ASVAB Paragraph Comprehension Test

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The metal porch swing virtually sizzled on the old wooden front porch today. But we sat there anyway. Gramma wouldn’t hear of anything else. I suggested a walk through the forest, hoping to entertain a breeze or two and to take advantage of the shade. Gramma shook her head. You were supposed to sit on the porch after supper, and that’s what we were going to do. This author implies that

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The last sentence implies a routine of sitting on the porch every night after supper.

A lamb’s thick winter coat keeps it warm during the cold winter months. When the summer brings sunny days, the sheep doesn’t need its thick coat and the sheep’s wool is sheared. That wool is made into yarn, further processed, and then transformed into sweaters, socks, pants, skirts, and blankets. The verb “transformed” referred to in the passage suggests that the wool changes by

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If you are taking yarn, processing it, and then turning it into clothing, the yarn is undergoing a mechanical operation.

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It has proteins attached to it and exists in the form of chromosomes. DNA in chromosomes contains the information that determines all of the physical characteristics that were inherited from the previous generation. Although some features of DNA are different from species to species, there are many things that are the same about DNA, regardless of the parent organism. Strawberries, for example, have DNA. This author implies that

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The author mentions the similarities of DNA between all organisms, and then uses strawberries as an example of this in the very next sentence. This implies that strawberries are organisms.

The Mississippi River is key to New Orleans’ flavor and pizzazz. The seafood, the steamboat cruise, the swamp tours, and the history–it’s all there. And the jazz? There are those who would swear that the uncanny beat of the music comes from the intrepid rhythm of the Mississippi’s waters. According to the passage, some people believe that the atmosphere and reputation of New Orleans is derived primarily from

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The paragraph begins with "The Mississippi River is key..." The next two sentences also suggest that other aspects of the city's atmosphere all stem from the river.

A story line is comprised of the main plot, a sequence of events involving the primary characters. There are also subplots in which the minor characters carry out their roles. The situations of the main and minor/supporting characters intertwine, thereby creating a realistic plot where people’s lives interact, just as they would in real life. This author is making a comparison between

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The comparison is evident when the author mentions "...a realistic plot where people’s lives interact, just as they would in real life."

In general, most people think of a culture as a set of behaviors belonging to a group sharing common values, history, and traditions. This group may call itself a community, but this does not mean that those in a common culture necessarily live in the same neighborhood, or even nearby. But, it does mean that they share norms for what is expected in their culture. According to the passage, people in a community will

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"Norms" are standards and patterns of social behavior. If they "share norms", this suggests that they follow the same standards. It may be likely that they speak the same language or share the same religious beliefs, but the passage doesn't state that this is necessarily true.

American Sign Language (ASL) is a conceptual language, and the way those concepts are put together is called syntax. In ASL, a statement usually begins with the main idea and then the details follow. Very different from English, ASL syntax is based on what is most important to the person signing. This author implies that

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The author states that sign language "...usually begins with the main idea." The author then states that, "Very different from English, ASL syntax is based on what is most important to the person signing." This suggests that English usually doesn't begin with what is most important.

While some playwrights are known for writing essays defending their own work or criticizing the work of competing writers, Arthur Miller’s essays are simply about theater. While we may discover politics and favoritism when we comb through Miller’s essays looking for such things, in doing so, we may risk missing the point of the works—Miller only wants for us to benefit from his years of experience. Even his earliest essays read as virtual how-to manuals for new playwrights and directors. These works ring with clarity and forthrightness, and are filled with thoughtful and often provocative opinions. These essays teach us what the theater is, what it might be, and how to make it so. The author suggests that Miller's essays differ from other playwrights' essays in that

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In the first sentence, the author contrasts the focus of Arthur Miller’s essays with the other playwrights who, in their essays, “criticize the work of competing writers” and “defend their own work.”

Although much about dolphin communication remains a mystery, scientists have discovered three distinct sounds that dolphins frequently make: chirps, clicks, and whistles. Scientists have learned that dolphins use clicks to create a sonar map, which allows them to navigate and hunt. But, apart from possibly transmitting location, the clicks do not appear to serve any communication purpose. Rather, research indicates that dolphins communicate with each other by whistling. This discovery has necessitated further investigation, as scientists are not yet sure whether the whistles comprise a complex system of linguistic communication or a simple set of sonic cues, like the ones used by other animal species. According to the passage, the whistles are significant in part because they

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The author declares that whistles are important because scientists think dolphins whistle to communicate with each other, and scientists want to learn how advanced this communication system is, which matches choice (B).

Although much about dolphin communication remains a mystery, scientists have discovered three distinct sounds that dolphins frequently make: chirps, clicks, and whistles. Scientists have learned that dolphins use clicks to create a sonar map, which allows them to navigate and hunt. But, apart from possibly transmitting location, the clicks do not appear to serve any communication purpose. Rather, research indicates that dolphins communicate with each other by whistling. This discovery has necessitated further investigation, as scientists are not yet sure whether the whistles comprise a complex system of linguistic communication or a simple set of sonic cues, like the ones used by other animal species. Based on the passage, the most reasonable inference is that

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The final sentence of the passage mentions “sonic cues like the ones used by other animal species,” which suggests that other animals use vocal communication, so (A) is correct.

Marvin Freeman’s groundbreaking new study of the plays of Henrik Ibsen will alter the course of Ibsen scholarship forever. Previously, scholars limited the areas of their studies to a particular phase of Ibsen’s career, since a different scholarly approach seemed to fit each of the phases. Freeman has instead taken on the entirety of Ibsen’s work. Happily, this breadth of scholarship does not diminish the depth with which Freeman explores each work. The career of Ibsen is now liberated from arbitrary divisions and stands before us as a complete picture. It will be years before we can fully appreciate the service that Freeman has rendered. What is the main point of the paragraph?

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The author has a consistent tone of praise for Freeman’s work, so the correct answer must be positive. Only (A) and (D) have a positive tone, and (D) best matches the meaning of the final sentence.

Decades before you experienced websites which create custom radio stations by tailoring your musical selections according to your likes and dislikes, a pioneering researcher had the same concept. Although he is known now primarily among music historians, it is entirely possible that such sophisticated computer programs would not exist without the work of Alan Lomax. What is the best title for this passage?

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This passage introduces Alan Lomax by explaining his contributions to music and that most people are not aware of him. The passage is entirely about Lomax, therefore the best title would be, "Alan Lomax: A Pioneer in Music."

Because blues musicians were likely playing their music for years before it occurred to anyone to study it, it's impossible to know just where and when it began. Different parts of the South claim to be the birthplace of the blues, but many music historians agree that it emerged from the Mississippi Delta—that the broad plain stretching from Memphis down to Vicksburg was uniquely suited to produce music that spoke of hard times and deals with the devil. According to the passage, the blues originated where?

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The passage is about the role of the Mississippi Delta in the creation of the blues. Although the author states that different parts of the South may claim the blues, most people agree that it originated in the Delta.

1963 was one of the most eventful years in the civil rights movement. Throughout the year, Americans watched in shock as police in Birmingham turned fire hoses and German Shepherd police dogs on marchers. In late summer, Alabama governor George Wallace made his infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door," an attempt to prevent African American students from entering the University of Alabama. According to the passage, who attempted to prevent African American students from entering the University of Alabama?

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The passage clearly states that governor George Wallace attempted to prevent African American students from entering the University of Alabama.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce was one of the most noble leaders in Native American history. His given tribal name was Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, or Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain. But he was widely known as Joseph, which was also his father's name. He was born in Oregon in 1840. Which of the following is NOT true regarding Chief Joseph?

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The passage clearly states each of these options, except for Chief Joseph's being born in Idaho in 1856. That option is false.

While only a teenager, Maria moved to New York City, in the hopes of finding a spot with a major ballet company. It was in New York City that Maria was advised not to take the name Maria Tallchief. Russian ballerinas were very much admired at the time, and many American dancers took Russian stage names. Maria, however, was very proud of her Native American heritage. She refused to change her name. According to the passage, why did Maria keep the name Tallchief?

