2018 October SAT was this past weekend. Congrats to seniors and those who just finished their last SAT test!
Here, we organized the 5 passages on the 2019 November test for students who are preparing for future tests.
How will reading these passages help you?
1. These passages will help you understand your level and your readiness
First, read these passages. Do you feel they are easy or difficult to read? Are there a lot of vocabulary words, especially words that affect your understanding? If so, even though you may be a high school student in the US or an international school, and even though you “know how to read and write in English,” you do not have enough vocabulary fundamentals for you to “get to the next level” (college). Look up these words, and memorize them. These exact words may very likely not show up on your SAT test, but picking up these words from actual SAT passages will drastically decrease the chances that you see a word you don’t know on your test.
2. These passages give you hints on what kind of passages to read in your preparation
In the first point in our Ivy-Way Reading Workbook, we teach students to read the introduction before the passage to know what the passage is about. Even though your SAT test will not have the same exact passages, you can use these passages to find their sources and read more from these sources. For example, if you look up passage 2, “The Problem with Fair Trade Coffee,” you’ll see that the article comes from Stanford Social Innovation Review. Reading more passages on Stanford Social Innovation Review will help you get used to that style of writing.
3. These passages help you develop a strategy to approach the real test (if the reading section isn’t a breeze)
If you find the reading section to be easy, or if you usually have a few minutes in the end to look over the whole test, then this strategy doesn’t apply to you as much. However, if you feel reading is hard, or if you sometimes run out of time, a good strategy is to know what types of passages are harder for you, and do them last. SAT reading contains these 5 passages:
- a classic or contemporary work of literature, usually from the US
- a U.S. founding document or a global document inspired by it (such as the U.S. Constitution or a speech by Martin Luther King Jr.)
- an economics, psychology, sociology, or social science passage
- two science passages (or one passage and one passage pair) in Earth science, biology, chemistry or physics
If, for example, you find the U.S. founding document passage to be the hardest to understand in your practices, a strategy that you can try is to skip this passage until the end. That way, in case you run out of time, you can make sure you get as many points from the easier passages as you can.
Passage 1 (Literature): The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri (pp. 10-12)
When they were old enough, when they were permitted to leave the house, they were told not to lose sight of one another. Together they wandered down the winding lanes of the enclave, behind the ponds and across the lowland, to the playing field where they sometimes met up with other boys. They went to the mosque at the corner, to sit on the cool of its marble steps, sometimes listening to a football game on someone’s radio, the guardian of the mosque never minding.
Eventually they were allowed to leave the enclave, and to enter the greater city. To walk as far as their legs would carry them, to board trams and busses by themselves. Still the mosque on the corner, a place of worship for those of a separate faith, oriented their daily comings and goings.
At one point, because Udayan suggested it. they began to linger outside Technicians’ Studio, where Satyajit Ray had shot Pather Panchali, where Bengali cinema stars spent their days. Now and then, because someone who knew them was employed on the shoot, they were ushered in amid the tangle of cables and wires, the glaring lights. After the call for silence, after the board was clapped, they watched the director and his crew taking and retaking a single scene, perfecting a handful of lines. A day’s work, devoted to a moment’s entertainment.
They caught sight of beautiful actresses as they emerged from their dressing rooms, shielded by sunglasses, stepping into waiting cars. Udayan was the one brave enough to ask them for autographs. He was blind to self-constraints, like an animal incapable of perceiving certain colors. But Subhash strove to minimize his existence, as other animals merged with bark or blades of grass.
In spite of their differences one was perpetually confused with the other, so that when either name was called both were conditioned to answer. And sometimes it was difficult to know who had answered, given that their voices were nearly indistinguishable. Sitting over the chessboard they were mirror images: one leg bent, the other splayed out, chins propped on their knees.
They were similar enough in build to draw from a single pile of clothes. Their complexions, a light coppery compound derived from their parents, were identical. Their double-jointed fingers, the sharp cut of their features, the wavy texture of their hair.
Subhash wondered if his placid nature was regarded as a lack of inventiveness, perhaps even a failing, in his parents’ eyes. His parents did not have to worry about him and yet they did not favor him. It became his mission to obey them, given that it wasn’t possible to surprise or impress them. That was what Udayan did.
In the courtyard of their family’s house was the most enduring legacy of Udayan’s transgressions. A trail of his footprints, created the day the dirt surface was paved. A day they’d been instructed to remain indoors until it had set.
All morning they’d watched the mason preparing the concrete in a wheelbarrow, spreading and smoothing the wet mixture with his tools. Twenty-four hours, the mason had warned them, before leaving.
Subhash had listened. He had watched through the window, he had not gone out. But when their mother’s back was turned, Udayan ran down the long wooden plank temporarily set up to get from the door to the street.
Halfway across the plank he lost his balance, the evidence of his path forming impressions of the soles of his feet, tapering like an hourglass at the center, the pads of the toes disconnected.
The following day the mason was called back. By then the surface had dried, and the impressions left by Udayan’s feet were permanent. The only way to repair the flaw was to apply another layer. Subhash wondered whether this time his brother had gone too far.
But to the mason their father said, Leave it be. Not for the expense or effort involved, but because he believed it was wrong to erase steps that his son had taken.
And so the imperfection became a mark of distinction about their home. Something visitors noticed, the first family anecdote that was told.
Passage 2-1 (History): Thurgood Marshall: His Speeches, Writings, Arguments, Opinions, and Reminiscences (Google Books)
The Constitution embodies the very spirit of democratic government. When the Founding Fathers sat down to draft the instrument that would form the framework for this country, they did far more than establish a series of legal precepts, although of course those legal precepts are vital rights of all Americans. The Constitution also sets forth basic principles which are the very essence of the United States. The primary principle is equality. The Fifth Amendment provides that “no person” shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. This was reaffirmed in the Fourteenth Amendment, which bans the denial of equal protection of the laws “to any person.” The very first truth which we declared self-evident in the Declaration of Independence was that “all men are created equal.” Every person has the same “unalienable rights” of liberty, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and all persons are to be treated with the respect and decency which those inalienable rights demand.
A related principle is participation in the governing process. It was “we the people,” not some smaller or more elite group, who established the Constitution “in order to form a more perfect union.” As was stated in the Declaration of Independence, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Participation recognizes the moral worth of each individual, and in this way shows again that all persons are equal.
From the very beginning of this Nation, therefore, we have recognized that in order to achieve the good society, there must be equality, there must be participation in the governing process, and accordingly there must be a government of laws rather than of men. Such a society will be just, for every member will be treated with equal respect and dignity.
It is the responsibility of the judiciary to make sure that we remain a government of laws and that all persons are equal under those laws. This is the essence of justice. It is a weighty responsibility, but we are uniquely qualified for the task under our Constitutional scheme.
There are three major differences between the judiciary and the other branches of government. First, the executive and legislature of necessity must be preoccupied with the needs of the moment. The economy desperately needs attention, and international crises occur almost daily. Prompt action is required. Day-to-day decisions must be made through a process of accommodation among diverse political groups in order to reach acceptable results which may be put into operation quickly. Compromise is an essential element of the political process. Second, the political branches are designed to function through the clash of partisan interests. The members of the executive and legislature are supposed to be representative of the interests of their electorate, to make sure that in the compromises which are made their groups are fairly treated. Third, the other branches in large measure deal in abstractions. The legislature passes laws of general application based on composites and projections. The executive has the responsibility to enforce those laws on a broad scale.
In the courts, by contrast, the emphasis is on the individual, impartiality is required, and political compromise has no role at all. Judges are supposed to be reflective, considering the controversy before them in light of the broader legal schemes, Constitutional and otherwise, which guide the country. Decisions traditionally are justified by opinions announcing reasoning derived from earlier cases and established principles; raw political power is never a sufficient justification for any judicial decision. Constitutional rights should never be compromised by the courts in the name of expediency.
