ACT Assessment Sample Question
Answer Key and Question Explanations

Set 1: Reading


1. The best answer is C. Lines 2425 express the narrator's opinion that "Her hair must have been sadly thin," and other evidence in support of this view appears in the third paragraph (lines 2328). While the narrator thinks of literary figures (line 24), there is no indication that Mrs. Sennett wears a hat for this reason, so B is a choice not supported by the passage. She wears a hat all the time, "indoors and out," which rules out A. There is no evidence that she has unique taste in clothing, which blocks D as a good answer.

2. The best answer is H. It is clear from the passage that Mrs. Sennett has affection for the children; we know that while she needs to and would rather rest, she has returned with the children before, and will do so again now. While the children do hang onto her skirt, there is no indication that Mrs. Sennett is bothered by this (G). Because Mrs. Sennett is "almost stone-deaf" (lines 1617), she would not be disturbed by their noise, which rules out F. G and J are choices contradicted by Mrs. Sennett's apparent affection for the children, and by her generous personality; there is no evidence to suggest that the children are disobedient or that their behavior bothers her.

3. The best answer is C. We know that Mrs. Sennett is old, looked ill (line 28), and is tired (lines 3132). There is no indication that Mrs. Sennett feels annoyance (A) or anger (B); she has agreed to go, and must know that she is wanted. D is too strong; while she is willing, she probably is not "enthusiastic" about going. Her words in lines 9193 do not show enthusiasm.

4. The best answer is F. There are indications provided by lines 79 and 8183 that the Curleys cry on cue to get what they want. There is no evidence in the passage that Mrs. Sennett is aware of their manipulation, which rules out J. Neither is there any evidence available to support G or H.

5. The best answer is B. The key is clearly supported by lines 1618. All of the other foils are contradicted by the passage: C by line 22, and A and D by her personality as it is revealed over the course of the passage.

6. The best answer is J. The last 30+ lines of the passage focus on this issue. H is simply not true: the children are speaking to Mrs. Sennett, not the narrator. There is no indication that they are reluctant to leave, which rules out G. F can be eliminated because the children do not seem offended by Mrs. Sennett's words; it is more likely that they are merely continuing their manipulative behavior (see lines 79, 8183).

7. The best answer is A. This choice is consistent with Mrs. Sennett's generous personality, and Mrs. Sennett's action comes in direct reaction to the narrator's change of expression (line 11). There is no evidence anywhere in the passage in support of B; C is obviously not true (she has performed her duties to the Curleys' satisfaction); and there is never any evidence that Mrs. Sennett is bothered by the noise the children make--she is "almost stone-deaf," after all, which rules out D.

8. The best answer is H. Both characters are considerate and exchange favors: the narrator lends Mrs. Sennett the car (lines 5156) and Mrs. Sennett gives the narrator many presents (lines 5960). There is no indication that their relationship has been anything but a relatively short-term, neighborly friendship, which makes both F and J choices that are not supported by the passage. G is contradicted by examples of both characters' sensitivity to the other (lines 1116, 80).

9. The best answer is D. A, B, and C do not make sense in the context of the sentence.

10. The best answer is F. Mary tells the narrator of this earlier event as they sit watching the sunset (lines 6768). Mrs. Sennett had told the narrator of her intentions before Mr. Curley even arrived (lines 6163), so G cannot be correct. There is no evidence in the passage that supports H, which makes it implausible. The narrator learns of Mrs. Sennett's plans to return to Boston the next day, which rules out J.

Set 2: Reading


1. The best answer is C. Lines 2122 explain what being put to the proof requires. Since there was no automatic assumption of innocence in England at this time nor was that something the courts of that time addressed (see lines 1213), A is ruled out. Since innocence could be "proven" (line 50), B is incorrect, and because line 18 makes it clear that only one party was tried, D can also be ruled out.

2. The best answer is F. Support for the answer is found in lines 5456. Floating proved guilt (line 51), which means G is incorrect; H is incorrect because simply wearing bandages for three days did not determine innocence (proof of innocence or guilt came with their removal and inspection of the wound); and J is incorrect because oaths were part of trial by compurgation, not trial by ordeal.

3. The best answer is D. Support for the answer is in the last paragraph, which compares the three kinds of trial: "The oaths that saturated the proceedings called upon God to witness to the truth of the . . . claims . . . , or the justice of their cause . . ." (lines 8285). The passage clearly identifies the assistance of God as necessary in each form of trial. Neither of the procedures described in A or B apply to the trials described in the passage, and C is only one type of the several trials described in the passage.

