過去這個週末學生考了 2017 年 12 月的 ACT 考試。如果這是你最後一次考 ACT，恭喜你完成了一個艱難的任務！
我們整理了 2017 年 12 月 ACT 考試當中的 4 篇閱讀文章，幫助學生準備未來的考試。
首先，讀這些文章。你覺得他們讀起來很簡單還是很難？裡面有沒有很多生字，尤其是那些會影響你理解整篇文章的生字？如果有的話，雖然你可能是在美國讀書或讀國際學校、也知道 “如何讀跟寫英文”，但你還沒有足夠的生字基礎讓你 “達到下一個階段” （也就是大學的階段）。查一下這一些字，然後把它們背起來。這些生字不見得會在下一個 ACT 考試中出現，但是透過真正的 ACT 閱讀文章去認識及學習這些生字可以大大的減低考試中出現不會的生字的機率。
在我們的 Ivy-Way Reading Workbook（Ivy-Way 閱讀技巧書）的第一章節裡，我們教學生在閱讀文章之前要先讀文章最上面的開頭介紹。雖然你的 ACT 考試不會剛好考這幾篇文章，但你還是可以透過這些文章找到它們的來源，然後從來源閱讀更多相關的文章。閱讀更多來自這些地方的文章會幫助你習慣閱讀這種風格的文章。
所有 2017 年 12 月 ACT 考試閱讀文章
This passage is adapted from the short story “Pride” by Alice Munro (©2011 by Alice Munro).
Oneida didn’t go to school with the rest of us. She
went to a girls’ school, a private school. Even in the
summers she was not around much. I believe the family
had a place on Lake Simcoe.
Oneida was an unusual name. Her father, I believe,
called her Ida. Ida’s father ran the bank. Even in those
days bankers came and went, I suppose to keep them
from ever getting too cozy with the customers. But
the Jantzens had been having their way in town for too long
for any regulations to matter, or that was how it
seemed. Horace Jantzen had certainly the look of a man
born to.be in power. A heavy white beard and a ponder-
In the hard times of the Thirties people were still
coming up with ideas. You can be sure, men were
nursing a notion bound to make them a million dollars.
A million dollars in those days was a million dollars.
It wasn’t any railway bum, however, who got into
the bank to talk to Horace Jantzen. Who knows if it was
a single person or a cohort. Maybe a stranger or some
friends of friends. Well dressed and plausible looking,
you may be sure. Horace set store by appearances.
He wasn’t a fool, though maybe not as quick as he
should have been to smell a rat.
The idea was the resurrection of the steam-driven
car, such as had been around at the turn of the century.
Horace Jantzen may have had one himself and had a
fondness for them. This new model would be an
improved version, of course, and have the advantages of
being economical and not making a racket.
I’m not acquainted with the details, having been in
high school at the time. But I can imagine the leak of
talk and the scoffing and enthusiasm and the news get-
ting through of some entrepreneurs from Toronto or
Windsor or Kitchener getting ready to set up locally.
Some hotshots, people would say. And others would
ask if they had the backing.
They did indeed, because the bank had put up the
loan. It was Jantzen’s decision and there was some confusion
that he had put in his own money. He may have
done so, but he had also dipped improperly into bank
funds, thinking no doubt that he could pay it back with
nobody the wiser. Maybe the laws were not so tight
then. There were actually men hired and the old Livery
Stable was cleared out to be their place of operations.
And here my memory grows shaky, because I graduated
from high school, and I had to think about earning a
living if that was possible. I settled for bookkeeping,
and that meant going out of town to apprentice to an
outfit in Goderich. By the time I got back home the
steam-car operation was spoken of with scorn by the
people who had been against it and not at all by those
who had promoted it. The visitors to town who pro-
moted it had disappeared.
The bank had lost a lot of money. There was talk
not of cheating but of mismanagement. Somebody had
to be punished. Any ordinary manager would have been
out on his ear, but given that it was Horace Jantzen this
was avoided. What happened to him was almost worse.
He was switched to the job of bank manager in the little
village of Hawksburg, about six miles up the highway.
Prior to this there had been no manager there at all,
because they didn’t need one. There had just been a
head cashier and an underling cashier, both women.
Surely he could have refused, but pride, as it was
thought, chose otherwise. Pride chose that he be driven
every morning those six miles to sit behind a partial
wall of cheap varnished boards, no proper office at all.
There he sat and did nothing until it was time for him to
be driven home. The person who drove him was his
daughter. Sometime in these years of driving she made
the transition from Ida to Oneida. At last she had some-
thing to do.
If I picture Oneida and her father on these journeys
to and from Hawksburg, I see him riding in the back
seat, and her in front, like a chauffeur. It may have been
that he was too bulky to ride up beside her. I don’t see
Oneida looking downtrodden or unhappy at the arrangement,
nor her father looking actually unhappy. Dignity
was what he had, and plenty of it. She had something
different. When she went into a store or even walked on
the street there seemed to be a little space cleared
around her, made ready for whatever she might want or
greetings she might spread. She seemed then a bit flustered
but gracious, ready to laugh a little at herself or
the situation. Of course she had her good bones and
bright looks, all that fair dazzle of skin and hair. So it
might seem strange that I could feel sorry for her, the
way she was all on the surface of things, trusting.
Passage A is adapted from Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel (©2011 by Susan Freinkel). Passage B is adapted from American Plastic: A Cultural History by Jeffrey L. Meikle (©1995 by Jeffrey L. Meikle).
Designers were enthralled by the universe of pos-
sibility from plastics’ earliest days. They loved the
design freedom that synthetics offered and the spirit of
modernity the materials embodied. To furniture
designer Paul T. Frankl, a material like Bakelite, the
world’s first synthetic plastic, spoke “in the vernacular
of the twentieth century … the language of investion,
of synthesis,” and he urged his fellow designers to use
their full imaginative powers to explore the new matenals’
frank artificiality. As interpreted by Frankl and
other designers working with Bakelite in the ’30s and
’40s, that was the language of streamlining, a lingo of
curves and dashes and teardrop shapes that created a
feeling of speed and motion in everyday objects.
Streamline a fountain pen and even that stolid item
declared: we’re hurtling toward the future here!
There was another reason designers embraced
plastics. From the mid-twentieth century on, modern
design has been guided by an egalitarian gospel, a
belief that good design needn’t cost a lot of money, that
even the most mundane items could be things of beauty.
“Get the most of the best to the most for the least” was
the way Ray and Charles Eames put it in their famous
tongue-twisting credo. Plastics were the ideal medium
for that mission: malleable, relatively inexpensive, and
made for mass manufacture.
Yet, as in any new relationship, there were risks. It
was all too easy to exploit plastics’ powers of mimicry
to produce the kinds of imitations—pseudo-wood cabinets
and faux-leather recliners—that contributed to the
growing reputation of plastic as an inferior material.
Plastics’ adaptability and glibness undermined their
capacity to achieve “dignity” as legitimate materials
worthy of being taken seriously, one critic wrote.
This impression was exacerbated by people’s
unfortunate experiences with plastics in the immediate
postwar years. There were plastic plates that melted in
hot water, plastic toys that cracked on Christmas morning,
plastic raincoats that grew clammy and fell apart in
the rain. Polymer technology improved during the
1950s as manufacturers figured out how to make better
plastics and, even more important, how to match the
right polymer with the right application. But the
damage to plastic’s reputation had been done.
Worrying about the image of plastic made sense in
1945 when unfamiliar new materials confronted wary
consumers. By the mid-1950s, however, no one was
ignorant of plastic because it surrounded everyone.
Sidney Gross, who joined Modern Plastics in 1952 and
became editor in 1968, recalled that he had “agitated a
lot” over the years to get SPI, the trade association for
the plastics industry, to quit trying to convince people
“that plastic is not bad.” It was a waste of money
because plastic’s image—good or bad—did not really
matter. The key to plastic’s success, as he saw it, was
always “selling the manufacturer.” One plastic products
filled the stores, people had no choice but to consume
what they were offered. Most of the time, Gross
maintained, after the industry had solved postwar quality
problems, plastic objects did work better. Things
made of plastic were better designed and lasted longer.
People intuitively recognized that fact even if they
retained an intellectual notion that plastic was bad or
shoddy. In short, nothing succeeded like success.
