SSAT Upper Level Reading Comprehension Practice Test 7

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Hatmaking was one of the first industries to develop in the colonies. As early as 1640, American hats were one of the domestic products used for barter and exchange. Hats were worn by both men and women for style, cleanliness, and protection against the weather. They were also an important symbol of social status, and the demand for them increased over time as the colonies grew.

Wool was the principal raw material used by hatters, but large numbers of hats were also made of fur felt that came from native beaver pelts. The average price of a wool hat was between 40 and 80 cents, and beaver hats ranged from $2.50 to $3.50. Beaver fur was long-lasting and waterproof, making it a highly desired material for hat construction. High demand for beaver fur, however, had caused a sharp decline in the European beaver population. Beavers in North America became an important source of fur felt for these popular hats.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, hatmaking had become one of New England's most important industries. The city of Danbury, Connecticut would eventually become the largest center of hat making in the colonies, producing as many as 5 million hats in a single year.

In the 1730s, hats were being exported from the colonies in sufficient numbers to arouse uneasiness among hatters in England. Pressure was exerted, and Parliament passed a law prohibiting the export of hats from one colony to another and from any colony to Great Britain. The Hat Act of 1732 placed limits on the number of workers American hatmakers could hire as well, which reduced the capacity of manufacturing firms to meet American consumer demands.

1. Which title best expresses the main idea of this selection?

  • A. Colonial Exports
  • B. Kinds of American Hats
  • C. An Early American Industry
  • D. How Colonial Hats Were Made
  • E. Hatmaking Around the World

2. A law restricting hat exports was enacted by Parliament in response to complaints by

  • A. colonists.
  • B. English tax collectors.
  • C. English noblemen.
  • D. citizens of foreign countries.
  • E. English hatmakers.

3. The Hat Act of 1732 made it illegal for

  • A. Great Britain to export hats.
  • B. the colonies to import hats.
  • C. the hatters to use beaver fur.
  • D. the colonies to export hats.
  • E. the colonists to wear hats.

4. American hats

  • A. were made principally of wool.
  • B. did not suit customers in Great Britain.
  • C. were an unimportant part of New England's industry.
  • D. were not made from fur until 1730.
  • E. were more stylish than British hats.

5. According to the passage, beaver felt hats were

  • A. unpopular.
  • B. cheaper than wool hats.
  • C. more expensive than wool hats.
  • D. not exported.
  • E. warmer than wool hats.

You know, of course, that in China the Emperor is a Chinaman, and all the people around him are Chinamen too. It happened a good many years ago, but that's just why it's worthwhile to hear the story, before it is forgotten. The Emperor's palace was the most splendid in the world; entirely and altogether made of porcelain, so costly, but so brittle, so difficult to handle that one had to be terribly careful. In the garden were to be seen the strangest flowers, and to the most splendid of them silver bells were tied, which tinkled so that nobody should pass by without noticing the flowers. Oh, the Emperor's garden had been laid out very smartly, and it extended so far that the gardener himself didn't know where the end was. If you went on and on, you came into the loveliest forest with high trees and deep lakes. The forest went right down to the sea, which was blue and deep; tall ships could sail right in under the branches of the trees; and in the trees lived a nightingale, which sang so sweetly that even the poor fisherman, who had many other things to do, stopped still and listened when he had gone out at night to take up his nets and then heard the nightingale.

-from The Nightingale, by Hans Christian Andersen

6. The author wants to tell this story

  • A. because he can't forget the nightingale.
  • B. before it is forgotten.
  • C. to teach us about China.
  • D. because he is a writer and storyteller.
  • E. in order to describe the garden.

7. The Emperor's palace was made of

  • A. brick.
  • B. silver bells.
  • C. high trees.
  • D. large stones and boulders.
  • E. porcelain.

8. Silver bells were tied to flowers in the garden to

  • A. draw attention to their beauty.
  • B. frighten birds and mice away.
  • C. play soft melodies.
  • D. remind the gardener not to pick them.
  • E. sparkle in the sun.

9. The Emperor's garden

  • A. was very strange.
  • B. was too large to care for.
  • C. led into a lovely forest.
  • D. housed a rare nightingale.
  • E. was a source of pleasure for all in the kingdom.

10. The forest

  • A. was dark and threatening.
  • B. contained many rare animals.
  • C. was an easy place in which to get lost.
  • D. housed the nightingale.
  • E. was a fisherman's hiding place.