ACT Reading Practice Test 104: SOCIAL SCIENCE

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: Passage A is adapted from !he book Apple: A Global History by Erika Janik (©2011 by Erika Janik). Passage B is adapted from the article "The Fatherland of Apples? by Gary Nabhan (©2008 by The Orion Society).

Passage A by Erika Janik

In early September of I 929, Nikolai Vavilov,
famed Russian plant explorer and botanist, arrived in
the central Asian crossroads of Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan.
Climbing up the Zailijskei Alatau slopes of the Tian
5Shan mountains separating Kazakhstan from China,
Vavilov found thickets of wild apples stretching in
every direction, an extensive forest of fruit coloured
russet red, creamy yellow, and vibrant pink. Nowhere
else in the world do apples grow thickly as a forest or
10with such incredible diversity. Amazed by what he saw,
Vavilov wrote: 'I could see with my own eyes that I had
stumbled upon the centre of origin for the apple.'

With extraordinary prescience and few facts,
Vavilov suggested that the wild apples he had seen
15growing in the Tian Shan were in fact the ancestors of
the modern apple. He tracked the whole process of
domestication to the mountains near Alma-Ata, where
the wild apples looked awfully similar to the apples
found at the local grocery. Unfortunately, Vavilov's
20theory would remain mostly unknown for decades.

Exactly where the apple came from had long been
a matter of contention and discussion among people
who study plant origins. Vavilov, imprisoned by Joseph
Stalin in 1940 for work in plant genetics that chal-
25lenged Stalin's beliefs, died in a Leningrad prison in
1943. Only after the fall of communism in Russia did
Vavilov's theory, made more than half a century earlier,
become widely recognized.

As Vavilov predicted, il's now believed that all of
30the apples known today are direct descendents of the
wild apples that evolved in Kazakhstan. Apples do not
comprise all of Kazakhstan's plant bounty, however. At
least 157 other plant species found in Kazakhstan are
either direct precursors or close wild relatives of
35domesticated crops, including 90 per cent of all cultivated
temperate fruits. The name of Kazakhstan's
largest city, Alma-Ata, or Almaty as it is known today,
even translates as 'Father of Apples' or, according to
some, 'where the apples are'. So this news about the
40apple's origins was probably no surprise to residents,
particularly in towns where apple seedlings are known
to grow up through the cracks in the pavements. The
apple has been evolving in Central Asia for upwards of
4.5 million years.

Passage B by Gary Nabhan

45Nikolai Vavilov is widely regarded as the world's
greatest plant explorer, for he made over 250,000 seed,
fruit, and tuber collections on five continents. Kazakh
conservationist Tatiana Salova credits him with first
recognizing that Kazakhstan was the center of origin
50and diversity for apples. "It is not surprising," she concedes,
"that when Vavilov first came to Kazakhstan to
look at plants he was so amazed. Nowhere else in the
world do apples grow as a forest. That is one reason
why he stated that this is probably where the apple was
55born, this was its birthing grounds."

Discerning where a crop originated and where the
greatest portion of its genetic diversity remains extant
may seem esoteric to the uninitiated. But knowing
where exactly our food comes from-geographically,
60culturally, and genetically-is of paramount importance
to the rather small portion of our own species that regularly
concerns itself with the issue of food security. The
variety of foods that we keep in our fields, orchards,
and, secondarily, in our seed banks is critically impor-
65tant in protecting our food supply from plagues, crop
diseases, catastrophic weather, and political upheavals.
Vavilov himself was personally motivated to become an
agricultural scientist by witnessing several famines
during the czarist era of Russia. He hoped that by com-
70bining a more diverse seed portfolio with knowledge
from both traditional farmers and collaborating scientists,
the number of Russian families suffering from
hunger might be reduced.

In a very real sense, the forests of wild foragers
75and the orchards of traditional farmers in such centers
of crop diversity are the wellsprings of diversity that
plant breeders, pathologists, and entomologists return
to every time our society whittles the resilience in our
fields and orchards down to its breaking point.

80And whittle away we have done. Here in North
America, according to apple historian Dan Bussey,
some 16,000 apple varieties have been named and nurtured
over the last four centuries. By 1904, however, the
identities and sources of only 7,098 of those varieties
85could be discerned by USDA scientist W. H. Ragan.
Since then, some 6,121 apple varieties-86.2 percent of
Ragan's 1904 inventory-have been lost from nursery
catalogs, farmers' markets, and from the American
table.

1. The author's use of the words and phrases "thickets," "stretching in every direction," and "extensive forest" (lines 6-7) in Passage A most nearly serves to emphasize which of the following points?

A. The Tian Shan mountains are a challenge to navigate.
B. The apple varieties of Kazakhstan would be difficult for a botanist to catalog.
C. The diversity of plant species in Kazakhstan is crucially important.
D. The magnitude of wild apples in Kazakhstan is stunning.

2. The author of Passage A most likely states that the wild apples growing in the Tian Shan looked like apples found at the local grocery store to support the point that:

F. many of the apples stocked in grocery stores are harvested in the Tian Shan.
G. in the Tian Shan, Vavilov had likely found the wild ancestors of the domesticated apple.
H. the wild apples growing in the Tian Shan are among the most popular varieties with consumers.
J. in the Tian Shan, Vavilov had found new apple varieties to introduce to food producers.

3. Passage A makes which of the following claims about plant species that are found in Kazakhstan?

A. Approximately 157 species of cultivated temperate fruits originated in Kazakhstan.
B. Ninety percent of all domesticated crops are either direct precursors or close wild relatives of plant species found in Kazakhstan.
C. Of the plant species found in Kazakhstan, ninety percent are species of apples.
D. Aside from apples, at least 157 plant species found in Kazakhstan are either direct precursors or close wild relatives of domesticated crops.

4. Passage B most strongly suggests that Vavilov was motivated to become an agricultural scientist primarily because he:

F. wanted to have one of his findings published.
G. aimed to work with a famous botanist.
H. wished to remedy a personal financial crisis.
J. hoped to help feed others.

5. The author of Passage B uses the phrase "whittle away" (line 80) to refer to the way that apple varieties have been:

A. gradually lost from nursery catalogs, farmers' markets, and the American table.
B. modified by plant breeders, entomologists, and pathologists to meet specialized needs.
C. weeded out by scientists until only the few thousand most resilient varieties remained.
D. pared down in 1904 to the few varieties that nursery catalogs wanted to feature.

6. As it is used in lines 82-83, the phrase named and nurtured most nearly means:

F. nominated and encouraged.
G. identified and cultivated.
H. pointed to and groomed.
J. cited and fed.

7. In Passage B, it can most reasonably be inferred from the third paragraph (lines 74-79) that "centers of crop diversity" become crucially important when:

A. plant breeders would like to learn more about the plant species of central Asia.
B. problems with a cultivated crop require experts to research a new variety of the crop.
C. consumers would like more variety in grocery produce departments.
D. disputes among plant breeders, pathologists, and entomologists lead to a reduction in crop variety.

8. Which of the following statements best describes the difference in the tone of the two passages?

F. Passage A is defensive, whereas Passage B is dispassionate.
G. Passage A is solemn, whereas Passage B is optimistic.
H. Passage A is celebratory, whereas Passage B is cautionary.
J. Passage A is accusatory, whereas Passage B is sentimental.

9. Compared to the aqthor of Passage A, the author of Passage B provides more information about the:

A. reduction in the number of apple varieties in North America over the past four centuries.
B. methods Vavilov used to prove to other scientists that the apples growing in the Tian Shan are the ancestors of the modern apple.
C. number of apple varieties that are thriving in Kazakhstan today.
D. techniques used by researchers to determine the regions with the greatest genetic diversity in plants.

10. Passage A quotes Vavilov as saying "'I could see with my own eyes that I had stumbled upon the centre of origin for the apple'" (lines 11-12). In Passage B this quote is directly:

F. invoked by the passage author as he imagines what Kazakhstan looked like centuries ago.
G. used to support an argument by USDA scientists.
H. paraphrased by Salova.
J. refuted by Bussey.