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Free ACT® Practice Questions - Reading

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Reading Practice Questions

Question DetailShow Details

Passage A

[1] When I studied ancient history at this university many years ago, I had as a special subject “Greece in the Period of the Persian Wars.” [2] I collected fifteen or twenty volumes on my shelves and took it for granted that there, recorded in these volumes, I had all the facts relating to my subject. [3] Let us assume it was very nearly true that those volumes contained all the facts about it that were then known, or could be known. [4] It never occurred to me to inquire by what accident or process of attrition that minute selection of facts, out of all the myriad facts that must have once been known to somebody, had survived to become the facts of history. [5] I suspect that even today one of the fascinations of ancient and medieval history is that it gives us the illusion of having all the facts at our disposal within a manageable compass: the nagging distinction between the facts of history and other facts about the past vanishes because the few known facts are all facts of history.

[6] Today, historians are more skeptical, of course, and more apt to acknowledge that our picture of Greece in the fifth century BCE is defective, not because so many details have been accidentally lost, but because it is, by and large, the picture formed by a tiny group of people in the city of Athens. [7] We know a lot about what fifth-century Greece looked like to an Athenian citizen, but hardly anything about what it looked like to a Spartan, a Corinthian, or a Theban. [8] In the same way, when I read in a modern history of the Middle Ages that the people of the Middle Ages were deeply concerned with religion, I wonder how we know this and whether it is true. [9] What we know as the facts of medieval history have almost all been selected for us by generations of chroniclers who were professionally occupied in the theory and practice of religion and who therefore thought it supremely important, and recorded everything related to it and not much else. [10] The picture of the Russian peasant as devoutly religious was destroyed by the revolution of 1917. [11] The picture of medieval man as devoutly religious, whether true or not, is indestructible, because nearly all the known facts about him were preselected for us by people who believed it, and a mass of other facts, in which we might have found evidence to the contrary, has been lost beyond recall.

Question 1Show Details

As used in sentence 5 , the word nagging most nearly means

Question 2Show Details

According to Passage A, today our picture of ancient Greece is defective primarily because:

Question 3Show Details

In the second paragraph of Passage A, the author most likely refers to "generations of chroniclers" (sentence 9) in order to: