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PSAT Reading Quiz: Detail Questions

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Refer to the following passage for the practice questions below:

The United States has less than half of the 215 million acres of wetlands that existed at the time of European settlement. Wetland conversion began upon the arrival of European immigrants with their traditional antipathy to wetlands and with the will and technology to dry them out. In the mid-19th century, the federal government awarded nearly 65 million acres of wetlands to 15 states in a series of Swamp Land Acts. But the most rapid conversion occurred between the mid-1950s and mid-1970s, when an estimated 450,000 acres per year were lost, primarily to agriculture.

This conversion has meant the loss of a wide range of important wetland functions. Wetlands inhibit downstream flooding, prevent erosion along coasts and rivers, and help remove or assimilate pollutants. They support scores of endangered birds, mammals, amphibians, plants, and fishes. Wetlands provide aesthetic and open space benefits, and some are critical groundwater exchange areas. These and other public benefits have been lost to agricultural forestry and development enterprises of all kinds, despite the fact that most of the conversion goals might have been obtained with far less wetland loss through regional planning, stronger regulation, and greater public understanding of wetland values.

At best, existing wetland laws and programs only slow the rate of loss. Despite the growing willingness of the government to respond, wetland protection faces significant obstacles. Acquisition as a remedy will always be limited by severe budget constraints. The Emergency Wetlands Resources Act allocates only $40 million per year in federal funds, supplemented by relatively modest state funds, for wetland purchase. Ultimately, the wetlands that are protected will be a small percentage of the approximately 95 million acres remaining today. Wetland acquisition by private environmental groups and land trusts adds qualitatively important, but quantitatively limited protection. Government incentives to induce wetland conservation through private initiatives are limited and poorly funded.

Question 1

According to the passage, wetlands can provide all of the following environmental benefits EXCEPT

A. a means of preventing coastal erosion

B. a haven for endangered species

C. a medium for groundwater exchange

D. a source of fossil fuel

Answer 1

D: In the opening paragraph, we learn that the United States has lost more than half its wetlands in a conversion process that’s been going on for centuries. In paragraph 2, the author explains the benefits of wetlands.

Question 2

The author states which of the following about wetland loss in the United States?

A. The federal government should preserve the nation’s remaining 95 million acres of wetlands.

B. It can be prevented if the federal government will double its $40 million yearly allocation for wetland purchases.

C. It can be halted through a regional management approach.

D. It occurred most rapidly between the mid-1950s and mid-1970s.

Answer 2

D: Correct choice (D) is almost a verbatim restatement of the final sentence of paragraph 1, where the author says that the most rapid conversion of wetland areas in this country took place between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s.

Question 3

The author mentions the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act in paragraph 3 in order to

A. argue that the federal government prevents various state governments from protecting valuable wetland areas

B. give an example of the severe financial obstacles limitingfederal acquisition of wetland areas

C. indicate how widespread is the perception that wetlands are not worth saving

D. illustrate the need for legislation to save wetland areas in the United States

Answer 3

B: Just after mentioning “severe budget constraints” that limit government acquisition, the author states that the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act (EWRA) allocates “only $40 million per year” in federal funding for wetland purchases. So, the EWRA is an example illustrating the preceding generalization, which is rephrased in (B).