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2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations

2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved



Critical Reading: Section 1

Critical Reading Question 1

Choice (C) is correct. The structure of the sentence indicates that the second part of the sentence
relates to Rands being indefatigable, or tireless or incapable of being fatigued. If Rands can
function well on very little sleeponly four hourshe certainly would seem to be incapable
of being fatigued.

Choice (A) is incorrect. The structure of the sentence indicates that the second part of the
sentence relates to Rands being indefatigable, or tireless or incapable of being fatigued. It does
not make sense to say that Rands seems to be tireless because he can make do with very little
performance time, or time spent performing (his works, presumably). Rather, it makes sense to
say that he appears indefatigable because he functions on very little sleep.

Choice (B) is incorrect. The structure of the sentence indicates that the second part of the
sentence relates to Rands being indefatigable, or tireless or incapable of being fatigued. It does
not make sense to imply that Rands seems to be tireless because he can make do with very little
practice time, or time spent practicing (his works, presumably). Rather, it makes sense to say
that he appears indefatigable because he functions on very little sleep.

Choice (D) is incorrect. The structure of the sentence indicates that the second part of the
sentence relates to Rands being indefatigable, or tireless or incapable of being fatigued. It does
not make sense to imply that Rands seems tireless because he can make do with very little
exercise time; further, four hours might be considered a lot of time to spend exercising. It makes
more sense to say that Rands appears indefatigable because he functions on very little sleep.

Choice (E) is incorrect. The structure of the sentence indicates that the second part of the
sentence relates to Rands being indefatigable, or tireless or incapable of being fatigued. It does
not make sense to say that Rands seems tireless because he spends only four hours being
exhausted. In fact, if Rands appears incapable of being fatigued, he would never seem to be
exhausted.

Critical Reading Question 2

Choice (C) is correct. Generous means willing to give or share freely. To be unselfish is to be
generous and not selfish. The structure of the sentence indicates that the part of the sentence
after the comma elaborates on or explains the first part. If the Dutts always act unselfishly, or
generously, they certainly would be described as wonderfully generous.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In this context, dedicated means committed to a cause. Feebly means
weakly or without strength. The structure of the sentence indicates that the part of the sentence
after the comma elaborates on or explains the first part. If the Dutts are weak in their efforts to
promote the well-being of others, it is very unlikely that they would be described as wonderfully
dedicated. People who are very dedicated to a cause probably would act vigorously to promote
that cause.

Choice (B) is incorrect. Menacing means threatening. Promptly means readily or quickly. The
structure of the sentence indicates that the part of the sentence after the comma elaborates on or
explains the first part. The term promptly might fit the second blank; the Dutts might act quickly
to promote the well-being of others. However, there is no reason to suggest that people who
work to promote others well-being would be described as wonderfully menacing, or very
threatening.

2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

Choice (D) is incorrect. Cautious means careful and tentative. Powerfully means with great
power or influence. The structure of the sentence indicates that the part of the sentence after the
comma elaborates on or explains the first part. The term powerfully might fit the second blank;
the Dutts might be influential and might use their influence to help others. However, it is unlikely
that people who act powerfully would be described as wonderfully cautious, or very careful and
tentative.

Choice (E) is incorrect. Courteous means kindly or well-mannered. To be cruel is to inflict pain
or suffering. The structure of the sentence indicates that the part of the sentence after the comma
elaborates on or explains the first part. The Dutts could be wonderfully courteous, or very kindly.
However, kindly people certainly would not act cruelly to promote the well-being of others.
Indeed, it is illogical to suggest that people would inflict pain or suffering to help others.

Critical Reading Question 3

Choice (A) is correct. Supporters are people who support or adhere to something. In this
context, critics are people who harshly judge something. The sentence sets up a contrast: some
people hail, or enthusiastically approve of, the new legislative initiative because they think it will
solve a problem, while other people argue that it will not be effective in a meaningful way. The
terms supporters and critics logically complete the sentence because people who support the
initiative would be expected to approve of it and people who harshly judge the initiative would be
expected to argue against it.

Choice (B) is incorrect. Advocates are people that support or promote something. Proponents
are people who argue in favor of it. The sentence sets up a contrast: some people hail, or
enthusiastically approve of, the new legislative initiative because they think it will solve a
problem, while other people argue that it will not be effective in a meaningful way. The terms
advocates and proponents do not support the necessary contrast because both terms
describe people who are in favor of something. Further, proponents of the initiativepeople who
are in favor of the initiativecertainly would not argue that the initiative will produce no
meaningful results.

Choice (C) is incorrect. Detractors are people who belittle or speak ill of something.
Antagonists are people who oppose something. The sentence sets up a contrast: some people
hail, or enthusiastically approve of, the new legislative initiative because they think it will solve a
problem, while other people argue that it will not be effective in a meaningful way. The terms
detractors and antagonists do not support the necessary contrast because both terms
describe people who are against something. Further, detractors of the initiative certainly would
not enthusiastically approve of it.

Choice (D) is incorrect. Adversaries are people who oppose or resist something. Observers
are people who watch but do not participate in something. The sentence sets up a contrast: some
people hail, or enthusiastically approve of, the new legislative initiative because they think it will
solve a problem, while other people argue that it will not be effective in a meaningful way. The
terms adversaries and observers do not support the necessary contrast; observers might
oppose the new initiative even if they do not participate in resisting it or preventing it. Further,
adversaries of the initiative certainly would not enthusiastically approve of it.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In this context, auditors are listeners or observers. Creditors are
people to whom a debt is owed. The sentence sets up a contrast: some people hail, or
enthusiastically approve of, the new legislative initiative because they think it will solve a
problem, while other people argue that it will not be effective in a meaningful way. The terms
auditors and creditors do not support the necessary contrast; indeed, there is no direct
connection between listeners and people to whom a debt is owed. Further, because the sentence
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

does not indicate what the initiative has to do with, there is no reason to assume that auditors
would approve of it and creditors would disapprove of it.

Critical Reading Question 4

Choice (A) is correct. In this context, recognition is formal acknowledgement. Groundbreaking
means markedly innovative. The sentence indicates that Dr. Ho was honored by Time magazine
and that he worked with innovative drug therapies. To be named Man of the Year is to receive
formal acknowledgement of ones achievements, so the term recognition fits the first blank. And
because Dr. Ho worked with innovative theories, it makes sense to describe his work as
groundbreaking.

Choice (B) is incorrect. The sentence indicates that Dr. Ho was honored by Time magazine and
that he worked with innovative drug therapies. There is no reason to suggest that the work of a
doctor whose innovative drug therapies have been pivotal, or vitally important, and given
hope to many patients would need to be defended from anything. Further, it is not clear how
Time magazine would be offering a defense for Dr. Hos work by naming Dr. Ho Man of the
Year.

Choice (C) is incorrect. Appreciation is admiration, approval, or gratitude. Nave means
simplistic or uninformed. The sentence indicates that Dr. Ho was honored by Time magazine and
that he worked with innovative drug therapies. The title Man of the Year is often given as a
sign of admiration and approval, so the term appreciation might fit the first blank. However, the
term nave does not logically complete the sentence. It is unlikely that a doctor would receive an
honor in appreciation of simplistic or uninformed scientific work.

Choice (D) is incorrect. The sentence indicates that Dr. Ho was honored by Time magazine and
that he worked with innovative drug therapies. There is no reason to suggest that the work of a
doctor whose innovative drug therapies have been monumental, or of outstanding
significance, would need to be protected from anything. Further, it is not clear how Time
magazine would be offering protection for Dr. Hos work by naming Dr. Ho Man of the Year.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In this context, acknowledgement is recognition of an act or
achievement. Intangible means imperceptible or lacking substance. The sentence indicates that
Dr. Ho was honored by Time magazine and that he worked with innovative drug therapies. To
be named Man of the Year is to be recognized for ones achievements, so the term
acknowledgment fits the first blank. However, the term intangible does not logically complete
the sentence. It is unlikely that a doctor would receive an honor in recognition of work that lacks
substance or has not made a perceptible difference.

Critical Reading Question 5

Choice (C) is correct. Commendable means worthy of confidence or notice. To be an
exemplary model is to be deserving of imitation or to serve as a pattern. The sentence makes it
clear that Frank and Susan served as a certain type of model as a result of their behavior.
Because Frank and Susan provided excellent care for the children, it makes sense to say that
their behavior was commendable. Further, people who behave commendably likely would be
considered exemplary models for othersthat is, they would be seen as people whose behavior
should be imitated.

Choice (A) is incorrect. Incorruptible means highly moral and incapable of being corrupted.
Pernicious means highly destructive or even deadly. The sentence makes it clear that Frank
and Susan served as a certain type of model as a result of their behavior. Frank and Susan
might behave in a highly moral way, so the term incorruptible might fit the first blank. However,
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

the term pernicious does not logically complete the sentence. It is illogical to suggest that highly
moral people who provided excellent care for children would be described as dangerous or
deadly models.

Choice (B) is incorrect. Lamentable means deplorable or deserving contempt. Flawed means
imperfect or weak. The sentence makes it clear that Frank and Susan served as a certain type
of model as a result of their behavior. People who behave in a deplorable way likely would be
considered imperfect models for children. However, the sentence indicates that Frank and Susan
took excellent care of the children; therefore, it is illogical to suggest that Frank and Susans
behavior was lamentable and that Frank and Susan were flawed models.

Choice (D) is incorrect. Erratic means inconsistent and unpredictable. Unimpeachable means
reliable beyond a doubt. The sentence makes it clear that Frank and Susan served as a certain
type of model as a result of their behavior. It is illogical to suggest that Frank and Susan would
be considered unimpeachable models for the children as a result of behaving inconsistently and
unpredictably; people who behave erratically would not be considered reliable beyond a doubt.

Choice (E) is incorrect. Reputable means of good reputation or held in esteem. Imperfect
means not perfect or even defective. The sentence makes it clear that Frank and Susan served
as a certain type of model as a result of their behavior. Frank and Susan might have a good
reputation because of their behaviorespecially if they took excellent care of the childrenso
the term reputable might fit the first blank. However, the term imperfect does not logically
complete the sentence. If Frank and Susan are reputable and have taken very good care of the
children, there is no reason to suggest that they would be imperfect or defective models.

Critical Reading Question 6

Choice (D) is correct. In this context, profound means having intellectual depth. The structure of
the sentence indicates that the part of the sentence after the comma comments on the first part.
Because Eliot is described as undermining superficial positions in the quest for moral truth, it
makes sense to say that Eliots fiction demonstrated profound ethical inquiry. In other words,
Eliots fiction contained intellectually deep examination that undercut superficial, or shallow,
points.

Choice (A) is incorrect. Facile means shallow or simplistic. The structure of the sentence
indicates that the part of the sentence after the comma comments on the first part. Because Eliot
is described as undermining superficial positionsthat is, undercutting or weakening superficial
or shallow pointsit does not make sense to say that Eliots fiction demonstrated facile ethical
inquiry, or contained shallow or simplistic examinations.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In this context, affected means feigned or false. The structure of the
sentence indicates that the part of the sentence after the comma comments on the first part. It
does not make much sense to say that Eliots fiction demonstrated affected ethical inquiry
because it undermine[d] superficial positions in the quest for moral truth. Work that successfully
undermined, or undercut, shallow points would likely involve genuine questions. Further, it is not
clear how Eliot could have affected ethical inquiry, or somehow only pretended to examine
ethical issues.

Choice (C) is incorrect. Inadequate means insufficient. The structure of the sentence indicates
that the part of the sentence after the comma comments on the first part. It does not make much
sense to say that Eliots fiction demonstrated inadequate ethical inquiry because it
undermine[d] superficial positions in the quest for moral truth. Work that successfully
undermined, or undercut, shallow points would likely involve rigorous examination of ethical
issues, not inadequate or insufficient examination.
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

Choice (E) is incorrect. Impulsive means hasty and without forethought. The structure of the
sentence indicates that the part of the sentence after the comma comments on the first part. It
does not make much sense to say that Eliots fiction demonstrated impulsive ethical inquiry
because it undermine[d] superficial positions in the quest for moral truth. Work that successfully
undermined, or undercut, shallow points would likely involve thoughtful and rigorous examination
of ethical issues, not hastily conceived examination that is not thought out.

Critical Reading Question 7

Choice (D) is correct. The terms that fit the blanks must describe Esmereldas conflicting
feelings; therefore, the terms that fit the blank must conflict with one another. The term
foreboding refers to a feeling that evil or trouble is approaching; the term elation refers to
intense joy. These terms do conflict with one another. Further, it makes sense to say that
Esmerelda felt troubled about leaving the security of the village but also joyful about moving to a
city full of excitement.

Choice (A) is incorrect. The terms that fit the blanks must describe Esmereldas conflicting
feelings; therefore, the terms that fit the blank must conflict with one another. The term
boredom refers to feeling weary and disinterested; the term impassivity refers to feeling no
emotion. These terms do not logically complete the sentence because they do not necessarily
conflict with one another; in fact, boredom and impassivity are somewhat synonymous. Further, it
is unlikely that Esmerelda would have felt bored as a result of moving to the excitement of the
city.

Choice (B) is incorrect. The terms that fit the blanks must describe Esmereldas conflicting
feelings; therefore, the terms that fit the blank must conflict with one another. The term
eagerness refers to enthusiastic interest; the term optimism refers to a tendency to expect the
best possible outcome. These terms do not logically complete the sentence because they do not
necessarily conflict with one another; indeed, someone who is eager might also be optimistic.

Choice (C) is incorrect. The terms that fit the blanks must describe Esmereldas conflicting
feelings; therefore, the terms that fit the blank must conflict with one another. The term
satisfaction refers to a feeling of fulfillment and contentment; the term delight refers to great
satisfaction or joy. These terms do not logically complete the sentence because they do not
conflict with one another; in fact, they describe different levels of the same feeling.

Choice (E) is incorrect. The terms that fit the blanks must describe Esmereldas conflicting
feelings; therefore, the terms that fit the blank must conflict with one another. The term
subjugation refers to feeling controlled or conquered; the term anger refers to strong
displeasure. These terms do not logically complete the sentence because they do not necessarily
conflict with one another; indeed, someone who feels conquered might also feel angry.

Critical Reading Question 8

Choice (B) is correct. Placid means calm and serene. The structure of the sentence indicates
that the part of the sentence following the colon will modify or elaborate on the first part. The idea
that the woman shrugged off, or minimized and ignored, things that others would consider
calamities, or disasters, elaborates on the idea that the woman possessed a remarkably placid
disposition, or tended to be very calm and serene.

