Listening Comprehension Test for the 11 th form Students
The biggest house of cards, the longest tongue, and of course, the tallest man: these are among the thousands of records logged in the famous Guinness Book of Records. Created in 1955 after a debate concerning Europe’s fastest game bird, what began as a marketing tool sold to pub landlords to promote Guinness, an Irish drink, became the bestselling copyright title of all time (a category that excludes books such as the Bible and the Koran). In time, the book would sell 120 million copies in over 100 countries— quite a leap from its humble beginnings.
In its early years, the book set its sights on satisfying man’s innate curiosity about the natural world around him. Its two principal fact finders, twins Norris and Ross McWhirter, scoured the globe to collect empirical facts. It was their task to find and document aspects of life that can be sensed or observed, things that can be quantified or measured. But not just any things. They were only interested in superlatives: the biggest and the best. It was during this period that some of the hallmark Guinness Records were documented, answering such questions as “What is the brightest star?” and “What is the biggest spider?”
Once aware of the public’s thirst for such knowledge, the book’s authors began to branch out to cover increasingly obscure, little-known facts. They started documenting human achievements as well. A forerunner for reality television, the Guinness Book gave people a chance to become famous for accomplishing eccentric, often pointless tasks. Records were set in 1955 for consuming 24 raw eggs in 14 minutes and in 1981 for the fastest solving of a Rubik’s Cube (which took a mere 38 seconds). In 1979 a man yodeled non-stop for ten and a quarter hours.
In its latest incarnation, the book has found a new home on the internet. No longer restricted to the confines of physical paper, the Guinness World Records website contains seemingly innumerable facts concerning such topics as the most powerful combustion engine, or the world’s longest train. What is striking, however, is that such facts are found sharing a page with the record of the heaviest train to be pulled with a beard. While there is no denying that each of these facts has its own, individual allure, the latter represents a significant deviation from the education-oriented facts of earlier editions. Perhaps there is useful knowledge to be gleaned regarding the tensile strength of a beard, but this seems to cater to an audience more interested in seeking entertainment than education.
Originating as a simple bar book, the Guinness Book of Records has evolved over decades to provide insight into the full spectrum of modern life. And although one may be more likely now to learn about the widest human mouth than the highest number of casualties in a single battle of the Civil War, the Guinness World Records website offers a telling glimpse into the future of fact-finding and record recording.
TASK 1. Decide if the statements are true or false
1. The originators of the book were the explorers Norris and Ross McWhirter.
2. The book was created after people were discussing the world’s fastest bird.
3. The book was made to produce the Irish beer, Guinness.
4. The Guinness Book of World Records is the best-selling non-religious copyright title of all time.
5. The content in the book has changed slightly over time to keep readers interested.
6. The book started by recording interesting facts about the natural world.
7. You can now find the Guinness World Records exclusively on physical paper.
8. The facts produced by the people of the Guinness World Records have become less entertaining and more educational over time.
9. Material used in the Guinness Book of Records is quantitative.
10. In the text, the word “incarnation” means “desecration”.
11. The Guinness Book of Records was created in which year?
12. The book was originally used for what purpose?
A. To collect world records
B. To record interesting facts
C. To help pubs promote an Irish beer
D. To create a record of Irish drinks
13. The Guinness Book of Records has been sold in how many countries?
A. 100 countries
B. Over 200 countries
C. Over 100 countries
D. 200 countries
14. What was the book’s original goal?
A. Impress people around the world
B. Satisfy peoples’ curiosity about the natural world
C. Collect facts from around the world
D. Impress Irish pub owners
15. One of the original Guinness Records documented was:
A. “What is the brightest star?”
B. “What is the biggest bird?”
C. “How long is the longest train?”
D. “How heavy is the biggest spider?”
Reading Comprehension Test for 11 th Form Students
In the spring, at the little park on Country Lane, a small boy sits on the swings underneath the green, budding branches of the tall shade tree. The sun is shining and the high-pitched laughs and squeaks of children playing fill the air. The boy watches over them in the sandbox, on the slide, running to catch a seat on the red and blue merry-go-round whose chrome handles glisten in the sun. The harder the boy swings his feet, kicking outward while leaning back against the will of the chains in his hands, the higher he climbs. On the swings, the chase isn’t important and the sand doesn’t get inside your shoes. Alone under the eaves of the tall shade tree, he is in motion, safe from the darkness, the other children, even the screams of his parents as their distance from each other grows. In the summer, at the little park on Country Lane, a young man struggles awkwardly within a group of friends on the basketball court – flat, grey cement – near the fences which separate the park from the manicured lawns and sculpted hedges of neighbouring suburban homes. The young man ducks, pivots, looks for the ball and dodges back to the three-point line drawn in chalk an hour before the game. He barely notices the unwelcome sweat on his brow and under his shirt and the heavy feeling in his chest – he hasn’t played basketball since his parents’ divorce.
