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Reading Comprehension and Long Passages Additional Practice

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Updated on Aug 10, 2011

For more practice on long passages reading comprehension, review:

Remember that much scientific and technical writing deals with cold, hard, explicit facts. This means that, with close reading, you stand a good chance of answering most, if not all, of the questions with confidence.

Passage 1

No longer is asthma considered a condition with isolated, acute episodes of bronchospasm. Rather, asthma is now understood to be a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways—that is, inflammation makes the airways chronically sensitive. When these hyper-responsive airways are irritated, airflow is limited, and attacks of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and breathing difficulty occur.

Asthma involves complex interactions among inflammatory cells, mediators, and the cells and tissues in the airways. The interactions result in airflow limitation from acute broncho-constriction, swelling of the airway wall, increased mucus secretion, and airway remodeling. The inflammation also causes an increase in airway responsiveness. During an asthma attack, the patient attempts to compensate by breathing at a higher lung volume in order to keep the air flowing through the constricted airways, and the greater the airway limitation, the higher the lung volume must be to keep airways open. The morphologic changes that occur in asthma include bronchial infiltration by inflammatory cells. Key effector cells in the inflammatory response are the mast cells, T lymphocytes, and eosinophils. Mast cells and eosinophils are also significant participants in allergic responses, hence the similarities between allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Other changes include mucus plugging of the airways, interstitial edema, and microvascular leakage. Destruction of bronchial epithelium and thickening of the subbasement membrane is also characteristic. In addition, there may be hypertrophy and hyperplasia of airway smooth muscle, increase in goblet cell number, and enlargement of submucous glands.

Although causes of the initial tendency toward inflammation in the airways of patients with asthma are not yet certain, to date the strongest identified risk factor is atopy. This inherited familial tendency to have allergic reactions includes increased sensitivity to allergens that are risk factors for developing asthma. Some of these allergens include domestic dust mites, animals with fur, cockroaches, pollens, and molds. Additionally, asthma may be triggered by viral respiratory infections, especially in children. By avoiding these allergens and triggers, a person with asthma lowers his or her risk of irritating sensitive airways. A few avoidance techniques include: keeping the home clean and well ventilated, using an air conditioner in the summer months when pollen and mold counts are high, and getting an annual influenza vaccination. Of course, asthma sufferers should avoid tobacco smoke altogether. Cigar, cigarette, or pipe smoke is a trigger whether the patient smokes or inhales the smoke from others. Smoke increases the risk of allergic sensitization in children, increases the severity of symptoms, and may be fatal in children who already have asthma. Many of the risk factors for developing asthma may also provoke asthma attacks, and people with asthma may have one or more triggers, which vary from individual to individual. The risk can be further reduced by taking medications that decrease airway inflammation. Most exacerbations can be prevented by the combination of avoiding triggers and taking anti-inflammatory medications. An exception is physical activity, which is a common trigger of exacerbations in asthma patients. However, asthma patients should not necessarily avoid all physical exertion, because some types of activity have been proven to reduce symptoms. Rather, they should work in conjunction with a doctor to design a proper training regimen, which includes the use of medication.

In order to diagnose asthma, a healthcare professional must appreciate the underlying disorder that leads to asthma symptoms and understand how to recognize the condition through information gathered from the patient's history, physical examination, measurements of lung function, and allergic status. Because asthma symptoms vary throughout the day, the respiratory system may appear normal during physical examination. Clinical signs are more likely to be present when a patient is experiencing symptoms; however, the absence of symptoms upon examination does not exclude the diagnosis of asthma.