The judiciary operates under a premise of neutrality rather than partisanship. Federal judges are insulated, as much as possible, from political pressure which might interfere with principled decision making. Article III judges have life tenure and are free from threats of economic retaliation for unpopular decisions. In addition, we cannot have a personal stake in the outcome of any case before us, and the Code of Judicial Conduct cautions us to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
The reason for this strict requirement of impartiality is that the judiciary stands as the referee whenever the individual citizen and his government conflict. Such an arbiter must be independent and neutral. The whole purpose of the separation of powers is to establish an equal branch of the government which can check the other branches when their political compromises and generalized focus result in unfairness to the individual. If the government acts unfairly, the court stands as a guardian, forcing the other branches to recognize that basic principles have been violated and that certain persons have been denied their fundamental right to equal treatment under law. It can never be the greatest good for the greatest number to deny the equal moral worth of a fellow human being. Similarly, when the interests of individuals clash, there cannot be any danger of predisposition by the court if each litigant is to be confident that he has received equal treatment. Before the bar, all men and women must stand equal, with their claims resolved solely on the strength of legal principles.
Judges are also in a better position to be a check on the encroachment of basic human liberties because they deal with people on an individual basis. The specific facts of a case are never unimportant to the result. The litigant receives particularized attention because general principles must be applied to individual needs and concerns. There are no nameless litigants. District judges in particular see the very individuals who feel that they have been singled out for unequal treatment.
One of the great strengths of the judiciary is that it is the one branch of government which is accessible to every person. The courts do not choose what problems they will deal with each day. Instead, the litigants bring the issues, and the courts must decide each case. The trend in recent times has been toward even fuller access to the courts, through permission to proceed in forma pauperis,1 permission to proceed pro se, appointment of counsel, and the growth of free legal services programs. And once inside the courtroom, each person has an opportunity to be heard, to participate in the legal process and to speak his mind about his fundamental rights.
This participation serves to recognize, every day in every court, the moral worth of each individual. Each person should have the sense that through the courts the avenues of government are open to him, that he can state his viewpoint and be fairly heard by a neutral decision maker. There has been a growing recognition that it is vitally important that people have a sense of participation in the decision making process. It is not enough that the decision be correct; someone must have listened to the claimant and by that listening acknowledged the importance of the individual. Our country prides itself on the fact that every person gets his “day in court,” and that ideal must never be forgotten.
To the extent that judges fail to accord equal treatment under law in a specific case, they lose their ability to protect basic human liberties in general. Courts derive their power in our system of government from moral suasion. Our mandates are obeyed solely because it is recognized that they are the product of individualized attention, equal treatment, and neutral decision making. The losing party may well be disappointed, but he will be unlikely to disobey if he knows that someone has listened to him and dealt with him fairly on an equal level with all others. Justice Frankfurter recognized the need to maintain the feeling, so important to popular government, that justice has been done.” It is for this reason that we must justify our rulings—to demonstrate that in each individual case, we have given our attention and thought to the needs and concerns of a fellow human being, and that we have not favored one party over another solely because of who he is.
1 In forma pauperis means as a poor person.
Passage 2-2 (History): Judicial bias: Playing favorites
Jerome Frank, a mid-20th-century legal thinker, is said to have claimed that justice is a function of what the judge had for breakfast. Don’t let their black robes, serious miens and pledges of fealty to the law fool you, Mr Frank warned: judicial decisions are not cool applications of objective legal principles. Rather, they are manifestations of personal predilections and biases.
Mr. Frank’s observation seems to apply all too well to today’s Supreme Court. When ruling on big, controversial cases, the justices split fairly reliably along party lines dictated by their appointing presidents. It wasn’t always this way. Until 1937, as Adam Liptak of the New York Times reported last week, party simply wasn’t a factor in high-court decisions. Only in recent decades have party politics infiltrated the marble halls of the Supreme Court, and only in the past few years have they become the best predictor of its major rulings. The Supreme Court has never divided along partisan lines as neatly as it does today.
A high court that splits into ideological camps while purporting to provide “equal justice under law” calls into question its very legitimacy. It makes a mockery of Chief Justice John Roberts’s hoary claim that a justice’s job is to “call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat”. It gives one the sense that when the Chief Justice asserts he has “no agenda,” he’s protesting a bit too much.
Indeed, new research by three political scientists shows just how avidly the justices go to bat for causes they identify with. In their paper, Lee Epstein of the University of Southern California and two colleagues examined 4.519 votes in 516 Supreme Court free-speech cases from 1953 to 2010 to determine whether “justices defend the speech they hate.” The answer: rarely. Contrary to stereotypes about the relative friendliness of conservatives or liberals to free-speech claims generally, Ms Epstein and her co-authors found that the justices are “opportunistic free speechers.” Some principle might be found to account for the suspicious patterns in their votes, but the evidence looks pretty damning. Justices’ votes “are neither reflexively pro- or anti-the first amendment”; they are, instead, for or against “the speaker’s ideological enclave.”
Why would judges on the highest court in the land succumb to such apparent prejudice? Ms Epstein et al have an explanation: “because judges are humans.” Everyone is subject to “in-group bias,” a well-established human tendency “to evaluate our own group or its members more favourably than outsiders,” and judges are no exception. They are fated to favour their own, no matter how strongly they claim to be neutral observers balancing the scales of justice with blindfold firmly in place.
Passage 3 (Science): “Found: The Ideal Fatness for Elephant Seals” – Elizabeth Preston
Like many new mothers, a female elephant seal puts herself on a strict diet after giving birth. She dives into the Pacific and spends two months eating everything she can find. It’s only by working hard at building up her blubber stores that she can get back her ideal body.
Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) spend 9 to 10 months of the year at sea. Twice annually, the animals haul their enormous bodies ashore. In the winter, they gather on beaches in Mexico and Southern California for breeding and mating. Females deliver their pups and nurse them; males defend “harems” of dozens of mates and work on impregnating them again. While on land, the seals fast. Then they go back to the ocean, abandoning the babies to their own devices. In the spring, the seals return to the same beaches to molt, shedding their fur and even some skin before spending the rest of the year in the ocean.
During their travels, northern elephant seals may migrate as far as Alaska. They make dives almost half a mile deep, pursuing squid, fish, and other animals unfortunate enough to be in their paths. But to regain the body mass that they lost while fasting on land, they have to bank their calories. Energy that they save while swimming can be spent on longer dives. Energy gained from a stomach full of squid can be used to hunt some more.
Taiki Adachi, a graduate student in the polar science department at Tokyo’s Graduate University for Advanced Studies, wanted to learn how a migrating seal’s increasing blubberiness affects its swimming. Does a fatter, more buoyant seal need to spend less energy on swimming and diving? And is this beneficial overall?
He and his colleagues developed a new type of accelerometer to find out. When worn by an elephant seal, the device can monitor cyclic patterns in speed and count each surge forward as one stroke of the flippers. By also tracking depth and swimming angle, the device can constantly measure the seal’s rate of strokes per distance traveled. Seals that make more strokes are working harder.
The researchers captured 14 female Mirounga angustirostris and affixed the accelerometers to their backs. They also outfitted each seal with radio and GPS transmitters. Half the seals were monitored during their “short migration,” the two months following breeding. The rest were tracked during the seven-month “long migration” that follows molting.
Although the scientists were limited by the battery life of their instruments, they were able to collect data over the entire short migration, as well as the first 140 days or so of the long migration. The GPS transmitters announced when the elephant seals had returned to their home beaches. There, scientists used radio signals and plain old binoculars to pick out tagged seals from the rest of the colony. After removing the loggers, they sent the seals back on their way.
For any point in time, the scientists could estimate a seal’s fatness by seeing how much it drifted down in the water when it wasn’t actively swimming. At the beginning of each migration, the starved seals had “negative buoyancy.” In other words, they tended to sink. But as their roving fish binge progressed, the seals became more and more buoyant.
