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Improve ACT Scores with Sample ACT Test Questions

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, March 20, 2014

Are you ready for the ACT? Try these sample ACT test questions to see where you need to focus your preparation. Answers are included at the end of all the questions.

If you're interested in even more questions, be sure to check out the free ACT practice tests available here at Peterson's!

English

The Unblinking Eye

Photography is of course a [1] visual art like many others, including painting, drawing, and the various forms of printmaking. But photography is unique as one of these [2] arts in one respect: the person, place, event, or other subject that has been photographed is always real, captured by a photographer who is an on-the-spot eyewitness to its reality. A painting may depict a scene that is partly or in whole imaginary — a knight battling a dragon, a city beneath the sea, or the features of a woman who never existed. But a photograph is a document reflecting with more or less completeness and accuracy something that was actually happening as the shutter clicked.

1. Indicate which change would most improve the sentence.

(A) NO CHANGE
(B) is, of course, a
(C) is of course, a
(D) is — of course, a

2. Indicate which change would most improve the sentence.

(A) NO CHANGE
(B) as a member of these
(C) compared to other
(D) among these

Math

1. In the standard (x, y) coordinate plane, a straight line segment is drawn to connect (0, 0) and (4, 4). Which of the following sets of points, when connected by a straight line segment, will intersect the original segment?

(A) (–3, 3) and (3, 4)
(B) (0, –1) and (4, 3)
(C) (0, 1) and (4, 5)
(D) (1, 0) and (8, 4)
(E) (2, 1) and (2, 5)

Reading

Although Bertha Young was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and laugh at — nothing — at nothing, simply.

What can you do if you are thirty and, turning the corner of your own street, you are overcome, suddenly, by a feeling of bliss — absolute bliss! — as though you'd suddenly swallowed a bright piece of that late afternoon sun and it burned in your bosom, sending out a little shower of sparks into every particle, into every finger and toe…?

Oh, is there no way you can express it without being "drunk and disorderly?" How idiotic civilization is! Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up in a case like a rare, rare fiddle?

"No, that about the fiddle is not quite what I mean," she thought, running up the steps and feeling in her bag for the key — she'd forgotten it, as usual — and rattling the letter-box. "It's not what I mean, because — Thank you, Mary" — she went into the hall. "Is Nanny back?"

"Yes, M'm."

"I'll go upstairs." And she ran upstairs to the nursery.

Nanny sat at a low table giving Little B her supper after her bath. The baby had on a white flannel gown and a blue woolen jacket, and her dark, fine hair was brushed up into a funny little peak. She looked up when she saw her mother and began to jump.

"Now, my lovey, eat it up like a good girl," said Nanny, setting her lips in a way that Bertha knew, and that meant she had come into the nursery at another wrong moment.

"Has she been good, Nanny?"

"She's been a little sweet all the afternoon," whispered Nanny. "We went to the park and I sat down on a chair and took her out of the carriage and a big dog came along and put its head on my knee and she clutched its ear, tugged it. Oh, you should have seen her."

Bertha wanted to ask if it wasn't rather dangerous to let her clutch at a strange dog's ear. But she did not dare to. She stood watching them, her hands by her side, like the poor little girl in front of the rich little girl with the doll.

The baby looked up at her again, stared, and then smiled so charmingly that Bertha couldn't help crying:

"Oh, Nanny, do let me finish giving her supper while you put the bath things away."

"Well, M'm, she oughtn't to be changed hands while she's eating," said Nanny, still whispering. "It unsettles her; it's very likely to upset her."

How absurd it was. Why have a baby if it has to be kept — not in a case like a rare, rare fiddle — but in another woman's arms?

"Oh, I must!" said she.

Very offended, Nanny handed her over.

"Now, don't excite her after her supper. You know you do, M'm. And I have such a time with her after!"

Thank heaven! Nanny went out of the room with the bath towels.

"Now I've got you to myself, my little precious," said Bertha, as the baby leaned against her.

She ate delightfully, holding up her lips for the spoon and then waving her hands. Sometimes she wouldn't let the spoon go; and sometimes, just as Bertha had filled it, she waved it away to the four winds.

When the soup was finished Bertha turned round to the fire.

