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I love John Steinbeck's books. I've reread them many times since my childhood. I was lucky to be introduced to Steinbeck's work before I was forced to read it in high school; otherwise, I'd probably hate his writing as much as I hate all the other books that I studied in school.

But there I go, off on a tangent again.

In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck points out that people who have known struggle survive hard times better and thrive in good times. He suggests that experiencing hardship provides a key—a level of grit, if you will—that enables people to grow exponentially once the hardship has been removed because they apply the lessons they learned to the new, positive situation. In other words, when people overcome a challenge, they often learn how to achieve a better outcome.

Twenty years ago, when my life came crashing down after my company eliminated my high-level position, I felt sorry for myself, as most people would. But my best friend Leslie dragged me to a medical supply shop owned by her aunt. A nurse by trade, this battle-axe aunt had become frustrated with the poor-quality medical equipment her geriatric patients received and opened her own shop to provide supplies that met her exacting standards.

Despite her extensive medical training, her business knowledge was nonexistent. Sample equipment loitered haphazardly wherever space was available. A dusty oxygen cylinder sat stolidly in the window display, as if this lone sentinel could entice potential customers to push open the uninspiring glass door and experience the wondrous freedom awaiting within. The store was located on a side street with little traffic. This shop had as much chance of success as I had of maintaining my extravagant lifestyle without income.

Yet, my attention was grabbed by an antique wheelchair. This ancient contraption seemed to speak to me of circumstances far worse than my own. At the time, I needed a reminder that the bottom could always be lower.

Leslie asked her aunt to hire me, but that stalwart lady told her that she preferred to hire someone with medical experience, not to mention more style. She looked me up and down, likely judging my sweats and sneakers, and finally decided to direct all her comments to Leslie. It was as if I were not standing in front of her, as if she were explaining to a nonresponsive patient's family what was necessary for their relative's well-being. Leslie, always my biggest supporter, was adamant. She explained that I had grown up in a family of nurses, that I had been pre-med in college myself, and that I would not be intimidated by medical jargon. I also knew marketing, I interjected, and would love to help her bring in more business. She thought it over briefly and then decided (telling Leslie instead of me) that she would hire me temporarily until she found someone with better qualifications.

What I didn't know at the time was that the first person she hired, a young man with a nursing degree, had found being on his feet for eight hours a day and lugging equipment back and forth to be too much manual labor. He left without giving notice. The second person she hired, a woman who had been a nursing assistant for several years, had a great deal of trouble showing up for work consistently.

If either of these two medical professionals had a better work ethic, my life would have taken a different path. I didn't realize how my work habits guided my fate until a few years ago when the aunt happened to mention it. She had not believed for one second that I would last in the position. She claimed my success was due to her excellent training.

I worked for the high-standards healer for twenty years while the business increased eight-fold, thanks to my marketing expertise. It just goes to show that success is possible when difficulties can be overcome.

1. This excerpt is licensed by UWorld.

Passage Vocabulary
Word Definition
adamant very determined; not giving in
contraption device; gadget
entice attract by inspiring hope or desire
exacting requiring careful attention and precision
exponentially increasing very quickly
extravagant spending much more than necessary
geriatric old; elderly
grit courage in the face of hardship or danger
haphazardly having no plan, order, or direction
immobility state of not moving or being unable to move
interjected interrupted what someone else was saying with a comment
loitered remained in an area for no obvious reason
notice statement that an agreement or job will end at a specified time
sentinel person or thing that watches or stands as if watching
stalwart very loyal and dedicated
stolidly in a way that shows little or no emotion
stringent very strict or severe
tangent abrupt change of topic
thrive grow or develop successfully
trade job; occupation

Which of the following choices best describes the passage?

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In the figure above, line s is parallel to line t. What is the value of x ?

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Frequently Asked Questions

PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT and is a suite of standardized tests created by the College Board. There are three versions of the PSAT: the PSAT™ 8/9, the PSAT™ 10, and the PSAT/NMSQT. All versions of the PSAT assess college readiness and provide feedback on reading, writing and language, and math skills. In addition, the PSAT/NMSQT test can qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Taking the PSAT/NMSQT helps students get an idea of what the SAT exam will be like, identify areas that they need to improve on to get a top score on the SAT, and can also lead to qualifying for a National Merit Scholarship or other scholarship opportunities. Qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship can add a significant competitive edge during college admissions.
The total duration of the PSAT test is 2 hours, 45 minutes. However, the test is conducted during the school day, and this takes approximately 3 hours, including all the breaks.
PSAT exam prep starts by understanding the exam format, and becoming familiar with the types and difficulty of questions that will be asked on the exam. In addition, knowing what areas you need to work on the most, and learning from the mistakes you make to improve your performance will ensure you do your best. You should find a prep resource that provides exam-like questions, helps you figure out where you stand, and helps you learn from detailed answer explanations. Click here for UWorld’s free practice test for the PSAT to start preparing now.
Most students take the PSAT/NMSQT in their junior year of high school (or sophomore year) in October.
The best way to prepare for a digital PSAT exam is to practice with digital PSAT prep. And, because our PSAT practice test is all online, we are able to make changes to the course quickly to reflect the most recent PSAT exam format and questions. We are making changes to our PSAT practice to mimic what students will experience and be tested on when the PSAT goes digital in 2023.
There are several differences between the PSAT/NMSQT exam and the SAT exam. First, the PSAT has a score range of 320 to 1520. The SAT is scored from 400 to 1600. The SAT exam is offered many times throughout the year and there is no limit on the number of times you can take it. But the PSAT/NMSQT is only offered once a year, and students can only take it up to three times. The SAT is also 15 minutes longer than the PSAT, has 15 more questions to answer, and is overall more difficult. But, taking the PSAT exam is great preparation for doing well on the SAT later on.
The highest PSAT score you can get on the PSAT/NMSQT test is a 1520. In order to qualify for a National Merit scholarship, you will need to score in the 99th percentile.
If you score a 1000 – 1010 on the PSAT/NMSQT exam, that is a good – or average – score. However, a 1150 is a very good PSAT score. If you score a 1280, then you are in the 90th percentile. And, you are in the 99th percentile if you have a PSAT score of 1460 or above.

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