MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Practice Test 2

Home > MCAT Test > MCAT critical analysis and reasoning skills practice tests

Test Information

Question 5 questions

Time minutes

See All test questions

Take more free MCAT critical analysis and reasoning skills practice tests available from


In the late 18th century, citizens throughout rural Massachusetts shut down courthouses attempting to conduct debt collection hearings, farmers in western Pennsylvania and other parts of the western frontier refused to pay an excise on whiskey, and members of the Pennsylvania Dutch community in the east of the state harassed officials attempting to assess a direct tax on houses. In each case, the government's initial response to protests of "taxation without representation" led to an exacerbation of tensions: radicalized citizens banded together, creating armed militias in open rebellion against the ruling regime.

These popular uprisings against taxation and economic hardship were not—as many Americans would now assume upon hearing such descriptions—revolts against the British monarchy in prelude to the American Revolution (1775–83). Rather, Shays' Rebellion (1786–87), the Whiskey Rebellion (1791–94), and Fries's Rebellion (1798–1800) occurred after the British had been vanquished. Though each episode has distinctive historical significance, it is particularly instructive to examine the evolving reaction to popular protest by the incipient United States government.

In the case of the uprisings throughout western and central Massachusetts that would come collectively to be known as "Shays' Rebellion," the federal government existed in a much attenuated form, enfeebled due to the considerable amount of sovereignty ceded to the thirteen original states under the Articles of Confederation. After subsistence farmers, veterans of the Continental Army, and other rural citizens found themselves hard-pressed in 1786 by debts incurred during hard times and taxes newly levied by the Massachusetts government, they began to revolt, at first just closing down courts but soon organizing armed militias, culminating in an attempt led by veteran Daniel Shays to seize a federal armory in Springfield. The federal government lacked the funds to assemble its own militia and counter the uprising, so it was left to the governor of Massachusetts, James Bowdoin, to handle—and he had to turn to assistance from more than a hundred wealthy merchants to bankroll mercenaries, who quashed the rebels.

The moneyed and propertied interests—creditors to whom many debts were owed—had been unnerved by the events in Massachusetts, and were instrumental in the creation and ratification of the new Constitution, which greatly concentrated power in a more robust central government. When many western farmers refused to pay a 1791 excise tax on whiskey, the newly empowered federal government was able to muster a formidable response after resistance grew more organized. In 1794, President Washington himself led a massive federalized militia of nearly 13,000 troops that would effortlessly scatter the resistance forces. The reaction by President Adams to the smaller rebellion led by John Fries years later would be similarly heavy-handed.

This tendency toward increased centralization of power has only worsened since the 18th century. As the federal government has accumulated strength, state and municipal governments—and, ultimately, the people—have lost their sovereignty. And while the moneyed had to foot the bill directly to protect their property (and continue collecting their rents) in quelling Shays' Rebellion, since the adoption of the new Constitution in 1789, the federal government has been able to make the people pay directly for their own repression—a fact recently highlighted in the assault, covertly orchestrated across several cities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security, on the 2011 Occupy movement. In the end, the people have only traded one master for another: the feudal relic of British monarchy has been usurped by a modern bureaucratic behemoth, ultimately in thrall to the nouveau aristocracy of corporate "persons" and the rapacious class of executives that constitute the homunculi within.

1. The author writes in paragraph 5 that "the federal government has been able to make the people pay directly for their own repression." Judging based on the rest of the passage, this is most likely intended to signify that:

  • A. popular uprisings no longer occur in the United States due to more successful control of citizens.
  • B. imprisoned protestors are sent a bill for the expenses accrued while they are behind bars.
  • C. protesting ultimately incurs worse consequences for individuals today than it did in the 18th century.
  • D. the government requires citizens to pay taxes, which are partly used to fund police and military responses to protests.

2. The author's attitude toward "moneyed and propertied interests" (paragraph 4) can best be characterized as:

  • A. indifferent.
  • B. positive.
  • C. negative.
  • D. ambivalent.

3. The author most likely omits specific details of the events in the first paragraph in order to:

  • A. set an expectation that is reversed in the following paragraph.
  • B. express the primary thesis of the passage more concisely.
  • C. downplay the significance of the events being addressed.
  • D. conceal a general lack of knowledge on the subject matter.

4. Which of the following is an assumption made by the author in the second paragraph?

  • A. The response to Fries's Rebellion was more heavy-handed than the response to Shays' Rebellion.
  • B. The British monarchy is entirely unlike the US federal government that eventually replaced it.
  • C. A significant number of Americans today are unfamiliar with the rebellions that occurred after the Revolution.
  • D. The British played a covert role in the rebellions that took place after their defeat in the American Revolution.

5. Some scholars have argued that in response to the 2007–2008 financial crisis, the US federal government did less to protect citizens whose homes were taken away in fraudulent foreclosures than to defend the banks that engaged in this criminal behavior. If true, what impact does this have on the passage?

  • A. It challenges the author's central argument.
  • B. It supports the author's central argument.
  • C. It weakens the assertion that the people have exchanged one master for another.
  • D. It strengthens the claim that the wealthy shaped the creation of the US Constitution.