E T S Praxis Series

English Language, Literature, and Composition: Content Knowledge (0041)

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Sample Test Questions

Current section: Multiple Choice > Questions

The sample questions that follow illustrate the kinds of questions in the test. They are not, however, representative of the entire scope of the test in either content or difficulty. Answers with explanations follow the questions.

Directions:  Each of the questions or statements below is followed by four suggested answers or completions. Select the one that is best in each case.

Questions 1-2 are based on the following poem.

    When I was a child I knew red miners
    dressed raggedly and wearing carbide lamps.
    I saw them come down red hills to their camps
    dyed with red dust from old Ishkooda mines.
    Night after night I met them on the roads,
    or on the streets in town I caught their glance;
    the swing of dinner buckets in their hands,
    and grumbling undermining all their words.

    I also lived in low cotton country
    where moonlight hovered over ripe haystacks,
    or stumps of trees, and croppers' rotting shacks,
    with famine, terror, flood, and plague near by,
    where sentiment and hatred still held sway
    and only bitter land was washed away.
    — Margaret Walker

    From This is My Century: New and Collected Poems, by Margaret Walker Alexander. Copyright © 1942, 1989 by The University of Georgia Press.

  1. In the octave, the poet recalls

    1. the discontent of the miners
    2. the happiness of the miners
    3. the efficiency and competence of the miners
    4. a conversation between a child and miners
  2. The last three lines suggest that "cotton country" (line 9) is a place where

    1. only the land washes away; the hatred, terror, flood, and plague remain
    2. all the bitter aspects of life such as hatred, terror, flood, and plague were washed away with the land
    3. all the troubles and discontentment such as hatred, terror, flood, and plague are gone once the land is washed away
    4. in a land where there are many problems, it will require a flood to rid society of the evils of famine, terror, and plague
  3. Grammar may be taught in two main ways — by experience with discourse that entails the varieties of word forms and sentence construction, or by analyzing dummy sentences and diagramming parts. Plentiful discursive experience is what really teaches grammar, for it exercises judgment and provides language intake, whereas formal grammar study has been proved irrelevant. Politics more than pedagogy retards the changing of the curriculum to fit this truth.

    The author of the passage above argues that

    1. using language in a wide variety of situations improves grammar
    2. good judgment can be improved by studying the rules of formal grammar
    3. analyzing and diagramming provide exercise in logical thinking
    4. formal study of grammar improves writing ability
  4. The book announced an insane world of dehumanization through terror in which the individual was systematically obliterated by an all-powerful elite. Its key phrases — Big Brother, doublethink, Newspeak, the Ministry of Peace (devoted to war), the Ministry of Truth (devoted to lies), the Ministry of Love (devoted to torture) — burned their way at once into the modern consciousness.

    The passage above discusses

    1. E.M. Forster's A Passage to India
    2. Thomas Pynchon's V.
    3. George Orwell's 1984
    4. Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away

Questions 5-6 refer to the following passages.

  1. If the rude throng pour with furious pace,
    And hap to break thee from a friend's embrace,
    Stop short; nor struggle through the crowd in vain,
    But watch with careful eye the passing train.
  2. There lived a wife at Usher's Well,
    And a wealthy wife was she;
    She had three stout and stalwart sons,
    And sent them o'er the sea.
  3. She thanked men, — good! but thanked
    Somehow — I know not how — as if she ranked
    My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
    With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
    This sort of trifling?
  4. Upon the maple leaves
    The dew shines red,
    But on the lotus blossom
    It has the pale transparence of tears.
  1. Which is an example of the ballad stanza?

  2. Which is from a dramatic monologue?

Questions 7-8 are based on the following excerpt from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

    This was all the account I got from Mrs. Fairfax of her employer and mine. There are people who seem to have no notion of sketching a character, or observing and describing salient points, either in persons or things: the good lady evidently belonged to this class; my queries puzzled, but did not draw her out. Mr. Rochester was Mr. Rochester in her eyes, a gentleman, a landed proprietor — nothing more: she inquired and searched no further, and evidently wondered at my wish to gain a more definite notion of his identity.

  1. The passage suggests that the speaker would describe the "account" mentioned in the first sentence as

    1. enlightening
    2. mystifying
    3. deficient
    4. erroneous
  2. Mrs. Fairfax differs from the speaker in that Mrs. Fairfax

    1. has more interest in the complexities of people's personalities
    2. judges people by their social station in life
    3. is more willing to take people at face value
    4. has a more positive opinion of Mr. Rochester
  3. Which of the following is the best description of traditional phonics instruction?

    1. Students study lists of high-frequency words in order to increase reading speed and comprehension.
    2. Students are taught individual letter sounds first, followed by letter combination sounds and the rules of putting these combinations together to make words.
    3. Students are immersed in written language and encouraged to decode entire words using context clues.
    4. Students analyze patterns of organization and syntax as a way of learning to recognize common structures.
  4. Her astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy! That he should have been in love with her for so many months! So much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend's marrying her sister, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case — was almost incredible!

    The excerpt above is from which of the following novels?

    1. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
    2. George Eliot's Middlemarch
    3. Kate Chopin's The Awakening
    4. Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway

Questions 11-13 are based on the following excerpt from Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    The people all saw her come because it was sundown. The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.

  1. The description of the sun in the second sentence contains which of the following literary devices?

    1. Foreshadowing
    2. Irony
    3. Flashback
    4. Personification
  2. Which of the following is the best way of describing the last three sentences of the passage ("They became . . . in judgment")?

    1. They emphasize the weariness the sitters feel after a long day’s work.
    2. They are used to paint a picture of the way in which the sitters wish they spent their evenings.
    3. They are a vivid way of describing the ease and authority the sitters feel during the evening.
    4. They highlight the contrast between the feelings of the sitters and the feelings of the bossman.
  3. Zora Neale Hurston is associated with which of the following literary movements?

    1. New England Puritanism
    2. Transcendentalism
    3. Naturalism
    4. Harlem Renaissance
  4. bawl . . . ball

    mettle . . . metal

    nun . . . none

    The pairs above are examples of

    1. antonyms
    2. synonyms
    3. homophones
    4. colloquialisms

Questions 15-17 refer to the following sentences.

    1. Americans who do not speak French are at a disadvantage in Paris.
    2. Americans, who do not speak French, are at a disadvantage in Paris.
  1. Which of the following describes the meaning of sentence 1 ?

    1. All Americans are at a disadvantage in Paris.
    2. Only those Americans who do not speak French are at a disadvantage in Paris.
    3. Some French-speaking Americans are at a disadvantage in Paris.
    4. Only French-speaking Americans are at a disadvantage in Paris.
  2. Which of the following describes the meaning of sentence 2 ?

    1. All Americans are at a disadvantage in Paris.
    2. Only those Americans who do not speak French are at a disadvantage in Paris.
    3. Some French-speaking Americans are at a disadvantage in Paris.
    4. Only French-speaking Americans are at a disadvantage in Paris.
  3. The sentences can best serve as illustrations of which of the following?

    1. The semantics of punctuation
    2. The differences between transformational and structural grammar
    3. The differences between value judgments and reports
    4. The importance of word order in determining meaning in English
  4. In a holistic evaluation of student essays, evaluations are made on the basis of the

    1. number and variety of errors made by each student
    2. average sentence length and the complexity demonstrated in each essay
    3. ability of each student to communicate in a variety of discourse modes
    4. overall quality of each student's essay in relation to the topic
  5. Freewriting, brainstorming, clustering, and idea mapping are most important during which stage of the writing process?

    1. Prewriting
    2. Drafting
    3. Revising
    4. Proofreading
  6. Science fiction: readers claim to either love it or loathe it; either they avoid it like poison or they devour favorite works and authors like chocolate addicts gulping down fudge truffles.

    The author of the passage compares certain readers with "chocolate addicts" primarily in order to

    1. suggest that science fiction is not a serious literary genre
    2. indicate the depth of certain readers’ feelings about science fiction
    3. explain why some readers consider science fiction to be dangerous
    4. contrast the characteristics of science fiction with those of other literary genres

Questions 21-23 refer to the following paragraphs.

    1. On a dark, secluded street stood three abandoned houses. The first had broken shutters and shattered windows. Next to it stood a dilapidated structure badly in need of paint. Adjacent, amid debris, stood a shack with graffiti scrawled across the door.
    2. Weeks before they decided on their destination, the seniors had already begun a massive fundraising project to help finance their class trip. When they were offered the choice between Rome and London, an overwhelming majority chose Rome. Then preparations began in earnest. In the months that followed, the students' enthusiasm escalated until the day the plane finally took off, carrying them toward an experience they would remember forever.
    3. Selecting a new car requires each buyer to weigh a number of factors. First to be considered is the car's appearance. Next, and even more critical, are the car's performance and safety ratings. Most significant to any prospective buyer, however, is the car's price.
  1. Which of the following best describes the organization of paragraph 1 ?

    1. Chronological order
    2. Spatial order
    3. Cause and effect
    4. Order of importance
  2. Which of the following best describes the organization of paragraph 2 ?

    1. Chronological order
    2. Spatial order
    3. Cause and effect
    4. Order of importance
  3. Which of the following best describes the organization of paragraph 3 ?

    1. Chronological order
    2. Spatial order
    3. Cause and effect
    4. Order of importance
  4. From the very beginning, I wrote to explain my own life to myself, and I invited any readers who chose to make the journey with me to join me on the high wire. I would work without a net and without the noise of the crowd to disturb me. The view from on high is dizzying, instructive. I do not record the world exactly as it comes to me but transform it by making it pass through a prism of fabulous stories I have collected on the way. I gather stories the way a lepidopterist hoards his chloroformed specimens of rare moths, or Costa Rican beetles. Stories are like vessels I use to interpret the world to myself.
    — Pat Conroy

    Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

    1. The author provides several explanations for taking a certain course of action.
    2. The author uses analogies to explain his experience of a particular action.
    3. The author makes a comparison between his own experiences and that of others in his profession.
    4. The author chronicles the various phases of his work in a particular discipline.