ACT reading practice test 28

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.


Social Science

This passage is adapted from "The Disappearing Computer" by Bill Gates, which appeared in The World in 2003 (The Economist) (©2002 by The Economist).

A few years from now, the average home entertainment
system might not look much different than it does today.
But it will probably have an Internet connection that
enables it to download and play digital music and
05 video, display album artwork and song titles on the
television, and even interrupt your listening if an
important message arrives. It will have a central processor,
disk storage, graphics hardware and some kind of intuitive
user interface. Add a wireless mouse and keyboard, and
10 this home entertainment system will start looking a
lot like a personal computer. Will people buy and use
these systems in large numbers Absolutely. Will they
think of them as computers Probably not.
According to Gartner Dataquest, an American
15 research firm, the world computer industry shipped its
one billionth PC in 2002, and another billion more are
expected to be built in the next six years. Add to this
the exploding number of embedded computers-the kind found
in mobile phones, gas pumps and retail point-of
20 sale systems-which are fast approaching the power and
complexity of desktop PCs. On one estimate, people in the
United States already interact with about 150 embedded
systems every day, whether they know it or not. These
systems, which use up to 90 percent of the microprocessors
25 produced today, will inevitably take on more PC-like
characteristics, and will be able to communicate seamlessly
with their traditional PC counterparts. They will
also become amazingly ubiquitous. In 2001, according to
the Semiconductor Industry Association, the world
30 microchip industry produced around 60 million
transistors for every man, woman and child on earth. That
number will rise to one billion by 2010.
At the same time, the general-purpose PC as we know
it today will continue to play an important, and
35 increasingly central, role in most people's lives,
but it will be at the center of a wide range of intelligent
devices that most people wouldn't think of as "computers"
today. This scenario is in sharp contrast to the computers of
just a few years ago-back in the pre-Internet age-which
40 were still mostly passive appliances that sat in the corner
of the den or living room. Back then, people used their PCs
for little more than writing letters and documents, playing
games or managing their family finances.
But today we are truly in a digital decade, in which
45 the intelligence of the PC is finding its way into
all kinds of devices, transforming them from passive
appliances into far more significant and indispensable tools
for everyday life. Many of the core technologies of computing-
processing power, storage capacity, graphics capabilities
50 and network connectivity are all continuing to advance
at a pace that matches or even exceeds Moore's Law
(which famously, and correctly, predicted that the
number of transistors on a computer chip would double
every two years).
55 As people find more ways to incorporate these
inexpensive, flexible and infinitely customizable devices
into their lives, the computers themselves will gradually
disappear into the fabric of our lives. We are still a
long way from a world full of disembodied intelligent
60 machines, but the computing experience of the coming
decade will be so seamless and intuitive that,increasingly,
we will barely notice it. At the same time, computing
will become widespread enough that we will take
it for granted-just as most people in the developed
65 world today trust the telephone service.
The pervasiveness and near-invisibility of computing will
be helped along by new technologies such as cheap, flexible
displays, fingernail-sized chips capable of storing
terabytes of data, or inductively powered computers that
70 rely on heat and motion from their environment to run
without batteries.
The economics of computing will also bring change.
Decreasing costs will make it easy for electronics
manufacturers to include PC-like intelligence and
75 connectivity in even the most mundane devices.
All this will lead to a fundamental change in the way we
perceive computers. Using one will become like using
electricity when you turn on a light. Computers, like
electricity, will play a role in almost everything you
80 do, but computing itself will no longer be a discrete
experience. We will be focused on what we can do with
computers, not on the devices themselves. They will be all
around us, essential to almost every part of our lives, but
they will effectively have "disappeared."

1. This passage is best described as being:

A. an analysis of how computers are vanishing from everyday use in society.
B. an argument in support of introducing more computer-friendly products.
C. an examination of the changing roles computers have in people's lives.
D. a thorough evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks of using computers.

2. The author uses all of the following sources of evidence to support his claims EXCEPT:

F. research data gathered by professionals.
G. the opinion of a scientist.
H. statistics provided by industry experts.
J. reference to a famous mathematical prediction.

3. The word ubiquitous, as used in line 28, most likely means:

A. small.
B. difficult to find.
C. inexpensive.
D. ever-present.

4. According to the passage, new technologies and decreasing costs of electronics will lead directly to an increase in all of the following EXCEPT:

F. interconnectivity among objects.
G. the presence of computer intelligence in everyday objects.
H. the amount of power and batteries that will be required to run computers.
J. computers being involved in most aspects of life.

5. Which of the following best describes how the author predicts people will perceive computers in the future?

A. Computers will be so much a part of everyday life that people will hardly notice them.
B. Computers will have disappeared from people's lives.
C. People will be afraid of how invasive computers have become and will use them less.
D. Computers will be everywhere and people will be very aware of using them constantly and will become dependent on them.

6. The word disappeared used in line 84 most likely refers to the idea that:

F. people will no longer use computers.
G. computers will be so embedded in people's everyday lives that they won't even notice them anymore.
H. computers will become invisible.
J. computers will become so small and will be inside so many other objects that people will not be able to see them anymore.

7. All of the following are identified in the passage as parts of a future entertainment system EXCEPT:

A. a satellite.
B. graphics hardware.
C. a wireless keyboard.
D. an Internet connection.

8. The author refers to computers of the past as passive appliances (line 40) because:

F. they were indispensable tools for everyday life.
G. they were incapable of complex tasks.
H. they remained in one location.
J. people only used them occasionally for specific tasks.

9. The main point of the second paragraph (lines 14-32) can best be summarized as:

A. there are more microchips than people.
B. microprocessors are being produced more quickly than we can use them.
C. both the number of and uses for microprocessors is rapidly increasing.
D. there is more need for microprocessors than for personal computers.

10. In the first paragraph, the author suggests that all of the following are core technologies EXCEPT:

F. storage capacity.
G. power profiles.
H. graphics capabilities.
J. network connectivity.