Practice Questions on Reading Comprehension
Verbal Test Questions and Answers

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take advantage of the numerous scientific and technological advancements available, the USSR relied on inefficient and outdated business models.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 - 26

Q26.

Common Information Question: 3/7

Based upon the passage, the author would likely agree most with which of the following characterizations of the impact of the USSR's troubled economy during the days leading up to perestroika?

A.

Cause for renewed determination in communist philosophy

B.

Reason that natives looked increasingly to the West and capitalism

C.

Source of frustration and discomfort among citizens that fuelled social friction

D.

Justification for the USSR's neglect of the needs of many citizens

E.

Primary cause of the USSR's poor educational system

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Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 27

Q27.

Common Information Question: 4/7

According to the passage, which of the following best describes the relationship between perestroika and the fall of the USSR?

A.

Perestroika mildly delayed the fall of the USSR, although the decline of the Soviet Republic was inevitable

B.

Perestroika hastened the decline of the USSR

C.

Perestroika enabled the USSR to pursue much needed restructuring

D.

Perestroika softened the impact from the collapse of the USSR

E.

Perestroika had little relationship to the decline of the USSR, which was inevitable anyway

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Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 28

Q28.

Common Information Question: 5/7

In the context of the passage, the author most likely uses the word "unthinkable" (in the last sentence) to help convey which of the following points about the changes Gorbachev implemented in perestroika?

A.

They would have never crossed the mind of Lenin as being conceptually possible, let alone desirable or feasible

B.

They would have been difficult for the mind of Lenin to comprehend intelligibly

C.

They would have been seen by Lenin as undesirable and poor choices

D.

They would have been seen by Lenin as incomprehensible yet appealing

E.

They would have been considered highly desirable

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Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 29

Q29.

Common Information Question: 6/7

Gorbachev offers all of the following as evidence of the need for perestroika EXCEPT:

A.

Shortages in natural resources due to inefficiency

B.

Declines in economic output and growth

C.

Slides in moral values of citizens

D.

Erosion of new and ingenious thinking

E.

Frustrations with the results of past reform efforts

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Difficult Reading Comprehension Question - 30

Q30.

Common Information Question: 7/7

Which of the following words best describes the passage's tone?

A.

Primarily Analytical

B.

Highly Critical

C.

Frustrated

D.

Not Objective

E.

Deeply Introspective

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