2019 November SAT (US/North America Test) Review: All 5 Reading Passages!

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

We collected the 5 passages on the 2019 November test here 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.

All Passages from the 2019 November SAT (US) Test


This passage is adapted from Alexander McCall Smith, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. ©2013 by Alexander McCall Smith. Mma Ramotswe married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni.

Precious Ramotswe, creator and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Botswana’s only detective agency for the problems of ladies, and of others, had never studied business management. She knew that it was common for people who ran their own businesses to take courses on topics such as stocktaking and cash flow, but she did not feel this was necessary in her case. Mind you, the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency had never made a profit, although in recent years it had not made a loss either, for Mma Ramotswe had managed to juggle income and expenditure in such a way as to end up breaking even—provided that you practised what a book-keeper friend of hers called, with some admiration, Optimistic Accounting.

It was not that she was averse to taking advice. A few days ago she had come across a business magazine that had been left behind in the garage by one of her husband’s customers, and had read it from cover to cover, over a pot of red bush tea and a large doughnut. This magazine had been full of helpful articles with titles such as: “Making the Most of Your Human Resources” and “How to Maximize Growth in Difficult Economic Circumstances”. There was also a column called Dr. Profit’s Business Clinic, to which readers could write with their business problems and receive free advice from Dr. Profit himself, a man who was pictured wearing a large square pair of glasses and a broad smile—the look of somebody, she thought, who was probably always in healthy profit.

In the issue perused by Mma Ramotswe, one concerned reader raised a problem connected with an awkward employee. Mma Ramotswe read this question with some interest—although it had no bearing on her own business—before turning the page and seeing an article on the maximising of growth. “A business that isn’t expanding will actually be contracting,” wrote the author. “That rule has been shown to be true time after time. How many businessmen are there who sit and contemplate the ruins of a once-profitable business simply because they forgot to expand?”

Mma Ramotswe frowned. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was exactly the same size as it had been when she had founded it. It had one owner and one employee, one vehicle, a filing cabinet, a kettle, two teapots and three mugs. There was also one typewriter, which was operated by Mma Makutsi, and one box of stationery. These assets had been there more or less from the beginning, although the second teapot was certainly a later addition. Did that count as growth? Could you say that your business had expanded if it had gone from owning one teapot to two? Somehow she thought that Dr. Profit would answer both those questions with a shake of his head.

She thought of Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni’s business, Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, with which she shared premises, and wondered how it would fare against this rather unsettling test. Again, it was difficult to see any significant expansion. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni still had his two apprentices, although one of them, Fanwell, was now a qualified mechanic. That might count as growth of a sort, she supposed, but it was probably cancelled out by reports that Charlie, the other young man employed in the garage, had, by all accounts, become rather worse at his job. Certainly there did not seem to be any more customers than there had been in the past; indeed, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni had complained only a few weeks previously that there seemed to be fewer and fewer cars being brought in for service. 

People have to go to those big garages these days,” he said. “They have to do that because their cars are full of computers, and ordinary mechanics don’t have all the right wires and things for these clever cars. What can you do if you look at the engine and see that it is full of electric wiring and computer chips? Where’s the carburettor? Where’s the distributor? Where’s the starter motor?” 

He had looked at Mma Ramotswe reproachfully, as if she had somehow mislaid these various parts. 

She sighed. “Everything is too complicated these days, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni. Everything is made to be thrown away rather than fixed. It is all very wasteful.” 

She warmed to her theme. “When I think of what we made do with in the past, it makes me very sad. If you found a hole in a sock, you darned it. We were taught how to do that at school. And if your collar frayed, then you had it turned. If the handle came off a cup, you glued it back on.”


Passage 1 is adapted from a speech delivered in 1876 by John Mercer Langston, “Our Political Parties.” Passage 2 is adapted from a speech delivered in 1890 by T. Thomas Fortune, “It is Time to Call a Halt”. Langston was an African American lawyer, diplomat, and abolitionist. Fortune was an African American journalist who founded the National Afro-American League, an advocacy organization, in 1890.