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The passage clearly states that Maria Tallchief was proud of her Native American heritage and wanted to keep her family name.

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the United States' most remarkable natural scenery. Located in south-central Oregon, Crater Lake is arguably the most striking site in that part of the country. A caldera lake, Crater Lake is the result of the eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama nearly eight thousand years ago. The lake is known for its brilliant blue water, as well as its depth: an astonishing 1,932 feet. Crater Lake is located in what state?

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The passage clearly states that Crater Lake is located in Oregon.

Without question, the greatest appeal for most visitors to Bandhavgarh is its wildlife. The former hunting preserve of the maharajahs, the park is now home to an important tiger preserve, with perhaps the greatest density of Bengal tigers in the world. Visitors to the park can view the tigers via either jeep or elephant safari, although making the tour by elephant is recommended. The tigers are accustomed to tourists, but visitors are understandably encouraged to avoid sudden movements. In addition to Bengal tigers, Bandhavgarh is also home to numerous other animal species, as well as more than 250 species of birds. What type of publication would this passage be most appropriate for?

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The passage explains what makes Bandhavgarh attractive to visitors and is therefore most suited to a travel guide.

In 1886, Geronimo and fewer than fifty Apache were surrounded by five thousand troops. By this point, Geronimo was the last Native American who was still resisting US troops. Because he had resisted them so fiercely, US troops viewed him as the most evil of Native Americans. After their surrender, they were taken to prisons in the southeast. Most of them never saw their homeland again. Geronimo, a proud warrior, spent the last years of his life as a celebrity. He wrote his autobiography and appeared at fairs. The author's primary objective in writing this passage seems to be:

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This passage is largely about Geronimo's life after his surrender. The author explains that Geronimo became a celebrity because he had been feared by Americans for many years.

While only a teenager, Maria moved to New York City, in the hopes of finding a spot with a major ballet company. It was in New York City that Maria was advised not to take the name Maria Tallchief. Russian ballerinas were very much admired at the time, and many American dancers took Russian stage names. Maria, however, was very proud of her Native American heritage. She refused to change her name. According to the passage, why did Maria keep the name Tallchief?

Correct! Wrong!

The passage clearly states that Maria Tallchief was proud of her Native American heritage and wanted to keep her family name.

Located along the Sunflower River, Dockery Farms was established in 1895. Although the early history of the blues is somewhat sketchy, it is believed that farm hand Henry Sloan was playing blues on the farm as early as 1897. There are no recordings of Sloan; his fame owes more to one of his Dockery protégés than his own work. Around 1900, the Patton family moved to Dockery farms, and one of the young Patton sons, Charley, became drawn to Sloan. In time, Patton became the most recognized figure out of a growing number of blues musicians in the area, and influenced subsequent generations of Delta bluesmen, such as Son House and Robert Johnson. The author's main point in writing the passage seems to be:

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This passage is almost entirely about Dockery Farms or the musicians who played there. The author's objective seems to be to show the importance of Dockery Farms in the early history of the blues.

The Cahaba River, which is the longest free-flowing river in Alabama, is home to an extremely rare species of plant, Hymenocallis coronaria, more commonly known as the Cahaba River lily. Although it grows in Georgia and South Carolina as well, there is one location along the Cahaba River, Hargrove Shoals, which is home to the largest concentration of the lily in the world. According to the passage, where is the greatest concentration of the Cahaba River lily? Tennessee

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The passage clearly states that the greatest concentration of the Cahaba River lily is in Hargrove Shoals along the Cahaba River.

Oman is uniquely suited for the growing of frankincense trees, which are extremely temperamental, and grow in only a few spots around the world. On the country’s southern coast, known as the frankincense coast, receives monsoon rains in the summer and has dry, desert conditions the rest of the year. The forbidding environment is uniquely suited to Boswellia sacra, along with Yemen and Somalia. But it is Omani frankincense that is the most valuable. It is used in perfumes, burned as incense, sold in markets across Oman, and even ingested for a host of purposes. Omanis ingest frankincense to sweeten the breath, to settle the stomach, and some pregnant Omani women continue the ancient tradition of chewing frankincense to ensure a smart baby. In Salalah, along the frankincense coast, one entrepreneur has even created a frankincense ice cream. According to the passage, which of the following countries produces the most valuable frankincense?

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The passage clearly states that Oman's frankincense is the most valuable, and the entire passage is about Oman's frankincense production.

Before the discovery of oil, frankincense was Oman’s main source of wealth. As valuable as gold, it was revered throughout the ancient world, and fortunes were made shipping the resin throughout the Roman Empire. Although it is no longer as valued as gold, frankincense is still, in its own way, invaluable in Oman—as history and as culture. According to the passage, Oman's only export that is more valuable than frankincense is which of the following?

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The passage states that until the discovery of oil, Oman's most valuable commodity was frankincense.

The term “old,” in this case, is a bit of a misnomer. Few of the buildings in the Old Quarter are over one hundred years old. “Old” refers to the activities and commerce that take place in the buildings, rather than the buildings themselves. Originally, the thirty-six streets emerged around the palace of Emperor Ly Thai To as a group of workshop villages. The workshop villages evolved into guilds specializing in certain products, and skilled craftsmen were drawn into the Quarter to live and work in the same guilds. Over time, the streets in the Quarter became associated with the products which were sold there. According to the passage, the streets in the Old Quarter came to be associated with which of the following?

Correct! Wrong!

The passage clearly states that the streets in the Old Quarter came to be associated with the products that were sold there.

Before they vanished from the face of the earth, the Nazca people of Peru left a series of geoglyphs (or motifs made into the ground) that have mystified scientists for years. Known as the Nazca lines, the geoglyphs are sometimes simple, appearing almost like a child’s stick-figure drawings. Others, however, are more stylized and complex. Their purpose remains a mystery. According to the passage, the Nazca people were located in:

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The author clearly states that the Nazca people were located in Peru.

Morgan developed a new rocket fuel called hydyne. It was the first American rocket fuel that was powerful enough to launch a satellite into space. Combined with liquid oxygen, hydyne gave rockets ten percent more thrust. The new fuel was used to launch the first US rocket into space, Explorer 1. Although Morgan’s role in hydyne’s development was so highly classified that even Wernher von Braun, the scientist overseeing the project, did not know her name, it’s likely that the American space program would have lagged years behind if not for the abilities of Mary Sherman Morgan. The author's main point in writing the passage seems to be:

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The passage is almost entirely about hydyne, which was developed by Mary Sherman Morgan. The author clearly states that the space program would have been years behind without the work of Morgan.

The path of the monarchs was observed and studied for years, but it was not until 1975 that a scientist tracking the monarchs discovered their destination was southern Mexico. Each year, perhaps as many as one billion monarch butterflies make the trek from Canada and the United States to the Mexican states of Michoacan and Mexico. Such a trip means that most of the migrating butterflies will cover a distance of almost two thousand miles, with many averaging over fifty miles per day. According to the passage, the monarch butterflies' destination is which of the following?

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The passage clearly states that the destination of the monarch butterflies is southern Mexico.

Founded by J.B. and Dorothy Nethercutt, heirs to the Merle Norman fortune, the Nethercutt Museum is one of Los Angeles’s treasures, although not particularly well-known. The museum began when J.B. Nethercutt restored his first vintage car; since then, the collection has become one of the world’s premier collections of antique and vintage automobiles, each one restored and meticulously maintained. The Museum actually consists of two buildings: the museum, which houses more than 250 classic automobiles dating as far back as 1897; and the Collection, which is home to hundreds of musical instruments, pieces of antique furniture, dolls, and other collectibles. Of special interest in the Collection is the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ. The building itself is something to behold, with exceptional marble floors and crystal chandeliers throughout. The passage is best suited for which of the following?

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The passage details the Nethercutt Museum--what the museum holds, and even the style of the building itself. It is a passage geared towards travelers to Los Angeles.

