Practice Questions on Reading Comprehension
Verbal Test Questions and Answers

Common Information

On August 22, 1939, Adolf Hitler summoned his top military generals to Obersalzberg, where he delivered a speech explaining his plans for war, first with Poland, then with the rest of Europe. Despite resistance from those both inside and outside Germany, Hitler felt exceedingly confident that he could defy the will of the international community and conquer vast amounts of land. In his speech at Obersalzberg, he laid out numerous factors he believed would contribute to the success of his war plans.

Chief among Hitler's sources of confidence in Germany's brazen war plans was German military quickness. Hitler said, "Our strength lies in our quickness." On the advice of Colonel-General von Brauchitsch, Hitler believed Poland could be captured in a few weeks, an astonishingly short amount of time given the recent history of trench warfare and the long history of protracted European military engagements that resulted in minimal land gains and high casualty counts.

Hitler's confidence in the ability of the German military to inflict considerable brutality further strengthened his determination to pursue an exceedingly ambitious plan of territorial aggrandizement. He said, "I shall shoot everyone who utters one word of criticism" and noted that "the goal to be obtained in the war is not that of reaching certain lines but of physically demolishing the opponent." In this vein, Hitler ordered his military to "be hard, be without mercy, [and] act more quickly and brutally than others…for it scares the others off." Hitler believed that enemies, not used to this type of brutality, would surrender quickly.

In addition to speed and brutality, Hitler believed that, in the end, history would overlook his inhumane conduct. To support this view, which turned out to be anything but prescient, Hitler invoked a Pollyannaish view of Asian leader Genghis Kahn. In Hitler's eyes, Kahn "sent millions of women and children into death knowingly and with a light heart," yet "history sees in him only the great founder of States."

Although Hitler brimmed with confidence and experienced initial yet widely-expected success in Poland and then in Denmark, he overlooked important considerations. In many ways, Hitler made the same mistake Napoleon Bonaparte made years earlier. Hitler believed he could advance further and conquer Britain, yet, like Napoleon, Hitler did not adequately foresee the insurmountable barrier posed by Britain's island status. Despite the damage inflicted at the hands of the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain (1940), British forces eventually won this important battle. Nevertheless, Hitler pressed on and, in an even more fateful decision that carried echoes of a Napoleonic tactical misstep, invaded the USSR where his forces suffered the decisive defeat of World War II at Stalingrad in 1943. In the end, Hitler's reputation in history proved to be as brutal and decisive as the battle plans and philosophy he announced at Obersalzberg.

Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 6

Q6.

Common Information Question: 6/7

According to the passage, why did Hitler believe he could conquer Poland in a few weeks?

A.

The inaction of European neighbours

B.

The example of Napoleon

C.

The philosophy of Genghis Kahn

D.

The counsel of a military general

E.

The small size of Poland

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 7

Q7.

Common Information Question: 7/7

According to the passage, which of the following represents the chronological unfolding of events?

A.

Generals summoned to Obersalzberg; Invaded Poland; Invaded Denmark; the Battle of Britain; Battle at Stalingrad

B.

Generals summoned to Obersalzberg; Invaded Denmark; Invaded Poland; the Battle of Britain; Battle at Stalingrad

C.

Generals summoned to Obersalzberg; Invaded Denmark; Invaded Poland; Battle at Stalingrad; the Battle of Britain

D.

Generals summoned to Obersalzberg; Invaded Poland; Invaded Denmark; Battle at Stalingrad; the Battle of Britain

E.

Generals summoned to Obersalzberg; the Battle of Britain; Invaded Poland; Invaded Denmark; Battle at Stalingrad

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Common Information

Shortly after September 11, 2001, the United States began requesting additional financial information about persons of interest by subpoenaing records located at the SWIFT banking consortium. SWIFT, which routes trillions of dollars a day, faced an ethical dilemma: fight the subpoenas in order to protect member privacy and the group's reputation for the highest level of confidentiality, or, comply and provide information about thousands of financial communications in the hope that lives will be saved. SWIFT decided to comply in secret, but in late June 2006, four major U.S. newspapers disclosed SWIFT's compliance. This sparked a heated public debate over the ethics of SWIFT's decision to reveal ostensibly confidential financial communications.

Analyzing the situation in hindsight, three ethical justifications existed for not complying with the Treasury Department's requests. First, SWIFT needed to uphold its long-standing values of confidentiality, non-disclosure, and institutional trust. The second ethical reason against SWIFT's involvement came with inadequate government oversight as the Treasury Department failed to construct necessary safeguards to ensure the privacy of the data. Third, international law must be upheld and one could argue quite strongly that the government's use of data breached some parts of international law.

Although SWIFT executives undoubtedly considered the aforementioned reasons for rejecting the government's subpoena, three ethical justifications for complying existed. First, it could be argued that the program was legal because the United States government possesses the authority to subpoena records stored within its territory and SWIFT maintained many of its records in Virginia. Second, it is entirely possible that complying with the government's subpoena thwarted another catastrophic terrorist attack that would have cost lives and dollars. Third, cooperating with the government did not explicitly violate any SWIFT policies due to the presence of a valid subpoena. However, the extent of cooperation certainly surprised many financial institutions and sparked some outrage and debate within the financial community.

While SWIFT had compelling arguments both for agreeing and refusing to cooperate with the U.S. government program, even in hindsight, it is impossible to judge with certitude the wisdom and ethics of SWIFT's decision to cooperate as we still lack answers to important questions such as: what information did the government want? What promises did the government make about data confidentially? What, if any, potentially impending threats did the government present to justify its need for data?

Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 8

Q8.

Common Information Question: 1/7

Which of the following can be inferred from the passage above?

A.

No clear cut answer as to the legality of SWIFT's cooperation existed

B.

SWIFT failed to adequately consult its legal staff before deciding to cooperate

C.

The volume of money routed through SWIFT declined after its cooperation became public

D.

U.S. authorities threatened criminal charges if SWIFT refused their subpoenas

E.

Treasury Department officials objected to the publication of information about its classified program

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 9

Q9.

Common Information Question: 2/7

Inferring from the passage, which of the following constituted an ethical justification for SWIFT complying with the government?

A.

The U.S. government can subpoena information that pertains to its citizens

B.

SWIFT executives believed another catastrophic attack was imminent

C.

Providing data to the government based upon a valid subpoena did not explicitly violate SWIFT policy

D.

Despite ostensibly poor oversight, senior Treasury Department officials assured SWIFT that data would be kept confidential

E.

U.S. officials told SWIFT officials exactly why Treasury needed the information

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 10

Q10.

Common Information Question: 3/7

The author suggests which of the following is the most appropriate conclusion of an analysis of the ethics of SWIFT's decision?

A.

SWIFT acted inappropriately as it compromised its long-standing values of integrity, privacy, and confidentiality

B.

SWIFT's actions cannot be judged with perspicuity as answers to important questions are still unknown

C.

SWIFT acted properly as it complied with the requests of a sovereign government in an attempt to save lives

D.

SWIFT's actions endangered the flow of commerce by sparking public outrage at an important institution

E.

SWIFT's actions were appropriate initially, yet should have been discontinued prior to June 2006

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