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Section 4: Sample Selected-Response Questions
TX PACT: Core Subjects: Grades 4–8
English Language Arts and Reading Section (791)

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This section presents some sample exam questions for you to review as part of your preparation for the exam. To demonstrate how each competency may be assessed, sample questions are accompanied by the competency that they measure. While studying, you may wish to read the competency before and after you consider each sample question. Please note that the competency statements do not appear on the actual exam.

The correct answer is provided for each sample exam question. The sample questions are included to illustrate the formats and types of questions you will see on the exam; however, your performance on the sample questions should not be viewed as a predictor of your performance on the actual exam.

Domain I—Reading Process and Comprehension and Reading in Multiple Subject Areas

Competency 001—Understand the foundations of reading development.

1. A reader would apply knowledge of consonant digraphs when decoding which of the following groups of words?

  1. ear, clear, near
  2. quick, quit, quiz
  3. change, shop, think
  4. fame, game, name
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct. This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of the role of phonics, including the identification of particular letter groups, in promoting reading development. The words change, shop, and think all contain pairs of letters called consonant digraphs (ch, sh, th).

Competency 002—Understand strategies for developing vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension.

2. Which of the following strategies would be most effective for a reader to use to identify the meanings of the words below?

  1. applying knowledge of base words and prefixes
  2. recognizing letter-sound correspondences in the words
  3. distinguishing onsets and rimes in the words
  4. applying knowledge of Latin and Greek word roots
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option A is correct. This question requires the examinee to use knowledge of word structure, such as the use of prefixes and suffixes, to help identify word meanings. The words invisible, irrelevant, disapprove, and unstable are formed from prefixes that mean "not" (in-, ir-, un-) or "do the opposite of" (dis-) and base words (visible, relevant, approve, stable). The word misleading is formed with a prefix (mis-) that means "bad" or "wrong," a base word (lead), and a suffix (-ing) used to form an adjective.

Competency 003—Understand strategies for reading in multiple subject areas.

3. Which of the following astronomical terms could best be used metaphorically to describe the economic occurrence of fluctuations in consumer demand?

  1. reflecting and refracting
  2. synchronous rotation
  3. retrograde motion
  4. waxing and waning
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct. This question requires the examinee to examine how metaphors are used to compare and contrast concepts from multiple subject areas. In the field of astronomy, the expression "waxing and waning" refers to phases of increasing and decreasing illuminative intensity, especially with regard to the moon. The same expression can be used metaphorically in the field of economics to describe increasing and decreasing consumer demand.

Domain II—Reading Various Text Forms and Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

Competency 004—Understand strategies for reading informational texts.

4. A middle school student is reading a magazine article about the ways in which the missions of uncrewed space vehicles have contributed to the body of scientific knowledge about the planet Mars. Which of the following excerpts from the article provides facts that are most relevant to the subject of the article?

  1. After being transported to Mars on uncrewed space vehicles, robots have taken photographs of the planet's surface, analyzed rock samples from Mars, and recorded data on the composition of the atmosphere of Mars.
  2. People have long been fascinated by the possibility of finding life forms on Mars. Unfortunately, early uncrewed space vehicles were ill-equipped for searching out life forms.
  3. As part of the U.S. Mariner and Viking space programs during the 1960s and 1970s, several uncrewed space vehicles were sent to Mars to conduct research. In 1976, Viking 1 and Viking 2 actually landed on the surface of Mars.
  4. Scientists hope that legislators will be so encouraged by the wealth of information gathered by uncrewed space vehicles that they will one day fund a crewed mission to Mars.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option A is correct. This question requires the examinee to assess the relevance of evidence and examples provided to explain a concept presented in an informational text. The specific, detailed information in response A is most germane to the subject of how uncrewed space vehicles have contributed to the body of scientific knowledge about the planet Mars.

Competency 005—Understand strategies for reading persuasive texts.

5. Read the excerpt below from a marketing brochure; then answer the question that follows.

The tomatoes that we grow and sell at Super Ripe Farm are better tasting and more nutritious than the tomatoes sold at supermarkets. Linda Baker, owner of the Great Foods supermarket chain, even admits that the tomatoes sold in her stores are sometimes picked green and do not end up in her stores' produce aisles until days later. "But tomatoes are tomatoes, right? They're all good for you!" she claims. At Super Ripe Farm, though, our tomatoes are grown and sold locally, so they can be picked fresh, when they are just right for eating.

And besides tasting good, tomatoes are good for you. Harold Sumner, a senior researcher at the U.S. Council of Dietetics, says that ripe tomatoes are high in vitamin C, which our bodies use to resist infections and heal wounds. He also points out that we get more vitamins from uncooked tomatoes than from cooked ones. "That's why I always add a slice of fresh tomato to my kids' sandwiches," he says.

So, tomatoes from Super Ripe Farm may cost a bit more than tomatoes from supermarkets, but in the long run, you end up ahead: the good flavor and health benefits of fresh tomatoes are worth the extra cost. As one satisfied Super Ripe Farm customer says, "I'd rather spend money on fresh, healthy tomatoes than on hard, underripe ones that have no flavor."

Which of the following sources used in this excerpt provides the most objective information about the nutritional value of tomatoes?

  1. the owner of the supermarket chain
  2. the senior researcher
  3. the author of the marketing brochure
  4. the satisfied customer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option B is correct. This question requires the examinee to assess the objectivity of various sources used in a persuasive text. The senior researcher is the most objective source because, unlike the author of the marketing brochure or the owner of the supermarket chain, he has no financial interest in the sale of Super Ripe Farm tomatoes. The satisfied customer is not completely objective because his/her interest in Super Ripe Farm tomatoes is based only partially on the tomatoes' nutritional value; to this customer, their taste is also important.

Competency 006—Understand strategies for analyzing and interpreting literary texts.

6. Read the excerpt below from a poem; then answer the question that follows.

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

Source:   Nye, Naomi Shihab. Famous. Reprinted by permission of author.
Copyright 2009 Naomi Shihab Nye.

Which of the following statements best describes the central idea that is developed in this poem?

  1. Individuals find true fame anywhere their innate qualities are valued.
  2. Fame is merely a temporary condition without lasting significance.
  3. Individuals who seek fame are shallow and self-centered.
  4. Fame is a deceptive measure of self-worth in a celebrity-obsessed culture.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option A is correct. This question requires the examinee to interpret the central idea of a literary text. The poem illustrates that being truly famous is not so much a function of general popularity and acclaim but of a unique sort of belonging and acceptance.

Competency 007—Understand the major historical, social, cultural, and political aspects of literatures from around the world.

7. Read the excerpt below from The Grapes of Wrath, a novel by John Steinbeck; then answer the question that follows.

Maybe we can start again, in the new rich land—in California, where the fruit grows. We'll start over.

But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me—why, we're all that's been. The anger of a moment, the thousand pictures, that's us. This land, this red land, is us; and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us. We can't start again. The bitterness we sold to the junk man—he got it all right, but we have it still. And when the owner men told us to go, that's us; and when the tractor hit the house, that's us until we're dead. To California or any place—every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, marching with our bitterness. And some day—the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it.

The tenant men scuffed home to the farms through the red dust.

Source:   From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, copyright 1939, renewed copyright 1967 by John Steinbeck. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

In this excerpt, Steinbeck is commenting primarily on which of the following aspects of the 1930s Dust Bowl in the United States?

  1. the creation of migrant labor camps in California
  2. the disappearance of farm communities in the Great Plains
  3. the hopelessness and despondency felt by tenant farmers
  4. the topsoil erosion caused by irresponsible farming practices
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct. This question requires the examinee to examine how a writer has commented on a major historical event (in this case, the Dust Bowl) through a literary work. Steinbeck focuses on the tenant farmers' response to the circumstances that resulted from the Dust Bowl, which was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. The excerpt begins with the narrator's seemingly optimistic suggestion that tenant farmers will start new lives in California—where many affected by the Dust Bowl fled—but then immediately negates the optimism with the pessimistic statement "But you can't start." The repetition of the word "bitterness" and the use of phrases such as "that's us until we're dead" and "parade of hurts," combined with the final image of defeated tenant farmers scuffing through the dust, convey a sense of the tenant farmers' hopelessness and despondency.

Domain III—English Language Conventions, Composition, Writing Process, and Research

Competency 008—Understand the conventions of Standard American English and the elements of effective composition.

8. A writer is developing an expository essay on how to listen to and appreciate classical music. The writer's intended audience consists of young people who listen mainly to rock music, not classical music, which is unfamiliar to them. Which of the following short introductory paragraphs would be most effective for engaging the readers' interest in this essay?

  1. Classical music has traditionally formed the backbone of good ballet. However, some contemporary ballets use rock music instead of classical music as the basis for their choreography. These rock-based ballets are gaining popularity among teens who like the faster tempo.
  2. You may know that famous composers and performers of classical music such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Schubert were child prodigies, but would you recognize any of their music if you heard it? You do not have to be a genius to enjoy classical music, but you do need to be patient and concentrate fully while you listen to classical music in order to truly understand it.
  3. Many soundtracks for movies and television programs use classical music to create a mood or help advance the story line. In fact, the instruments used to play classical music, such as violins, flutes, and clarinets, each have a distinct sound, and with that sound comes a distinct personality.
  4. Classical music is often performed by large symphony orchestras that include a variety of brass, wind, and stringed instruments, but that does not mean that classical music has to be slow or boring. In fact, many rock groups, from Foo Fighters to Phish, have recorded songs with large symphony orchestras, which contributed to these songs the powerful sounds of classical music.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct. This question requires the examinee to recognize methods of developing an introduction to a text that draws a reader's attention. An audience of young people who listen mainly to rock music would likely be most interested in reading an essay about classical music if the essay introduction explained how contemporary rock musicians have incorporated the sounds of classical music into their recordings. Response D provides an introduction that establishes the clearest and strongest link between classical and rock music.

Competency 009—Understand the writing process and the elements of effective and appropriate research.

9. Read the excerpt below from the first draft of an essay; then answer the question that follows.

1Scientists have recently discovered that laughter is a survival mechanism possessed by both humans and animals. 2Animals laugh in order to signal to other animals when they are playing and not fighting. 3When rats laugh, they emit a high-pitched chirp that is inaudible to the human ear. 4In both humans and animals, laughter comes as an involuntary response, like sneezing. 5Studies have shown that humans are more likely to laugh because they want to gain acceptance in a social group than because they think something is funny. 6It is possible to suppress laughter, but it is difficult to produce laughter convincingly without some kind of real, spontaneous stimulus. 7Therefore, laughter is generally interpreted as an honest expression of friendliness and sociability.

Which of the following sentences should be removed from this excerpt to eliminate a distracting detail?

  1. Sentence 2
  2. Sentence 3
  3. Sentence 5
  4. Sentence 6
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option B is correct. This question requires the examinee to recognize methods of revising text to eliminate distracting details. The primary purpose of the essay is to explain why both humans and animals laugh and not to describe the unique qualities of particular animals' laughter. Sentence 3 provides a detail that distracts from this primary purpose and should therefore be eliminated.

Domain IV—Modes of Writing

Competency 010—Understand strategies for descriptive writing.

10. A writer is developing a descriptive essay in which he would like to provide a vivid impression of a kitchen he has observed. Which of the following groups of descriptive details about the kitchen would be most effective for the writer to use in the essay?

    • red walls
    • yellow tile floor
    • white ceiling
    • blue wood cabinets
    • coffee mug
    • stack of small plates
    • salt and pepper shakers
    • loaf of bread
    • droning refrigerator
    • wobbly oak table
    • roasted garlic
    • basket of green apples
    • clean countertop
    • big sink
    • three small chairs
    • tea kettle
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct. This question requires the examinee to recognize methods of generating a list of multiple and various sensory details associated with a subject and of selecting the most important details to incorporate into descriptive writing about the subject. Response C provides a list of specific and unique details that appeal to the greatest number of senses—at least three or four senses instead of just one or two.

Competency 011—Understand strategies for expository writing.

11. A writer is developing a research report about butterflies. The writer's preliminary notes appear below.

  • Butterflies live in many different habitats, including arctic plains and tropical rain forests.
  • Butterflies can be found at a wide range of altitudes, from below sea level to high mountain elevations.
  • In North America, monarch butterflies gather in the autumn and migrate south up to 1,800 miles for the winter.
  • Parnassian butterflies live in mountainous regions of Asia, Europe, and North America.
  • Ecologists can sometimes predict changes in the environment by studying the behavior of various butterfly species in the wild.

Given the information in these notes, the writer would be best prepared to address which of the following questions in the report?

  1. In what types of environments can butterflies survive?
  2. What are the feeding patterns of monarch butterflies during the winter?
  3. In what ways do monarch butterflies differ from Parnassian butterflies?
  4. What are the various stages in the life cycle of a butterfly?
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option A is correct. This question requires the examinee to recognize methods of formulating a specific question to address through expository writing. Because the writer's notes focus on the various habitats, ranges, and regions in which butterflies can be found, the writer will be best prepared to address the question "In what types of environments can butterflies survive?"

Competency 012—Understand strategies for persuasive writing.

12. Which of the following supporting details would be most important to include in a short article intended to persuade homeowners to use solar energy in their homes?

  1. People who think that living in a sunny climate is a prerequisite for using solar energy in their homes are misinformed.
  2. Solar energy can be collected and converted to electrical energy through a process called photovoltaics.
  3. People who use solar energy at home are more likely to rely on public transportation for their local travel needs.
  4. Solar energy can power the lights and appliances in a home at a fraction of the cost of other energy sources.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct. This question requires the examinee to recognize methods of selecting effective and appropriate supporting details to use in persuasive writing, such as facts and appeals. Response D employs a relevant fact and a logical appeal to provide the most compelling support for using solar energy in one's home.

Domain V—Oral and Visual Communication

Competency 013—Understand strategies for effective listening and speaking and for participating in group discussions.

13. The conversation below takes place among three coworkers at an electronics store.

NOELLE:   We have great products at low prices, but we don't have enough customers. We need to attract more business.

KEVIN:   Some electronics stores let people try out the products right in the store. People seem to like that.

DONNA:   Yes, but doesn't that get expensive for the stores? They can't sell used merchandise, right?

KEVIN:   It's worth the cost if people end up buying something after they try it out. We all know that customers rarely take our word that a product is good.

DONNA:   Maybe you're right. Some customers think we're just trying to trick them into buying things.

KEVIN:   Exactly! But if we let them try the products in the store first, then they'll end up convincing themselves to buy them.

NOELLE:   __________________________________________________________________

Which of the following responses from Noelle would most clearly indicate that she has been actively listening to Kevin and Donna?

  1. "Maybe we should increase our advertising in local newspapers and on television."
  2. "I don't know. It can be fun to test-drive a new car, but that doesn't mean you're going to buy it."
  3. "There will be serious consequences for all of us if our sales don't increase sometime soon."
  4. "I guess business is slow everywhere these days, but that's no excuse. We really have to try harder."
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option B is correct. This question requires the examinee to recognize methods of participating actively in conversations and group discussions. In response B, by summarizing and then reflecting on Kevin's and Donna's comments, Noelle demonstrates that she has been listening actively.

Competency 014—Understand strategies for effective viewing and presenting and for analyzing various media.

14. Use the editorial cartoon below to answer the question that follows.

The cartoon shows a boy sitting in front of a television.

An adult woman holding an open book is bending into the television from behind it, so that her face, hands, and the open book protrude slightly through the screen area. The woman and open book are facing the boy, and the woman is pointing to one of the open pages.

Source:   Esquivel, Arcadio. Mom Educating Son, reprinted by permission of Cagle Cartoons, Santa Barbara, CA. and Arcadio Esquivel, La Prensa, Panama.

Which of the following messages is this editorial cartoon most likely attempting to convey?

  1. Teachers should make learning fun by imitating popular television characters and personalities.
  2. Adults are responsible for monitoring children's television viewing.
  3. Children now rely more on television for acquiring information and ideas than they do on books.
  4. Television executives should provide more educational shows for children.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct. This question requires the examinee to analyze the message conveyed through a visual image. The editorial cartoon depicts a boy watching television. A woman holds open a book and reaches out and through the television toward the boy to show him the contents of the book. The image suggests that, for children, television has replaced books as the medium through which they receive most new information and ideas.

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