FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test
Preparing to take the FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9?
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FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9 Quick Facts
The Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) Middle Grades English exam is required for Florida teachers who teach English in grades 5-9.
It is designed to measure a candidate’s knowledge of the seven competencies to ensure a teacher is qualified to instruct students in this subject area.
The Middle Grades English 5-9 includes 80 multiple-choice items and one open-response item. A scaled score of at least 200 is needed to pass the multiple-choice section. The written component is scored independently and a score of at least 8 out of 12 is needed to pass.
The initial exam fee is $200 for both sections. Retakes for a single section cost $150. Retakes for both sections cost $220. Registration fees must be paid using a credit card (VISA, MasterCard, or American Express), or a debit card that carries a VISA or MasterCard logo that can be used without a PIN.
The FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9 test is pass/fail. Candidates must pass each section individually. In order to pass the multiple-choice section, candidates must receive a scaled score of at least 200. This means scoring approximately 74% of the questions correctly. The passing score for the written response is a 8 out of 12. The unofficial pass/non-pass status for the multiple-choice section is usually provided immediately after the test is complete. All official score reports are provided within 4 weeks of taking the test.
Data collection from 2015 reports that 37% of first-time test takers passed the multiple choice section and 42% passed the writing section.
In order to feel prepared for the test, plan to spend several weeks studying. It is helpful to create a schedule for yourself ahead of time by breaking down the test topics into different weeks. This way, you will know you have enough time to study each topic covered on the test.
What test takers wish they would’ve known:
- Keep an eye on the time to make sure you are able to complete the test in the 2.5 hour time frame.
- Any breaks taken are considered part of the 2.5 hour testing time.
- It is better to guess on a question you don’t know the answer to than to leave it unanswered.
Information and screenshots obtained from: http://www.fl.nesinc.com/studyguide/FL_SG_obj_014.htm
The exam has six competencies in the multiple-choice section, and one competency that requires a written response:
- Characteristics of Students (12%)
- Best Practices (14%)
- Language Arts Content (24%)
- Pedagogical Content (24%)
- Assessment (14%)
- Collaborative Processes (12%)
- Literary Analysis (Written Response)
So, let’s talk about Characteristics of Students first.
Characteristics of Students
This competency includes about 10 multiple-choice questions which make up about 12% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of students’ cognitive, social, and emotional development, as well as cultural characteristics of students.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.
Cognitive development includes all aspects of the thought process from childhood to adulthood. These processes include remembering, problem-solving, and decision-making.
The third stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is the concrete operational stage. Children in this stage are around seven to eleven years old. At this point, children begin to develop organized and rational thinking. This stage is considered the major turning point in a child’s cognitive development because it is the beginning of logical thought. Children are mature enough to apply logical thinking to physical objects.
The next stage is the formal operational stage. This stage occurs when a child is around twelve years old and lasts through adulthood. At this point, children begin the ability to think abstractly. They can think creatively, do mathematical calculations, and imagine possible outcomes without using concrete manipulatives. If a child is in the concrete operational thinking stage, he or she will need to draw a picture or use objects to think things through. A child in the formal operational stage can do this in his or her head. Formal reasoning involves more sophisticated and advanced thinking. Students use skills such as logical thought, deductive reasoning, and systematic planning to come up with creative solutions to problems.
Social and Emotional Development
Social development is the process of children learning to interact with others around them. As they develop their own individuality, they begin to gain skills to communicate with other people. Emotional development is the ability to recognize, express, and manage feelings at different stages of life. This development includes both positive and negative emotions, largely impacted by their relationships with parents, siblings, and peers.