4. The best answer is F. Lines 7881 support the answer by stating that the judges' only role was to decide which party should be put to proof and the form of the proof. The proceedings were the same for criminal and civil cases (lines 7778), which rules out G; lines 8587 directly contradict what is claimed in H and lines 7881 directly contradict the assertions in J, which eliminates both as plausible answers.

5. The best answer is D. Line 74 supports option I; lines 7677 contradict what is stated in option II (thus eliminating B and C as plausible choices); and lines 8285 prove III. Given that both I and III are true, the best and most complete answer is D.

6. The best answer is F. The answer is clearly supported by information in lines 3235. An oath would be "burst" if precise "swearing" procedures were not followed; an oath is not "burst" by the number of swearers assembled, but by what those swearers say and how they say it, which rules out G. The swearer's trial preference was completely irrelevant, so H is incorrect; and judges had no role in deciding the verdict (see lines 7879), which makes J incorrect.

7. The best answer is B. Trial by compurgation requires oath-helpers, so option I is wrong (thus ruling out A and D). Lines 3638 state that the more serious crimes required ordeals, lesser crimes compurgation, which makes option II true. The same lines reveal that peasants or persons of bad reputation usually had a trial by ordeal, making III incorrect (thus ruling out C). B is thus the only plausible choice.

8. The best answer is H. The answer is strongly supported by information in lines 7476. Choices F, G, and J are either contradicted by that portion of the passage or are illogical in the context of the passage.

9. The best answer is B. Lines 1617 clearly state that trial by battle was used only after the Norman Conquest. All trials discussed in the passage were public and had a known accuser (see line 74), which rules out A; no trials in this era had secret proceedings (lines 7677), which rules out C; and judges had no role in the verdict (lines 7879), which rules out D.

10. The best answer is J. The context makes clear that the process is very precise, and that any mistake has the serious consequence of proving guilt. This would make the swearing anything but "comfortable," which rules out F. H makes no sense in context and G is illogical, for if the "swearing" is dishonest it cannot be "without a mistake" (line 34). Given that the procedure seems quite involved and exacting, J is the best answer.

Set 3: Reading


1. The best answer is A. The wood in mass-produced tansu was thinner, not thicker (see lines 7071), which rules out B. There is no evidence available to suggest that tansu became more popular, which rules out C. The burden of lines 7376 is that the variety of types of tansu diminished drastically, which rules out D.

2. The best answer is H. Lines 2122 support the answer, stating that "the greatest demand was for clothing and merchants' chests." The use of tansu as staircase chests (J) and in kitchens (G) is discussed in paragraphs 5 and 6, respectively, but the lines supporting the answer effectively block them as possible choices. F, which refers to black-and-gold lacquered pieces, actually refers to furniture owned in very limited quantity by nobility prior to the Edo Period (see lines 1012) and not to the tansu discussed in the rest of the passage.

3. The best answer is B. Support for the answer is found in the first two lines of the passage. Since tansu are chests for storing clothing (and clothing tansu were kept out of sight--see lines 3738) and other things, not displaying them, A can be ruled out. C is wrong because tansu were built to reflect a shopkeeper's prosperity (see lines 4041). Lines 1012 indicate that tansu were inspired by Chinese furniture; this fact rules out D.

4. The best answer is J. Lines 6473 indicate that tansu acquired sand-cast iron handles (I), that traditional designs were simplified (II), and that the wood used to make tansu became thinner (III). That all three changes are true dictates the choice of J and the other three answers--F, G, and H--must be seen as incomplete.

5. The best answer is D. The context indicates that what caused the patina was years of exposure to smoke and heat. Lines 5557 tell us that household tansu were rarely finished. Thus, B makes little sense. The context makes no mention of carving designs, which makes A implausible. C is also a poor choice, since it is hard to imagine something being described as "lovely" if it has been destroyed.

6. The best answer is G. Support for the answer exists in lines 1720, where the passage states that tansu can "tell us much about the lifestyle and accoutrements of people during the Edo Period." The beginning of mass production in Japan, how it first began, is not discussed in the passage; this rules out I, thereby eliminating H and J as possible choices. And we never learn about industrialists' shortcuts in building furniture, only that at a certain point tansu were mass produced. This rules out II.

7. The best answer is C. Lines 7073 support the answer directly. The passage makes no mention of different types of wood in this context, which rules out A; the thickness of the finish applied is never mentioned, which rules out B; and no mention is made of a renewed interest in black-and-gold lacquered finishes, which makes D an incorrect choice.

8. The best answer is F. The answer is supported by information in the second paragraph, specifically lines 1216. The burden of that (and subsequent) paragraphs is that tansu, previously limited to nobility, became available to many more people in this period, which rules out G. Tansu are identified in lines 4041 as being indicators of a merchant's success, which rules out H as a choice. Some tansu were large, others not, but since we do not know the size of tansu made prior to this period, J is not a good choice.

9. The best answer is A. Lines 1112 mention "black-and-gold lacquered pieces of Chinese inspiration," which supports II. There is no association of use of space (I) or paulownia wood (III) with Chinese influence, which blocks these as choices and effectively rules out B, C, and D.

10. The best answer is G. Lines 4041 support II. Since tansu were practical as well as beautiful, I is a wrong choice, which rules out F and H as possible answers. The passage makes clear that tansu were always on display in houses and businesses, which makes III incorrect and thus rules out J.

Set 4: Reading


1. The best answer is C. It is supported directly by lines 5154. The passage suggests that escaping methane affects how reflective Charon is, not its setting, which rules out D. B is eliminated by understanding that stellar occultations (line 60) refers to eclipses. A is an inappropriate choice because it relates to the number of eclipses (where, from the surface of Pluto, Charon disappears from view) occurring in a short period of time and is unrelated to why Charon never sets.

2. The best answer is G. The answer is supported by lines 3233, which establish the uniqueness of Charon and Pluto's mutual tidal coupling. No such statement is made about frequency of eclipses (F), synchronous rotation (H), or axial tilt (J), so these choices must be ruled unacceptable.

3. The best answer is C. The point of the first paragraph is how huge Charon appears in Pluto's sky. That it is unusually large rules out A: it occupies a relatively much larger portion of the sky than does Earth's moon. The first paragraph does not compare Pluto and Charon, which makes B an incorrect choice, and neither does the first paragraph compare the size of Earth to Pluto, which eliminates D as a possible choice.

4. The best answer is F. The Sun's corona is defined in lines 8083. Options II and III refer to the preceding sentence and have to do with how Charon might be illuminated during an eclipse by reflected light from Pluto and there is nothing in the passage to suggest that the Sun's corona is comprised of reflected light. This information rules out G, H, and J as acceptable answers.

5. The best answer is D. Lines 6769 state that "Because of Pluto's axial tilt and Charon's position over Pluto's equator, the pair go for almost 120 years without their shadows ever falling upon one another." This information establishes options I and III as correct. Option II, which refers to escaping methane, has no relation to eclipse frenzy.

6. The best answer is J. Support for the answer is to be found in lines 4445, which state that "Missing too from Charon is the methane frost which partially covers Pluto." There is no comparison made about escaping methane on Pluto and Charon, so no evidence exists to support A as a choice. Line 46 refers to Charon's "weaker gravity," which means the gravity is noticeable; this rules out G. We know from lines 3637 that Charon has an "uneven, cratered landscape," which rules out H.

7. The best answer is A. Lines 810 tell us that Charon takes up 4 degrees of Pluto's sky and is eight times as wide as our Moon appears from Earth. The relatively simple math produces A as the only possible choice.

8. The best answer is G. The information necessary to see that options I and II are correct is clearly stated in lines 4549. Axial tilt is referred to later (line 67) and has nothing to do with methane ice evaporation. This fact rules out H and J. F is only a partial answer, given the information cited in lines 4549.

9. The best answer is C. Support for the answer can be found in lines 1619. The passage makes no mention of axial tilt as a feature shared by satellites, which rules out A. The distance of major satellites and/or planets from one another is not taken up in those lines, or anywhere in the passage, which rules out B. The next to last paragraph makes it clear the "eclipse frenzy" is rare, so that would not be something major satellites had in common, which rules out D as a plausible choice.

10. The best answer is G. Support for the answer can be found in lines 7375. No mention is made of the discovery of the synchronous rotation of satellites anywhere in the passage; this eliminates F as a plausible choice. The passage makes clear that our Moon is not identical to Charon, which rules out H as a choice. No mention is made of a demonstration of tidal coupling by Earth and its Moon occurring at the same time or in any way relating to the discovery of Charon, which makes J an incorrect choice.