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ACT Question for June 20th


My dad understood the reason for my lies,
          and I thought that we would be able to keep a
          secret, father and son. I knew it was possible
          that Mom would find me out, and I was avoiding
(5)      that day. She didn’t understand me, and she
          would never have wanted to do what I had been
          doing. Dad told me that he wouldn’t tell her as
          long as I kept my grade in English class above a
          B. But she found me out anyway, and I knew it
(10)   on the day that I came home from school and she
          was waiting for me in the kitchen. She was
          sitting at the table with an opened envelope
          in front of her, a typed letter and a pink slip in her
(15)        I walked inside and closed the door behind
               “What’s this for, Jake?” Mom asked. She was
          drinking a cup of green tea the size of a soup
          bowl, and it steamed as she stirred it, the metal
(20)   spoon clanking against the ceramic cup’s sides.
               “Well, um. Let me see,” I said. She handed me
          the letter, but I knew what it was going to say
          before I scanned its contents. The name of my
          high school was written in blue at the top of the
(25)   letterhead, and my English teacher had signed
          her name to the pink slip, which verified that I
          had been absent from class seven times in the
          last month. I paused and acted as if I were
          reading the letter carefully, and then I
(30)   responded: “It appears to be a letter stating the
          number of times I’ve missed English class in the
          last month.”
               “I see that. Is it true?” she asked, accusingly,
          her eyes narrowing in scrutiny.
(35)        She had put me on the spot, and I needed to
          think fast. Maybe I should tell her the truth, I
          thought, the truth being that I had been fishing
          all of those mornings, that it was the right time
          of the year for catching trout and that English
(40)   literature could wait. My dad had opened the
          previous warning letter, and he said he would
          have done the same thing himself. That’s when
          we had made the pact. We wouldn’t tell Mom as
          long as I showed up for tests and kept up my
(45)   grade. I had done my part, and I was tired of
          trying to hide the truth.
               “Yes, it’s true,” I said simply, without apology
          or explanation. And I wasn’t going to tell her
          anything else, so I turned my back on her and
(50)   started to walk upstairs. As soon as I shifted, I
          heard her spoon hit the side of the cup. She slid
          her chair back against the cold tile floor, and I
          heard the clicking of her shoes as she walked
          over to the bottom of the stairwell.  “Come
(55)   back here right now,” she called after me. “That’s
          it? 'Yes, it’s true?'”
               “Yeah,” I said, turning around midway up the
          staircase. She looked small at the bottom of the
          stairs, still in her charcoal gray business suit and
(60)   high-heeled shoes. She was smart, and she
          looked it, and I could tell that she wasn’t going
          to let me get away so easily.
               “Well, I need more information than that. Tell
          me why you’ve been skipping class,” she
(65)   demanded, her voice soft but steady. I took a
          deep breath and sat down on the stairs. She
          crossed her arms, the letter crumpling in her
          hand, and she leaned up against the wall to wait
          for my explanation.
(70)        “I’ve been fishing,” I said.
               “You what?”
               “Fishing. Been fishing in the mornings before
          school, and sometimes I don’t make it to English
          class in time. It’s the first class of the day.”
(75)        “Jake. This is serious. You can’t miss seven
          days of school in one month just because you
          decide that fishing is more important. You’re
          graduating this year.”
               “But I’m keeping up my grades—” I protested.
(80)        “I don’t care if you have straight A’s,” she
          said, “You’ve got to show up for class. I’m
          calling your school every Friday from now on to
          make sure that you don’t miss a single class for
          the rest of the year. You hear me?”
(85)        I didn’t know how to explain to her that I
          couldn’t stand my English teacher, and that the
          class was pointless. Instead of talking about the
          books we read—and I read them all—the teacher
          would talk about her own political views, and
(90)   she would tell us that we should study English
          literature in college because it would make us
          sound smart when we talked to people. I
          thought that the teacher was shallow, that she
          was pretentious and missing the point of it all.
(95)        “Yeah. You just don’t understand, though,” I
          told my mom. “The teacher’s a fake, and I learn
          more when I’m outside.” The truth was that I
          could see it in nature, a simple and authentic
          beauty. When I was out fishing, the soft glow of
(100) the rising sun hit the water just right, and the
          pond’s surface rippled perfectly when I cast my
          line. The water was pure, the light exact. I only
          wanted to learn from things so true.
               She quieted, as if considering this point, and
(105) in her silence, I felt a connection to her that I
          rarely felt. She understood, and I knew it, but
          she had to do her job, which in that moment
          was to be the mother who didn’t waver in her
          demands. In that quiet moment, the front door
(110) opened, and my dad walked inside. We both
          looked at him but said nothing. He walked to the
          bottom of the stairs and stood next to her.
               “Jake,” she said sternly, “You will attend all of
          your classes this month, and I will call to make
(115) sure of that. No more fishing.” That was that. She
          walked back into the kitchen, and I heard her sit
          down and start to stir her tea. My dad looked up
          at me from the bottom of the stairs, his eyes
          sympathetic and sad.
(120)      “Sorry, bud,” he said.
               “Yeah, me too.” I got up from the stairs and
          slowly walked to my room, exposed and

According to the passage, Jake concluded that his mom knew about his absences when he noticed that she:

Incorrect. The passage does not support or suggest that Jake's dad and mom talked about the absences before Jake's mom received the letter from his school.

Incorrect. The opening paragraph tells us that Jake's mom knew about his absences before she followed him to the base of the stairs. She knows when she opens a letter from Jake's school that tells her, and Jake admits to the truth before she follows him to the stairs.

Correct. The first paragraph states that Jake realized that his mom knew the truth ("I knew it," he says) when he came home from school and found her waiting for him in the kitchen. He says: "She was sitting at the table with an opened envelope in front of her, a typed letter and a pink slip in her hands."

Incorrect. The passage does not state or imply that Jake's mom saw him fishing. He rather concludes in the passage's opening paragraph that his mom knows the truth when she opens a letter from his school.

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Question ID: 1233