Comprehension Questions 08

Passage 1:

A meteor stream is composed of dust particles that have been ejected from a parent comet at a variety of velocities. These particles follow the same orbit as the parent comet, but due to their differing velocities they slowly gain on or fall behind the disintegrating comet until a shroud of dust surrounds the entire cometary orbit. Astronomers have hypothesized that a meteor stream should broaden with time as the dust particles’ individual orbits are perturbed by planetary gravitational fields. A recent computer-modeling experiment tested this hypothesis by tracking the influence of planetary gravitation over a projected 5,000-year period on the positions of a group of hypothetical dust particles. In the model, the particles were randomly distributed throughout a computer simulation of the orbit of an actual meteor stream, the Geminid. The researcher found, as expected, that the computer-model stream broadened with time. Conventional theories, however, predicted that the distribution of particles would be increasingly dense toward the center of a meteor stream. Surprisingly, the computer-model meteor stream gradually came to resemble a thick-walled, hollow pipe.

Whenever the Earth passes through a meteor stream, a meteor shower occurs. Moving at a little over 1,500,000 miles per day around its orbit, the Earth would take, on average, just over a day to cross the hollow computer-model Geminid stream if the stream were 5,000 years old. Two brief periods of peak meteor activity during the shower would be observed, one as the Earth entered the thick-walled “pipe” and one as it exited. There is no reason why the Earth should always pass through the stream’s exact center, so the time interval between the two bursts of activity would vary from one year to the next. Has the predicted twin-peaked activity been observed for the actual yearly Geminid meteor shower? The Geminid data between 1970 and 1979 show just such a bifurcation, a secondary burst of meteor activity being clearly visible at an average of 19 horse (1,200,000 miles) after the first burst.

The time intervals between the bursts suggest the actual Geminid stream is about 3,000 years old.


Based on the Passage, answer the following questions:

1. The primary focus of the passage is on which of the following?

(A) Comparing two scientific theories and contrasting the predictions that each would make concerning a natural phenomenon

(B) Describing a new theoretical model and noting that it explains the nature of observations made of a particular natural phenomenon

(C) Evaluating the results of a particular scientific experiment and suggesting further areas for research

(D) Explaining how two different natural phenomena are related and demonstrating a way to measure them

(E) Analyzing recent data derived from observations of an actual phenomenon and constructing a model to explain the data


2. According to the passage, which of the following is an accurate statement concerning meteor streams?

(A) Meteor streams and comets start out with similar orbits, but only those of meteor streams are perturbed by planetary gravitation.

(B) Meteor streams grow as dust particles are attracted by the gravitational fields of comets.

(C) Meteor streams are composed of dust particles derived from comets.

(D) Comets may be composed of several kinds of materials, while meteor streams consist only of large dust particles.

(E) Once formed, meteor streams hasten the further disintegration of comets.


3. The author states that the research described in the first paragraph was undertaken in order to

(A) determine the age of an actual meteor stream

(B) Identify the various structural features of meteor streams

(C) explore the nature of a particularly interesting meteor stream

(D) test the hypothesis that meteor streams become broader as they age

(E) show that a computer model could help in explaining actual astronomical data


4. It can be inferred from the passage that which of the following would most probably be observed during the Earth’s passage through a meteor stream if the conventional theories mentioned in line 18 were

(A) Meteor activity would gradually increase to a single, intense peak, and then gradually decline.

(B) Meteor activity would be steady throughout the period of the meteor shower.

(C) Meteor activity would rise to a peak at the beginning and at the end of the meteor shower.

(D) Random bursts of very high meteor activity would be interspersed with periods of very little activity.

(E) In years in which the Earth passed through only the outer areas of a meteor stream, meteor activity would be absent.


5. According to the passage, why do the dust particles in a meteor stream eventually surround a comet’s original orbit?

(A) They are ejected by the comet at differing velocities.

(B) Their orbits are uncontrolled by planetary gravitational fields.

(C) They become part of the meteor stream at different times.

(D) Their velocity slows over time.

(E) Their ejection velocity is slower than that of the comet.


6. The passage suggests that which of the following is a prediction concerning meteor streams that can be derived from both the conventional theories mentioned in line 18 and the new computer-derived theory?

(A) Dust particles in a meteor stream will usually be distributed evenly throughout any cross section of the steam.

(B) The orbits of most meteor streams should cross the orbit of the Earth at some point and give rise to a meteor shower.

(C) Over time the distribution of dust in a meteor stream will usually become denser at the outside edges of the stream than at the center.

(D) Meteor showers caused by older by older meteor streams should be, on average, longer in duration than those caused by very young meteor streams.

(E) The individual dust particles in older meteor streams should be, on average, smaller than those that compose younger meteor streams.


7. It can be inferred from the last paragraph of the passage that which of the following must be true of the Earth as it orbits the Sun?

(A) Most meteor streams it encounters are more than 2,000 years old.

(B) When passing through a meteor stream, it usually passes near to the stream’s center.

(C) It crosses the Geminid meteor stream once every year.

(D) It usually takes over a day to cross the actual Geminid meteor stream.

(E) It accounts of most of the gravitational perturbation affecting the Geminid meteor stream.


8. Which of the following is an assumption underlying the last sentence of the passage?

(A) In each of the years between 1970 and 1979, the Earth took exactly 19 hours to cross the Geminid meteor stream.

(B) The comet associated with the Geminid meteor stream has totally disintegrated.

(C) The Geminid meteor stream should continue to exist for at least 5,000 years.

(D) The Geminid meteor stream has not broadened as rapidly as the conventional theories would have predicted.

(E) The computer-model Geminid meteor stream provides an accurate representation of the development of the actual Geminid stream.

Passage 2:

Most large corporations in the United States were once run by individual capitalists who owned enough stock to dominate the board of directors and dictate company policy. Because putting such large amounts of stock on the market would only depress its value, they could not sell out for a quick profit and instead had to concentrate on improving the long-term productivity of their companies. Today, with few exceptions, the stock of large United States corporations is held by large institutions-pension funds, for example-and because these institutions are prohibited by antitrust laws from owning a majority of a company’s stock and from actively influencing a company’s decision-making, they can enhance their wealth only by buying and selling stock in anticipation of fluctuations in its value. A minority shareholder is necessarily a short term trader. As a result, United States productivity is unlikely to improve unless shareholders and the managers of the companies in which they invest are encouraged to enhance long-term productivity (and hence long-term profitability), rather than simply to maximize short term profits. Since the return of the old-style capitalist is unlikely, today’s short-term traders must be remade into tomorrow’s long-term capitalistic investors. The legal limits that now prevent financial institutions from acquiring a dominant shareholding position in a corporation should be removed, and such institutions should be encouraged to take a more active role in the operations of the companies in which they invest. *In addition, any institution that holds twenty percent or more of a company’s stock should be forced to give the public one day’s notice of the intent to sell those shares. Unless the announced sale could be explained to the public on grounds other than anticipated future losses, the value of the stock would plummet and, like the **old-time capitalists, major investors could cut their losses only by helping to restore their companies’ productivity. Such measures would force financial institutions to become capitalists whose success depends not on trading shares at the propitious moment, but on increasing the productivity of the companies in which they invest.


Based on the Passage, answer the following questions:

9. In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with doing which of the following?

(A) Comparing two different approaches to a problem

(B) Describing a problem and proposing a solution

(C) Defending an established method

(D) Presenting data and drawing conclusions from the data

(E) Comparing two different analyses of a current situation


10. It can be inferred from the passage that which of the following is true of majority shareholders in a corporation?

(A) They make the corporation’s operational management decisions.

(B) They are not allowed to own more than fifty percent of the corporation’s stock.

(C) They cannot make quick profits by selling their stock in the corporation.

(D) They are more interested in profits than in productivity.

(E) They cannot sell any of their stock in the corporation without giving the public advance notice.


11. According to the passage, the purpose of the requirement suggested in lines * would be which of the following?

(A) To encourage institutional stockholders to sell stock that they believe will decrease in value

(B) To discourage institutional stockholders from intervening in the operation of a company whose stock they own

(C) To discourage short-term profit-taking by institutional stockholders

(D) To encourage a company’s employees to take an active role in the ownership of stock in the company

(E) To encourage investors to diversify their stock holdings


12. The author suggests that which of the following is a true statement about people who typify the “old style capitalist” referred to in line**?

(A) They now rely on outdated management techniques.

(B) They seldom engaged in short-term trading of the stock they owned.

(C) They did not influence the investment policies of the corporations in which they invested.

(D) They now play a much smaller role in the stock market as a result of antitrust legislation.

(E) They were primarily concerned with maximizing the short-term profitability of the corporations in which they owned stock.


13. It can be inferred that the author makes which of the following assumptions about the businesses once controlled by individual capitalists?

(A) These businesses were less profitable than are businesses today.

(B) Improving long-term productivity led to increased profits.

(C) Each business had only a few stockholders.

(D) There was no short-term trading in the stock of these businesses.

(E) Institutions owned no stock in these companies.


14. The author suggests that the role of large institutions as stockholders differs from that of the “old-style capitalist” in part because large institutions

(A) invest in the stock of so many companies that they cannot focus attention on the affairs of any single corporation

(B) are prohibited by law from owning a majority of a corporation’s stock

(C) are influenced by brokers who advise against long-term ownership of stocks

(D) are able to put large amounts of stock on the market without depressing the stock’s value

(E) are attracted to the stocks of corporations that demonstrate long-term gains in productivity


15. The primary function of the second paragraph of the passage is to

(A) identify problems

(B) warn of consequence

(C) explain effects

(D) evaluate solutions

(E) recommend actions


Passage 3:

The pleiotropy of the five well-studies plant hormones is somewhat analogous to that of certain hormones in animals”

Traditionally, the first firm to commercialize a new technology has benefited from the unique opportunity to shape product definitions, forcing followers to adapt to a standard or invest in an unproven alternative. Today, however, the largest payoffs may go to companies that lead in developing integrated approaches for successful mass production and distribution.

Producers of the Beta format for videocassette recorders (VCR’s), for example, were first to develop the VCR commercially in 1975, but producers of the rival VHS (Video Home System) format proved to be more successful at forming strategic alliances with other producers and distributors to manufacture and market their VCR format Seeking to maintain exclusive control over VCR distribution. Beta producers were reluctant to form such alliances and eventually lost ground to VHS in the competition for the global VCR market.

Despite Beta’s substantial technological head start and the fact that VHS was neither technically better nor cheaper than Beta, developers of VHS quickly turned a slight early lead in sales into a dominant position. Strategic alignments with producers of prerecorded tapes reinforced the VHS advantage. The perception among consumers that prerecorded tapes were more available in VHS format further expanded VHS’s share of the market. By the end of the 1980’s. Beta was no longer in production.


Based on the Passage, answer the following questions:

16. The passage is primarily concerned with which of the following?

(A) Evaluating two competing technologies

(B) Tracing the impact of a new technology by narrating a sequence of events

(C) Reinterpreting an event from contemporary business history

(D) illustrating a business strategy by means of a case history

(E) Proposing an innovative approach to business planning


17. According to the passage, today’s successful firms, unlike successful firms in the past, may earn the greatest profits by

(A) investing in research to produce cheaper versions of existing technology

(B) being the first to market a competing technology

(C) adapting rapidly to a technological standard previously set by a competing firm

(D) establishing technological leadership in order to shape product definitions in advance of competing firms.

(E) emphasizing the development of methods for the mass production and distribution of a new technology.


18. According to the passage, consumers began to develop a preference for VCR’s in the VHS format because they believed which of the following?

(A) VCR’s in the VHS format were technically better than competing-format VCR’s.

(B) VCR’s in the VHS format were less expensive than competing-format VCR’s.

(C) VHS was the first standard format for VCR’s.

(D) VHS prerecorded videotapes were more available than Beta-format tapes.

(E) VCR’s in the Beta format would soon cease to be produced.


19. The author implies that one way that VHS producers won control over the VCR market was by

(A) carefully restricting access to VCR technology

(B) giving up a slight early lead in VCR sales in order to improve long-term prospects.

(C) retaining a strict monopoly on the production of prerecorded videotapes.

(D) Sharing control of the marketing of VHS-format VCR’s

(E) Sacrificing technological superiority over Beta format VCR’s in order to remain competitive in price.


20. The alignment of producers of VHS-format VCR’s with producers of prerecorded videotapes is most similar to which of the following?

(A) The alignment of an automobile manufacturer with another automobile manufacturer to adopt a standard design for automobile engines.

(B) The alignment of an automobile manufacturer with an automotive glass company whereby the manufacturer agrees to purchase automobile windshields only from that one glass company

(C) The alignment of an automobile manufacturer with a petroleum company to ensure the widespread availability of the fuel required by a new type of engine developed by the manufacturer.

(D) The alignment of an automobile manufacturer with its dealers to adopt a plan to improve automobile design.

(E) The alignment of an automobile dealer with an automobile rental chain to adopt a strategy for an advertising campaign to promote a new type of automobile


21. Which of the following best describes the relation of the first paragraph to the passage as a whole?

(A) It makes a general observation to be exemplified.

(B) It outlines a process to be analyzed.

(C) It poses a question to be answered.

(D) It advances an argument to be disputed.

(E) It introduces conflicting arguments to be reconciled.