offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.

Sign up or log in to Magoosh TOEFL Prep.

TOEFL Challenge Question #4: Reading Practice

Updated, 9/10/15, 3:45pm: This challenge question is now closed. Congrats to our winner, Anjali! 

Answer this question, and you could win a free premium Magoosh TOEFL account!

Here’s what to do:

1. Submit an answer and explanation in the comments of this post by 2pm on Thursday September 10th. Make sure you fully explain your answer choice!

2. I will pick the comment with the best explanation, and this person will win a free account.

3. Comments will remain hidden until we release the answer and the winner, so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up immediately — we’ll still see it.


Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

This post will be updated with the answer on Thursday, after the winner is announced. Good luck!



History of the Chickenpox Vaccine

Chickenpox is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the Varicella zoster virus; sufferers develop a fleeting itchy rash that can spread throughout the body. The disease can last for up to 14 days and can occur in both children and adults, though the young are particularly vulnerable. Individuals infected with chickenpox can expect to experience a high but tolerable level of discomfort and a fever as the disease works its way through the system. The ailment was once considered to be a “rite of passage” by parents in the U.S. and thought to provide children with greater and improved immunity to other forms of sickness later in life. This view, however, was altered after additional research by scientists demonstrated unexpected dangers associated with the virus. Over time, the fruits of this research have transformed attitudes toward the disease and the utility of seeking preemptive measures against it.

A vaccine against chickenpox was originally invented by Michiaki Takahashi, a Japanese doctor and research scientist, in the mid-1960s. Dr. Takahashi began his work to isolate and grow the virus in 1965 and in 1972 began clinical trials with a live but weakened form of the virus that caused the human body to create antibodies. Japan and several other countries began widespread chickenpox vaccination programs in 1974. However, it took over 20 years for the chickenpox vaccine to be approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), finally earning the U.S. government’s seal of approval for widespread use in 1995. Yet even though the chickenpox vaccine was available and recommended by the FDA, parents did not immediately choose to vaccinate their children against this disease. Mothers and fathers typically cited the notion that chickenpox did not constitute a serious enough disease against which a person needed to be vaccinated.

Strong belief in that view eroded when scientists discovered the link between Varicella zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox, and shingles, a far more serious, harmful, and longer-lasting disease in older adults that impacts the nervous system. They reached the conclusion that Varicella zosterremains dormant inside the body, making it significantly more likely for someone to develop shingles. As a result, the medical community in the U.S. encouraged the development, adoption, and use of a vaccine against chickenpox to the public. Although the appearance of chickenpox and shingles within one person can be many years apart—generally many decades—the increased risk in developing shingles as a younger adult (30-40 years old rather than 60-70 years old) proved to be enough to convince the medical community that immunization should be preferred to the traditional alternative.

Another reason that the chickenpox vaccine was not immediately accepted and used by parents in the U.S. centered on observations made by scientists that the vaccine simply did not last long enough and did not confer a lifetime of immunity. In other words, scientists considered the benefits of the vaccine to be temporary when given to young children. They also feared that it increased the odds that a person could become infected with chickenpox later as a young adult, when the rash is more painful and prevalent and can last up to three or four weeks. Hence, allowing young children to develop chickenpox rather than take a vaccine against it was believed to be the “lesser of two evils.” This idea changed over time as booster shots of the vaccine elongated immunity and countered the perceived limits on the strength of the vaccine itself.



According to paragraph 4, many parents did not choose the chickenpox vaccine because

(A) they believed that the virus was weak and not especially harmful
(B) they thought that scientists did not have enough data to reach a conclusion
(C) they were unsure about the utility of the vaccine given its expected duration
(D) they were convinced it was potentially very toxic, particularly for older children


Psst...Need more TOEFL practice? Start your FREE TRIAL today.

Most Popular Resources

10 Responses to TOEFL Challenge Question #4: Reading Practice

  1. Syed Naime Mohammad September 8, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Answer (D)
    (A) is not correct because there is a clear indication of harmfulness and strength of virus later of the passage indicating it as an evil for both cases.

