GED Reading Practice Test 1

This is the first of our free GED Reading Practice Tests, and it has been updated to reflect the new 2014 GED. To prepare for the Reasoning Through Language Arts test you will want to work through as many practice questions as possible. After you answer each question, the correct answer will be provided along with a detailed explanation. Click on the right arrow in the bottom right corner to move on to the next question.

Directions: Read the passage and choose the best answer to each question that follows.

Excerpt from A Study in Scarlet
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes’ ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.

“You appear to be astonished,” he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”

“To forget it!”

“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

“But the Solar System!” I protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

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Question 1
Which of the following words best describes the narrator's feelings about the "ignorance" of Sherlock Holmes?

A
Amusement
B
Shock
C
Fright
D
Disdain
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The words "surprise" and "astonished" are used to describe the narrator's feelings which suggests that he is shocked by what he is learning about Holmes. The exclamation points in the text also indicate the feeling of shock.
Question 2
Why does Holmes want to forget the Copernican Theory?

A
He doesn't believe that it's true
B
His brain is too jumbled to remember it
C
He thinks it is relevant to his work
D
It will take up space in his brain, but won't help him with his work
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). He states that he does not want "useless facts elbowing out the useful ones." He also states that it will not make "a difference to me or to my work."
Question 3
What is Holmes referring to when he mentions "lumber of every sort?"

A
Furniture
B
Useless information
C
A large assortment of tools
D
All types of knowledge
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Holmes is using an analogy between the brain and filling an attic. He states that "A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things..." In his analogy he is comparing lumber to knowledge, and states that the fool takes in lumber of every sort, meaning all types of knowledge.
Question 4
How did the narrator find out that Holmes was unaware of the Copernican Theory?

A
By chance
B
He was questioning him to test his knowledge of science
C
It was mentioned by Thomas Carlyle
D
It came up in a debate
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The narrator states, "when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory." Incidentally means accidentally or by chance.
Question 5
Read this sentence from paragraph 6.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
 
What can the reader infer from this sentence?

A
Holmes is angry that the narrator keeps interrupting him.
B
Holmes is not as smart as he believes he is.
C
Holmes does not believe that the Earth revolves around the sun.
D
Holmes only keeps knowledge that he deems valuable.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Throughout the passage, Holmes is attempting to explain to the narrator that the human mind is finite, and so he has to “forget” certain types of knowledge in order to preserve space in his brain for knowledge that is useful for his work. The narrator believes knowledge about the Solar System is essential, but Holmes, in this selection, reiterates to him that this knowledge would make no difference to his work and is therefore not important.
Question 6
What is the overall purpose of this passage?

A
To contrast the intelligent narrator and the foolish Holmes
B
To show that Holmes is an unusual man who is focused on his work
C
To show that Holmes is naive
D
To demonstrate the importance of a well-rounded education
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The first sentence states that his "ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge." This suggests that he had a remarkable knowledge about certain things. So the text is not describing him as foolish or naive. It does highlight his unusual approach to storing relevant facts in his brain and the importance he places on his work is mentioned twice.
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GED Reading Practice Test 2 >>