Reading (Multiple Choice)

Text 1. Read the text and choose the best answer to the questions (A, B, C or D)

First Train Trip

I must have been about eight when I made my first train trip. I think I was in second grade at that time. It was midsummer, hot and wet in central Kansas, and time for my aunt Winnie’s annual vacation from the store, where she worked as a clerk six days a week. She invited me to join her on a trip to Pittsburgh, fifty miles away, to see her sister, my aunt Alice. ‘Sally, would you like to go there by train or by car?’ aunt Winnie asked. ‘Oh, please, by train, aunt Winnie, dear! We’ve been there by car three times already!’

Alice was one of my favourite relatives and I was delighted to be invited to her house. As I was the youngest niece in Mother’s big family, the aunties all tended to spoil me and Alice was no exception. She kept a boarding house for college students, a two-storey, brown brick building with comfortable, nicely decorated rooms at the corner of 1200 Kearney Avenue. She was also a world-class cook, which kept her boarding house full of young people. It seemed to me that their life was so exciting and joyful.

Since I’d never ridden a train before, I became more and more excited as the magic day drew near. I kept questioning Mother about train travel, but she just said, ‘Wait. You’ll see.’ For an eight-year-old, waiting was really difficult, but finally the big day arrived. Mother had helped me pack the night before, and my little suitcase was full with summer sundresses, shorts and blouses, underwear and pyjamas. I was reading Billy Whiskers, a fantastic story about a goat that once made a train trip to New York, and I had put that in as well. It was almost midnight when I could go to bed at last.

We arrived at the station early, purchased our tickets and found our car. I was fascinated by the face-to-face seats so some passengers could ride backwards. Why would anyone, I thought, want to see where they’d been? I only wanted to see what lay ahead for me.

Finally, the conductor shouted, ‘All aboard!’ to the people on the platform. They climbed into the cars, the engineer blew the whistle and clanged the bell, and we pulled out of the station.

This train stopped at every town between my home in Solomon and Pittsburgh. It was known as the ‘milk train’ because at one time it had delivered goods as well as passengers to these villages. I looked eagerly at the signs at each station. I’d been through all these towns by car, but this was different. The shaky ride of the coaches, the soft brown plush seats, the smells of the engine drifting back down the track and in through the open windows made this trip far more exotic.

The conductor, with his black uniform and shiny hat, the twinkling signals that told the engineer when to stop and go, thrilled me. To an adult, the trip must have seemed painfully slow, but I enjoyed every minute.

Aunt Winnie had packed a lunch for us to eat along the way as there was no dining car in the train. I was dying to know just what was in that big shopping bag she carried, but she, too, said, ‘Wait. You’ll see.’ Midway, Aunt Winnie pulled down her shopping bag from the luggage rack above our seats. My eyes widened as she opened it and began to take out its contents. I had expected lunch- meat sandwiches, but instead there was a container of fried chicken, two hardboiled eggs, bread and butter wrapped in waxed paper, crisp radishes and slim green onions from Winnie’s garden, as well as rosy sliced tomatoes. She had brought paper plates, paper cups and some of the ‘everyday’ silverware. A large bottle of cold tea was well wrapped in a dishtowel; the ice had melted, but it was still chilly. I cautiously balanced my plate on my knees and ate, wiping my lips and fingers with a large paper napkin. This was living!

When we had cleaned our plates, Aunt Winnie looked into the bag one more time. The best treat of all appeared — homemade chocolate cakes! Another cup of cold tea washed these down and then we carefully returned the remains of the food and silverware to the bag, which Aunt Winnie put into the corner by her feet.

‘Almost there,’ said my aunt, looking out of the window at the scenery passing by. And sure enough, as we pulled into the Pittsburgh station we immediately caught sight of aunt Alice, waiting for us, a smile like the sun lighting up her face, arms wide open. We got off the train and she led us past the taxi rank and the bus stop to her car that was parked near the station. And all the way to her home she was asking about my impressions of my first train trip and I could hardly find the words to express all the thrill and excitement that filled me.

1. The first time Sally travelled by train was when she

A. had to move to her aunt Alice.
B. had a summer vacation at school.
C. went to Pittsburgh for the first time in her life.
D. visited her aunt Alice together with aunt Winnie.

2. Aunt Alice made her living by

A. working as a cook.
B. keeping a boarding house.
C. decorating houses.
D. working as a teacher at college.

3. Sally was waiting for her first train trip so impatiently that she

A. packed her things long before the trip.
B. lost her appetite a week before the trip.
C. asked her Mother many questions about train trips.
D. couldn’t sleep the night before the trip.

4. Sally didn’t like the idea of riding backwards because

A. it could make her sick.
B. she could miss her station.
C. she could miss the conductor.
D. she wanted to see where she was going.

5. The trip to Pittsburgh by train seemed so exotic to Sally because

A. she had never travelled so far from her native town.
B. travelling by train was very different from a car ride.
C. she had never travelled in comfort.
D. she had never travelled without her parents.

6. Sally thought that at lunchtime they would have

A. meat sandwiches.
B. bread and butter with coffee.
C. fried chicken, eggs and vegetables.
D. tea with chocolate cakes.

7. Aunt Alice was waiting for Sally and aunt Winnie

A. at home.
B. in her car.
C. on the platform.
D. at the bus stop.

Text 2. Read the text and choose the best answer to the questions (A, B, C or D)

Avoidance activity

I am in Birmingham, sitting in a cafe opposite a hairdresser’s. I’m trying to find the courage to go in and book an appointment. I’ve been here three quarters of an hour and I am on my second large cappuccino. The table I’m sitting at has a wobble, so I’ve spilt some of the first cup and most of the second down the white trousers I was so proud of as I swanked in front of the mirror in my hotel room this morning.

I can see the hairdressers or stylists as they prefer to be called, as they work. There is a man with a ponytail who is perambulating around the salon, stopping now and then to frown and grab a bank of customer’s hair. There are two girl stylists: one has had her white blonde hair shaved and then allowed it explode into hundreds of hedgehog’s quills; the other has hair any self-respecting woman would scalp for: thick and lustrous. All three are dressed in severe black. Even undertakers allow themselves to wear a little white on the neck and cuffs, but undertakers don’t take their work half as seriously, and there lies the problem. I am afraid of hairdressers.

When I sit in front of the salon mirror stuttering and blushing, and saying that I don’t know what I want, I know I am the client from hell. Nobody is going to win Stylist of the year with me as a model.

‘Madam’s hair is very th …’,they begin to say ‘thin’, think better of it and change it for ‘fine’ — ultimately, coming out with the hybrid word ‘thine’. I have been told my hair is ‘thine’ many times. Are they taught to use it at college? Along with other conversational openings, depending on the season: ‘Done your Christmas shopping?’ ‘Going away for Easter?’ ‘Booked your summer holiday?’ ‘You are brown, been way?’ ‘Nights are drawing in, aren’t they?’ ‘Going away for Christmas?’

I am hopeless at small talk (and big talk). I’m also averse to looking at my face in a mirror for an hour and a half. I behave as though I am a prisoner on the run.

I’ve looked at wigs in stores, but I am too shy to try them on, and I still remember the horror of watching a bewigged man jump into a swimming pool and then seeing what looked like a medium sized rodent break the surface and float on the water. He snatched at his wig, thrust it anyhow on top of his head and left the pool. I didn’t see him for the rest of the holiday.

There is a behavior trait that a lot of writers share — it is called avoidance activity. They will do anything to avoid starting to write: clean a drain, phone their mentally confused uncle in Peru, change the cat’s litter tray. I’m prone to this myself, in summer I deadhead flowers, even lobelia. In winter I’ll keep a fire going stick by stick, anything to put off the moment of scratching marks on virgin paper.

I am indulging an avoidance activity now. I’ve just ordered another cappuccino, I’ve given myself a sever talking: For God’s sake, woman! You are forty-seven years of age. Just cross the road, push the salon door open, and ask for an appointment!

It didn’t work. I’m now in my room, and I have just given myself a do-it-yourself hairdo, which consisted of a shampoo, condition and trim, with scissors on my Swiss army knife.

I can’t wait to get back to the Toni & Guy salon in Leicester. The staff there haven’t once called my hair ‘thine’ and they can do wonders with the savagery caused by Swiss army knife scissors.

1. The narrator was afraid to enter the hairdresser’s because she

A. had spilt coffee on her white trousers.
B. doubted the qualification of local stylists.
C. was strangely self-conscious.
D. was pressed for time.

2. Watching the stylists, the narrator concluded that they

A. were too impulsive.
B. had hair anyone would envy.
C. had strange hair-does themselves.
D. attached too much importance to their ‘craft’.

3. The narrator calls herself ‘the client from hell’ mainly because she

A. doesn’t like to look at herself in the mirror.
B. never knows what she wants.
C. is too impatient to sit still.
D. is too demanding.

4. The narrator doesn’t like stylists as they

A. are too predictable in their conversation.
B. have once suggested that she should try a wig.
C. are too insensitive to clients wishes.
D. are too talkative.

5. According to the narrator the avoidance activity is

A. common to all writers.
B. mostly performed in winter.
C. talking to oneself.
D. a trick to postpone the beginning of work.

6. The narrator finally

A. talked herself into going and fixing an appointment.
B. got her hair done at a hotel.
C. cut her hair after shampooing it.
D. spoilt her hair completely.

7. The last paragraph means that the Toni & Guy salon in Leicester is the

A. only hairdresser’s she has ever risked going to.
B. salon she trusts and is not afraid to go to.
C. place where she is a special client.
D. the first place she has ever tried.

Text 3. Read the text and choose the best answer to the questions (A, B, C or D)

Keeping busy

The public school in town served a number of purposes. Education, of course, was one. It offered a curriculum in general education, manual education, and preparatory education for college. Its music and sports programs provided entertainment to the school and its patrons. And the school served as an agency of social cohesion, bringing the community together in a common effort in which everyone took pride.

The sports program was the center of gravity of extra-curricular activities. The school fielded junior and senior varsity teams in football, basketball and track. Any young man with enough coordination to walk and chew gum at the same time could find a place on one of those teams. In addition, sports generated a need for pep rallies, cheerleaders, a band, homecoming activities, parades and floats, a homecoming queen and maids of honor, and a sports banquet. It also mobilized parents to support the activities with time and money.

There were any number of clubs a student might join. Some were related to academics, like the Latin Club, the Spanish Club, and the Science Club. Others brought together students interested in a profession, like the Future Farmers of America, the Future Homemakers of America, the Future Teachers of America, and the Pre-Med Club. Still others were focused on service. The Intra-Mural Council, made up of girls (who had been neglected in the regular sports program), organized tournaments in a variety of sports for girls. The Library Club worked to improve library holdings and equipment. The Pep Club organized homecoming activities, parades and athletic banquets.

The Student Council, including representatives from each class, was elected by the student body after a heated political campaign with banners and speeches. It represented student interests to the administration and the school board. It approved student clubs that were formed, helped resolve discipline problems, and played a role in setting codes of conduct and dress. For the most part, it was a docile body that approved the policies of the administration.

The Journalism Club published a monthly newspaper of school news and opinion. It was financed by selling ads to business men in the community.

Another group planned and published the school Yearbook, which was a pictorial record of the student body, the year’s activities, sports, and achievements. The Yearbook staff sponsored a beauty contest, pictured outstanding students selected by the faculty, and a Who’s Who of popular and talented students selected by the student body.

Churches in town, of which there were many, sponsored their own activities for youth; and the community sponsored a recreation center, called Teen Town, for chaperoned Saturday night dances each week. Community and school leaders seemed determined to keep the youth of the town busy and out of trouble. In a small Southern town in the Bible Belt where very few students had access to a car, which had been voted dry and in which no alcohol was sold, they succeeded marvelously well.

1. The first paragraph implies that the public school

A. was more than just an educational institution.
B. offered the best educational curriculum.
C. had developed close ties with a college.
D. preferred students talented in sports and music.

2. Which of the following is true about the school’s sports programme?

A. Ability to chew gum while walking was required of all participants.
B. The sportsmen were supposed to join the school band.
C. It was run on the money collected from parents.
D. It played the most important role outside the curriculum.

3. The word ‘others’, in paragraph 3, refers to…

A. academics.
B. school clubs.
C. students.
D. professionals.

4. Which of the following is NOT the function of the Student Council?

A. Representation of students’ interests.
B. Helping administration in discipline issues.
C. Formation of school clubs.
D. Participation in conduct code setting.

5. The money for the advertisements from local businessmen was used to pay for

A. the Journalism Club.
B. the publication of a monthly newspaper.
C. the publication of the school Yearbook.
D. financing the beauty contest.

6. Saturday night dances were sponsored by

A. the recreation center.
B. churches.
C. the school.
D. the community.

7. Who does the title ‘Keeping Busy’ refer to?

A. young people.
B. school council.
C. town churches.
D. community.