- Moody High
October 7, 2019
HUMANITIES: This passage is adapted from the article “Finding Philosophy” by Colin McGinn (©2003 by Prospect). Descartes (line 63) refers to René Descartes (1596–1650), a French mathematician, philosopher, and scientist.
I have been an academic philosopher for the past 30 years. I came from an academically disinclined background in the northeast of England, my relatives being mainly coalminers and other manual workers. I was the first in my family to attend university, and indeed had no thought of it until age 17, when a teacher mentioned it at school. My father had become a successful builder, so we were not materially deprived, and it was expected that I would become some sort of technical worker. The idea that I might one day become a professional philosopher was inconceivable in those days, to me and everyone else. I was simply not living in a place where that kind of thing ever happened; it was far likelier—though still not at all likely—that I would become a pop star (I played drums in a rock band).
(4) The paperback British edition of my memoir The Making of a Philosopher has a photograph on the cover of a man sitting on a bench, placed in a grey and listless landscape. He is overlooking the sea on a misty grim day, and the atmosphere is bleak and melancholy. The man, hunched up, immobile, coiled almost, has a pensive posture, as if frozen in thought. This picture is based on a story I tell in the book about sitting on a bench in Blackpool, aged 18, pondering the metaphysical question of how objects relate to their properties. Is an object just the sum total of its properties, a mere coalescence of general features, or does it somehow lie behind its properties, supporting them, a solid peg on which they happen to hang? When I look at an object do I really see the object itself, or just the appearance its properties offer to me? I remember the feeling of fixation that came over me when I thought about these questions—a kind of floating fascination, a still perplexity.
(1) When I look back on this period in my late teens, I recall the harnessing of undirected mental energy by intellectual pursuits. Up until then, my mental energy had gone into things like reading Melody Maker, which contained fairly serious articles about pop musicians; I always knew the top 20 off by heart, and studied the articles about drummers intensely, hoping to improve my own technique. I suspect that this kind of swashing mental energy is fairly typical of boys that age. School doesn’t seem to connect with it, and it goes off in search of some object of interest, often trivial, sometimes destructive. In my case, it was philosophy that seized that energy and converted it into a passion—though one that took several years to form fully. It is a delicate and fastidious energy that I am speaking of, despite its power, and it will only be satisfied by certain employments, which of course vary from person to person. I had had a similar passion for chemistry when I was ten, and for butterflies and lizards before that. (2) How to harness such passions to formal education remains a great and unresolved problem.
It was—of course—a teacher who tapped into my formless and fizzing mental energy. Mr Marsh, teacher of divinity, brimmingly Christian, a man with very active eyebrows and sharp enunciation, in love with scholarship (oh, how he relished that word)—it was he who first brought out my inner philosopher. From him I heard of Descartes, locked up in his room, wondering whether anything could really be known beyond his own existence. But what I mainly got from the enthusiastic Mr Marsh was the desire to study. His own passion for study shone through, and he managed to make it seem, if not glamorous, then at least exhilarating—when done the right way and in the right spirit. Pencils and stationery were made to seem like shiny tools, and the pleasure of making one’s mark on a blank sheet of paper hymned. Choosing a good spot to study was emphasised. Above all, I learned a very valuable lesson, one that had hitherto escaped me: make notes. Thinking and writing should be indissoluble activities, the hand ministering to the thought, the thought shaped by the hand. Today, if I find myself without pen and paper and thoughts start to arrive, my fingers begin to twitch and I long for those implements of cogitation. (3 and 5) With such rudimentary tools you can perform the miracle of turning an invisible thought into a concrete mark, bringing the ethereal interior into the public external world, refining it into something precious and permanent. The physical pleasure of writing, which I find survives in the use of a computer, is something worth dwelling on in matters of education.
- The passage is best described as being told from the point of view of a philosopher who is:
- discussing metaphysical questions that have troubled philosophers since the time of Descartes.
- presenting in chronological order the key events in his thirty-year professional career.
- reflecting on his own early, developing interest in philosophy and in scholarship generally.
- advising professional educators on how to get more students to study philosophy.
- Based on the passage, which of the following was most likely the first to engage the author’s passionate interest?
- The main purpose of the last paragraph is to:
- reveal the enduring impact of Mr. Marsh’s lessons on the author.
- acknowledge that the author came to doubt some of Mr. Marsh’s teachings.
- describe a typical class as taught by Mr. Marsh.
- present a biographical sketch of Mr. Marsh.
- The passage indicates that the man in the book-cover photograph represents:
- Descartes, wondering what could be known.
- Marsh, deep in scholarly thought.
- the author at age seventeen, thinking about enrolling in college.
- the author at age eighteen, contemplating a philosophical issue.
- The author mentions Melody Maker, the top 20, and articles about musicians primarily to suggest that his:
- early interest in music has remained with him to the present.
- time spent playing music should instead have been spent reading.
- fascination with pop music and musicians gave focus to his life for a time.
- commitment to study enabled him to perfect his drumming technique.
- In the third paragraph (BOLDED 1), the author most nearly characterizes the energy he refers to as:
- potent yet difficult to channel in a constructive way.
- powerful and typically leading to destructive results.
- delicate and inevitably wasted in trivial undertakings.
- gentle yet capable of uniting people who have different interests.
- Viewed in the context of the passage, the statement BOLDED 2 is most likely intended to suggest that:
- schools should require students to take philosophy courses.
- students can become passionate when learning about science in school.
- schools need to keep searching for ways to tap into students’ deeply held interests.
- students should resolve to take school courses that interest them.
- The author calls pen and paper “rudimentary tools” (BOLDED 3) as part of his argument that:
- the use of computers has made the use of pen and paper obsolete.
- students should become skilled with pen and paper before moving on to better tools.
- while writing with pen and paper can be pleasant, it can also be physically painful.
- although seemingly simple, pen and paper allow people to perform great feats.
- In the context of the passage, lines BOLDED 4 are best described as presenting images of:
- gloom, tension, and fascination.
- anger, bitterness, and betrayal.
- stillness, peacefulness, and relaxation.
- frustration, surprise, and satisfaction.
- Which of the following does NOT reasonably describe the transition the author presents in lines BOLDED 5?
- Precious to commonplace
- Fleeting to permanent
- Invisible to visible
- Private to public
NATURAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from Consider the Eel by Richard Schweid (©2002 by Richard Schweid).
The known facts, as they are pretty much universally accepted among biologists and naturalists today, are that all the eels in all the rivers of eastern North America and the Caribbean countries, and all the eels in all the rivers of eastern and western Europe, are born in the same area of the Sargasso Sea, a huge area within the Atlantic Ocean, between Bermuda and the Azores, the surface of which is frequently covered with sargassum seaweed. In fact, the word “Sargasso” comes from the Portuguese sargaço, meaning seaweed. The sea is about 2,000 miles long and 1,000 miles wide, set off from the surrounding waters of the Atlantic by strong currents. It includes the area known in (2) popular legend as the Bermuda Triangle.
Eels hatch in the Sargasso as larvae and are carried by the ocean currents to either Europe or the United States, a journey that can cover thousands of miles and take years. Where they end up depends on which of two similar species they belong to. Those that are Anguilla anguilla invariably wind up in European rivers, and those that enter North American rivers always belong to the species Anguilla rostrata. The first person to find eel larvae in the Sargasso Sea was Danish researcher Johannes Schmidt, who published his findings in 1924, after spending 18 years hauling nets in search of eels.
The larvae of both species are shaped like small oval leaves and are called leptocephali. Each leptocephalus begins to assume the form of a tiny eel, called an elver or glass eel, when it gets close to the coasts of either Europe or the Americas. By the time it reaches brackish water, where fresh and salt water mix, it is thin and transparent, hardly bigger than a hair, with a pair of eyes like black dots at one end.
(1) From the estuaries and mouths of rivers, the tiny eels frequently continue upstream, particularly the females, who sometimes go great distances inland. American eels have been found as far up the Mississippi River system as the rivers of Iowa. They keep going upriver until something tells them they’ve reached home, and then they stop. Whatever it is that signals to eels that they are home is definitive—they settle in and live there for as long as 20 years, growing up to a yard long before beginning their journey back to the Sargasso Sea. Scientists determine an eel’s age using a microscope to (3) read the growth rings of its otolith—a small, hard calcium deposit at the base of its skull.
In preparation for the return journey to the Sargasso, sexually mature female eels feed voraciously and change color from the muddy-yellow/green of adult eels, often called yellow eels, to a darker green on top and snow-white on their bellies. At this stage, they are called silver eels. They swim downriver in the fall, on the first leg of their journey to the Sargasso, and when they reach estuarine waters, they rest, completing their final transformation as silver eels. They will have eaten heavily and will be about 28 percent body fat. They will never eat again, and their digestive systems will atrophy. Their pupils will expand and turn blue. They will need a new kind of sight adapted to the depths of the sea, where there is little light. They will also have to go through a drastic adjustment, via osmosis, in their blood chemistry, to prepare for the tremendous change in water pressure, going from some 14 pounds of freshwater pressure per inch of their bodies to over a ton of ocean pressure per inch. Once they are back in the Sargasso Sea, the females produce eggs for the males to fertilize, and then the adults die.
