The lord of this land is variously and indistinctly named. One legend calls him the White Serpent of the Clouds, or the White Cloud Twin, Iztac Mixcoatl. Whoever he was, we can hardly mistake the mountain upon which he dwelt. Colhuacan means the bent or curved mountain. It is none other than the Hill of Heaven, curving down on all sides to the horizon; upon it in all times have dwelt the gods, excluding all mortals, and from it they have come to aid the men they favor. Absolutely the same name was applied by the Choctaws to the mythical hill from which they say their ancestors first emerged into the light of day. They call it Nane Waiyah, the Bent or Curved Hill. Such identity of metaphorical expression leaves little room for discussion. If it did, the other myths that surround this mystic mountain would seem to clear up doubt. It has this same magical virtue, that whoever ascends it, however old he is, grows young again, in proportion as he mounts, and is thus restored to pristine vigor. The happy dwellers around it have, however, no need of its youth restoring-power; for in that land no one grows old, nor knows the outrage of years.

1. According to the author, gods perform which of the following actions from their perch on the Hill of Heaven?

(A) helping mortals of whom they are particularly fond
(B) naming the hills, the mountains, and the local gods
(C) granting eternal youth to those who ascend the mountain
(D) knowing the outrage of years
(E) preserving the curve of the mountain

(A) The phrase according to the author indicates that the answer will be stated explicitly in the passage. Referring to the passage, we find the following sentence: “It is none other than the Hill of Heaven, curving down on all sides to the horizon; upon it in all times have dwelt the gods, excluding all mortals, and from it they have come to aid the men they favor.” This closely matches the phrasing of choice (A), “Helping mortals of whom they are particularly fond.” Choices (B) through (D) contain unrelated information from other parts of the passage. (A) is the best choice.

2. The passage is primarily concerned with:

(A) summarizing the most popular myths of the Choctaw people.
(B) describing the different identities of the White Cloud Twin, Iztac Mixcoatl.
(C) presenting an objective account of the myths surrounding Curved Hill.
(D) comparing and contrasting three mythical mountains.
(E) drawing similarities between different mythical accounts.

(E) This is a main idea question. The passage discusses some mythical accounts of mystic mountains, and then proceeds to argue that the similar meanings of Colhuacan and Nane Waiyah point to their being the same mountain, which the author calls “the Hill of Heaven.” Since Colhuacan and Nane Waiyah originate in different myths, it is most accurate to say that the primary purpose of the passage is to draw similarities between different mythical accounts (E). Although the passage mentions a Choctaw myth (A), it also discusses other myths whose origins are not revealed here. Choice (B) is one purpose of the passage, but this is not its main concern. Choice (C) is inaccurate insofar as the author is arguing a certain point rather than presenting the myths in an unbiased fashion. Choice (D) is close, but we are never told whether Colhuacan is a real or mythical mountain; furthermore, the author is discussing their similarities rather than their differences, so “contrasting” is an inaccurate descriptor. Choice (E) does the best job of summarizing the passage’s primary concern. (E) is the best choice.

3. The author of this passage would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about mythology?

(A) Myths cannot be used to determine the truth about contested historical facts.
(B) All mythologies include accounts of the same mystical mountain.
(C) The name given to a mythical entity can inform us about its origins and identity.
(D) Most myths are based in a universal human need to connect with the divine.
(E) It is impossible to determine with certainty whether two myths are related.

(C) To determine which statement about mythology the author would be most likley to agree with, go through each answer choice and see whether it corresponds with information either explicitly stated or implied by the passage. Choice (C) is the only answer that does so. Referring to the passage, we find the following lines: “Absolutely the same name was applied by the Choctaws to the mythical hill from which they say their ancestors first emerged into the light of day. They call it Nane Waiyah, the Bent or Curved Hill. Such identity of metaphorical expression leaves little room for discussion.” Since the author is using the name of the mountain to make a conclusion about its relationship to other myths, it is safe to conclude that he or she would agree that “the name given to a mythical entity can inform us about its origins and identity” (C). Choice (A) is not necessarily a statement with which the author would agree: since historical facts don’t come into play in this passage, we can’t determine anything about the author’s perspective on the relationship between myth and historical fact. Choice (B) is too strong: the notion that “all mythologies include accounts of the same magical mountain” (B) cannot be inferred from the author’s discussion of two related myths. Neither can the supposition that “it is impossible to determine with certainty whether two myths are related” (E); in fact, this answer choice directly contradicts a statement found in the passage. Choice (D) is the kind of trick answer that you might want to be true, but which is not in fact something with which the author would be likely to agree: surely, it is not herein implied that most (or any!) myths are “based in a universal human need to connect with the divine.” Choice (C) echoes an idea that is directly stated in the passage, so (C) is the statement with which the author would be most likely to agree.