A short, thin teenager, a natural, ducks gracefully under the outstretched arms of the other players with an agility that continues to surprise everyone. His path to the basket blocked, he fires the ball with its tan and orange rubber over his shoulder – not to the players inside the key, but to the young man, quiet and patient, who stands on the three point line. Two points would tie the game; three would win.
The young man catches the ball, cradles it, leaps into the air and pushes the ball toward the hoop, rolling it off his fingertips amid grunts and arms and hands and frantic bodies. It circles the rim then drops off the side. Someone near the court calls “Time!” and the other team huddles to congratulate themselves.
His team-mates look at each other, anxious to redeem their loss, but the young man has left the game already, his eyes concentrating on a lone figure on the swings. The tall shade tree above has given her shelter from the glare of the late afternoon sun, leaving her concealed in cool shadows. He grins sheepishly as he approaches her, taking pleasure in her smile and the playful wink from her eye. “Nice shootin’, Tex,” she teases warmly.
The young man sits down on the swing next to hers. She receives his outstretched hand with hers and together they sit in the peace of the advancing evening, swinging and watching the sun turn the sky to a fiery expanse of crimson and magenta as it hastens to slumber under the distant horizon.
In the autumn, at the little park on Country Lane, a father rocks on the swings, back and forth, back and forth, though gently in deference to his age. In the sandbox, his two children, six and eight, dig a moat around a pile of sand they’ve been pushing and shaping for an hour now. He watches them intently, curiously, as their giggles take to the air.
The children’s faces, small copies of their mother’s – gone a year now –are rosy from the cool air. How long has it been since their mother had sat with him here on the swings, he thinks pensively. A wanton breeze from the south sings its solemn lullaby of warmer days past. It nips and tugs and taunts the thinning gold and auburn leaves of the resilient shade tree of his youth. The leaves clutch their branches and twigs with uncertainty and desperation as destiny threatens.
The once shiny slide, covered with the smiles and tears of a thousand summer days reflects the flicker of a black and white television that struggles through the curtained window of a dignified, stately house. The mighty harvest moon watches the man intently as it slips between windblown clouds. The children turn briefly toward their father, wave, then return to the mountains they have created – to the sandbox kingdoms where they are gods.
In the winter, at the little park on Country Lane, an old man sits on a motionless swing, arms akimbo, watching his laboured breaths hang in the air. The park is otherwise deserted in the evening’s dusky glow. Inverted pyramids of fragrant smoke rise slowly from the stone chimneys of nearby homes. The crooked basketball hoop rises staunchly into the crisp evening sky, bent from the weight of missed slam-dunks and forgotten ambitions. It looks abused. Abandoned. There are no chalk marks on the court, no signs of recent use.
The old man turns his gaze toward the slide. The metal has lost its shine and the wooden rails and ladders have faded and warped. The merry-go-round is gone, replaced by two picnic tables and a dented, overturned garbage can missing its lid.
The sandbox remains, however, brimming with sand as always. The old man slowly pulls himself up from the swings where he has been resting his tired, stiff legs. Tentatively, he makes his way to the sandbox. Night is quickly overtaking the last rays of the frozen sun. In the fading twilight, he looks up and down the park. Confident no one is watching, he lowers himself to the grainy dirt beneath his feet. With great effort he begins pushing and pulling sand into a pile with his bony, arthritic fingers. As the mound grows, he pauses to observe his progress, feeling the harsh, penetrating cold. A tear begins to form in a melancholy, sentimental eye, but is wiped away before it can escape. Several blocks to the north, a car door slams, unnoticed by the old man on his knees in the sand. A light snow begins to fall on the little park on Country Lane.
Decide if the statements are True or False
1. The merry-go-round handles are made of brass.
2. The park was located in a city centre.
3. If the young man had made the three-point shot, his team would have won the game.
4. The young man was happy because of the girl’s smile.
5. The young man and the girl on the swings are holding hands.
6. The father watches his two children playing on the merry-go-round.
7. The mother of the two children is not at the park because she is working.
8. The children’s faces resembled their mother’s face.
9. Two picnic tables and a trash can have replaced the merry-go-round.
10. When it begins to snow, the man is standing in the sandbox.
Choose the best answer
11. In the spring in the little park on Country Lane…
A. a small boy plays on the merry-go-round.
B. a young man sits on the swings with a girl.
C. a small boy watches children playing in the park.
D. an old man sadly remembers his childhood.
12. What colour is the merry-go-round at the beginning of the story?
B. red and blue
D. blue and white
13. “The chase isn’t important” was used to describe which place on the playground?
A. the merry-go-round
B. the basketball court
C. the sandbox
D. the swings
14. According to the text, during the summer…
A. a young man is playing in the sandbox.
B. a girl draws a line on the pavement with white chalk.
C. an old man hears a car door slam and hides behind a tree.
D. a boy and a girl watch the sun set.
15. In the autumn in the little park on Country Lane…
A. the man sees smoke rising from the chimneys of nearby homes.
B. the young man hears parents yelling at their children.
C. a father moves back and forth on a swing.
D. a father sees a garbage can without a lid.
Stage II National Students Olympiad in the English Language
Speaking Comprehension Test for 11th Form Students
DIRECTIONS: In this test you will select three task slips from those before you. After selecting three, choose the one you feel you are most capable to speak about and return the other two to the table face down. Then take about a minute to collect your thoughts before you begin to speak on the topic. You may refer to the topic as needed. Take a deep breath and begin.