The social developmental stage of adolescence includes a child’s development of friendships and other relationships. Children hit milestones of social skill development along the way. Between the ages of three and four years, children’s sense of confidence begins to develop as they learn to do more activities without assistance. Between the ages of four and five, children start to gain a greater awareness of their own individuality. A child’s sense of self in these early stages can set a pattern for the rest of his or her life. Some red flags that might show a child has dysfunctional social development include showing no interest in playing with other children, wanting to be dependent on caregivers, and/or having extremely rigid routines. https://reflectionsciences.com/social-development/
The emotional developmental stage of adolescence includes a child’s ability to regulate emotions. During middle and late childhood, children begin to gain an understanding of their own emotions. Children begin to understand that multiple emotions can be felt during a single life event, allowing them to understand multiple aspects of a situation.
Language arts teachers can align instructional goals with their students’ social and emotional development through self-reflection writing. Allowing students to explore their own emotions through writing can help them better understand their reactions to situations. Teachers can allow students to look at characters’ emotions towards situations and relationships with others to help students understand their own emotions and relationships.
And that’s some basic info about Characteristics of Students.
This competency includes about 11 multiple-choice questions which make up about 14% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of best practices within a language arts classroom.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will plausibly see on the test.
It is important to incorporate technology into language arts instruction. Focuses of education include solving complex problems and collaboration with peers. Integrating technology into the classroom is a way to help with these focuses. It sets students up for future success in an increasingly digital society.
Effective Ways to Use Technology:
- Feedback– providing instant feedback on assignments to clear up misconceptions
- Differentiated Instruction– assign work to meet students’ individual learning needs
- Supplement and Enhance Instruction– include use of technology to work seamlessly with content instruction
- Deepen Understanding– students can explore complex issues and enhance ability to make global connections
Integrating language arts allows students to apply their reading, writing, and speaking skills to other content areas. Allowing students to communicate their ideas throughout all content areas will help reach the ultimate goal of literacy instruction– building a student’s comprehension, writing skills, and overall skills in communication.
- Elbow Partner
- Shoulder Share
- Chunk and Chew
- Quick Writes
- Stop and Jots
- One-Minute Essays
- Graffiti Conversations
- Previewing Text
- Reading for a Purpose
- Making Predictions
- Making Connections
- Think Alouds
- Graphic Organizers
And that’s some basic info about Best Practices.
Language Arts Content
This competency includes about 19 multiple-choice questions which make up about 24% of the entire exam
This section tests your knowledge of language arts content, including literary devices within different genres. You also need to know about writing with a purpose for a specific audience and steps of the writing process. Your skills with English grammar, usage, and conventions will also be tested.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will likely see on the test.
Text complexity refers to the level of challenge a text provides based on quantitative measures, qualitative measures, and reader/task factors.
The quantitative measures are usually determined by a computer software program that assesses word length, word frequency, sentence length, and text cohesion.
The qualitative measures include levels of meaning for literary texts or purpose for informational texts. This includes text structure, knowledge demands, and language conventionality and clarity.
The reader and task factors measure the focus of the individual reader and the purpose for reading. This is measured through a student’s motivation, knowledge, and experience. A teacher’s professional judgement determines how appropriate a text may be for a specific student.
Evaluating text using a critical approach requires asking the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’, not just the ‘whats.’ A critical analysis expresses a writer’s opinion or evaluation of a text.
Examples of Critical Approaches:
- Gender– examines the role and image of men and women in literature
- Sociological– examines the cultural, economic, and political context in literature
- Anthropological– examines humanist and social science strategies in literature
- Psychological– examines the effect that modern psychology has on literature
- Historical– examines a literary work by investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context
Forms of Writing
Expository Writing– This type of writing presents reasons, explanations, or steps in a process. Typical characteristics include:
- Topic sentence, thesis statement, and subtopics
- Evidence and examples
Persuasive Writing– This type of writing presents the development of a logical argument. Typical characteristics include:
- Clear, concise, and defined thesis
- Strong introduction
- Well-developed argument with strong support
- Organized structure
Argumentative Writing– This type of writing takes a position on an issue or topic. It explains and supports the position with research. Typical characteristics include:
- A clear, firm, and debatable thesis
- Background information on the topic
- Organization and transitions
- Effective and thorough research
- Incorporation of logos, pathos, and ethos
The author’s purpose is the reason or intent the author has for his or her writing. The three main purposes are:
- To entertain- tells a reader a story for enjoyment
- To persuade- attempts to convince a reader to think or feel a certain way
- To inform- teaches a reader about a topic
This competency includes about 19 multiple-choice questions which make up about 24% of the entire exam.
This section tests your ability to identify appropriate, effective strategies to teach students all components of language arts.
Let’s look at some concepts that are likely to pop up on the test.
Comprehension strategies are conscious steps that good readers use to make sense of text. It is important to teach comprehension strategies for literary and informational texts because it helps students become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension. Comprehension strategies include:
Activating Background Knowledge: Readers use what they already know to connect to the text they are reading. This occurs before, during, and after reading. Students can use graphic organizers, such as flow charts and KWL charts, to aid in this process.
Predicting- Readers make informed guesses based on context clues and background knowledge about what will happen in the text. Before reading, they may use the title to make a prediction for what the book will be about. During reading, good readers make predictions about what will happen next based on what they have already read.
Visualizing- Readers make mental images of a text as a way to understand what they are reading.
Making Inferences- Readers draw conclusions from information in a text. They use what they know and what is in the text to make an inference about an event or character
Summarizing- Readers determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Summarizing helps students identify main ideas, eliminate unnecessary information, and remember what they read.
Multimedia is a term for combining many media formats including text, audio, images, animation, and video. A slide is an example of multimedia because it combines texts and images, and sometimes video and other types of media. Media literacy is a student’s ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Some examples of media literacy are radio, television, newspapers, and magazines.
Introducing multimedia literacy can be challenging at first, so start small and make sure to always have a back-up plan because technology is not always reliable. Pick the part of the lesson that it is most appropriate to use multimedia literacy; before, during, after, or as an exit ticket from the lesson. Always provide a clear link between the media and what you want your students to learn. Allowing students to be involved in creating media encourages collaboration, accountability, creativity, and mastery of concepts and ideas.
The writing process is a series of steps followed in order to produce a coherent piece of writing. Steps include:
Prewriting- This is the first stage of the writing process. It consists of a combination of brainstorming and outlining.
Drafting- This is where the author writes an initial draft.
Revising- This is where the author reviews, alters, and amends their initial draft.
Editing- This is where the author reads each sentence carefully to make sure that his or her words are serving the correct purpose.
Proofreading- This is where the author checks for and corrects spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors.
Publishing- This is the final step of the writing process. It is the presentation of the author’s final draft of writing.
This competency includes about 11 multiple-choice questions which make up about 14% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of using appropriate and effective formative and summative assessments in language arts.
Here is a concept that is likely to be part of the test:
Formal assessments are pre-planned, data-based tests that measure how well the students have learned what has been taught. The results determine a student’s proficiency or mastery of content taught and can be used for comparisons. Some examples include standardized tests, achievement tests, and aptitude tests.
Informal assessments are check-ins for learning that can be incorporated in day-to-day classroom activities that measure a student’s progress. Some examples of informal assessments are checklists, observations, and portfolios.
Descriptions of specific assessments to use in a language arts classroom:
- Observation– intentional observation using a rubric to evaluate performance-based tasks
- Anecdotal Record– short, concise, non-judgemental record of directly observed work or behavior
- Running Record– continuous observation of work or behavior for a period of time in order to draw conclusions and plan activities for individuals
- Dialogue Journal– ongoing written interaction between student and teacher as a way to exchange ideas, experiences, and reflections
- Portfolio Assessment– contains samples of the learner’s work that show growth over time
This competency includes about 10 multiple-choice questions which makes up about 12% of the entire exam.
This section tests your knowledge of the collaborative processes of reading and writing, including research, text structure, and reading for meaning using context.
Let’s talk about some concepts that are likely to be on the test.
The research process is a systematic approach that focuses on being objective and gathering a variety of information to analyze so the researcher can draw a conclusion. This follows a unique process listed below.
- Gathering Relevant Information– gather and obtain information from reliable sources such as literature searches, interviews, surveys, and/or focus groups
- Synthesizing– organize information found around a specific argument or question
- Paraphrasing– express information from other sources in your own words
- Citing Information– cite any source that was used when gathering relevant information
- Avoiding Plagiarism– be sure to paraphrase, put direct information in quotes, and always properly cite your sources
Using context clues to determine the meaning of a word or phrase can help a reader understand the text. Below is a table of common context clues a reader may use to help them understand a word’s meaning.
This competency includes a written response that accounts for 100% of the Written Performance Subtest Score.
This section tests your ability to analyze a literary selection in an organized manner, with attention to writing conventions and style.
Let’s talk about how to write a literary analysis.
The writer must first develop a clear and coherent thesis statement. The thesis statement is found in the introductory paragraph and offers the main point in one sentence. Once this has been stated, a writer must proceed with ample evidence and relevant details to support the thesis. This includes using the research process, paraphrasing information from sources, and citing all sources that provide relevant information to the writer’s main argument. The writer must use postsecondary level English through varied word choice, semantics, and language conventions. The literary analysis should be written in a style that increases the reader’s interest and understanding of the topic.
And that’s some basic info about the FTCE Middle Grades English 5-9 exam.
Exam Content Practice Test
A fifth-grade teacher wants to help her students become more aware of their literacy development by helping them better monitor their progress during reading and writing. Which of the following will best help students track their development?
- Write as many grade-level vocabulary words by memory as they can within five minutes
- Journal daily what they have learned that day
- Set specific and individual goals regarding improvements they want to make
- Work with partners to complete weekly running records of progress
Correct Answer: 3. This is correct because setting specific individual goals will help students become more invested in their own learning and will provide them with a way to hold themselves accountable. Having students record vocabulary words in a set period of time does not address literacy development, nor does it involve students in their learning. A daily journal would help students reflect on what they learned; it does not allow them to keep track of their learning. A running record only assesses decoding strategies and requires detailed training to be effectively utilized.
A sixth-grade teacher is reading short passages or telling short segments from a variety of texts in order to help her students understand about the way written text is typically organized. Text organization includes all but which of the following:
- cause and effect relationships
- chronological order sequence
- generalized order
- problems and their solution
Teachers want to use their instructional time effectively and efficiently in order to enhance student learning. Therefore, they want to ensure that all activities will make the best use of this time in all areas, including literacy development. Which of the following activities will probably not promote literacy development?
- Reading aloud to students, holding book discussions, and teaching them to make predictions
- Teaching students to self-monitor, visualize topics or events, and develop questions about the text
- Locating information, reading aloud, writing one day a week, and understanding test-taking strategies
- Responding to the text after reading such as with class discussions, retelling, dramatic play, and/or the use of technology
Correct Answer: 3. The problem with these activities is the minimal amount of time spent on them. Reading aloud and writing one day a week is not enough practice to have a great impact on literacy development. Test-taking strategies are often helpful before a criterion- or norm-referenced test. The incorrect answers are activities that are helpful in literacy development.
Mr. Wilmer is planning a unit on citing research sources for his students. Which of the following activities would most engage students in the activity?
- Use PowerPoint to demonstrate how to properly cite sources
- Have students write an essay about the importance of research citation
- Watch a video about famous authors
- Have students interview various classmates, faculty, and other staff at the school and cite their interviews
Correct Answer: 4. Having students create their own sources by interviewing individuals from around the school and then practice citing them is a great engagement activity. The incorrect options would not engage students as much as citing an interview the student conducted themselves.
Mary is reading a book and is making judgments and decisions beyond what is stated in the text of the book. Which of the following methods of comprehension is Mary using?
Which of the following statements about media literacy of middle school students is most accurate?
- Students need instruction about the various points-of-view of media because they do not naturally learn the differences in media bias
- Students are unable to comprehend complex skills in an environment that has a lot of different types of media
- Students do not need instruction about the various points-of-view of media because they naturally learn the differences in media bias
- In today’s technological environment, students are able to quickly discern between helpful and unhelpful media
Correct Answer: 1. Exposing students to a variety of media helps students better understand the similarities, differences, and complexities of the various types. Students need instruction and guidance on bias and various points-of-view. These concepts are not naturally learned by students. Learning about these concepts is essential for students to be able to discern between helpful and unhelpful media.
Mrs. Harper wants her students to compare and contrast online websites and printed media. Which of the following would best help her achieve this goal?
- Read a magazine article in the printed edition and then on the magazine’s website
- Read a newspaper editorial and then go to the newspaper’s website to read comments about the editorial
- Review a printed textbook and an online encyclopedia to identify the grade level at which the text is written
- Examine the features of a website and a magazine and how the student is able to interact with the information
Correct Answer: 4. This is the best option because it will allow the student to identify how readers interact in different ways with different mediums. Typically, the article will be the same in the printed magazine and on the magazine’s website. This would not provide a clear contrast of media. Typically, the article will be the same in the printed newspaper and on the newspaper’s website. This would not provide a clear contrast of media. The textbook and encyclopedia will be written for very different audiences. This is not a clear comparison of mediums.
A sixth-grade teacher reviews his students’ test results from previous grade levels before school starts in the fall. Of the following, which actions would be the most beneficial response to the test results?
- Plan appropriate group activities
- Plan a variety of instructional activities that focus on students’ strengths and also their needs
- Determine who might need referral for Special Education
- Determine if to call certain parents before the beginning of school
Which of the following would help students identify the characteristics of reliable and authoritative websites?
- Review with the students the concepts of purpose, accountability, and the reliability of websites
- Create, present, and model a checklist for students to use to evaluate a website
- Provide students online website catalogs to use to help guide their research
- Provide students a list of 15-25 websites that are approved as resources for research
Mrs. Taff, a middle school reading specialist, wants to promote instructional reading strategies with general classroom teachers. Therefore, Mrs. Taff begins several weeks of after school in-service by teaching the staff how to guide their students in what to do before, during, and after reading.
The next step that Mrs. Taff teaches is what should be done by the students during the time they are reading. One of the most important steps is to:
- Visualize what the text is about and then begin to form questions
- Ask a partner or someone in a small group how to pronounce unknown words
- Build their schema about the topic with the aid of the teacher
- Have the teacher hold a book discussion about what is being read
Correct Answer: 1. Visualization, or seeing in your mind in the form of pictures, what they are reading, enables students to be more likely to understand the text. Also, if a student can form intelligent questions about the text, it shows their basic understanding of what they have read.
A fifth-grade teacher wants to enable his students to increase their reading comprehension in science and social studies since they are finding these subject areas very challenging. Therefore, he teaches them some specific strategies to use before, during, and after reading in these content areas. Which of the following would the teacher focus on for this kind of strategy development?
- Previewing, phonemic awareness, and literal comprehension
- Previewing, self-monitoring, visualizing, and retelling
- Phonemic awareness, self-monitoring, and retelling
- Independent reading, segmentation, retelling, and self-monitoring
Mrs. Jones teaches a 5th grade class in which three students are struggling in their literacy development. She wants to test these students in order to analyze their specific strengths and weaknesses. What kind of test does Mrs. Jones need to use for this kind of assessment?
- Informal Reading Inventory
- Criterion-Referenced Test
- Norm-Referenced Test
- Curriculum-Based Reading Assessment
Correct Answer: 1. Informal reading assessments are the correct response because they are an assessment based on listening to individual, student-read passages or word lists in order to determine specific, individual needs and strengths.
Mrs. Jones is a fifth-grade reading specialist and has been asked by a number of teachers how to enhance the comprehension skills of her students, especially with expository text. Mrs. Jones discusses the way expository text is organized. She explains that you can enhance students’ comprehension of this kind of text by having them focus on certain elements of it. Which one of the below elements is NOT a part of expository text?
- Headings and sub-headings
- Graphs, charts, and pictures may be included
- Plot, setting, and characters
- Words in bold and/or with definitions may be integrated into the text
A sixth-grade teacher is presenting a unit about propaganda to her students. The teacher shows various propaganda advertisements and asks the students to detect faulty reasoning among the advertisements. Which of the following levels of reading comprehension is primarily being targeted in the lesson?
Correct Answer: 3. Evaluative comprehension includes the skill of detecting faulty reasoning. Students must apply the information they receive with previous understanding, experience, and knowledge to make judgments about the text.
Which of the following is the best definition of qualitative evaluation of text complexity?
- Qualitative evaluation analyzes the level of meaning, structure, language conventionality, clarity, and knowledge demands of a text
- Qualitative evaluation analyzes the readability measures and other scores of text complexity
- Qualitative evaluation analyzes the reader variables, such as motivation, knowledge, and experience of a reader
- Qualitative evaluation should not be used in analyzing text complexity
Correct Answer: 1. Text complexity is simply how challenging text material is for the students at their specific grade level. Determining text complexity is important in the proper assessment of students because the level will help the teacher understand how best to interpret students’ assessment scores. Qualitative evaluation of text complexity measures the qualitative dimensions of a text, such as the level of meaning, structure, language conventionality, and knowledge demands. Qualitative evaluation of text complexity seeks to understand how difficult a text is for the reader. Quantitative evaluation of text complexity measures the word frequency, word difficulty, and sentence length. Quantitative measures typically use a set formula and are calculated by computer software.
Mrs. King tells her seventh-grade students that she is going to explain and model a strategy that should help them learn how to self-monitor their own comprehension development. Which strategy would be most effective for this purpose?
- The teacher starts reading aloud as she is displaying the text on a slide or students are following along in a book; the teacher then pauses and asks a question aloud to herself about what she is reading
- Students read aloud to a partner an assigned story and then discuss the events
- Students develop questions about what they have read and exchange them with a partner
- The teacher models how to develop a text map to determine the main idea
Correct Answer: 1. This is the correct answer. It is called “Think Aloud” and it is important for teachers to model this process so students can actually see and hear the thinking process that goes for effective comprehension.
Which of the following strategies should students first use in the process of interpreting graphs or charts containing numerical information?
- Analyze whether the graph or chart is the best method to communicate the information
- Review the title, headings, and legends to develop an understanding of the content presented in the graph or chart
- Determine the smallest and largest values on the graph or chart to get an understanding of the range of data presented
- Compare and contrast the data provided from the graph or chart to determine the high points and low points
Correct Answer: 2 This is the best option because students must first preview the information before analyzing the information. The incorrect options are only possible after students understand what the graph or chart is communicating. They are not appropriate first steps.
Mrs. Olsen tells her sixth-grade students that she wants them to write at least two paragraphs about one of the school or classroom rules that they would like to see changed; they must support what they write with specific details and some kind of poster, slide, or use of technology. Mrs. Olsen’s main purpose for this activity is to determine her students’ ability to complete which of the following activities?
- Explain connotative meaning
- Write for a specific purpose and to a specific audience
- Revise their writing assignment
- Understand evaluative comprehension
Correct Answer: 2. This is one activity that should enhance students’ motivation to develop a written composition for a specific purpose, that being of changing a rule they don’t like. They also have to use what they learned about representing what they read in a visual manner.
Which of the following will most likely result in a price decrease and sales decrease for smartphones?
