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Reading Short Passages Practice

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Updated on Aug 10, 2011

In this section, you will find short passages (one and two paragraph), accompanied by questions that ask you to identify explicit information, analyze, and interpret what is written. This is your first chance to use everything you've learned so far. Pay special attention to the details and the facts, and make a habit of trying to identify the author's main idea; also, try to think of the author's motive for writing the passage. Ask the questions, "Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?" Is the author's purpose to inform you of facts, persuade you of something, or simply to entertain you?

As you read, try marking up the passages or taking notes. The more active a reader you are, the more likely that you will understand and fully enjoy what you read.

In criminal cases, the availability of readable fingerprints is often critical in establishing evidence of a major crime. It is necessary, therefore, to follow proper procedures when taking fingerprints. In major cases, prints should be obtained from all persons who may have touched areas associated with a crime scene, for elimination purposes.

  1. The main idea of the paragraph is that
    1. because fingerprints are so important in many cases, it is important to follow the correct course in taking them.
    2. all fingerprints found at a crime scene should be taken and thoroughly investigated.
    3. if the incorrect procedure is followed in gathering fingerprints, the ones taken may be useless.
    4. the first step in investigating fingerprints is to eliminate those of non-suspects.
  2. The paragraph best supports the statement that
    1. no crimes can be solved without readable fingerprints.
    2. all persons who have touched an area in a crime scene are suspects.
    3. all fingerprints found at a crime scene are used in court as evidence.
    4. all persons who have touched a crime-scene area should be fingerprinted.
  3. The city will be enforcing winter parking rules from December 1 through March 31, according to City Street Manager Joseph Parks. This includes alternate-side parking regulations, as well as tow-away zones and handicap exceptions.

    Cars are to be parked on the south and east sides of streets between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight; and on the north and west sides of streets between midnight and 8 a.m. This is to permit snow plows and emergency vehicles access to all neighborhoods, as well as to keep rush-hour traffic to a minimum.

    Vehicles that do not follow these guidelines will be towed at the owner's expense, Parks said, with the exception of those vehicles displaying handicapped parking permits.

  4. What is the main idea of this passage?
    1. Cars should be parked on the street.
    2. Snow plows can bury cars under snow.
    3. Winter parking regulations will be put into effect.
    4. Winter parking regulations are good for the environment.
  5. When should cars be parked on the west side of the street?
    1. between 8 a.m. and midnight
    2. between midnight and 8 a.m.
    3. between December 1 and March 31
    4. not stated
  6. Which of the following is NOT a reason for these parking regulations to be followed?
    1. They prevent excessive traffic.
    2. It's good for the cars to be moved frequently in cold weather.
    3. It allows snow plows to get through.
    4. They enable emergency vehicles to gain access to all neighborhoods.
  7. Once people wore garlic around their necks to ward off disease. Today, most Americans would scoff at the idea of wearing a necklace of garlic cloves to enhance their well-being. However, you might find a number of Americans willing to ingest capsules of pulverized garlic or other herbal supplements in the name of health.

    Complementary and alternative medicine, which includes a range of practices outside of conventional medicine such as herbs, homeopathy, massage therapy, yoga, and acupuncture, hold increasing appeal for Americans. In fact, according to one estimate, 42% of Americans have used alternative therapies. In all age groups, the use of unconventional healthcare practices has steadily increased in the last 30 years, and the trend is likely to continue, although people born before 1945 are the least likely to turn to these therapies.

    Why have so many patients turned to alternative therapies? Many are frustrated by the time constraints of managed care and alienated by conventional medicine's focus on technology. Others feel that a holistic approach to healthcare better reflects their beliefs and values. Others seek therapies that relieve symptoms associated with chronic disease; symptoms that mainstream medicine cannot treat.

    Some alternative therapies have even crossed the line into mainstream medicine, as scientific investigation has confirmed their safety and efficacy. For example, physicians may currently prescribe acupuncture for pain management or to control the nausea associated with chemotherapy. Additionally, many U.S. medical schools teach courses in alternative therapies, and many health insurance companies offer some alternative medicine benefits.

