Sorry 3 out of 4 wrong. You have to deal with such tough passages if you want to aim a good score.
Moreover, believe or not this is not the toughest, is not the top notch passage in terms of difficulty/toughness
Here the answers. Ask if something remains unclear
1. The passage cites several factors that negatively impact the desert tortoise
population, mainly the threat of predators. The mortality rate would be most
likely to decrease if one of those reasons were eliminated.
(A) The passage states that tortoises burrow into the ground for protection from
“desert temperature extremes.” The passage does not state that tortoises are only
vulnerable to heat. The “desert temperature extremes” may also refer to extreme
cold, in which case tortoises burrow to keep warm. Thus, cooler burrows might
actually be harmful to the tortoises.
(B) The passage does not mention the mating frequency of desert tortoises.
Furthermore, while we might be able to infer that more frequent mating might
increase the number of desert tortoise hatchlings, we cannot infer that more frequent
mating would reduce the mortality rate of those tortoises.
(C) The vulnerability of hatchling and juvenile tortoises is mentioned, along with the
fact that adult tortoises provide no care for their offspring. However, there is nothing
in the passage to indicate that adult tortoises could have any positive effect on the
survival rate of young tortoises by providing better care for them. It is entirely
possible that adult tortoises are simply not equipped to protect the young from
predators; feeding and caring for the hatchlings may have no effect on the juvenile
(D) The passage states that females “may only lay eggs when adequate forage is
available.” If adequate forage were available, then females will be more likely to lay
eggs than they would when forage is scarce. However, the passage does not
indicate that the availability of abundant forage plants will make the desert tortoises
any more likely to survive once hatched.
. The passage states that larger mammalian predators eat desert
tortoises when rabbits and rodents are scarce. If rabbits were abundant, such predators would not seek out the desert tortoise, and the mortality rate would likely
2. The passage discusses several reasons that the desert tortoise is a
threatened species. In the second paragraph, the tortoise’s reproductive cycle
is discussed, with an emphasis on its low reproductive rate. In the third
paragraph, predators such as ravens are discussed. In the final paragraph,
the author recommends additional measures to protect the desert tortoise
from harm caused by urban expansion and the release of captive tortoises.
(A) In the last paragraph, the author does mention that urban expansion has the
unintended effect of increasing the population of ravens, cited in the third paragraph
as the primary predator of juvenile tortoises.
(B) The second paragraph discusses the low reproductive rate of desert tortoises as
one reason for their population decline and slow recovery.
. Although desert temperature extremes are mentioned in the third
paragraph, they are cited as a reason that desert tortoises burrow into the earth, not
as a reason that the desert tortoise is a threatened species.
(D) The third paragraph discusses several predators of the desert tortoise,
(E) The release of captive tortoises by pet owners is mentioned in the last sentence
of the passage as a danger to the wild tortoise population.
3. To determine the author’s primary intent, we must look at the whole passage.
The first paragraph introduces a problem (the decline of the desert tortoise
species), and describes action taken by the government to address the
problem while also indicating the need for further steps. The second
paragraph explains why the species has been slow to recover. The third
paragraph discusses non-human threats to the desert tortoise. Finally, the last
paragraph advocates additional measures to protect the desert tortoise
species. The author is primarily interested in advocating future actions to
protect the desert tortoise (last paragraph), while the preceding paragraphs
serve as background information necessary to make this point.
(A) The lifecycle of the species is partially discussed in the second paragraph, but
this is not the primary intent of the entire passage.
. In the last paragraph, the author strongly states that “additional
measures must be taken,” then advocates several actions to be taken in the future.
(C) The passage does discuss a problem (the decline of the desert tortoise species),
but does not stop there. The author discusses a problem primarily to explain why
future actions are advocated.
(D) The designation of the desert tortoise as a threatened species is one past action
mentioned, but the passage does not evaluate it beyond saying that it is insufficient
to address the decline of the species.
(E) The government is mentioned briefly in the first paragraph, but the passage does
not criticize the government.
The previous measure to protect the desert tortoise mentioned in the passage is the
designation of the species as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The author certainly agrees that the desert tortoise is a threatened species: the
second and third paragraphs discuss several problems faced by the species.
However, the author believes that the previous efforts have “been insufficient to
reverse the species’ decline” (last line of the first paragraph) and that “even with
current protections…the desert tortoise faces a tough recovery, so additional
measures must be taken” (first line of the last paragraph).
(A) The author is not skeptical of the previous efforts; rather the author agrees with
them but feels that they have not gone far enough.
(B) The author feels that the previous efforts to protect the desert tortoise have been
insufficient, so while the author may have regard for those efforts, “complete
satisfaction” is too strongly worded.
(C) The author does not imply opposition to the previous efforts to protect the desert
tortoise; the author agrees with those efforts, but feels that they have been
. The author does approve of the designation of the desert tortoise as
a threatened species, but qualifies that approval with the assertion that “additional
measures must be taken.”
(E) The author is not disdainful of the previous efforts to protect the desert tortoise;
the author supports those efforts, but feels that they have been insufficient.
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