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READING COMPREHENSION (PAPER 1)
is now partly out of date since the revisions made to the Proficiency examination
However, the general recommendations for doing the multiple choice questions remain valid.
PAPER 1 READING COMPREHENSION
There are two sections in this paper, sections A and B. One mark is given for each correct answer in Section A, and two marks for each correct answer in Section B. Marks are not taken off for wrong answers. (The total of 55 is later adjusted to 40.) Show your answers by marking the letter A, B, C or D against each number.
Choose the word or phrase to fit each blank which best completes each sentence.
1 My brother is ………. in
development work in the
A specialised B connected C implicated D involved
2 ………. between Tony and his boss were not at all
good from the very beginning.
A terms B wills C conditions D relations
3 I'm afraid this cream's
……….. Have a lick and see what you think.
A going back B going down C going over D going off
4 Natasha has a very ……….
but sweet temperament.
A live B lively C living D alive
5 The workers have ………. a
limit to how long they are prepared to talk to the management.
A put B set C placed D imposed
6 The price of oil
inevitably …….... as a result of the glut.
A fell B lowered C reduced D depressed
7 ………. there isn't a suitable train, what
will you do then?
A providing B supposing C imagining D considering
8 It may be difficult to
find a flat that meets all your ………..
A requests B necessities C requirements D wants
9 The diaries are probably
forgeries; there is no ………. to them in any other known document or source.
A evidence B research C proof D reference ,
10 John didn't say ………. "thank you" for all the work she
had done for him.
A as far as B as more than C in so far as D so much as
11 The Glasgow Guardian claims to have the biggest ………. of
any local newspaper.
A printing B distribution C circulation D subscription
12 Well, have you any suggestions as to what I ………. say in
A should B would C ought D shall
13 A ………. refugees are penniless.
A great many B great deal of C large amount of D large part of
14 Don't be ………. by his plain speaking. He is actually very warm
A put off B put away C put down D put back
15 The police corruption scandal received wide ………. in the media.
A publication B discussion C coverage D treatment
16 Has there been any ………. on the strike BY the government?
A reaction B comment C response D criticism
17 The fruit pickers never have the ………. to get out for an evening
A permission B possibility C scope D opportunity
18 The pool is ………. and refilled with fresh water at least once a
A vacated B emptied C evacuated D discharged
19 The builder has ………. the old metal drainpipe with a plastic one.
A substituted B replaced C changed D converted
20 Few people in the West ………. appreciate the problems of poor
A utterly B perfectly C entirely D absolutely
21 I assure you I have no wish to ………. my responsibility.
A shirk B refuse C abandon D disobey
22 Science tries to formulate laws that make ………. out of all the
diverse phenomena of nature.
A sense B consequence C reason D meaning
23 Every evening they ………. the old castle in the city centre.
A alight B lighten C illuminate D enlighten
24 My father takes a ………. interest in all his granddaughter's
A weighty B sharp C keen D live
25 One must ………. for the fact that they are having to converse in a
A tolerate B remember C consider D allow
After each of the following passages there are a number of questions or unfinished statements about the passage, each with four suggested answers or ways of finishing. Choose the one you think is most accurate.
Many times George Orwell referred to the torments of his childhood.
Most people writing about him have accepted that he had a uniformly unhappy
childhood, and some have built upon it. The posthumously published account of
his prep school days, "Such, Such Were the Joys", is so unhappy and
so horrific a picture of institutional despotism that some have seen it,
rather than the political events in
Entry to all the careers, the Church, the Army, and the Civil Service, and of course the professions, depended on having had "a good education", to the end of school at 18, though at that time not necessarily university. It was "school" that counted, and school was the private secondary institution from the ages of 13 or 14 to 18. To get boys into the "right school" was the business of preparatory schools. Under the competitive pressure of the children of the growing professional classes, the so-called public schools had in the last decades of the nineteenth century raised their entrance standards appreciably, as if to bring status and achievement somewhat more into alignment: Even the sons of the landed aristocracy now commonly had to go through a prep school. So these preparatory schools were recent foundations; and even though they aped the ways of the more ancient foundations which they sought to supply, they were frankly utilitarian in character. They tried to be useful and their recruitment of fee-paying boys depended on their success ("reputation" was the customary word) in getting their little charges into "good schools".
