This is the first of our free GED Reading Practice Tests. It has been fully updated to reflect the content on the 2023 GED Language Arts test. Read each passage and then answer the questions that follow. Correct answers are 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 for each of the questions.
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.”
Which of the following words best describes the narrator's feelings about the "ignorance" of Sherlock Holmes?
Why does Holmes want to forget the Copernican Theory?
He doesn't believe that it's true
His brain is too jumbled to remember it
He thinks it is relevant to his work
It will take up space in his brain, but won't help him with his work
What is Holmes referring to when he mentions "lumber of every sort?"
A large assortment of tools
All types of knowledge
How did the narrator find out that Holmes was unaware of the Copernican Theory?
He was questioning him to test his knowledge of science
It was mentioned by Thomas Carlyle
It came up in a debate
Read this sentence from paragraph 6.
What can the reader infer from this sentence?
Holmes is angry that the narrator keeps interrupting him.
Holmes is not as smart as he believes he is.
Holmes does not believe that the Earth revolves around the sun.
Holmes only keeps knowledge that he deems valuable.
What is the overall purpose of this passage?
To contrast the intelligent narrator and the foolish Holmes
To show that Holmes is an unusual man who is focused on his work
To show that Holmes is naive
To demonstrate the importance of a well-rounded education
GED Reading Practice Test 2 >>