Choice (A) is incorrect. Enigmatic means mysterious. The structure of the sentence indicates
that the part of the sentence following the colon will modify or elaborate on the first part. The idea
that the woman shrugged off, or minimized and ignored, things that others would consider
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

disasters does not elaborate on the idea that the woman possessed a remarkably enigmatic
disposition. There is no direct connection between ignoring certain things and being mysterious.

Choice (C) is incorrect. Humane means compassionate and sympathetic. The structure of the
sentence indicates that the part of the sentence following the colon will modify or elaborate on the
first part. The idea that the woman shrugged off, or minimized and ignored, things that others
would consider disasters does not elaborate on the idea that the woman possessed a
remarkably humane disposition. Someone who is compassionate might ignore certain things, but
there is no direct connection between shrugging things off and being humane.

Choice (D) is incorrect. Diffident means hesitant and lacking self-confidence. The structure of
the sentence indicates that the part of the sentence following the colon will modify or elaborate on
the first part. The idea that the woman shrugged off, or minimized and ignored, things that
others would consider disasters does not elaborate on the idea that the woman possessed a
remarkably diffident disposition. There is no direct connection between ignoring certain things
and being diffident; one could lack self-confidence and still shrug off things that would bother
others.

Choice (E) is incorrect. Ingenuous means innocent and not devious. The structure of the
sentence indicates that the part of the sentence following the colon will modify or elaborate on the
first part. The idea that the woman shrugged off, or minimized and ignored, things that others
would consider disasters does not elaborate on the idea that the woman possessed a
remarkably ingenuous disposition. There is no direct connection between ignoring certain things
and being ingenuous; one who is innocent could shrug off things that would bother others.

Critical Reading Question 9

Choice (D) is correct. In lines 1-2, the author states, Every now and again, cosmologists decide
that the universe needs redecorating. The author is comparing the way cosmologists reorder
their conceptions of the universe to the way someone might redecorate or renovate a home. The
terms declutter, embellish, and fixingterms that often have to do with home renovation or
interior decorationall expand on the idea that cosmologists redecorate the universe. In lines 8-
12, the author makes the comparison explicit: Like the decorator who strips away wallpaper . . .
cosmologists are realizing that their discovery . . . points to serious problems with their models.

Choice (A) is incorrect. The terms declutter, embellish, and fixing do not establish a tone of
breezy disdain, or nonchalant scorn; indeed, nothing in the passage suggests that the author is
scornful of cosmologists changing conceptions of the universe. Instead, these terms expand
upon an earlier figure of speech. The termsall of which often have to do with home renovation
or interior decorationrelate to the authors comparison of cosmologists to someone who is
redecorating a home.

Choice (B) is incorrect. The terms declutter, embellish, and fixing do not emphasize the
complexity of an issue. In fact, the author uses these terms in an effort to make an issue easier to
understand; he or she compares the way cosmologists reorder their conceptions of the universe
to the way someone might redecorate or renovate a home. The quoted terms often have to do
with home renovation or interior decoration, and the author uses them in order to expand on his
or her comparison of cosmologists to someone who is redecorating.

Choice (C) is incorrect. The terms declutter, embellish, and fixing are not used to vary the
terms of a critique; indeed, nothing in the passage suggests that the author is critiquing, or
examining critically, cosmologists changing conceptions of the universe. Further, the terms are
not varied; they are all terms that often have to do with home renovation or interior decoration.
The author uses the quoted terms in order to expand on his or her comparison of the way
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

cosmologists reorder their conceptions of the universe to the way someone might redecorate a
home.

Choice (E) is incorrect. The terms declutter, embellish, and fixing are not used to explain the
details of a technical theory; indeed, the author is not trying to provide a technical explanation of
the details of cosmologists changing conceptions of the universe. Rather, the author is trying to
present cosmologists changing conceptions in a way that is accessible for non-scientists. He or
she compares the way cosmologists reorder their conceptions of the universe to the way
someone might redecorate a home; the quoted terms, all of which have to do with home
renovation or interior decoration, expand on the authors comparison.

Critical Reading Question 10

Choice (E) is correct. Throughout the passage, the author compares cosmologists practice of
revising our understanding of the universe in light of new scientific discoveries to redecorating.
The author maintains the metaphor into the last sentence: When theyre done fixing things,
chances are well hardly recognize the place. The author is referring to the fact that cosmologists
are at it again, once again doing research that will redecorate the universe. The last sentence
of the passage implies that this current research will transform our understanding of the
universeit will change our understanding so much that well hardly recognize the universe.

Choice (A) is incorrect. Throughout the passage, the author compares cosmologists practice of
revising our understanding of the universe in light of new scientific discoveries to redecorating.
The author maintains the metaphor into the last sentence: When theyre done fixing things,
chances are well hardly recognize the place. The author is not implying that cosmologists
recent views of the cosmos are aesthetically satisfying, or pleasing in appearance; indeed, it is
somewhat odd to speak of scientific theories in terms of their beauty rather than their scientific
attributes. Instead, the author is implying that cosmologists current research will greatly transform
our understanding of the universeit will change our understanding so much that well hardly
recognize the universe.

Choice (B) is incorrect. Throughout the passage, the author compares cosmologists practice of
revising our understanding of the universe in light of new scientific discoveries to redecorating.
The author maintains the metaphor into the last sentence: When theyre done fixing things,
chances are well hardly recognize the place. The author is not implying that current
cosmological methods can be bewilderingly complex. He or she is not saying that well hardly
recognize the new universe because it will be too difficult to understand, but rather that we will
simply see the universe very differently because new research will so transform our current
understanding.

Choice (C) is incorrect. Throughout the passage, the author compares cosmologists practice of
revising our understanding of the universe in light of new scientific discoveries to redecorating.
The author maintains the metaphor into the last sentence: When theyre done fixing things,
chances are well hardly recognize the place. The author is not indicating that cosmologists
currently doing research will damage previous theoretical models of the universe, or that they will
harm anything. Indeed, he or she suggests that cosmologists today are doing what cosmologists
have always done: revising and correcting their understanding of the universe based on new
information and discoveries.

Choice (D) is incorrect. Throughout the passage, the author compares cosmologists practice of
revising our understanding of the universe in light of new scientific discoveries to redecorating.
The author maintains the metaphor into the last sentence: When theyre done fixing things,
chances are well hardly recognize the place. The author is not implying that contemporary
astronomical theories will be thoroughly tested by the scientific community. He or she is not
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

talking about how other scientists will treat new theories when they are revealed, but rather about
how wethe public, it seemswill have a new view of the universe as a result of current
research.

Critical Reading Question 11

Choice (A) is correct. In line 5, the author indicates that Charles Chesnutt, a writer, earned
immediate accolades for his workthat is, he earned praise for his work right away. The author
goes on to state that Chesnutt earned praise for creating fresh, vivid, dramatic sketches in a
new and delightful vein. It is reasonable to assume that these quotations are examples of the
praise Chesnutt received from his contemporaries, or people who were living at the same time, as
soon as they read his work.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In line 5, the author indicates that Chesnutt earned immediate accolades
for his workthat is, he earned praise for his work right away. The author goes on to state that
Chesnutt earned praise for creating fresh, vivid, dramatic sketches in a new and delightful
vein. These quotations are not examples of Chesnutts pronouncements about the purpose of
fiction writing. It is clear that the quoted statements were not made by Chesnutt, but rather by
others who had read his work. They are examples of the praise Chesnutt received.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In line 5, the author indicates that Chesnutt earned immediate accolades
for his workthat is, he earned praise for his work right away. The author goes on to state that
Chesnutt earned praise for creating fresh, vivid, dramatic sketches in a new and delightful
vein. These quotations are not examples of the type of language that appears in Chesnutts
stories. It is clear that the quoted statements were not spoken or written by Chesnutt, but rather
were made by others who had read his work. They are examples of the praise Chesnutt received.

