Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reading Comprehension exercise

Passage 11

Archaeology as a profession faces two major problems. First, it is the poorest of the poor. Only paltry sums are available for excavating and even less is available for publishing the results and preserving the sites once excavated. Yet archaeologists deal with priceless objects every day. Second, there is the problem of illegal excavation, resulting in museum-quality pieces being sold to the highest bidder.
I would like to make an outrageous suggestion that would at one stroke provide funds for archaeology and reduce the amount of illegal digging. I would propose that scientific archeological expeditions and governmental authorities sell excavated artifacts on the open market. Such sales would provide substantial funds for the excavation and preservation of archaeological sites and the publication of results. At the same time, they would break the illegal excavator’s grip on the market, thereby decreasing the inducement to engage in illegal activities.
You might object that professionals excavate to acquire knowledge, not money. Moreover, ancient artifacts are part of our global cultural heritage, which should be available for all to appreciate, not sold to the highest bidder. I agree. Sell nothing that has unique artistic merit or scientific value. But, you might reply everything that comes out of the ground has scientific value. Here we part company. Theoretically, you may be correct in claiming that every artifact has potential scientific value. Practically, you are wrong.
I refer to the thousands of pottery vessels and ancient lamps that are essentially duplicates of one another. In one small excavation in Cyprus, archaeologists recently uncovered 2,000 virtually indistinguishable small jugs in a single courtyard, Even precious royal seal impressions known as l’melekh handles have been found in abundance—more than 4,000 examples so far.
The basements of museums are simply not large enough to store the artifacts that are likely to be discovered in the future. There is not enough money even to catalogue the finds; as a result, they cannot be found again and become as inaccessible as if they had never been discovered. Indeed, with the help of a computer, sold artifacts could be more accessible than are the pieces stored in bulging museum basements. Prior to sale, each could be photographed and the list of the purchasers could be maintained on the computer. A purchaser could even be required to agree to return the piece if it should become needed for scientific purposes.
It would be unrealistic to suggest that illegal digging would stop if artifacts were sold on the open market. But the demand for the clandestine product would be substantially reduced. Who would want an unmarked pot when another was available whose provenance was known, and that was dated stratigraphically by the professional archaeologist who excavated it?

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to propose
(A) an alternative to museum display of artifacts
(B) a way to curb illegal digging while benefiting the archaeological profession
(C) a way to distinguish artifacts with scientific value from those that have no such value
(D) the governmental regulation of archaeological sites
(E) a new system for cataloguing duplicate artifacts

2. The author implies that all of the following statements about duplicate artifacts are true EXCEPT:
(A) A market for such artifacts already exists.
(B) Such artifacts seldom have scientific value.
(C) There is likely to be a continuing supply of such artifacts.
(D) Museums are well supplied with examples of such artifacts.
(E) Such artifacts frequently exceed in quality those already catalogued in museum collections.

3. Which of the following is mentioned in the passage as a disadvantage of storing artifacts in museum basements?
(A) Museum officials rarely allow scholars access to such artifacts.
(B) Space that could be better used for display is taken up for storage.
(C) Artifacts discovered in one excavation often become separated from each other.
(D) Such artifacts are often damaged by variations in temperature and humidity.
(E) Such artifacts’ often remain uncatalogued and thus cannot be located once they are put in storage.

4. The author mentions the excavation in Cyprus (lines 31-34) to emphasize which of the following points?
(A) Ancient lamps and pottery vessels are less valuable, although more rare, than royal seal impressions.
(B) Artifacts that are very similar to each other present cataloguing difficulties to archaeologists.
(C) Artifacts that are not uniquely valuable, and therefore could be sold, are available in large quantities.
(D) Cyprus is the most important location for unearthing large quantities of salable artifacts.
(E) Illegal sales of duplicate artifacts are wide-spread, particularly on the island of Cyprus.

5. The author’s argument concerning the effect of the official sale of duplicate artifacts on illegal excavation is based on which of the following assumptions?
(A) Prospective purchasers would prefer to buy authenticated artifacts.
(B) The price of illegally excavated artifacts would rise.
(C) Computers could be used to trace sold artifacts.
(D) Illegal excavators would be forced to sell only duplicate artifacts.
(E) Money gained from selling authenticated artifacts could be used to investigate and prosecute illegal excavators.

6. The author anticipates which of the following initial objections to the adoption of his proposal?
(A) Museum officials will become unwilling to store artifacts.
(B) An oversupply of salable artifacts will result and the demand for them will fall.
(C) Artifacts that would have been displayed in public places will be sold to private collectors.
(D) Illegal excavators will have an even larger supply of artifacts for resale.
(E) Counterfeiting of artifacts will become more commonplace.

7. The author implies that which of the following would occur if duplicate artifacts were sold on the open market?
I. Illegal excavation would eventually cease completely.
II. Cyprus would become the primary source of marketable duplicate artifacts.
III. Archaeologists would be able to publish the results of their excavations more frequently than they currently do.
(A) I only
(B) III only
(C) I and II only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II, and III

Passage 12
(This passage is excerpted from material published in 1980.)