Perhaps the most important food to the ancient (and modern) Greeks was the olive. It was not simply a food. It was also a big part of Greek history. Greeks believed that the goddess Athena gave the first olive tree to Athens before it eventually spread to the rest of Greece. Olives were used in many recipes. Olives were also crushed and their oil was used for lamps. Olive oil could also be used as a beauty product. Women rubbed into their skin to make it soft and shiny. According to the passage, Greeks believed that the first olive tree was given to them by:

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The passage clearly states that the Greeks believed that the first olive tree was given to them by the goddess Athena.

In the bustling streets of Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi is a one-thousand-year-old area known as the Old Quarter. The heart of the Old Quarter is made up of thirty-six streets, and is a living, breathing connection to Hanoi’s past. The term “old,” in this case, is a bit of a misnomer. Few of the buildings in the Old Quarter are over one hundred years old. “Old” refers to the activities and commerce that take place in the buildings, rather than the buildings themselves. Originally, the thirty-six streets emerged around the palace of Emperor Ly Thai To as a group of workshop villages. The workshop villages evolved into guilds specializing in certain products, and skilled craftsmen were drawn into the Quarter to live and work in the same guilds. Over time, the streets in the Quarter became associated with the products which were sold there. According to the passage, the streets in the Old Quarter came to be associated with which of the following?

Correct! Wrong!

The passage clearly states that the streets in the Old Quarter came to be associated with the products that were sold there.

In 1856, William Perkin was an eighteen-year-old research assistant to London chemist August Hofman. Hofman was working with quinine, which was then the only treatment for malaria. At one point, Perkin found himself alone in the lab, and continued working with quinine on his own. While experimenting with coal tar in the hope of creating artificial quinine, Perkin found that he was left with a dirty, brownish residue. Perkin continued his experiments, and was eventually left with a lavender-pink residue that we know as mauve. According to the passage, William Perkin was:

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The passage clearly states that William Perkin was a research assistant to a chemist.

Northwest Alabama’s role in the music industry began in 1969 when musicians David Hood, Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett, and Jimmy Johnson formed their own studio in Muscle Shoals. The musicians became known as the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section and were the first rhythm section to own their studio. Initially, the idea of a “Muscle Shoals sound,” as in a Memphis or Motown sound, was a joke. But the idea stuck, and in time, there would indeed come to be a distinct Muscle Shoals sound. According to the passage, the "Muscle Shoals Sound" originated in which state?

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The passage clearly states that Muscle Shoals is in northwest Alabama.

Perhaps the most important legacy of tube paints was that they allowed artists to become more mobile, setting up their easels in a country meadow or on a sea shore. The mobility of tubes meant that artists were free to work “en plein air,” or in the plain air. Painting outside their studios allowed artists to capture subtleties of light that are so characteristic of Impressionism. As Renoir said, “Without tubes of paint, there would have been no impressionism.” According to the passage, the greatest advantage of using paint tubes was that they gave artists:

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The passage clearly states that the advantage of paint tubes was that they allowed artists greater mobility, which including being able to paint outside in the open air.

Cullen, Franklin, Hadley and Gorrie each made their contribution to refrigeration, but the first refrigerator itself is generally attributed to the German engineer Carl von Linde. In 1876, von Linde perfected the means of converting large amounts of liquids—specifically, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and methyl chloride-- into gases, for keeping an environment cool. Linde’s vapor-compression refrigeration system became—and is still—the most widely-used method of cooling. The passage is best suited for which of the following?

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This passage is largely about the early development of refrigeration, especially advances made my Carl von Linde. The text is best suited for a history of refrigeration.

Although modern-day Holland is known for its tulips, they were a novelty in the country in the 1600s. Tulips were only introduced into Europe in the mid-1500s, and were not successfully cultivated in Holland for a number of years after that. The cultivation of tulips coincided with the Dutch Golden Age of the mid-1600s, and the flower instantly became a status symbol. In fact, tulips became so sought-after in Holland that tulipomania triggered what was perhaps the world’s first speculative bubble. But the truly odd thing about the flower frenzy is that the most coveted bulb was actually diseased. According to the passage, Holland is known for what flower?

