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General Knowledge

Reading Subtest

Test Format and Sample Questions

The Reading subtest is 55 minutes long and consists of approximately 40 multiple-choice questions.

Each of the questions will contain four response options. You will choose the best response out of the available options, and indicate A, B, C, or D.

The table below presents types of questions on the exam and directs you to examples of these formats among the sample items that follow.

Table of Question Formats

Type of Question Sample Question
Passage
Read the passage and select the correct answer.
Question 1
Sentence completion
Select the response option that best completes the sentence.
Question 2

Sample Questions

The following questions represent both the form and content of questions on the examination. These questions will acquaint you with the general format of the examination; however, these sample questions do not cover all of the competencies and skills that are tested and will only approximate the degree of examination difficulty.


Question 1

Reading Subtest

Competency 1—Knowledge of key ideas and details based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

Identify the most accurate statement of the central idea of this passage.

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: A.

Question 2

Reading Subtest

Competency 1—Knowledge of key ideas and details based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

From this passage one could infer that the author

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B.

Question 3

Reading Subtest

Competency 1—Knowledge of key ideas and details based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

All of the following pieces of information relate to Cortéz's conquest EXCEPT

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D.

Question 4

Reading Subtest

Competency 2—Knowledge of craft and structure based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

In this context, the word indolent (paragraph 4) most nearly means

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C.

Question 5

Reading Subtest

Competency 2—Knowledge of craft and structure based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

The tone of this passage could best be described as

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B.

Question 6

Reading Subtest

Competency 3—Knowledge of the integration of information and ideas based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

The author's statement that Bernal Díaz was able to "set the record straight" (paragraph 1) is

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: A.

Question 7

Reading Subtest

Competency 3—Knowledge of the integration of information and ideas based on text selections

When Hernando Cortéz left Cuba in February of 1519 with 550 soldiers on 11 ships, he could have no idea that one of the oldest soldiers in his company would become the last living survivor of his great conquest. Bernal Díaz not only participated in all of the great events of the conquest, but as an old, old man living almost without funds in Honduras, he happened to read an idealized and romanticized history of the conquest written by a priest and determined—at the age of 79—to set the record straight. Though Bernal Díaz died at the age of 84, he was able to complete his eminently readable six-volume account of the conquest of Mexico.

Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. Moreover, the fittings of the ships were made of metal that could be salvaged and used to make both guns and ammunition necessary for the conquest. According to Díaz, Cortéz called his men together and informed them of the problems, then they voted to burn the ships.

Díaz also sets the record straight with regard to Dońa Marina, the brilliant girl from a Yucatan tribe who spoke several of the Mexican dialects and thus became invaluable to Cortéz as interpreter, negotiator, and guide. He acknowledges that Dońa Marina bore Cortéz a son and that she was with Cortéz when Cortéz's wife died shortly after she arrived in Mexico City from Cuba. This situation was the center of a firestorm of gossip. But he tells how Cortéz arranged a marriage for Dońa Marina with one of his lieutenants before marching off toward the Northwest on a new exploration and conquest and vanishing somewhere near the Sea of Cortéz—the inland bay between lower southern California and the mainland, the bay that bears his name.

Almost incidentally, Díaz describes how some indolent aristocrats from Spain, expecting to make their fortunes in the new world, were given large grants of land on some of the Caribbean islands. But, of course, they could earn little from their lands without workers, so they approached Bernal Díaz with the proposition that they would provide the financing if he would attack an island and carry back its population to bondage. His reward would be half of the captives.

Díaz showed his humanity and humility as he refused this partnership, declaring such an attack on the homes, culture, and lifestyle of free peoples a terrible injustice.

What is the relationship between these two sentences?

Sentence 1: Though the priest's version of the conquest tells that Cortéz secretly burned the boats of the expedition so that his men would be unable to retreat and would have to advance, Díaz corrects him. (paragraph 2)

Sentence 2: Cortéz, says Díaz, was appalled to learn that the boats had been attacked by sea worms and that they were no longer seaworthy. (paragraph 2)

Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C.

Question 8

Reading Subtest

Competency 1—Knowledge of key ideas and details based on text selections

The American Symphony League has only one requirement of the hotels that host its annual convention: no background music. Ask members of the organization why, and they will vigorously explain that they want to be sensitized to music, not desensitized by the lilting rhythms and soothing melodies so often found in hotel lobbies. Whether it is referred to as elevator music, as mood music, or by the brand name Muzak, there is little question that this type of music strikes a discordant note with many listeners. Some say that it reminds them of a trip to the dentist's office, while others merely cringe at hearing their favorite songs re-recorded as symphonic mush. Through it all, however, background music has thrived as one of the most widely heard types of music in the world.

Given its seeming uniformity, it is easy to forget that background music is typically used for very specific purposes. One of its first uses was, of course, on elevators. Grinding and clicking from one floor to another, the first elevators made many passengers uneasy. Operators soon discovered that soft, comforting music was helpful for reducing motion sickness and coaxing the hesitant to step inside. Not long after, background music companies began marketing their products to businesses and places of recreation with the idea that music could enhance the moods of both workers and consumers. Muzak was the clear leader in this field, and the company soon perfected program formatting that addressed the needs of clients during each hour of the day. A typical restaurant program progressed from cheerful wake-up melodies in the morning, through light classical sounds at lunch, cocktail music in the afternoon, elegant tones during dinner, and dance music of increased tempo and volume in the late evening hours. By the early 1940s, this same program could be heard in over 1,000 restaurants.

An unfortunate backlash against background music began in the following decade. By that time, the soothing harmonies could be heard in restaurants, offices, trains, planes, and on phone lines across the world. People began to complain that playing prerecorded music in public places was a violation of their privacy. A lawsuit that protested the music and advertisements on public buses in Washington, D.C., made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Although the Court ruled in favor of the city, Justice William O. Douglas wrote a strongly worded dissent that defended the right to be left alone.

