The ACT Reading Test includes four passages: Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science. Even though these topics vary, you can expect to see some of the same type of questions pop up in each section. Check out these tips for improving your ACT Reading Score, then try your hand at a Natural Science- style passage and questions below! Happy quizzing!
Natural Science—“The Wonders of Blood”
Human cultures have long recognized that blood is essential to life. The Bible mentions blood more than 400 times, William Shakespeare close to 700. Yet to scientists who study blood, even the most extravagant blood lore pales in comparison to the biochemical, evolutionary and engineering marvels of the genuine article.
Our blood is the foundation of our very existence as multicellular animals, said Andrew Schafer, president of the American Society of Hematology. Blood is the one tissue that comes into contact with every other tissue of the body, and it is through blood that our disparate parts communicate, through blood that our organs cooperate. Without a circulatory system, there would be no internal civilization, no means of ensuring orderly devotion to the common cause that is us.
Our eight pints of blood circulate through the powerhouse lungs and heart duet maybe 60 times an hour, absorbing recently inhaled oxygen from the honeycombed fabric of the lungs and proceeding into the thickly muscled heart, which then shoots the enriched fluid outward. “It’s an enormous communications network,” Dr. Schafer said—the original cellphone system, if you will, 100 trillion users strong.
The main purpose of the author in writing the passage is most likely to:
a. compare and contrast the functions of the heart and lungs in the circulation of blood
b. illustrate the rich history of blood-themed literature
c. introduce the importance of blood circulation as a biological communication system
d. prove the need for further funding for the American Society of Hematology’s research
As it is used in the passage, the term “article” most nearly means:
In the context of the passage, what is the purpose of lines 1-2?
a. Explain the significance of blood in literature
b. Reveal the change in attitude toward blood over history
c. Describe people who acknowledged the importance of blood to the human body
d. Illustrate how pervasive the topic of blood is in human culture
Which of the following best summarizes the attitude of the author towards blood circulation in this passage?
a. Scientific detachment
b. Effusive amazement
c. Calculated expectation
d. Tepid indifference
Question 1 Answer
The author mentions the involvement of the heart and lungs in the circulation of blood, but does not compare and contrast their functions (Option A). The author uses the Bible and Shakespeare only to introduce her topic with an illustration of its widespread importance, but does not focus on literature throughout (Option B). Without mentioning anything about the status of the American Society of Hematology’s research funding, Option D cannot be correct. Option C is the best choice, because the passage does explore blood circulation as a means of communication within the body.
Question 2 Answer
In a long document, particularly legal documents, an article can mean a section or paragraph (Option D), and in a newspaper or magazine, a column can also be called an article (Option C). An article as a commodity (Option A) can refer to “an article of clothing” or “articles in a lost and found bin,” but substance (Option B) best fits the article in the passage.
Question 3 Answer
Option D is the best choice because the author mentions the Bible and Shakespeare as a specific example of her opening sentence: the Bible and Shakespeare’s plays are important reference points in human culture. The purpose is not just the inclusion of blood in those works (Option A), nor is the purpose to chart changes in the time that passed between those cultural works (Option B). Option C is a tempting choice, because references in the Bible and Shakespearean works might acknowledge the importance of blood, but Option C is incorrect because the author doesn’t include those allusions in order to describe the Bible or Shakespeare.
Question 4 Answer
While the author uses a scientific source in her essay, her use of humor and even connection to the reader (using words like “our”) show that the author is neither detached (Option A), nor indifferent (Option D). The author does not merely have an expectation about the circulation of blood (Option C), but is actually enthusiastic about the importance of blood. The author’s use of humor and references to items the reader will relate to (cellphones, literature) demonstrates effusiveness (enthusiasm), while the author’s description of the lungs and heart as a “powerhouse duet” conveys amazement, making Option B the best choice.