ISEE Reading Comprehension Practice Test 2

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The seasonal comings and goings of birds have excited the attention and wonder of all sorts of people in all ages and places. The oracles of Greece and the augurs of Rome wove them into ancient mythology. They are spoken of in the Books of Job and Jeremiah.

Nevertheless, it has been difficult for many to believe that small birds, especially, are capable of migratory journeys. Aristotle was convinced that the birds that wintered in Greece were not new arrivals, but merely Greece's summer birds in winter dress. According to a belief persisting in some parts of the world to this day, swallows and swifts do not migrate, but spend the winter in hibernation. (Swifts and swallows do migrate, just as most other Northern Hemisphere birds do.) Another old and charming, but untrue, legend enlists the aid of the stork in getting small birds to and from winter quarters: Small birds are said to hitch rides on the European stork's back.

It is clear why Northern Hemisphere birds fly south in the fall; they go to assure themselves of food and a more favorable climate for the winter months. It is also clear where most of the migrants come from and where they go. Years of bird-banding have disclosed the routes of the main migratory species.

But there are other aspects of migration that remain, for all our powers of scientific investigation, as puzzling and mysterious to modern man as to the ancients. Why do migrant birds come north each spring? Why don't they simply stay in the warm tropics the whole twelve months of the year? What determines the moment of departure for north or south? Above all, how do birds—especially species like the remarkable golden plover, which flies huge distances directly across trackless ocean wastes—find their way?

1. Which of the following is the best title for this selection?

  • A. The Solution of an Ancient Problem
  • B. Mysterious Migrations
  • C. The Secret of the Plover
  • D. Aristotle's Theory

2. Bird-banding has revealed

  • A. the kind of food birds eat.
  • B. why the birds prefer the tropics in the summer.
  • C. why birds leave at a certain time.
  • D. the routes taken by different types of birds.

3. Swallows and swifts

  • A. remain in Greece all year.
  • B. change their plumage in winter.
  • C. hibernate during the winter.
  • D. fly south for the winter.

4. The article proves that

  • A. nature still has secrets that man has not fathomed.
  • B. the solutions of Aristotle are accepted by modern science.
  • C. we live in an age that has lost all interest in bird lore.
  • D. man has no means of solving the problems of bird migration.

Using new tools and techniques, scientists, almost unnoticed, are remaking the world of plants. They have already remodeled sixty-five sorts of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and trees, giving us among other things tobacco that resists disease, cantaloupes that are immune to the blight, and lettuce with crisper leaves. The chief new tool they are using is colchicine, a poisonous drug, which has astounding effects upon growth and upon heredity. It creates new varieties with astonishing frequency, whereas such mutations occur but rarely in nature. Colchicine has thrown new light on the fascinating jobs of the plant hunters. The Department of Agriculture sends agents all over the world to find plants native to other lands that can be grown here and are superior to those already here. Scientists have crossed these foreign plants with those at home, thereby adding to our farm crops many desirable characteristics. The colchicine technique has enormously facilitated their work, because hybrids so often can be made fertile and because it takes so few generations of plants now to build a new variety with the qualities desired.

5. Which title best expresses the ideas of the paragraph?

  • A. Plant Growth and Heredity
  • B. New Plants for Old
  • C. Remodeling Plant Life
  • D. A More Abundant World

6. Mutation in plant life results in

  • A. diseased plants.
  • B. hybrids.
  • C. new varieties.
  • D. fertility.

7. Colchicine speeds the improvement of plant species because it

  • A. makes possible the use of foreign plants.
  • B. makes use of natural mutations.
  • C. creates new varieties very quickly.
  • D. can be used with sixty-five different vegetables, fruits, and flowers.

8. According to the passage, colchicine is a

  • A. poisonous drug.
  • B. blight.
  • C. kind of plant hunter.
  • D. hybrid plant.

About the year 1812, two steam ferryboats were built under the direction of Robert Fulton for crossing the Hudson River, and one of the same description was built for service on the East River. These boats were what are known as twin boats, each of them having two complete hulls united by a deck or bridge. Because these boats were pointed at both ends and moved equally well with either end foremost, they crossed and re-crossed the river without losing any time in turning about. Fulton also contrived, with great ingenuity, floating docks for the reception of the ferryboats and a means by which they were brought to the docks without a shock. These boats were the first of a fleet that has since carried hundreds of millions of passengers to and from New York.

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

  • A. Crossing the Hudson River by Boat
  • B. Transportation of Passengers
  • C. The Invention of Floating Docks
  • D. The Beginning of Steam Ferryboat Service

10. The steam ferryboats were known as twin boats because

  • A. they had two complete hulls united by a bridge.
  • B. they could move as easily forward as backward.
  • C. each ferryboat had two captains.
  • D. two boats were put into service at the same time.

11. Which statement is true according to the selection?

  • A. Boats built under Fulton's direction are still in use.
  • B. Fulton planned a reception to celebrate the first ferryboat.
  • C. Fulton piloted the first steam ferryboats across the Hudson.
  • D. Fulton developed a satisfactory way of docking the ferryboats.

12. Robert Fulton worked in the

  • A. seventeenth century.
  • B. eighteenth century.
  • C. nineteenth century.
  • D. twentieth century.

13. In line 8, the word shock is used to mean an

  • A. unpleasant surprise.
  • B. impact.
  • C. illness following an accident.
  • D. electrical impulse.

14. The first steam ferryboats were built to

  • A. cross the Erie Canal.
  • B. cross the Hudson River.
  • C. carry passengers to Massachusetts.
  • D. travel down the Delaware River.