Reading Comprehension Pretest




Time – 55 minutes

(including the reading of the directions)

Now set your clock for 55 minutes


This section is designed to measure your ability to read and understand short passages similar in topic and style to those that students are likely to encounter in North American universities and colleges.


Directions: In this section you will read several passages. Each one is followed by a number of questions about it. You are to choose the one best answer, (A), (B), (C), or (D), to each question. Then, on your answer sheet, find the number of the question and fill in the space that corresponds to the letter of the answer you have chosen.


Answer all questions about the information in a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.


Read the following passage:

Jhon Quincy Adams, who served  as the sixth president of the United States from 1825  to 1829, is today recognized for his masterful statesmanship and diplomacy. He dedicated his life to public service , both in the various other political offices that he line held. Throughout his political carereer he demonstrated his unswerving belief in freedom of speech, the antislavery cause, and the right of Americans to be from European and Asian domination.

Example I:

To what did Jhon Quincy Adams devote his life?

A. Improving his personal life

B. Serving the public

C. Increasing his fortune

D. Working on his private business

According to the passage, Jhon Quincy Adams ‘dedicated his life to public service.” Therefore, you should choose (B).


Example II

In line 4, the word “unswerving” is closest in meaning to

A. Moveable

B. Insignificant

C. Unchanging

D. Diplomatic

The passage states that Jhon Quincy Adams demonstrated his unswerving belief “throughout his career.” This implies that the belief did not change. Therefore, you should choose (C).

Now begin work on the questions.

Questions 1-12 refer to the following passage.

The reasons for the extinction of a species and for the rapid rates of change in our environment are currently the focus of much scientific research. An individual species susceptibility to extinction depends on at least two things: the taxon (the bio-logical group – kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, or genus) to which a species belongs, and the overall rate of environmental change. Fossil evidence shows that more mammals and birds become extinct than do mollusks or insects. Studies of the extinction of the dinosaurs and other reptiles during the Cretaceous Period show that a changing environment affects different taxa in different ways. Some may be dramatically affected, others less so.

The best way to answer the question of what causes extinction is to combine fields of inquiry and a variety of viewpoints. Using the fossil record and historical documentation, the different rates of the extinction of various taxa and different responses to environmental change can be detected. Then the evolutionary development of the different species can be compared, and traits that may be disadvantageous can be singled out. Finally, researchers can use mathematical formulae to determine whether a population is likely to adapt itself to the changing environment or disappear. Hopefully, as more of this information is collected, specialists in different fields – e.g. physiological and behavioral ecology, population ecology, community ecology, evolutionary biology and systematics, biogeography, and paleobiology – will work together to make predictions about the broader changes that might occur in the ecosystem.


1. Which of the following is the main topic of the passage?

A. Assessment of the work of specialists concerned with ecology

B. A discussion of possible causes of extinction, and of ways to make predictions about environmental change

C. The changing aspects of our environment

D. A comparison of the extinction rates of different taxa


2. The word “susceptibility” in line 2 is closest meaning to

A. Insensitivity

B. Receptiveness

C. Immunity

D. Vulnerability


3. An example of a taxon would be

A. A phylum

B. The rate of environmental change

C. A fossil

D. Studies of extinction


4. The author compares mammals and birds to

A. Mollusks and insects

B. Phylum and class

C. Dinosaurs and reptiles

D. Ecologists and biologists


5. It can be inferred from the passage that a significant event of the Cretaceous Period was

A. The appearance of many taxa

B. The dramatic effect of the dinosaur on the environment

C. The extinction of birds

D. The extinction of dinosaurs


6. It can be inferred from the passage that dinosaurs

A. Included species that were mammals

B. Were better represented in the fossil record than other species

C. Possessed disadvantageous traits

D. Were not susceptible to extinction


7. The word “dramatically” in line 6 (the last sentence of the first paragraph) means

A. Strongly

B. Inspiringly

C. Flimsily

D. Visually


8. The word “fields” in line 7 is closest in meaning to

A. Areas

B. Meadows

C. Studies

D. Careers


9. From the passage it can be inferred that disadvantageous traits are

A. Occurring at different rates

B. A contributing cause of extinction

C. Adaptable

D. Learned by mathematical formulas


10. The expression “singled out” in the second paragraph is closest in meaning to

A. Isolated

B. Blamed

C. Seen

D. Divided


11. According to the passage, the likelihood of a population becoming extinct can be

A. Lessened by the efforts of a few concerned specialists

B. Unaffected by environmental change

C. Determined by mathematical formulas

D. Almost impossible to ascertain


12. The word “broader” in line 14 is closest in meaning to

A. Fatter

B. Extra

C. Wider

D. Many


Questions 13-21 refer to the following passage:

