May 10, 2012, 09:30 AM
Reading Comprehension with ngoc_diem_131
My reading class starts from 10 May 2012 to 10 August 2012.
The reading topics will be very diversified, varying from scientific to social themes. If you want to join, please answer the questions by replying in this thread. The exercises will be posted in every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. The deadline of each reading passage will be at 9pm Vietnamese time next day, which is Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday relatively.
Hope you enjoy my class and we can make great progress together.
Passage 1 : MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESSES
DEADLINE: 9pm Saturday, 12 May
(This passage was written in 1978.)
Recent years have brought minority-owned businesses in the United States unprecedented opportunities—as well as new and significant risks. Civil rights activists have long argued that one of the principal reasons why Blacks, Hispanics, and other minority groups have difficulty establishing themselves in business is that they lack access to the sizable orders and subcontracts that are generated by large companies. Now Congress, in apparent agreement, has required by law that businesses awarded federal contracts of more than $500,000 do their best to find minority subcontractors and record their efforts to do so on forms filed with the government. Indeed, some federal and local agencies have gone so far as to set specific percentage goals for apportioning parts of public works contracts to minority enterprises.
Corporate response appears to have been substantial. According to figures collected in 1977, the total of corporate contracts with minority businesses rose from $77 million in 1972 to $1.1 billion in 1977. The projected total of corporate contracts with minority businesses for the early 1980’s is estimated to be over 53 billion per year with no letup anticipated in the next decade. Promising as it is for minority businesses, this increased patronage poses dangers for them, too. First, minority firms risk expanding too fast and overextending themselves financially, since most are small concerns and, unlike large businesses, they often need to make substantial investments in new plants, staff, equipment, and the like in order to perform work subcontracted to them. If, thereafter, their subcontracts are for some reason reduced, such firms can face potentially crippling fixed expenses. The world of corporate purchasing can be frustrating for small entrepreneurs who get requests for elaborate formal estimates and bids. Both consume valuable time and resources, and a small company’s efforts must soon result in orders, or both the morale and the financial health of the business will suffer.
A second risk is that White-owned companies may seek to cash in on the increasing apportionments through formation of joint ventures with minority-owned concerns. Of course, in many instances there are legitimate reasons for joint ventures; clearly, White and minority enterprises can team up to acquire business that neither could acquire alone. But civil rights groups and minority business owners have complained to Congress about minorities being set up as “fronts (a person, group, or thing used to mask the identity or true character or activity of the actual controlling agent)” with White backing, rather than being accepted as full partners in legitimate joint ventures.
Third, a minority enterprise that secures the business of one large corporate customer often runs the danger of becoming—and remaining—dependent. Even in the best of circumstances, fierce competition from larger, more established companies makes it difficult for small concerns to broaden their customer bases: when such firms have nearly guaranteed orders from a single corporate benefactor, they may truly have to struggle against complacency arising from their current success.
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1. The primary purpose of the passage is to
(A) present a commonplace idea and its inaccuracies
(B) describe a situation and its potential drawbacks
(C) propose a temporary solution to a problem
(D) analyze a frequent source of disagreement
(E) explore the implications of a finding
2. The passage supplies information that would answer which of the following questions?
(A) What federal agencies have set percentage goals for the use of minority-owned businesses in public works contracts?
(B) To which government agencies must businesses awarded federal contracts report their efforts to find minority subcontractors?
(C) How widespread is the use of minority-owned concerns as “fronts” by White backers seeking to obtain subcontracts?
(D) How many more minority-owned businesses were there in 1977 than in 1972?
(E) What is one set of conditions under which a small business might find itself financially overextended?
3. According to the passage, civil rights activists maintain that one disadvantage under which minority-owned businesses have traditionally had to labor (to suffer from some disadvantage or distress “labor under a delusion”) is that they have
(A) been especially vulnerable to governmental mismanagement of the economy
(B) been denied bank loans at rates comparable to those afforded larger competitors
(C) not had sufficient opportunity to secure business created by large corporations
(D) not been able to advertise in those media that reach large numbers of potential customers
(E) not had adequate representation in the centers of government power
4. The passage suggests that the failure of a large business to have its bids for subcontracts result quickly in orders might cause it to
(A) experience frustration but not serious financial harm
(B) face potentially crippling fixed expenses
(C) have to record its efforts on forms filed with the government
(D) increase its spending with minority subcontractors
(E) revise its procedure for making bids for federal contracts and subcontracts
5. The author implies that a minority-owned concern that does the greater part of its business with one large corporate customer should
(A) avoid competition with larger, more established concerns by not expanding
(B) concentrate on securing even more business from that corporation
(C) try to expand its customer base to avoid becoming dependent on the corporation
(D) pass on some of the work to be done for the corporation to other minority-owned concerns
(E) use its influence with the corporation to promote subcontracting with other minority concerns
6. It can be inferred from the passage that, compared with the requirements of law, the percentage goals set by “some federal and local agencies” (lines 14-15) are
(A) more popular with large corporations
(B) more specific
(C) less controversial
(D) less expensive to enforce
(E) easier to comply with
7. Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s assertion that, in the 1970’s, corporate response to federal requirements (lines 18-19) was substantial
(A) Corporate contracts with minority-owned businesses totaled $2 billion in 1979.
(B) Between 1970 and 1972, corporate contracts with minority-owned businesses declined by 25 percent.
(C) The figures collected in 1977 underrepresented the extent of corporate contracts with minority-owned businesses.
(D) The estimate of corporate spending with minority-owned businesses in 1980 is approximately $10 million too high.
(E) The $1.1 billion represented the same percentage of total corporate spending in 1977 as did $77 million in 1972.
8. The author would most likely agree with which of the following statements about corporate
response to working with minority subcontractors?
(A) Annoyed by the proliferation of “front” organizations, corporations are likely to reduce their efforts to work with minority-owned subcontractors in the near future.
(B) Although corporations showed considerable interest in working with minority businesses in the 1970’s, their aversion to government paperwork made them reluctant to pursue many government contracts.
(C) The significant response of corporations in the 1970’s is likely to be sustained and conceivably be increased throughout the 1980’s.
(D) Although corporations are eager to cooperate with minority-owned businesses, a shortage of capital in the 1970’s made substantial response impossible.
(E) The enormous corporate response has all but eliminated the dangers of over-expansion that used to plague small minority-owned businesses.
Last edited by ngoc_diem_131; May 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM.
Reason: add deadline
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Bobo321 (May 10, 2012), fubita_besnow (May 11, 2012)
May 11, 2012, 02:01 PM
My answer: 1B, 2A, 3C, 4B, 5C, 6B, 7E, 8C
May 11, 2012, 06:23 PM
Please explain why you chose these answers based on the text.
Originally Posted by Bobo321
For those who do it wrong (like me), we can learn from each other's critical thinking and how to avoid mistakes next time.
May 11, 2012, 08:05 PM
Originally Posted by ngoc_diem_131
Unprecedented opportunities: Cơ hội chưa bao giờ có trước đây
Ex: Recent years have brought minority-owned businesses in the United States unprecedented opportunities – as well as new and significant risks.
Civil rights activist: nhà hoạt động nhân quyền
Ex: Civil rights activists have long argued that
Lack access to sth: không tiếp cận được với cái gì đó
Ex: They lack access to the sizable orders and subcontracts that are generated by large companies.
Apportion: to decide how something should be shared among various people – chia phần nhỏ
Ex: Indeed, some federal and local agencies have gone so far as to set specific percentage goals for apportioning parts of public works contracts to minority enterprises.
Letup (n): giảm dần => no letup/ no any letup: Không hề giảm dần
Ex: The pressure at work continued without any letup
Patronage (n): hỗ trợ, tài trợ (thường về mặt tài chính)
Pose danger : gây nguy hiểm
Ex: This increased patronage poses dangers for them.
Team up: liên kết với nhau
Ex: White and minority enterprises can team up to acquire business that neither could acquire alone.
Complacency (n): a feeling of satisfaction with a situation or with what you have achieved, so that you stop trying to improve or change thing ( disapproval)- tự mãn
Ex: Doctors have warned against complacency in fighting common diseases.
