Reading Practice Test 2

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Reading Passage 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

The Impact of the Potato

Jeff Chapman relates the story of history of the most important vegetable

A on the nex
The potato was first cultivated in South America between three and seven thousand years ago, though scientists believe they may have grown wild in the region as long as 13,000 years ago. The genetic patterns of potato distribution indicate that the potato probably originated in the mountainous west-central region of the continent.

Early Spanish chroniclers who misused the Indian word batata (sweet potato) as the name for the potato noted the importance of the tuber to the Incan Empire. The Incas had learned to preserve the potato for storage by dehydrating and mashing potatoes into a substance called Chuchu could be stored in a room for up to 10 years, providing excellent insurance against possible crop failures. As well as using the food as a staple crop, the Incas thought potatoes made childbirth easier and used it to treat injuries.

The Spanish conquistadors first encountered the potato when they arrived in Peru in 1532 in search of gold, and noted Inca miners eating chuchu. At the time the Spaniards failed to realize that the potato represented a far more important treasure than either silver or gold, but they did gradually begin to use potatoes as basic rations aboard their ships. After the arrival of the potato in Spain in 1570,a few Spanish farmers began to cultivate them on a small scale, mostly as food for livestock.

Throughout Europe, potatoes were regarded with suspicion, distaste and fear. Generally considered to be unfit for human consumption, they were used only as animal fodder and sustenance for the starving. In northern Europe, potatoes were primarily grown in botanical gardens as an exotic novelty. Even peasants refused to eat from a plant that produced ugly, misshapen tubers and that had come from a heathen civilization. Some felt that the potato plant’s resemblance to plants in the nightshade family hinted that it was the creation of witches or devils.

In meat-loving England, farmers and urban workers regarded potatoes with extreme distaste. In 1662, the Royal Society recommended the cultivation of the tuber to the English government and the nation, but this recommendation had little impact. Potatoes did not become a staple until, during the food shortages associated with the Revolutionary Wars, the English government began to officially encourage potato cultivation. In 1795, the Board of Agriculture issued a pamphlet entitled “Hints Respecting the Culture and Use of Potatoes”; this was followed shortly by pro-potato editorials and potato recipes in The Times. Gradually, the lower classes began to follow the lead of the upper classes.

A similar pattern emerged across the English Channel in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. While the potato slowly gained ground in eastern France (where it was often the only crop remaining after marauding soldiers plundered wheat fields and vineyards), it did not achieve widespread acceptance until the late 1700s. The peasants remained suspicious, in spite of a 1771 paper from the Facult de Paris testifying that the potato was not harmful but beneficial. The people began to overcome their distaste when the plant received the royal seal of approval: Louis XVI began to sport a potato flower in his buttonhole, and Marie-Antoinette wore the purple potato blossom in her hair.

Frederick the Great of Prussia saw the potato’s potential to help feed his nation and lower the price of bread, but faced the challenge of overcoming the people’s prejudice against the plant. When he issued a 1774 order for his subjects to grow potatoes as protection against famine, the town of Kolberg replied: “The things have neither smell nor taste, not even the dogs will eat them, so what use are they to us?” Trying a less direct approach to encourage his subjects to begin planting potatoes, Frederick used a bit of reverse psychology: he planted a royal field of potato plants and stationed a heavy guard to protect this field from thieves. Nearby peasants naturally assumed that anything worth guarding was worth stealing, and so snuck into the field and snatched the plants for their home gardens. Of course, this was entirely in line with Frederick’s wishes.

Historians debate whether the potato was primarily a cause or an effect of the huge population boom in industrial-era England and Wales. Prior to 1800,the English diet had consisted primarily of meat, supplemented by bread, butter and cheese. Few vegetables were consumed, most vegetables being regarded as nutritionally worthless and potentially harmful. This view began to change gradually in the late 1700s. The Industrial Revolution was drawing an ever increasing percentage of the populace into crowded cities, where only the richest could afford homes with ovens or coal storage rooms, and people were working 12-16 hour days which left them with little time or energy to prepare food. High yielding, easily prepared potato crops were the obvious solution to England’s food problems.