Passage 1

The political parties of the country have held their conventions, defined their positions, and made and announced their nominations. The voters of the country are now called upon to make their choice. Choice here is free; and voters are only bound and restricted by those considerations of sound policy and patriotism which justly define and limit their obligation and duty. Perhaps never in the history of our country, a history distinguished in its more memorable parts for the establishment of free institutions, was there a time when the duty of the American voter, to consider well and wisely what vote to cast, what party to bring and support in power, was so imperative as in this centennial year of our national independence.

The earlier days of the Republic are distinguished for noble and heroic deeds, for self-denial and sacrifices made and performed in its behalf. Then our foe was a foreign and open one. Within the past fifteen years a domestic foe has with organized forces met the Government in deadly conflict, upon a bloody field . . . . Have our brave men died in vain? Are the burdens of the nation to prove no warning for our good? . . . . These questions are answered in the affirmative or negative, wisely or foolishly, as we sustain by our vote the one or the other party. But in considering and determining our duty as voters, we ought to rise above mere partisan devotion. We ought to remember that party is but a means, an instrument used to gain some special or general political end. The end sought, the results to be accomplished must be fully considered in determining the character of the party and our duty to support, or refuse to support it. The language of its declaration of principles, the past character of its nominees and their protestations of loyalty to past records, will not always suffice to satisfy us of its and their trustworthiness. We are required often to seek after the reputation of the party, and the probable associations, and party and individual obligations of the candidates after their election. And in discharging our duty in this regard, while we are fearless we should be impartial and just. Let us not make haste to condemn unduly, nor to accept without wise discrimination, the claim of any candidate or party.

Passage 2

We here demand of the party now in power, 1 which has promised so much and which enjoyed our best confidence and our support in the past, that it make good the promise made . . . . We are weary of the empty promises of politicians and the platitudes of national conventions . . . . For the constitutional opponents our rights we have no faith, no confidence, and no support, and of professed friends we here demand that they perform their part of the contract, which alone can justify the sacrifices we have been called upon to. If it cannot do this, then it has ceased to be the party of Lincoln, of Sumner, of Wilson, and of Logan,2 and deserves to die, and will die, that another party may rise to finish the uncompleted work, even as the Whig party died that the Republican party might triumph in the Nation.

I am no hero worshipper. Parties are . . . . [brought] into existence by men to serve certain ends. They are the creatures not the creators of men. When they have fulfilled the objects for which were created or when they prove false to the great purpose of their creation, what further use are they? None certainly to us if they do not give us in return for our support the measure of justice and consideration in party management and benefits commensurate with the service we render. I do not speak here as a partisan; I speak as an Afro-American . . . . ready to [condemn] any party which robs me of my confidence and vote and straightway asks me ‘what are you going to do about it?’ I have served the Republican party, the Prohibition party, and the Democratic party, and I speak with the wisdom of experience when I declare that none of them cares a fig for the Afro-American further than it can use him. In seeking to rebuke false friends we often make false alliances. If we shall serve the party and the men, as Afro-Americans, who serve us best, in the present posture of our citizenship, we shall follow the dictates of the highest wisdom and the most approved philosophy.

1 The Republican Party 
2 Republican politicians

Passage 3

This passage is adapted from Julia Rosen, “Earth May Have Kept its Own Water Rather Than Getting it from Asteroids” ©2015 by American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Where Earth’s water came from—and when it arrived—has been a longstanding debate. Many scientists argue that Earth formed as a dry planet, and gained its water millions of years later through the impact of water-bearing asteroids or comets. But now, scientists say that Earth may have had water from the start, inheriting it directly from the swirling nebula that gave birth to the solar system. If true, the results suggest that water-rich planets may abound in the universe.

To understand the origin of Earth’s water, scientists have fingerprinted potential sources, like asteroids and comets, using the ratio of light to heavy hydrogen isotopes. Then, researchers can compare the ratios with those found in water sources on Earth.

However, researchers don’t really know the true hydrogen isotopic composition of Earth’s water, says Lydia Hallis, a planetary scientist at the University of Glasgow and lead author of the new study. Scientists have often assumed that the isotopic signature of seawater is close to the true value, but Hallis thinks this has probably changed over geologic time, as Earth preferentially lost light hydrogen atoms to space and gained water from asteroid and comet impacts.

