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SAT reading comprehension practice test 08

The extract is taken from a classic novel

    The Ring at Casterbridge was merely the local name of
    one of the finest Roman amphitheatres, if not the very finest
    remaining in Britain.

    Casterbridge announced old Rome in every street, alley,
5   and precinct. It looked Roman, bespoke the art of Rome,
    concealed dead men of Rome. It was impossible to dig more than
    a foot or two deep about the town fields and gardens without
    coming upon some tall soldier or other of the Empire, who had
    laid there in his silent unobtrusive rest for a space of fifteen
10  hundred years. He was mostly found lying on his side, in an oval
    scoop in the chalk, like a chicken in its shell; his knees drawn up
    to his chest; sometimes with the remains of his spear against his
    arm; a brooch of bronze on his breast or forehead; an urn at his
    knees, a jar at his throat, a bottle at his mouth; and mystified
15  conjecture pouring down upon him from the eyes of Casterbridge
    street boys, who had turned a moment to gaze at the familiar
    spectacle as they passed by.

    Imaginative inhabitants, who would have felt an
    unpleasantness at the discovery of a comparatively modern
20  skeleton in their gardens, were quite unmoved by these hoary
    shapes. They had lived so long ago, their time was so unlike the
    present, their hopes and motives were so widely removed from
    ours, that between them and the living there seemed to stretch a
    gulf too wide for even a spirit to pass.

25  The Amphitheatre was a huge circular enclosure, with a
    notch at opposite extremities of its diameter north and south. It
    was to Casterbridge what the ruined Coliseum is to modern
    Rome, and was nearly of the same magnitude. The dusk of
    evening was the proper hour at which a true impression of this
30  suggestive place could he received. Standing in the middle of the
    arena at that time there by degrees became apparent its real
    vastness, which a cursory view from the summit at noon-day was
    apt to obscure. Melancholy, impressive, lonely, yet accessible
    from every part of the town, the historic circle was the frequent
35  spot for appointments of a furtive kind. Intrigues were arranged
    there; tentative meetings were there experimented after divisions
    and feuds. But one kind of appointment - in itself the most
    common of any - seldom had place in the Amphitheatre: that of
    happy lovers.

40  Why, seeing that it was pre-eminently an airy, accessible,
    and sequestered spot for interviews, the cheerfullest form of
    those occurrences never took kindly to the soil of the ruin, would
    he a curious inquiry. Perhaps it was because its associations had
    about them something sinister. Its history proved that. Apart
45  from the sanguinary nature of the games originally played
    therein, such incidents attached to its past as these: that for scores
    of years the town-gallows had stood at one corner; that in 1705 a
    woman who had murdered her husband was half-strangled and
    then burnt there in the presence of ten thousand spectators.
50  Tradition reports that at a certain stage of the burning her heart
    burst and leapt out of her body, to the terror of them all, and that
    not one of those ten thousand people ever cared particularly for
    hot roast after that. In addition to these old tragedies, pugilistic
    encounters almost to the death had come off down to recent dates
55  in that secluded arena, entirely invisible to the outside world save
    by climbing to the top of the enclosure, which few townspeople
    in the daily round of their lives ever took the trouble to do. So
    that, though close to the turnpike-road, crimes might be
    perpetrated there unseen at mid-day.

60  Some boys had latterly tried to impart gaiety to the ruin
    by using the central arena as a cricket-ground. But the game
    usually languished for the aforesaid .reason - the dismal privacy
    which the earthen circle enforced, shutting out every appreciative
    passer's vision, every commendatory remark from outsiders -
65  everything, except the sky; and to play at games in such
    circumstances was like acting to an empty house. Possibly, too,
    the boys were timid, for some old people said that at certain
    moments in the summer time, in broad daylight, persons sitting
    with a book or dozing in the arena had, on lifting their eyes,
70  beheld the slopes lined with a gazing legion of Hadrian's soldiery
    as if watching the gladiatorial combat; and had heard the roar of
    their excited voices; that the scene would remain but a moment,
    like a lightning flash, and then disappear.

    Henchard had chosen this spot as being the safest from
75  observation which he could think of for meeting his long-lost
    wife, and at the same time as one easily to be found by a stranger
    after nightfall. As Mayor of the town, with a reputation to keep
    up, he could not invite her to come to his house till some definite
    course had been decided on.

Adapted from: The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy (1886)

1. The amphitheatre is described as a ‘suggestive’(line 30) place because

A. its real size could not be appreciated at a glance.
B. it was full of historical associations
C. mysterious meetings took place there
D. it was lonely yet accessible
E. it was best appreciated in the evening.

2. The word ‘hoary’ (line 20) is closest in meaning to

A. unimaginative
B. buried
C. curled up
D. mummified
E. ancient

3. The ‘curious enquiry’(line 43) refers to finding out

A. why happy lovers never met there
B. why interviews never took place there
C. what historical events took place there
D. how the amphitheatre came to have sinister associations
E. why the amphitheatre lay in ruins

4. The word ‘round’ (line 57) most nearly means

A. route
B. routine
C. meanderings
D. circle
E. journey

5. The boys had given up cricket in the Amphitheatre in part because

A. it was too dark
B. crimes commonly took place there
C. there were no spectators or passers-by to applaud their efforts
D. they were afraid of being caught
E. it was too exposed to the weather

6. The author’s primary purpose is to

A. justify his opinion of the Ring
B. attempt to account for the atmosphere of a place
C. chronicle the development of the Amphitheatre
D. describe the location of a Roman relic
E. explain the uses to which historical sites are put

7. The attitude of the local residents to the unearthed remains of dead Romans was one of

A. total apathy
B. confusion and unease
C. trepidation
D. momentary interest
E. revulsion

8. The incident of the woman who was burnt is mentioned in order to

A. horrify the reader
B. illustrate one reason for the unsavoury reputation of the place
C. show the bloodthirsty nature of former occupants
D. add realistic details to an imaginary plot
E. show the magnitude of the gulf between the past and the present

9. All of the following are said to have taken place at the Ring except

A. ghostly apparitions
B. boxing matches
C. hangings
D. secret assignations
E. theatrical performances

10. It can be inferred from the last paragraph that Henchard

A. is afraid of his wife
B. has something to hide from the townspeople
C. is a stranger to the Ring
D. is about to commit a crime
E. is an infamous resident of Casterbridge

11. The ring was ‘safest from observation’ (lines 74-75) because

A. no one inside could be seen from outside the arena
B. it was far from the main road
C. people found it a pleasant place only in Summer
D. no one except lovers ever went there after dark
E. it was too inaccessible

12. It appears that in general the attitude of Casterbridge residents to the Roman past suggests that they

A. appreciated the art of the Romans
B. feared the ghosts of the buried Roman soldiers
C. felt far removed from the concerns of the Romans
D. were awe-struck by their civilization
E. were proud of their heritage

Test information

Q 12 questions

Time 15 minutes

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