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The passage clearly states that Holland is known for its tulips.

In 1977, the Voyager I spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral with the objective of reaching and studying the outer limits of the atmosphere. Already in orbit for more than thirty years, Voyager I will not return to Earth. On board the spacecraft is a unique souvenir of life on our planet, a one-of-a-kind record album made of gold-plated copper. Dedicated to “the makers of music—all worlds, all times,” and based on the hope that there might be intelligent life outside of Earth, the record is meant to offer a glimpse of both human and animal life. Should the album (usually referred to as the Voyager Album) be intercepted by intelligent life, the album provides detailed drawings which explain how the record can be played. According to the passage, the Voyager was launched in what year?

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The passage clearly states that the Voyager was launched in 1977.

For those who seek a spiritual experience, you will find much to admire in the Zingchen Valley. The valley is home to numerous Buddhist gompas, or monasteries, including the 400 year old Hemis Monastery. In late summer, the monastery is the location of the Hemis Teschu Festival. Fluttering prayer flags will be a reminder to you that the valley, home to just two houses, is nonetheless a significant site among the Buddhist faith. The author claims that what kind of person might enjoy the Zingchen Valley?

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The passage clearly states that the Zingchen Valley might be attractive to travelers who are seeking a spiritual experience because of its monasteries and its significance to the Buddhist faith.

Following the violence in the South, Lyndon Johnson became convinced that a federal voting rights bill was necessary to ensure the right to vote. The result was the Voting Rights Act, which established federal oversight over elections, and prohibited requirements for voting, such as literacy tests. The result was a marked increase in the number of African American voters throughout the South. According to the passage, the Voting Rights Act was passed:

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The passage states (in the first sentence) that Lyndon Johnson felt compelled to pass a Voting Rights Act because of the violence in the South.

By 1932, the Great Depression reached its lowest point. Unemployment in the US hovered at nearly twenty-five percent. The causes of the Depression were many, but for many Americans, the cause was simple: President Herbert Hoover. 1932 was also an election year. Republicans re-nominated Hoover, who likely would not have defeated anyone. As it was, his Democratic opponent was Franklin Roosevelt, possessed of an infectious optimism which was very much at odds with the dour Hoover. According to the passage, unemployment in 1932 was:

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The passage clearly states that unemployment in 1932 was nearly twenty-five percent.

Most people have had the experience of catching a whiff of a certain scent and instantly being transported to a distant memory. Open a box of crayons, and the waxy smell may remind you of your childhood; an apple pie baking in the oven may remind you of your grandmother. But what is it about that scent that links us so powerfully to memories? The author's main point in writing the passage seems to be:

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The author clearly states that for many people, a certain scent can trigger a memory.

Sixty feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a primeval forest has recently been discovered off the coast of Alabama. Buried under the silt for centuries, it was discovered by fishermen who noticed unusually large numbers of fish congregating in the area. Knowing that fish tend to gather around submerged structures, they decided to investigate. According to the passage, a submerged forest has been located where?

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The passage clearly states that the submerged forest is located in the Gulf of Mexico.

Following the First World War, there was already a burgeoning movement to protect the world’s historic and natural wonders from destruction. The real catalyst for protecting such sites, however, came in 1954, when Egypt made plans to build the Aswan Dam. Concerned that building the dam would flood the valley of the Abu Simbel temples, UNESCO began a campaign to save the temples. The temples were relocated to higher ground and, galvanized by their success, UNESCO made plans to preserve more of the world’s wonders. In 1972, the World Heritage Commission was formed by UNESCO, with the responsibility of preserving sites of unique cultural or natural value. According to the passage, the movement to preserve the world's historic sites originated when which country planned to build a dam that would flood ancient temples?

Correct! Wrong!

The passage clearly states that the push to save the world's historic sites began when Egypt planned to build the Aswan Dam.

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