Or Despite yesterday’s win, there is clearly no room for complacency if the team want to stay top of the league.
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May 11, 2012, 09:01 PM
My goodness, Ngoc Diem. This type of questions is not for TOEFL or IELTS. More likely, it is for GRE or GMAT, which requires the ability of comprehension and critical thinking of a college graduate - A good college graduate, as a matter of fact.
Here are my answers. I had to guess some using the process of elimination since some of the questions are quite difficult. I am doing this while waiting for my flight!
It describes the situation where the government helps create opportunities for minority-owned businesses. However, there are at least three potential drawbacks due to the expansion.
Using the process of elimination, I see that A and B are not correct since the passage does not specify the names of federal agencies. C is not correct because the passage does not specify how widespread; it only talks about the risk. D is not correct because we only know the size of the money and not the number of the businesses. Therefore, E is likely. The condition is described as the first risk.
The answer is in the first paragraph, 2nd sentence.
4-B - REVISED: 4-A
Through elimination process, it is obvious that A, C, D, and E are wrong. B does not answer the question accurately, but it is the only true statement. Therefore, I chose B. The right answer should be “experience set back in both morale and financial health,” which is close to A, but I am bothered with the term "not serious financial harm." On the other hand, the answer B should instead be used for the case when a small business has to expand too quickly and later, their contracts reduce. Therefore, it does not really respond to the question.
Uhm, on a second thought, I think A is the right answer as it does mention about setting back on morale and financial health. Though it does not talk about how serious the financial health is, I would imagine that it is not serious when the order is delayed from the time the bid is submitted. Hence, it is not incorrect as previously thought.
Therefore, I choose 4-A! Answer 4-B is inaccurate as explained earlier.
The answer is in Paragraph 4. If a small business does not try to expand its customer base, it will run into the third risk.
The answer is in Paragraph 1, last sentence: "Have gone so far as to set specific percentage goals..."
Through elimination process, we can see that A, B, C, and D are all wrong. To strengthen the choice for E, we notice that in Paragraph 1, last sentence, the most some federal and local agencies did was to set a percentage goal. Therefore, the increase from $77M in 1972 to $1.1B in 1977 might have been significant, but it was only because the amount of contract increased. The percentage could have been the same.
The answer is in Paragraph 2, 3rd sentence: "With no letup ancitipated in the next decade."
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How did I do?
Last edited by Bear Lac Loi; May 11, 2012 at 11:24 PM.
Reason: Revised the answer for question No. 4
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ngoc_diem_131 (May 12, 2012)
May 12, 2012, 09:14 PM
ANSWER: 1B 2E 3C 4A 5C 6B 7E 8C
Here are my explanations. We can also learn from thay Bear’s suggestions.
The reading describes the situation that the government tried to help minority-owned businesses, but it led to at least three potential risks for them. First, minority firms risk expanding too fast and overextending themselves financially. Second, white-owned companies may cash in on the joint ventures with minority-owned businesses. Third, they become more dependent on large and established companies.
One set of conditions to answer the question E lies in the passage from “First, minority firms risk expanding too fast … crippling fixed expenses”. The rest choice can be eliminated.
The answer bases on the last paragraph.
C, D, E can be eliminated because no information in the passage mentions them. B is the problem of minority-owned businesses, not of a large business. A is the correct answer.
The answer bases on the last paragraph.
It is said in the sentence “Indeed, some federal and local agencies have gone so far as to set specific percentage goals for apportioning parts of public works contracts to minority enterprises.”
A, B, and D would support the author’s assertion. At the first thought, I think it would be C. However, when elaborating, if the figures collected in 1977 underrepresented the extent of corporate contracts with minority-owned businesses, the correct figure would be more than what was said in the passage. As a result, C would also strengthen the author’s assertion. E would be the final answer. In the 1970’s, corporate response to federal requirements was substantial and reflected by the specific percentage goals set by some federal and local agencies. If the percentage of total corporate spending in 1977 was the same as those in 1972, there would be no change or “substantial response”.
“with no letup anticipated in the next decade” helps answer the question.