4. It can be inferred from the passage that when the author uses the phrase “the outrage of years,” he is most likely referring to:

(A) immortality.
(B) old age.
(C) time as it appears to immortals.
(D) the perspective gained with the passing of time.
(E) the anger experienced by those who fail to climb the Hill of Heaven.

(B) In order to determine what the author is referring to with the phrase “the outrage of years,” refer to the passage. In the last sentence, we are told that “in that land no one grows old, nor knows the outrage of years.” The context tells us that the author is using the phrase “the outrage of years” as a colorful way of saying “old age” or the passage of time as it affects mortal beings (B). Choices (A), (C), (D) and (E) are unsupported by the passage. (B) is the best choice.

5. It can be inferred from the passage that the White Serpent of the Clouds:

(A) was one of the first rulers of the Choctaw people.
(B) is an immortal being who lives on the Hill of Heaven.
(C) is the twin brother of Iztac Mixcoatl.
(D) was one of few mortals to have gained eternal youth.
(E) inspired the descent of the Choctaws from Nane Waiyah.

(B) An inference about the White Serpent of the Clouds must have explicit support in the passage. Referring to the passage, we learn that that the White Serpent of the Clouds lived on a mountain called Colhuacan, which is “none other than the Hill of Heaven.” Upon this mountain “dwell the gods, excluding all mortals.” Thus, the White Serpent of the Clouds lives on the Hill of Heaven; since no mortals are allowed to live there, he must be immortal. This matches choice (B), which is the best answer. Choice (A) is unsupported by the passage; we are told that the White Serpent of the Clouds is “the lord of this land,” but this does not imply that he was “one of the first rulers of the Choctaw people.” Choice (C) is a misinterpretation of the sentence in the passage that reads “One legend calls him the White Serpent of the Clouds, or the White Cloud Twin, Iztac Mixcoatl.” Choices (D) and (E) contain unrelated information found later in the passage. (B) is the best choice.

6. According to the passage, all of the following statements about the Hill of Heaven are true EXCEPT:

(A) It and Colhuacan are one and the same mountain.
(B) It and Nane Waiyah are one and the same mountain.
(C) It curves down on all sides to the horizon.
(D) It is inhabited by both gods and mortals.
(E) Those who ascend it grow young again.

(D) Every answer choice but one can be eliminated based on information that is explicitly stated or implied by the passage. Choices (A) and (C) are directly stated in the passage: we are told that Colhuacan is “none other than the Hill of Heaven” (A), and that it “curves down on all sides to the horizon” (C). Choices (B) and (E) can both be inferred from the passage: we are told that Nane Waiyah, like Colhuacan, means “bent mountain,” and that the author believes that “such identity of metaphorical expression leaves little room for discussion” as to whether Nane Waiyah is also the Hill of Heaven. We can eliminate choice (B) on this basis. Regarding choice (E), later in the passage we are told that “whoever ascends [this mystic mountain], however old he is, grows young again, in proportion as he mounts, and is thus restored to pristine vigor.” Since Nane Waiyah is the same as the Hill of Heaven, it can be reasonably inferred that mortals who ascend the Hill of Heaven will grow young again. Only choice (D) is neither explicitly stated nor implied by the passage. In fact, this answer choice directly contradicts the part of the passage that states that the Hill of Heaven is inhabited only by immortals. Since every other statement is supported by information found or implied in the passage, (D) is the best choice.

7. It can be inferred from the passage that the “other myths” are referenced by the author in order to solidify the notion that:

(A) Nane Waiyah is likely the same hill on which Iztac Mixcoatl dwelt.
(B) even today, anyone who ascends Nane Waiyah will grow young again.
(C) the White Serpent of the Clouds and the White Cloud Twin are the same lord.
(D) Colhuacan is a metaphor for what the Choctaws call the “Hill of Heaven.”
(E) the gods will come to the aid of any men they happen to favor.

(A) This question asks you to infer the author’s intentions. To answer it, refer to the part of the passage where the author talks about “other myths”: “Such identity of metaphorical expression leaves little room for discussion. If it did, the other myths that surround this mystic mountain would seem to clear up doubt. It has this same magical virtue, that whoever ascends it, however old he is, grows young again…”. The phrase “same magical virtue” implies that the “doubt” mentioned by the author refers to the question of whether the two mountains are identical, that is, whether Nane Waiyah is indeed the same as the Hill of Heaven. Since the author makes a positive comparison between the mountains, and because earlier in the passage we are told that Iztac Mixcoatl dwelt on the Hill of Heaven, we can infer choice (A): “Nane Waiyah is likely the same hill on which Iztac Mixcoatl dwelt.” Choices (C) and (E) contain unrelated information found elsewhere in the passage. Choices (B) and (D) are unsupported by the passage. (A) is the best choice.