  1. According to the passage, what is the name for the familial inclination to have hypersensitivity to certain allergens?
    1. interstitial edema
    2. hyperplasia
    3. hypertrophy
    4. atopy
  2. Why does a person suffering from an asthma attack attempt to inhale more air?
    1. to prevent the loss of consciousness
    2. to keep air flowing through shrunken air passageways
    3. to prevent hyperplasia
    4. to compensate for weakened mast cells, T lymphocytes, and eosinophils
  3. The passage suggests that in the past, asthma was regarded as which of the following?
    1. a result of the overuse of tobacco products
    2. a hysterical condition
    3. mysterious, unrelated attacks affecting the lungs
    4. a chronic condition
  4. Which of the following would be the best replacement for the underlined word exacerbations in this passage?
    1. allergies
    2. attacks
    3. triggers
    4. allergens
  5. The passage mentions all of the following bodily changes during an asthma attack except
    1. severe cramping in the chest.
    2. heavy breathing.
    3. airways blocked by fluids.
    4. constricted airways.
  6. Although it is surprising, which of the following triggers is mentioned in the passage as possibly reducing the symptoms of asthma in some patients?
    1. using a fan instead of an air conditioner in summer months
    2. exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke
    3. the love of a family pet
    4. performing physical exercise
  7. Why might a patient with asthma have an apparently normal respiratory system during an examination by a doctor?
    1. Asthma symptoms come and go throughout the day.
    2. Severe asthma occurs only after strenuous physical exertion.
    3. Doctor's offices are smoke free and very clean.
    4. The pollen and mold count may be low that day.
  8. Who might be the most logical audience for this passage?
    1. researchers studying the respiratory system
    2. healthcare professionals
    3. a mother whose child has been diagnosed with asthma
    4. an antismoking activist
  9. What is the reason given in this article for why passive smoke should be avoided by children?
    1. A smoke-filled room is a breeding ground for viral respiratory infections.
    2. Smoke can stunt an asthmatic child's growth.
    3. Smoke can heighten the intensity of asthma symptoms.
    4. Breathing smoke can lead to a fatal asthma attack.
  10. Passage 2

    Millions of people in the United States are affected by eating disorders. More than 90% of those afflicted are adolescents or young adult women. Although all eating disorders share some common manifestations, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating each have distinctive symptoms and risks.

    People who intentionally starve themselves (even while experiencing severe hunger pains) suffer from anorexia nervosa. The disorder, which usually begins around the time of puberty, involves extreme weight loss to at least 15% below the individual's normal body weight. Many people with the disorder look emaciated but are convinced they are overweight. In patients with anorexia nervosa, starvation can damage vital organs such as the heart and brain. To protect itself, the body shifts into slow gear: Menstrual periods stop, blood pressure rates drop, and thyroid function slows. Excessive thirst and frequent urination may occur. Dehydration contributes to constipation, and reduced body fat leads to lowered body temperature and the inability to withstand cold. Mild anemia, swollen joints, reduced muscle mass, and light-headedness also commonly occur in anorexia nervosa.

    Anorexia nervosa sufferers can exhibit sudden angry outbursts or become socially withdrawn. One in ten cases of anorexia nervosa leads to death from starvation, cardiac arrest, other medical complications, or suicide. Clinical depression and anxiety place many individuals with eating disorders at risk for suicidal behavior.

    People with bulimia nervosa consume large amounts of food and then rid their bodies of the excess calories by vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, taking enemas, or exercising obsessively. Some use a combination of all these forms of purging. Individuals with bulimia who use drugs to stimulate vomiting, bowel movements, or urination may be in considerable danger, as this practice increases the risk of heart failure. Dieting heavily between episodes of binging and purging is common.

    Because many individuals with bulimia binge and purge in secret and maintain normal or above normal body weight, they can often successfully hide their problem for years. But bulimia nervosa patients—even those of normal weight—can severely damage their bodies by frequent binge eating and purging. In rare instances, binge eating causes the stomach to rupture; purging may result in heart failure due to loss of vital minerals such as potassium. Vomiting can cause the esophagus to become inflamed and glands near the cheeks to become swollen. As in anorexia nervosa, bulimia may lead to irregular menstrual periods. Psychological effects include compulsive stealing as well as possible indications of obsessive-compulsive disorder, an illness characterized by repetitive thoughts and behaviors. Obsessive compulsive disorder can also accompany anorexia nervosa. As with anorexia nervosa, bulimia typically begins during adolescence. Eventually, half of those with anorexia nervosa will develop bulimia. The condition occurs most often in women but is also found in men.

    Binge-eating disorder is found in about 2% of the general population. As many as one-third of this group are men. It also affects older women, though with less frequency. Recent research shows that binge-eating disorder occurs in about 30% of people participating in medically supervised weight-control programs. This disorder differs from bulimia because its sufferers do not purge. Individuals with binge-eating disorder feel that they lose control of themselves when eating. They eat large quantities of food and do not stop until they are uncomfortably full. Most sufferers are overweight or obese and have a history of weight fluctuations. As a result, they are prone to the serious medical problems associated with obesity, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Obese individuals also have a higher risk for gallbladder disease, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Usually they have more difficulty losing weight and keeping it off than do people with other serious weight problems. Like anorexic and bulimic sufferers who exhibit psychological problems, individuals with binge-eating disorder have high rates of simultaneously occurring psychiatric illnesses, especially depression.

  11. Fatalities occur in what percent of people with anorexia nervosa?
    1. 2%
    2. 10%
    3. 15%
    4. 30%
  12. Which of the following consequences do all the eating disorders mentioned in the passage have in common?
    1. heart ailments
    2. stomach rupture
    3. swollen joints
    4. diabetes
  13. According to the passage, people with binge-eating disorder are prone to all of the following except
    1. loss of control.
    2. depression.
    3. low blood pressure.
    4. high cholesterol.
  14. Which of the following is not a statement about people with eating disorders?
    1. People with anorexia nervosa commonly have a blood-related deficiency.
    2. People with anorexia nervosa perceive themselves as overweight.
    3. The female population is the primary group affected by eating disorders.
    4. Fifty percent of people with bulimia have had anorexia nervosa.
  15. People who have an eating disorder but nevertheless appear to be of normal weight are most likely to have
    1. obsessive-compulsive disorder.
    2. bulimia nervosa.
    3. binge-eating disorder.
    4. anorexia nervosa.
  16. Glandular functions of eating-disorder patients slow down as a result of
    1. lowering body temperatures.
    2. excessive thirst and urination.
    3. protective measures taken by the body.
    4. the loss of essential minerals.
  17. The inability to eliminate body waste is related to
    1. dehydration.
    2. an inflamed esophagus.
    3. the abuse of laxatives.
    4. weight-control programs.
  18. According to the passage, which of the following is true of bulimia patients?
    1. They may demonstrate unpredictable social behavior.
    2. They often engage in compulsive exercise.
    3. They are less susceptible to dehydration than are anorexia patients.
    4. They frequently experience stomach ruptures.
  19. Which of the following represent up to two-thirds of the binge eating disorder population?
    1. older males
    2. older females
    3. younger males
    4. younger females
  20. Passage 3

    Greyhound racing is the sixth most popular spectator sport in the United States. Over the last decade, a growing number of racers have been adopted to spend their retirement as household pets, once their racing careers are over.

    Many people hesitate to adopt a retired racing greyhound because they think only very old dogs are available. Actually, even champion racers only work until they are about three-and-a-half years old. Because greyhounds usually live to be 12 to 15 years old, their retirement is much longer than their racing careers.

    People worry that a greyhound will be more nervous and active than other breeds and will need a large space to run. These are false impressions. Greyhounds have naturally sweet, mild dispositions, and while they love to run, they are sprinters rather than distance runners and are sufficiently exercised with a few daily laps around a fenced-in backyard.

    Greyhounds do not make good watchdogs, but they are very good with children, get along well with other dogs (and usually cats as well), and are affectionate and loyal. They are intelligent, well-behaved dogs, usually housebroken in only a few days. A retired racing greyhound is a wonderful pet for almost anyone.