May 12, 2012, 09:20 PM
DEADLINE: Tuesday 15 May, 9pm
Passage 2: FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM
Woodrow Wilson was referring to the liberal idea of the economic market when he said that the free enterprise system is the most efficient economic system. Maximum freedom means maximum productiveness; our “openness” is to be the measure of our stability. Fascination with this ideal has made Americans defy the “Old World” categories of settled possessiveness versus unsettling deprivation, the cupidity of retention versus the cupidity of seizure, a “status quo” defended or attacked. The United States, it was believed, had no status quo ante. Our only “station” was the turning of a stationary wheel, spinning faster and faster. We did not base our system on property but opportunity—which meant we based it not on stability but on mobility. The more things changed, that is, the more rapidly the wheel turned, the steadier we would be. The conventional picture of class politics is composed of the Haves, who want a stability to keep what they have, and the Have-Nots, who want a touch of instability and change in which to scramble for the things they have not. But Americans imagined a condition in which speculators, self-makers, runners are always using the new opportunities given by our land. These economic leaders (front-runners) would thus be mainly agents of change. The nonstarters were considered the ones who wanted stability, a strong referee to give them some position in the race, a regulative hand to calm manic speculation; an authority that can call things to a halt, begin things again from compensatorily staggered “starting lines.”
“Reform” in America has been sterile because it can imagine no change except through the extension of this metaphor of a race, wider inclusion of competitors, “a piece of the action,” as it were, for the disenfranchised. There is no attempt to call off the race. Since our only stability is change, America seems not to honor the quiet work that achieves social interdependence and stability. There is, in our legends, no heroism of the office clerk , no stable industrial work force of the people who actually make the system work. There is no pride in being an employee (Wilson asked for a return to the time when everyone was an employer). There has been no boasting about our social workers—they are merely signs of the system’s failure, of opportunity denied or not taken, of things to be eliminated. We have no pride in our growing interdependence, in the fact that our system can serve others, that we are able to help those in need; empty boasts from the past make us ashamed of our present achievements, make us try to forget or deny them, move away from them. There is no honor but in the Wonderland (wonderland: n.仙境, 奇境) race we must all run, all trying to win, none winning in the end (for there is no end).
1. The primary purpose of the passage is to
(A) criticize the inflexibility of American economic mythology
(B) contrast “Old World” and “New World” economic ideologies
(C) challenge the integrity of traditional political leaders
(D) champion those Americans whom the author deems to be neglected
(E) suggest a substitute for the traditional metaphor of a race
2. According to the passage, “Old World” values were based on
(C) family connections
(D) guild hierarchies
3. In the context of the author’s discussion of regulating change, which of the following could be most probably regarded as a “strong referee” (line 30) in the United States?
(A) A school principal
(B) A political theorist
(C) A federal court judge
(D) A social worker
(E) A government inspector
4. The author sets off (set off: to set apart: make distinct or outstanding) the word “Reform” (line 35) with quotation marks in order to
(A) emphasize its departure from the concept of settled possessiveness
(B) show his support for a systematic program of change
(C) underscore the flexibility and even amorphousness of United States society
(D) indicate that the term was one of Wilson’s favorites
(E) assert that reform in the United States has not been fundamental
5. It can be inferred from the passage that the author most probably thinks that giving the disenfranchised “a piece of the action” (line 38) is
(A) a compassionate, if misdirected, legislative measure
(B) an example of Americans’ resistance to profound social change
(C) an innovative program for genuine social reform
(D) a monument to the efforts of industrial reformers
(E) a surprisingly “Old World” remedy for social ills
6. Which of the following metaphors could the author most appropriately use to summarize his own assessment of the American economic system (lines 35-60)?
(A) A windmill
(B) A waterfall
(C) A treadmill
(D) A gyroscope
(E) A bellows
7. It can be inferred from the passage that Woodrow Wilson’s ideas about the economic market
(A) encouraged those who “make the system work” (lines 45-46)
(B) perpetuated traditional legends about America
(C) revealed the prejudices of a man born wealthy
(D) foreshadowed the stock market crash of 1929
(E) began a tradition of presidential proclamations on economics
8. The passage contains information that would answer which of the following questions?
I. What techniques have industrialists used to manipulate a free market?
II. In what ways are “New World” and “Old World” economic policies similar?
III. Has economic policy in the United States tended to reward independent action?
(A) I only
(B) II only
(C) III only
(D) I and II only
(E) II and III only
9. Which of the following best expresses the author’s main point?
(A) Americans’ pride in their jobs continues to give them stamina today.
