Reading Comprehension Sample Questions

Reading Comprehension | 4 Questions

1. The following question is based on material written in 1996: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed in 1987 by more than 150 nations, has attained its short-term goals: it has decreased the rate of increase in amounts of most ozone-depleting chemicals reaching the atmosphere and has even reduced the atmospheric levels of some of them. The projection that the ozone layer will substantially recover from ozone depletion by 2050 is based on the assumption that the protocol's regulations will be strictly followed. Yet there is considerable evidence of violations, particularly in the form of the release of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are commonly used in the refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries. These violations reflect industry attitudes; for example, in the United States, 48% of respondents in a recent survey of subscribers to Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, an industry trade journal, said that they did not believe that CFCs damage the ozone layer. Moreover, some in the industry apparently do not want to pay for CFC substitutes, which can run five times the cost of CFCs. Consequently, a black market in imported illicit CFCs has grown. Estimates of the contraband CFC trade range from 10,000 to 22,000 tons a year, with most of the CFCs originating in India and China, whose agreements under the Protocol still allow them to produce CFCs. In fact, the United States Customs Service reports that CFC-12 is a contraband problem second only to illicit drugs.

Question: The passage suggests which of the following about the illicit trade in CFCs?

Answer Choices:
A. It would cease if manufacturers in India and China stopped producing CFCs. 
B. Most people who participate in such trade do not believe that CFCs deplete the ozone layer. 
C. It will probably surpass illicit drugs as the largest contraband problem faced by the United States Customs Service.
D. It is fostered by people who do not want to pay the price of CFC substitutes. 
E. It has grown primarily because of the expansion of the refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries in foreign countries.

Answer: D

Answer Explanation: This question asks what the passage implies about the illicit trade in CFC's. The best answer is D. The passage states that some industry members appear not to want to pay the price of CFC substitutes, and that consequently a black market in cheaper CFC's has emerged. This implies that the black market is fostered at least in part by those industry members who are unwilling to pay the higher price of CFC substitutes. Choice A can be eliminated because the passage states that only that most contraband CFC's originate in India and China. This does not imply that the illicit trade in CFC's could not continue without manufacturers in those countries. Choice B is not correct because the passage does not provide information about the beliefs of participants in the illicit CFC trade. Choice C is incorrect because the passage states only that the United States Customs Service considers the illicit CFC trade to be a problem second only to the illicit drug trade; there is no suggestion in the passage that the illicit CFC trade is expected to develop into a larger problem than the illicit drug trade. Choice E is incorrect because the passage attributes the growth of the illicit trade in CFC's to the high cost of CFC substitutes, not to an expansion of refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries in foreign countries.


2. This passage was written in 1984. It is now possible to hear a recording of Caruso's singing that is far superior to any made during his lifetime. A decades-old wax-cylinder recording of this great operatic tenor has been digitized, and the digitized signal has been processed by computer to remove the extraneous sound, or “noise,” introduced by the now “ancient” wax-cylinder recording process.

Although this digital technique needs improvement, it represents a new and superior way of recording and processing sound which overcomes many of the limitations of analog recording. In analog recording systems, the original sound is represented as a continuous waveform created by variations in the sound's amplitude over time. When analog playback systems reproduce this waveform, however, they invariably introduce distortions. First, the waveform produced during playback differs somewhat from the original waveform. Second, the medium that stores the analog recording creates noise during playback which gets added to the recorded sounds.

Digital recordings, by contrast, reduce the original sound to a series of discrete numbers that represent the sound's waveform. Because the digital playback system “reads” only numbers, any noise and distortion that may accumulate during storage and manipulation of the digitized signal will have little effect: as long as the numbers remain recognizable, the original waveform will be reconstructed with little loss in quality. However, because the waveform is continuous, while its digital representation is composed of discrete numbers, it is impossible for digital systems to avoid some distortion. One kind of distortion, called “sampling error,” occurs if the sound is sampled (i.e., its amplitude is measured) too infrequently, so that the amplitude changes more than one quantum (the smallest change in amplitude measured by the digital system) between samplings. In effect, the sound is changing too quickly for the system to record it accurately. A second form of distortion is “quantizing error,” which arises when the amplitude being measured is not a whole number of quanta, forcing the digital recorder to round off. Over the long term, these errors are random, and the noise produced (a background buzzing) is similar to analog noise except that it only occurs when recorded sounds are being reproduced.