  21. Based on the tone of the passage, the author's main purpose is to
    1. teach prospective owners how to transform their racing greyhound into a good pet.
    2. show how the greyhound's nature makes it equally good as racer and pet.
    3. encourage people to adopt retired racing greyhounds.
    4. objectively present the pros and cons of adopting a racing greyhound.
  22. According to the passage, adopting a greyhound is a good idea for people who
    1. do not have children.
    2. live in apartments.
    3. do not usually like dogs.
    4. already have another dog or a cat.
  23. Which of the following is implied by the passage?
    1. The public is more aware of greyhounds than they used to be.
    2. Greyhounds are more competitive than other dogs.
    3. Greyhound racing should not be allowed.
    4. People who own pet rabbits should not adopt greyhounds.
  24. One drawback of adopting a greyhound is that
    1. greyhounds are not good with children.
    2. greyhounds are old when they retire from racing.
    3. the greyhound's sensitivity makes it temperamental.
    4. greyhounds are not good watch dogs.
  25. This passage is most like an advertisement because it
    1. uses statistics to prove its point.
    2. does not present information to substantiate its claims.
    3. says nothing negative about greyhounds.
    4. encourages people to do something.
  26. According to the passage, a retired racing greyhound available for adoption will most likely be
    1. happy to be retiring.
    2. easily housebroken.
    3. a champion, or else it would have been euthanized.
    4. less high-strung than those that are not available for adoption.
  27. Passage 4

    The lives of the Ancient Greeks revolved around eris, a concept by which they defined the universe. They believed that the world existed in a condition of opposites. If there was good, then there was evil, if there was love, then there was hatred; joy, then sorrow; war then peace; and so on. The Greeks believed that good eris occured when one held a balanced outlook on life and coped with problems as they arose. It was a kind of ease of living that came from trying to bring together the great opposing forces in nature. Bad eris was evident in the violent conditions that ruled men's lives. Although these things were found in nature and sometimes could not be controlled, it was believed that bad eris occurred when one ignored a problem, letting it grow larger until it destroyed not only that person, but his family as well. The Ancient Greeks saw eris as a goddess: Eris, the Goddess of Discord, better known as Trouble.

    One myth that expresses this concept of bad eris deals with the marriage of King Peleus and the river goddess Thetis. Zeus, the supreme ruler, learns that Thetis would bear a child strong enough to destroy its father. Not wanting to father his own ruin, Zeus convinces Thetis to marry a human, a mortal whose child could never challenge the gods. He promises her, among other things, the greatest wedding in all of Heaven and Earth and allows the couple to invite whomever they please. This is one of the first mixed marriages of Greek Mythology and the lesson learned from it still applies today. They do invite everyone … except Eris, the Goddess of Discord. In other words, instead of facing the problems brought on by a mixed marriage, they turn their backs on them. They refused to deal directly with their problems and the result is tragic. In her fury, Eris arrives, ruins the wedding, causes a jealous feud between the three major goddesses over a golden apple, and sets in place the conditions that lead to the Trojan War. The war would take place 20 years in the future, but it would result in the death of the only child of the bride and groom, Achilles. Eris would destroy the parents' hopes for their future, leaving the couple with no legitimate heirs to the throne.

    Hence, when we are told, "If you don't invite trouble, trouble comes," it means that if we don't deal with our problems, our problems will deal with us … with a vengeance! It is easy to see why the Greeks considered many of their myths learning myths, for this one teaches us the best way to defeat that which can destroy us.

  28. According to the passage, the ancient Greeks believed that the concept of eris defined the universe
    1. as a hostile, violent place.
    2. as a condition of opposites.
    3. as a series of problems.
    4. as a mixture of gods and man.
  29. Most specifically, bad eris is defined in the passage as
    1. the violent conditions of life.
    2. the problems man encounters.
    3. the evil goddess who has a golden apple.
    4. the murderer of generations.
  30. It can be inferred that Zeus married Thetis off because
    1. he needed to buy the loyalty of a great king of mankind.
    2. he feared the gods would create bad eris by competing over her.
    3. he feared the Trojan War would be fought over her.
    4. he feared having an affair with her and, subsequently, a child by her.
  31. It can also be inferred that Zeus did not fear a child sired by King Peleus because
    1. he knew that the child could not climb Mt. Olympus.
    2. he knew that the child would be killed in the Trojan War.
    3. he knew that no matter how strong a mortal child was, he couldn't overthrow an immortal god.
    4. he knew that Thetis would always love him above everyone else.
  32. According to the passage, Achilles
    1. defeated Zeus during the Trojan War.
    2. dies during the Trojan War.
    3. was born 20 years after the war because of the disruption Eris caused at the wedding.
    4. was the illegitimate son of Peleus.
  33. Which of the following statements is the message offered in the myth?
    1. Do not consider a mixed marriage.
    2. Do not anger the gods.
    3. Do not ignore the problems that arise in life.
    4. Do not take myths seriously.
  34. Passage 5