George was taken on by St Cyprian's, one of the newest but most successful preparatory schools. His mother must have made the application in the spring of 1911, interviewing and being interviewed by the headmaster and owner of the school, Mr Vaughan Wilkes, and the real power behind the throne, Mrs Wilkes.
The school was only twelve years old and already had a reputation for
getting scholarships and places at
His real prep school days, though he disliked the experience and detested such a broiler-house of a school, may have been less terrible and have had less lasting effect on his character than long afterwards he made out. The English upper classes tend to exaggerate the effect of their school-days, whether for better or for worse. And they did not fill his whole life. The experience was of an autocratic, not of a total, institution. This distinction became very important to the mature man. Letters home, for instance, were important, and if necessary the censorship could be avoided simply by posting a letter in town.
*Orwell's novel depicting a terrifying totalitarian future.
26 Most writers on Orwell believe
A he was a sad man.
B European history did not make him pessimistic.
C his prep school was the main cause of his problems.
D he was always unhappy as a boy.
27 The main function of the
"public" schools was to
A provide an alternative to universities.
B provide respected follow-up education after preparatory school.
C preserve old traditions.
D give a good start in life.
28 A feature of the preparatory schools was
A were for the benefit of the aristocracy.
B were difficult to get into.
C arose from practical need.
D represented materialist values.
29 What sort of school was St Cyprian's? It
A was a so-called" good" school.
B provided effective teaching.
C had royal connections.
D was not worth what it charged.
30 What, as an adult, did Orwell feel about
A It changed him permanently.
B He realized it was not all bad.
C The rules could be broken easily.
D It was better than many boys there said when adult.
Is it better to behave decently in life or is it worthwhile to try the odd trick to swindle people? Evolutionary studies emphasise selfishness and ruthlessness as the driving forces of biology. A recent computer trial reassuringly suggests that a moral code of behaviour may be the most efficient long term strategy.
Imagine a situation where every day you trade one box of goods for another with a second person. Both of the people involved in the transaction stand to gain if they trade fairly, but either can swindle the other by leaving an empty box. How should you behave to maximise your gains in the long term? A competition was organised for computer programs to trade under these conditions. Each program represented the strategy which its programmer thought likely to succeed in the unknown conditions provided by the other programs.
62 programs of varying complexity and between four and 152 lines long were received, and classified into two types, "nice" and "nasty", where the nice programs co-operated in trade by leaving full boxes until they were let down. The nasty programs were devious in a variety of different ways, often probing the behaviour of other programs to see how they could extract the most from them. All of the programs were then let loose to play each other to see how they could cope.
The winner (the program which accumulated most goods) was the shortest of all - a four-line "nice" program called TIT for TAT. This program always left its trading partner a full box until it was swindled. Thereupon it left an empty box, but as soon as the trading partner resumed behaving decently, TIT for TAT left full boxes again. The moral seems to be that you should always play fair until someone deceives you. When that happens you should punish your "opponent", but forgive him immediately afterwards.
Interestingly enough, the punishment was most effective when it fitted the crime. Other programs, which gave a defecting opponent two successive empty boxes, did not fare as well in the competition. "Nice" programs of one sort or another filled 14 of the 15 top places in the competition.
31 What conclusion may be drawn from the
recent computer trial?
A Self-interest serves the individual best in the end.
B Decency leads to success.
C Competition is necessary for survival.
D We need not worry about the future effect of computers.
32 The purpose of the computer competition
was to find the program which
A got most from trading partners.
B worked out other programs most quickly.
C most successfully prevented other traders profiting from it.
D analysed trading conditions best.
33 A characteristic of "nasty"
programs was that they
A were not subject to any restrictions.
B investigated their rivals' methods.
C varied more than the "nice" ones.
D learnt from other programs.
34 The most successful program was one that
A immediately forgave dishonest partners.