Whereas most of their neighbors regarded the potato with suspicion and had to be persuaded to use it by the upper classes, the Irish peasantry embraced the tuber more passionately than anyone since the Incas. The potato was well suited to the Irish the soil and climate, and its high yield suited the most important concern of most Irish farmers: to feed their families.

The most dramatic example of the potato’s potential to alter population patterns occurred in Ireland, where the potato had become a staple by 1800. The Irish population doubled to eight million between 1780 and 1841,this without any significant expansion of industry or reform of agricultural techniques beyond the widespread cultivation of the potato. Though Irish landholding practices were primitive in comparison with those of England, the potato’s high yields allowed even the poorest farmers to produce more healthy food than they needed with scarcely any investment or hard labor. Even children could easily plant, harvest and cook potatoes, which of course required no threshing, curing or grinding. The abundance provided by potatoes greatly decreased infant mortality and encouraged early marriage.



Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

1. The early Spanish called potato as the Incan name ‘Chuchu’.

2. The purposes of Spanish coming to Peru were to find out potatoes.

3. The Spanish believed that the potato has the same nutrients as other vegetables.

4. Peasants at that time did not like to eat potatoes because they were ugly.

5. The popularity of potatoes in the UK was due to food shortages during the war.



Questions 6-13

Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from Reading Passage 1 for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 6-13 on your answer sheet.

6. In France, people started to overcome their disgusting about potatoes because the King put a potato ………………. in his button hole.
7. Frederick realized the potential of potato but he had to handle the ………………. against potatoes from ordinary people.
8. The King of Prussia adopted some ………………. psychology to make people accept potatoes.
9. Before 1800, the English people preferred eating ………………. with bread, butter and cheese.
10. The obvious way to deal with England food problems were high yielding potato ……………….
11. The Irish ………………. and climate suited potatoes well.
12. Between 1780 and 1841, based on the ………………. of the potatoes, the Irish population doubled to eight million.
13. The potato’s high yields help the poorest farmers to produce more healthy food almost without ………………. .





Reading Passage 2

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26 which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

Life-Casting and Art

Julian Bames explores the questions posed by Life-Casts, an exhibition of plaster moulds of living people and objects which were originally used for scientific purposes

Art changes over time and our idea of what art is changes too. For example, objects originally intended for devotional, ritualistic or re-creational purposes may be recategorised as art by members of other later civilisations, such as our own, which no longer respond to these purposes.

What also happens is that techniques and crafts which would have been judged inartistic at the time they were used are reassessed. Life-casting is an interesting example of this. It involved making a plaster mould of a living person or thing. This was complex, technical work, as Benjamin Robert Haydon discovered when he poured 250 litres of plaster over his human model and nearly killed him. At the time, the casts were used for medical research and, consequently, in the nineteenth century life-casting was considered inferior to sculpture in the same way that, more recently, photography was thought to be a lesser art than painting. Both were viewed as unacceptable shortcuts by the ’senior 1 arts. Their virtues of speed and unwavering realism also implied their limitations; they left little or no room for the imagination.

For many, life-casting was an insult to the sculptor’s creative genius. In an infamous lawsuit of 1834, a moulder whose mask of the dying French emperor Napoleon had been reproduced and sold without his permission was judged to have no rights to the image. In other words, he was specifically held not to be an artist. This judgement reflects the view of established members of the nineteenth-century art world such as Rodin, who commented that life-casting ‘happens fast but it doesn’t make Art’. Some even feared that ‘if too much nature was allowed in, it would lead Art away from its proper course of the Ideal.