Often plastic did offer a significant improvement
on whatever it replaced. A sleepy householder had to
watch only once in disbelief as a polyethylene juice
pitcher bounced off the kitchen floor to begin accepting
plastic in a practical way no matter how strong the conceptual
disdain for it. Even plastic toys, despite the brittle
polystyrene items that broke on Chnstmas morning,
proved superior in many ways. A toy soldier of molded
polyethylene could not scratch the furniture as readily
as an old-fashioned lead soldier. Most people who
expressed negative attitudes about plastic used it
anyway without thinking about it, either because a particular
use had proven itself or because an inexpensive
trouble-free alternative no longer existed. As House
Beautiful observed in 1955, “The news is not that plastics
exist, but [that] they have already been so assimilated
into our lives.” The average person was”conditioned to plastics.
” They had penetrated so far into the material fabric of
everyday life that their presence could not be denied
no matter how many people considered them second-rate
substitutes or a sad commentary on modern times.
This passage is adapted from the article “The Myth of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: How the Colombian Writer Really Changed Literature” by Michael Wood (©2009 by Wash ington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC).
Many years later, and many times over, the writer
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was to remember the day he
discovered how to set about writing his great novel. He
was driving from Mexico City to Acapulco when the
illumination hit him. He turned the car around, went
home, and locked himself away fo 18 months. When
he reappeared, he had the manuscnpt of One Hundred
Years of Solitude in his hands. ·
When Gerald Martin, around the middle of his rich
and resourceful biography of Garcia Marquez, starts to
tell this story, the reader may be a little surprised, even
disappointed. “He had not been driving long that day
when … Garcia Marquez, as if in a trance, turned the
Opel around, and drove back in the direction of Mexico
City. And then … ” Up to this point, Martin has not
been challenging what he calls his subject’s “mythomania”
—how could he, since it’s the basis of the writer’s
art and fame-but he has not been retelling the myths,
either. He has been grounding them, laying out the
pieces of what became the puzzles. And that’s what
he’s doing here, too.
After “and then,” Martin writes in mock apology,
“It seems a pity to intervene in the story at this point
but the biographer feels constrained to point out that
there have been many versions of this story … and
that the one just related cannot be true.” The truth was no
doubt less “miraculous,” to use Martin’s word. The
writer probably continued to Acapulco. He didn’t live
in total seclusion for 18 months. And Garcia Marquez
wasn’t starting a new book; he was reviving an old one.
What Garcia Marquez found was a way of telling
it. He would combine, as he frequently said, the narra-
tive tone of his grandmother with that of the author
Franz Kafka. She told fantastic stories as if they were
true, because for her, they were true. Kafka told them
that way because he was Kafka. After his moment of
illumination Garcia Marquez came more and more to
look for (and often to find) the truth in the fantastic, to
pursue whatever truth was lurking in the nonliteral
reading of literally presented events.
Just because the miracle didn’t happen as the story
says it did doesn’t mean there wasn’t a miracle. One
Hundred Years of Solitude changed Garcia Marquez’s
life entirely, and it changed literature. When he got into
the car to set out for Acapulco, he was a gifted and
hardworking writer, certainly. When he got out of the
car, he was on his way to the Nobel Prize, which he
won in 1982.
Garcia Marquez made many jokes about his fame
over the years. These jokes are witty and complicated
acts of gratitude for a destiny the writer was sure could
have been quite different. One of his finest sentences,
written in an article in 1983, concerns a dream of the
life he might have led if he had stayed in his isolated
birthplace of Aracataca, Colombia. “I would not per-
haps be the same person I am now but maybe I would
have been something· better: just a character in one of
the novels I would never have written.”
The term “mythomania” certainly covers Garcia
Marquez’s stories about his life and plenty of is journalism.
But his fiction is different. It takes pieces of already
thoroughly mythified reality-there is scarcely
an extravagant incident in his novels and stones that
doesn’t have some sort of basis in specific, local fact or
legend—and finds the perfect, unforgettable literary
home for them. But Garcia Marquez neither copies nor
further mythifies these facts and legends. He honors
them, to borrow a well-placed word from Martm:
[O]ver the dark story of conquest and violence,
tragedy and failure, he laid the other side of the continent,
the carnival spirit, the music and the art of the
Latin American people, the ability to honor life
even in its darkest corners.
To honor life, I take Martin as saying, is to celebrate
dignity, courage, and style wherever they are
found and in whatever forms they take. It is not to deny
darkness or even to believe it has its compensations.
Martin’s biography is itself rather a dark affair—
appropriately, since he is telling the life of a man whose
autobiography is an elaborate historical myth. In Garcia
Marquez’s own accounts, his life is both hard and magical.
But it’s never sad, and Martin evokes the sorrow
that must lurk in such a life. There is perhaps a slight
imbalance in Martin’s insistence on the writer’s sadness,
an excess of melancholy; but it’s a good corrective
to Garcia Marquez’s own joking cheerfulness and
elaborate ironies, and we can return to the master if we
get too depressed.
This passage is adapted from the essay “Our Place in the Universe” by Alan Lightman (©2012 by Harper’s Magazine Foundation).
One measure of the progress of human civilization
is the increasing scale of our maps. A clay tablet dating
from about the twenty-fifth century B.C. found near
what is now the Iraqi city of Kirkuk depicts a river
valley with a plot of land labeled as being 354 iku
(about thirty acres) in size. In the earliest recorded cosmologies,
such as the Babylonian Enuma Elish, from
around 1500 B.C., the oceans, the continents, and the
heavens were considered finite, but there were no scientific
estimates of their dimensions. The early Greeks,
including Homer, viewed Earth as a circular plane with
the ocean enveloping it and Greece at the center, but
there was no understanding of scale. In the early sixth
century B.C., the Greek philosopher Anaximander,
whom historians consider the first mapmaker, and his
student Anaximenes proposed that the stars were
attached to a giant crystalline sphere. But again there
was no estimate of its size.
The first large object ever accurately measured
was Earth, accomplished in the third century B.C. by
Eratosthenes, a geographer who ran the Library of
Alexandria. From travelers, Eratosthenes had heard the
intriguing report that at noon on the summer solstice, in
the town of Syene, due south of Alexandria, the sun
casts no shadow at the bottom of a deep well. Evidently
the sun is directly overhead at that time and place.
(Before the invention of the clock, noon could be
defined at each place as the moment when the sun was
highest in the sky, whether that was exactly vertical or
not.) Eratosthenes knew that the sun was not overhead
at noon in Alexandria. In fact, it was tipped 7.2 degrees
from the vertical, or about one fiftieth of a circle—a
fact he could determine by measuring the length of the
shadow cast by a stick planted in the ground. That the
sun could be directly overhead in one place and not
another was due to the curvature of Earth. Eratosthenes
reasoned that if he knew the distance from Alexandria
to Syene, the full circumference of the planet must be
about fifty times that distance. Traders passing through
Alexandria told him that camels could make the trip to
Syene in about fifty days, and it was known that a
camel could cover one hundred stadia (almost eleven
and a half miles) in a day. So the ancient geographer
estimated that Syene and Alexandria were about
570 miles apart. Consequently, the complete circumfer-
ence of Earth he figured to be about 50 x 570 miles, or
28,500 miles. This number was within 15 percent of the
modern measurement, amazingly accurate considering
the imprecision of using camels as odometers.
As ingenious as they were, the ancient Greeks
were not able to calculate the size of our solar system.
That discovery had to wait for the invention of the telescope,
nearly two thousand years later. In 1672, the French
astronomer Jean Richer determined the distance
from Earth to Mars by measuring how much the position
of the latter shifted against the background of stars
from two different observation points on Earth. The two
points were Paris and Cayenne, French Guiana. Using
the distance to Mars, astronomers were also able to
compute the distance from Earth to the sun, approximately 100 million miles.
A few years later, Isaac Newton managed to estimate
the distance to the nearest stars. (Only someone as
accomplished as Newton could have been the first to
perform such a calculation and have it go almost unnoticed
among his other achievements.) If one assumes
that the stars are similar objects to our sun, equal in
intrinsic luminosity, Newton asked, how far away
would our sun have to be in order to appear as faint as
nearby stars? Writing his computations in a spidery
script, with a quill dipped in the ink of oak galls,
Newton correctly concluded that the nearest stars are
about 100,000 times the distance from Earth to the sun,
about 10 trillion miles away. Newton’s calculation is
contained in a short section of his Principia titled
simply “On the distance of the stars.”
Newton’s estimate of the distance to nearby stars
was larger than any distance imagined before in human
history. Even today, nothing in our experience allows us
to relate to it. The fastest most of us have traveled is
about 500 miles per hour, the cruising speed of a jet. If
we set out for the nearest star beyond our solar system
at that speed, it would take us about 5 million years to
reach our destination. If we travelled in the fastest
rocket ship ever manufactured on Earth, the trip would
last 100,000 years, at least a thousand human life spans.