick clouds of dust in the upper atmosphere. He theorized that these dust particles screened portions of the earth from the warming rays of the sun. It was discovered that, in April 1815, Mount Tambora, an Indonesian volcano, had erupted with such force that it had sent an estimated 100 cubic miles of
fine dust into the atmosphere. Witnesses to the eruption reported that the sky remained dark for two days. The dust then rose high into the stratosphere, where it encircled the world for several years to come. Skeptics in 1816 doubted that a far-away volcano could steal their summer. However, most present-day researchers believe Bessel’s explanation to be generally correct, demonstrating the global nature of weather.
The dust in the atmosphere eventually settled, and the spring of 1817 was back to normal.



The British novelist Charles Dickens is well known for the colorful and eccentric characters he created in his many novels. But one of his books, David Copperfield, seems to have a great deal to do with fact as well as fiction. After attempting to write his autobiography, Dickens abandoned the project and began to work on a novel, the plot of which was loosely based on his own boyhood
experiences. Apparently, it was easier for him to weave the events of his own life into the fiction of David Copperfield than to write about them in nonfiction. Some of Dickens’ most troubling memories involved a job he held in 1824 as a 12-yearold child. Because his family was deeply in debt, he was forced to quit school and go to work in a London factory, pasting labels on pots of shoe polish. Young Charles lived in a
boardinghouse, using his meager wages to support himself and to help pay his family’s debts. He worked in the dreary, run-down factory six days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Such long hours were not unusual at the time, for children or adults, but Dickens was miserable during the entire four months he spent working at the factory. Even when the family finances improved, the boy continued to work at the factory
until his father quarreled with Dickens’ boss, who promptly dismissed the son. Charles was upset at being fired, but relieved to be out of the factory. Thus he felt betrayed when his mother, anxious for the boy’s weekly wage, succeeded in making peace and getting Dickens’ job back for him.

The father, however, now sided with his son and the boy was sent back to school. “I know how these things have worked together to make me what I am,” Dickens
later wrote, but he never forgot that his mother was eager for him to return to work. As an adult, Dickens always remembered the shame and humiliation he felt during those months at the factory. For years afterward, whenever in London, he could not go near the sites of the factory and boardinghouse, going out of his way to avoid those painful reminders of his past. In fact, Dickens never told his wife and children
about his childhood work experience. It was only after his death that they heard of it from a family friend whom Dickens had confided in. Instead, Dickens expressed his feelings by giving his fictional “other self,” David Copperfield, a job similar to the one he had so hated. In the novel, ten-year-old David is forced by his harsh stepfather to work as a bottle washer in a factory. Young David,
who “suffered exquisitely” as a child manual laborer, was apparently Dickens’ way of dealing with his own past. David Copperfield was to become Dickens’ most popular novel, and Dickens himself called it his “favorite child.”



When you eat an orange, your perception of its flavor comes from the combination of its aroma and its taste. Taste buds, the sensory receptors on the tongue, convey information to the brain about chemicals in food while the food dissolves in saliva. The sense of smell comes into play when the olfactory nerve in the nasal passages senses even very low concentrations of food chemicals in gaseous form. The sense of smell has
a larger role in tasting flavors than most people realize—that is, until they have a stuffy nose and nothing tastes good. If taste and smell depend on our detection of food chemicals, one might expect that chemists would be able to duplicate the flavors of foods. In fact, a surprising number of popular food flavors can now be reproduced in the laboratory, and even more are on the way. Orange, perhaps the most popular
flavor worldwide, has been reproduced successfully. So have some national favorites, including cashew (Latin America), paprika (Hungary), and fruit-flavored “Jamaica” (Mexico). Synthetic flavors are not limited to flavoring food; they are also added to mouthwashes, toothpaste, beverages, and other consumer products. Only a small proportion of the chemical components occurring naturally in foods
actually contribute to their flavor. To identify these critical components, scientists use a gas chromatograph to separate a food into its basic chemical constituents. Flavor experts, called flavorists, then attempt to isolate those chemicals that are essential to the distinctive flavor of a food. Mechanical techniques have been developed to capture the aromas of food as it is being prepared—

