Reading Comprehension Practice Exercises: GED Language Arts, Reading (page 3)
The study guide for these practice exercises can be found at:
Practicing Main Ideas and Themes
Try your hand at identifying the topic and main idea for each of the following passages. Underline the topic and circle the main idea in each passage as you read it through; this will help you in answering the questions.
Reading is an important part of life. Critical reading, however, is a demanding process. To read critically, you must slow down your reading and perform specific operations on the text—with pencil in hand. Mark up the text with your reactions, conclusions, and questions. When you read, become an active participant.
- The topic of this passage is
- how to pass reading tests.
- the hard work of critical reading.
- a pencil is an important tool when reading.
- active participation is essential when reading.
- This paragraph best supports the statement that
- critical reading is a slow, dull, but essential process.
- the best critical reading happens at critical times in a person's life.
- readers should get in the habit of questioning the truth of what they read.
- critical reading requires thoughtful and careful attention.
- critical reading should take place at the same time each day.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. No search of a person's home or personal effects may be conducted without a written search warrant issued on probable cause. This means that a neutral judge must approve the factual basis justifying a search before it can be conducted.
- This paragraph best supports the statement that the police cannot search a person's home or private papers unless they have
- legal authorization.
- direct evidence of a crime.
- read the person his or her constitutional rights.
- a reasonable belief that a crime has occurred.
- requested that a judge be present.
- The topic of this paragraph is
- the Constitution of the United States.
- the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
- a judge's role in search and seizure.
- the origin of search warrants.
- factual bases for search warrants.
Mathematics allows us to expand our consciousness. Mathematics tells us about economic trends, patterns of disease, and the growth of populations. Math is good at exposing the truth, but it can also perpetuate misunderstandings and untruths. Figures have the power to mislead people.
- This paragraph best supports the statement that
- the study of mathematics is dangerous.
- words are more truthful than figures.
- the study of mathematics is more important than other disciplines.
- the power of numbers is that they cannot lie.
- figures are sometimes used to deceive people.
- The topic of this paragraph is
- expanded consciousness.
- using math to mislead.
- how math can help society.
When you hear the word potato, you probably picture a rounded brownish vegetable with thick skin. But the truth is that there are thousands of different types of potatoes, and the differences between varieties can be quite striking. The United States alone produces an estimated 560 different types of potato! More than 2,400 varieties are grown in the Andes Mountains. One notable area of the Andes produces around 125 different varieties of potato, and many individual potato farmers specialize in 10 or 15 different types. The potato is much more than just the brown-skinned type that most Americans know.
- Approximately how many types of potatoes are grown in the Andes Mountains?
- 10 to 15
- Which of the following statements is an opinion?
- Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States.
- Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president of the United States.
- Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
- Abraham Lincoln had a son named Robert Todd.
- President Lincoln was born in Kentucky.
Some cities have recently decided to outlaw burning wood in a home fireplace. This is an outrageous infringement upon traditional American liberties, and should be resisted at all costs. New Englanders once rose up and rebelled against laws that affected their right to drink tea, and this rebellion became famous as the Boston Tea Party. Those Americans were unwilling to support a government that passed laws restricting their basic human liberties. What America needs is a modern version of the Tea Party, in the form of a modern Fireplace Rebellion.
- Which of the following statements from the text is a fact?
- "Some cities have recently decided to outlaw…"
- "This is an outrageous infringement…"
- "… should be resisted at all costs."
- "Those Americans were unwilling…"
- "What America needs…"
Read the following sentences, and then write F for fact or O for opinion in the blank.
- Hybrid cars use a combination of gasoline and electricity for power.
- Hybrid cars get better gas mileage than traditional gas-powered cars.
- Hybrid cars are safer than gas-powered vehicles.
- Hybrid cars are a better investment than traditional gas-powered cars.
- Hybrid cars cannot accelerate as quickly as comparable gas-powered cars.
You'll notice from these examples that some facts can easily be converted into opinions. For example, sentence 11 could easily be debated: One person might claim that hybrid cars get better gas mileage than gasoline-powered cars, while another person might argue that the gasoline savings is nullified by the hybrid's use of electricity.
This is where it becomes important to be a careful reader, learning to be on guard against opinions that are stated as if they were indisputable facts. It's actually very easy to write an opinion in words that suggest it's a proven fact. For example, a newspaper article might tell you that the president's policy on taxes will cause an increase in poverty levels. This is stated as though it is a proven fact, but you know that it's merely an opinion because it discusses something that might happen in the future. Nothing in the future can be considered a proven fact simply because the future hasn't happened yet.
Try taking a fact and converting it into an opinion. For example:
- A loaf of bread today costs about 10 times as much as it did 30 years ago.
- A loaf of bread today isn't as healthy as it was 30 years ago.
Read the following statements of fact, and then convert each into an opinion.
- Fact: The movie Crash won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2006.
- Fact: There are four distinct seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring.
- Fact: Evergreen trees stay green year-round, while deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter.
- Fact: Coffee is a beverage made from beans, many of which are grown in Colombia.
- Fact: Most states and provinces in North America use Daylight Saving Time in the summer months.
The following passage is from a memo written by the manager of a parking garage. Read through, asking yourself what information you might infer from what the writer says.
Radios have been stolen from four cars in our parking garage this month. Each time, the thieves have managed to get by the parking garage security with radios in hand, even though they do not have a parking garage identification card, which people must show as they enter and exit the garage. Yet each time, the security officers say they have seen nothing unusual.
- Which of the following statements can be accurately inferred from this passage?
- The parking garage is very busy.
- Security guards at parking garages don't care about their jobs.
- The identification card system isn't working at the parking garage.
- There is a problem with the security at the parking garage.
- People should be more careful about locking their cars.
This passage is from a police report concerning a traffic accident. Again, see what you can infer from it.
John Smith was driving the car that collided with the telephone pole on Main Street on Thursday at 9 A.M. Witnesses said that they saw Smith's car drift from the left lane, through the right lane, and finally hit the pole. One witness also claims to have seen Smith at the traffic light two blocks earlier, and at that time the witness claims that Smith was "looking pretty sleepy." Smith admitted that he had worked a double shift the night before the accident. There were no injuries.
- Which of the following might be inferred from this traffic report?
- Smith was drunk.
- Smith fell asleep at the wheel.
- The witnesses lied.
- Smith's car had a mechanical problem.
- Smith's job is wearing him out.
Sometimes you can make inferences based on the choice of words that a writer uses. Read the following, paying attention to the writer's descriptions and choice of words.
Coach Lerner, my basketball coach, is six feet ten inches tall with a voice that booms like a foghorn and the haircut of a drill sergeant. Every morning, he marches onto the basketball court at precisely 8:00 and dominates the gymnasium for the next three hours. He barks orders at us the entire time and expects that we will respond like troops on a battlefield. And if we fail to obey his commands, he makes us spend another 45 minutes under his rule.
- Which of the following statements can be inferred from this passage?
- Coach Lerner is a bad basketball coach.
- Coach Lerner is a good basketball coach.
- It's hard work being a new member of a basketball team.
- Playing on Coach Lerner's team is like being a soldier in training.
- Basketball players need strict discipline if they are to play well.
This element of word choice is very important. If you pay attention to the words and phrases that a writer uses, you will very often get a good sense of what he or she is implying, even though the author may never directly state his or her true opinion. This is especially true of a newspaper or news magazine—periodicals that claim to be unbiased news reports, but that may actually be reflecting a writer's own bias.
The following passage is an excerpt from a newspaper article. It seems at first glance to be a straightforward account of a factual event, but read it carefully and notice the writer's use of words and phrases. See if you can detect what the author really thinks of President Bush.
President Bush visited his family's large estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, over the weekend. The huge compound is surrounded by high walls topped with barbed wire, and protected by armed guards at every corner, and once inside the Bushes enjoyed a relaxing weekend away from the pressing affairs of government. They played tennis, swam in the pool, and invited select friends for dinner. President Bush did not, however, answer questions concerning the war in Iraq.
- Which of the following statements can be supported by this passage?
- The writer thinks that President Bush is a good leader.
- President Bush does not care about poor people.
- The president should always be protected by guards and barbed wire.
- It's good to get exercise, even if you're a world leader.
- The author feels that President Bush is avoiding his duties as president.
Literature will very often demand that a reader make inferences from a passage. This is especially true in poetry, but no less true in fiction and drama. Read the following passage from Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, and see what you can infer. Young Tom has been commanded by his Aunt Polly to whitewash (paint) the fence, but he's been trying to bribe his friend Jim to do it instead. He has finally persuaded Jim by offering him a marble (alley) and a peek at Tom's sore toe.
Jim was only human—this attraction was too much for him. He put down his pail, took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing interest while the bandage was being unwound. In another moment he was flying down the street with his pail and a tingling rear, Tom was whitewashing with vigor, and Aunt Polly was retiring from the field with a slipper in her hand and triumph in her eye.
- Which of the following statements are supported by the passage?
- Aunt Polly hit Jim with her slipper.
- Tom was wrong to bribe Jim.
- Jim is a coward.
- Aunt Polly is abusive.
- The fence is hard to paint.
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