(B) The absence of a status quo ante has undermined United States economic structure.
(C) The free enterprise system has been only a useless concept in the United States.
(D) The myth of the American free enterprise system is seriously flawed.
(E) Fascination with the ideal of “openness” has made Americans a progressive people.
May 13, 2012, 12:01 PM
New word for passage 2
* The liberal idea of the economic market: Tư tưởng tự do của nền kinh tế
* free enterprise system: hệ thống tự do kinh doanh
* defy (v) resist or confront with resistance
Ex: Fascination with this ideal has made Americans defy the “Old World” categories.
* deprivation (n) thiếu thốn
Ex: Sleep deprivation can result in mental disorders.
* cupidity (n) tham lam, greed, very strong desire for something, especially money or property.
Ex: the cupidity of retention versus the cupidity of seizure
* Status quo ante is Latin for "the way things were before" and incorporates the term status quo. In law, it refers to the objective of a temporary restraining order or a rescission in which the situation is restored to "the state in which previously" it existed.
* a touch of something (n) A small amount of something
Ex: Our furniture is guaranteed to add a touch of class in your bedroom.
* scramble for (v) compete, struggle
Ex: They scramble for the things they have not.
* manic (adj) phấn khích
Ex: a regulative hand to calm manic speculation
* call things to a halt = to stop things happen
Ex: An authority that can call things to a halt begin things again from compensatorily staggered “starting lines”.
* sterile (adj) opposite to Productive, means lacking new ideas, interest or imagination
Ex: The classrooms are sterile, with no artwork on the walls.
* disenfranchise (v) to take away someone’s rights, especially their right to vote, tước quyền
* amorphousness (n) no definite shape or features
Ex: an amorphous mass of twisted metal
* windmill (n): cối xay gió
* treadmidd (n) máy tập chạy bộ
* perpetuate (v): to make a situation, attitude, especially a bad one, continue to exist for a long time
* proclamation (n) lời tuyên thệ
* stamina (n) khả năng chịu đựng
Ex: You need stamina to be a long-distance runner.
Elaine has the stamina and the determination to succeed.
* progressive (adj) tiến bộ
Ex: Progressive and forward-looking policies
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May 15, 2012, 01:38 AM
Holy cow, Ngoc Diem. This passage can typically be found in the Opinion Page of one of these crazy philosophers whose ideas are everyone’s guess but no one gets! Even if one understands every vocabulary, one still has to be well rounded to comprehend the context.
This is a bit unfair to foreign students who have limited understanding of American politics and who do not know the general principle of President Woodrow Wilson.
Woodrow Wilson is a Democrat President who has been accused of being socialist. Therefore, he is thought to believe in establishing a bigger role for the government, and that the government should lead the reform and discourage individualism. It also helps to know the social background of the time when Wilson was the President, which was the World War I, and that he grew up when the world was turning upside down with the revolutionary socialism.
After the first reading, I could not grasp all the details of the passage other than sensing that Woodrow Wilson was complaining about the US way of winning in economic system. Therefore, my mindset was about negativity of one’s point of view against capitalism.
The mindset is important because it will make me looks closely to the negative choices for my answers.
I am quite tied up so I’m not sure if I can be able to work on this PLUS write out the explanations by tomorrow, but I hope this may help giving you some background and direction.
May 15, 2012, 06:18 AM
Originally Posted by Bear Lac Loi
She is studying GMAT. Foreign or non-foreign students have to take same topics or same tests. Yes, maybe it is quite unfair but that is what they require.
I don't know from which books she took these topics, but as I know the Woodrow-Wilson topic is in The Pearson Guide to MBA Entrance Examinations. I am very impressed with her effort. I think she will get high mark or successful because she has a good preparation, well... very good preparation.