B never gave an empty box for a full one.
C always managed to get full boxes from its partners.
D always gave full boxes.
35 A key to the success of TIT for TAT is
A ignores its partner's behaviour.
B punishes dishonesty.
C is easily understood.
D competed mainly against "nice" programs.
In the late 1960s an enormous number of arrows, bollards, lines,
stripes, lettering and islands appeared all over the City contributing to the
erosion of its visual qualities. Of course, it is argued that the bollards
and islands are for the safety of pedestrians, but there are less hideous
ways of doing the same thing. In
As the townsman of the twentieth century is on the surface a new being, so is his town. The face of his streets has suffered a marked change. Uncomely industrial towns of the Coketown sort have been made bright and clean with a considerable substitution of glass for brick; and gracious old towns have had their lines disfigured by the intrusion of the garish standardised shops of the multiple stores. Buildings five sizes larger than any that were seen a hundred years ago have appeared in all towns. Everything is larger - shops, offices, vehicles, pavements, street lamps, exhibitions, theatres, libraries, town halls. Only the townsman himself is thinner.
Nowadays the walls have lost their warlike associations, but have retained their beauty. One of the loveliest sights for a stranger entering the City is the picture of the walls outside the station. At all times this is beautiful- on a sunny day when the blue sky, grey walls and green moat are washed in clear colours; in spring when thousands of daffodils nod their heads on the moat side; in early summer when the wind blows through the long grass, or later when the hay is cut with a scythe.
It is pleasant, especially on a fine, clear day, to spend a morning or an afternoon walking round the walls. From the broad, flagged path, which is reached by flights of easy steps, one has a good bird's-eye view of the City.
Looking outwards it is easy to imagine a medieval archer shooting arrows through the loopholes.
36 The writer of extract 1 is urging
A more consideration for people on foot.
B the use of better building materials.
C alternative designs.
D a clearer view for drivers at certain spots in the city.
37 Extract 1 is probably taken from a
A book campaigning against the local authorities.
B guide book.
C book deploring recent urban social trends.
D discussion of a city's road safety plans.
38 In extract 2 what are some beautiful
cities described as acquiring?
A Too many shops.
B Efficient shops.
C Vulgar buildings.
D Boring buildings.
39 Compared with that in extract 1 the city
described in extract 3 appears to
A be more pleasing.
B inspire more love.
C be of greater historical interest.
D be more gaily decorated.
40 Are any of the three extracts taken from
a publication of the same sort as another, and if so, which?
A Each is from a different sort of publication.
B Extracts 2 and 3 are from the same type of publication.
C Extracts 1 and 2 are from the same type of publication.
D Extracts 1 and 3 are from the same type of publication.
Section A is more difficult for many candidates than Section B. But Section B takes much more time. So, to make sure you finish all the 40 questions, I suggest you do Section B first, and follow a timetable like this:
Passage 1 (approx. 5 questions) 15 minutes
Passage 2 (approx. 5 questions) 15 minutes
Passage 3 (approx. 5 questions) 15 minutes
Section A (25 questions) 15 minutes
It is essential to finish the 25 questions of Section A but if you find you can do them quite fast, and that you are rather slow at Section B, you can give a little more time to each of the passages in B, and do A in 10 minutes. But practise and find out what your speed is! Set aside 1 hour when you will be undisturbed, and test yourself.
If you do Section A first, I recommend you to spend only 10 minutes on it, then stop, even if you haven't finished, and then spend a strictly limited 15 minutes on each of the B passages, so that you have 5 minutes in which you can finish A. If you start with A and go on till you finish it, no matter how long it takes you, there is the danger that you will not have time to do all the Section B questions. The basic point to remember is that you can always finish the Section A questions in a hurry if you have to, but you cannot finish Section B in a hurry.
If you have not prepared well enough for this section, examination technique will not, I'm afraid, help you very much. In almost all the questions you will either know the right word immediately, or you will not. If you do not, then you must not waste time thinking about it. That will almost certainly not help. Just guess, mark your answer sheet, and go on to the next question.