such as bread while it bakes—and distill the
essential chemicals from these essences. If successful, flavorists use their highly developed senses of taste and smell to attempt to produce acceptable flavorings that are chemically identical to, but purer than, flavors that are naturally present in unprocessed food.
Although American consumers claim to want “natural” flavors in their food, taste tests demonstrate that they often prefer
their synthetically produced counterparts. Artificial flavors tend to be stronger and less subtle than natural flavors. For example, many Americans prefer a soft drink created with artificial flavors, such as orange soda, over an “all-natural” soda flavored with real oranges, which may taste weak in comparison. In fact, some flavorists worry that consumers will develop such a strong taste for artificial flavors that natural flavorings,
usually more expensive than their artificial counterparts, will become scarce. Researchers have not always been successful in their efforts to duplicate natural flavors. Some popular flavors, such as coffee, strawberry, and chocolate, have proven virtually impossible to reproduce. The difficulty in creating a flavor like chocolate, experts say, is its complexity—a mysterious combination of sweet and bitter that excites the taste
buds in an unusual and satisfying way.



The African country of Zimbabwe took its name from the Shona word meaning “stone enclosures” or “venerated houses.” In fact, dozens of stone ruins are today scattered throughout Zimbabwe and other areas in southeastern Africa. One of these ruins, known as “Great Zimbabwe,” was once a fabled city that inspired tales that circulated throughout Europe. Where was this remarkable city, and who had built it?
For centuries the mystery occupied the minds of explorers and treasure-seekers. The first reports to Europeans of Great Zimbabwe were spread a thousand years ago by Arab traders sailing between the Middle East and the east coast of Africa. They told of the fabulous wealth of a mysterious stone city in the African interior. In their tales, that city became associated with their understanding of
Middle Eastern history—with the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon, and his legendary gold mines, long since lost to the world. By the sixteenth century, Portuguese explorers regularly visited East Africa, searching for “King Solomon’s gold,” but they never found Great Zimbabwe. In 1552, a Portuguese historian, João de Barros, recorded a story told by the Arabs about a city with a “square fortress of masonry
within and without, built of stones of marvelous size, and there appears to be no mortar joining them.”
In fact, Great Zimbabwe was a marvel. In one area, a massive wall, over thirty feet high and twenty feet thick, created a great enclosure. Another area contained a fortress-like series of walls, corridors, and steps built into the bluff above. Throughout the city, each stone was

precisely fitted to the others without the use of mortar. In the 1870s, a German geologist, Karl Mauch, was the first European to see Great Zimbabwe, by then in ruins. Mauch realized that he had “rediscovered” the fabled city from de Barros’s story. He jumped to the conclusion that Great Zimbabwe had been built by the Queen of Sheba.

British authorities sent a British journalist, Richard Hall, to Great Zimbabwe to
investigate Mauch’s report. Archaeology was still in its infancy, and Hall, convinced that the structures had been built by ancient people from the Middle East, dug up and discarded archaeological deposits that would have revealed much about the true history of Great Zimbabwe. Later European excavations destroyed even more valuable evidence. In the twentieth century, after excavating areas that had
not been disturbed, David Randall-MacIver, a Scottish Egyptologist, and Gertrude Caton-Thompson, an English archaeologist, concluded that the ruins were unmistakably African in origin. Great Zimbabwe was most likely built during the fourteenth or fifteenth century by the ancestors of the present-day Shona people. Recent carbon-14 dating supports their conclusion. Great Zimbabwe 
was once home to an estimated 20,000 people, the center of a great Shona kingdom. Wealthy Shona kings traded their ivory and gold in coastal towns for other goods, thus accounting for the discovery of beads and other foreign wares in the ruins.
One mystery of Great Zimbabwe had been solved. Another mystery remains: why was the settlement at Great Zimbabwe abandoned, leaving the magnificent stone architecture

to fall into ruins?