The painter Gauguin, at the end of the nineteenth century, worried about future developments in photography. If ever the process went into colour, what painter would labour away at a likeness with a brush made from squirrel-tail? But painting has proved robust. Photography has changed it, of course, just as the novel had to reassess narrative after the arrival of the cinema. But the gap between the senior and junior arts was always narrower than the traditionalists implied. Painters have always used technical back-up such as studio assistants to do the boring bits, while apparently lesser crafts involve great skill, thought, preparation and, depending on how we define it, imagination.

Time changes our view in another way, too. Each new movement implies a reassessment of what has gone before. What is done now alters what was done before. In some cases, this is merely self-serving, with the new art using the old to justify itself. It seems to be saying, look at how all of that points to this! Aren’t we clever to be the culmination of all that has gone before? But usually, it is a matter of re-alerting the sensibility, reminding us not to take things for granted. Take, for example, the cast of the hand of a giant from a circus, made by an anonymous artist around 1889, an item that would now sit happily in any commercial or public gallery. The most significant impact of this piece is on the eye, in the contradiction between unexpected size and verisimilitude. Next, the human element kicks in. you note that the nails are dirt-encrusted, unless this is the caster’s decorative addition, and the fingertips extend far beyond them. Then you take in the element of choice, arrangement, art if you like, in the neat, pleated, buttoned sleeve-end that gives the item balance and variation of texture. This is just a moulded hand, yet the part stands utterly for the whole. It reminds us slyly, poignantly, of the full-size original

But is it art? And, if so, why? These are old tediously repeated questions to which artists have often responded, ‘It is art because I am an artist and therefore what I do is art. However, what doesn’t work for literature works much better for art – works of art do float free of their creators’ intentions. Over time the “reader” does become more powerful. Few of us can look at a medieval altarpiece as its painter intended. We believe too little and aesthetically know too much, so we recreate and find new fields of pleasure in the work. Equally, the lack of artistic intention of Paul Richer and other forgotten craftsmen who brushed oil onto flesh, who moulded, cast and decorated in the nineteenth century is now irrelevant. What counts is the surviving object and our response to it. The tests are simple: does it interest the eye, excite the brain, move the mind to reflection and involve the heart. It may, to use the old dichotomy, be beautiful but it is rarely true to any significant depth. One of the constant pleasures of art is its ability to come at us from an unexpected angle and stop us short in wonder.



Questions 14-18

Reading Passage 2 has six paragraphs, A-F.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.

14. an example of a craftsman’s unsuccessful claim to ownership of his work
15. an example of how trends in art can change attitudes to an earlier work
16. the original function of a particular type of art
17. ways of assessing whether or not an object is art
18. how artists deal with the less interesting aspects of their work



Questions 19-24

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 19-24 on your answer sheet, write

YES if the statement agrees with the information
NO if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

19. Nineteenth-century sculptors admired the speed and realism of life-casting
20. Rodin believed the quality of the life-casting would improve if a slower process were used
21. The importance of painting has decreased with the development of colour photography
22. Life-casting requires more skill than sculpture does
23. New art encourages us to look at earlier work in a fresh way
24. The intended meaning of a work of art can get lost over time



Questions 25-26

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write the correct letter in boxes 25-26 on your answer sheet.

25. The most noticeable contrast in the cast of the giants hand is between the

A. dirt and decoration
B. size and realism
C. choice and arrangement
D. balance and texture

26. According to the writer, the importance of any artistic object lies in

A. the artist’s intentions
B. the artist’s beliefs
C. the relevance it has to modem life
D. the way we respond to it





Reading Passage 3

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40 which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

Travel Books

There are many reasons why individuals have travelled beyond their own soci­eties. Some travellers may have simply desired to satisfy curiosity about the larger world. Until recent times, however, travellers did start their journey for reasons other than mere curiosity. While the travellers’ accounts give much valuable information on these foreign lands and provide a window for the understanding of the local cultures and histories, they are also a mirror to the travellers themselves, for these accounts help them to have a better under­standing of themselves.

