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Set 3

SAMPLE READING TEST QUESTIONS

DIRECTIONS: The passage in this test is followed by several questions. After reading the passage, choose the best answer to each question and WRITE THE ANSWER IN YOUR NOTEBOOK. You may refer to the passage as often as necessary. To have the questions open in a new browser window, CLICK HERE

After you have finished answering ALL of the questions, check your answers by clicking on the letter you have chosen. COUNT THE NUMBER OF ANSWERS YOU GOT CORRECT ON THE FIRST TRY, MARK IT DOWN, AND TELL ME THE SCORE

 

 


 

SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from the article
"Japan's Tansu: Cabinetry of the 18th and 19th Centuries" by
Rosy Clarke (1985 by W.R.C. Smith Publishing Company).

 





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     The Japanese, always pressed for room on their
island empire, have long been masters at utilizing
space. This is especially evident in the native handmade
Japanese cabinetry known as tansu, produced from
about 1750 to 1900. A prolific range of wooden tansu
was created for a variety of needs, and a diverse group
of pieces emerged, ranging from small, portable medi-
cine chests to giant trunks on wheels.

     Prior to Japan's Edo Period (1603-1867), owner-
ship of furniture was limited to the nobility. Primarily,
these were black-and-gold lacquered pieces of Chinese
inspiration. But with the demise of Japan's feudal
society and the rise of a moneyed merchant class by the
mid-Edo Period, furniture in Japan took on its own
personality, as craftsmen enjoyed the freedom to create
original designs that combined function and beauty.
Today, examples of these skillfully constructed chests
tell us much about the lifestyle and accoutrements of
people during the Edo Period and the Meiji Era
(1868-1912).

     The greatest demand was for clothing and mer-
chants' chests; within these two categories, hundreds of
stylistic variations occurred. Most clothing tansu were
constructed with four long drawers for kimono storage
and a small door compartment that opened to two or
three tiny drawers for personal items. The chests were
usually built in two pieces that stacked, a design that
allowed for easy portability. A favorite wood used to
build clothing tansu was paulownia, noted for its light
weight and subtle, natural sheen. In the Edo Period, it
was customary for Japanese fathers to plant a
paulownia tree when a daughter was born. When she
married, the tree was cut down and made into a
trousseau chest.

     Merchants' chests, used to store documents,
writing brushes, inkstones and money, were usually
constructed of thick zelkova or chestnut. Unlike
clothing tansu, which were kept inside a sliding door
closet in a home, a merchant's chest was in full view of
customers. Thus, shop tansu was an important indicator
of a shopkeeper's prosperity.

     Some styles were surprisingly large, an example
being the staircase tansu. Japanese homes and shops
were often built with lofts, and for easy access from the
ground floor, a freestanding staircase was designed by
clever craftsmen who incorporated compartments and
drawers throughout for maximum utility. Around six
feet high, most staircase chests were made in two sec-
tions that stacked, though many one-piece chests were
also produced. Because of the great amount of wood
needed to build a staircase tansu, steps, risers and case
were made of softwood, and hardwood was used for
doors and drawer fronts.

     Many households, especially rural homes, kept
large kitchen tansu to store food and crockery. The
wood of these practical kitchen chests was rarely fin-
ished, and those in original condition show a lovely
natural patina developed from years of exposure to the
smoke and heat of the cooking area. Kitchen tansu were
designed strictly for utility with sliding door compart-
ments, inner shelves and numerous small drawers. Like
staircase tansu, they display a minimum of ironwork
and rarely show locking drawers or doors.

     After 1900, modern techniques replaced the
original handcrafted construction methods. Sand-cast
iron handles, for example, are common on furniture
made from about 1890 to 1920. Traditional designs--
dragons, cherry blossoms and mythical personalities--
that were once etched by hand onto lock plates became
simplified as machine-pressed patterns appeared. Thick
pieces of wood originally used became thinner around
1900, when improved wood planing techniques resulted
in mass-produced tansu of diminished quality. And the
amazing range of handproduced, naturally pigmented
lacquer finishes that hallmarked earlier tansu all but
disappeared by about 1920. With rapid industrialization
at hand, many of Japan's artisans abandoned their tradi-
tional crafts.

     Appreciated today for their beauty, simplicity and
functionality, tansu are now showing up in homes in
America and Europe. But relatively few exceptional
examples of the thousands produced now remain. Those
pieces available document a special part of Japanese
history and culture as well as the remarkable sense of
space and design of Japan's unknown craftsmen.

 

 

1.

The author states that the result of mass production techniques on the tansu was:

A. diminished quality.
B. thicker pieces of wood.
C. renewed popularity.
D. greater variety.
 

 

2.

The passage states that although handmade tansu were designed and used for many purposes, most were:

F. fancy black-and-gold finished pieces.
G. kitchen cabinets.
H. clothing and merchants' chests.
J. staircase chests.
 

 

3.

According to the passage, the original popularity of tansu resulted primarily from the:

A. desire to display clothing and other personal items.
B. need to make good use of space.
C. need to disguise a merchant's wealth.
D. desire to be different from the Chinese.
 

 

4.

According to the passage, modern production methods caused which of the following changes in the tansu?

  I. Sand-cast iron handles
  II. Simplification of traditional designs
  III. Thinner wood

F. II only
G. III only
H. I and II only
J. I, II, and III
 

 

5.

As it is used in the passage, the word patina (line 58) most nearly means the:

A. design carved in the wood of the chests.
B. original finish applied to the chest.
C. destruction of the wood by smoke and heat.
D. surface appearance of the wood.
 

6.

The author claims that by studying examples of handcrafted Japanese tansu that are still available today, scholars can learn about which of the following?

I. 

How mass production first began in Japan

II. 

How Japanese industrialists developed shortcuts in building furniture

III. 

How the Japanese lived during the Edo Period and the Meiji Era

F. II only
G. III only
H. I and II only
J. I, II, and III
 

 

7.

According to the account of tansu-making in the passage, improved wood-planing techniques resulted in:

A. a need to change the types of wood used.
B. the need to apply thicker wood finishes.
C. the use of thinner wood.
D. a renewed interest in black-and-gold lacquered finishes.
 

 

8.

The passage suggests that the Japanese tansu had changed by the mid-Edo Period in which of the following ways?

F. It reflected increased creative freedom of the craftsmen.
G. It became a symbol of status and wealth for the nobility.
H. It became less important to the merchant class.
J. It became much larger.
 

 

9.

According to the passage, the Chinese influence on Japanese furniture-making is reflected in which of the following characteristics of some Japanese furniture?

  I. The use of space
  II. The black and gold lacquer
  III. The use of paulownia wood

A. II only
B. III only
C. I and II only
D. I, II, and III
 

 

10.

The passage indicates about tansu that they were:

  I. used for aesthetic purposes only.
  II. indicative of financial status.
  III. hidden from view because they held important
  documents.

F. I only
G. II only
H. I and II only
J. II and III only
 

 

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