In many cultures, the ugly physical appearance of the bat has given it an unearned reputation as an evil and vicious bearer of diseases. Many people, for example, believe that the American brown bat carries rabies. In fact, it is no more likely to transmit the disease than other animals, such as dogs. Brown bats actually help to prevent disease, not spread it. The basis of their diet is the mosquito, an insect that transmits
more diseases than all the bats in the world combined. A group of bat species known as flying foxes or fruit bats serve another important purpose, as a critical link in the reproduction of many tropical trees and shrubs. In the tropical rain forests of Africa, Asia, and Australia, plants such as avocadoes, date trees, cashews, and mangoes rely in part on flying foxes for pollination. One of Africa’s
most valuable hardwood trees, the iroko, is entirely dependent on this type of bat for pollination. Flying foxes feed on flowers, fruit, and nectar, flying from one plant to another and pollinating the plants as they go, much as bees do in other parts of the world. Because they are sloppy eaters, flying foxes drop fruit as they go, dispersing the seeds. They can travel great distances and convey pollen and seeds far from their
origins, thereby maintaining the genetic biodiversity within a plant species. Because of the importance of bats’ role in pollination and seed distribution, scientists consider them a keystone in the ecosystems of tropical rain forests. Without bats, many bat-pollinated plants—and the animals that depend on them for food and shelter—would be threatened to the point of extinction. Areas outside the rain forests would be
impacted as well, since the rain forests’ lush vegetation replenishes the oxygen in the global atmosphere.

Unfortunately, many people are determined to get rid of bats. Flying foxes are at particular risk. In the wild, they feed on wild fruit, but when their rain forest habitat is reduced by conversion into farmland or residential areas, they occasionally raid cultivated fruit trees, spoiling the crops.
Several flying fox species have been hunted to extinction, while others are seriously endangered.
Conservation groups and government agencies in many countries are attempting to change people’s attitudes toward bats. When people learn that bats pollinate the trees and crops that provide their livelihood, they are more likely to appreciate and protect the bats in their area. There
are also effective, non-harmful ways to deal with troublesome bats. Orchard owners can cover their trees with netting to discourage the bats, and there are humane methods for moving bats from places where they are not wanted. For the sake of the rain forests, and for life forms everywhere that depend on them, it is urgent that people apply a new twist to an old adage, and realize that
ugliness is only skin deep.



Imagine living in a society where ordinary people could be punished for what they choose to read and write. For much of the twentieth century, such a closed society existed in Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union. The Soviet government tried to dominate its citizens’ activities and ideas by controlling the information that they received. Government censors examined books, films, and newscasts and banned
anything they considered objectionable. They censored criticism of the Soviet government, news from the outside world, and anything that complimented Soviet enemies.
The Soviet government’s strict censorship made life tremendously difficult for writers. Most worried that they were being watched by the government’s secret police. Despite the harsh laws, small

groups of writers dodged state censorship through an underground, or secret, publishing network that produced works called samizdat. The name samizdat came from the Russian words for “self” and “publish.” For many writers, samizdat offered the only outlet for their intellectual and creative expression. To produce samizdat, an author passed a typed or handwritten text to a second person, who
made a handwritten or typed copy. The original was returned to the author, while the copies were passed to other members of the network. The works were unsigned or signed with false names.
At first, samizdat focused mainly on literature, such as poetry and novels. By the late 1950s, samizdat circles were distributing political material, such as letters to the

government, political essays, and trial transcripts. By the mid-1960s, the samizdat network produced sophisticated political news, debate, and analysis.

The great Russian novelist Boris Pasternak had his work published as samizdat. Like other writers, he feared that an appearance of disloyalty to the Soviet state would bring a knock at his door in the middle of the night. His classic novel, Doctor Zhivago, was smuggled out of the Soviet Union for publication in Western countries in 1956;
in Russia, it appeared only as samizdat. Pasternak won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1958, but the government forced him to refuse the prize. Soviet authorities also blocked publication of the work of Anna Akhmatova, one of Russia’s greatest poets. Her work was banned until 1952 because censors felt she did not sufficiently praise the Soviet government. Akhmatova was kept out of public life and the official Writers’ Union.
She composed her poetry in private, and her works were available only as samizdat.
Through the 1960s and ’70s, Russian writers used samizdat networks to circulate banned or politically risky material. By the late 1980s, computers became available in scientific research facilities, and
underground writers began using the computers to store and circulate texts. Censorship was officially abolished in 1989,

shortly before the breakup of the Soviet Union, leading to a publishing boom.
Works by previously banned authors were published, and the samizdat networks quickly faded into history.

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