E T S Praxis Series

Middle School English Language Arts (0049)

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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.

  1. _____ is a narrative that takes abstract ideas of behavior — good or bad, wise or foolish — and attempts to make them concrete and striking. The chief actor in these stories is usually an animal or inanimate object that behaves like a human and engages in a single significant act intended to teach a moral lesson.

    Which of the following will correctly complete the passage above?

    1. A myth
    2. A fable
    3. An epic
    4. A legend

Questions 2-4 refers to the following poem.

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright 1951 © 1955, 1979 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

  1. Which of the following is the best restatement of lines 5–6?

    1. Travel exposes an individual to new experiences.
    2. Reading is an adventure that costs nothing.
    3. Chariots are an inexpensive means of travel.
    4. Poetry, in comparison with fiction, lacks seriousness.
  2. In the poem, books and reading are described in terms related to

    1. laborious activities
    2. wealth and poverty
    3. geographical regions
    4. modes of transportation
  3. The word "prancing" (line 4) is used to

    1. link the images of "frigate" (line 1) and "chariot" (line 7)
    2. underline the contrast between "book" (line 1) and "page" (line 3)
    3. reinforce the image of horses, or "coursers" (line 3)
    4. introduce an image that will dominate the last four lines of the poem
  4. If atoms are the letters of the chemical language, then molecules are the words. But in order to put the chemical letters together to form chemical words, we have to know something about the rules of chemical spelling.

    In the passage above, a discussion of atoms is introduced by

    1. an analogy
    2. an aphorism
    3. an example
    4. a hypothesis
  5. Set in the American Civil War, the novel concerns a young soldier's first encounter with battle and the psychological changes that he undergoes. Published in 1895, the novel had a great influence on twentieth-century fiction.

    The novel discussed above is

    1. Andrea Davis Pinckney's Silent Thunder
    2. Gary Paulsen's Soldier's Heart
    3. Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage
    4. Carolyn Reeder's Shades of Gray
  6. Each of the following is an important part of guided reading EXCEPT

    1. The teacher should use texts that challenge students' current reading levels.
    2. It is used to help students become independent readers.
    3. It is used to help students learn various reading strategies.
    4. Students are grouped homogeneously based on reading ability.
  7. An angel, robed in spotless white,
    Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night.
    Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone.
    Men saw the blush and called it Dawn.
    — Paul Laurence Dunbar

    The poem portrays "Night" using which of the following literary devices?

    1. Oxymoron
    2. Simile
    3. Allusion
    4. Personification
  8. Which of the following most accurately describes the setting of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

    1. An American colony in New England during the seventeenth century
    2. The nineteenth-century United States in a village by the Mississippi River
    3. The nineteenth-century United States in rural South Carolina during the Civil War
    4. The twentieth-century United States during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma
  9. The significance of the [literary] work . . . does not lie in the meaning sealed within the text, but in the fact that the meaning brings out what had been previously sealed within us [the readers]. . . . We actually participate in the text, and this means that we are caught up in the very thing we are producing. This is why we often have the impression, as we read, that we are living another life. The description above of the reading process is most consistent with which of the following theories of literary interpretation?

    1. Biographical criticism
    2. Psychoanalytic criticism
    3. New Criticism
    4. Reader response
  10. I. The teacher from Nebraska displayed Native American artifacts to her class.

    II. The teacher displayed Native American artifacts from Nebraska to her class.

    The meaning of sentence I differs from that of sentence II in that the

    1. subject of sentence I is "teacher" whereas the subject of sentence II is "artifacts"
    2. first sentence ends in a prepositional phrase whereas the second sentence does not
    3. sentences do not have the same simple predicate
    4. adjective phrase "from Nebraska" modifies different nouns
  11. They set two rats in cages side by side, and one was furtive, timid, and small, and the other was glossy, bold, and big. The sentence above is an example of a

    1. simple sentence
    2. compound sentence
    3. complex sentence
    4. compound-complex sentence
  12. My sister and I always loved sledding down the hill behind our house. The underlined word in the sentence above is an example of

    1. a conjunction
    2. a participle
    3. a gerund
    4. an adverb
  13. 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 15-16 refers to the following poem.

Unlike some writers who talk of language use with wailing
and gnashing of teeth (see Edwin Newman's petulant
discussions of language misuse or any of Jacques
Barzun's tirades on contemporary English), George Orwell
recognized the complexity of the interrelationship
between thinking and language and avoided the simplistic
thinking that argues that if we "correct" people's use of
English, we will somehow have solved the "problem" of
the "decline" of the English language.
  1. The author puts the words "correct," "problem," and "decline" in quotation marks primarily in order to suggest that

    1. they are examples of words that are misused in the English language
    2. the complex interrelationship between thinking and language has affected the way in which people try to correct one another's speech
    3. the problem of the decline of the English language is too severe to be solved merely by correcting people's speech
    4. they reflect a limited perspective and should not be accepted uncritically
  2. The author's tone in describing Newman and Barzun can best be described as

    1. dismissive
    2. bitter
    3. defensive
    4. spiteful
  3. Freewriting, brainstorming, clustering, and idea mapping are most important during which stage of the writing process?

    1. Prewriting
    2. Drafting
    3. Revising
    4. Proofreading
  4. All of us find or invent our language. We may come up with new sentences never heard before. We may use words in a unique way. But we are always finding our voice, locating old patterns or long-heard expressions, reaching into our thesaurus for the right term. And in inventing English, we are always inventing ourselves — finding our place among the welter of the words or in the swell of sounds that is the ocean of our tongue.

    Which of the following most accurately describes how the author's use of point of view works as a rhetorical strategy?

    1. He speaks in the first person to invite the readers to see how they participate in the activities he describes.
    2. He speaks in the first person to emphasize his unique experience with the subject under discussion.
    3. He speaks in the third person to highlight the universality of the topic being discussed.
    4. He speaks in the third person to construct a more authoritative position from which to argue his point.