Read this story. Then answer questions 1 through 7.

Excerpt from Winter Wheat
by Mildred Walker

1           September is like a quiet day after a whole week of wind. I mean real wind that blows dirt into your eyes and hair and between your teeth and roars in your ears after you’ve gone inside. The harvesting is done and the wheat stored away and you’re through worrying about hail or drought or grasshoppers. The fields have a tired peaceful look, the way I imagine a mother feels when she’s had her baby and is just lying there thinking about it and feeling pleased.

2           It was hot, though, like a flash-back to July. I was glad we weren’t cooking for harvest hands. There wasn’t any fire in the stove and everything was spick-and-span because I had just washed the dinner dishes. Mom was out having another look for the turkeys that were always wandering off. Dad was lying on the couch in the other room waiting for the noon broadcast of wheat prices to come on. We had to sell our wheat this month and not hold it over; that is, we did if I was going to the university that fall. It might go higher along toward Christmas, but we couldn’t wait for that.

3           The house was so quiet I could hear Mom calling the turkeys down by the barn. Dad told Mom not to bother, they’d come back by themselves, but Mom worried if anything was lost or left unlocked.

4           “When I’ve got something, I take care of it,” she always said.

5           I washed some cucumbers while I was waiting. They were bright green and shiny in the water. I used to play they were alligators when I was a child. Then I fenced them in with my hand and poured off the water into the kettle on the stove. When you have to carry every drop of water you use half a mile, you don’t throw away any.

6           And then it began. I knew before Dad turned it up. The voice of the man who announces the wheat prices is as familiar to me as Dad’s. It’s different from anybody’s voice around Gotham – more like one of those city voices that broadcasts the war news. That voice touches us here, and all the ranches spread out over the prairies between the Rockies and the Mississippi. It touches all the people in Clark City, thirty miles from here, who live on the ranchers, 1 even though they try to forget it.

7           “Here is your Grain Market Broadcast for today: Spring and Winter…up two.”

8           I could add two to yesterday’s price, so I didn’t have to hear any more, but I listened out of habit and because I love to hear it.

9           “One heavy dark Northern Spring…fifty-two.” The words came so fast they seemed to roll downhill. Nobody ever calls it all that; it’s just spring wheat, but I like the words. They heap up and make a picture of a spring that’s slow to come, when the ground stays frozen late into March and the air is raw, and the skies are sulky and dark. The “Northern” makes me feel how close we are to the Rockies and how high up on the map, almost to Canada.

10         “One dark hard Winter…fifty-three.”

11          It’s just winter wheat to the people who raise it, only to me it means more than that. It means all the winter and all the cold and the tight feeling of the house in winter, but the rich secret feeling I have, too, of treasure in the ground, growing there for us, waiting for the cold to be over to push up strong and green. They sound like grim words without any comfort to them, but they have a kind of strength all their own.

12         “Durum, Flax, and Rye…up one.” The broadcast ran on. Mom came in while I was standing there listening.

13         “Wheat’s up,” I told her.

14         Mom nodded. She stood there untying her bandanna and I watched her as though I didn’t know her face better than my own. Mom’s is a quiet face with a broader forehead than mine and dark brows and eyes and a wide mouth. She doesn’t show in her face what she thinks or feels – that’s why people in Gotham think she’s hard to know – but when she laughs, the laughter goes deeper down in her eyes than anybody’s I know.

15         I look more like Dad. He is tall and thin and has light hair and blue eyes and his face shows what he thinks or feels. Mom is square and stocky with broad shoulders and hips. It’s just as well that I am more like Dad in my body. I like being slender and straight. I am strong like Mom, though, and I like working in the fields better than in the house.

16         Dad clicked off the radio and came out to the kitchen. “Well, we’ll go over and tell Bailey we’re going to sell. Fifty-three is good enough. Come on, Ellen, you can drive me over.”

17          I took off my apron and was running across to the barn for the pickup before Dad had taken his hat from behind the door. I felt so excited I couldn’t walk soberly.

18          Glory, it was hot! I had the doors of the truck tied open with a piece of rope so the air could rush through, but it felt hot enough to scorch my bare ankles, and the heat of the engine came up through the rubber soles of my sneakers.

19          You can’t see the elevator 2 till you get past our place. There’s only one in Gotham, but it stands up from the crossroads like a monument. That and the railroad station are the only things to let people know Gotham’s a town.

20         “I feel I’m going for sure, Dad,” I told him.

21          “You bet you’re going,” Dad answered. “The war spoiled college for me, all but one year. Nothing’s going to spoil it for you.”

1 ranchers: a ranch house
2 (grain) elevator: a building to store and move grain

1. What does paragraph 4 most reveal about the mother?

A. She is tireless.
B. She is responsible.
C. She has a hard time relaxing.
D. She has devotion for animals.

2. The personification of the sky as “sulky” in paragraph 9 suggests the sky is

A. unpredictable
B. northern
C. snowy
D. gloomy

3. What does paragraph 9 mainly reveal about the narrator?

A. She thinks of mature as calming.
B. She is attached to familiar things and is close to her family.
C. She loves language and has a vivid imagination.
D. She pays attention to yearly patterns.

4. Which idea would be most important to include in a summary of the story?

A. “We had to sell our wheat this month and not hold it over; that is, we did if I was going to the university that fall.” (paragraph 2)
B. “It might go higher along toward Christmas, but we couldn’t wait for that.” (paragraph 2)
C. “She stood there untying her bandanna and I watched her as though I didn’t know her face better than my own.” (paragraph 14)
D. “I took off my apron and was running across to the barn for the pickup before Dad had taken his hat from behind the door.” (paragraph 17)

5. In paragraph 19, what does the phrase “like a monument” mainly suggest about the elevator?

A. It is a beautiful building.
B. It is a landmark.
C. It was designed by an architect.
D. It is an old building.

6. What is the best definition of “spoiled” as used in paragraph 21?

A. decreased the value of
B. made greedy by giving too much
C. took away an opportunity
D. made unfit for use

7. How does the author mainly develop the narrator’s point of view in the story?

A. by exaggerating how harsh the winter months are
B. by using elements of humor
C. by showing how the narrator interacts with her family
D. by sharing the narrator’s thoughts

Read this article. Then answer questions 8 through 14.

Excerpt from The Amazing Author of Oz
by Bruce Watson

1            All the children in Aberdeen knew the tall, dapper gentleman who strolled through town each day. For a child on the Dakota Plains, life in the late 1880s sometimes seemed little more than hard work. The bleakness of the prairie cried out for a fantasy to take a boy or girl far away. Mr. Baum’s stories were pure fantasy, so when he walked down the street in his finely tailored suit, children clamored in his wake.

2           Unlike stories told by parents, Baum’s were not merely lectures in disguise. Instead, he made everyday objects – scarecrows, pumpkins, rag dolls – come alive. His stories glittered with color; whole fields were shaded blue, green or red. As he went on, Baum often seemed to lose himself in the telling. Years later, his mother-in-law, who had overheard many of his stories, urged Baum to write them down. But while living in Aberdeen, he was content to tell his tales just to please a child or two.

3           When Lyman Frank Baum finally did set pencil to paper, stories poured out of him. In a career of just two decades, he wrote more than 70 books. Many are long forgotten, but one was called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It’s about a girl from Kansas who meets a scarecrow, a tin woodman and a cowardly – well, perhaps you know the story. But you may not know that Oz is more than a single book that inspired one of Hollywood’s greatest movies. Long before TV staked its claim to children’s fantasies, Oz was mapped in the imaginations of countless children. Going on beyond the wizard, Baum wrote 13 other Oz books. After he died, his successors churned out 26 more. Between 1913 and 1942, a new Oz book came out every Christmas. Oz Reading Clubs devoured each one. An Oz Who’s Who charted the kingdom’s colorful characters, including the Patchwork Girl, the Tik-Tok Man, Princess Ozma and hundreds more. These days, ubiquitous 1 MGM movie overshadows the books, but readers who choose to go there still find Oz so much more than lions, tigers and bears, oh my. Baum’s fairyland is a place of childish dreams and fears, a kingdom ruled by love but haunted by the fear of sudden death. It’s a land where adults are as helpless as children and children are as strong as adults. Peppered with puns and wordplay, Oz is charming and altogether ambivalent about the benefits of age. In short, it’s much like its creator, L. Frank Baum, the “Royal Historian of Oz.”

4           The seventh child born to Benjamin and Cynthia Baum came not trailing clouds of glory but clouds of gloom. In 1856, Frank was born. From an early age, he seems to have suffered from angina pectoris, a heart disease causing severe chest pain. Baum’s delicate condition made him a sedentary, solitary child. He read constantly, mostly fairy tales. For most of his youth, he was schooled at home. While Frank was still very young, his father developed some oil fields in Pennsylvania and made a fortune. The Baums moved to a mansion, called Rose Lawn, where Frank flourished.

5            At 18, he began hanging around some nearby theaters and decided he wanted to become an actor. His father tried to steer his stagestruck son from his dream but finally relented, asking only that Frank not disgrace the family name. Going by various stage names, Baum moved to New York City to begin his acting career.

6           No road to success was ever more winding than Baum’s. He followed the stage from job to job and state to state. Actors must moonlight, so Baum worked as a newspaper reporter, a dry goods salesman and finally as a playwright. His only hit, under the name Louis F. Baum, was an Irish melodrama called The Maid of Arran. Baum wrote and starred in the play that opened on his 26th birthday. The tall, mustachioed gentleman with the smiling eyes seemed on his way; so successful was he that he could even consider marriage.

7           According to the family legend, it was love at first sight. Maud Gage was a sophomore at Cornell University. On introducing him to Maud, his aunt said, “I’m sure you will love her.” Baum smiled and replied, “Consider yourself loved, Miss Gage.” Maud held out her hand and answered, “Thank you, Mr. Baum. That’s a promise. Please see that you live up to it.” He did. Married the next year, Frank and Maud Baum remained as devoted as any fairy tale couple. But Maud soon found that her husband often resided in a world entirely of his own.

8          Around the time of his marriage in 1882, Baum suffered a series of setbacks in business and health. To add to his burdens, his family’s money had been lost. Maudi’s sisters and her brother had recently moved to the Dakota Territory, and their letters told of fortunes to be made. So in 1888, with his life on the downward side of the rainbow, Baum moved his family west to the prairie.

9           What is now Aberdeen, South Dakota, was then a boomtown of 3,000. Baum decided the town needed an upscale store and started Baum’s Bazaar. The bazaar broke even for a while, but when the Dakota boom ended, the store went belly-up.

10         Broke and far from home, Baum fell back on old friends – his fantasies. The stories he told children on Aberdeen’s dusty sidewalk spoke of a better land where goodness prevailed, love triumphed and no one was hungry or poor. Yet Baum was still required to make a living in this world, so he moved the family to Chicago in 1891.

11          For a time, he edited his own magazine promoting store window displays, but of more importance to children, he finally began to write down his stories. In 1897, his first successful book, Mother Goose in Prose, was published. His next book, Father Goose, His Book, became the nation’s best-selling children’s title. After decades of dead ends, Baum had finally found his road.

1 ubiquitous: ever-present

8. Read this sentence from paragraph 1.

Mr. Baum’s stories were pure fantasy, so when he walked down the street in his finely tailored suit, children clamored in his wake.

What is the effect of the author’s word choices in this sentence?

A. It indicates how much children admired Baum and his stories.
B. It hints that Baum was a serious person who told silly stories.
C. It suggests that children moved aside when Baum was near.
D. It shows how rarely Baum told his stories to others.

9. Read this sentence from paragraph 2.

Unlike stories told by parents, Baum’s stories were not merely lectures in disguise.

Based on this sentence, what is the author’s point of view about Baum’s stories?

A. They are good at providing a strong moral.
B. They are more entertaining than educational.
C. They are different from children’s stories of today.
D. They are enjoyed more by children than by adults.

10. How does paragraph 3 develop a central idea in the article?

A. by listing characters that appeared in Baum’s books
B. by describing the work for which Baum is best known
C. by explaining that other authors continued Baum’s work
D. by emphasizing that many books Baum wrote were forgotten

11. In paragraph 4, what inference can be drawn from the information about Baum’s early childhood?

A. Baum’s health problems affected how he felt about his family.
B. Baum’s older siblings influenced his approach toward education.
C. Baum’s home education affected how he felt about other children.
D. Baum’s constant reading of fairy tales influenced his later writing.

12. Read this sentence from paragraph 6.

No road to success was ever more winding than Baum’s.

How does this sentence contribute to the structure of the article?

A. It summarizes the first five paragraphs of the article.
B. It contrasts the first half of the article with the second half.
C. It serves as the topic sentence for the remainder of the article.
D. It gives the cause for the events in the remainder of the article.

13. Which sentence states a central idea of the article?

A. Baum was devoted to his wife and family.
B. Baum wrote a play and acted in the starring role.
C. Baum lived for several years in a small prairie town.
D. Baum had to overcome many difficulties throughout his life.

14. What benefit did Baum’s stories offer to listeners, readers, and to Baum himself?

A. They offered an entertaining distraction from the harsh realities of life.
B. They offered a chance to invent new and exciting characters and places.
C. They offered an exciting way to learn about the world around them.
D. They offered a new perspective on how adults and children should behave.

Read this story. Then answer questions 15 through 21.

Excerpt from Bee Season
by Myla Goldberg

1            More than ever, Eliza wants to win. She wants to win with a word so difficult her father will have to admit that he was wrong, that the letters are already guiding her.

2           When Number 127 is being asked to spell LOQUAT, Eliza closes her eyes and feels her mind empty out. L fills her head, a glowing yellow the color of molten metal. This is what Dad meant. She’s surprised at how easy it is. Inside Elly’s head, L grows longer, its edges curving inward to form an O. Her body loosens. When the edge of O grows a tail to become Q, Eliza feels the change in her fingertips. Q’s top evaporates and its tail disappears, U settling warm in her belly. Elly feels a tickle as U flips and grows a line through its middle to become an A. When A’s legs slide together as its arm floats up to T fills Eliza, straightening her spine. Eliza opens her eyes. She feels as if she has just woken from a deep sleep. Number 127 is walking offstage to the sound of vigorous applause.

3           “I did it,” she mouths to her father across the room.

4           Saul smiles and nods. “I love you too,” he mouths backed equally indecipherably.

5           By round 7, there are seventeen of them. Number 14, whose perpetually perfect posture adds to the overall impression that he is an android, causes murmurs of admiration when he rips through DVANDVA without asking for a derivation or use in a sentence. When Number 22 gets her word wrong, No Chin has to pry her hand from the microphone. Number 33 decides midway through PERIPATETIC that he has made a mistake. He turns his stubbornly silent, demanding to be dinged out rather than made to complete the word. He stands mute until his time runs out. The judge’s spelling reveals that the boy’s progress had been perfect until he had refused to go on.

6            Number 36 is called to the mike. Rachel almost trips on her way to the front of the stage, removes the microphone from its stand, and holds it to her mouth like a lounge singer. The Independence Ballroom suddenly seethes with the sound of her nervous breathing.

7            “Number 36, your word is GREGARINE.”

8           Having been informed that a gregarine is a parasitic protozoan taken from the Latin, Rachel has no choice but to start spelling. She pounds her palm against her forehead after each letter, as if trying to knock the next one loose. Because she is holding the microphone so close to her face, each moment of contact sounds like a heavy blow.

9            “…I…” Pound. “…N…” Pound. “…E…” Pound. “Gregarine.”

10          Eliza finds herself bracing for the next blow, but none comes. The judge’s “Correct” sends Rachel leaping back to her seat to resume picking at her placard, which is now noticeably smaller than the others.

11           When Number 41 is given PURIM Eliza almost laughs out loud. Then she realizes that such an easy word right before her turn is a bad sign, almost certain to mean she’s destined to get something awful. Number 41, the only contestant wearing a yarmulke, makes short work of PURIM and returns to his seat with a dazed grin. The judge calls Eliza to the mike.

12           As she stands, Elly hazily recalls her nightmare: the expectant silence, the feeling she is holding up time, the endless path from her seat to the microphone. She decides that if she can get this next word, whatever it may be, her chances of winning are practically guaranteed. From the moment she rises from her chair, she locks eyes with Saul, whose gaze practically steers her to the microphone.

13           “Number 59, your word is DUVETYN.”

14           “Dew-veh-teen?” Eliza’s heart lurches into her throat. In her mind’s eye, she sees nothing.

15           “That is correct. Duvetyn.”

16           Saul is staring so hard it feels like he’s directly in front of her instead of halfway across the room. She wants to ask him to leave, to just get on the plane and fly back home.

17           “Um, what does it mean?”

18           The judge’s voice is irritatingly friendly. “Duvetyn is a soft, short-napped fabric with a twill weave, made of wool, cotton, rayon, or silk.”

19           Eliza whispers the word, feels the way it shapes her tongue and lips. From these movements, she tries to chart the word’s path through time and place. Where has it traveled? When was it born?

20           “What is the derivation, please?”

21            The judge’s voice is ever neutral, revealing nothing. “Duvetyn comes to us from the French.”

22           Eliza wants to see herself through the judge’s eyes. Does he have favorites? Is she one of them? Or are they interchangeable, one long blur of nervous hands and voices? Her placard suddenly reminds her of the stickers affixed to the new underwear: INSPECTED BY 59.

23           She’s got to focus. There isn’t much time. She returns to Duvetyn, pushes everything else aside.

24          I know it starts with D.

25          “Dew-veh-teen.”

26          At first it is a struggle to empty her mind which keeps conjuring up fresh images: her father’s face, a conveyer belt laden with tagged children, but eventually, all is black and blank. D, D, D, D, D, D, Eliza thinks until D, proud and foreboding appears in her mind’s eye. Then, its top disappears. The letters are showing her the way.

27         “D-U…”

28        Dew-veh-teen. She speeds through the next few letters, which are obvious.

29        “…V-E-T…” and now she’s got the word in her head, letters rearranging themselves into something that looks right, something French.

30        “…I-N-E. Duvetine.” It feels good.

31        Time moves so slowly. The silence lasts so long Eliza is sure it means she is correct. Her heart begins to pound faster. Walter Cronkite and the loving cup are practically hers.

32        Ding.

15. What does paragraph 2 most reveal about Eliza?

A. She has a strong imagination.
B. She seldom misspells a word.
C. She thinks her father knows best.
D. She gets easily distracted.

16. In paragraph 12, how does the description of the nightmare mainly affect the tone of the story?

A. It suggests that Eliza doubts she will win the bee.
B. It suggests that the bee seems unreal to Eliza.
C. It suggests that Eliza is unwilling to compete in the bee.
D. It suggests that the bee is stressful for Eliza.

17. Which quotation best expresses a central idea of the story?

A. “She wants to win with a word so difficult her father will have to admit that he was wrong, that the letters are already guiding her.” (paragraph 1)
B. “Eliza finds herself bracing for the next blow, but none comes.” (paragraph 10)
C. “The judge’s voice is ever neutral, revealing nothing.” (paragraph 21)
D. “Eliza wants to see herself through the judge’s eyes.” (paragraph 22)

18. The ideas in paragraphs 22 and 26 mostly contribute to the reader’s understanding of Eliza by revealing

A. her inability to understand the judges
B. her discomfort standing in front of the audience
C. her concern about impressing her father
D. her difficulty with spelling the assigned word correctly

19. What does paragraph 31 mainly reveal about Eliza?

A. her patience
B. her intelligence
C. her confidence
D. her enthusiasm

20. Which detail would be most important to include in a summary of the story?

A. Eliza knows that difficult words follow easy words at spelling bees.
B. Eliza gets a word that means a kind of fabric with a twill weave.
C. Eliza empties her mind and sees the letters come up as images.
D. Eliza is one of the seventeen spellers in this round of the spelling bee.

21. How does the point of view most influence the tone of the story?

A. The descriptions of the contestants competing builds suspense.
B. The references to unusual words add humor.
C. Eliza’s distant observations of her father develop conflict.
D. Eliza’s interior monologue creates a sense of strangeness.