offers 100+ TOEFL video lessons. Go there now.
Sign up or log in to Magoosh TOEFL.

TOEFL Reading Practice Set 2

This is round two of the Reading Practice sets. Check out Reading Practice Set 1 here!

Insert Text Question

This practice set will guide you through the different kinds of critical thinking reading questions. If you need to prepare first, check out TOEFL Reading Section. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions! Later on I’ll post the answers.

Read the following excerpt from an American government textbook and answer the questions that follow.

In just this past month, several of the Constitution’s “stupidities” have been revealed. Chief among these is the electoral college. Not only does this feature make it possible to deny the presidency to the candidate who wins the popular vote, it also gives a significant advantage to small states, each of which is guaranteed at least three electoral votes. This means that a candidate gets significantly more benefit from carrying, say, Wyoming and the two Dakotas, which a total of nine electoral votes, than New Mexico, which has roughly the same population as the three states  combined but only five electoral votes. • The electoral college, and the disproportionate power it gives to small states, has rightly been put under the microscope. But a number of other flawed constitutional features also deserve closer scrutiny and discussion.

[The House’s ability to pick a president in case of a tie] is my choice for the most dubious feature of the Constitution. It provides that deadlocks over the choice of president in the electoral college may be broken by the U.S. House of Representatives on a one-state, one-vote basis. Although this hasn’t happened since 1824, when the House picked John Quincy Adams as president over Andrew Jackson, it loomed as a possibility in 1938 and 1968 , when third-party presidential candidates in those years each won more than 20 votes. •Even if you believe that the electoral college is a good idea, and that the advantage held there by small states is defensible, there is no defense, in 2000, for allowing Vermont’s single representative to offset the entire 30-member congressional delegation of my home state of Texas in the instance of a House vote for president.

If the House ever has to select the president—provided we retain the electoral college and accept its risk of deadlocks—then it should do so on a one-member, one-vote basis, the theory of representation that the Supreme Court has endorsed now for almost 40 years. As it happens, if this year’s election had come down to the House’s choosing, it probably would not have mattered which rule we had, since the Republicans can hold a majority of individual seats and control 29 of the state delegations. Consider the situation, though, if only half a dozen congressional districts had gone Democrat instead of Republican, giving the Democrats control of the House. • In that case, if the election had come to the House, Gore—the choice of the people as well [as] a majority of the people’s representatives—could have been deprived of the presidency due to the happenstance that the Republicans control most state delegations.

Source: Barbour, Christine and Matthew J. Streb, Ed. Clued in to Politics: A Critical Thinking Reader in American Government, 3rd Ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010. pp.44-45.

 

Sentence Simplification Question

Which of the following best expresses the essential information in this sentence? If the House ever has to select the president—provided we retain the electoral college and accept its risk of deadlocks—then it should do so on a one-member, one-vote basis, the theory of representation that the Supreme Court has endorsed now for almost 40 years.

a) The House has never had to select the president.
b) Every member of the House of Representatives should receive one vote.
c) The Supreme Court should have the right to approve or disapprove the House’s choice of president.
d) Deadlocks are a frequent and inevitable part of the United States’ presidential election process.

 

Inference Question

What can be inferred about the author’s opinion of the electoral college?

a) The author thinks it is an unfair system.
b) The author supports the increase in influence that this system gives to small states.
c) The author believes that the United States should adopt the electoral college system.
d) The author has ambiguous feelings toward the electoral college system.

 

Sentence Insertion Question

Look at the three circles that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage.

 The House does not often have to use its elective power, but the question of this power’s unfairness should be nonetheless a matter of great concern.

Where would the sentence best fit?

a) In just this past month, several of the Constitution’s “stupidities” have been revealed. Chief among these is the electoral college. Not only does this feature make it possible to deny the presidency to the candidate who wins the popular vote, it also gives a significant advantage to small states, each of which is guaranteed at least three electoral votes. This means that a candidate gets significantly more benefit from carrying, say, Wyoming and the two Dakotas, which a total of nine electoral votes, than New Mexico, which has roughly the same population as the three states  combined but only five electoral votes. The House does not often have to use its elective power, but the question of this power’s unfairness should be nonetheless a matter of great concern. The electoral college, and the disproportionate power it gives to small states, has rightly been put under the microscope. But a number of other flawed constitutional features also deserve closer scrutiny and discussion.

b) [The House’s ability to pick a president in case of a tie] is my choice for the most dubious feature of the Constitution. It provides that deadlocks over the choice of president in the electoral college may be broken by the U.S. House of Representatives on a one-state, one-vote basis. Although this hasn’t happened since 1824, when the House picked John Quincy Adams as president over Andrew Jackson, it loomed as a possibility in 1938 and 1968 , when third-party presidential candidates in those years each won more than 20 votes. The House does not often have to use its elective power, but the question of this power’s unfairness should be nonetheless a matter of great concern. Even if you believe that the electoral college is a good idea, and that the advantage held there by small states is defensible, there is no defense, in 2000, for allowing Vermont’s single representative to offset the entire 30-member congressional delegation of my home state of Texas in the instance of a House vote for president.

c) If the House ever has to select the president—provided we retain the electoral college and accept its risk of deadlocks—then it should do so on a one-member, one-vote basis, the theory of representation that the Supreme Court has endorsed now for almost 40 years. As it happens, if this year’s election had come down to the House’s choosing, it probably would not have mattered which rule we had, since the Republicans can hold a majority of individual seats and control 29 of the state delegations. Consider the situation, though, if only half a dozen congressional districts had gone Democrat instead of Republican, giving the Democrats control of the House. The House does not often have to use its elective power, but the question of this power’s unfairness should be nonetheless a matter of great concern. In that case, if the election had come to the House, Gore—the choice of the people as well [as] a majority of the people’s representatives—could have been deprived of the presidency due to the happenstance that the Republicans control most state delegations.

 

Rhetorical Purpose

Why does the author mention the Supreme Court in the highlighted sentence in Paragraph 3?

a) To give an example of a progressive group that has implemented the change the author is discussing
b) To strengthen his argument by mentioning a powerful group that has shown support for it
c) To provide a counter-example to his argument
d) As an example of a group that successfully implemented the author’s recommendation 40 years ago

 

Prose Summary

Below is an introductory sentence for a summary of the article you just read. Choose THREE ideas from the article that best support the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong because they express minor ideas.

The way that the president is elected in the United States is in some ways unfair.

a)  Sometimes a presidential candidate does not win even though the majority of people support him/her.
b) If a presidential election ends in a tie, the House of Representatives must select a winner.
c) In 1938 a third-party candidate won more than twenty votes.
d) Vermont is a very small state, but in the case of a tie in an election, its vote is worth as much as that of a very large state.
e)  The 2000 election was controversial, and the results could have been very different due to chance.

 

Fill-In Table

Directions: Below are two main ideas from the passage. Fill in the supporting details by placing them under the appropriate heading. Two answer choices will not be used.

The electoral college system

The House’s selection of a President

Answer Choices:

a) Only happens in case of a tie
b) Gives each state the same number of votes.
c) Allows a third, non-competing party to choose the president
d) The winner of the election is always also the winner of the popular vote
e) Decided the winner of the 2000 presidential election
f) Almost was used to decide the winner of the 1968 presidential election

 

About the Author

Kate has 6 years of experience in teaching foreign language. She graduated from Sewanee in 2012, where she studied and taught German, and recently returned from a year spent teaching English in a northern Russian university. Follow Kate on Google+!

No comments yet.


Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will approve and respond to comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! :) If your comment was not approved, it likely did not adhere to these guidelines. If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply