ACT reading practice test 27

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


Prose Fiction

This passage is adapted from the short story The First Sense by Nadine Gordimer (©2006).

She has never felt any resentment that he became a
musician and she didn't. Could hardly call her amateur
flute playing a vocation. She sits at a computer in a city-
government office earning a salary that has at least
05provided regularly for their basic needs.
She found when she was still an adolescent that her
father, with his sports shop and the beguiling heartiness
that is a qualification for that business, and her mother,
with her groupies exchanging talk of female maladies,
10did not have in their comprehension what it was that
she wanted to do.
A school outing at sixteen had taken her to a concert
where she heard, coming out of a slim tube held to human
lips, the call of the flute. The teacher who had arranged the
15cultural event was understanding enough to put the girl in
touch with a musical youth group in the city. She babysat
on weekends to pay for the hire of a flute, and began to
attempt to learn how to produce with her own breath and
fingers something of what she had heard.
20He was among the Youth Players. His instrument was
the very antithesis of the flute. The sounds he drew from
the overgrown violin between his knees: the complaining
moo of a sick cow, the rasp of a blunt saw. "Excuse me!"
he would say, with a clownish lift of the
25eyebrows and a down-twisted mouth. Within a year, his
exceptional talent had been recognized by the
professional musicians who coached these young people.
They played together when alone, to amuse themselves
and secretly imagine that they were already in concert
30performance, the low, powerful cadence coming from the
golden-brown body of the cello making her flute voice sound,
by contrast, more like that of a squeaking mouse. In time,
she reached a certain level of minor accomplishment. He
couldn't deceive her and let her suffer the disillusions
35of persisting with a career that was not open to her
level of performance. "You'll still have the pleasure of
playing the instrument you love best." She would always
remember what she said: "The cello is the instrument
I love best."
40Sometimes she fell asleep to the low tender tones of
what had become his voice, the voice of that big curved
instrument, sharing the intimacy that was hers. At
concerts, when his solo part came, she did not realize that
she was smiling in recognition, that his was a voice she
45would have recognized anywhere. She was aware that,
without a particular ability of her own, she was
privileged enough to have an interesting life, and a
remarkably talented man whose milieu was also hers.
He began to absent himself from her at unexplained
50times or for obligations that he must have known she
knew didn't exist. She had suggestions for relaxation:
a film or a dinner. He was not enthusiastic. "Next week,
next week." He took the revered cello out of its solitude
in the case and played, to himself, to her-well, she was
55in the room those evenings. It was his voice, that
glorious voice of his cello, saying something different,
speaking not to her but to some other. The voice of
the cello doesn't lie. She waited for him to speak. About
what had happened.
60To trust the long confidence between them. He
never did. And she did not ask, because she was also
afraid that what had happened, once admitted,would
be irrevocably real.
One night, he got up in the dark, took the cello out
65of its bed, and played. She woke to the voice, saying
something passionately angry in its deepest bass. She
knew that the affair was over. She felt a pull of sadness-
for him. For herself, nothing. By never confronting
him she had stunned herself.

1. If the fourth paragraph (lines 20-27) were omitted from the passage, the reader would not know:

A. that he played the violin.
B. how the couple met.
C. that he became a famous musician.
D. that he was an angry person.

2. Which of the following best describes what the first paragraph reveals about her character?

F. She has a rewarding and high-paying career.
G. She earns money playing a flute.
H. She is generous and pragmatic.
J. She regrets not becoming a musician.

3. Which of the following can most reasonably be inferred from the passage about her parents' feelings about music?

A. They are accomplished musicians.
B. They do not have a capacity for music themselves, but support her interest.
C. They are opposed to her becoming a musician.
D. They didn't understand why she would want to pursue a career in music.

4. In lines 38-39 the statement The cello is the instrument I love best most nearly communicates what?

F. She would rather play the cello than play the flute.
G. She will stop playing the flute so that she can play the cello.
H. She never really loved playing the flute.
J. She loves him more than she loves playing the flute.

5. The main conflict in this passage can best be described as:

A. both he and she want to become famous musicians, but only one of them is able.
B. challenges she faces as the girlfriend of a famous musician.
C. tension created when he starts distancing himself from her.
D. her need to choose between the flute and the cello.

6. It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that she views him as:

F. a competent competitor.
G. a teacher and a mentor.
H. someone whose responsibility it is to entertain her.
J. a talented musician whose opinion she respects.

7. In lines 57-58 the statement The voice of the cello doesn't lie mostly means:

A. that she can tell something is wrong because of the music he plays.
B. the cello is telling her what is bothering him.
C. he is using music to communicate his feelings to her.
D. he is playing the cello in order to avoid talking to her.

8. Which of the following statements describing how she feels about his musical ability is most clearly supported by the passage?

F. She respects him, but gets annoyed at how often he is out of town playing concerts.
G. She is jealous that he is so much better than she is.
H. She loves listening to him play, and enjoys the life of a musician's partner.
J. She is proud of his success and takes advantage of the opportunities that brings for her to play the flute.

9. The main purpose of the sixth paragraph (lines 40-48) is to:

A. illustrate his success.
B. show how intimate their relationship is.
C. explain why she gets upset when he leaves her.
D. tell the reader more about his voice.

10. Why didn't he encourage her to pursue a career as a musician?

F. He didn't want the competition.
G. He was jealous of her abilities.
H. He wanted her to earn steady money for them.
J. He didn't think she was talented enough.