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Kristin Fracchia

ACT Challenge Question 13: Reading Inferences – Explanation

Magoosh ACT Challenge Question

 

Earlier in the week, we shared with you the following challenge question on an ACT Reading passage.
 

ACT Challenge Question 13

It can reasonably be inferred from Passage B that the author believes science fiction writers like himself are:

  1. blind to the technological limitations of space travel.
  2. unable predict the future, no matter how much they want to.
  3. too reliant on obtaining spiritual understanding for the mysteries of the universe.
  4. more optimistic about future technological advances than other people.

(The passage this question is based on is here).

Give it a try if you missed it, then peek below for the answer and explanation!
 

Answer and Explanation

B. unable to predict the future, no matter how much they want to.

The key to successfully answering hard inference questions on the ACT is to remember you are not making grand leaps; you are just making the teeniest, tiniest baby step beyond the text. This can be hard to believe; after all, with a question stem that reads “it can reasonably be inferred,” it would be reasonable to think that you are supposed to be reading between the lines. But guess what? On the ACT, that’s a bad move. This is where good readers and good thinkers get into trouble. So don’t overthink it. Stick to the text.

Let’s go through each of the answer choices.

A. blind to the technological limitations of space travel.

This is one of those answer choices that on first glance seems fairly reasonable. But if you think about it, the words are a little off. The science fiction writers aren’t “blind” to the limitations of space travel; they simply don’t know what the future will hold. Furthermore, the passage doesn’t say that the limitations are “technological.” If anything, they seem to have more to do with the psyche of the people: “Who could have known…that we would attempt the journey, and succeed, and then stop?”

B. unable to predict the future, no matter how much they want to.

This is the correct answer, and a good example of applying the principle of only taking a baby step. The passage says that the science fiction writers are “shortsighted” prophets, which literally means that they can’t see what is going to happen in the future. But the excited fantasies of the author in the last paragraph implies that they would like to.

C. too reliant on obtaining spiritual understanding for the mysteries of the universe.

If this answer choice was tempting, it’s probably because of the word “prophet” in the last sentence, which is often associated with spirituality. But “prophet” is word the author is applying as a metaphorical description for the science fiction writers and their inability to predict the reality of the future. There’s no support for this particular answer choice in the passage.

D. more optimistic about future technological advances than other people.

This is another answer choice that might initially seem reasonable. The author is certainly optimistic about the future of space travel after the moon landing. But no comparison is made in the passage between the science fiction writers and other people, so this cannot be the correct answer.

Remember, on the ACT Reading, the answer must always be in the text!

See you next week for another ACT Challenge Question!

 

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About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's sites are full of awesome, free resources that can be found by students prepping for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agony and bliss of train running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.


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