ACT reading practice test 47

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 "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (© 1922 by F. Scott Fitzgerald).

When Marjorie and Bernice reached home at half after midnight they said good night at the top of the stairs. Though cousins, they were not intimates. Bernice all through this parent-arranged visit had rather

5 longed to exchange those confidences flavored with giggles and tears that she considered an indispensable factor in all feminine intercourse. But in this respect she found Marjorie rather cold; felt somehow the same difficulty in talking to her that she had in talking to

10 men. Marjorie never giggled, was never frightened, seldom embarrassed, and in fact had very few of the qualities which Bernice considered appropriately and blessedly feminine.

Bernice wondered for the hundredth time why she

15 never had any attention when she was away from home. That her family were the wealthiest in Eau Claire; that her mother entertained tremendously, gave little dinners for her daughter before all dances and bought her a car of her own to drive round in, never occurred to her

20 as factors in her home-town social success. Like most girls, she had been brought up on novels in which the female was beloved because of certain mysterious womanly qualities always mentioned but never displayed.

25 "Bernice felt a vague pain that she was not at present engaged in being popular. She knew that even in Eau Claire other girls with less position and less pulchritude were given a much bigger rush. She attributed this to something subtly unscrupulous in those

30 girls. It had never worried her, and if it had her mother would have assured her that the other girls cheapened themselves and that men really respected girls like Bernice.

She turned out the light in her bathroom, and on an

35 impulse decided to go in and chat for a moment with her Aunt Josephine, whose light was still on. Her soft slippers bore her noiselessly down the carpeted hall, but hearing voices inside she stopped near the partly opened door. Then she caught her own name, and without any

40 definite intention of eavesdropping lingered-and the thread of the conversation going on inside pierced her consciousness sharply as if it had been drawn through with a needle.

"She's absolutely hopeless!" It was Marjorie's

45 voice. "Oh, I know what you're going to say! So many people have told you how pretty and sweet she is, and how she can cook! What of it She has a bum time. Men don't like her."

"What's a little cheap popularity" Mrs. Harvey

50 sounded annoyed.

"It's everything when you're eighteen," said Marjorie emphatically. "I've done my best. I've been polite and I've made men dance with her, but they just won't stand being bored. When I think of that gorgeous

55 coloring wasted on such a ninny, and think what Martha Carey could do with it-oh!"

There's no courtesy these days." Mrs. Harvey's voice implied that modern situations were too much for her. When she was a girl all young ladies who

60 belonged to nice families had glorious times.

"Well," said Marjorie, "no girl can permanently bolster up a lame-duck visitor, because these days it's every girl for herself. I've tried to drop her hints about clothes and things, and she's been furious-given me the funniest

65 looks. I'll bet she consoles herself by thinking that she's very virtuous and that I'm too fickle and will come to a bad end. All unpopular girls think that way. Sour grapes! Sarah Hopkins refers to Genevieve and Roberta and me as gardenia girls! I'll bet she'd give ten years of

70 her life and her European education to be a gardenia girl and have three or four men in love with her and be cut in on every few feet at dances."

"It seems to me," interrupted Mrs. Harvey rather wearily, "that you ought to be able to do something for

75 Bernice. I know she's not very vivacious."

Marjorie groaned. "Vivacious! Good grief! I've never heard her say anything to a boy except that it's hot or the floor's crowded or that she's going to school in New York next year. Sometimes she asks them what

80 kind of car they have and tells them the kind she has. Thrilling!"

Mrs. Harvey yawned. Marjorie considered whether or not convincing her mother was worth the trouble. People over forty can seldom be permanently

85 convinced of anything. At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide. Having decided this, Marjorie said good night. When she came out into the hall it was quite empty.

1. The events in the passage are described primarily from the point of view of a narrator who presents:

A. the inner thoughts and feelings of Bernice exclusively.
B. the inner thoughts and feelings of Bernice primarily, but also occasionally Marjorie.
C. little insight into any character's thoughts or feelings except through dialogue.
D. primarily Marjorie's point of view, with educated guesses about how Bernice feels.

2. The passage supports all of the following statements about Bernice's home life in Eau Claire EXCEPT that:

F. her mother writes novels for a living.
G. she will no longer live there next year.
H. she owns her own car.
J. it is easier for less attractive girls to be popular there.

3. Which of the following questions is NOT answered by the passage?

A. Whose idea was it for Bernice to come and stay with Marjorie?
B. What does Marjorie suspect that Bernice thinks of her?
C. In what city do the events of the story take place?
D. What is Mrs. Harvey's first name?

4. One of the main ideas of the second paragraph (lines 14-24) is that:

F. Bernice's family has more money than does Marjorie's, though Marjorie's is better known.
G. Bernice is the only girl in her hometown with a car, and Marjorie is jealous of this.
H. Bernice prefers to read novels written by women, a trait Marjorie finds dull and embarrassing.
J. Bernice does not understand why socializing is so much harder here than it is at home.

5. According to the passage, all of the following are true of people's attitudes toward Marjorie EXCEPT:

A. Bernice's parents consider her a bad influence.
B. Sarah Hopkins considers her shallow.
C. Bernice finds her aloof and inscrutable.
D. her mother is often dismissive of her ideas.

6. In the passage, the statement that it is difficult to convince people over forty of anything is best described as the opinion of:

F. Marjorie, formed based on her mother's advice.
G. Marjorie, formed in response to her mother's behavior.
H. the narrator, in contrast to what Marjorie thinks.
J. the narrator, offered as an explanation of why Mrs. Harvey disapproves of Bernice.

7. The passage indicates that Bernice's primary response to the conversation she overhears is to:

A. feel relief that other people have noticed the difficulties she is having.
B. feel betrayed at being discussed this way by her lifelong friend Marjorie.
C. say nothing and formulate a plan for revenge.
D. feel hurt that she was talked about behind her back.

8. According to the passage, as a young woman, Mrs. Harvey saw the youth culture of her day as being:

F. less concerned with material things.
G. more respectful of its elders.
H. easier for the right kind of girls to negotiate.
J. interested in other activities besides dancing.

9. The passage indicates that, compared with Bernice, Marjorie finds her friend Martha Carey to be:

A. more personable but less pretty.
B. prettier but less personable.
C. a better dancer but less intelligent.
D. equally intelligent but wittier.

10. That Marjorie is cold and hard to get along with is:

F. a reputation Bernice had heard about even before meeting her.
G. an impression Bernice got from comparing her to an ideal.
H. probably an act Marjorie puts on in an effort to be intimidating and desirable.
J. something Bernice never suspected until overhearing her conversation with her mother.