ISEE Upper Level Reading Comprehension Practice Test 16

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Coming into the relay station with a rush, the Pony Express rider swung down from his exhausted mount and up onto a fresh horse with his precious mochilla, the saddle bag containing the mail. He was off again without a moment's delay. He was expected to reach the next station, and he did, or he died trying.

A rider might come into a station at dawn only to find that the station had been burned, the keepers killed, and the horses run off by attacking Indians. In that case he would continue to the next station without food or rest.

"Buffalo Bill," a boy of 18, made the longest continuous run in the history of the Pony Express, 384 miles. By riding 280 miles in just 22 hours, Jim Moore earned the distinction of having made the fastest run.

Ninety riders covered the trail at all times of the day and night, often risking their lives to get the mail through within the ten-day limit. Most made it in eight days.

On the average, the riders could travel 11 miles an hour, a quick pace over terrain that might require the horse to swim rivers or cat-foot its way along narrow cliff trails.

The pace of the mail delivery by Pony Express was snail-like by today's standards, but at the time of its commencement in 1860, it offered the fastest cross-country communication that had ever been achieved. Abraham Lincoln was elected president during that year, and thanks to the Pony Express, residents of California received news of Lincoln's victory in just over a week.

The Pony Express riders carried the mail between Missouri and California for less than two years. They stopped riding in 1861 when a telegraph line offered a swifter means of communication. The efforts of the riders are memorialized at the Pony Express National Museum, established in St. Joseph, Missouri. According to the records of the museum, the Pony Express lost only a single delivery of mail during the entire period of its operation.

1. The Pony Express rider stopped at a station to

  • A. get a few hours of sleep.
  • B. get a fresh mount.
  • C. sort the mail.
  • D. escape Native American attacks.

2. The mochilla refers to the

  • A. Pony Express rider's saddle bags.
  • B. Pony Express horses.
  • C. stations.
  • D. trails.

3. This passage implies that most of the Pony Express riders were

  • A. sure-footed.
  • B. faithful to their jobs.
  • C. mountain-bred.
  • D. killed.

4. Those sending mail by Pony Express could expect that it would reach its destination within

  • A. ten days.
  • B. five days.
  • C. a month.
  • D. before dawn.

5. The longest continuous run was

  • A. completed within 22 hours.
  • B. 280 miles.
  • C. made by traveling 11 miles per hour.
  • D. 384 miles.

6. Which of the following statements is most likely true, based on the passage?

  • A. The Pony Express was reliable at delivering the mail.
  • B. The Pony Express was operational throughout the 1860s.
  • C. Mail was delivered by Pony Express from east coast to west coast.
  • D. The Pony Express was less expensive than other forms of mail delivery.

For generations, historians and boat lovers have been trying to learn more about the brave ship that brought the Pilgrims to America. The task is a difficult one because Mayflower was such a common name for ships back in early seventeenth-century England that there were at least twenty of them in existence when the Pilgrims left for the New World.

An exact duplicate of the Mayflower has been built in England and given to the people of the United States as a symbol of good will and common ancestry linking Britons and Americans. The Pilgrims' Mayflower apparently was built originally as a fishing vessel. It seems to have been 90 feet long by 22 feet wide, displacing 180 tons of water. The duplicate measures 90 feet by 26 feet, displaces 183 tons, and has a crew of 21, as did the original vessel. The new Mayflower has no motor but travels faster than the old boat.

What happened to the historic boat? So far as can be told, the Mayflower went back to less colorful jobs and, not too many years later, was scrapped. What happened to the beams, masts, and planking is questionable. In the English city of Abingdon, there is a Congregational church that contains two heavy wooden pillars. Some say these pillars are masts from the Mayflower. A barn in the English town of Jordans seemed to be built of old ship timbers. Marine experts said these timbers were impregnated with salt and, if put together, would form a vessel 90 feet by 22 feet. The man who owned the farm when the peculiar barn was built was a relative of the man who appraised the Mayflower when it was scrapped.

So the original Mayflower may still be doing service ashore while her duplicate sails the seas again.

7. A long search was made for the Pilgrims' boat because it

  • A. contained valuable materials.
  • B. might still do sea service.
  • C. has historical importance.
  • D. would link Great Britain and America.

8. It has been difficult to discover what happened to the original Mayflower because

  • A. many ships bore the same name.
  • B. it was such a small vessel.
  • C. the search was begun too late.
  • D. it has become impregnated with salt.

9. The British recently had a duplicate of the Mayflower built because

  • A. the original could not be located.
  • B. they wanted to make a gesture of friendship.
  • C. parts of the original could be used.
  • D. historians recommended such a step.

10. Compared with the original Mayflower, the modern duplicate

  • A. is longer.
  • B. is identical.
  • C. carries a larger crew.
  • D. is somewhat wider.

11. The word colorful most nearly means

  • A. humorous.
  • B. decorative.
  • C. bright.
  • D. interesting.

12. When the author says that the original boat may still be doing service ashore, he means that

  • A. it may be whole and intact somewhere.
  • B. present-day buildings may include parts of it.
  • C. it may be in a boat lover's private collection.
  • D. it may be in the service of pirates.