Records of foreign travel appeared soon after the invention of writing, and fragmentary travel accounts appeared in both Mesopotamia and Egypt in an­cient times. After the formation of large, imperial states in the classical world, travel accounts emerged as a prominent literary genre in many lands, and they held especially strong appeal for rulers desiring useful knowledge about their realms. The Greek historian Herodotus reported on his travels in Egypt and Anatolia in researching the history of the Persian wars. The Chinese envoy Zhang Qian described much of central Asia as far west as Bactria (modern- day Afghanistan) on the basis of travels undertaken in the first century BCE while searching for allies for the Han dynasty. Hellenistic and Roman geog­raphers such as Ptolemy, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder relied on their own travels through much of the Mediterranean world as well as reports of other travellers to compile vast compendia of geographical knowledge.

During the post-classical era (about 500 to 1500 CE), trade and pilgrimage j? emerged as major incentives for travel to foreign lands. Muslim merchants sought trading opportunities throughout much of the eastern hemisphere. They described lands, peoples, and commercial products of the Indian Ocean basin from East Africa to Indonesia, and they supplied the first written accounts of societies in sub-Saharan West Africa. While merchants set out in search of trade and profit, devout Muslims travelled as pilgrims to Mecca to make their hajj and visit the holy sites of Islam. Since the prophet Muhammad’s origin­al pilgrimage to Mecca, untold millions of Muslims have followed his exam­ple, and thousands of hajj accounts have related their experiences. East Asian travellers were not quite so prominent as Muslims during the post-classical era, but they too followed many of the highways and sea lanes of the eastern hemisphere. Chinese merchants frequently visited South-East Asia and India, occasionally venturing even to East Africa, and devout East Asian Buddhists undertook distant pilgrimages. Between the 5th and 9th centuries CE, hundreds and possibly even thousands of Chinese Buddhists travelled to India to study with Buddhist teachers, collect sacred texts, and visit holy sites. Written ac­counts recorded the experiences of many pilgrims, such as Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing. Though not so numerous as the Chinese pilgrims, Buddhists from Japan, Korea, and other lands also ventured abroad in the interests of spiritual enlightenment.

Medieval Europeans did not hit the roads in such large numbers as their Muslim and East Asian counterparts during the early part of the post-classical era, al­though gradually increasing crowds of Christian pilgrims flowed to Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostela (in northern Spain), and other sites. After the 12th century, however, merchants, pilgrims, and missionaries from medieval Europe travelled widely and left numerous travel accounts, of which Marco Polo’s description of his travels and sojourn in China is the best known. As they became familiar with the larger world of the eastern hemisphere — and the profitable commercial opportunities that it offered — European peoples worked to find new and more direct routes to Asian and African markets. Their efforts took them not only to all parts of the eastern hemisphere, but eventually to the Americas and Oceania as well.

If Muslim and Chinese peoples dominated travel and travel writing in post- classical times, European explorers, conquerors, merchants, and missionaries took centre stage during the early modern era (about 1500 to 1800 CE). By no means did Muslim and Chinese travel come to a halt in early modern times. But European peoples ventured to the distant corners of the globe, and European printing presses churned out thousands of travel accounts that described foreign lands and peoples for a reading public with an apparently insatiable appetite for news about the larger world. The volume of travel litera­ture was so great that several editors, including Giambattista Ramusio, Rich­ard Hakluyt, Theodore de Biy, and Samuel Purchas, assembled numerous travel accounts and made them available in enormous published collections.

During the 19th century, European travellers made their way to the interior regions of Africa and the Americas, generating a fresh round of travel writing as they did so. Meanwhile, European colonial administrators devoted numer­ous writings to the societies of their colonial subjects, particularly in Asian and African colonies they established. By mid-century, attention was flowing also in the other direction. Painfully aware of the military and technological prowess of European and Euro-American societies, Asian travellers in particu­lar visited Europe and the United States in hopes of discovering principles useful for the organisation of their own societies. Among the most prominent of these travellers who made extensive use of their overseas observations and experiences in their own writings were the Japanese reformer Fukuzawa Yu-kichi and the Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen.