    She was one of those pretty, charming women who are born, as if by an error of Fate, into a petty official's family. She had no dowry,1 no hopes, nor the slightest chance of being loved and married by a rich man—so she slipped into marriage with a minor civil servant. Unable to afford jewels, she dressed simply: But she was wretched, for women have neither caste nor breeding—in them beauty, grace, and charm replace pride of birth. Innate refinement, instinctive elegance, and wit give them their place on the only scale that counts, and these make humble girls the peers of the grandest ladies.

    She suffered, feeling that every luxury should rightly have been hers. The poverty of her rooms—the shabby walls, the worn furniture, the ugly upholstery caused her pain. All these things that another woman of her class would not even have noticed, made her angry. The very sight of the little Breton girl who cleaned for her awoke rueful thoughts and the wildest dreams in her mind. She dreamt of rooms with Oriental hangings, lighted by tall, bronze torches, and with two huge footmen in knee breeches made drowsy by the heat from the stove, asleep in the wide armchairs. She dreamt of great drawing rooms upholstered in old silks, with fragile little tables holding priceless knickknacks, and of enchanting little sitting rooms designed for tea-time chats with famous, sought-after men whose attentions all women longed for.

    She sat down to dinner at her round table with its three-day-old cloth, and watched her husband lift the lid of the soup tureen and delightedly exclaim: "Ah, a good homemade beef stew! There's nothing better!" She visualized elegant dinners with gleaming silver and gorgeous china. She yearned for wall hangings peopled with knights and ladies and exotic birds in a fairy forest. She dreamt of eating the pink flesh of trout or the wings of grouse. She had no proper wardrobe, no jewels, nothing. And those were the only things that she loved—she felt she was made for them. She would have so loved to charm, to be envied, to be admired and sought after.

    1dowry: property a woman brought to her husband in marriage. This passage was adapted from "The Necklace," by Guy de Maupassant

  35. Which word best describes the actual living conditions of the couple in the selection?
    1. destitute
    2. poor
    3. comfortable
    4. wealthy
  36. Which line best demonstrates the couple's true economic standing?
    1. She had no dowry, no hopes, not the slightest chance of being married by a rich man …
    2. The poverty of her rooms—the shabby walls, the worn furniture, the ugly upholstery caused her pain.
    3. She sat down to dinner at her round table with its three-day old cloth, and watched her husband lift the lid of the soup tureen …
    4. The very sight of the little Breton girl who cleaned for her awoke rueful thoughts and the wildest dreams in her mind.
  37. According to the selection, what can be stated about the marriage of this woman?
    1. She married but was ashamed of the insignificant position her husband held.
    2. She married on the rebound after a wealthy suitor had abandoned her.
    3. She married for love without realizing the consequences to her social standing.
    4. She never loved her husband.
  38. What can be inferred about the values of both husband and wife?
    1. They share the same values.
    2. The husband values family and simple comforts of home, whereas his wife views these comforts as cause for her anguish.
    3. The husband has ceased to enjoy the simple things and only strives to quench his wife's insatiable desire for luxury.
    4. The husband believes that a wholesome meal can solve all problems, while his wife believes it is the presentation of the meal that counts.
  39. The main idea of the passage is
    1. to have the reader feel great sympathy for the wife.
    2. to have the reader feel great sympathy for the husband.
    3. to show the class distinctions that were so obvious during the setting of the story.
    4. to show the reader how selfish and self-centered the wife is.
  40. What part of speech does de Maupassant employ to weave the rich images he presents through the wife's descriptions?
    1. adjectives
    2. adverbs
    3. nouns
    4. verbs
  41. Passage 6

