GED Practice Question: Reading Poetry

¡Hola! How’s the GED studying? You know, I kind of always thought poetry was pointless, but now I’m looking at it for the GED test, and I like some of it. This poem we went over, kind of reminds me of my mom, how she’s always there for me, always solid, you know. I guess I want to be like that for my Roberto. I thought I’d think up a GED practice question for it. Continue reading

GED Reading : Flatland

I came across the strangest book the other day! It made me so confused, but it also really made me think. Here’s the beginning of it.

I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.
Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows — only hard and with luminous edges — and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas! a few years ago, I should have said, “my universe;” but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.
In such a country, you will perceive at once that it is impossible that there should be anything of what you call a “solid” kind; but I dare say you will suppose that we could at least distinguish by sight the Triangles, Squares, and other figures moving about as I have described them. On the contrary, we could see nothing of the kind, not at least so as to distinguish one figure from another. Nothing was visible, nor could be visible, to us, except straight Lines; and the necessity of this I will speedily demonstrate.
Place a penny on the middle of one of your tables in Space; and leaning over it, look down upon it. It will appear a circle.
But now, drawing back to the edge of the table, gradually lower your eye (thus bringing yourself more and more into the condition of the inhabitants of Flatland), and you will find the penny becoming more and more oval to your view; and at last when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of a table (so that you are, as it were, actually a Flatland citizen) the penny will then have ceased to appear oval at all, and will have become, so far as you can see, a straight line. Continue reading

GED Reading: What Year?

What is “literature?” A lot of the time, when I think of literature, I think of old stories that I don’t have any real connection to. Things like, “Moby Dick” or “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s kind of hard to read those stories sometimes because I can’t relate to them at all. There’s a lot of critics and scholars who get really picky about what is and isn’t “literature” in today society. For instance, some genres, like romance novels or science-fiction, aren’t considered “literature” by some people. It’s sort of silly, because I think that if someone writes something and publishes it, then it’s literature, right? And who’s to say what’s good and what’s bad literature too? I’ve tried to read some of the “classics” before, and some of them I just don’t like at all!

One author who has done a really good job of writing genre fiction that a lot of people consider to be “literature” is Stephen King. He writes mostly scary stories and some science fiction, and most authors who write those kinds of things aren’t thought of very highly in the literary world, but he’s won a lot of awards and gotten a lot of good review from critics. He’s also been writing for a really long time! His first novel, Carrie, was published in 1974, and his latest one, Under the Dome, was published just last  year in 2009. That’s 35 years of writing! Continue reading

GED Reading: The Book of Evolution

Hola! I’m not so good at science in the first place, but sometimes science can be interesting. Like the theory of evolution. It says that we all evolved from the fish or something like that. I don’t know a lot about it, but I can’t imagine my great great great bisabuela having fins or gills. Or being some sort of bacteria. A lot of people have debates about whether or not we evolved from something else, or if certain theories about the beginning of the world, like in the bible, are correct.

It’s all interesting stuff, but sometimes if we want to know more about it, we gotta read science books, like On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. He’s the guy who came up with this idea of evolution. I don’t know if he thought we all came from some sorta primordial soup though. I think he just mostly noticed that animals can change to fit their environment, and that eventually all of that species changes too. Here’s a paragraph from his book:

If we suppose any habitual action to become inherited—and I think it can be shown that this does sometimes happen—then the resemblance between what originally was a habit and an instinct becomes so close as not to be distinguished. If Mozart, instead of playing the pianoforte at three years old with wonderfully little practice, had played a tune with no practice at all, he might truly be said to have done so instinctively. But it would be the most serious error to suppose that the greater number of instincts have been acquired by habit in one generation, and then transmitted by inheritance to succeeding generations. It can be clearly shown that the most wonderful instincts with which we are acquainted, namely, those of the hive-bee and of many ants, could not possibly have been thus acquired.

What point is the author trying to make in this passage?

1. Talented people inherit their abilities.

2. It is difficult to know the difference between a learned habit and an inherited one.

3. Learned habits and inherited habits are the same thing.

4. Animals can not learn.

5. People do not have instincts. Continue reading

GED Reading: Strange Words

Hola everyone. I’ve been thinking about something that causes me trouble, not just on the GED, but all the time! You know, sometimes people here in the states talk so strangely. Even though I think I’m pretty good at understanding English, I can barely understand a word some people are saying! Sometimes Dwayne is like that. He talks some sort of elite speech or something, and I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense.