So Hallis and her colleagues went looking for vestiges of the early Earth that might preserve the original hydrogen isotope ratio of the planet. They found them in an unlikely place: Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. Here, massive eruptions—fueled by the hot spot that now sits beneath Iceland— produced lava that originated deep in the mantle. So deep, in fact, that this material was probably isolated from the surface for almost all of Earth’s history. The evidence lies in the fact that the lavas, now hardened into basalts, still contain a fair amount of light helium isotopes, which would have escaped to space had the rocks spent much time anywhere near the surface.

In the new study, the researchers report the hydrogen isotope ratios of water trapped in glassy inclusions inside the basalts. The results reveal that the inclusions have a much lighter isotopic signature than does the ocean, suggesting that the composition of seawater has indeed evolved over time. Although scientists were aware of processes that could cause an isotopic shift in surface waters, Hallis says, “until we made our measurements, we didn’t know whether that would be a measureable difference or not.”

The new data suggest that the difference is vast. And Hallis suspects that the deepest, most primitive material in the mantle should have an even lighter isotopic composition than the inclusions her team measured. That’s because the rising magma that produced the lavas probably mixed with upper mantle rocks, which have been contaminated with isotopically heavy surface water that got dragged down by subducting slabs of tectonic plates.

So what does all this mean for the origin of Earth’s water? For one, the new data throw a wrench in the conventional story that carbonaceous chondrites—a water-rich variety of asteroid—delivered water to an initially dry Earth after its formation. That scenario has been bolstered by similarities in the isotopic signatures of the asteroids and seawater. But the chondrite signatures are too heavy to explain the deep Earth samples, Hallis says. “The carbonaceous chondrites don’t really work.”

Instead, Hallis and her colleagues propose that Earth’s water came directly from the protosolar nebula—the cloud of gas and dust that eventually clumped together to form the solar system. Based on measurements of Jupiter and the solar wind, which are thought to preserve the hydrogen isotopic ratio of the protosolar nebula, scientists think nebular water had an extremely light hydrogen isotopic signature—much closer to what the Baffin Island lavas suggest about the deep mantle’s water.

Traditionally, the main objection to this idea has been that the inner portion of the protosolar nebula, where Earth formed, would have been too hot for water to hang around. But Hallis’s team suggests that water floating around in the nebula snuck into our nascent planet by adsorbing to dust particles. They cite previous modeling work suggesting that this mechanism could allow a significant amount of water to survive the brutal temperatures and violent processes by which dust particles coalesced to form planets. Hallis says the discovery of a deep reservoir of material with protosolar isotope ratios supports the idea that the hot, early Earth somehow retained this water.

Passage 4

This passage is adapted from Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross, The Wisest One in the Room: How You Can Benefit from Social Psychology’s Most Powerful Insights. ©2015 by Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross.

Because people have the conviction that they see things as they are—that their beliefs, preferences, and responses follow from an essentially unmediated perception of objects, events, and issues—it follows 5 that other rational, reasonable people should reach the same conclusions, provided they have been exposed to the same information. This seemingly reasonable leap gives rise to a phenomenon that Stanford University psychologist Lee and his colleagues dubbed the false consensus effect: People tend to think that their beliefs, opinions, and actions enjoy greater consensus than is really the case. More precisely, people who have a given opinion or preference tend to think that it is more common than do those with the opposite opinion or preference.

People who prefer Italian to French cinema think their preference is more common than French film enthusiasts do. People who are guilty of particular misdeeds think that those deeds are more common than people who wouldn’t dream of such transgressions. Liberals think that there is more support for their candidates, and their views on contentious social and political issues, than conservatives do, and vice versa. And voters from both sides of the political spectrum think that nonvoters would have voted for their candidate if they had only cast their ballots.

In a vivid illustration of this phenomenon, Ross and his colleagues asked student volunteers to walk around campus wearing a large sandwich-board sign bearing a message (e.g., “Eat at Joe’s”) and to note the reaction of people they encountered. The students, however, were given the opportunity to decline the invitation to participate if they wished (and return for a later study instead). Immediately after agreeing or refusing to participate, the students were asked to estimate the frequency of agreement on the part of other participants and to make inferences about the personal attributes of someone who would accept the experimenter’s invitation and someone who would refuse it.