As the blubbery seals gained buoyancy, swimming became easier. They needed slightly more flipper strokes to make their deep dives, but many fewer strokes to ascend. This meant that overall, fatter seals used fewer strokes to cover the same distance.
The scientists had predicted that saving energy in swimming would allow the seals to spend more energy elsewhere, and this seemed to be true. As the seals got fatter, they doubled the amount of time they spent at the bottom of their dives, from about 10 minutes to 20. (The bottom of the dive is where they find the most food.)
After two months at sea, all the seals were still negatively buoyant, though their blubber had notably increased their buoyancy. After about five months, when the loggers stopped gathering data for the long migration, 5 out of 7 seals had become “neutrally buoyant”—when drifting in the ocean, they didn’t sink or rise.
Fatter seals can spend less energy swimming and more time eating, which gives them even more energy. So do they keep gaining blubber indefinitely? “Yes, I think they get fatter to become positively buoyant,” Adachi says. If he could have monitored the seals all the way to the end of their long migration, he thinks he would have seen them gain so much blubber that they tended to float. Other research has found that elephant seals become positively buoyant, he adds.
Adachi thinks the best state for elephant seals—the body type that keeps them swimming most efficiently—is neutral buoyancy. Yet the hungry animals, gearing up for their next fast, keep eating beyond that. Adachi says that when elephant seals come to shore after their long migration, 40 percent of their body mass is fat. For them, it’s the perfect beach body.
Passage 4 (Social science): “Free exchange: A mean feat”
“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable,” John Kenneth Galbraith, an irreverent economist, once said. Since economic output represents the aggregated activity of billions of people, influenced by forces seen and unseen, it is a wonder forecasters ever get it right. Yet economists cannot resist trying. As predictions for 2016 are unveiled, it is worth assessing the soothsayers’ records.
Forecasters usually rely on two different predictive approaches. One is theory-based, shaped by how economists believe economies behave. The other is data-based, shaped by how economies have behaved in the past. The simplest of the theoretical bunch is the Solow growth model, named for Robert Solow, a Nobel-prize winning economist. It posits that poorer countries should generally invest more and grow faster than rich ones. Central banks and other big economic institutions use far more complicated formulas, often grouped under the bewildering label of “dynamic stochastic general equilibrium” (DSGE) models. These try to anticipate the ups and downs of big economies by modelling the behaviour of individual households and firms.
The empirical approach is older; indeed, it was the workhorse of government forecasting in the 1940s and 1950s. Data-based models analyse the relationship between hundreds or thousands of economic variables, from the price of potatoes to snowfall in January. They then work out how zinc sales, for example, affect investment and growth in the years that follow.
Both strategies have faced withering criticism. DSGE models, for all their complexity, are typically built around oversimplifications of how markets function and people behave. Data-based models suffer from their own shortcomings. In a paper published in 1995 Greg Mankiw of Harvard University argued that they face insurmountable statistical problems. Too many things tend to happen at once to isolate cause and effect: liberalised trade might boost growth, or liberalisation might be the sort of thing that governments do when growth is rising, or both liberalisation and growth might follow from some third factor. And there are too many potential influences on growth for economists to know whether a seemingly strong relationship between variables is real or would disappear if they factored in some other relevant titbit, such as the wages of Canadian lumberjacks.
In practice, most forecasters combine the two approaches and inject, when necessary, a dose of common sense. The IMF, for instance, relies on a global model, built in part on economic theory and in part on data analysis. The global projections generated by that hybrid model are combined with country-specific details to produce country-level forecasts. The country forecasts are then checked for consistency against the global projections and adjusted when necessary—to make sure, for example, that most countries do not show strong trade growth when the global projection heralds a decline in trade. A recent analysis of the IMF’s forecasts by the organisation’s Independent Evaluation Office concluded that their accuracy was “comparable to that of private-sector forecasts”. But how accurate is that?
