SSAT Upper Level Reading Comprehension Practice Test 8

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The use of wood as a material from which to make paper was first suggested by René de Réaumer, a celebrated French naturalist, in 1719. Réaumer had observed wasps as they built their nests, and he concluded that the wood filaments used by these insects to construct their paper-like nests could also be used in the manufacture of paper.

Wasps look for dry wood, which they saw or rasp in their jaws. This material is then mixed with a gluey substance secreted by the wasp's body to make a paste that, when spread, becomes the paper substance of the nest. In effect, wasps are able to create paper pulp in their mouths. Nests are typically made from a number of different types of wood, depending on the species of the wasps and their location.

Wasp nests are exceptionally lightweight, dark in color, and bound repeatedly by bands of paper to the place where they are suspended. The nests are nearly waterproof because of their rounded tops and the fact that the paper strips overlap like the shingles on the roof of a house. The nests provide shelter for newly hatched wasps and ensure that the offspring have adult wasps nearby to protect them.

Wasp nests are different in size and structure, depending on whether they are built by solitary wasps or social wasps. Solitary wasps tend to have small nests design primarily for caring for young. Social wasps build larger nests and will defend them in a swarm if threatened. The nests of social wasps can range in size from the size of a human hand to much larger. Up until April 2013, the largest wasp nest on record was a New Zealand nest measuring 12 feet long. This record was broken in 2013 by the discovery of a 22-foot wasp nest inside an abandoned house in Spain.

1. The word filaments probably means

  • A. large chunks.
  • B. waves.
  • C. files.
  • D. dust.
  • E. threadlike pieces.

2. The man who first suggested making paper from wood was a

  • A. farmer.
  • B. industrialist.
  • C. lumberjack.
  • D. naturalist.
  • E. painter.

3. According to the passage, a wasp nest is usually

  • A. attached to a house.
  • B. exceptionally lightweight.
  • C. waterproofed with a gluey substance.
  • D. constructed with chunks of wood.
  • E. bright in color.

4. The primary material used by wasps in nest building is

  • A. dirt.
  • B. water.
  • C. paste.
  • D. wood.
  • E. leaves.

5. Wasp nests are nearly waterproof because

  • A. they are constructed of heavy materials.
  • B. they hang from the boughs of trees.
  • C. their strips of paper overlap like shingles.
  • D. bands made of rubber are placed around them.
  • E. they have long, straight tops that stop the rain.

The police department of New York City has one branch that many do not know about, although it was established almost a century ago. This is the harbor precinct's 14-boat fleet of police launches, which patrols 578 miles of waters around the city, paying particular attention to the areas containing 500 piers and some 90 boat clubs.

The boats are equipped for various jobs. One boat is an ice-breaker; another is equipped to render aid in the event of an airplane crash at La Guardia Airport. All of the boats are equipped with lifeline guns, heavy grappling irons to raise sunken automobiles, and lasso-sticks to rescue animals in the water. They have power pumps to bail out sinking craft, first-aid kits, extra life preservers, signal flags, and searchlights.

The force of 183 officers have all had previous experience with boats. Some of the officers are Navy and Coast Guard veterans. Many of the harbor police officers have ocean-going Master's or Harbor Captain's licenses. All are highly trained in the care and handling of engines and in navigation. All are skilled in giving first aid, and each officer is a qualified radio operator and a trained marksman with a revolver.

The work of the police includes many tasks. One duty of this force is to check the operation of the fleet of 43 junk boats that ply their trade in the harbor, buying scrap, rope, and other items for resale ashore. These boats could just as easily be used to smuggle narcotics, gems, aliens, or spies into the country, so they are watched closely by the city's harbor police force. During the last summer, the police launches towed 450 disabled boats and gave some kind of help to thousands of others. The officers also arrest those who break navigation laws or who endanger the safety of bathers by approaching too near the shore in speed boats.

6. The harbor police were

  • A. introduced by order of the mayor.
  • B. first used in the twentieth century.
  • C. in use before the Civil War.
  • D. introduced by veterans of World War II.
  • E. in full force almost 100 years ago.

7. The boats used

  • A. are uniform in design.
  • B. can all serve as ice-breakers.
  • C. are all equipped with deck guns.
  • D. work at Kennedy Airport.
  • E. vary in function.

8. The harbor police

  • A. arrest any man found on a junk boat.
  • B. prevent the resale of scrap material.
  • C. regulate the admission of spies.
  • D. ensure legal traffic in junk.
  • E. regulate disabled boats.

9. Their services include

  • A. towing, life-saving, and salvage.
  • B. customs collection, towing, and the sending of radio messages.
  • C. first aid, the rescue of animals, and fire patrol.
  • D. ice-breaking, the collection of junk, and the transportation of aliens.
  • E. smuggling, first aid, and rescue.

10. The police boats

  • A. have no responsibility for bathers.
  • B. unload ships at the piers.
  • C. assist boats of all kinds.
  • D. warn offenders but do not make arrests.
  • E. cannot detain other boats.