    (B) is not correct as the passage clearly indicates that parents did not choose the chickenpox vaccine because they rely on observations made by scientists.

    (C) is not correct because from Scientists observation they were aware that the would not last long enough which leaves

    (D) correct answer and from passage it is also clear that even after taking the chickenpox vaccine, it can happen in later stage of life and that is considered as more painful than younger stage.

  2. Nithin Kumar September 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Answer : D
    Because in the 4th paragraph author has mentioned that they believed it to be lesser of two evils

  3. Marijana September 8, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    The correct answer is C.The first sentence of paragraph 4 says that another reason parents didn’t choose the vaccine is because “the vaccine simply did not last long enough and did not confer a lifetime of immunity” which is just the restatement of C answer choice.
    Choice A is incorrect because it says that the virus is not very harmful,while the paragraph states the opposite. It is said in sentence 3 that “it increased the odds that a person could become infected with chickenpox later as a young adult”,meaning it is harmful.
    Choice B is also incorrect because it is not mentioned in the text.
    And finally,choice D is not correct. Firstly,because the answer choice says “they were convinced” meaning parents were convinced,while the text only mentions this in the connection with scientists,not parents. Secondly,even scientists were not convinced,they just “feared that it increased the odds”,meaning they supposed but they were not sure.

  4. Cengiz September 8, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    The correct answer is C.
    Parents did not know what the long term ramifications of exposure to this virus in this unorthodox way were. Since it was so new, there was no long term data available. In fact there was no data to even suggest that immunity from this vaccine was sufficient to prevent the disease — possibly leaving people vulnerable to getting chickenpox as young adults when the risks of this illness were much greater!

  5. Abhinav Mishra September 8, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    In my view option B is the correct answer.


    The scientists themselves were unsure about the immunity being offered by the vaccine as they didn’t reach any conclusion. They were just skeptical about the benefits of the vaccine and it was too early for them to give a concrete evidence for the same. The use of words like feared, could, believed and idea also shows that their ideas were vague.

  6. DEEPANSHU SINGH September 9, 2015 at 3:25 am #

    The answer is C ( they were unsure about the utility of the vaccine given its expected duration).
    The passage includes two reasons for parents not choosing chicken pox vaccine. The first being that chicken pox helps a person to develop better immunity but this was not mentioned in the fourth paragraph. The second reason that was mentioned in the fourth paragraph is that the earlier vaccine’s effect didn’t last long when given to children as there were cases of infection from chicken pox when they became young adults. Also, the rash is more painful and prevalent at that time. Hence, allowing young children to develop chickenpox rather than take a vaccine against it was believed to be the “lesser of two evils.”

  7. Anjali September 9, 2015 at 3:49 am #

    Hi Rachel,

    The answer is Choice C.

    Paragraph 4 states “…… the vaccine simply did not last long enough and did not confer a lifetime of immunity. In other words, scientists considered the benefits of the vaccine to be temporary when given to young children.”
    Since parents werent convinced of the utility of the vaccine given its perceived ‘temporary immunization’ benefits, they did not choose it.
    Choices A,B, D are not explicitly stated in the text and wrong inferences.

    Thanks !
    Fingers Crossed 🙂


    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel Wisuri September 10, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

      Hey Anjali!

      You’re our winner this week. 🙂 I just sent you an email about your free account.


    • Anjali September 10, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

      Thank You Rachell and Magoosh team !!!

      I’m delighted to hear this news and considering it a good omen for my TOEFL prep and eventual scores !!!!

      I really appreciate your generosity.

      Thanks again,

  8. Omkar Keluskar September 9, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

    Option C seems to be correct of the provided option. As in the last paragraph’s first line itself it is stated that, the vaccine didn’t lasted for long enough and didn’t provide a life-long immunity. And this observations of scientists were taken into consideration by US parents. Option A and D seem to irrelevant from the given premise. And option B might be correct, but it isn’t simply stated in the paragraph.

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply