Reading Passage 6 – Stepan and Dolly Oblonsky

Keywords: Year 7+, 13 questions overall, 9 MCQs, 4 short-answer questions, classic, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, 19th century literature, 19th century Russia.

(Chapter 2, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy.)

Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself. He was incapable of deceiving himself and persuading himself that he repented of his conduct. He could not at this date repent of the fact that he, a handsome, susceptible man of thirty-four, was not in love with his wife, the mother of five living and two dead children, and only a year younger than himself. All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better in hiding it from his wife. But he felt all the difficulty of his position and was sorry for his wife, his children, and himself. Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of them would have had such an effect on her. He had never clearly thought out the subject, but he had vaguely conceived that his wife must long ago have suspected him of being unfaithful to her, and shut her eyes to the fact. He had even supposed that she, a worn-out woman no longer young or good-looking, and in no way remarkable or interesting, merely a good mother, ought from a sense of fairness to take an indulgent view. It had turned out quite the other way.

Questions

  1. Stepan’s wife Dolly is mad at him. Why?

a) He isn’t in love with her.

b) He cheated on her with a younger woman.

c) He cheated on her without her knowledge.

d) He doesn’t feel sorry for her and their children.

2. This passage is written in ____________ and in _____________.

a) Third-person, past tense

b) First-person, past tense

c) Third-person, present tense

d) First-person, present tense

3. What assumptions did Stepan make about Dolly’s reaction to the affair?

a) He assumed that she had already known for years and that she decided to just ignore it.

b) He assumed that she would react in the same way she did: being upset and angry.

c) He assumed that she wouldn’t really care about the affair.

d) He assumed she already knew and was waiting for the right time to bring it up.

4. This passage’s writing style can best be described as:

a) Perfunctory and narrative

b) Wordy and persuasive

c) Complex and narrative

d) Informative and narrative

5. What is the main thing Stepan is sorry for?

a) He’s sorry for the way he has hurt Dolly’s feelings.

b) He’s sorry that he has broken Dolly’s trust.

c) He’s sorry that he wasn’t able to hide his affair properly.

d) He doesn’t feel sorry at all.

6. Stepan describes Dolly as “merely a good mother”. This is:

a) An insult, since Stepan doesn’t value motherhood

b) A compliment, since Stepan finds motherhood important

c) An insult, since Dolly isn’t actually a good mother

d) A joke, since Stepan and Dolly don’t have any children

7. Stepan believes that Dolly “ought from a sense of fairness to take an indulgent view”. What does this mean?

a) The fairest reaction Dolly should have towards Stepan’s affair is to allow him to accept it.

b) The fairest reaction Dolly should have towards Stepan’s affair is to have her own affair with someone else.

c) Dolly is being fair in her distressed reaction to Stepan’s affair.

d) Dolly is being fair in her attitude towards Stepan after she found out about the affair.

8. If you had to add a line break (i.e. break up the paragraph), where would be the best place to do it?

a) After the first sentence (“Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself.”)

b) After the sixth sentence (“Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of them would have had such an effect on her.”)

c) After the fourth sentence (“All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better in hiding it from his wife.”)

d) After the ninth sentence (“It had turned out quite the other way.”)

9. What is the overall tone of this passage?

a) Detached and critical

b) Witty and omniscient

c) Comedic and informal

d) Subjective and sagacious

10. If Dolly read this passage, how do you think she’d feel about Stepan’s perspective?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

11. When is Stepan an honest person? How do we know this?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

12. Describe Stepan’s character with two different adjectives. Use quotes to support your answer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

13. What is Stepan’s opinion of Dolly? Use one quote to support your answer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

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Note: This passage is from Chapter 2 of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right. The questions are of my own creation.

Reading Passage 5 – Short-term Memory

Keywords: Year 8+, 15 questions, 12 MCQs, 3 short-answer questions, science, non-fiction, National Geographic.

(“Limited Capacity Storage: Short-term memory”. Memory: What It Is, How It Works, and Ways You Can Improve It, National Geographic, Tula Karras.)

Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’ has short-term memory loss.

Limited capacity storage: Short-term memory

Our limited capacity storage systems aren’t meant to retain information for very long. Similar to a Snapchat message or an Instagram story, information that enters our brain through our senses fade rather quickly unless we have a reason to retain it or unless we practice it. While this sounds inefficient — why can’t we hold every bit of information for a long while? — it’s actually a good thing. Like a hoarder with objects they will never use, our brain would become so crowded remembering everything we experienced that we wouldn’t be able to find and retrieve the things we truly need and want to remember. Although experts generally divide our limited capacity storage systems into short-term memory and working memory, many experts consider short-term memory a component within working memory. Science is still trying to distinguish their many features.

Short-term memory

Short-term (or immediate) memory is the ability to remember a short list of things within a short span of time — usually no longer than 30 seconds and sometimes less. Short-term memories are not stored permanently, but rather stay on our radar briefly in the present moment. We often use short-term memory when we don’t have things in our environment to cue us — so we might engage short-term memory to hold a list of grocery items in our mind by repeating it over and over if we can’t write it down, or when remembering someone’s phone number, or when holding figures in our head while doing an arithmetic problem.

Questions

  1. What best summarises the primary aim of this passage?

a) To inform the reader on the attributes of short-term memory

b) To persuade the reader of short-term memory’s flaws

c) To illuminate upon the positive attributes of short-term memory

d) To detail short-term memory and its relationship to working memory

2. Which of these quotes is an example of a simile?

a) “Science is still trying to distinguish their many features.”

b) “…we might engage short-term memory to hold a list of grocery items in our mind…”

c) “…why can’t we hold every bit of information for a long while?”

d) “Like a hoarder with objects they will never use…”

3. Look for any parentheses in the passage. What is their purpose?

a) They include extra, irrelevant information

b) They give a synonym for a previously described term

c) They provide an example to illustrate a point further

d) There are no parentheses in this passage

4. According to the passage, why is short-term memory a positive thing?

a) If it didn’t exist, our memory would become too cluttered with too much information

b) It allows us to consciously forget things

c) If it didn’t exist, we would forget every memory we came across

d) It helps us to study and encode information, like phone numbers

5. “Similar to a Snapchat message or an Instagram story, information that enters our brain through our senses fade rather quickly…” This comparison most likely aims to:

a) Make the article more appealing to the younger generations

b) Illustrate the idea in a way that is understandable to the average reader

c) Make money for the author through Snapchat/Instagram sponsorship

d) Describe the longevity of memory

6. What is the purpose of using sub-sections in this passage?

a) To divide diametrical pieces of information into different areas

b) To make the passage seem less wordy and prolix

c) To categorise pieces of information that focus on different yet related ideas

d) To extend the amount of information that is contained in the passage

7. Look for the em-dashes. In this passage, what are they not used for?

a) To interject with an example that expands upon an idea

b) To clarify an otherwise ambiguous piece of information

c) To divide sentences, making them more efficient

d) To replace a punctuation mark

8. According to the passage, short-term memory is:

a) A well-known and clearly defined concept

b) A definite sub-section within working memory

c) A widely-accepted yet somewhat underdeveloped idea

d) A detailed concept that has remained unchanged from its conception

9. Which of these statements is false?

a) Short-term memory and working memory are two separate concepts

b) Short-term memory holds information for around 30 seconds

c) It’s impossible to remember information held in short-term memory

d) It’s possible that short-term memory is a part of working memory

10. Which of the following would be the best alternate title for this passage?

a) The Disadvantages of Short-term Memory

b) Defining and Explaining Short-term Memory

c) An Analysis of Limited Capacity Storage Systems

d) The Relationship Between Short-term Memory and Working Memory

11. What is this passage’s tone?

a) Direct and avuncular

b) Formal and apoplectic

c) Informative and partial

d) Objective and sagacious

12. Based on this passage, what is a limited-capacity storage system?

a) A kind of memory that only remembers lists for a short time

b) Unlimited storage that contains permanent memories

c) A mental network that creates short-term memories

d) A category of memories that hold information briefly

13. Write down a quote from the passage that uses inclusive language.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

14. “While this sounds inefficient…“. What is the word ‘this’ referring to?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

15. List two things the passage has taught you about short-term memory.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

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Note: this passage is from the November 2020 Memory issue of National Geographic Magazine. To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right. The questions are of my own creation.

Reading Passage 4 – The Human Seasons

Keywords: Year 7-8, poetry, the Romantic period, poetic techniques, literary devices, human nature, 8 MCQs, 2 short-answer questions.

The following is a complete poem by John Keats. It’s titled ‘The Human Seasons’.

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
     There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
     Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
     Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
     Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
     He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
     Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

Questions

  1. This poem’s tone would best be described as:

a) Pessimistic and sarcastic

b) Apoplectic and lyrical

c) Acerbic and bellicose

d) Observant and explanatory

2. In this poem, Man is described as being like two animals (a bird and a cow). This is an example of:

a) A metaphor and a zoomorphism

b) A simile and alliteration

c) A triptych and a zoomorphism

d) A simile and consonance

3. What is this poem’s structure?

a) ABAB ABAB ABAB CC

b) ABBB ABBB ABBB CC

c) ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

d) AABB CCDD EEFF GG

4. Which of these is a literary device that is used in the poem?

a) Imagery

b) Alliteration

c) Anecdote

d) Triptych

5. As established, Man is associated with cows in the poem. Which line does this?

a) “his Winter too of pale misfeature”

b) “Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought”

c) “when his wings / He furleth close”

d) “when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span”

6. Autumn has the highest number of lines and the most description. What is a possible reason behind this choice?

a) Autumn represents the slowest stage of a life; a high number of lines reflects that longevity.

b) Autumn is John Keats’ favourite season, as evidenced by his detailed description of it.

c) Autumn is the longest season of the year, so it is only logical for it to have the highest number of lines.

d) Autumn is a time of play and pleasure. A high number of lines reinforces those themes.

7. Which of these line best demonstrate the use of contrast?

a) “when his wings / He furleth close” and “he would forego his mortal nature

b) “He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span” and “There are four seasons in the mind of man

c) “Four Seasons fill the measure of the year” and “There are four seasons in the mind of man

d) “He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span” and “His soul has in its Autumn…contented so to look / On mists in idleness

8. Winter is spoken about _____________. This is most likely to illustrate ___________.

a) Sporadically, winter’s longevity

b) A lot, winter’s brevity

c) Briefly, winter’s brevity

d) Briefly, winter’s longevity

9. Is this poem about actual seasons or something else? How can you tell? Provide two pieces of evidence from the text to support your answer (adjectives, the title, dialogue etc.).

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. Choose one season. What kind of personality does this season show in the poem? Provide three adjectives/lines from the text to support your answer.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

Note: To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right. The questions are of my own creation.

Reading Passage 3 – Trapped in the Dark

Keywords: Fiction, first-person POV, Year 7-ish, 10 questions, 8 MCQs, 2 short-answer questions.

(The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (review here!), Alan Bradley, pg. 1)

It was as black in the old closet as old blood. They had shoved me in and locked the door. I breathed heavily through my nose, fighting desperately to remain calm. I tried counting to ten on every intake of breath, and to eight as I released each one slowly into the darkness. Luckily for me, they had pulled the gag so tightly into my open mouth that my nostrils were left unobstructed, and I was able to draw in one slow lungful after another of the stale, musty air.

I tried hooking my fingernails under the silk scarf that bound my hands behind me but, since I always bit to the quick, there was nothing to catch. Jolly good luck then that I’d remembered to put my fingertips together, using them as ten firm little bases to press my palms apart as they had pulled the knots tight.

Now I rotated my wrists, squeezing them together until I felt a bit of slack, using my thumbs to work the silk down until the knots were between my palms – then between my fingers. If they had been bright enough to think of tying my thumbs together, I should never have escaped. What utter morons they were.

Questions

  1. Was the narrator able to breathe through her nose? Why/why not?

a) Yes, because the gag in her mouth was slack

b) Yes, because the silk scarf was too tight

c) Only a little, because the air was too stale and musty

d) Yes, because her nostrils weren’t blocked

2. What does the main character try to do first?

a) Unbind herself and call for help

b) Slacken the scarf binding her body

c) Breathe in and out in a slow and calming way

d) Undoing all of her fingers from the scarf

3. “Bit to the quick”, as used in the passage, is a phrase that means:

a) Jumping to conclusions

b) Going a bit too quickly

c) Biting to the bottom of your fingernails

d) Biting something quickly

4. In the third paragraph, ‘slack’ is used to mean:

a) Loose

b) Lazy

c) Tight

d) Large

5. How did the narrator undo the scarf tied around her hands?

a) She rotated her wrists and pressed her palms apart with her fingertips

b) She hooked her fingernails under the scarf and edged the knot towards her fingers

c) She pressed her fingertips together so the scarf wouldn’t be too tight

d) She used her thumbs to move the scarf down so the knot was within her fingers

6. Based on this passage, what would best describe the narrator?

a) Avuncular and condescending

b) Amiable and patient

c) Sagacious and level-headed

d) Knowledgeable and anxious

7. Which of these quotes is an example of a colloquialism?

a) “It was as black in the old closet as old blood.”

b) “Jolly good luck…”

c) “What utter morons…”

d) There are no colloquialisms in this passage

8. The passage is from a novel. The novel’s genre is most likely to be:

a) A slice of life comedy

b) Mystery

c) Fantasy

d) Biography

9. What is the main character’s opinion of her captors? Use one piece of evidence from the text to support your answer.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. What do you think will happen directly after this passage?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

Note: this passage is from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right. The questions are of my own creation.

Reading Passage 2 – Embroidery ANSWERS

The correct answers are highlighted in yellow!

Answers

  1. Based on the information from the passage, what do we know about sewbeautifulx’s current life?

a) She is a mother of young children who spends her free time embroidering

b) Her mother is teaching her how to embroider on pillowcases, bedding and clothes

c) She sees embroidery as a relaxing and time-consuming hobby

d) She owns a profitable business selling her embroidery under the name ‘sewbeautifulx’

2. Which of these is not listed as a possible embroidering material?

a) Organza

b) Tulle

c) Cotton

d) Felt

3. How did sewbeautifulx’s mother introduce her to embroidery?

a) In a practical way by giving her embroidering classes

b) In an impractical way by embroidering her pillowcases

c) In a practical way by telling her daughter to watch the mother while she is embroidering

d) In a practical way by embroidering things around her home

4. Which statement would best describe sewbeautifulx’s embroidery?

a) Vivacious and colourful

b) Monochrome and detailed

c) Simplistic and vibrant

d) Intricate and understated

5. Complete this sentence: Since the thread is so ________, you can make very _________ embroidery.

a) Thin, simplistic

b) Thin, vibrant

c) Colourful, vibrant

d) Thin, detailed

6. This passage teaches us about general embroidery. Which of these facts are not mentioned?

a) Embroidery is often vibrant and based on nature

b) Many materials can be used while embroidering

c) Embroidering can be a very therapeutic activity

d) Depending on its detail, embroidering can take a long time to complete

7. Write one example of the author using an em-dash.

The only time the author uses an em-dash is in this sentence: “…working with fabric and thread are endless – I use a vast array of materials…”. Remember that you don’t need to state the entire sentence if it’s very long; just use a few words to quote where exactly the em-dash is.

8. What is sewbeautifulx’s opinion on embroidery? Use at least one quote from the passage as evidence.

Generally, the answer should state that she finds embroidery relaxing, creative and/or time-consuming. You only need to talk about one of these but you’re welcome to use more than one if you have extra time. There are different quotes that you can use for this answer, depending on which opinion you choose to focus on.

‘Relaxing’ = “It’s so therapeutic, relaxing and calming.”

‘Creative’ = “I love that putting certain colours together can bring them to life…”

‘Time-consuming’ = “Depending on the level of detail, a piece may take days, weeks or even months!”

The original passage and questions are here!

Have any questions? Feel free to message or comment! I’m always happy to help. 🙂

Reading Passage 2 – Embroidery

Keywords: informal, Year 7-ish, non-fiction, first-person, article, multiple-choice, short answer, 10 qs

Sew beautiful x

(sewbeautifulx and Sophie Kalagas, ‘The stitch up’, frankie magazine, issue 99.)

From a young age, I used to watch my mum embroider little flowers onto pillowcases, bedding and clothes. I was fascinated by the practical ways she incorporated her love of embroidery into our lives, using just a needle and thread. Now I’m a mother of four, and as my children have grown up I’ve found time to pick up sewing as a hobby of my own. It’s so therapeutic, relaxing and calming.

I’m especially into designs that feature vibrant colours, flowers and animals. I love that putting certain colours together can bring them to life and create something brilliant. The possibilities of working with fabric and thread are endless – I use a vast array of materials, from felt, cotton and netting to organza and embroidery thread in a rainbow of colours. You can create anything you want with great detail because the thread is so fine. Depending on the level of detail, a piece may take days, weeks or even months!

Questions

  1. Based on the information from the passage, what do we know about sewbeautifulx’s current life?

a) She is a mother of young children who spends her free time embroidering

b) Her mother is teaching her how to embroider on pillowcases, bedding and clothes

c) She sees embroidery as a relaxing and time-consuming hobby

d) She owns a profitable business selling her embroidery under the name ‘sewbeautifulx’

2. Which of these is not listed as a possible embroidering material?

a) Organza

b) Tulle

c) Cotton

d) Felt

3. How did sewbeautifulx’s mother introduce her to embroidery?

a) In a practical way by giving her embroidering classes

b) In an impractical way by embroidering her pillowcases

c) In a practical way by telling her daughter to watch the mother while she is embroidering

d) In a practical way by embroidering things around her home

4. Which statement would best describe sewbeautifulx’s embroidery?

a) Vivacious and colourful

b) Monochrome and detailed

c) Simplistic and vibrant

d) Intricate and understated

5. Complete this sentence: Since the thread is so ________, you can make very _________ embroidery.

a) Thin, simplistic

b) Thin, vibrant

c) Colourful, vibrant

d) Thin, detailed

6. This passage teaches us about general embroidery. Which of these facts are not mentioned?

a) Embroidery is often vibrant and based on nature

b) Many materials can be used while embroidering

c) Embroidering can be a very therapeutic activity

d) Depending on its detail, embroidering can take a long time to complete

7. Write one example of the author using an em-dash.

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

8. What is sewbeautifulx’s opinion on embroidery? Use at least one quote from the passage as evidence.

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

Note: this passage is part of an article called ‘The stitch up’ from frankie magazine (issue 99). It is an interview with @sewbeautifulx conducted by Sophie Kalagas. To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right.

Reading Passage 1 – The Great Wave

Keywords: advanced reading, formal, Year 8-9, non-fiction, multiple-choice, 8 qs

Complex words are in bold. If you don’t understand them, search them and write them down!

(Timothy Clark, pg. 23, Hokusai’s Great Wave. British Museum Press, 2011.)

Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave Off Kanagawa’

Two aspects of the Great Wave are particularly striking and would have seemed novel at the time: the dramatic sense of depth in the middle of the picture; and the preponderant use of shades of blue. Both of these aspects were revolutionary in their day; even tinged with a certain ideological danger. For both the deep space and the strong blue signalled ‘Europe’ – or at least ‘outside Japan’. Foreign travel had been forbidden to Japanese since the late 1630s and all interactions with the outside world were closely policed by the Shogunate, the ruling military government, and generally confined to the periphery of the state. Trade with Holland and China were carefully regulated through the single port of Nagasaki in the far west. Under this authoritarian samurai regime, any undue interest in foreign matters was regarded with suspicion.

In 1720, however, the personal interest in foreign science and technology of Shogun Yoshimune led him to intervene to have lifted a ban in imported Chinese translations of European books, provided they did not deal in any way with Christianity (strictly outlawed in Japan, once again, since the late 1630’s). Thereafter, the eighteenth century witnessed a steadily growing interest among Japanese scholars in European matters, culminating in a movement known as ‘Dutch studies’ (Rangaku) – Holland being the only European nation with which Japan traded directly.

Among the European books and prints imported into Japan there must have been some that featured perspective systems of architectural lines converging dramatically towards a distant horizon line – maybe the kind of cityscape in London, Paris and Amsterdam that were hugely popular in those cities at the time. In Europe, such prints were often enjoyed in viewing devices that enhanced the sensation of deep space yet further.

Questions

  1. Which statement would best describe 17th century Japan?

a) Fascinated by European matters

b) Ravaged by giant waves called tsunamis

c) Home to many Rangaku scholars

d) Closed to the rest of the world

2. _______ and ________ were two aspects of the Great Wave that Japan would have found incredibly different from their usual art style.

a) The variety of colours, the depth

b) The use of perspective, different shades of blue

c) The use of watercolours, the depth

d) The depiction of a wave, different shades of blue

3. As used in the first paragraph, what would be the best synonym for preponderant?

a) worthy of pondering

b) something to think about before describing it

c) important and noteworthy

d) complex and thought-provoking

4. From what we are told in this passage, what would best describe the shogunate?

a) Magnanimous and accepting of other cultures

b) Liberal-minded and strict

c) Despotic and puissant

d) Authoritative and avuncular

5. What would the paragraph after this passage be about?

a) Examples of Japanese art pieces that correspond to the European art style

b) A description of European architecture, particularly in London and Paris

c) Japan’s history of tsunamis and other natural disasters

d) A more detailed description of Rangaku scholars

6. What do scholars of ‘Dutch Studies’ learn about?

a) The history of Denmark

b) Research from Europe

c) Art and science from Holland

d) Dutch languages and how they relate to art

7. What best describes Shogun Yoshimune’s opinion on foreign concepts?

a) Wildly passionate about every aspect of European culture

b) Xenophobic and narrow-minded

c) Nebulous. He didn’t really find it important

d) Enthusiastic about particular parts of European culture

8. Where would you find this passage?

a) In a general book about art

b) In a book specifically about Hokusai’s art and the Japanese art culture of his time

c) In an article about European architecture

d) In a personal essay about a person’s experience with Japanese art

Check your answers here!

Note: the multiple-choice questions are of my own creation. The passage, however, was written by Timothy Clark and can be found on page 23 of this book. To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right.