Comprehension Questions And Passages For ESL Students

comprehension questionsReading comprehension is one of the fundamental ways we test a person’s ability to understand a language. While we administer these tests to people of all ages and reading levels, they are perhaps most significant to people trying to pass foreign language exams, as these often have educational and career implications. The following reading comprehension questions and passages are modeled around those that appear in the TOEFL and other ESL examinations.

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Common Formatting

If you are unfamiliar with reading comprehension, or just haven’t been tested in a while, let me review the basic formatting for how the passages and questions are presented. It is important to become accustomed to test format so that you can devote all of your time to answering questions.

You will first be given common directions. These will simply explain what you are being tested on and review the process of how to mark your answers on your test. You will then be presented with a statement explaining how to approach reading comprehension. In TOEFL, the statement will look something like this:

Answer all questions about the information in a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.

You will then be prompted to read a passage and answer a specified number of related questions. This process is replicated below. For a more extensive practice exam, consider this fully integrated online reading comprehension course for TOEFLs.

Passage #1

Read the following passage. Then answer questions 1-2.

Astronomy is more than the study of stars and planets. It is the study of the entire universe in which we exist. You and I live on a small planet circling a small sun drifting through the universe, but astronomy can take us beyond these boundaries and help us not only see where we are in the universe but understand what we are. You have a right to know these things. Perhaps you have a duty to know them.

Do not be humble. Although astronomical sizes and distances may dwarf you, remember that you are in intelligent creature, and you are capable of understanding the universe. It is, after all, yours.

Question 1:

What is the main idea of the passage?

A.  The universe is extremely large and we live on a small planet.

B.  It is out duty as human beings to understand things we find interesting.

C.  Astronomy is the study of the universe and we are intelligent creatures capable of understanding it.

D.  Astronomical sizes and distances are so large that we are insignificant in comparison and can only hope to make them ours.

The main idea of the passage is that astronomy is the study of the universe and we are intelligent creatures capable of understanding it. Therefore, the correct answer is C.

Going over these practice passages and questions is great practice, but you can take your skills to the next level by learning strategy. Read this blog post for 7 literacy strategies to improve your reading comprehension today.

Question 2:

In the second paragraph, the sentence “Do not be humble.” refers to

A.  how you should act as a student in a classroom setting.

B.  the fact that you are an intelligent human being and should approach astronomy with confidence.

C.  the universe exerting its size and power on our small planet circling a small sun.

D.  the boundaries of our understanding of the universe

The sentence “Do not be humble.” refers to the fact that you are an intelligent human being and should approach astronomy with confidence. Therefore, the correct answer is B.

Taking your TOEFLs will require more than just an understanding of reading comprehension. Get help with writing, too, with this TOEFL online writing preparation course.

Passage #2

Read the following passage. Then answer questions 1-2.

The 20th century was characterized by quite unprecedented disruption. Three global conflicts, namely the two World Wars and the Cold War, as well as a series of revolutionary upheavals, left a deep mark on nations and peoples alike. This is especially true of Germany, if only because the country at the heart of Europe was both responsible for the developments that led to the outbreak of both world wars and was affected to an unusual degree by the Cold War and the gradual dissolution of the bipolar world order at the end of the 1980s.

When the old order collapsed, Germany faced a new situation as regards domestic and foreign policy. Here, the country benefited from the dynamism that culminated in the disbandment of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. For this led not just to the unification of East and West Germany, but also for the first time in almost 50 years to complete sovereignty.

Question #1

What was the cause of unprecedented disruption in the 20th century?

A.  Germany and the gradual dissolution of the bipolar world order at the end of the 1980s.

B.  The heart of Europe and 50 years of complete sovereignty.

C.  The unification of East and West Germany.

D.  Three global conflicts and a series of revolutionary upheavals.

The unprecedented disruption in the 20th century was caused by three global conflicts and a series of revolutionary upheavals. Therefore, the correct answer is D.

Question #2

What resulted from the collapse of the old order of Germany?

A.  The outbreak of both world wars.

B.  The country benefited from the dynamism that culminated in the disbandment of the Soviet Union.

C.  Germany left a deep mark on nations and peoples alike.

D.  The 20th century became characterized by unprecedented disruption.

When the old order of Germany collapsed, the country benefited from the dynamism that culminated in the disbandment of the Soviet Union. Therefore, the correct answer is B.

This was just a short sampling of passages and questions, but if you want the comprehensive overview of everything you might encounter in an ESL examination, invest in this ESL troubleshooting course that features over 60 video lectures on selected English topics.