At least that is what today’s marine biologists and naturalists tell us, although adult eels have never been seen swimming, reproducing, or dying in the Sargasso. In fact, live adult eels have never been seen there at all. The only two adult eels ever reported in the Sargasso Sea were dead, found in the stomachs of other fish. The eel’s migration back to its birthplace and what it actually does when it gets there are assumed to take place far below the water’s surface and, as of the year 2001, were still completely unobserved. However, the eel larvae—the leptocephali that Schmidt found in the Sargasso—were so small that it was certain they had been born recently, and nearby. Such small larvae have never been seen elsewhere, and while eels have never been observed reproducing in the Sargasso, they have never been seen doing so anyplace else either. Scientists believe the larvae hatch out of eggs at a depth of 100–300 yards and rise slowly toward the light at the sea’s surface.
- One of the main ideas established by the passage is that:
- researchers have nearly exhausted their resources after spending decades investigating the Sargasso Sea.
- significant gaps still remain in researchers’ understanding of the life cycle of eels.
- eels live their entire lives in the Sargasso Sea, but no one has ever seen them there.
- female eels turn into silver eels toward the end of their lives.
- Learning about which of the following had the largest impact on scientists’ current understanding of where eels breed?
- The direction in which ocean currents carry eel larvae
- The relationship of the yellow eel stage to the silver eel stage
- Schmidt’s discovery of eel larvae in the Sargasso Sea
- The adult eels found in the stomachs of other fish
- The main purpose of the fourth paragraph (BOLDED 1) is to describe the:
- eels’ transition from freshwater to the ocean.
- method of determining the age of eels.
- complexity of the Mississippi River system.
- river stage of the eel life cycle.
- The passage states that the Sargasso Sea is set off from the rest of the Atlantic Ocean by:
- the Azores.
- several Caribbean countries.
- powerful winds.
- strong currents.
- The passage notes that the Sargasso Sea includes:
- the eastern North American shore.
- the Bermuda Triangle.
- certain coastal estuaries.
- the mouth of the Mississippi River.
- As it is used in BOLDED 2, the word popular most nearly means:
- well liked.
- commonly known.
- scientifically accepted.
- most admired.
- As it is used in BOLDED 3, the word read most nearly means to:
- learn from print.
- think about.
- The passage indicates that female eels’ pupils expand and turn blue because the eels:
- must adapt to see in an environment with much less light than they are used to.
- are about to undergo a change in their blood chemistry.
- no longer need to be able to recognize food sources since they have stopped eating.
- need to be able to recognize the male eels that will fertilize their eggs.
- The passage most strongly emphasizes that the process of osmosis is necessary for the eels’ transition from:
- shallower to deeper water.
- feeding to nonfeeding.
- immature to mature form.
- elver to yellow eel.
- According to the passage, which of the following characteristics of the eel larvae found by Schmidt provided the best evidence that the larvae were hatched in the Sargasso Sea?
- The passage is best described as being told from the point of view of a philosopher who is:
September 11, 2019
SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage by Deborah Cramer (2001).
The Sargasso Sea is a part of the northern Atlantic Ocean.
As the Cramer idles through the Sargasso Sea, waiting for the wind to rise, the sea is flat and empty. Nothing demarcates or dives the smooth expanse of water dissolving into the horizon. This vast, unroughened surface, this breath of uniform sea, deceives. But for a few lonely oceanic islands, the unperturbed surface offers no hint of the grand and sweeping energies hidden below.
Only one thousand miles offshore, the Cramer has already sailed through some of Atlantic’s deepest waters. Contrary to what one might guess, Atlantic’s deepest waters, like those in other oceans, are along her edges. As we continue east, toward the middle of the sea, the bottom rises. The unmarked plains of the abyss, here flattened by layers of sediment, give way to rising foothills and then to mountains. The first maps of Atlantic seafloor noted, albeit crudely, this rise. Early efforts to plumb Atlantic’s depths proved outrageously inaccurate: one naval officer paid out eight miles (thirteen kilometers) of hemp rope from a drifting ship and concluded the sea had no bottom. Eventually, sailors more or les successfully calculated depth by heaving overboard cannonballs tied to bailing twine. When they hit bottom, the sailors measured and snipped the twin and then moved on, leaving a trail of lead strong out across the seafloor. These crude soundings, forming the basis of the first map of Atlantic’s basin, published in 1854, identified a prominent rise halfway between Europe and America.
For many years no one could explain why the basin of Atlantic, unlike a bowl, deepened at its edges and shoaled in its center. People assumed that this “Middle Ground” “Telegraphy Plateau,” or “Dolphin Rise,” as it was variously called, was an ancient and drowned land bridge, or a lost continent, but sailors repairing transatlantic telegraph cable unknowingly produced evidence to prove otherwise. Wrestling with the broken cable, they accidentally twisted off a piece of the “plateau” and dredged up a twenty-one-pound (ten-kilogram) chunk of dense black volcanic rock. It was some of the youngest, freshest rock on earth, and it was torn not from a piece of continent sunk beneath the waves, but from the very foundation of the sea.
Today, highly sophisticated sound waves bring the bring the hazy images of those early soundings into sharp focus, revealing that one of the largest and most salient geographic features on the planet lies on the floor of the ocean. Hidden beneath the waves is an immense submerged mountain range, the backbone of the sea. More extensive, rugged, and imposing than the Andes, Rockies, or Himalayas, it covers almost as much of earth’s surface as the dry land of continents. Winding like the seam of a baseball, it circles the planet in a long, sinuous path, running the entire length of Atlantic, slashing the basin neatly in two. Its mountains are stark and black as the sea itself, lit only at their peaks by a thin, patchy covering of white, the skeletal remains of tiny microscopic animals that once lived at the surface. Peaks as high as Mount St. Helens sit in a watery world of blackness, more than a mile below the surface, beyond the reach of light, beyond the sight of sailors.
A great valley, eclipsing any comparable feature on dry land, runs through these mountains. Arizona’s Grand Canyon, one of earth’s most spectacular places extends for about 280 miles (450 kilometers). A lesser known canyon of similar depth but considerably greater length lies hidden in the mountains of the ridge. Although offset in many places by breaks in the mountains, the rift valley, as the canyon is called, extends the length of the Atlantic for 11,000 miles (17,700) kilometers). Here in this bleak and forbidding place, where the water is almost freezing, subterranean fires have lifted mounds of fresh lava onto the seafloor. Scientists visiting the rift valley for the first time named the volcanic hills in this otherworldly setting after distant, lifeless planets.
Yet, what had seemed so foreign to scientists is an integral part of earth’s very being, for at the ridge our own planet gives birth. The floor of the rift valley is torn; from the gashes has sprung the seafloor underlying all of Atlantic. Here the youngest, newest pieces are made. Earth is still cooling form her tumultuous birth four and a half billion years ago. Heat, leaking from the molten core and from radioactive decay deep inside the planet, rises toward earth’s surface, powering the volcanoes that deliver the ridge to the sea.
- The author’s attitude toward the main subject of the passage can best be described as:
- awe and fascination.
- disbelief and cynicism.
- amusement and nostalgia.
- boredom and indifference.
- The passage makes clear that “Middle Ground,” “Telegraph Plateau,” and “Dolphin Rise” were names that people gave to what was actually:
- an island in Atlantic.
- a transatlantic cable.
- and ancient and drowned land bridge.
- the immense mountain range in Atlantic’s basin.
- In the first paragraph, the author describes the stillness of the Sargasso Sea as the Cramer passes through it primarily to emphasize that the stillness:
- won’t last long, for the sea will become rough when the wind rises.
- makes it easy for a passenger on the Cramer to spot oceanic islands that break the water’s surface.
- is in dramatic contrast to the power of what exists on and under the seafloor far below.
- makes it seem as if the Cramer’s wake is diving the unbroken expanse of water into two.
- The passage states that compared to Arizona’s Grand Canyon, the canyon that lies within the mountains in Atlantic’s basin is considerably:
- The main purpose of the information in lines 71-76 (highlighted) is to:
- describe in detail scientists’ expectation for their first trip to the rift valley.
- characterize the rift valley as an alien, seemingly barren place.
- provide statistics about several geographic properties of the rift valley.
- list the names that scientists gave to the volcanic hills in the rift valley.
- One of the main purposes of the last paragraph is to state that the:
- gashes in the rift valley continue to increase in width.
- seafloor of Atlantic has cooled.
- entire Atlantic seafloor has issued from the gashes in the rift valley.
- volcanoes on Earth’s dry land have created the newest, youngest pieces of Atlantic seafloor.
- The author most strongly implies that people commonly assume the deepest waters of an ocean are:
- about one thousand miles offshore.
- at the middle of the ocean.
- dotted with islands.
- located in trenches.
- As it is used in line 19, the phrase paid out most nearly means:
- According to the passage, the mountain range in Atlantic’s basin covers nearly the same amount of Earth’s surface as does:
- Mount St. Helens.
- the Himalayas.
- the Pacific Ocean.
- the dry land of continents.
- According to the passage, the white cover on the peaks of the mounts in Atlantic’s basin is:
- skeletal remains of microscopic animals.
- thin layers of sedimentary volcanic ash.
- patches of ice.
- salt deposits.
- The author’s attitude toward the main subject of the passage can best be described as: