Reading Comprehension for Nursing School Entrance Exam Study Guide (page 3)

Updated on Aug 12, 2011

Answers and Explanations for Practice Passage 2

  1. b.   The passage says that both Type III and Type IV allergic reactions cause swelling. In Type III allergies, IgM and IgG bind away from cell surfaces. This creates clumps of allergens and antibodies that… cause swelling. Type IV allergies also cause the release of mediators that create swelling as well as itchy rashes.
  2. c.   The passage says that immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a type of antibody the immune system releases. The Ig in IgE, IgG, and IgM stands for immunoglobulin; all three are different types of immunoglobulin and therefore different types of antibodies. The immunoglobulins then release the mediators, like histamine, so choice b is incorrect. Further, immunoglobulins are produced in response to allergens, so choice a cannot be correct. And the passage clearly indicates that immunoglobulins are produced by the body, so choice d is also incorrect.
  3. d.   Titles generally reflect the main idea of a passage and must therefore be general enough to cover everything in that passage. The passage does not discuss how to prevent allergic reactions, so choice a is not a good answer. The passage does discuss what causes allergic reactions, but that is only part of what the passage covers, and it does not discuss how to determine the specific causes of a reaction, so choice b is incorrect. Choice c is not right because the passage does not focus on allergens; in fact, specific allergens aren't even mentioned for Type II allergies. Finally, it is clear that choice d is the best answer because the first sentence in the passage is a topic sentence: Because the body responds differently to different allergens, allergic reactions have been divided into four categories. This indicates that the passage is primarily about the four types of allergic reactions and not about allergens.
  4. a.   This choice best expresses the main idea of the passage because it restates the topic sentence, which tells us the body responds differently to different allergens. Choice b is not a good answer because the passage does not discuss ways to avoid allergic reactions, and although choices c and d are mentioned in the passage, they are too specific to encompass the whole passage. Remember, the main idea should be general enough to include all of the ideas in the passage.

Inference and Vocabulary Questions

Questions that ask you about the meaning of vocabulary words in the passage and those that ask what the passage suggests or implies (inference questions) are different from detail or main idea questions. In vocabulary and inference questions, you usually have to pull ideas that are not expressly stated in the passage, sometimes from more than one place in the passage.

Inference Questions

Inference questions can be the most difficult to answer because they require you to draw meaning from the text when that meaning is implied rather than directly stated. Inferences are conclusions that we draw based on the clues the writer has given us. When you draw inferences, you have to be something of a detective, looking for clues such as word choice, tone, and specific details that suggest a certain conclusion, attitude, or point of view. You have to read between the lines in order to make a judgment about what an author is implying in the passage.

A good way to test whether you have drawn an acceptable inference is to ask, "What evidence do I have for this inference?" If you can't find any, you probably have the wrong answer. You need to be sure that your inference is logical and that it is based on something that is suggested or implied in the passage itself—not by what you or others might think. Like a good detective, you need to base your conclusions on evidence—facts, details, and other information—not on random hunches or guesses.

Vocabulary Questions

There are generally two types of vocabulary questions. The first tests to see how carefully you have read a passage that may contain a number of new or technical terms and definitions. If you see that a passage has a number of unfamiliar terms, mark each term as it is defined. This will make it easier for you to go back and find the right answer.

The second type of vocabulary question is designed to measure how well you can figure out the meaning of a word from its context. Context refers to how the word is used in the sentence—how it works with the words and ideas that surround it. If the context is clear enough, you should be able to substitute a nonsense word for the one being sought, and you would still make the right choice because you could determine meaning strictly from the sense of the sentence. For example, you should be able to determine the meaning of the following italicized nonsense word based on its context:

The speaker noted that it gave him great terivinix to announce the winner of the Outstanding Leadership Award.

In this sentence, terivinix most likely means

  1. pain.
  2. sympathy.
  3. pleasure.
  4. anxiety.

Clearly, the context of an award makes choice c, pleasure, the best answer. Awards don't usually bring pain, sympathy, or anxiety.

When confronted with an unfamiliar word, try substituting a nonsense word and see if the context gives you the clue. If you are familiar with prefixes, suffixes, and word roots, you can also use this knowledge to help you determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word.

More often, however, you will be asked about how familiar words or phrases are used in context. These questions can be very tricky because words often have more than one acceptable meaning. Your job is to figure out which meaning makes the most sense in the context of the sentence. For example, the word manipulate can mean either (a) to handle or manage skillfully or (b) to arrange or influence cleverly or craftily. The meaning of this word depends entirely upon the context in which it is used, as you can see from the following sentences.