As predicted, the consensus estimates and trait inferences were very different for the two types of participants. Those who agreed to wear the sign estimated agreement to be more common than refusal and less revealing of the person’s personal attributes. Those who refused to wear it thought that refusal would be more common than agreement and assumed that agreeing to wear the sign said more
50 about a person’s personality.

It is easy to appreciate the role that naïve realism played here. Those who imagined wearing the sign in benign terms—walking relatively unnoticed, explaining to acquaintances that one is taking part in a psychology experiment (and being complimented for being a “good sport”)—would be inclined to agree to the experimenters’ request and to think that most other “normal” students would also agree. For such individuals, the refusal to undertake this task and have such experiences would seem to reflect uncooperativeness, uptightness, or some other departure from normality.

By contrast, those who imagined what it would be like in less positive terms (e.g., walking through throngs of giggling, finger-pointing students; seeing acquaintances shake their heads and avert their gazes as they wordlessly hurry off) would be likely to refuse the experimenters’ request and expect others to refuse. For them, agreeing to wear the sign would seem more reflective of something atypical or negative (e.g., submissiveness or inclination to show off and make a fool of oneself).

Passage 5

This passage is adapted from Gibert Waldauer, How Not to Be Eaten, The Insects Fight Back. © 2012 by Gibert Waldauer.

Over a period of years, Lincoln Brower and his colleagues did a series of experiments in Trinidad, releasing and recapturing male promethea moth painted to resemble a colorful toxic butterfly that is 5 common on Trinidad and mimicked by some nontoxic butterflies. Their presumably nonaposematic (lacking color markings that repel predators) controls were promethea males with black paint brushed on their black wings. This did not change their appearance, but it was a control for any possible effect on the moth of painting the wings. The Brower group ultimately concluded that their experiments had not constituted a convincing demonstration of mimetic advantage, because the artificial mimics and the presumed controls were usually recaptured in equal numbers, which indicated that they were equally likely to be captured by a predator. L. M. Cook, Brower, and John Alcock said, “Taking all the evidence over the four years there is no significant advantage to either mimic or control moths…and perhaps it should be concluded that under wild conditions no clear selective differential can be demonstrated with the promethea moth mimicry system” (emphasis mine). 

Jim Sternburg and I reinterpreted the results of the Brower group’s experiments, making what we think is a persuasive case that they did not reveal a mimetic advantage because their presumed controls, black-painted promethea males, were actually mimics of three toxic Trinidadian butterflies related and similar in appearance to the pipevine swallowtail. One of them, the polydamus swallowtail, also occurs in the southern United States, where it coexists with promethea. Consequently, the Brower group had compared two different mimics, each apparently protected to approximately the same degree by its resemblance to a different toxic butterfly. In their first publication on the promethea system, Brower and his colleagues had themselves pointed out that the male promethea may be a mimic of the pipevine swallowtail.

Adopting the Brower group’s promethea release- and-recapture system, the graduate student Michael Jeffords, Sternburg, and I successfully demonstrated mimetic advantage in the pipevine swallowtail complex in central Illinois. Equal numbers of moths painted as caricatures of the nonmimetic and palatable yellow and black form of the tiger swallowtail and others weighted with approximately equal amounts of black paint, which did not alter their resemblance to the unpalatable pipevine swallowtail, were released in a woodland, in the center of a mile-wide circle of seven traps baited with female prometheas. The recaptured moths, more than 40 percent of the 436 released, had run the gauntlet of more that sixty species of nesting birds—all of which capture at least some flying insects—for, at the very least, half a mile, the radius of the circle of traps. 

Our results leave no doubt that the moths resembling pipevine swallowtails were much more likely to survive than those resembling nonmimetic tiger swallowtails. We recaptured close to 30 percent of those that resembled the black pipevine swallowtail but less than 13 percent of those that resembled the yellow-patterned tiger swallowtail, a ratio of well over two to one. Furthermore, all of the recaptured yellow-painted but only 30 percent of the recaptured black-painted moths had wing injuries attributable to attacks by birds.

SAT Questions for 2019 November SAT (US/North America) Reading Passages

Ivy-Way students get to do the entire 2019 November SAT test as well as other official tests. In addition, we offer in-person and at-home tests for students to measure their progress and see their scores. Please contact us to find out how to arrange in-person mock tests at one of our classrooms or at-home tests to be printed and done at home!

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *