Guide to SAT® Subject Test in Literature

Selected questions
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16th Century

From the wildly careening plot twists of early Elizabethan revenge dramas to the rousing militaristic fervor of the pre-war speeches of The Virgin Queen, these passages embody the societal and gender norms of a very specific historical moment. Revel in ornate diction and freewheeling syntax, remembering that these selections were meant to be *performed* rather than merely read. Acknowledge, too, that these selections were revolutionary for their time—as much for their content as for their authors. Bear this in mind, as well as audience and occasion, as you answer questions about the tone, mood, and setting of a piece.

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Re-answering questions correctly will improve your weighted average status.

British Prose: Tilbury Speech (1588)

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British Drama: The Spanish Tragedy (1587)

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British Drama: Dr. Faustus (1604)

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British Prose: Of Studies (1625)

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17th Century

From the proto-feminism of Puritan poetry to the fire-and-brimstone raillery of Protestant sermons, 17th century American literature bears the indelible imprint of the Christian devotion and rugged survivalism of our nation's early settlers. Contrast this with the British selections, which ground their overarching questions—about love, the role of magic, and humanity's purpose—in rich allegory and strict structure. As you peruse these selections, pay close attention to the role that social-historical context in establishing theme, setting, structure, and characterization.

CompletionAccuracy

Accuracy is based on your most recent attempt.

Status

Your status is based on your weighted accuracy which accounts for the difficulty of the questions.

Your weighted accuracy is based on your most recent attempts compared to everyone else’s first attempts.

Re-answering questions correctly will improve your weighted average status.

American Poetry: To My Very Good Friend (1625)

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American Poetry: Upon a Fit of Sickness (1632)

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British Poetry: Paradise Lost (1667)

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British Drama: The Winter's Tale (1611)

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British Prose: Meditation 17 (1623)

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British Poetry: The Sun Rising (1633)

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British Prose: Female Orations (1662)

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British Poetry: Shakespeare's Sonnet 30 (1609)

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American Poetry: Before the Birth (1650)

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British Poetry: Hudibras (1662)

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18th Century

The literature of the 18th century—like all literature—represents the artist's response to a changing world. As Europe and The New World quaked and pulsed with revolution, new styles emerged that reflected the anxieties of a world upended. From Benjamin Franklin's humorous—if licentious—advice to a protege to Phillis Wheatley's impassioned plea against slavery to William Blake's fin-de-siecle Romanticism, these pieces represent both a continuity with and a break from tradition. As you read, consider: In what ways did the historical moment undergird or influence the structure and allusions of each piece?

CompletionAccuracy

Accuracy is based on your most recent attempt.

Status

Your status is based on your weighted accuracy which accounts for the difficulty of the questions.

Your weighted accuracy is based on your most recent attempts compared to everyone else’s first attempts.

Re-answering questions correctly will improve your weighted average status.

British Poetry: The Rape of the Lock (1712)

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British Prose: A Modest Proposal (1729)

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American Prose: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741)

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American Prose: Advice to a Young Man on Choosing a Mistress (1745)

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American Poetry: An Hymn to Humanity (1773)

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American Prose: Letters from an American Farmer (1782)

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German Poetry: Prometheus (1789)

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British Poetry: The Tyger (1794)

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British Drama: The Beggar's Opera (1728)

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19th Century

These selections address the issues and upheavals of the 19th century, from the Industrial Revolution to the earliest stirrings of feminism to the ravages of imperialism to the Civil War. As you read, bear in mind whether these selections represent a critique or an embrace of these changing mores and milieus. Consider Wilde's lush prose, Whitman's soulful elegy, Kipling's meditation on the "White Man's Burden," and Conrad's searing response to European imperialism. What historical events, literary devices, and—perhaps most importantly—what emotions do these writers harness to create these selections? What lessons can the modern reader glean from these works?

CompletionAccuracy

Accuracy is based on your most recent attempt.

Status

Your status is based on your weighted accuracy which accounts for the difficulty of the questions.

Your weighted accuracy is based on your most recent attempts compared to everyone else’s first attempts.

Re-answering questions correctly will improve your weighted average status.

British Poetry: When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be (1818)

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American Prose: The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)

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American Prose: Walden (1845)

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American Poetry: O Captain, My Captain (1865)

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American Prose: Speech on the Babies (1879)

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Other Nationality Drama: A Doll's House (1879)

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British Prose: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

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British Poetry: The White Man's Burden (1899)

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Other Nationality Prose: Heart of Darkness (1899)

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20th Century

By the 20th century, poetry and prose have sharpened and modernized. As you read, consider the vast changes in writing style and even in subject matter. What differences can you see between the works of the 20th century and the writing from previous centuries? And why does some of the 20th century's finest writing draw so deeply on allusions, allegories, and events of the past? Why did Eliot anchor his famous Love Song—arguably one of the finest modernist poems ever written in the English language—in often-arcane references to ancient mythologies and the Bible? And how does the rich and wild cadence of The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock contrast with the spare colloquialism of Updike's A&P?

CompletionAccuracy

Accuracy is based on your most recent attempt.

Status

Your status is based on your weighted accuracy which accounts for the difficulty of the questions.

Your weighted accuracy is based on your most recent attempts compared to everyone else’s first attempts.

Re-answering questions correctly will improve your weighted average status.

American Prose: Cathedral

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American Poetry: Her Lips are Copper Wire

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American Poetry: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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American Prose: A&P

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21st Century

The writing of the first half of this nascent century is marked by crisis: questions of identity, race, gender, and class bubble up and inform these writings. As you read, consider: how does Adichie use her characters' diction and syntax to present Nigeria to the American reader? How do Aviles and Oyediji bend and twist two languages to represent their hybridized identities? How do allusions and metaphors function in these pieces? And in what ways, if any, does "world literature" differ from the rest of the selections on the SAT Subject Test in Literature?

CompletionAccuracy

Accuracy is based on your most recent attempt.

Status

Your status is based on your weighted accuracy which accounts for the difficulty of the questions.

Your weighted accuracy is based on your most recent attempts compared to everyone else’s first attempts.

Re-answering questions correctly will improve your weighted average status.

American Prose: Mr. Tuck

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American Poetry: On the Question of Race

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Other Nationality Prose: Half of a Yellow Sun

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