Question: According to the passage, one of the ways in which analog recording systems differ from digital recording systems is that analog systems

Answer Choices:
A. can be used to reduce background noise in old recordings
B. record the original sound as a continuous waveform
C. distort the original sound somewhat
D. can avoid introducing extraneous and nonmusical sounds
E. can reconstruct the original waveform with little loss in quality

Answer:
B

Answer Explanation: This question asks you to identify something mentioned specifically in the passage that is a feature of analog recording systems that is not shared by digital recording systems. Choice B is the best answer. The passage states in lines 10-13 that analog recording systems represent the original sound as a continuous waveform, while in lines 21-23 it notes that digital recordings reduces the original sound to a series of discrete numbers. Neither A, D, or E are features of analog systems, according to the passage. Choice C is not correct: while the passage does say that analog recording systems distort the original sound, the passage also notes that "it is impossible for digital systems to avoid some distortion" (lines 31-32). Thus some amount of sound distortion is involved in both analog and digital recording processes.


3. The following is based on material written in 1996: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed in 1987 by more than 150 nations, has attained its short-term goals: it has decreased the rate of increase in amounts of most ozone-depleting chemicals reaching the atmosphere and has even reduced the atmospheric levels of some of them. The projection that the ozone layer will substantially recover from ozone depletion by 2050 is based on the assumption that the protocol's regulations will be strictly followed. Yet there is considerable evidence of violations, particularly in the form of the release of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are commonly used in the refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries. These violations reflect industry attitudes; for example, in the United States, 48% of respondents in a recent survey of subscribers to Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, an industry trade journal, said that they did not believe that CFCs damage the ozone layer. Moreover, some in the industry apparently do not want to pay for CFC substitutes, which can run five times the cost of CFCs. Consequently, a black market in imported illicit CFCs has grown. Estimates of the contraband CFC trade range from 10,000 to 22,000 tons a year, with most of the CFCs originating in India and China, whose agreements under the Protocol still allow them to produce CFCs. In fact, the United States Customs Service reports that CFC-12 is a contraband problem second only to illicit drugs.

Question: According to the passage, which of the following best describes most ozone-depleting chemicals in 1996 as compared to those in 1987?

Answer Choices:
A. The levels of such chemicals in the atmosphere had decreased.
B. The number of such chemicals that reached the atmosphere had declined.
C. The amounts of such chemicals released had increased but the amounts that reached the atmosphere had decreased.
D. The rate of increase in amounts of such chemicals reaching the atmosphere had decreased.
E. The rate at which such chemicals were being reduced in the atmosphere had slowed.

Answer:
 D

Answer Explanation: This question asks you to identify a claim that is made in the passage about ozone-depleting chemicals. The best answer is D. The passage, written in 1996, states that the rate of increase in amounts of most ozone-depleting chemicals reaching the atmosphere had been reduced since 1987. Choice A can be eliminated because the passage states that the atmospheric levels of some ozone-depleting chemicals has been reduced, not that the levels of most had been reduced. Choice B is incorrect because the actual number of different chemicals reaching the atmosphere is not provided in the passage, nor is it claimed that the number had declined. Choice C is not correct because the passage does not claim that there was an increase in the amounts of ozone-depleting chemicals released between 1987 and 1996. Choice E is incorrect because there is no indication in the passage that the rate of reduction of atmospheric chemicals had slowed between 1987 and 1996.


4. Modern manufacturers, who need reliable sources of materials and technologically advanced components to operate profitably, face an increasingly difficult choice between owning the producers of these items (a practice known as backward integration) and buying from independent producers. Manufacturers who integrate may reap short-term rewards, but they often restrict their future capacity for innovative product development.

Backward integration removes the need for some purchasing and marketing functions, centralizes overhead, and permits manufacturers to eliminate duplicated efforts in research and development. Where components are commodities (ferrous metals or petroleum, for example), backward integration almost certainly boosts profits. Nevertheless, because product innovation means adopting the most technologically advanced and cost-effective ways of making components, backward integration may entail a serious risk for a technologically active company—for example, a producer of sophisticated consumer electronics.

Question: According to the passage, when an assembler buys a firm that makes some important component of the end product that the assembler produces, independent suppliers of the same component may:

Answer Choices:
A. Withhold technological innovations from the assembler
B. Experience improved profit margins on sales of their products
C. Lower their prices to protect themselves from competition
D. Suffer financial difficulties and go out of business
E. Stop developing new versions of the component

Answer: A

Answer Explanation: This question asks you to identify information presented in the passage about independent suppliers of product components. Choice A is the best answer. The passage asserts that independent suppliers making the same components as assemeblers may not share technological innovations with assemblers. Choices B, C, D, and E can be eliminated because there is no indication in the passage that independent suppliers making the same components as assemblers experience improved profit margins, lower their prices, suffer financial difficulties, or stop developing new versions of the component.