  1. The patient manipulated the wheelchair around the obstacles.
  2. The media's manipulation of the facts has a powerful effect on politics.

Sentence a uses the first definition of the word, while sentence b uses the second.

When you are confronted with this type of question, your best bet is to take each possible answer and substitute it for the word in question in the sentence. Whichever answer makes the most sense in the context of the sentence should be the correct answer.

The questions that follow this passage are strictly vocabulary and inference questions. Circle the answers to the questions, and then check your answers against the key that appears immediately after the questions.

Practice Passage 3: Inference and Vocabulary Questions

The rise of science in the seventeenth century ushered in the modern world. Four men are primarily responsible for the discoveries that form the foundation of scientific and philosophical thought today: Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. Copernicus overthrew the geocentric notion of the universe which held that the earth—and therefore humanity—was at the center of the universe and showed that the planets revolve around the sun. Kepler, the first major astronomer to adopt Copernicus's heliocentric theory, discovered three laws of planetary motion that helped validate Copernicus's theory. Galileo revealed the role of acceleration in dynamics and established the law of falling bodies. Finally, Newton's studies of motion—made possible only by the work of the three scientists before him—led to his laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation: "Everybody attracts every other body with a force directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them." It is these theories upon which much of modern science is based.
  1. As it is used in the passage, the word "adopt" most nearly means to
    1. take and use as one's own.
    2. approve or accept.
    3. make suitable for a new situation.
    4. take guardianship for.
  2. From the passage, which of the following can be inferred about Copernicus's heliocentric theory?
    1. It supported the religious doctrine of the time.
    2. It was accepted only because of Kepler.
    3. It went against established ideas.
    4. It revealed the laws of planetary motion.
  3. Information contained in the passage supports which of the following statements about the four scientists?
    1. Their scientific discoveries contributed to the philosophical and social turmoil of the seventeenth century.
    2. Of the four, Newton's theories have been most instrumental in modern science.
    3. Their primary goal was to refute the theory that Earth was the center of the universe.
    4. They recognized that their achievements were based on the achievements of those before them.
  4. As it is used in the passage, the word established most nearly means
    1. instituted or ordained by law or agreement.
    2. set up permanently, brought into existence.
    3. settled in a place or position.
    4. introduced and secured acceptance of.

Answers and Explanations for Practice Passage 3

  1. b.   Look at how adopt is used in the sentence: Kepler, the first major astronomer to adopt Copernicus's heliocentric theory, discovered three laws of planetary motion that helped validate Copernicus's theory. Because Kepler helped validate this theory, choice a can't be correct, and neither can choice d; the passage clearly indicates that it's Copernicus's theory, not Kepler's. Furthermore, there's no indication from the context that Kepler changed the theory to make it suitable for another situation, so choice c cannot be correct either.
  2. c.   We can infer that Copernicus's theory went against established ideas because the passage says that Copernicus overthrew the notion that humanity was at the center of the universe, suggesting that the geocentric theory was the accepted theory of the time and that Copernicus's idea was revolutionary. There is no suggestion in the passage that Copernicus's theory supported the religious doctrine of the time, so choice a cannot be correct. Furthermore, the passage says that Kepler's discovery helped validate Copernicus's theory, but this does not imply that it was accepted only because of Kepler (choice b). Finally, the laws of planetary motion were discovered by Kepler, not Copernicus, so choice d cannot be correct.
  3. a.   The passage discusses scientific discoveries that challenged and changed the way human beings saw themselves in the universe and how the motion of bodies on Earth and in the universe was understood. We can thus infer that these discoveries greatly altered ideas in both philosophy and, of course, in science. Again, the word overthrew suggests upheaval, so choice a is the best answer. Choice b cannot be correct because the passage does not favor one scientist over the others; in fact, the passage tells us that Newton could not have done his work without those who came before him. Furthermore, although these men did refute the theory that Earth was the center of the universe, there's no indication in this passage that that was what the men were out to prove, as in choice c. Finally, while the writer of the passage recognizes that the achievements of these men were based only on the achievements of the others before them, there is no indication here of what the men themselves thought, so choice d cannot be correct.
  4. d.   If you insert the possible answers into the sentence, it should be clear that choice d makes the most sense in context. Galileo "established the law of falling bodies"—a law of gravity and motion that naturally exists in the universe—so he could not have personally instituted these laws by law or agreement (choice a), set them up or brought them into existence (choice b), or settled them in a place or position (choice c). Instead, he introduced them to the public and secured acceptance of them by revealing the role of acceleration in dynamics (choice d).

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