Practice Questions on Reading Comprehension
Verbal Test Questions and Answers

Common Information

Why are kids so outrageously bad at gratitude? While it is true that some children can respond by some degree to diligent upbringing, and can on occasion manage something close to gratitude, most children seem innately predisposed to a level of ingratitude that borders on the infuriating. Between the ages of about four and twelve, children are near impossible to train to say thank you as though they mean it, when given a gift. When they get into their teens, their gratitude to their parents usually manifests as seething resentment, a desire to be socially disassociated from their parents, and a reminder to their parents that they never asked to be born.

In the early years, before a child can speak, he is totally dependent on adults to care for him. He demands food by crying, yelling and screaming, and he demands his every other need attended to by similar methods. The usual reward for attending to these needs is that the screaming stops. Gratitude at this age one would not expect to find. Later on, however, one might expect children to develop excellent skills at gratitude, for several reasons.

Between the ages of four and ten (very roughly), a child is still largely dependent on adults to survive and thrive. In these years, he will depend steadily less on his own parents, and will interact more and more with people from other families. In these formative years, an ability to win people over will be a great asset. Gifts from uncles and aunts may be forthcoming, and popularity amongst his peers could set him up well for adulthood. In order to stay liked by the child’s parents, and in order to impress everyone with their generosity, non-relatives might care for, gift, and teach a child. Cuteness seems to be important in children. Adults have an innate weakness for it. It can be very difficult to remain angry with a cute child, and most children are blessed with some degree of it.
My explanation for the ingratitude of children is not a cheery one. I suspect that children benefit most consistently from a general policy of expecting gifts, demanding gifts, being self-centred, stubbornness, and threatening to throw tantrums, and that an instinct for gratitude would conflict with this. That children do benefit from "bad" behaviour is shown by the fact that they do behave badly. We know from our experience of life, that parents do continue to feed and clothe ungrateful children, and to love them and come to their aid even after the traumatic teenage years. The instincts of parents are strong enough to endure the bad behaviour of children, and therefore adults have to endure, because children have evolved to exploit this fact. The genes of parents are obsolete. The genes that matter are those of children. A child is a selfish being, which has evolved to exploit the parental generation and milk it for all it can get.

Gratitude would of course often be useful to a child, but evolution plays the odds. If ingratitude nets a child 100 favours a week, and gratitude would net 20, while losing 40 of those gained by emotions incompatible with gratitude, then the casualty is gratitude. If the costs are greater than the benefits, a trait will not evolve. Children with an innate predisposition to be grateful will be out-competed by the ungrateful swines we see in the world today.

If this were the whole truth, however, then we would expect never to see any glimmerings of gratitude in any child. The world would be populated by ungrateful children who grew into ungrateful adults. Fortunately for us, gratitude is something which is useful for an adult, and it is a skill which has to be learned. In adulthood, we cannot expect other people to help us out all the time. Eventually our parents die, and we must fend for ourselves, and strike deals with those around us. We have little respect for "spongers" – people who take from others all the time and give nothing. As adults, we cannot get pieces of cake by threatening to hold our breath until we pass out. We must learn some gratitude. If the adult is to be any good at this useful skill, it pays to get some practice in before it is needed all the time.

All people are not the same, and we would expect some people to start practising courtesy and gratitude earlier than others. The most efficient way to be is probably to have an ability to learn gratitude quickly, but to suppress the actual learning of gratitude until the moment when ingratitude stops being beneficial. We might expect socially talented but ungrateful teenagers to learn gratitude double-quick soon after they storm out of their parents’ cosy semi-detached house, and get a room in a shared flat in a dodgy part of town. Interestingly enough, it seems that this is precisely what happens, but with one refinement: whereas these young adults become skilled at being grateful to most of the people they meet, they retain an ingratitude towards their parents. When dealing with someone who loves one unconditionally, it pays to exploit this and to remain demanding. Most co-operation, most love, is conditional upon reasonable behaviour in return.

If I am right, then I would predict that children, who start showing gratitude later in life, might actually be more socially talented than those who start practising this skill earlier. The ability to recognise when it is time to get grateful, and the ability to master this new art quickly, is something that a person might be born with. For those less perceptive, and less good at acting, starting younger might be advisable.

Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 21

Q21.

Common Information Question: 3/5

Which of the following can be inferred from the first paragraph of the passage?

A.

Most children stepping into their teenage are inclined to ingratitude which is not only annoying but also revealing of their deep indignation towards their parents.

B.

For most children the transition from childhood to teenage is a surreal experience marked by their pretentiousness.

C.

For most children the transition from childhood to teenage is a tough training period marked by their stubbornness.

D.

Most children possess ingratitude that borders on arrogance and they chose to reveal their dissatisfaction through one or the other way.

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Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 22

Q22.

Common Information Question: 4/5

The tone of the author in the passage is:

A.

Anxious and Brooding.

B.

Snooty and Outraged.

C.

Controversial and Disputatious.

D.

Cognizant and Conversational.

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Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 23

Q23.

Common Information Question: 5/5

From the fourth paragraph, which of the following can be obtained as a conclusive cause for children’s ingratitude?

A.

The more proven strategies of haughtiness and tactfulness in a child, get in the way of the emotions (such as simplicity, affability, and diligence), which are conducive for gratitude.

B.

he more proven strategies of tactfulness and intractability in a child, get in the way of the emotions (such as oneness and rationality), which are conducive for gratitude.

C.

The more proven strategies of self-centredness and an unreasonable perception that the world will and ought to supply the child with an endless stream of goodies, get in the way of the emotions (such as humbleness, consideration for others, and the actual feeling of gratitude itself), which are conducive for gratitude.

D.

The more proven strategies of self-centredness and inflexibility in a child, would get in the way of the emotions (such as cuteness and sincerity), which are conducive for gratitude.

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Common Information

Prior to the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Mikhail Gorbachev, seeing a country falling behind its Western rival and a people increasingly clamoring for change, addressed the growing internal unrest in the summer of 1987 by introducing a series of reforms known as perestroika (literally, restructuring). In Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, Mikhail Gorbachev discussed his analysis of the problems facing the USSR and his plans to solve them.

Perhaps the most pressing and visible problem facing the USSR in the last 1980s came in the form of the country’s consistently mediocre economic performance, despite its vast natural resource wealth and large labor force. Gorbachev flatly admitted that economic failures were increasing and current policies were failing to offer a sustainable remedy. Failing to take advantage of the numerous scientific and technological advancements available, the USSR relied on inefficient and outdated business models. As a result, Gorbachev said, "in the last fifteen years the national income growth rates had declined by more than a half and by the beginning of the eighties had fallen to a level close to economic stagnation." With business executives focused on using more resources (in order to employ more people) instead of becoming more efficient, the country produced poor quality products unable to compete in a global economy. Further, this inefficiency led to shortages: "the Soviet Union, the world’s biggest producer of steel, raw materials, fuel and energy, has shortfalls in them due to wasteful or inefficient use."

The decrepit economy engendered social unrest and woe that only compounded economic difficulties and societal misery. Gorbachev wrote of "a gradual erosion of the ideological and moral values of our people" and noted the considerable growth in "alcoholism, drug addiction and crime." Accentuating these difficulties, the Communist government often ignored the needs of the average citizen, causing distrust and resentment. Perhaps the most destructive element of the social unraveling and inadequate government response was the mediocre education system. Gorbachev said, "Creative thinking was driven out from the social sciences, and superfluous and voluntarist assessments and judgments were declared indisputable truths."

Although Gorbachev also opined about the growing public disbelief in the content of the immense government propaganda campaigns, the extent to which economic underdevelopment and social deviance gripped Soviet culture made the collapse of the USSR virtually inevitable in the minds of many observers. When combined with glasnost (literally, openness), Gorbachev’s plan that allowed greater transparency, perestroika actually served to hasten the collapse of the USSR. Contrary to its purpose, perestroika ensured that the fall of the USSR would occur sooner rather than later. Only a few years after Gorbachev implemented changes that would have been unthinkable and antithetical to the philosophy of previous leaders like Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev, the USSR fell.

Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 24

Q24.

Common Information Question: 1/7

Which of the following best describes the primary objective of the passage?

A.

Argue that the implementation of perestroika caused the fall of the Soviet Union

B.

Explain perestroika along with its roots and consequences

C.

Analyse the pros and cons of Mikhail Gorbachev's decision to implement perestroika

D.

Explain the short-falls of a communist system and offer remedies

E.

Discuss the role of Mikhail Gorbachev in propelling the USSR towards ceasing to exist

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Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 25

Q25.

Common Information Question: 2/7

The passage implies that which of the following was most true of the Soviet economy prior to perestroika:

A.

Suffered from under performance due to excessive government regulation and micro-management

B.

Failed to meet its potential as a result of corruption and bureaucratic overhead

C.

Lacked adequate natural resources to grow efficiently, regardless of business management

D.

Focused on achieving high-employment rather than export-capable products

E.

With declining growth and stagnation, stood in the worst shape ever in USSR history

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