Choice (D) is incorrect. In line 5, the author indicates that Chesnutt, a nineteenth-century writer,
earned immediate accolades for his workthat is, he earned praise for his work right away. The
author goes on to state that Chesnutt earned praise for creating fresh, vivid, dramatic sketches
in a new and delightful vein. These quotations are not examples of the shared language of
nineteenth-century short-story writers. It is clear that the statements were made by people who
had read Chesnutts work; there is no indication that these people were also writers or that
Chesnutt would have phrased things the same way they did.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In line 5, the author indicates that Chesnutt, a nineteenth-century writer,
earned immediate accolades for his workthat is, he earned praise for his work right away. The
author goes on to state that Chesnutt earned praise for creating fresh, vivid, dramatic sketches
in a new and delightful vein. These quotations are not examples of the unintelligible jargon, or
impossible to understand language, of modern-day literary critics. It is clear that the statements
were made by people who were living at the same time as Chesnutt, not by modern critics. The
quotes are examples of the immediate praise Chesnutts work receivedin the 1800s.

Critical Reading Question 12

Choice (D) is correct. The description in these lines employs a simile: Chesnutts writing
portrayed human loss and torment . . . with a wit like an ax cutting into a tree in the backwoods of
the North Carolina he knew so well. Because an ax penetrates a tree trunk with considerable
force, this figure of speech suggests that many of Chesnutts stories are both forceful and
penetrating in their insights.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In lines 9-12 the author states that Chesnutts writing portrayed human
loss and torment . . . with a wit like an ax cutting into a tree in the backwoods of the North
Carolina he knew so well. Bret Harte is mentioned earlier in the passage, but these lines are
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

focused specifically on Chesnutts portrayal of human emotions; the author is not comparing
Chesnutt to Harte or suggesting that Chesnutts stories are more realistic than Hartes.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In lines 9-12 the author states that Chesnutts writing portrayed human
loss and torment . . . with a wit like an ax cutting into a tree in the backwoods of the North
Carolina he knew so well. Although these lines refer to Chesnutts home (North Carolina), the
description does not suggest that many of Chesnutts stories evoke a warm and sentimental
response. The author is not indicating that Chesnutt wrote sentimental stories about his home;
rather, he or she is describing Chesnutts ability to portray loss and tormenthuman
experiences that are neither warm nor sentimental.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In lines 9-12 the author states that Chesnutts writing portrayed human
loss and torment . . . with a wit like an ax cutting into a tree in the backwoods of the North
Carolina he knew so well. Earlier in the passage the author indicates that Chesnutt was one of
the first African American writers; however, nowhere in the passage does the author indicate that
Chesnutt influenced other writers. The description in lines 9-12 does not suggest that Chesnutt
influenced the writings of other African American authors.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In lines 9-12 the author states that Chesnutts writing portrayed human
loss and torment . . . with a wit like an ax cutting into a tree in the backwoods of the North
Carolina he knew so well. Although the author mentions the North Carolina wilderness, he or she
only does so in order to make the comparison between Chesnutts insights and an ax cutting into
a tree more colorful. Chesnutts descriptions of things may have been vivid, but there is no
indication that he actually wrote about North Carolina or life in the North Carolina wilderness in
his stories.

Critical Reading Question 13

Choice (A) is correct. The statement in lines 5-7 of Passage 1 summarizes the view that that the
body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. The author of Passage 2 indicates
that advances in molecular biology and neuroscience tell us that every process that is used in
the development of the body is also used in the development of the brain and that The initial
structure of the mind . . . is a product of our genes. The author of Passage 2, then, would most
likely agree that the view described in Passage 1 has been undermined by recent discoveries in
molecular biology. He or she believes in the evidence indicating that our brains are just a bunch
of molecules, grown in all the usual ways.

Choice (B) is incorrect. The statement in lines 5-7 of Passage 1 summarizes the view that that
the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. The author of Passage 2
indicates that advances in molecular biology and neuroscience tell us that every process that is
used in the development of the body is also used in the development of the brain and that The
initial structure of the mind . . . is a product of our genes. The author of Passage 2, then, would
not agree that the view described in Passage 1 has been strengthened by modern ideas about
humans place in the universe. The author of Passage 2 would say that the view has been
weakened in the recent past, not that it has been strengthened at all.

Choice (C) is incorrect. The statement in lines 5-7 of Passage 1 summarizes the view that that
the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. The author of Passage 2
indicates that advances in molecular biology and neuroscience tell us that every process that is
used in the development of the body is also used in the development of the brain and that The
initial structure of the mind . . . is a product of our genes. The author of Passage 2, then,
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
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probably would not agree that the view described in Passage 1 is supported by cognitive
neuroscientists; indeed, he or she suggests that advances in . . . neuroscience have contributed
to an opposing view.

Choice (D) is incorrect. The statement in lines 5-7 of Passage 1 summarizes the view that that
the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. The author of Passage 2
indicates that advances in molecular biology and neuroscience tell us that every process that is
used in the development of the body is also used in the development of the brain and that The
initial structure of the mind . . . is a product of our genes. There is no reason to believe the author
of Passage 2 would agree that the view described in Passage 1 is promoted by contemporary
philosophers; this author makes no mention of contemporary philosophers.

Choice (E) is incorrect. The statement in lines 5-7 of Passage 1 summarizes the view that that
the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. The author of Passage 2
indicates that advances in molecular biology and neuroscience tell us that every process that is
used in the development of the body is also used in the development of the brain and that The
initial structure of the mind . . . is a product of our genes. The author of Passage 2 probably
would not agree that the view described in Passage 1 is consistent with the findings of
nineteenth-century chemists; he or she points out that John Dalton and the nineteenth-century
chemists found that our bodies are, like all other matter, made up of atoms.

Critical Reading Question 14

Choice (E) is correct. In the third paragraph of Passage 1, when discussing mind-body dualism,
the author explains that Descartes may have been uncertain and ambivalent about a problem
that has chronically plagued human beings into precisely the same state of uncertainty and
ambivalence. In lines 30-31, he or she adds, Very human and very understandable. The tone of
this comment is best described as sympathetic, or understanding. The author is indicating that
because many other people throughout time have had mixed feelings concerning an issue, it is
easy to understand why Descartes had mixed feelings concerning the same issue.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In the third paragraph of Passage 1, when discussing mind-body
dualism, the author explains that Descartes may have been uncertain and ambivalent about a
problem that has chronically plagued human beings into precisely the same state of uncertainty
and ambivalence. In lines 30-31, he or she adds, Very human and very understandable. The
tone of this comment is not sarcastic. Rather than ridiculing or scorning Descartes for having
mixed feelings concerning an issue, the author indicates that it is easy to understand why
Descartes felt as he didafter all, many other people throughout time have had mixed feelings
concerning the same issue.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In the third paragraph of Passage 1, when discussing mind-body
dualism, the author explains that Descartes may have been uncertain and ambivalent about a
problem that has chronically plagued human beings into precisely the same state of uncertainty
and ambivalence. In lines 30-31, he or she adds, Very human and very understandable. The
tone of this comment is not apologetic; the author does not regretfully acknowledge that
Descartes was at fault in any way. Instead, he or she acknowledges that it is easy to understand
why Descartes had mixed feelings concerning an issueafter all, many other people throughout
time have had mixed feelings concerning the same issue.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In the third paragraph of Passage 1, when discussing mind-body
dualism, the author explains that Descartes may have been uncertain and ambivalent about a
problem that has chronically plagued human beings into precisely the same state of uncertainty
and ambivalence. In lines 30-31, he or she adds, Very human and very understandable. The
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

tone of this comment is not impartial, or unbiased; indeed, the author is clearly sympathizing with
Descartes. He or she is indicating that it is easy to understand why Descartes had mixed feelings
concerning an issueafter all, many other people throughout time have had mixed feelings
concerning the same issue.

Choice (D) is incorrect. In the third paragraph of Passage 1, when discussing mind-body
dualism, the author explains that Descartes may have been uncertain and ambivalent about a
problem that has chronically plagued human beings into precisely the same state of uncertainty
and ambivalence. In lines 30-31, he or she adds, Very human and very understandable. The
tone of this comment is not admiring. Rather than expressing admiration for Descartes in these
lines, the author simply sympathizes with him, explaining that it is easy to understand why
Descartes had mixed feelings concerning an issueafter all, many other people throughout time
have had mixed feelings concerning the same issue.

Critical Reading Question 15

Choice (D) is correct. In lines 33-35, the author of Passage 1 refers to the awe and wonder we
[humans] deservedly have for our own minds; he or she connects this reverence for our own
minds with Descartes theory of mind-body dualism. The author of Passage 2, however,
considers this attitude outdated and completely at odds with everything that scientists have
learned in molecular biology over the past decade. This author holds the view that the human
mind and body have developed in the same manner, but acknowledges that this view is
anathema to our deeply held feelings that our minds are special, somehow separate from the
material world. Therefore, it is most likely that the author of Passage 2 would consider the
attitude expressed in Passage 1 an example of humans tendency to overemphasize their
distinctiveness, or specialness.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In lines 33-35, the author of Passage 1 refers to the awe and wonder we
[humans] deservedly have for our own minds; he or she connects this reverence for our own
minds with Descartes theory of mind-body dualism. The author of Passage 2, however,
considers this attitude outdated and completely at odds with everything that scientists have
learned in molecular biology over the past decade. This author holds the view that the human
mind and body have developed in the same manner, but acknowledges that this view is
anathema to our deeply held feelings that our minds are special, somehow separate from the
material world. Although the author of Passage 2 does maintain that scientific advances have
undercut the theory of mind-body dualism, he or she does not really accuse people of disputing
scientific advances. Rather, the author focuses on humans tendency to hold fast to the notion
that the human mind is special.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In lines 33-35, the author of Passage 1 refers to the awe and wonder we
[humans] deservedly have for our own minds; he or she connects this reverence for our own
minds with Descartes theory of mind-body dualism. The author of Passage 2, however,
considers this attitude outdated and completely at odds with everything that scientists have
learned in molecular biology over the past decade. This author holds the view that the human
mind and body have developed in the same manner, but acknowledges that this view is
anathema to our deeply held feelings that our minds are special, somehow separate from the
material world. The author of Passage 2 probably would not consider the attitude expressed in
Passage 1 evidence of peoples tendency to defend their own skepticism; this author does not
present people as being generally skeptical, or doubtful. Rather, he or she is indicating that
people tend to be overly certain that the human mind is special.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In lines 33-35, the author of Passage 1 refers to the awe and wonder we
[humans] deservedly have for our own minds; he or she connects this reverence for our own
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

minds with Descartes theory of mind-body dualism. The author of Passage 2, however,
considers this attitude outdated and completely at odds with everything that scientists have
learned in molecular biology over the past decade. This author holds the view that the human
mind and body have developed in the same manner, but acknowledges that this view is
anathema to our deeply held feelings that our minds are special, somehow separate from the
material world. The author of Passage 2 would not consider the attitude expressed in Passage 1
evidence of peoples tendency to exaggerate the role of the body; on the contrary, he or she
would likely consider it evidence of peoples tendency to exaggerate the role of the mind.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In lines 33-35, the author of Passage 1 refers to the awe and wonder we
[humans] deservedly have for our own minds; he or she connects this reverence for our own
minds with Descartes theory of mind-body dualism. The author of Passage 2, however,
considers this attitude outdated and completely at odds with everything that scientists have
learned in molecular biology over the past decade. This author holds the view that the human
mind and body have developed in the same manner, but acknowledges that this view is
anathema to our deeply held feelings that our minds are special, somehow separate from the
material world. The author of Passage 2 probably would not consider the attitude expressed in
Passage 1 evidence of peoples tendency to resist identifying with other people; indeed, the
people who view the human mind with awe and wonder presumably believe that all human beings
possess special minds.

Critical Reading Question 16

Choice (E) is correct. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states, There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. He or she then lists the ways the human mind is special, introducing
each reason with the word in. The author indicates that the human mind is special in its
immense capacity to feel pleasure and pain and to be aware of the pain and pleasure of others; in
its ability to love and pardon; in its prodigious memory; in its ability to symbolize and narrate; in its
gift of language with syntax; in its power to understand the universe and create new universes; in
the speed and ease with which it processes and integrates disparate information so that problems
can be solved. The author of Passage 1 uses this list, with the repeated word in, to convey the
unique capabilities of the human mindthat is, the special things that only the human mind can
do.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states, There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. He or she then lists the ways the human mind is special, introducing
each reason with the word in. The author is not conveying the skills that human beings gradually
acquire; he or she gives no indication that the things listed are learned over time. Rather, the
author seems to be conveying the innate, or inborn, abilities of the human mind. The author uses
the list, with the repeated word in, to convey unique capabilities of the human mindthat is, the
special things that only the human mind can do.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states, There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. He or she then lists the ways the human mind is special, introducing
each reason with the word in. The author is not conveying distinctions between mind and body;
he or she is not explaining how the mind is different from the body, but rather seems to be
indicating that the human mind is different from other animals minds. The author uses the list,
with the repeated word in, to convey the unique capabilities of the human mindthat is, the
special things that only the human mind can do.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states, There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. He or she then lists the ways the human mind is special, introducing
each reason with the word in. The author is not conveying that humans are particularly self-
absorbed; indeed, the author seems to agree with the notion that the human mind is special and
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

unique. He or she uses the list, with the repeated word in, to convey the unique capabilities that
do make the human mind special, not to suggest that humans are self-absorbed.

Choice (D) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states, There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. He or she then lists the ways the human mind is special, introducing
each reason with the word in. The author is not conveying the range of emotions people
experience. The author lists attributes, not emotionsfor example, the ability to use language
with syntax is not an emotion. He or she uses the list, with the repeated word in, to convey the
unique capabilities of the human mindthat is, the special things that only the human mind can
do.

Critical Reading Question 17

Choice (A) is correct. In line 49, the author of Passage 2 refers to the idea that our minds float
free of our genomes; in other words, the idea that the human mind and the human body
developed separately and differently. The author of Passage 2 takes issue with this idea, calling it
outdated and disproven by modern science. This idea is most similar to Descartes dualism of
the mind and the body, mentioned in line 15 of Passage 1. Descartes theory says that the body
and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. Both the idea in line 49 (Passage 2) and
the idea in line 15 (Passage 1) indicate that the mind and body are fundamentally different and
separate.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In line 49, the author of Passage 2 refers to the idea that our minds float
free of our genomes; in other words, the idea that the human mind and the human body
developed separately and differently. This idea is not most similar to the idea expressed in lines
17-18 of Passage 1. In these lines, the author of Passage 1 refers to Descartes suggestion that
the mind and the body interacted in some way. The idea expressed in Passage 2 has to do with
the development of the human mind and the human body; it does not have to do with interactions
between the mind and body after they have developed.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In line 49, the author of Passage 2 refers to the idea that our minds float
free of our genomes; in other words, the idea that the human mind and the human body
developed separately and differently. This idea is not most similar to the idea expressed in line 36
of Passage 1. In that line, the author of Passage 1 refers to the human minds capacity to feel
pleasure and pain. The idea expressed in Passage 2 has to do with the development of the
human mind and the human body; it does not address specific abilities of the human mind (such
as the ability to experience emotions).

Choice (D) is incorrect. In line 49, the author of Passage 2 refers to the idea that our minds float
free of our genomes; in other words, the idea that the human mind and the human body
developed separately and differently. This idea is not most similar to the idea expressed in lines
38-39 of Passage 1. In these lines, the author of Passage 1 refers to the human minds ability to
symbolize and narrate. The idea expressed in Passage 2 has to do with the development of the
human mind and human body; it does not address specific abilities of the human mind (such as
the ability to narrate events or experiences).

Choice (E) is incorrect. In line 49, the author of Passage 2 refers to the idea that our minds float
free of our genomes; in other words, the idea that the human mind and the human body
developed separately and differently. This idea is not most similar to the idea expressed in line 39
of Passage 1. In this line, the author of Passage 1 refers to the minds gift of language with
syntax. The idea expressed in Passage 2 has to do with the development of the human mind
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

and human body; it does not address specific abilities of the human mind (such as the ability to
use a sophisticated language system).

Critical Reading Question 18

Choice (C) is correct. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states that There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. In lines 58-59, the author of Passage 2 refers to humans deeply held
feelings that our minds are special. Both authors use the word special to mean exceptional, or
excellent and rare; theyre referring to the view that the human mind is something excellent and
distinctive.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states that There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. In lines 58-59, the author of Passage 2 refers to humans deeply held
feelings that our minds are special. In these lines, the word special does not mean primary, or
of first rank or importance. Both authors are referring to the view that the human mind is
excellent, but neither author indicates that the mind is most importantthat it is more important
than any other aspect of a human. In lines 35 and 59, the word special means exceptional, not
primary.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states that There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. In lines 58-59, the author of Passage 2 refers to humans deeply held
feelings that our minds are special. In these lines, the word special does not mean additional,
or added. Indeed, it does not make much sense to say that people believe that the human mind
is added or that our minds are added. In lines 35 and 59, the word special means
exceptional, or excellent, not additional.

Choice (D) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states that There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. In lines 58-59, the author of Passage 2 refers to humans deeply held
feelings that our minds are special. In these lines, the word special does not mean definite, or
having distinct or certain limits. Both authors are referring to the view that the human mind is
excellent and rare, not indicating that the human mind has certain limits.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In line 35, the author of Passage 1 states that There is no doubt that the
human mind is special. In lines 58-59, the author of Passage 2 refers to humans deeply held
feelings that our minds are special. In these lines, the word special does not mean featured,
or displayed or presented as a special attraction. Both authors are referring to the view that the
human mind is excellent and rare, but neither author suggests that the mind is somehow
displayed or held up as a kind of attraction. In lines 35 and 59, the word special means
exceptional, not featured.

Critical Reading Question 19

Choice (E) is correct. The author of Passage 2 explains that although it goes against our deeply
held feelings that our minds are special, science has arrived at the idea that the brain might be
assembled in much the same way as the rest of the body. The author asserts in the second
paragraph that this idea is a continuation, perhaps the culmination, of a growing up for the
human species that for too long has overestimated its own centrality in the universe. The author
suggests that the human species is growing up in that, as scientific developments occur, it is
coming to the realization that humans do not occupy a privileged place in naturemuch as a
growing and maturing child comes to realize that he or she is not the center of the universe.

Choice (A) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 explains that although it goes against our
deeply held feelings that our minds are special, science has arrived at the idea that the brain
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

might be assembled in much the same way as the rest of the body. The author asserts in the
second paragraph that this idea is a continuation, perhaps the culmination, of a growing up for
the human species that for too long has overestimated its own centrality in the universe. The
author refers to Copernicus theories about Earths position in the universe, but he or she
presents the acceptance of those theories as just one stage in humans realization that they are
not the center of the universe. The phrase growing up does not refer only to the acceptance of
Copernicus theories but rather to the entire process, sparked by multiple scientific developments,
of humans recognizing that they do not occupy a privileged place in nature.

Choice (B) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 explains that although it goes against our
deeply held feelings that our minds are special, science has arrived at the idea that the brain
might be assembled in much the same way as the rest of the body. The author asserts in the
second paragraph that this idea is a continuation, perhaps the culmination, of a growing up for
the human species that for too long has overestimated its own centrality in the universe. The
author does suggest that we have learned more about the brain, but he or she is not indicating
that the human species is growing up in that it has an increasing understanding of and respect for
the power of the human mind. Rather, the author is indicating that the human species is realizing
that humans do not occupy a privileged place in naturethat humans are not the center of the
universe.

Choice (C) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 explains that although it goes against our
deeply held feelings that our minds are special, science has arrived at the idea that the brain
might be assembled in much the same way as the rest of the body. The author asserts in the
second paragraph that this idea is a continuation, perhaps the culmination, of a growing up for
the human species that for too long has overestimated its own centrality in the universe. The
phrase growing up does not refer to a commitment in all scientific branches to solving problems
related to human survival; indeed, the author of Passage 2 does not discuss human survival.
Rather, the phrase indicates that the human species is realizing that humans do not occupy a
privileged place in naturethat humans are not the center of the universe.

Choice (D) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 explains that although it goes against our
deeply held feelings that our minds are special, science has arrived at the idea that the brain
might be assembled in much the same way as the rest of the body. The author asserts in the
second paragraph that this idea is a continuation, perhaps the culmination, of a growing up for
the human species that for too long has overestimated its own centrality in the universe. The
phrase growing up does not refer to an endorsement of the view that our brains are not a
product of carbon, hydrogen, and other elements; in fact, the author indicates that it is the
endorsement of the view that the human brain is made up of a bunch of molecules that might be
the culmination of humans growth. The phrase indicates that the human species is realizing that
humans do not occupy a privileged place in naturethat humans are not the center of the
universe.

Critical Reading Question 20

Choice (B) is correct. In lines 64-72, the author of Passage 2 lists various stages in the growing
up process that has led the human species away from overestimat[ing] its own centrality in the
universe: Copernicus showed us that our planet is not at the center of the universe. William
Harvey showed that our heart is a mechanical pump. John Dalton and the nineteenth-century
chemists showed that our bodies are, like all other matter, made up of atoms. Watson and Crick
showed us how genes emerge from chains of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and
phosphorus. In the 1990s, the Decade of the Brain, cognitive neuroscientists showed that our
minds are the product of our brains. The author of Passage 2 lists all of the things scientists have
showed us in order to make a point about the place of human beings in the universe; he or she
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

indicates that these scientific developments have led humans to accept that we are not at the
center of the universe.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In lines 64-72, the author of Passage 2 lists various stages in the growing
up process that has led the human species away from overestimat[ing] its own centrality in the
universe. He or she lists things scientists have showed us: that our planet is not at the center
of the universe, that our heart is a mechanical pump, that our bodies are . . . made up of
atoms, and so on. Although the list includes Watson and Crick, who showed us how genes
emerge from chains of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorous, the author is not
making a point about the role of genes in shaping human development. The discovery concerning
genes is just one of the scientific developments the author asserts has led humans to accept that
we are not at the center of the universe; the authors main point is about the place of human
beings in the universe.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In lines 64-72, the author of Passage 2 lists various stages in the growing
up process that has led the human species away from overestimat[ing] its own centrality in the
universe. He or she lists things scientists have showed us: that our planet is not at the center
of the universe, that our heart is a mechanical pump, that our bodies are . . . made up of
atoms, and so on. Although twentieth-century scientists and their achievements are included in
this list, the author is not making a point about the remarkable achievements of twentieth-century
scientists; indeed, the list also includes scientific developments that took place well before the
twentieth century. The authors main point is about the place of human beings in the universe; he
or she asserts that these scientific developments have led humans to accept that we are not at
the center of the universe.

Choice (D) is incorrect. In lines 64-72, the author of Passage 2 lists various stages in the growing
up process that has led the human species away from overestimat[ing] its own centrality in the
universe. He or she lists things scientists have showed us: that our planet is not at the center
of the universe, that our heart is a mechanical pump, that our bodies are . . . made up of
atoms, and so on. Although relatively recent scientific findings are mentioned, the author is not
making a point about the controversial nature of recent scientific findings; indeed, most of the
findings mentioned are not recent, and the author gives no indication that the findings are
controversial. The authors main point is about the place of human beings in the universe; he or
she asserts that these scientific developments have led humans to accept that we are not at the
center of the universe.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In lines 64-72, the author of Passage 2 lists various stages in the growing
up process that has led the human species away from overestimat[ing] its own centrality in the
universe. He or she lists things scientists have showed us: that our planet is not at the center
of the universe, that our heart is a mechanical pump, that our bodies are . . . made up of
atoms, and so on. Although the human mind is mentioned, the author is not making a point about
the fundamental mystery of the human mind; indeed, many of the scientific developments listed
are unrelated to the mystery of the mind. The authors main point is about the place of human
beings in the universe; he or she asserts that these scientific developments have led humans to
accept that we are not at the center of the universe.

Critical Reading Question 21

Choice (D) is correct. In this part of Passage 2, the author is discussing findings showing that the
mechanisms that build our brains are just a special case of the mechanisms that build the rest of
our bodies. He or she acknowledges that the concept may seem unappealing, stating that some
might see the idea that our brains are just a bunch of molecules . . . as a bleak renunciation of all
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

that is special about humanity. The phrase just a bunch of molecules emphasizes that the
concept is unappealing because it seems to reduce the special human mind to something very
basic and ordinary.

Choice (A) is incorrect. In this part of Passage 2, the author is discussing findings showing that
the mechanisms that build our brains are just a special case of the mechanisms that build the rest
of our bodies. He or she acknowledges that the concept may seem unappealing, stating that
some might see the idea that our brains are just a bunch of molecules . . . as a bleak
renunciation of all that is special about humanity. The author uses the phrase just a bunch of
molecules to acknowledge that the emerging concept of the brain seems to reduce the human
mind to something very basic and ordinary and therefore is unappealing to those who firmly
believe that the mind is special. The author is not undermining the view that the mind is special,
but rather explaining how the new concept of the brain must seem to people who hold that view.

Choice (B) is incorrect. In this part of Passage 2, the author is discussing findings showing that
the mechanisms that build our brains are just a special case of the mechanisms that build the rest
of our bodies. He or she acknowledges that the concept may seem unappealing, stating that
some might see the idea that our brains are just a bunch of molecules . . . as a bleak
renunciation of all that is special about humanity. The author is not criticizing the view that the
human brain is just a bunch of molecules; in fact, the author agrees with this viewpoint, calling it
an exciting modern take on an old idea, that there is a bond that unifies all living things.

Choice (C) is incorrect. In this part of Passage 2, the author is discussing findings showing that
the mechanisms that build our brains are just a special case of the mechanisms that build the rest
of our bodies. He or she acknowledges that the concept may seem unappealing, stating that
some might see the idea that our brains are just a bunch of molecules . . . as a bleak
renunciation of all that is special about humanity. The author is not emphasizing an overly
modest attitude; the author agrees with the view that the human brain is just a bunch of
molecules and does not suggest that scientists are being modest in describing the mind as such.

Choice (E) is incorrect. In this part of Passage 2, the author is discussing findings showing that
the mechanisms that build our brains are just a special case of the mechanisms that build the rest
of our bodies. He or she acknowledges that the concept may seem unappealing, stating that
some might see the idea that our brains are just a bunch of molecules . . . as a bleak
renunciation of all that is special about humanity. The author is not minimizing the differences
between old and new perspectives. Rather, he or she is emphasizing one difference: whereas the
old perspective holds that the human mind is special and unique, the new perspective seems to
reduce the mind to something very basic and ordinaryto nothing more than molecules.

Critical Reading Question 22

Choice (C) is correct. The author of Passage 2 calls the view that our brains are just a bunch of
molecules an exciting modern take on an old idea, that there is a bond that unifies all living
things. In this context, the term take most nearly means outlook. The author is indicating that
scientific findings have caused an old viewpoint to be looked at in another wayin other words,
people now have a new outlook.

Choice (A) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 calls the view that our brains are just a bunch of
molecules an exciting modern take on an old idea, that there is a bond that unifies all living
things. In this context, the term take does not mean scene, or episode (as in a television show
or movie). The author is indicating that the view of the brain represents a new outlook, not that it
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

is somehow a scene. Indeed, it does not make much sense to say that the new view is a modern
scene on an old idea.

Choice (B) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 calls the view that our brains are just a bunch of
molecules an exciting modern take on an old idea, that there is a bond that unifies all living
things. In this context, the term take does not mean share, or portion belonging to one. The
author is indicating that the view of the brain represents a new outlook, not that it is a portion of
something that is owed to someone. Indeed, it does not make much sense to say that the new
view is a modern share on an old idea.

Choice (D) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 calls the view that our brains are just a bunch of
molecules an exciting modern take on an old idea, that there is a bond that unifies all living
things. In this context, the term take does not mean reaction. The author is indicating that the
view of the brain represents a new outlook, but he or she does not indicate that it is a direct
response to the old idea that all living things are connected. Further, one would not say that a
view is a modern reaction on an old idea.

Choice (E) is incorrect. The author of Passage 2 calls the view that our brains are just a bunch of
molecules an exciting modern take on an old idea, that there is a bond that unifies all living
things. As it is used in line 80, the term take does not mean number, or, in this context, the
quantity of something taken at one time. It does not make sense to say that a new view of the
brain is a modern number on an old idea.

Critical Reading Question 23

Choice (B) is correct. The author of Passage 1 discusses the mind-body dualism theory
associated with Descartes, mentioning that mainstream science and philosophy no longer
believe that the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. This author
acknowledges that Descartes view appeals to the awe and wonder we deservedly have for our
own minds, but in the last line he or she cautions that awe and wonder at the human mind are
compatible with other views of the relation between the body and the mind and do not make
Descartes views any more correct. The author of Passage 2 praises the view that has replaced
mind-body dualism, asserting that the idea that our brains are just a bunch of molecules is
actually an exciting modern take on an old idea, that there is a bond that unifies all living things.
He or she goes on to conclude with a stirring, or rousing and inspiring, statement about unity
among living things: Through advances in molecular biology and neuroscience, we can now
understand better than ever just how deeply we share our biological make-up . . . with all the
creatures with which we share our planet. The final sentence of Passage 1 is cautionary, while
the final sentence of Passage 2 is stirring.

Choice (A) is incorrect. The author of Passage 1 discusses the mind-body dualism theory
associated with Descartes, mentioning that mainstream science and philosophy no longer
believe that the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. This author
acknowledges that Descartes view appeals to the awe and wonder we deservedly have for our
own minds, but in the last line he or she cautions that awe and wonder at the human mind are
compatible with other views of the relation between the body and the mind and do not make
Descartes views any more correct. The final sentence of Passage 1 is not perplexed; the author
does not seem confused about anything regarding views of the human mind and body. Further,
the final sentence of Passage 2 is not resigned, or accepting of defeat. Rather, the final sentence
is stirring, or inspiring. After praising the view that has replaced mind-body dualism and asserting
that it verifies the bond that unifies all living things, the author of Passage 2 concludes with an
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

inspiring statement about how deeply we share our biological make-up . . . with all the creatures
with which we share our planet.

Choice (C) is incorrect. The author of Passage 1 discusses the mind-body dualism theory
associated with Descartes, mentioning that mainstream science and philosophy no longer
believe that the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. This author
acknowledges that Descartes view appeals to the awe and wonder we deservedly have for our
own minds, but in the last line he or she cautions that awe and wonder at the human mind are
compatible with other views of the relation between the body and the mind and do not make
Descartes views any more correct. The final sentence of Passage 1 is not ironic, or humorously
sarcastic; the author seems to be sincere, not sarcastic. Further, the final sentence of Passage 2
is stirring, or inspiring, not dismissive. After praising the view that has replaced mind-body
dualism and asserting that it verifies the bond that unifies all living things, the author of Passage
2 concludes with an inspiring statement about how deeply we share our biological make-up . . .
with all the creatures with which we share our planet.

Choice (D) is incorrect. The author of Passage 1 discusses the mind-body dualism theory
associated with Descartes, mentioning that mainstream science and philosophy no longer
believe that the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. This author
acknowledges that Descartes view appeals to the awe and wonder we deservedly have for our
own minds, but in the last line he or she cautions that awe and wonder at the human mind are
compatible with other views of the relation between the body and the mind and do not make
Descartes views any more correct. The final sentence of Passage 1 is not reverent, or
worshipful; rather, it is cautionary, warning people not to believe incorrect views. Further, the final
sentence of Passage 2 is not dispassionate, or unaffected by strong feeling; rather, it is stirring, or
inspiring. After praising the view that has replaced mind-body dualism and asserting that it verifies
the bond that unifies all living things, the author of Passage 2 concludes with an inspiring
statement about how deeply we share our biological make-up . . . with all the creatures with
which we share our planet.

Choice (E) is incorrect. The author of Passage 1 discusses the mind-body dualism theory
associated with Descartes, mentioning that mainstream science and philosophy no longer
believe that the body and its parts are physical matter while the mind is not. This author
acknowledges that Descartes view appeals to the awe and wonder we deservedly have for our
own minds, but in the last line he or she cautions that awe and wonder at the human mind are
compatible with other views of the relation between the body and the mind and do not make
Descartes views any more correct. The final sentence of Passage 1 is not indignant, or angry
over something unjust or unworthy; although the author cautions people not to believe incorrect
views, he or she does not seem to be angry about anything. Further, the final sentence of
Passage 2 is stirring, or inspiring, not surprised. After praising the view that has replaced mind-
body dualism and asserting that it verifies the bond that unifies all living things, the author of
Passage 2 concludes with an inspiring statement about how deeply we share our biological
make-up . . . with all the creatures with which we share our planet.

Critical Reading Question 24

Choice (A) is correct. Both passages suggest that the notion that the mind and body are separate
is appealing but problematic. The author of Passage 1 states that the view that most human
beings today would regard as their own holds that the body and its parts are physical matter
while the mind is not. The author suggests that this view is appealing given the awe and wonder
we . . . have for our own minds. However, the author also suggests that this view is problematic:
This view is no longer mainstream in science or philosophy and is not correct. Likewise, the
author of Passage 2 acknowledges that humans have deeply held feelings that our minds are
special, somehow separate from the material world, but also asserts that this appealing notion is
2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved

incorrect: such beliefs are completely at odds with everything that scientists have learned in
molecular biology over the past decade.

Choice (B) is incorrect. Neither the author of Passage 1 nor the author of Passage 2 considers
the notion of mind-body dualism novel, or new. Indeed, the author of Passage 1 indicates that this
theory is associated with Descartes, a seventeenth-century philosopher, and the author of
Passage 2 suggests that humans have a long history of viewing the human brain as special,
somehow separate from the material world. Further, both authors do more than call mind-body
dualism impractical; both authors indicate that the notion is incorrect.

Choice (C) is incorrect. Both passages suggest that the notion that the mind and body are
separate is appealing, which suggests that some people might find the notion reassuring; some
might be comforted by thinking of the human mind as something special that deserves awe and
wonder. However, neither the author of Passage 1 nor the author of Passage 2 considers the
notion of mind-body dualism rational, or suggests that the notion is based on reason. In fact, the
author of Passage 2 explicitly states that the notion is completely at odds with everything that
scientists have learned in molecular biology over the past decade.

Choice (D) is incorrect. Neither the author of Passage 1 nor the author of Passage 2 considers
the notion of mind-body dualism innovative, or original and imaginative. Indeed, the author of
Passage 1 indicates that this theory is associated with Descartes, a seventeenth-century
philosopher, and the author of Passage 2 suggests that humans have a long history of viewing
the human brain as special, somehow separate from the material world. Further, although both
authors indicate that scientific developments have shown the theory is incorrect, neither author
suggests that the theory is controversial among the general public or even among scientists.

Choice (E) is incorrect. Neither the author of Passage 1 nor the author of Passage 2 considers
the notion of mind-body dualism demeaning, or degrading; on the contrary, both acknowledge
that the theory is appealing because it supports the human tendency to view the human brain as
special and worthy of awe and wonder. Further, although both authors indicate that the theory
is now outdated, neither author suggests the theory was shortsighted, or lacking in foresight,
when it was developed.

2012 PSAT/NMSQT Answer Explanations
2012 The College Board. All Rights Reserved