ISEE Reading Comprehension Practice Test 4

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The proud, noble American eagle appears on one side of the Great Seal of the United States, which is printed on every dollar bill. The same majestic bird can be seen on state seals, half dollars, and even in some commercial advertising. In fact, though we often encounter artistic representations of our national symbol, it is rarely seen alive in its native habitat. It is now all but extinct.

In the days of the founding fathers, the American eagle resided in nearly every corner of the territory now known as the continental United States. Today the eagle survives in what ornithologists call significant numbers only in two regions. An estimated 350 pairs inhabit Florida, and perhaps another 150 live in the Chesapeake Bay area of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. A few stragglers remain in other states, but in most, eagles have not been sighted for some time.

A federal law passed in 1940 protects these birds and their nesting areas, but it came too late to save more than a pitiful remnant of the species' original population.

1. An ornithologist is a person who studies

  • A. geographical regions.
  • B. the history of extinct species.
  • C. the populations of certain areas.
  • D. the habits and habitats of birds.

2. Today eagles are found in the greatest numbers in

  • A. Florida.
  • B. Delaware.
  • C. the Chesapeake Bay region.
  • D. Virginia.

3. The selection implies that

  • A. the number of eagles is likely to increase.
  • B. the eagle population decreased because of a lack of protective game laws.
  • C. there were only two localities where eagles could survive.
  • D. the government knows very little about eagles.

The Alaska Highway, which runs 1,523 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Fairbanks, Alaska, was built by U.S. Army Engineers to counter a threatened Japanese invasion of Alaska. It was rushed through in an incredibly short period of nine months and was therefore never properly surveyed. Some of the territory it passes through has not even been explored.

Although the story that the builders followed the trail of a wandering moose is probably not true, the effect is much the same. The leading bulldozer simply crashed through the brush wherever the going was easiest, avoiding the big trees, swampy hollows, and rocks. The project was made more complicated by the necessity of following not the shortest or easiest route but one that would serve the string of United States-Canadian airfields that stretch from Montana to Alaska. Even on flat land, the road twists into hairpin curves. In rough terrain it goes up and down like a roller coaster. In the mountains, sometimes clinging to the sides of cliffs 400 feet high, it turns sharply, without warning, and gives rear seat passengers the stomach-gripping sensation of taking off into space. There is not a guardrail in its entire 1,500-mile length. Dust kicks up in giant plumes behind every car and on windless days hovers in the air like a thick fog.

Both the Canadian Army and the Alaskan Road Commission, which took over from the Army Engineers in 1946, do a commendable but nearly impossible job of maintaining the road. Where it is built on eternally frozen ground, it buckles and heaves, on the jellylike muskeg it is continually sinking and must be graveled afresh every month. Bridges thrown across rivers are swept away in flash floods. Torrential thaws wash out miles of highway every spring. On mountain-sides, you can tell the age of the road by counting the remains of earlier roads that have slipped down the slope.

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

  • A. The Alaskan Road Commission
  • B. Building and Maintaining the Alaska Highway
  • C. Exploring Alaska
  • D. Driving Conditions in the Far North

5. The Alaska Highway was built to

  • A. make the route between Alaska and the States shorter.
  • B. promote trade with Canada.
  • C. meet a wartime emergency.
  • D. aid exploration and surveying efforts.

6. The job of maintaining the road is complicated by the

  • A. threat of invasion.
  • B. forces of nature.
  • C. lack of surveying.
  • D. age of the road.

7. The word terrain refers to

  • A. geographical features of the land.
  • B. geographical mountains and valleys.
  • C. a specific land area.
  • D. swamps.

When the first white men came to North America, they found an abundance of valuable natural resources. Forests covered enormous areas; the soil was extremely fertile; and the forests, prairies, streams, and rivers abounded with wildlife. Later, huge quantities of gas, oil, and minerals were discovered.

These resources were so vast that it seemed they could never be exhausted. The forests were cleared for farmland. Grasslands and prairies were plowed and planted with crops. Mammals and birds were hunted for food and sport, and eventually factories, mills, and power companies were built on nearly every river. Minerals and oil were used to supply and power a young industrial nation.

The effects of these actions became apparent within a relatively short period of time. Timber shortages were predicted. The fertile soil was washed away by rain and blown about in great dust storms by the wind. Several species of birds began to disappear, and some of the great mammals became extinct. Many rivers were made unfit for fish by the pollution of factories. The seemingly inexhaustible stores of oil and minerals began to show signs of depletion.

Since that time, Americans have sponsored the creation of conservation programs in the hope that future generations may continue to share and enjoy the natural resources that are part of our heritage.

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

  • A. The First White Men in America
  • B. The Loss of America's Natural Resources
  • C. Our American Heritage
  • D. The Cause of Our Timber Shortages

9. The word depletion means

  • A. extinction.
  • B. running out.
  • C. having the quality of being inexhaustible.
  • D. destruction.

10. It seemed to the early settlers that

  • A. there was a shortage of minerals.
  • B. there had been a great deal of soil erosion.
  • C. the natural resources were inexhaustible.
  • D. resources should be carefully used.