With the development of inexpensive and reliable means of mass transport, the 20th century witnessed explosions both in the frequency of long-distance travel and in the volume of travel writing. While a great deal of travel took place for reasons of business, administration, diplomacy, pilgrimage, and mis­sionary work, as in ages past, increasingly effective modes of mass transport made it possible for new kinds of travel to flourish. The most distinctive of them was mass tourism, which emerged as a major form of consumption .for individuals living in the world’s wealthy societies. Tourism enabled consumers to get away from home to see the sights in Rome, take a cruise through the Caribbean, walk the Great Wall of China, visit some wineries in Bordeaux, or go on safari in Kenya. A peculiar variant of the travel account arose to meet the needs of these tourists: the guidebook, which offered advice on food, lodging, shopping, local customs, and all the sights that visitors should not miss seeing. Tourism has had a massive economic impact throughout the world, but other new forms of travel have also had considerable influence in contemporary times.



Questions 27-28

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.
Write your answers in boxes 27-28 on your answer sheet.

27. What were most people travelling for in the early days?

A. Studying their own cultures
B. Business
C. Knowing other people and places better
D. Writing travel books

28. Why did the author say writing travel books is also “a mirror” for travellers themselves?

A. Because travellers record their own experiences.
B. Because travellers reflect upon their own society and life.
C. Because it increases knowledge of foreign cultures.
D. Because it is related to the development of human society.



Questions 29-36
Complete the table.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from Reading Passage 3 for each answer.





Classical Greece


Egypt and Anatolia

To gather information for the study of (29) ………………..

Han Dynasty

Zhang Qian

Central Asia

To seek (30) ………………..

Roman Empire

Ptolemy, Strabo, Pliny the Elder

The Mediterranean

To acquire (31) ………………..

Post-classical era (about 500 to 1500 CE)


From East Africa to Indonesia, Mecca

For trading and (32) ………………..

5th — 9thCenturies CE

Chinese Buddhists

(33) ………………..

To collect Buddhist texts and for spiritual enlightenment

Early modern era (about 1500 to 1800 CE)

European explorers

The New World

To satisfy public curiosity for the New World

During 19th century

Colonial administrators 

Asia, Africa 

 To provide information for the (34) ………………..

By mid-century of the 1800s

Sun Yat-sen,



Europe and the United States 

To study the (35) ……………….. of their societies

20th century

People from (36) ……………….. countries

Mass tourism 

For entertainment and pleasure 



Questions 37-40

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

37. Why were the imperial rulers especially interested in these travel stories?

A. Reading travel stories was a popular pastime.
B. The accounts are often truthful rather than fictional.
C. Travel books played an important role in literature.
D. They desired knowledge of their empire.

38. Who were the largest group to record their spiritual trips during the post-classical era?

A. Muslim traders
B. Muslim pilgrims
C. Chinese Buddhists
D. Indian Buddhist teachers

39. During the early modern era, a large number of travel books were published to

A. meet the public’s interest.
B. explore new business opportunities.
C. encourage trips to the new world.
D. record the larger world.

40. What is the main theme of the passage?

A. The production of travel books
B. The literary status of travel books
C. The historical significance of travel books
D. The development of travel books



Ответы к этим текстам :

Reading Test 2 Answer Key

Reading Passage 1

6. flower
7. prejudice
8. reverse
9. meat
10. crops
11. soil
12. cultivation
13. investment

Reading Passage 2

14. C
15. E
16. B
17. F
18. D
19. NO
20. NO
21. NO
23. NO
24. YES
25. B
26. D

Reading Passage 3

27. C
28. B
29. Persian wars
30. allies
31. geographical knowledge
32. pilgrimage
33. India
34. colonies
35. organisation
36. wealthy
37. D
38. B
39. A
40. D



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