    Arteries of the heart blocked by plaque can reduce the flow of blood to the heart possibly resulting in heart attack or death. Plaque is actually fat and cholesterol that accumulates on the inside of the arteries. The arteries of the heart are small and can be blocked by such accumulations. There is a medical procedure that creates more space in the blocked artery by inserting and inflating a tiny balloon into the blood vessel. It is called coronary balloon angioplasty. Angioplasty means "blood vessel repair." When the balloon is inflated, it compresses the plaque against the wall of the artery, creating more space and improving the flow of blood.

    Many doctors choose this technique, because it is less invasive than bypass surgery. Yes, both involve entering the body cavity, but in bypass surgery, the chest must be opened, the ribs must be cut, and the section of diseased artery must be removed and replaced. To replace it, the patient's body is opened, once again, to acquire a healthy section of artery. Usually, this blood vessel is removed from an artery located in the calf of the leg. This means the patient now has two painful incisions that must heal at the same time. There is far more risk in such bypass surgery than in angioplasty, which involves threading a thin tube, called a catheter, into the circulatory system and working it to the damaged artery.

    Angioplasty may take between 30 minutes to 3 hours to complete. It begins with a distinctive dye that is injected into the bloodstream. A thin catheter is then inserted into the femoral artery of the leg, near the groin. The doctor monitors the path of the dye using x-rays. He moves the tube through the heart and into the plaque-filled artery. He inflates the balloon, creating more space, deflates the balloon, and removes the tube. It is important to note that the plaque has not been removed; it has just been compressed against the sides of the artery. Sometimes, a stent may be implanted, a tiny tube of stainless steel that is expandable when necessary. Its function is to keep the artery open.

    There is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that the statistics compiled are superb. Ninety percent of all angioplasty procedures are successful. The risk of dying during an operation of this type is less than 2%. The risk of heart attack is also small: 3–5%. Yet heart surgeons do not take any risk lightly; therefore, a team of surgeons stands ready to perform bypass surgery if needed. The length of hospitalization is only three days. The bad news is twofold. First, this procedure treats the condition but does not eradicate the cause. In 20% of the cases, there is a recurrence of plaque. Second, angioplasty is not recommended for all patients. The surgeons must consider the patient's age, physical history, how severe the blockage is, and, finally, the degree of damage to the artery before they make their determination.

  42. When coronary arteries are blocked by plaque, one of the results could be
    1. stroke.
    2. heart attack.
    3. hospitalization.
    4. femoral artery deterioration.
  43. According to the passage, angioplasty is defined as
    1. a tiny balloon.
    2. a plaque-laden artery.
    3. blood vessel repair.
    4. bypass surgery.
  44. It can be inferred from the passage that invasive most closely means
    1. entering the body cavity.
    2. causing infection.
    3. resulting in hospitalization.
    4. requiring a specialist's opinion.
  45. The angioplasty procedure begins with
    1. a thin catheter being inserted into the femoral artery.
    2. a balloon being inflated in the heart.
    3. a special dye being injected into the bloodstream.
    4. a healthy artery being removed from the calf.
  46. It can be inferred from the passage that
    1. a healthy artery is removed and awaits possible bypass surgery.
    2. patients have trouble accepting the idea that a tiny balloon will cure the problem.
    3. 3–5% of the patients refuse to undergo this procedure.
    4. surgeons do not take even a 2% chance of death lightly.
  47. Which one of the following statements is true?
    1. The plaque that has caused the problem is not removed during angioplasty.
    2. The risk of dying during an angioplasty procedure is 3–5%.
    3. The coronary balloon angioplasty is a separate procedure from inflating a balloon into a blocked artery.
    4. All of the above statements are true.
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