ISEE Upper Level Reading Comprehension Practice Test 15

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Powdered zirconium is more fiery and violent than the magnesium powder that went into wartime incendiary bombs. Under some conditions, it can be ignited with a kitchen match, and it cannot be extinguished with water. Munitions makers once tried to incorporate it into explosives, but turned it down as too dangerous for even them to handle.

But when this strange metal is transformed into a solid bar or sheet or tube, as lustrous as burnished silver, its temper changes. It is so docile that it can be used by surgeons as a safe covering plate for sensitive brain tissues. It is almost as strong as steel, and it can be exposed to hydrochloric acid or nitric acid without corroding. It is even used in nuclear reactors because of its ability to withstand corrosion.

Zirconium is also safe and stable when it is bound up with other elements to form mineral compounds, which occur in abundant deposits in North and South America, India, and Australia. Although it is classified as a rare metal, it is more abundant in the earth's crust than nickel, copper, tungsten, tin, or lead. Until not long ago, scarcely a dozen people had ever seen zirconium in pure form, but today it is the wonder metal of a fantastic new industry, an exciting structural material for chemical equipment and for superrockets and jet engines, and a vital component of television, radar, and radio sets. It may be most well-known for its role in jewelry making, as cubic zirconium gems resemble diamonds in appearance but sell for a fraction of the price.

Despite its widespread use in many different applications, some contemporary uses for zirconium have been tried and discarded. Its irritating properties make it a poor choice for inclusion in skin products, as manufacturers discovered when it was tried as a component in topical skin treatments and deodorants.

1. Which title best expresses the main idea of this selection?

  • A. A Vital Substance
  • B. A Safe, Stable Substance
  • C. Zirconium's Uses in Surgery
  • D. Characteristics of Zirconium

2. The word docile means

  • A. calm.
  • B. pliable.
  • C. strong.
  • D. profuse.

3. The selection emphasizes that

  • A. zirconium rusts easily.
  • B. chemists have found many uses for zirconium.
  • C. keys are often made of zirconium nowadays.
  • D. zirconium is less abundant in the earth's crust than lead.

4. Zirconium is not safe to handle when it is

  • A. lustrous.
  • B. powdered.
  • C. in tubes.
  • D. in bar form.

5. The selection tells us that zirconium

  • A. is a metal.
  • B. is fireproof.
  • C. dissolves in water.
  • D. is stronger than steel.

6. Zirconium is likely to be useful in all of these fields EXCEPT

  • A. surgery.
  • B. television.
  • C. atomic research.
  • D. the manufacture of fireworks.

Between 1780 and 1790, in piecemeal fashion, a trail was established between Catskill on the Hudson and the frontier outpost, Ithaca, in the Finger Lakes country. This path, by grace of following the valleys, managed to thread its way through the mountains by what are on the whole surprisingly easy grades. Ultimately, this route became the Susquehanna Turnpike, but in popular speech it was just the Ithaca Road. It was, along with the Mohawk Turnpike and the Great Western Turnpike, one of the three great east-west highways of the state. Eventually it was the route taken by thousands of Yankee farmers, more especially Connecticut Yankees, seeking new fortunes in southwestern New York. Along it, the tide of pioneer immigration flowed at flood crest for a full generation.

As the road left Catskill, there was no stream that might not be either forded or crossed on a crude bridge until the traveler reached the Susquehanna, which was a considerable river and a real obstacle to his progress. The road came down out of the Catskills via the valley of the Ouleout Creek and struck the Susquehanna just above the present village of Unadilla. Hither about the year 1784 came a Connecticut man, Nathaniel Wattles, who settled there and dedicated himself to helping travelers cross the formidable river. Wattles provided both a skiff and a large flat-bottomed scow so that the homeseeker, his family, team, and household baggage-and oftentimes a little caravan of livestock-might be set across the river dry-shod and in safety. Wattles here established an inn where one might find lodging and entertainment, and a general store where might be purchased such staples as were essential for the journey. He also opened roads that enabled settlers to travel from the area in any direction. So it was that Wattles' Ferry became the best known landmark on the Ithaca Road.

7. The author indicates that the Susquehanna Turnpike

  • A. began as a narrow trail.
  • B. was the most important north-south highway in the state.
  • C. furnished travelers with surprising obstacles.
  • D. went out of use after a generation.

8. The western end of the Susquehanna Turnpike was located at

  • A. the Hudson River.
  • B. the Connecticut border.
  • C. Ithaca.
  • D. Catskill.

9. The Susquehanna Turnpike was also known as

  • A. the Ithaca Road.
  • B. Wattles' Ferry.
  • C. the Catskill Trail.
  • D. the Mohawk Turnpike.

10. According to this selection, Nathaniel Wattles was prepared to offer travelers all of the following EXCEPT

  • A. guides.
  • B. a place to sleep.
  • C. entertainment.
  • D. groceries.

11. The word staples most nearly means

  • A. fasteners.
  • B. supplies.
  • C. transportation.
  • D. experiences.

12. The purpose of Wattles' Ferry was to

  • A. provide travelers with overnight lodging.
  • B. help residents establish homes in Unadilla.
  • C. help travelers cross the Susquehanna River.
  • D. teach families the techniques of river rafting.