But always answer every question, however uncertain you are. You will lose one mark if you leave a blank, and you will only lose one mark if you answer wrong. So put something -you have a one in four chance of getting it right if you close your eyes and use a pin. (And do the same in Section B; you have the same chance there.) You are throwing away marks every time you leave a question blank.
In a few questions, however, you will find that a preposition, an infinitive, or some other grammatical detail will tell you what the right word is, so watch for those.
There is, in fact, one little trick you can use when you get into difficulty. I will explain this in my commentary on the answers below.
In the end,
though, we come back to the importance of preparation for this section.
What Section A really tests is whether you are able to observe these sorts of details of language. Nobody can learn a language well without this ability. We showed that we have the ability to observe such details when we learnt our own language. All normal people have it. But when one learns a foreign language one must forget the prejudices about vocabulary that one collects from one's own language and remember that words in one language are not used in the same way in another language.
Examination technique is very important in Section B, which (unlike A) is a true comprehension test.
First, read through the whole passage fast. When you come to words and expressions you do not know, do not stop and start worrying about them. In most cases we discover (or ought to discover) the meaning of a word from the meaning of the whole sentence, of the paragraph, or even of the whole piece; do not make the mistake of thinking you must understand every word in the sentence before you can understand the sentence. It works the other way round - as it did when you were reading books in your own language when you were a child. The sentence and the situation usually tell us what a new word means.
Now, but not before, comes the problem of choosing the right answers from the four possibilities, A, B, C, or D. Three of these are wrong, of course. The examiners call these wrong ones "distractors": they put there to confuse you and lead your mind away in the wrong direction.
You must not allow these distractors to lead you away. So, as you come to each question, look at only the base question (or "stem") and not yet at the alternatives A, B, C, D. Before you at these, look back immediately at the passage and find out what the passage says about the question. (A rather good practical method is to cover the alternatives A, B, C, D each time with a sheet of paper, just leaving the base question showing, while you study the passage.)
When you have decided what the passage says, but only then, you can look at the alternatives A, B, C, D to discover which one fits what you have already decided is the answer.
It is always completely safe to do it this way, because if it is a good question there will only be one right answer and you will see it
To study the alternatives A, B, C, D before you look at the passage is very dangerous in two ways. You will often be led away by the distractors and immediately decide you like the look of one of them and so not be able to read the passage clearly with an open mind, because you trying to prove to yourself that your choice was right. And this may prevent you looking at the right part of the passage where you can find the real answer. (One very common method, unfortunately, is the elimination method of looking at each alternative - A, B, C, D - in turn and deciding whether it is impossible or not. This is a dangerous system, for the reasons I have just explained. Moreover, it is not only a bad plan to think about what the passage does not say instead of what it does say, but it also takes more time.)
When you study the passage in more detail to find out what it says about each question, you must still not worry about separate words you do not understand.
First of all, you will find that in this test the answer seldom depends on knowledge of just one word. Secondly, you should continue using the method I suggested a little earlier: use the wider meaning to find out the detailed meaning; use your understanding of the situation to find out the meaning of single words. Always give yourself a picture of what is happening in the real life situation the writer is describing.
A good trick to help you do this is to imagine that the word or expression you don't know is a blank - and then imagine the meaning that must fit into that blank.
These are the answers to the questions 1-40 above.
1 D Using specialized in the passive is a classic mistake made by many students. connected would need with or to.
5 B The others would need a different preposition from to, even if they fitted the context.
7 B Context and meaning are of course always the most important things, but they are particularly decisive here. The question is the key to the problem.
9 D to is the key word.
12 A There is no to in front of say, which makes ought impossible.
16 B on is the key word. reaction and response would need to and criticism would need of.
17 D permission and possibility are classic difficulties for many students.
19 B with is the key word. substituted needs for and would have the opposite meaning. changed and converted would need into and would furthermore mean the builder was something of a magician.
21 A This is an example of where you might use the trick I referred to above if you get into difficulty. You very possibly know all the words except shirk. You are fairly certain that all the other three words are wrong. So choose shirk, even though you don't know it. You will probably be right; you obviously must be right if you know the other words are wrong! And in any case, you have nothing to lose. So, when in doubt, choose the word that is new to you.