John James Audubon, nineteenth-century artist and naturalist, is known as one of the foremost authorities on North American birds. Born in Les Cayes, Haiti, in 1785, Audubon was raised in Pennsylvania estate at the age of eighteen; he first began to study and paint birds.

In his young adulthood, Audubon undertook numerous enterprises, generally without a tremendous amount of success; at various times during his life he was involved in a mercantile business, a lumber and grist mill, a taxidermy business, and a school. His general mode of operating a business was to leave it either unattended or in the hands of a partner and take off on excursions through the wilds to paint the natural life that he saw. His business career came to end in 1819 when he was jailed for debt and forced to file for bankruptcy.

It was at that time that Audubon began seriously to pursue the dream of publishing a collection of his paintings of birds. For the next six years he painted birds in their natural habitats while his wife worked as a teacher to support the family. His Birds of America, which included engravings of 435 of his colorful and lifelike water colors, was published in parts during the period from 1826 to 1838 in England. After the success of the English editions, American editions of his work were published in 1839, and his fame and fortune were ensured.


13. This passage is mainly talking about

A. North American birds

B. Audubon’s route to success as a painter of birds

C. The works that Audubon published

D. Audubon’s preference for travel in natural habitats


14. The word “foremost” in the first sentence is closest in meaning to

A. Prior

B. Leading

C. First

D. Largest


15. In the second paragraph, the author mainly discusses

A. How Audubon developed his painting style

B. Audubon’s involvement in a mercantile business

C. Where Audubon went on his excursions

D. Audubon’s unsuccessful business practices


16. The word “mode” in the second paragraph could best be replaced by

A. Method

B. Vogue

C. Average

D. Trend


17. Audubon decided not to continue to pursue business when

A. He was injured in an accident at a grist mill

B. He decided to study art in France

C. He was put in prison because he owed money

D. He made enough money from his paintings


18. The word “pursue” in the 1st sentence of the 3rd paragraph is closest in meaning to

A. Imagine

B. Share

C. Follow

D. Deny


19.According to the passage, Audubon’s paintings

A. Were realistic portrayals

B. Used only black, white, and gray

C. Were done in oils

D. Depicted birds in cages


20. The word “support” in the last paragraph could best be replaced by

A. Tolerate

B. Provide for

C. Side with

D. Fight for


21. It can be inferred from the passage that after 1839 Audubon

A. Unsuccessfully tried to develop new business

B. Continued to be supported by his wife

C. Traveled to Europe

D. Became wealthy


Questions 22-29 refer to the following passage.

The appearance and character of a hardened lava field depend on numerous factors. Among the key variables are the chemical nature of the magma and the degree of viscosity of the liquid rock once it begins to flow.

Since the ultimate nature of lava is influenced by chemical compositions, it is possible to predict certain aspects of the final appearance of the field from a sample of the molten fluid. The main components of lava are silica and various oxides, including those of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and aluminum. Magnesium and iron oxides are found in high concentrations in the dark-colored basic basalt, while silica, soda, and potash preponderate in the lighter-colored, acidic felsite rocks.

The viscosity of the liquid rock helps to determine the appearance of the hardened field’s surface. When it issues, the lava is red or even white-hot. It soon begins to cool, and the surface darkens and crusts over. In extremely viscous flows, the under part may yet be in motion as the surface solidifies. The crust breaks up into a mass of jagged blocks of rock that are carried as a tumbling, jostling mass on the surface of the slowly moving stream. When the stream eventually stops and hardens, the field is extremely rough and difficult to traverse. On the other hand, highly liquid lava may harden with much smoother surfaces that exhibit ropy, curved, wrinkled, and wavelike forms.


22. The degree of viscosity in newly issued lava is a critical determinant of

A. The chemical nature of the magma

B. Whether the lava will be red or white-hot

C. The ultimate nature of the hardened lava field

D. The viscosity of the liquid rock


23. The chemical composition of a hardened field

A. Has nothing to do with the viscosity of the liquid rock

B. Will cause the crusting phenomena common in hardened lava

C. Is important in shaping the ultimate appearance of the field

D. Depends upon the degree of viscosity of the original liquid rock


24. In the 2nd sentence of the last paragraph, the word “issues” most nearly means

A. Is dormant

B. Heats up

C. Traverses

D. Comes out


25. Knots of survive rocks are characteristics of

A. All types of ultimate lava fields

B. The initial stage of some lava fields formation

C. The end result of some highly viscous flows

D. Only highly liquid, wavelike lava forms


26. If the hardened lava presents a smoother wavelike surface it is likely that

A. It was not initially a highly liquid lava

B. It results from a highly liquid lava

C. Its final form will be rough and difficult to traverse

D. At issue, it was red-hot


27. The primary function of this passage is to

A. Explain the primary chemical components of lava, including silica and oxides

B. Predict when volcanic lava will appear

C. Warn of the limitations of viscosity and chemical analysis

D. Discuss two crucial determinants of a hardened lava field’s character


28. The word “exhibit” in the last paragraph is closest in meaning to

A. Give off

B. Put on

C. Show

D. Cause


29. This passage would most likely appear in which type of publication?

A. An introductory college textbook on geography

B. The national events section of a local newspaper

C. An introductory college textbook on geology

D. A tourist brochure for a volcanic region


Questions 30-40 refer to the following passage.

The period of the American Revolution was a time of contrasts in American fashion. In urban centers, women enjoyed a wide range of expression in the fashions available to them, even though shortages might force a young lady to wear an outfit made from the bright red uniform of her British beau. The patriots, however, tended to scorn fashion as frivolous in time of war. In remote areas, patriotic groups led boycotts of British goods and loomed their own woolen cloth.

In selecting clothes, stylish American ladies depended on “fashion babies” – foot-high dolls illustrating the latest Paris styles. This infatuation with the fashion trends of the “continent” remained intact well into the twentieth century. Indeed, even today, New York’s fashion industry has not fully escaped the tyranny of French design.

Mourning garments were almost impossible to obtain since black cloth had to be imported from England; black arm bands were introduced as a substitute. Gauze, indispensable for petticoats, aprons, and ladies’ headgear, was also in short supply. There was also a taste for outlandish accessories and fanciful detailing: feathers in hats, elaborate buttons, and gaudily patterned fabrics. These excesses were called “macaroni” and are immortalized in the song Yankee Doodle.