"You're nice — you're very nice!" said she, kissing her warm baby. "I'm fond of you. I like you." And, indeed, she loved Little B so much — her neck as she bent forward, her exquisite toes as they shone transparent in the firelight — that all her feeling of bliss came back again, and again she didn't know how to express it — what to do with it.

"You're wanted on the telephone," said Nanny, coming back in triumph and seizing her Little B.

1. It can be inferred from the passage that Nanny is afraid that Bertha will make the baby:

(A) overly excited.
(B) unwilling to finish her supper.
(C) physically ill.
(D) unwilling to have a bath.

2. Bertha's feelings toward Nanny may best be described as a mixture of:

(A) resentment and despair.
(B) timidity and jealousy.
(C) contempt and hostility.
(D) exasperation and affection.

Science

A greenish, potato-sized meteorite discovered in Antarctica is believed to have originated on Mars. Investigations of the meteorite have revealed a number of unusual features. Some scientists believe that these features are evidence of primitive life on Mars, while other scientists believe that they are more probably the result of non-biological (nonliving) processes, such as hydrothermal synthesis.

Hydrothermal Synthesis Hypothesis

This hypothesis states that the meteorite crystallized slowly from magma (molten rock) on Mars, 4.5 million years ago. About half a million years later, the rock became fractured. This was a time when Mars was much warmer and had abundant water. Deep inside the planet, in a process called hydrothermal synthesis, hot water and carbon seeped into the fractured rock and formed new complex organic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). (Organic compounds, or those that contain carbon, are formed from life processes, such as bacterial decay, as well as processes not associated with life, including hydrothermal synthesis and star formation.)

As the chemical environment of the planet changed over time, crystals of magnetite, iron sulfides, and carbonate formed in the rock. The crystallization of the carbonate resulted in the formation of unusual elongated and egg-shaped structures within the crystals.

Primitive Life Hypothesis

Proponents of this theory argue that the meteorite crystallized slowly from magma (molten rock) on Mars 4.5 million years ago. About half a million years later, the rock became fractured. At this time abundant water and a warm climate created the right conditions for life. The rock was immersed in water rich in carbon dioxide, which allowed carbon to collect inside the fractured rock, along with primitive bacteria.

The bacteria began to manufacture magnetite and iron sulfide crystals, just as bacteria on Earth do. As generations of bacteria died and began to decay, they created PAHs inside of the meteorite's carbon molecules. Finally, some bacteria themselves were preserved as elongated egg-shaped fossils inside of the rock.

1. About which of the following points do the two hypotheses differ?

(A) The meteorite's age
(B) The origin of the meteorite's organic molecules
(C) The conditions on Mars when the meteorite formed
(D) The origin of the fractures in the meteorite

2. Proponents of both theories would agree that which of the following statements is true?

(A) The meteorite contains some type of fossil.
(B) Water was important for the original entry of carbon into the meteorite.
(C) The organic compounds seen in the rock were the result of decay.
(D) Magnetite crystals from Antarctica seeped into the meteorite.

ACT Answers

English

1. The correct answer is (B). The parenthetical phrase "of course" should be set off from the rest of the sentence by a pair of matching commas, one before the phrase and one after.

2. The correct answer is (D). This is the most concise and graceful wording.

Math

1. The correct answer is (E). If you sketch each of the segments on a coordinate plane, you'll find that only the segment connecting (2, 1) and (2, 5) intersects with the original segment.

Reading

1. The correct answer is (A). Paragraphs 14 and 18 make this point: "It unsettles her; it's very likely to upset her," and "Now, don't excite her after her supper."

2. The correct answer is (B). Paragraph 12 provides good evidence for both points. Bertha "does not dare to" criticize Nanny's handling of the baby, even indirectly; and we're told that she feels "like the poor little girl in front of the rich little girl with the doll" when she sees Nanny with Little B. Later, she expresses unhappiness over the fact that her baby is "in another woman's arms." Clearly, Bertha is both a little jealous of Nanny and a little intimidated by her.

Science

1. The correct answer is (B). The Hydrothermal Synthesis Hypothesis states that the PAHs (the organic molecules in the meteorite) were formed by hydrothermal synthesis, while the Primitive Life Hypothesis says that they were formed by the decay of bacteria.

2. The correct answer is (B).

See the fourth sentence of each of the sections describing the two hypotheses. In both cases, seeping water is described as the mechanism that allowed carbon to enter the rock.

 

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