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Reading Comprehension Success Practice Test (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Reading Passage 2 and Questions

(excerpt from the opening of an untitled essay)

John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, was followed ten years later by A.B. Guthrie's The Way West. Both books chronicle a migration, though that of Guthrie's pioneers is considerably less bleak in origin. What strikes one at first glance, however, are the commonalities. Both Steinbeck's and Guthrie's characters are primarily farmers. They look to their destinations with nearly religious enthusiasm, imagining their "promised" land the way the Biblical Israelites envisioned Canaan. Both undergo great hardship to make the trek. But the two sagas differ distinctly in origin. Steinbeck's Oklahomans are forced off their land by the banks that own their mortgages, and they follow a false promise—that jobs as seasonal laborers await them in California. Guthrie's farmers willingly remove themselves, selling their land and trading their old dreams for their new hope in Oregon. The pioneers' decision to leave their farms in Missouri and the East is frivolous and ill-founded in comparison with the Oklahomans' unwilling response to displacement. Yet it is they, the pioneers, whom our history books declare the heroes.

  1. From the context of the passage, it can be determined that the word frivolous most nearly means
    1. silly.
    2. high-minded.
    3. difficult.
    4. calculated.
  2. Suppose that the author is considering following this sentence with supportive detail: "Both undergo great hardship to make the trek." Which of the following sentences would be in keeping with the comparison and contrast structure of the paragraph?
    1. The migrants in The Way West cross the Missouri, then the Kaw, and make their way overland to the Platte.
    2. The Oklahomans' jalopies break down repeatedly, while the pioneers' wagons need frequent repairs.
    3. Today's travelers would consider it a hardship to spend several days, let alone several months, getting anywhere.
    4. The Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath loses both grandmother and grandfather before the journey is complete.
  3. Which of the following sentences illustrates an important difference between Steinbeck's and Guthrie's characters?
    1. Steinbeck's and Guthrie's characters are primarily farmers.
    2. Steinbeck's migration was forced, while the Guthrie farmers chose to leave their land.
    3. They look to their destinations with nearly religious enthusiasm, imagining their "promised" land the way the Biblical Israelites envisioned Canaan.
    4. none of these
  4. The language in the paragraph implies that which of the following will happen to the Oklahomans when they arrive in California?
    1. They will find a means to practice their religion freely.
    2. They will be declared national heroes.
    3. They will not find the jobs they were promised.
    4. They will make their livings as mechanics rather than as farm laborers.

Reading Passage 3 and Questions

Bill Clinton's Inaugural Address

(excerpt from the opening)

When George Washington first took the oath I have just sworn to uphold, news traveled slowly across the land by horseback and across the ocean by boat. Now the sights and sounds of this ceremony are broadcast instantaneously to billions around the world. Communications and commerce are global. Investment is mobile. Technology is almost magical, and ambition for a better life is now universal.

We earn our livelihood in America today in peaceful competition with people all across the Earth. Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world, and the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy. This new world has already enriched the lives of millions of Americans who are able to compete and win in it. But when most people are working harder for less; when others cannot work at all; when the cost of healthcare devastates families and threatens to bankrupt our enterprises, great and small; when the fear of crime robs law-abiding citizens of their freedom; and when millions of poor children cannot even imagine the lives we are calling them to lead, we have not made change our friend.

  1. What is the central topic of the speech so far?
    1. how Americans can keep up with global competition
    2. ways in which technology has undermined our economy
    3. ways in which technology has improved our lives
    4. how change has affected America and our need to adapt
  2. By comparing our times with those of George Washington, Bill Clinton demonstrates
    1. how apparently different, but actually similar, the two eras are.
    2. how technology has drastically speeded up communications.
    3. that presidential inaugurations receive huge media attention.
    4. that television is a much more convincing communications tool than print.
  3. Bill Clinton's inaugural address expresses which point of view?
    1. first-person perspective
    2. second-person perspective
    3. corporate America's perspective
    4. third-person perspective
  4. Assuming that Clinton wants to add something about crime being a more serious threat in our time than in George Washington's, which of the following sentences would be most consistent with the tone of the presidential speech?
    1. If I'd been alive in George's day, I would have enjoyed knowing that my wife and child could walk city streets without being mugged.
    2. In George Washington's time, Americans may not have enjoyed as many luxuries, but they could rest in the awareness that their neighborhoods were safe.
    3. George could at least count on one thing. He knew that his family was safe from crime.
    4. A statistical analysis of the overall growth in crime rates since 1789 would reveal that a significant increase has occurred.

Reading Passage 4 and Questions

The Crossing--Chapter I: The Blue Wall

(excerpt from the opening of a novel by Winston Churchill)

I was born under the Blue Ridge, and under that side which is blue in the evening light, in a wild land of game and forest and rushing waters. There, on the borders of a creek that runs into the Yadkin River, in a cabin that was chinked with red mud, I came into the world a subject of King George the Third, in that part of his realm known as the province of North Carolina.

The cabin reeked of corn-pone and bacon, and the odor of pelts. It had two shakedowns, on one of which I slept under a bearskin. A rough stone chimney was reared outside, and the fireplace was as long as my father was tall. There was a crane in it, and a bake kettle; and over it great buckhorns held my father's rifle when it was not in use. On other horns hung jerked bear's meat and venison hams, and gourds for drinking cups, and bags of seed, and my father's best hunting shirt; also, in a neglected corner, several articles of woman's attire from pegs. These once belonged to my mother. Among them was a gown of silk, of a fine, faded pattern, over which I was wont to speculate. The women at the Cross-Roads, twelve miles away, were dressed in coarse butternut wool and huge sunbonnets. But when I questioned my father on these matters he would give me no answers.

My father was—how shall I say what he was? To this day I can only surmise many things of him. He was a Scotchman born, and I know now that he had a slight Scotch accent. At the time of which I write, my early childhood, he was a frontiersman and hunter. I can see him now, with his hunting shirt and leggins and moccasins; his powder horn, engraved with wondrous scenes; his bullet pouch and tomahawk and hunting knife. He was a tall, lean man with a strange, sad face. And he talked little save when he drank too many "horns," as they were called in that country. These lapses of my father's were a perpetual source of wonder to me—and, I must say, of delight. They occurred only when a passing traveler who hit his fancy chanced that way, or, what was almost as rare, a neighbor. Many a winter night I have lain awake under the skins, listening to a flow of language that held me spellbound, though I understood scarce a word of it.

"Virtuous and vicious every man must be,
Few in the extreme, but all in a degree."

The chance neighbor or traveler was no less struck with wonder. And many the time have I heard the query, at the Cross-Roads and elsewhere, "Whar Alec Trimble got his larnin'?"

  1. Why did the narrator enjoy it when his father drank too many "horns," or drafts of liquor?
    1. The father spoke brilliantly at those times.
    2. The boy was then allowed to do as he pleased.
    3. These were the only times when the father was kind.
    4. The boy was allowed to ask about his mother.
  2. Judging by the sentences surrounding it, the word surmise in the third paragraph most nearly means
    1. to form a negative opinion.
    2. to praise.
    3. to desire.
    4. to guess.
  3. The mention of the dress in the second paragraph is most likely meant to
    1. show the similarity between its owner and other members of the community.
    2. show how warm the climate was.
    3. show the dissimilarity between its owner and other members of the community.
    4. give us insight into the way most of the women of the region dressed.
  4. It can be inferred from the passage that Alec Trimble is
    1. a traveler.
    2. a neighbor.
    3. the narrator's father.
    4. the narrator.
  5. What is the meaning of the lines of verse quoted in the passage?
    1. People who pretend to be virtuous are actually vicious.
    2. Moderate amounts of virtuousness and viciousness are present in all people.
    3. Virtuous people cannot also be vicious.
    4. Whether people are virtuous or vicious depends on the difficulty of their circumstances.
  6. Which of the following adjectives best describes the region in which the cabin is located?
    1. remote
    2. urban
    3. agricultural
    4. flat
  7. The author most likely uses dialect when quoting the question, "Whar Alec Trimble got his larnin'?" in order to
    1. show disapproval of the father's behavior.
    2. show how people talked down to the narrator.
    3. show the speakers' lack of education.
    4. mimic the way the father talked.
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