PSAT Reading Practice Test 2

Questions 1-9 refer to the following information.

The following passage is excerpted from E.C. Bentley, Trent's Last Case. First published in 1913, this novel tells the story of a detective who attempts to solve the murder of a wealthy financier.

Between what matters and what seems to matter,
how should the world we know judge wisely?
When the scheming, indomitable brain of Sigsbee
Manderson was scattered by a shot from an unknown
05hand, that world lost nothing worth a single tear. It
gained something memorable in a harsh reminder of
the vanity of such wealth as this dead man had piled
up—without making one loyal friend to mourn him,
without doing an act that could help his memory to
10the least honour. But when the news of his end came, it
seemed to those living in the great vortices of business
as if the earth, too, shuddered under a blow.
In all the lurid commercial history of his country
there had been no figure that had so imposed itself upon
15the mind of the trading world. He had a niche apart
in its temples. Financial giants, strong to direct and
augment the forces of capital, and taking an approved
toll in millions for their labour, had existed before; but
in the case of Manderson there had been this singularity,
20that a pale halo of piratical romance, a thing especially
dear to the hearts of his countrymen, had remained
incongruously about his head through the years when
he stood in every eye as the unquestioned guardian of
stability, the stamper-out of manipulated crises, the foe
25of the raiding chieftains that infest the borders of Wall
The fortune left by his grandfather, who had been
one of those chieftains on the smaller scale of his day,
had descended to him with accretion through his father,
30who during a long life had quietly continued to lend
money and never had margined a stock. Manderson,
who had at no time known what it was to be without
large sums to his hand, should have been altogether
of that newer American plutocracy which is steadied
35by the tradition and habit of great wealth. But it was
not so. While his nurture and education had taught
him European ideas of a rich man's proper external
circumstance; while they had rooted in him an instinct
for quiet magnificence, the larger costliness which does
40not shriek of itself with a thousand tongues; there had
been handed on to him nevertheless much of the Forty-
Niner and financial buccaneer, his forbear. During
that first period of his business career which had been
called his early bad manner, he had been little more
45than a gambler of genius, his hand against every man's—
an infant prodigy—who brought to the enthralling
pursuit of speculation a brain better endowed than any
opposed to it. At St. Helena it was laid down that war
is a beautiful occupation; and so the young Manderson
50had found the multitudinous and complicated dog-fight
of the Stock Exchange of New York.
Then came his change. At his father's death, when
Manderson was thirty years old, some new revelation
of the power and the glory of the god he served seemed
55to have come upon him. With the sudden, elastic
adaptability of his nation he turned to steady labour
in his father's banking business, closing his ears to the
sound of the battles of the Street. In a few years he
came to control all the activity of the great firm whose
60unimpeached conservatism, safety, and financial
weight lifted it like a cliff above the angry sea of the
markets. All mistrust founded on the performances of
his youth had vanished. He was quite plainly a different
man. How the change came about none could with
65authority say, but there was a story of certain last words
spoken by his father, whom alone he had respected and
perhaps loved.

9 questions    12 minutesAll test questions

1. The main purpose of the passage is to

2. Based on the information in the passage, Manderson was known chiefly for his

3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

4. The passage suggests which of the following about Manderson's death?

5. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

6. As used in line 39, "quiet" most nearly means

7. In lines 48–51, the reference to St. Helena serves primarily to

8. Which choice best describes Manderson's "change" (line 52)?

9. As used in line 55, "elastic" most nearly means

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