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Verbal Ability :: Reading Comprehension

Home > Verbal Ability > Reading Comprehension > General Questions

1. Marie Curie was one of the most accomplished scientists in history. Together with her husband, Pierre, she discovered radium, an element widely used for treating cancer, and studied uranium and other radioactive substances. Pierre and Marie's amicable collaboration later helped to unlock the secrets of the atom.Marie was born in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland, where her father was a professor of physics. At an early age, she displayed a brilliant mind and a blithe personality. Her great exuberance for learning prompted her to continue with her studies after high school. She became disgruntled, however, when she learned that the university in Warsaw was closed to women. Determined to receive a higher education, she defiantly left Poland and in 1891 entered the Sorbonne, a French university, where she earned her master's degree and doctorate in physics.Marie was fortunate to have studied at the Sorbonne with some of the greatest scientists of her day, one of whom was Pierre Curie. Marie and Pierre were married in 1895 and spent many productive years working together in the physics laboratory. A short time after they discovered radium, Pierre was killed by a horse-drawn wagon in 1906. Marie was stunned by this horrible misfortune and endured heartbreaking anguish. Despondently she recalled their close relationship and the joy that they had shared in scientific research. The fact that she had two young daughters to raise by herself greatly increased her distress.Curie's feeling of desolation finally began to fade when she was asked to succeed her husband as a physics professor at the Sorbonne. She was the first woman to be given a professorship at the world-famous university. In 1911 she received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for isolating radium. Although Marie Curie eventually suffered a fatal illness from her long exposure to radium, she never became disillusioned about her work. Regardless of the consequences, she had dedicated herself to science and to revealing the mysteries of the physical world. The Curies' _________ collaboration helped to unlock the secrets of the atom.

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Answer: Option A

Explanation:

"Amicable" means friendly. It does not mean competitive (B), i.e. oppositional, ambitious, or aggressive; courteous (C), i.e. polite; industrious (D), i.e. hard-working; or chemistry (E): their collaboration was in physics, but moreover, the passage specifically describes their collaboration as "amicable."

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2. Marie had a bright mind and a ______ personality.

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Answer: Option B

Explanation:

"Blithe" means light-hearted. It does not mean strong (A), humorous (B) or funny; strange (D), or envious (E).

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3. When she learned that she could not attend the university in Warsaw, she felt _________.

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Answer: Option B

Explanation:

"Disgruntled" means annoyed. It does not mean hopeless (A), depressed (C), or worried (D).

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4. Marie _________ by leaving Poland and traveling to France to enter the Sorbonne.

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Answer: Option A

Explanation:

Marie challenged authority by going to study at the Sorbonne, because Warsaw's university did not admit women. The passage indicates this challenge by describing her "defiantly" leaving Poland for France; i.e., she was defying authority. The passage does not indicate she showed intelligence (B), "behaved" (C), or was distressed (D) or upset by her move.

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5. _________ she remembered their joy together.

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Answer: Option A

Explanation:

A synonym for "despondently" is "dejectedly," meaning sadly, with despair or depression. The passage indicates this by describing Curie's emotional state as one of "heartbreaking anguish" over her husband's sudden accidental death. She is not described in this passage as worried (B) by her memories, or recalling them tearfully (C), happily (D), or irefully (E), i.e. angrily.

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6. Each passage in this group is followed by questions based on its content. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each questions. Answer all questions following a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage. In the 16th century, an age of great marine and terrestrial exploration, Ferdinand Magellan led the first expedition to sail around the world. As a young Portuguese noble, he served the king of Portugal, but he became involved in the quagmire of political intrigue at court and lost the king's favor. After he was dismissed from service by the king of Portugal, he offered to serve the future Emperor Charles V of Spain. A papal decree of 1493 had assigned all land in the New World west of 50 degrees W longitude to Spain and all the land east of that line to Portugal. Magellan offered to prove that the East Indies fell under Spanish authority. On September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain with five ships. More than a year later, one of these ships was exploring the topography of South America in search of a water route across the continent. This ship sank, but the remaining four ships searched along the southern peninsula of South America. Finally they found the passage they sought near 50 degrees S latitude. Magellan named this passage the Strait of All Saints, but today it is known as the Strait of Magellan. One ship deserted while in this passage and returned to Spain, so fewer sailors were privileged to gaze at that first panorama of the Pacific Ocean. Those who remained crossed the meridian now known as the International Date Line in the early spring of 1521 after 98 days on the Pacific Ocean. During those long days at sea, many of Magellan's men died of starvation and disease. Later, Magellan became involved in an insular conflict in the Philippines and was killed in a tribal battle. Only one ship and 17 sailors under the command of the Basque navigator Elcano survived to complete the westward journey to Spain and thus prove once and for all that the world is round, with no precipice at the edge. The 16th century was an age of great ______ exploration.

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Answer: Option B

Explanation:

"Terrestrial" means land. No choice here offers a synonym for "marine," e.g. nautical/naval/water/seagoing, and no other choices match either marine or terrestrial.

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7. Magellan lost the favor of the king of Portugal when he became involved in a political ________.

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Answer: Option A

Explanation:

"Quagmire" means literally a bog or marsh, and figuratively an involved situation difficult to escape; entanglement is a synonym, more specifically similar than the other choices.

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8. The Pope divided New World lands between Spain and Portugal according to their location on one side or the other of an imaginary geographical line 50 degrees west of Greenwich that extends in a _________ direction.

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Answer: Option A

Explanation:

Longitudes are imaginary geographical lines running north and south. Latitudes run east and west. The other choices do not equal either latitude or longitude in direction.

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9. One of Magellan's ships explored the _________ of South America for a passage across the continent.

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Answer: Option C

Explanation:

Topography means the physical features of a land mass. It does not mean coastline (A), mountain range (B), or islands (D).

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10. Four of the ships sought a passage along a southern ______.

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Answer: Option C

Explanation:

A peninsula is a piece of land connected to the mainland by an isthmus and projecting into the ocean such that it is surrounded on three sides by water. A peninsula is not a coast (A); it is not found inland (B); and it is not a border (D).

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