- A decrease in demand for smartphones
- An increase in demand for smartphones
- A decrease in supply of smartphones
- An increase in supply of smartphones
Which of the following would be considered the most reliable source for student research?
- A scientist’s personal blog
- A website forum of industry experts
- An educational institution’s website
- The first three websites in a search engine query
Correct Answer: 3. An educational institution’s website is considered the most reliable source of information because it is less likely to have personal opinions or inappropriate viewpoints because it is an institution’s website. A personal blog and website forum can have inappropriate or unreliable opinions or viewpoints. Just because a webpage ranks highly on a search engine results page does not mean that it is a reliable or useful website.
In the writing process, middle school students are expected to organize information by choosing an appropriate strategy such as sequencing, cause-effect, and/or compare-contrast. What is this step of the writing process?
Correct Answer: 4. This is the correct answer. Students are to build on ideas in order to create a focused, organized, and coherent piece of writing by using an appropriate organizational strategy.
A sixth-grade teacher is having difficulty reading and understanding some of the writing samples that her students are turning in to her. She has spent little time on teaching specific writing skills since she assumed that students were already competent at their writing development. Which of the following steps should this teacher do first in order to be enabled to best help her students with their writing?
- Help her students understand the importance and formation of legible writing–whether in manuscript or cursive, as appropriate
- Write to the parents of the students in order to request their help in checking their students writing and encouraging them to do better
- Utilize various assessments over specific writing skills in order to analyze where there are detailed gaps in learning and need for further instruction
- Utilize technology to demonstrate how email and publishing programs can enhance communication skills
Correct Answer: 3. This is the correct answer. This teacher must ascertain what are the specific student needs in order to help them as needed–rather than re-teach every single writing skill.
Use the following passage to answer the next three questions.
Excerpt from Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961
1 “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
2 Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’- a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
3 Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
4 In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility – I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it– and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
5 And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you– ask what you can do for your country.
6 My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
7 Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
Which of the following best defines the word summons as it is used in paragraph 2 of the selection?
- A court order
- A call to action
- To draw away from
- To make noise
Correct Answer: 2. The word “summons” in this context is best defined as a “call to action”. The excerpt even defines the word, in a way, when it reads: “not as a call to bear arms, . . . but a call to bear the burden…” Although “a court order” is also called a “summons,” in this context, that definition does not make sense. Also, answer choice D offers a similarly tricky distractor, as the word “trumpet” that comes directly before “summons” could lead someone to choose “to make a noise,” as that’s what trumpets do. Be careful of these kinds of seemingly easy answers and instead look for the most correct answer.
The writer’s purpose in this speech is best described as:
- A stirring and inspiring call to patriotism
- A defamatory denunciation of global powers
- A complaint against indolent citizens
- Congratulatory remarks regarding the current transition of power
Correct Answer: 1. This is the best answer. “Stirring and inspiring” best describes the effect this speech has on its intended audience, and “call” is certainly the purpose. Certain word choices in the distractors provide key evidence that makes them incorrect. Answer “B” uses negative language—denunciation and defamatory—which do not correctly reflect the tone of the speech. “C” uses the words “complaint” and “indolent,” which also incorrectly reflect a negative tone not represented here. The last answer “D” does use positive language with “congratulatory,” but the content is incorrect—the speaker is not praising the fact that he has risen to power. This speech is directed at the people in general.
The main idea of this passage can best be summarized as:
- People should stop being so lazy and fix the world’s problems
- Too many have died fighting for national loyalty
- We the people should be asking ourselves what we should do for the common good
- Other nations should rise up and help out
Correct Answer: 3. This is the best summary of the main idea. The speech applies to “the people” in a unified way; it calls for them to make questions of themselves, and it applies these ideals to a general, human “good”. The speaker does not condemn his audience, nor does it use a complaining tone, so choices “A” and “B” are out. Although it makes a general call for citizens of the world, its main focus is the people in general, so “D” is also out.