Not very, Lant Pritchett and Larry Summers of Harvard University argued in 2014. Forecasters overestimate the extent to which the future will look like the recent past, they reckon. It is assumed that fast-growing countries will keep speeding along while the economic tortoises continue crawling. The IMF, for instance, reckons that China’s GDP growth will decline gently to 6% a year by around 2017, and then accelerate slightly. That is highly unlikely, say Messrs Pritchett and Summers: “Regression to the mean is perhaps the single most robust and empirically relevant fact about cross-national growth rates.” In other words, booming countries slow down and slumping ones speed up.
Passage 5 (Science): “The Herbivores Dilemma” by Patricia Waldron
Corn seedlings are especially susceptible to hungry insect herbivores, such as caterpillars and aphids, because they lack woody stems and tough leaves. So what’s a tender, young corn plant to do?
A recent study by Professor Georg Jander’s group at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), finds that corn plants may make serious trade-offs when defending themselves against multiple types of insects. Some corn varieties make themselves more vulnerable to aphids after generating defensive compounds against nibbling caterpillars. The results, which appear in the journal Molecular Ecology, may lead to the development of corn plants that are naturally more resistant to certain insects.
“It’s like a metabolic dilemma,” said Vered Tzin, a first author and postdoctoral scientist in the Jander laboratory. “When caterpillars are feeding, there’s a change in the metabolic pathway that makes chemical defense compounds that protects the plants from caterpillars. But when we studied aphids, it seems like the same compounds that make the plants caterpillar-resistant have the potential to make them aphid-susceptible.”
Corn plants face an onslaught of different herbivorous insects that chew on leaves, pierce and suck out sap or plant cell fluids, bore into stems or consume the roots. Researchers estimate that insects consume 6-19 percent of the world corn crop each year, while also spreading bacteria and viruses between plants.
To defend against these attacks, corn plants have both physical and chemical defense mechanisms. To ward off aphids, plants make callose, a carbohydrate that can seal off openings between cells and to stop aphids from sucking out the sap from the tissues through their needle-like stylet. Callose formation is triggered by a defensive compound called DIMBOA. In the event of a caterpillar attack, plants produce a compound called MBOA that deters their feeding. Both MBOA and DIMBOA are in the same metabolic pathway and come from a molecule called a benzoxazinoid.
Because both defensive compounds come from the same parent molecule, the researchers suspected that feeding by one group of insects, such as chewing caterpillars, might affect the plant’s ability to fight off another group, like aphids.
To test this idea, the researchers grew corn seedlings of a common variety, called B73, and exposed some to caterpillars. They then seeded them with aphids and counted the number of offspring that the aphids produced on pristine plants, compared to previously nibbled ones. The aphids consistently produced more offspring on corn that had been pre-chewed by caterpillars.
But, when the researcher tested other corn varieties, individual results would vary. They repeated the experiment with 17 different lines of corn from around the world. Like B73, some varieties supported more aphid offspring after a caterpillar feeding, while the pre-feeding reduced the number of aphids or had no effect on other varieties.
The variation they saw is likely due to the evolutionary history of the different corn varieties. Aphids tend to be more common in temperate areas, such as the Midwest, where they spread barley yellow dwarf virus and cereal yellow dwarf virus, while caterpillars are a larger problem in tropical areas. Different varieties likely arose from breeding programs aimed at fighting off the threats that corn faces in different environments.
To identify genes that may play a role in this interaction, the researchers bred B73 plants with another variety called Ky21, which hosted fewer aphid offspring after caterpillar feeding. Using a genetic approach, they identified three genome regions, on chromosomes 1, 7 and 10, that appear to have a significant impact on a corn plant’s aphid susceptibility. By breeding for specific genetic variations that naturally reduce caterpillar and aphid damage, scientists can develop new crop varieties that will require fewer pesticide applications.
In the future, the Jander group plans to use a similar approach to see how corn plants respond to simultaneous attacks from other types of insects and pests that attack different plant tissues.
“We can use a genetic approach to ask ecological questions and try to understand how a plant responds to two organisms,” said Tzin, pointing out that most plant-insect research focuses on the plant’s response to one type of insect at a time. “We should use more genetic tools to answer ecological questions.”