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 Poetry… Ugh!

I started out talking about metaphors for the GED reading section last time… (Prospero Año Nuevo, by the way…) Anyway, it led me into poetry. I know, it’s the hardest thing, right? But the GED reading test’s gonna have poetry on it. And sometimes I like poetry, you know. It’s a matter of figuring out what they’re trying to say… that’s what reading’s about, right? It’s what the GED is about. 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.

GED Reading: Tone

One thing that you’re sure to come across on the GED reading test is something called “tone.” So, what is tone? I think of it like ‘tone of voice.’ Sometimes I find myself saying to my little boy, “Don’t take that tone with me!” And I mean something pretty much like the “tone” they’re talking about on the GED. Tone is like mood. It’s the emotion behind the words that the writer is saying. Continue reading