  8. What is the main idea of this passage?
    1. Alternative medicine is now a big business in the United States with more Americans seeking it out than ever before.
    2. Today, it is not unusual for mainstream doctors to incorporate alternative therapies into their practice.
    3. Over the last few decades, alternative medicine has become more popular, accepted, and practiced in the United States.
    4. People are tired of conventional medicine's focus on technology.
  9. According to the passage, which practice would not be defined as alternative medicine?
    1. pain management
    2. acupuncture
    3. taking herbal garlic supplements
    4. massage therapy
  10. Based on the information given, what kind of person would be least likely to seek out alternative medical treatment?
    1. a senior citizen suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea
    2. a young woman suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome
    3. a 45-year-old man who believes that his body and mind must be treated together.
    4. a 25-year-old track star with chronic back pain
  11. The passage indicates that alternative treatments are increasingly being used by mainstream medical professionals because
    1. more and more Americans are demanding alternative therapies.
    2. healthcare insurance companies are now providing some benefits for alternative medical treatments.
    3. they are frustrated by the time constraints of managed care.
    4. scientific studies are becoming available that prove their effectiveness and safety.
  12. The first murder ever committed in the United States occurred in September 1630, shortly after the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts. John Billington was the father of two sons, one of the first to settle in the new Plymouth Colony near what is today Boston, and one of the people who signed the Mayflower Compact—and he was also the colony's first murderer.

    Billington, in fact, was the first person to commit any crime in the colony, as far as we know today. He was also the first to be executed by the state in the New World. Billington's crime was to shoot a man named John Newcomen, for reasons which are lost to history.

    But Billington's problems had not begun on the soil of North America. He and his sons had nearly caused a mutiny aboard the Mayflower during the arduous trip across the ocean. One of his sons, in fact, fired his gun aboard the Mayflower—near an open keg of gunpowder! The flash from the gun could easily have ignited the powder, which would probably have sunk the ship.

    Once in Plymouth Colony, Billington's behavior did not improve. He refused to serve any form of military duty under the leadership of Miles Standish, a duty that was seen by the colonists as part of every man's responsibilities in the New World. He was later implicated in a plot to overthrow the entire leadership of Plymouth Colony, but a lack of evidence prompted the town's leaders to let him go free.

    In the end, Billington's rebellious and angry nature caught up with him. He was found guilty of the murder of John Newcomen, and died in disgrace on the gallows.

  13. Based on the information in the passage, which of the following best describes John Billington?
    1. quiet and shy
    2. angry and rebellious
    3. clever and amusing
    4. bold and patriotic
  14. Which of the following is NOT true of John Billington, according to the passage?
    1. He had two sons.
    2. He served in the military under Miles Standish.
    3. He tried to lead a mutiny.
    4. He attempted to overthrow the government.
  15. The nearest meaning of the underlined word arduous, as used in the passage, is
    1. difficult.
    2. simple.
    3. long.
    4. stormy.
  16. Why didn't the leaders of Plymouth Colony punish Billington for rebelling against their authority?
    1. He was not guilty.
    2. Billington was Miles Standish's nephew.
    3. He had two sons who needed him.
    4. They didn't have enough evidence.
  17. A good title for this passage would be
    1. A History of Plymouth Colony.
    2. The Injustices of Miles Standish.
    3. America's First Murderer.
    4. Early American Legal Battles.
  18. Have you ever heard someone sing, "Happy birthday to you … happy birthday to you …"? If so, you are hardly alone—millions of people sing that song every year, and the tune is one of the most familiar of any song in North America.

    Ironically, it is not known who wrote it! The tune was written by two sisters, Patty and Mildred Hill, who were school teachers in the late 19th century. But their song had different words; instead of "happy birthday to you," the song ran "good morning to all." The two sisters would sing this ditty to their students each morning as school began.

    In 1924, the tune was published in a song book, which added the "happy birthday" lyrics as verse two. Today, the second verse of that song has become one of the best known tunes in the world—and nobody knows who wrote the words!

  19. According to the passage, who wrote the tune to "Happy Birthday"?
    1. two priests
    2. Irving Berlin
    3. Patty and Mildred Hill
    4. It is not known.
  20. Why is it ironic that the author of the words to "Happy Birthday" is not known?
    1. because almost everyone knows the song
    2. because it shows how unjust life can be
    3. because of modern copyright laws
    4. because it was published in 1924
  21. The underlined word ditty, as used in the passage, most nearly means
    1. silly.
    2. shoe.
    3. flower.
    4. short song.
  22. What happened in 1924 to make "Happy Birthday" famous?
    1. Nothing significant happened.
    2. Hitler came to power in Germany.
    3. The authors of the tune passed away.
    4. The tune was published in a song book with the words as a second verse.
  23. Dogs and cats should never be permitted to eat chocolate, because chocolate works like a poison in their bodies. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Human bodies are able to process the theobromine without any ill side effects, but dogs and cats cannot.

    Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine. It would take 20 ounces of milk chocolate to kill a 20-pound dog, but only two ounces of baker's chocolate or six ounces of semisweet chocolate. The amounts, of course, are much smaller for a cat, whose body weight is typically less than that of a dog.

    Most cats are not naturally attracted to eating chocolate, but many dogs are. Dogs by nature will sample nearly anything that they see their masters eating, so pet owners must take care to keep all chocolate products well out of reach of their dogs and cats.

  24. According to the passage, why is chocolate poisonous for dogs and cats?
    1. It contains caffeine.
    2. Chocolate is made from processed cocoa.
    3. It gets stuck in their intestines.
    4. They cannot process theobromine.
  25. How much milk chocolate would be poisonous to a cat, according to the passage?
    1. substantially less than 20 ounces
    2. substantially more than 20 ounces
    3. approximately one pound
    4. half a Hershey bar
  26. Why might a dog eat chocolate, according to the passage?
    1. Because it tastes good.
    2. Dogs won't eat chocolate.
    3. They can smell the theobromine.
    4. Dogs like to imitate their owners.
  27. What best summarizes this passage?
    1. Look before you leap.
    2. Pet food for pets, people food for people.
    3. Monkey see, monkey do.
    4. A penny saved is a penny earned.
  28. Theodore Roosevelt was born with asthma and poor eyesight, yet this sickly child later won fame as a political leader, a Rough Rider, and a hero of the common people. To conquer his handicaps, Teddy trained in a gym and became a lightweight boxer at Harvard. Out west, he hunted buffalo and ran a cattle ranch. Back east, he became a civil service reformer and police commissioner. He became President McKinley's assistant Navy secretary during the Spanish-American War. Also, he led a charge of cavalry Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba. After achieving fame, he became governor of New York and went on to become the vice president.

    When McKinley was assassinated, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest president at age 42. He is famous for his motto, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Roosevelt battled for meat inspection and pure-food laws. Also, he wanted to save the forests and break the grip that big business had on steel and oil. Roosevelt persuaded the diplomats of warring Russia and Japan to make peace.

  29. Which of the following states the main idea of the passage?
    1. Theodore Roosevelt was a man of many accomplishments.
    2. Presidents should speak softly and carry big sticks.
    3. Presidents can help countries make peace.
    4. A governor can become a president.
  30. What achievement illustrates Roosevelt's ability to overcome personal obstacles?
    1. He led a charge of cavalry Rough Riders in Cuba.
    2. He is famous for his motto, "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
    3. He overcame his asthma by training in a gym, and he became a boxer.
    4. He became governor of New York.
  31. According to the passage, how did Roosevelt first become president?
    1. He won the support of his party in a political campaign.
    2. As vice president, he took over the presidency when McKinley was assassinated.
    3. He won the nation's popular vote.
    4. He won the necessary Electoral College votes.
  32. He first worked under President McKinley in what capacity?
    1. assistant Navy secretary during the Spanish-American War
    2. police commissioner
    3. governor of New York
    4. civil service reformer
  33. Daylilies are a beautiful perennial flower that can brighten up any yard or landscape. They are tolerant of drought and flooding, immune to heat stress, and grow well in full sun or light shade. They are the perfect choice for just about any soil or climate condition.

    Different varieties of daylilies can be in bloom from late spring until autumn. Individual flowers last only one day, but each plant produces many buds, and many varieties have more than one flowering period.

    Daylilies grow best in soil that is slightly acidic, and they prefer either direct sunshine or light shade. The best time to plant them is in the early fall or early spring, but they are hardy enough to endure planting or transplanting at almost any time of year. They should be planted 18 to 24 inches apart, and the bulb should be no deeper than one inch below the soil's surface.

  34. According to the passage, what soil is best for daylilies?
    1. slightly neutral
    2. slightly acidic
    3. any soil
    4. moist soil
  35. You could infer from this passage that these flowers are called daylilies because
    1. they only bloom in the daytime.
    2. the blooms last for one day.
    3. they look like real lilies, but aren't.
    4. Charles Day developed the hybrid.
  36. How deep should daylilies be planted, according to the passage?
    1. 18 to 24 inches
    2. one inch or more
    3. one inch or less
    4. any depth works
  37. The underlined word perennial, as used in this passage, most nearly means
    1. it blooms once.
    2. it blooms every year.
    3. it is always popular.
    4. it is part of the lily genus.
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