ACT reading practice test 32

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 essay "Are Academics Different?" by Stanley Fish (©2009 Stanley Fish).

Last week's column about Denis Rancourt, a
University of Ottawa professor who is facing dismissal
for awarding A-plus grades to his students on the first
day of class and for turning the physics course he had
05 been assigned into a course on political activism, drew
mostly negative comments.
It may be outlandish because it is so theatrical, but
one could argue that Rancourt carries out to its logical
extreme a form of behavior many display in less dramatic
10 ways. What links Rancourt and these milder versions
of academic acting-out is a conviction that academic
freedom confers on professors the right to order (or
disorder) the workplace in any way they see fit,
irrespective of the requirements of the university that
15 employs them. The response many would make to this
accusation is that a teacher's responsibility is to
the ideals of truth and justice and not to the parochial
rules of an institution in thrall to intellectual,
economic and political orthodoxies.
20 It would be hard to imagine another field of
endeavor in which employees believe that being attentive
to their employer's goals and wishes is tantamount
to a moral crime. But this is what many (not all)
academics believe, and if pressed they will support their
25 belief by invoking a form of academic exceptionalism,
the idea that while colleges and universities may bear
some of the marks of places of employment-workdays,
promotions, salaries, vacations, meetings, etc.-they are
really places in which something much more rarefied
30 than a mere job goes on.
An understanding of academic freedom as a right unbound
by the conditions of employment goes hand in hand with,
and is indeed derived from, an understanding of higher
education as something more than a job to be
35 performed; rather it is a calling to be taken up and
followed wherever it may lead, even if it leads to a flouting
of the norms that happen to be in place in the bureaucratic
spaces that house (but do not define) this exalted
enterprise. If that's the kind of work you think yourself
40 to be doing, it follows that you would think yourself
free to pursue it unconstrained by external impositions.
The alternative is to understand academic freedom as
a much more earthbound thing, as a freedom tailored
to and constrained by the requirements of a particular
45 job. Statements like this are likely to provoke the
objection that academe should not be a Business or a
Corporation. But that is a fake issue. Saying that higher
education has a job to do (and that the norms and standards
of that job should control professorial behavior)
50 is not the same as saying that its job is business.
It is just to say that it is a job and not a sacred
vocation, and that while it may differ in many ways from
other jobs-there is no discernible product and projects may
remain uncompleted for years without negative consequences
55 for researchers-its configurations can still be
ascertained (it is not something ineffable) and serve as
the basis of both expectations and discipline.
So these are the two conceptions of academic freedom
that are in play: academic freedom as the freedom
60 to do the academic job (understood by reference to
university norms and requirements); and academic freedom
as the freedom to chart your own way, to go boldly
where no man or woman has gone before, constrained
only by your inner sense of what is right and true.
65 That of course is the key question. Are academics
different, and if so, in what ways, and to what extent
do the differences legitimate a degree of freedom not
enjoyed by the members of other professions Chief Judge
Wilkinson finds ample evidence in the record to
70 persuade him that "academic speech" is a matter
of "public concern" and so rises to the level of consti-
tutional notice. What exactly would the public's interest
in academic speech be One answer is provided by law
professor J. Peter Byrne who argues that a constitutional
75 right of academic freedom exists "not for the
benefit of the professors themselves but for the good
of society." Why Because it is only in universities
that a certain kind of speech-"serious and communal,
seeking to improve the understanding"-flourishes.
80 Now I have my elitist moments, but this is a bit much.
Only professors, we're being told, do real thinking;
other people accept whatever they hear on TV and retail
popular (but uninformed) wisdom on street corners. Thus
while there is no reason to extend special protections in
85 the workplace to non-academic speech-which is
worthless- there is a good reason to extend them to the
incomparably finer utterances of the professorial class.
It should be possible to acknowledge the distinctiveness
without making academic work into a holy mission
90 taken up by a superior race of beings. Free inquiry
means free in relation to the goals of the enterprise,
not free in the sense of being answerable to nothing.
Those who would defend academic freedom would do well
to remove the halo it often wears. Stay away from big
95 abstractions and remain tethered to work on the ground.
If you say, "This is the job and if we are to do it properly,
these conditions must be in place," you'll get a better
hearing than you would if you say, "We're professors and
you're not, so leave us alone to do what we like."

1. The main point that the author seeks to make in the essay is that the limits of academic freedom should be dictated by the:

A. ideals of truth and justice.
B. beliefs of students' parents.
C. terms of the course being taught.
D. U.S. Constitution.

2. The author's opinion about the story of Denis Rancourt is that it is:

F. typical of the sorts of abuses perpetrated by the average professor nowadays.
G. an extreme example that nevertheless raises an interesting question.
H. the first and last time that any professor will be able to get away with such behavior.
J. probably not what actually happened.

3. The author can best be characterized as a:

A. public intellectual analyzing an academic concept.
B. judge justifying a legal ruling.
C. professor arguing for a greater amount of freedom.
D. former student complaining about his experiences at college.

4. The author mentions "workdays, promotions, salaries, vacations, meetings" (lines 27-28) because they are:

F. things about academia of which most outsiders are unaware.
G. among the reasons that most professors choose to go into teaching.
H. the things that make academic jobs different from other jobs.
J. some things that academic jobs have in common with other jobs.

5. The tone and purpose of paragraph 4 (lines 31-41) can best be characterized as:

A. a dispassionate attempt to logically support the author's own definition of academic freedom.
B. an explanation of how people used to think about academia, before all the problems started.
C. a sarcastic explanation of a viewpoint the author opposes.
D. the author's best guess about what the reader probably believes.

6. The author quotes law professor J. Peter Byrne in the second half of paragraph 7 (lines 73-79) because:

F. Byrne's ideas closely match his own.
G. he is about to explain why he finds Byrne's ideas absurd.
H. Byrne is a friend of Denis Rancourt's who can shed light on what really happened.
J. Byrne is explaining why the laws that started the whole problem were passed in the first place.

7. As it is used in line 56, ineffable most nearly means:

A. unproductive.
B. inexpressible.
C. self-reliant.
D. traditional.

8. The viewpoint on the duties and rights of professors with which the author disagrees can best be summed up in the term:

F. political orthodoxy.
G. free inquiry.
H. academic freedom.
J. academic exceptionalism.

9. The author believes that professors should refrain from doing all of the following EXCEPT:

A. assigning grades on the first day of class.
B. suddenly changing the subject matter of a particular course.
C. believing that attentiveness to their employers' wishes is a moral crime.
D. taking years to complete projects.

10. Based on the passage, it is most likely that the author would define academic freedom as the:

F. amount of leeway professors require in order to fulfill their duties.
G. protection of professorial speech for the good of society.
H. freedom to ascertain the configurations of academia.
J. idea that academic work is not a mere job, but a calling taken up by superior beings.