Read the following passage, which contains some underlined or numbered words or phrases. Each of the answer choices contains alternatives for the underlines; choose the one that fits best grammatically or stylistically. If you think the original is the best answer, choose Choice ‘A’, or NO CHANGE.
Questions about specific parts of the passage or about the passage as a whole are identified by numbers only, not underlines. These will be associated with specific questions.
Mind Over Matter
I couldn’t breathe, opening my eyes after spinal-fusion surgery I had undergone during the summer of my sophomore
year. My face was warm and moist, my brain stricken with a heavy fever that seemed to brighten the room in my
haziness. In desperation for some air, I motioned to my mother who was watching over me and asked her to open the
window near my bed. As a breeze brushed my face, I had heard the sounds of laughter and the passing thud of a ball
outside. Peeking out the window, two boys my own age were playing soccer, their well-built bodies and graceful
movements screaming “superstar.”
My orthopedic surgeon had told me that I wouldn’t never be able to play any contact sports such as football or
soccer after my operation because of the rods that interlocked my spine. The pain in my back seemed to confirm
this, and I began to worry about my ability to do simple tasks, even walking. (9) My back felt like a dead weight, glued
to the stiff mattress beneath me, causing me to ache with every movement. Although I trusted that my back would
eventually heal, some part of me felt as if I’d remain broken and stiff for the rest of my life.
As a child, I was never physically strong and always felt ashamed that I couldn’t help my mother with simple chores,
carry groceries or the heavy gallons of drinking water into our apartment. My brother usually did these chores,
that often left me feeling useless and a burden on our family. During my time in the hospital, when I had a lot of time to
reflect, I realized that I was wrong. Almost as if she read my mind, my mother said, “It doesn’t matter how big you are,
or how strong – you can make a difference in this world.” Since my surgery, I have come to cherish the small things
I still have in life, and value the idea that even with so little, a person can still give back a lot to society and instead of
brooding about what might have been, I ask myself, “How can I help others with what I have?”
I have neither physical strength, nor athleticism, but I can shape the world, not physically, but with my mind. Sparked
by my own painful experiences, I plan to enter the medical field and specialize in finding ways to help others in the
same way that doctors have helped me. No child should weep because they can’t kick around a soccer ball with friends,
or be ashamed of a physical condition over which they have no control.
Adapted with permission from a high school personal statement by A. V., San Jose, CA, 2014.
Created for Albert.io. September 2014
(9) My back felt like a dead weight, glued to the stiff mattress beneath me, causing me to ache with every movement.