What’s more frustrating is when I have to read English in a book with strange accents I’ve never heard before. A lot of books have different kinds of writing for the dialogue… you know, when people talk. Like different dialects. They can be so confusing. Here’s a GED practice question that shows what I mean. The passage is from “Pollyanna,” by Eleanor Hodgeman Porter. Continue reading

GED Reading Questions from Carlo

Carlo writes:
Hi Maria. I got a question. On the GED Test I had a couple of questions that I didn’t understand. Could you help me with these questions. I will type the poem and questions. Thank
What Are the Fish At The Aquarium?
At the Aquarium
SERENE the silver fishes glide,
Stern-lipped, and pale, and wonder-eyed!
As through the aged deeps of ocean,
They glide with wan and wavy motion.
They have no pathway where they go, 5
They flow like water to and fro,
They watch with never-winking eyes,
They watch with staring, cold surprise,
The level people in the air,
The people peering, peering there: 10
Who wander also to and fro,
And know not why or where they go,
Yet have a wonder in their eyes,
Sometimes a pale and cold surprise.
Max Eastman. At The Aquarium, 1883:
MODERN AMERICAN POETRY
Louis Untermeyer, ed. 1919
What feelings does the speaker attribute to the fish by calling them “wonder-eyed” (line 2)?
(1) fear of the crowds
(2) sadness at the plight
(3) interest in their surroundings
(4) anxiety about their fact service
(5) happiness with each other’s company
Why do people appear “level… in the air” (line 9) to the fish?
(1) lying down on the beach
(2) waving frantically at the fish
(3) walking away from the water
(4) swimming around the ocean
(5) standing outside the fish tanks

Carlo writes:

Hi Maria. I got a question. On the GED Test I had a couple of questions that I didn’t understand. Could you help me with these questions. I will type the poem and questions. Thanks.

Okay! Let’s go through the GED reading questions. Here’s the poem Carlo is asking about:

What Are the Fish At The Aquarium?

At the Aquarium

SERENE the silver fishes glide,
Stern-lipped, and pale, and wonder-eyed!
As through the aged deeps of ocean,
They glide with wan and wavy motion.
They have no pathway where they go,
They flow like water to and fro,
They watch with never-winking eyes,
They watch with staring, cold surprise,
The level people in the air,
The people peering, peering there:
Who wander also to and fro,
And know not why or where they go,
Yet have a wonder in their eyes,
Sometimes a pale and cold surprise.

Max Eastman. At The Aquarium, 1883: MODERN AMERICAN POETRY Louis Untermeyer, ed. 1919

That’s the poem. The important part, of course, is the questions… There are two questions to answer, and here’s the first one:

What feelings does the speaker attribute to the fish by calling them “wonder-eyed” (line 2)?

(1) fear of the crowds
(2) sadness at the plight
(3) interest in their surroundings
(4) anxiety about their fact service
(5) happiness with each other’s company

This one is a vocabulary question. What does “wonder-eyed” mean? It’s important to look at the context of the poem… it’s overall meaning. If you know what “wonder” is…. a feeling of amazement, kind of, like that things are WONDERful… then that will help eliminate some answers at least… “fear” isn’t wonderful, or “sadness,” or “anxiety.” That leaves two answers… “interest” or “happiness.”

So, what’s the poem say about the fishes? What’s the context? It’s at an aquarium. Can you kind of picture what an aquarium looks like? Like, the Monterey Bay Aquarium… that’s a big one. There are different ones, especially by the coast, and you go there to look at all the sea creatures, kind of like  a zoo, for fishes, sharks, octopuses… If you’ve seen one on TV or can connect it to your life, then you can picture the fish in your mind, and that can help. Well, what I’m getting out of this poem is that it’s got two parts. The first part is about the fishes swimming in the aquarium. They swim around, and they watch the people. The second part is about the people… how they look to the fishes, watching them. So, which feeling seems to fit most with what the poem’s about? Interest in their surroundings (what’s going on around them), or happiness with each other’s company? Since the poem talks about the fish watching people, but doesn’t really talk about what the fishes think about each other, I’ll have to say (3) interest in their surroundings. The fish are interested in the people that walk around outside the tank.

Here’s the next question:

Why do people appear “level… in the air” (line 9) to the fish?

(1) lying down on the beach
(2) waving frantically at the fish
(3) walking away from the water
(4) swimming around the ocean
(5) standing outside the fish tanks

Here’s where it helps to try to picture what’s happening. Say you’re a fish. You’re in, like, a big tank, looking out at the people. What do they look like? They’re not lying down on the beach, or swimming around the ocean. They might wave or walk away, but that doesn’t seem to go with what the poem’s saying. “Level” seems to mean that they’re not really moving. Think about what it says the people are doing: “peering, peering.” That means, they’re looking at the fish. So, if they’re looking at the fish, they must be standing outside the fish tanks. I’d go with (5) standing outside the fish tanks. It just makes the most sense!

I know the language of a poem can make it seem kind of difficult. Trying to picture it really helps, for me! Good luck on your GED, and let me know if you have any other GED questions.

For more information about the GED and GED test preparation, visit the GED Academy at http://www.passGED.com.