25 D for makes the other three impossible.
26 The base question, or "stem", is Most writers on Orwell believe Let us look straight back at the passage, without looking at A, B, C, D, and find where it talks about most writers on Orwell. We find the place in lines 1-2 (him being the George Orwell of line 1). It says that they accepted that he had a uniformly unhappy childhood. Now, but not before, we can look at A, B, C, D, and the answer is immediately clear: D. (Most students will find this first question easy. I have chosen it as a simple, clear example of the method I am recommending. Many of the remaining questions are more complicated. But try to keep to the same basic method.)
27 The main
of the "public" schools was to
The so-called public schools are mentioned
in line 12. But this is a reference to "right school" in line 10 and
"school" in line 9, and these
in turn are references to depended on having had "a good
education" to the end of school at 18
(line 8), and what depended on that was
entry to all the careers (line 7). Notice that this is the only part
of the text that talks about the function of the "public"
schools - it does not say anywhere else what those schools were for. It
is very important always to make your mind work in this strict way. None of the
other information about the public schools answers the original base question.
(I suggest you mark with a pencil the parts of the text that give you the
answer, and mark them with the number of the question, or rub the marks out
when you've finished each question.)
Now we can at last look at A, B, C, D, and see that the only answer that fits what we found in the text is D.
28 A feature of the preparatory schools was that they This is not really a very good question, because the base question covers far too many possible points. But we must be prepared, unfortunately, to meet questions like this occasionally in the real examination, and we ought still, if possible, keep to the method of looking at the text before we look at A, B, C, D. The information on the preparatory schools starts in lines 10-11. Lines 11-14 are about the so-called public schools, that is, the "right" schools, the private secondary schools, but this part tells us indirectly about why the preparatory schools were needed. Then lines 14-19 are about the preparatory schools again. We can see that the main points are To get boys into. . . (line 10), recent foundations (lines 15-16), aped. . . the more ancient foundations (line 16), utilitarian (line 17), tried to be useful (line 17), and finally recruitment. . . depended on their success. . . in getting their little charges into "good schools" (lines 18-19). We can now finally look at A, B, C, D, and the answer that we recognise from among the points we have noted above in the passage is C.
Notice that we only needed one out of several pieces of information that we made a note of in order to choose our answer. But we must always collect all the information first; it is only in this way that we can be sure of getting the accurate picture we need.
Question 28 perhaps also illustrates quite well two points that I made in my general advice on Section B. It is probably quite a good example of the dangers of looking at A, B, C, D first, because there are quite a lot of students, I think, who would then be attracted by B, or perhaps even A or D, and so would only use the text to support their first idea. There is mention in the text of all the ideas in A, B and D, and only reading the text again first will give us the picture the writer wants to give us, instead of just the ideas suggested by our imagination if we look at A, B, C, D first.
Secondly, if you complain you do not know what the words aped (line 16) or charges (line 19) mean, replace the unknown word with a blank in your mind; imagining the meaning of that blank should not be difficult here: the preparatory schools were new, but they __________ the ways of the old schools. charges is even more obvious if you use this method. I discuss the way to work out the meaning of "unknown" words a bit more in the model answers to Section B of Paper 3.
29 What sort of school was St Cyprian's? It was a new (line 20) and successful (line 20) preparatory school (lines 20-21). It had a reputation for getting scholarships and places at . . . public schools (lines 24-25). It was expensive (line 25), but value for money was plainly given in terms of very small classes and intensive teaching (line 28). The teaching was mechanical (line 29). We look at A, B, C, D. The answer is B.
30 What, as an adult, did Orwell feel about St Cyprian's? If we look at the text first the answer to this one is very simple. Many students who look at A, B, C, D first are tempted by B, and their mistake is a good example of how essential it is to keep in mind the whole reality of what the writer is expressing, and to think about what the text actually says. The whole of the first paragraph of the passage emphasises how the adult Orwell hated his prep school. In the last paragraph it is the writer, not Orwell, who thinks Orwell's prep school days may have been less terrible and have had less lasting effect on his character THAN LONG AFTER- WARDS HE (i.e. Orwell) MADE OUT (lines 32-33). In other words Orwell himself as an adult still hated his prep school and felt it had a very important influence on him. Now if we look at A, B, C, D we find the second of those feelings in A. None of the other ideas of B, C, D are Orwell's.
31 What conclusion may be drawn from the recent computer trial? The trial (line 3) reassuringly suggests that a moral code of behaviour may be the most efficient long term strategy. A, B, C, D? Answer B. (If you hesitate about the meaning of decency, see how decently (line 1) is contrasted with trick in line 1.)
32 The purpose of the computer competition was to find the program which The purpose is described in lines 7-8, and even more clearly, in line 17: Always be ready to find information anywhere in the text; keep- ing the general idea of the whole passage in mind is very helpful in this. A, B, C, D? Answer A.
33 A characteristic of "nasty" programs was that they We are told in lines 13-15. Perhaps we should add the characteristic (lines 24-26) that nasty programs did not do well in the competition. A, B, C, D? Answer B.
34 The most successful program was one that This question often causes difficulty. Yet the answer is explained very clearly in lines 17-20. It was four lines long; it always gave a full box if it got a full box; if it got an empty box it gave an empty box; when it got a full box again, it gave a full box again. A, B, C, D? Answer B.
35 A key to the success of TIT for TAT is that it The key, or moral, is described in lines 20-22: play fair until deceived; if deceived, punish your opponent; forgive him afterwards. A, B, C, D? Answer B.
36 The writer of extract 1 is urging What does the writer say he or she wants? We
find it in only two places: . .
. there are less hideous ways of doing
the same thing. . . In
37 Extract 1 is probably taken from a Even here do not give in to the temptation to look at A, B, C, D first. You may regret it if you do. Look at the text again first, and try to work out what the purpose of the writer is. Clearly the writer does not like what has been done to the City, is attacking this, and suggesting other ways of doing things. The writer is mainly concerned with "visual" matters - visual (line 2 and line 8) and less hideous (line 4). Let us now look at A, B, C, D. This is perhaps another good point at which to stop and see how important it is to keep strictly to a logical systematic technique. "you may be confused by A, B, C, D In this question (or in other questions). For instance, there was nothing said directly about local authorities in the text, and both C and D look as if they might have something to do with extract 1. Don't worry. If something like this happens, just remind yourself calmly of what you decided was the answer before you looked at A, B, C, D. There is only one alternative here that comes anywhere near what we found in the text - against is perhaps a key word - and that is A.
38 In extract 2 what are some beautiful cities described as acquiring? Beautiful cities must refer to gracious old towns (line 14), and they have been disfigured by . . . garish standardised shops of the multiple stores. So the writer is talking about the appearance of shops; this seems clear, even if the word garish is new to you. If we look at A, B, C, D, only one is really concerned with appearance: C.
39 Compared with that in extract 1 the city described in extract 3 appears to We have really answered this question already. The writer of extract 1 is attacking the appearance of "his" or "her" city. The appearance of the extract 3 city is thoroughly recommended by its writer. A, B, C, D? Answer A. (Again, don't be led away from your original decision by, for instance, B. We don't know anything about that. The writer of extract 1 may be so critical precisely because his or her city does inspire such love!)
40 Are any of the three extracts taken from a publication of the same sort as another, and if so, which? Some students may find questions of this kind rather difficult at first. Don't panic. Here more than ever it is simply a matter of reading the texts with your mind on the broad context, and deciding what each one is trying to do. We have already decided about extract 1. In extract 2 we find the word change in line 12., and in fact the whole extract is about change. The writer seems to like some changes and not others. The extract is fairly clearly history. Extract 3 is certainly not an attack, like No.1; but despite the reference to the walls that have lost their warlike associations (line 20) it is not history either. The whole extract is recommending the City. (A guide?) So the extracts are each from different types of publication. A, B, C, D? Answer A.
Slightly revised layout 20 April 2010
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