ACT reading practice test 43

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 "Pickman's Model" by H.P. Lovecraft (1927, Public Domain).

No, I don't know what's become of Pickman, and I don't like to guess. You might have surmised I had some inside information when I dropped him-and that's why I don't want to think where he's gone. Let the police find

5 what they can-it won't be much, judging from the fact that they don't know yet of the old North End place he hired under the name of Peters. I'm not sure that I could find it again myself-not that I'd ever try, even in broad daylight!

10 Yes, I do know, or am afraid I know, why he maintained it. I'm coming to that. And I think you'll understand before I'm through why I don't tell the police. They would ask me to guide them, but I couldn't go back there even if I knew the way. There was something

15 there-and now I can't use the subway or (and you may as well have your laugh at this, too) go down into cellars any more.

I should think you'd have known I didn't drop Pickman for the same silly reasons that Dr. Reid or Joe

20 Minot or Rosworth did. Morbid art doesn't shock me, and when a man has the genius Pickman had I feel it an honour to know him, no matter what direction his work takes. Boston never had a greater painter than Richard Upton Pickman. I said it at first and I say it still, and I

25 never swerved an inch, either, when he showed that "Ghoul Feeding." That, you remember, was when Minot cut him.

You know, it takes profound art and profound insight into Nature to turn out stuff like Pickman's. Any

30 magazine-cover hack can splash paint around wildly and call it a nightmare or a Witches' Sabbath or a portrait of the devil, but only a great painter can make such a thing really scare or ring true. That's because only a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the

35 physiology of fear-the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness. I don't have to tell you why a Fuseli really brings a

40 shiver while a cheap ghost-story frontispiece merely makes us laugh. There's something those fellows catch-beyond life-that they're able to make us catch for a second. Doré had it. Sime has it. Angarola of Chicago has it. And Pickman had it as no man ever had

45 it before or-I hope to Heaven-ever will again.

Don't ask me what it is they see. You know, in ordinary art, there's all the difference in the world between the vital, breathing things drawn from Nature or models and the artificial truck that commercial small fry reel off

50 in a bare studio by rule. Well, I should say that the really weird artist has a kind of vision which makes models, or summons up what amounts to actual scenes from the spectral world he lives in. Anyhow, he manages to turn out results that differ from the pretender's mince-pie

55 dreams in just about the same way that the life painter's results differ from the concoctions of a correspondence-school cartoonist. If I had ever seen what Pickman saw-but no! Here, let's have a drink before we get any deeper. God, I wouldn't be alive if I'd ever seen what that man-if

60 he was a man-saw!

You recall that Pickman's forte was faces. I don't believe anybody since Goya could put so much of sheer hell into a set of features or a twist of expression. And before Goya you have to go back to the mediaeval chaps

65 who did the gargoyles and chimaeras on Notre Dame and Mont Saint-Michel. They believed all sorts of things-and maybe they saw all sorts of things, too, for the Middle Ages had some curious phases. I remember your asking Pickman yourself once, the year before you went

70 away, wherever in thunder he got such ideas and visions. Wasn't that a nasty laugh he gave you It was partly because of that laugh that Reid dropped him. Reid, you know, had just taken up comparative pathology, and was full of pompous "inside stuff" about the biological or

75 evolutionary significance of this or that mental or physical symptom. He said Pickman repelled him more and more every day, and almost frightened him towards the last-that the fellow's features and expression were slowly developing in a way he didn't like; in a way that

80 wasn't human. He had a lot of talk about diet, and said Pickman must be abnormal and eccentric to the last degree. I suppose you told Reid, if you and he had any correspondence over it, that he'd let Pickman's paintings get on his nerves or harrow up his imagination. I know

85 I told him that myself-then.

1. It can reasonably be inferred that which of the following events mentioned in the passage occurred first chronologically?

A. Pickman disappears to a location unknown by the narrator.
B. Pickman brings the narrator to see his room in the North End.
C. Pickman composes the painting known as Ghoul Feeding.
D. Pickman is dropped from the narrator's art gallery.

2. Which of the following questions does the passage NOT directly answer?

F. In what city do the events of the story take place?
G. What is the name of the man that the narrator is talking to?
H. Why did Joe Minot drop Pickman from his gallery?
J. What strange fear did the narrator develop as a result of being shown Pickman's studio?

3. In the context of the passage, the main purpose of the first paragraph is to:

A. establish Pickman as the central figure in some sort of mystery.
B. provide ominous details about the crime that Pickman has committed.
C. demonstrate that the narrator has always been a fearful and superstitious man.
D. foreshadow the difficulties that the narrator will face in his search for Pickman's old studio.

4. In the fourth paragraph (lines 28-45), the narrator seems most impressed with Pickman's:

F. willingness to depict controversial subjects without fear of controversy.
G. quickness to learn from the traditions established by previous artists.
H. knack for creating paintings that are both frightening and humorous.
J. ability to tap into and exploit the instinctual responses of his audience.

5. The author provides information about all of the following aspects of Pickman's life EXCEPT the:

A. sorts of subjects that he was in the habit of painting.
B. amount of money that he had been making at the time of his disappearance.
C. effect that his odd mannerisms could have on people who met him in person.
D. secretive habits that surrounded his creative process.

6. The best summary of the fifth paragraph (lines 46-60) is that the narrator:

F. believes that the minds of truly great artists blur the distinctions between fantasy and reality.
G. believes all artists to be equally strange, the good ones and bad ones alike.
H. is furious with Pickman for refusing to divulge the secret of his genius.
J. is secretly concerned that he doesn't really know all that much about art.

7. If the third paragraph (lines 18-27) were deleted, the passage would lose all of the following EXCEPT:

A. the only reference to a title of one of Pickman's paintings.
B. the narrator's opinion of his own openmindedness compared with that of other gallery owners.
C. information about which gallery owner was the first to drop Pickman.
D. the only mention made of anyone's first name.

8. It can reasonably be inferred that the narrator's final break with Pickman was initiated by:

F. Pickman's habit of upsetting the narrator's personal acquaintances.
G. the narrator's having experienced something horrifying in Pickman's North End studio.
H. Pickman's feelings of betrayal after the narrator dropped him due to public outcry.
J. the narrator's discovery that Pickman was a fraud.

9. The word dormant (line 38) most nearly means:

A. tired.
B. harmless.
C. impolite.
D. subconscious.

10. The narrator indicates that, until immediately before his disappearance, Pickman had been:

F. rudely dismissive of people's inquiries into his creative process.
G. completely mystified as to why other people found his work to be so upsetting.
H. the most popular artist in town.
J. more terrified than anyone else of his own dark secrets.