Reading Comprehension Practice Exercises: GED Language Arts, Reading (page 3)

Updated on Mar 9, 2011

Passage 14

Read the following sentences and then list the cause and effect in each.

      Example: James overslept this morning, and was late for work.
      Cause: James overslept
      Effect: He was late for work.
  1. We recently hired three new salespeople, and our income has doubled.
  2. Cause:


  3. Since I met you, I've been very happy.
  4. Cause:


  5. When Jim's car stalled, he immediately wished that he'd bought some gas.
  6. Cause:


  7. Tom skipped breakfast, and found himself famished around noon.
  8. Cause:


  9. Jane lost 35 pounds once she started on this new diet.
  10. Cause:


You will notice that cause and effect may not be directly stated, and also that they may not be given in any particular order. You may need to read carefully to detect that one event in the passage caused another event.

For example, question 27 does not state that Jim ran out of gas; it doesn't even state that Jim chose not to buy gasoline. The writer actually tells you that Jim wished that he'd bought some gas; you must infer from this that he didn't buy gas, and then infer that the lack of gasoline led to the car stalling.

You can make this sort of inference if the writer makes a deliberate connection between two events. Notice that the writer in question 27 makes a connection between Jim's failure to buy gas and the car stalling—without directly stating that there is a connection. He implies the connection; you must infer the connection, then draw a cause-and-effect relationship between them.

There are certain signal words and phrases that can also tip you off to cause-and-effect relationships. Some words that indicate cause include because, since, created by, caused by, and similar words and phrases. Some words that indicate effect include since, therefore, consequently, hence, so, and similar words and phrases.

Passage 15

… she thought about back home, about how she had been all alone most of the time then too, but this lonesomeness was different. Then she stopped staring at the green chairs, at the delivery truck; she went to the movies instead. There in the dark her memory was refreshed, and she succumbed to her earlier dreams. Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another—physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.

—From The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.

  1. What caused this character to go to the movies?
    1. loneliness
    2. a desire to see the movie
    3. curiosity
    4. a desire to become an actress
    5. romantic love
  2. What effect did the movie have on the character?
    1. She decided to change careers.
    2. She stopped being bored.
    3. She learned a dangerous lesson about love.
    4. She became insecure.
    5. She remembered something that she'd forgotten to do.

Passage 16

  1. When Megan refused to lie to her parents about where she was spending the night, she was completely ostracized by her usually loyal friends, who had never shunned her before.
    1. excluded
    2. hurt
    3. cheered
    4. helped
    5. covered with feathers
  2. Zachary is too inexperienced for the managerial position, but he is a willful young man and obdurately refuses to withdraw his application.
    1. foolishly
    2. reluctantly
    3. constantly
    4. stubbornly
    5. slowly
  3. She read her supervisor's memo four or five times, but she still found his rambling message ambiguous.
    1. profound
    2. inspiring
    3. ridiculous
    4. unclear
    5. lizardlike
  4. When people heard that timid Bob had taken up skydiving, they were incredulous.
    1. fearful
    2. outraged
    3. convinced
    4. disbelieving
    5. busy
  5. The suspect gave a plausible explanation for his presence at the scene, so the police decided to look elsewhere for the person who committed the crime.
    1. unbelievable
    2. credible
    3. insufficient
    4. apologetic
    5. flexible


Practice 1

  1. c.   The topic sentence in the paragraph is the first sentence, Reading is an important part of life. It introduces the topic, which is reading. Notice that some of the other options, such as d, are actually statements that need to be proven—and therefore, they cannot be the topic.
  2. d.   This concept is suggested by the thesis statement in the paragraph, which is the second sentence: Critical reading, however, is a demanding process.

Practice 2

  1. a.   This is a thesis, a statement that needs to be proven, and the passage makes the thesis statement in the last sentence.
  2. b.   The topic of the paragraph is the Fourth Amendment. You could argue that choice a is correct as well, but the topic of the passage is actually not the Constitution as a whole but merely one aspect of it: the Fourth Amendment, which deals with search and seizure.

Practice 3

  1. e.   This thesis statement is given in the final sentence of the paragraph.
  2. e.   The topic of this paragraph is mathematics. Choices c and d are certainly addressed in the passage, but notice that they are both statements that would need to be proven—and therefore, they cannot be topic statements.

Practice 4

  1. b.   There are many numbers given in this passage, and it would be easy to pick the wrong one if you merely skimmed your eye along looking for numerals. The question is designed to test whether you are paying attention to what you're reading, and also to test whether you can go back through the passage and find specific details. In this case, the fourth sentence tells you that more than 2,400 varieties of potato are grown in the Andes Mountains. Remember also to look for those signal words that we discussed earlier:
  2. for example

    for instance

    in particular

    in addition





Practice 5

  1. b.   Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president of the United States is an opinion. The other statements are all provable facts, but this one statement is an opinion; there might be someone who would disagree that Abe Lincoln was the greatest president in the history of the United States. On the other hand, you can easily verify whether Lincoln was the sixteenth president by doing a little research. It's a fact; it's not open to debate.

Practice 6

  1. a.   This sentence tells you that some cities have decided to outlaw burning wood in a home fireplace; this is a strict fact, which can be proven true. The statement in choice d might at first appear to be a statement of fact, but notice that it addresses the motives of the colonists who participated in the Boston Tea Party. What actually motivated the Boston Tea Party is not a strict matter of fact, because people might have joined the rebellion with many different motives. Only choice a can be considered a strict statement of fact versus opinion.

Practice 7

  1. F.   This is a statement of fact that makes no value judgment or debatable assertions.
  2. F.   This is probably a statement of fact, although it's a good example of so-called facts that are actually debatable.
  3. O.   This is an opinion because what determines safer or less safe is clearly open to debate.
  4. O.   This is an opinion: One person's good investment is another person's money waster.
  5. F.   This statement can easily be tested and proven true.
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