30. Which of the following is the most appropriate title for this passage?

A. A Revolution in Fashion

B. Clothing Shortages of the Revolution

C. Clothing Styles in Revolutionary America

D. Conflict in the Fashion Industry


31. The word “beau” in line 3 is closest in meaning to

A. Male friend

B. Husband

C. Father

D. Son


32. Which of the following can be inferred from the passage about people’s attitudes toward fashion?

A. They varied according to political beliefs.

B. They were determined mainly by geography

C. They corresponded to a person’s social standing

D. They were a matter of personal taste


33. The word “loomed” in line 4 is closest in meaning to

A. Grew bigger

B. Wove

C. Picked

D. Quilted


34. What were clothes made from in rural areas?

A. Home-made wool

B. Imported British goods

C. Cloth stolen from the British

D. Gauze


35. “Fashion babies” were

A. Dolls for children

B. 12-inch figures used to display clothes

C. Life-sized models dressed in current styles

D. Illustrations from fashion magazines


36. The word “tyranny” is closest in meaning to

A. Domination

B. Business

C. Importance

D. Evilness


37. Which of the following can best be said about the Paris fashion industry?

A. It has come to the forefront only recently, compared to New York

B. It has long exerted a powerful influence on America fashion

C. It retains its taste for gaudy, “macaroni” type excess

D. It is unable to break free from New York’s influence


38. Black armbands were worn to show

A. The tyranny of Paris fashions

B. Imported cloth from England

C. Fanciful detailing

D. Mourning


39. The word “elaborate” in the passage is closest in meaning to

A. Gay

B. Vulgar

C. Intricate

D. Square


40. It can be inferred from the passage that “macaroni”

A. Was so named because of its resemblance to the continent of Europe

B. Was a very short-lived and ill-conceived fashion trend

C. Had a more mundane application to petticoats and aprons

D. Was not the fashion style of avowed patriots


Questions 41-50 refer to the following passage.


The organization that today is known as the Bank of America did start out in America, but under quite a different name. Italian American A.P. Giannini established this bank on October 17, 1904, in a renovated saloon in San Francisco’s Italian community of North Beach under the name Bank of Italy, with immigrants and first-time bank customers comprising the majority of his first customers. During its development, Giannini’s bank survived major crises in the form of a natural disaster and a major economic upheaval that not all other banks were able to overcome.
One major test for Giannini’s bank occurred on April 18, 1906, when a massicve earthquake struck San Francisco, followed by a raging fire that destroyed much of the city. Giannini obtained two wagons and teams of horses, filled the wagons with the bank’s reserves, mostly in the form of gold, covered the reserves with crates of oranges, and escaped from the chaos of the city with his clients’ funds protected. In the aftermath of the disaster, Giannini’s bank was the first to resume operations. Unable to install the bank in a proper office setting, Giannini opened up shop on the Washington Street Wharf on a makeshift desk created from boards and barrels.

In the period following the 1906 fire, the Bank of Italy continued to prosper and expand. By 1918 there were twenty-four branches of the Bank of Italy, and by 1928 Giannini had acquired numerous otherbanks, including a Bank of America located in New York City. In 1930 he consolidated all the branches of the Bank of Italy, the Bank of America in New York City, and another Bank of America that he had formed in California into the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association.

A second major crisis for the bank occurred during the great Depression of the 1930s. Although Giannini had already retired prior to the darkest days of the Depression, he became incensed when his successor began selling off banks during the bad economic times. Giannini resumed leadership of the bank at the age of sixty-two. Under Gainnini’s leadership, the bank weathered the storm of the Depression and subsequently moved into a phase of overseas development.


41. According to the passage, Giannini

A. Opened the Bank of America in 1904

B. Worked in a bank in Italy

C. Set up the Bank of America prior to setting up the Bank of Italy

D. Later changed the name of the Bank of Italy


42. Where did Gainnini open his first bank?

A. In New York City

B. In what used to be a bar

C. On Washington Street Wharf

D. On a makeshift desk


43. According to the passage, which of the following is NOT true about the San Francisco earthquake?

A. It happened in 1906

B. It occurred in the aftermath of a fire

C. It caused problems for Giannini’s bank

D. It was a tremendous earthquake


44. The word “raging” in the second paragraph could best be replaced by

A. Angered

B. Localized

C. Intense

D. Feeble


45. It can be inferred from the passage that Giannini used crates of oranges after the earthquake

A. To hide the gold

B. To fill up the wagons

C. To provide nourishment for his customers

D. To protect the gold form the fire


46. The word “chaos” in the second paragraph is closest meaning to

A. Legal system

B. Extreme heat

C. Overdevelopment

D. Total confusion


47. The word “consolidated” in paragraph 3 is closest in meaning to

A. Hardened

B. Merged

C. Moved

D. Sold


48. The passage states that after his retirement, Giannini

A. Began selling off banks

B. Caused economic misfortune to occur

C. Supported the bank’s new management

D. Returned to work


49. The expression of “weathered the storm of” in the last paragraph could best be replaced by

A. Found a cure for

B. Rained on the parade of

C. Survived the ordeal of

D. Blew its stack at


50. The paragraph following the passage most likely discusses

A. Bank failures during the Great Depression

B. A third major crisis of the Bank of America

C. The international development of the Bank of America

D. How Giannini spent his retirement