ACT English Passage 04: The Walls of Rome

[1] Rome, founded on the banks of the Tiber River, boasts two ancient walls that, when they were built, surrounded the city. [A] Although both were built as walls intended to defend the city protectively (46) and stood ten meters tall they (47) were erected under different historical circumstances.

[2] It's (48) thought that the Servian Wall was constructed in the early fourth century BCE and named after Servius Tullius, who was the sixth king of Rome. The eleven-kilometer wall encircled Rome's seven hills and stood entirely on the east side of the Tiber River. [B]

[3] The Aurelian Wall (49), built in the late third century CE by the Roman Emperor Aurelian, was more sturdier than (50) the older wall. It was nineteen kilometers long greatly expanded (51) and surrounded the city of Rome as well as a small section of the Tiber's west bank. Erected almost 600 years after the Servian Wall, the Aurelian Wall protected Rome while the army was away, defending the empire’s far-flung frontiers from enemy attacks. [C] The massive wall deterred many enemies who might have been tempted to attack Rome during those intervals the city was sparsely defended.

[4] [D] The Aurelian Wall featured eighteen large gateways permitting both foot and chariot traffic in and out of the city. In other words, a (52) series of 381 towers and eleven smaller side gates called posterns were evenly spaced along the rest of the wall. Both the posterns and the towers (53) served as defensive positions for protecting Rome (54). Walkable passages lined the inner side of the wall.

[5] The Romans used bricks to build the Aurelian Wall (55). However, only small portions of the Servian Wall remains, (56) some of which can be seen inside a chain restaurant located beneath Rome’s central train station. [57] It could, perhaps, be considered ironic that remnants of a wall that once protected the future (58) capital of one of the ancient world's most famous empires are now preserved and recognized as historically significant by archaeologists (59).



G. defensive walls for defending the city
H. walls to provide defensive protection
J. defensive walls


B. tall. They
C. tall, they
D. tall; they


G. Among historians, its
H. Its’
J. Its


B. Wall had been
C. Wall, which,
D. Wall, was


G. much sturdier than
H. more sturdier then
J. much sturdier then

51. Which of the following placements for the underlined portion makes it most clear that it was Rome that had expanded?

A. Where it is now
B. After the words surrounded the
C. After the word Rome
D. After the words of the


G. Therefore, a
H. Instead, a
J. A


B. Both, the posterns and the towers,
C. Both the posterns, and the towers
D. Both the posterns and the towers,

54. Which choice provides the most specific information about how posterns and towers served as defensive positions?

G. by providing cover for armed guards during an enemy attack.
H. in that they were designed to help Rome repel enemy attacks.
J. by keeping Rome safe from invaders.

55. Given that all the statements are true, which one provides the most effective transition to Paragraph 5?

B. Today, the Aurelian Wall continues to dominate the Roman landscape.
C. Emperor Aurelian did not survive long enough to see the completion of the Aurelian Wall.
D. Before the Servian and Aurelian Walls were built, ancient Rome was most likely protected by mounds of earth.


G. were remaining,
H. has remained,
J. remain,

57. At this point, the writer is considering adding the following true statement: To hasten the construction of the Aurelian Wall, existing architectural features, such as aqueducts, were incorporated into the structure. Should the statement be added here?

A. Yes, because it adds information about the Aurelian Wall that supports the main idea of the paragraph.
B. Yes, because it demonstrates how innovative and practical the Roman engineers were.
C. No, because it provides a detail that interrupts the paragraph’s discussion of the Servian Wall in the present day.
D. No, because it provides a level of detail about the wall that is inconsistent with the level of detail in the rest of the essay.


G. what was yet to be appointed to the designation of
H. what would in reality become the
J. a would be but not yet

59. Which choice best completes the irony that is set up in the first part of the sentence?

B. as important relics of Rome’s earliest boundaries.
C. within a fast-food restaurant.
D. in such varied locations.

Question 60 asks about the preceding passage as a whole.

60. The writer is considering adding the following statement to the essay: The two walls can be thought of as concentric circles emanating from the ancient Roman Forum. If the writer were to add this statement, it would most logically be placed at:

F. Point A in Paragraph 1.
G. Point B in Paragraph 2.
H. Point C in Paragraph 3.
J. Point D in Paragraph 4.


46. The best answer is J because the phrase "defensive walls" is itself sufficient to express the original purpose of the ancient walls.

47. The best answer is C because the introductory adverb clause that starts with Although must be followed by a comma, and this choice correctly places a comma following the word tall.

48. The best answer is F because the word It’s is correctly used in its contraction form to create a sentence that begins "It is thought that ...".

49. The best answer is A because the comma following "Aurelian Wall" correctly sets off the nonrestrictive appositive phrase "built in the late third century CE by the Roman Emperor Aurelian," which further describes the Aurelian Wall.

50. The best answer is G because the phrase "much sturdier than" uses the correct comparative adjective much and the correct use of the subordinating conjunction than to compare the Aurelian Wall with the older wall.

51. The best answer is B because the meaning of the phrase "greatly expanded" is most clear in this case when it is placed directly before the noun it modifies: "city of Rome." When we read "surrounded the greatly expanded city of Rome," it is obvious that Rome itself, rather than the wall or the river, had expanded.

52. The best answer is J because no transition is needed between these two sentences, both of which describe the physical features of the Aurelian Wall.

53. The best answer is A because no punctuation is necessary within the phrase "Both the posterns and the towers." The conjunction both at the beginning of the phrase indicates that the two things that follow equally served as defensive positions.

54. The best answer is G because this is the only choice that specifically indicates how the posterns and towers were used as defensive positions. They provided cover during an enemy attack.

55. The best answer is B because the information about the Aurelian Wall continuing to dominate the Roman landscape most logically introduces the focus of paragraph 5 on what remains of the walls today. It also creates the best contrast between the well-preserved Aurelian Wall and the scant remains of the Servian Wall, a contrast demanded by the word however.

56. The best answer is J because the plural verb remain agrees in number with its plural subject portions. (The verb must agree with portions, not with wall.)

57. The best answer is C because the information about architectural features of the Aurelian Wall is out of place and is unrelated to the discussion of the Servian Wall in the present day.

58. The best answer is A because "the future" provides the clearest and most concise description of the capital.

59. The best answer is C because the preservation of the remnants of the Servian Wall in a location that is commonplace and average, such as a fast-food restaurant, can be considered ironic given the prestige and distinction originally associated with the wall and the city in which it resided. Moreover, the idea of a centuries-old wall being preserved in a fast-food restaurant - where food is designed to be served and eaten quickly and which are often temporary themselves - might also be considered ironic.

60. The best answer is F because the description of the walls as two concentric circles most logically connects to the general introduction of the walls in the first paragraph, in which the walls are described as surrounding the city and serving as protective barriers.