Today, many people are thankful that background music weathered this storm of criticism. They are even more thankful that it has evolved from its early form. Still heard by as many as 100 million people a day, the music is much more likely to sound like it is coming from a radio station than from a wilted orchestra. Meanwhile, the Muzak corporation is working to redefine its image with an edgy new website and playlists that heavily favor pop songs. After seven decades, people may finally be ready for background music to take a bold step forward.

Which of the following is used by the author as an example of the unpleasant associations that listening to background music evokes in certain people?

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C.

Question 9

Reading Subtest

Competency 2—Knowledge of craft and structure based on text selections

The American Symphony League has only one requirement of the hotels that host its annual convention: no background music. Ask members of the organization why, and they will vigorously explain that they want to be sensitized to music, not desensitized by the lilting rhythms and soothing melodies so often found in hotel lobbies. Whether it is referred to as elevator music, as mood music, or by the brand name Muzak, there is little question that this type of music strikes a discordant note with many listeners. Some say that it reminds them of a trip to the dentist's office, while others merely cringe at hearing their favorite songs re-recorded as symphonic mush. Through it all, however, background music has thrived as one of the most widely heard types of music in the world.

Given its seeming uniformity, it is easy to forget that background music is typically used for very specific purposes. One of its first uses was, of course, on elevators. Grinding and clicking from one floor to another, the first elevators made many passengers uneasy. Operators soon discovered that soft, comforting music was helpful for reducing motion sickness and coaxing the hesitant to step inside. Not long after, background music companies began marketing their products to businesses and places of recreation with the idea that music could enhance the moods of both workers and consumers. Muzak was the clear leader in this field, and the company soon perfected program formatting that addressed the needs of clients during each hour of the day. A typical restaurant program progressed from cheerful wake-up melodies in the morning, through light classical sounds at lunch, cocktail music in the afternoon, elegant tones during dinner, and dance music of increased tempo and volume in the late evening hours. By the early 1940s, this same program could be heard in over 1,000 restaurants.

An unfortunate backlash against background music began in the following decade. By that time, the soothing harmonies could be heard in restaurants, offices, trains, planes, and on phone lines across the world. People began to complain that playing prerecorded music in public places was a violation of their privacy. A lawsuit that protested the music and advertisements on public buses in Washington, D.C., made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Although the Court ruled in favor of the city, Justice William O. Douglas wrote a strongly worded dissent that defended the right to be left alone.

Today, many people are thankful that background music weathered this storm of criticism. They are even more thankful that it has evolved from its early form. Still heard by as many as 100 million people a day, the music is much more likely to sound like it is coming from a radio station than from a wilted orchestra. Meanwhile, the Muzak corporation is working to redefine its image with an edgy new website and playlists that heavily favor pop songs. After seven decades, people may finally be ready for background music to take a bold step forward.

The organizational plan used by the author in paragraphs 2–4 can best be described as

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D.

Question 10

Reading Subtest

Competency 3—Knowledge of the integration of information and ideas based on text selections

The American Symphony League has only one requirement of the hotels that host its annual convention: no background music. Ask members of the organization why, and they will vigorously explain that they want to be sensitized to music, not desensitized by the lilting rhythms and soothing melodies so often found in hotel lobbies. Whether it is referred to as elevator music, as mood music, or by the brand name Muzak, there is little question that this type of music strikes a discordant note with many listeners. Some say that it reminds them of a trip to the dentist's office, while others merely cringe at hearing their favorite songs re-recorded as symphonic mush. Through it all, however, background music has thrived as one of the most widely heard types of music in the world.

Given its seeming uniformity, it is easy to forget that background music is typically used for very specific purposes. One of its first uses was, of course, on elevators. Grinding and clicking from one floor to another, the first elevators made many passengers uneasy. Operators soon discovered that soft, comforting music was helpful for reducing motion sickness and coaxing the hesitant to step inside. Not long after, background music companies began marketing their products to businesses and places of recreation with the idea that music could enhance the moods of both workers and consumers. Muzak was the clear leader in this field, and the company soon perfected program formatting that addressed the needs of clients during each hour of the day. A typical restaurant program progressed from cheerful wake-up melodies in the morning, through light classical sounds at lunch, cocktail music in the afternoon, elegant tones during dinner, and dance music of increased tempo and volume in the late evening hours. By the early 1940s, this same program could be heard in over 1,000 restaurants.

An unfortunate backlash against background music began in the following decade. By that time, the soothing harmonies could be heard in restaurants, offices, trains, planes, and on phone lines across the world. People began to complain that playing prerecorded music in public places was a violation of their privacy. A lawsuit that protested the music and advertisements on public buses in Washington, D.C., made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Although the Court ruled in favor of the city, Justice William O. Douglas wrote a strongly worded dissent that defended the right to be left alone.

Today, many people are thankful that background music weathered this storm of criticism. They are even more thankful that it has evolved from its early form. Still heard by as many as 100 million people a day, the music is much more likely to sound like it is coming from a radio station than from a wilted orchestra. Meanwhile, the Muzak corporation is working to redefine its image with an edgy new website and playlists that heavily favor pop songs. After seven decades, people may finally be ready for background music to take a bold step forward.

What is the relationship between these two sentences from the passage?

Sentence 1: People began to complain that playing prerecorded music in public places was a violation of their privacy. (paragraph 3)

Sentence 2: A lawsuit that protested the music and advertisements on public buses in Washington, D.C., made it all the way to the Supreme Court. (paragraph 3)

Choose an answer
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B.