Federal efforts to aid minority businesses began in the 1960’s when the Small Business Administration (SBA) began making federally guaranteed loans and government-sponsored management and technical assistance available to minority business enterprises. While this program enabled many minority entrepreneurs to form new businesses, the results were disappointing, since managerial inexperience, unfavorable locations, and capital shortages led to high failure rates. Even years after the program was implemented, minority business receipts were not quite two percent of the national economy’s total receipts.
Recently federal policymakers have adopted an approach intended to accelerate development of the minority business sector by moving away from directly aiding small minority enterprises and toward supporting larger, growth-oriented minority firms through intermediary companies. In this approach, large corporations participate in the development of successful and stable minority businesses by making use of government-sponsored venture capital. The capital is used by a participating company to establish a Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company or MESBIC. The MESBIC then provides capital and guidance to minority businesses that have potential to become future suppliers or customers of the sponsoring company.
MESBIC’s are the result of the belief that providing established firms with easier access to relevant management techniques and more job-specific experience, as well as substantial amounts of capital, gives those firms a greater opportunity to develop sound business foundations than does simply making general management experience and small amounts of capital available. Further, since potential markets for the minority businesses already exist through the sponsoring companies, the minority businesses face considerably less risk in terms of location and market fluctuation. Following early financial and operating problems, sponsoring corporations began to capitalize MESBIC’s far above the legal minimum of $500,000 in order to generate sufficient income and to sustain the quality of management needed. MESBIC’s are now emerging as increasingly important financing sources for minority enterprises.
Ironically, MESBIC staffs, which usually consist of Hispanic and Black professionals, tend to approach investments in minority firms more pragmatically than do many MESBIC directors, who are usually senior managers from sponsoring corporations. The latter often still think mainly in terms of the “social responsibility approach” and thus seem to prefer deals that are riskier and less attractive than normal investment criteria would warrant. Such differences in viewpoint have produced uneasiness among many minority staff members, who feel that minority entrepreneurs and businesses should be judged by established business considerations. These staff members believe their point of view is closer to the original philosophy of MESBIC’s and they are concerned that, unless a more prudent course is followed, MESBIC directors may revert to policies likely to re-create the disappointing results of the original SBA approach.

1. Which of the following best states the central idea of the passage?
(A) The use of MESBIC’s for aiding minority entrepreneurs seems to have greater potential for success than does the original SBA approach.
(B) There is a crucial difference in point of view between the staff and directors of some MESBIC’s.
(C) After initial problems with management and marketing, minority businesses have begun to expand at a steady rate.
(D) Minority entrepreneurs wishing to form new businesses now have several equally successful federal programs on which to rely.
(E) For the first time since 1960, large corporations are making significant contributions to the development of minority businesses.

2. According to the passage, the MESBIC approach differs from the SBA approach in that MESBIC’s
(A) seek federal contracts to provide markets for minority businesses
(B) encourage minority businesses to provide markets for other minority businesses
(C) attempt to maintain a specified rate of growth in the minority business sector
(D) rely on the participation of large corporations to finance minority businesses
(E) select minority businesses on the basis of their location

3. Which of the following does the author cite to support the conclusion that the results of the SBA program were disappointing?
(A) The small number of new minority enterprises formed as a result of the program
(B) The small number of minority enterprises that took advantage of the management and technical assistance offered under the program
(C) The small percentage of the nation’s business receipts earned by minority enterprises following the programs, implementation
(D) The small percentage of recipient minority enterprises that were able to repay federally guaranteed loans made under the program
(E) The small number of minority enterprises that chose to participate in the program

4. Which of the following statements about the SBA program can be inferred from the passage?
(A) The maximum term for loans made to recipient businesses was 15 years.
(B) Business loans were considered to be more useful to recipient businesses than was management and technical assistance.
(C) The anticipated failure rate for recipient businesses was significantly lower than the rate that actually resulted.
(D) Recipient businesses were encouraged to relocate to areas more favorable for business development.
(E) The capitalization needs of recipient businesses were assessed and then provided for adequately.

5. Based on information in the passage, which of the following would be indicative of the pragmatism of MESBIC staff members?
I. A reluctance to invest in minority businesses that show marginal expectations of return on the investments
II. A desire to invest in minority businesses that produce goods and services likely to be of use to the sponsoring company
III. A belief that the minority business sector is best served by investing primarily in newly established businesses
(A) I only
(B) III only
(C) I and II only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II and III

6. The author refers to the “financial and operating problems” (line 38) encountered by MESBIC’s primarily in order to
(A) broaden the scope of the discussion to include the legal considerations of funding MESBIC’S through sponsoring companies
(B) call attention to the fact that MESBIC’s must receive adequate funding in order to function effectively
(C) show that sponsoring companies were willing to invest only $500,000 of government-sponsored venture capital in the original MESBIC’s
(D) compare SBA and MESBIC limits on minimum funding
(E) refute suggestions that MESBIC’s have been only marginally successful

7. The author’s primary objective in the passage is to
(A) disprove the view that federal efforts to aid minority businesses have been ineffective
(B) explain how federal efforts to aid minority businesses have changed since the 1960’s
(C) establish a direct link between the federal efforts to aid minority businesses made before the 1960’s and those made in the 1980’s
(D) analyze the basis for the belief that job-specific experience is more useful to minority businesses than is general management experience
(E) argue that the “social responsibility approach” to aiding minority businesses is superior to any other approach

8. It can be inferred from the passage that the attitude of some MESBIC staff members toward the investments preferred by some MESBIC directors can best be described as
(A) defensive
(B) resigned
(C) indifferent
(D) shocked
(E) disapproving

9. The passage provides information that would answer which of the following questions?
(A) What was the average annual amount, in dollars, of minority business receipts before the SBA strategy was implemented?
(B) What locations are considered to be unfavorable for minority businesses?
(C) What is the current success rate for minority businesses that are capitalized by MESBIC’s?
(D) How has the use of federal funding for minority businesses changed since the 1960’s?
(E) How do minority businesses apply to participate in a MESBIC program?

Answers of above passages


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.