1. In 200,000 years, humans have risen to be one of the most successful animals on the planet. Today there are more than 7 billion humans on earth, and we affect the planet in many ways.
a. What traits or characteristics have made humans such a successful species?
b. Describe one way that humans have changed the planet.
c. Have humans made more positive or negative changes? Explain your reasoning.
2. In many cultures, women traditionally do most of the cooking. In America, women cook 78% of dinners. But it is becoming more and more common for men to cook, for many reasons.
a. Does your father/brother/you cook?
b. Is it important for men to know how to cook? Why or why not?
c. Would it change the family if fathers cooked?
3. In America, it is considered bad luck to meet a black cat, or to walk under a ladder, good luck to find a penny, and if your ears burn it means someone is talking about you. These are some common superstitions- old beliefs that people still sometimes hold onto.
a. What are some superstitions in Ukraine? What things are supposed to bring good or bad luck? Are there other superstitions?
b. Where do you think superstitions come from? Do people still believe in them?
c. Do you believe in superstitions? Why or why not?
4. “Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.” –Virginia Woolf.
a. What can people get from these three things; religion, poetry, and friendship?
b. What do you think Virginia Woolf is saying about herself in this quote?
c. Where do you find comfort and help?
5. “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” –Khalil Gibran
a. What do you think the poet is expressing in this quote?
b. What does this quote mean to you? Do you agree with it?
c. Describe a time when you met someone whose character was different from their appearance.
6. Everyone is good at something. Finding and nurturing that skill is one of the healthiest and most rewarding things that a person can do.
a. Describe something that you are good at. Did you practice to become good at it?
b. How can you work to improve this ability? What motivates you to improve it?
c. How have you used this ability?
7. 15 % of the population in Ukraine is older than 60. In many cultures, it is considered important to respect your elders and to care for them.
a. Is it important to respect your elders? How do you and Ukrainian culture show respect for them?
b. What things can we learn from old people? What role do they play in your life?
c. What do you know about the life of your grandfather or grandmother? Do you know any stories about them?
8. Urbanization is the process of people moving into the city, causing it to grow and expand. Cities all over the world are getting bigger and more crowded.
a. Do you think it is better to live in the city or in the country. Why?
b. Is it a good thing for so many people to move into the city? What are some positive or negative effects?
c. If you could live in any place, in any city or any country, where would you live? Why?
9. Dreams are part of our sleep cycle, and are important for the brain.
a. Do you think that dreams have meaning?
b. Can you describe one dream that you’ve had?
c. Do dreams have any traditional meaning in your culture? If so, what?
10. Scientists have found liquid water on Mars. Astronauts are running a simulation of a trip to Mars. Some world leaders have even said that they want to send people to Mars. In your lifetime it might become possible to visit Mars.
a. Do you think that exploring space is important? Is it necessary? Why or why not?
b. If you could live on Mars, would you? Why or why not?
c. What do you think would be the challenges of living on Mars?
11. Humans have accomplished some amazing things while we have been on this planet. Things like the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and other things have been declared “wonders of the world.”
a. What are some new wonders of the world? What do you think are the greatest things that humans have accomplished?
b. What are some of the wonders, or famous buildings or monuments of your country? Have you ever visited them?
c. Which would you prefer to see, human wonders or natural wonders?
12. Musical styles change so quickly, sometimes year by year! And of course the music of today is very different from the music of 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. What do you think of the changes In musical style over time?
a. What kind of music do your parents listen to? Do you like that music, too?
b. What do you think of traditional Ukrainian music? How does it compare with current popular music?
c. How and where do you usually listen to music? Are you alone or with friends? Do you buy songs or listen to music online?
13. An English proverb says, “The early bird gets the worm.”
a. What does this mean to you?
b. Describe a time when you benefitted by being the first person to volunteer.
c. There is another saying that states, “The second mouse gets the cheese.” What does this mean? How is it different from the previous saying?
14. Imagine that an alien has to Earth. Explain basketball to them.
a. What are the rules of basketball?
b. What people like basketball? Why do we play it?
c. Do you like basketball? Describe a personal experience with basketball.
15. All children are taught to be polite, to say “please” and “thank you”, to ask permission for things, to greet people they know. These things together are referred to as “manners.”
a. What are some other examples of good manners? What are some examples of bad manners in Ukraine?
b. Are manners important? What difference to manners make in society?
c. What do you think when you see someone with very bad manners? Can you give an example?
16. Many people enjoy gambling. Some do it just a little, but there are many people who are addicted to gambling, and who lose tremendous amounts of money.
a. Do you believe that gambling is a problem? Why or why not?
b. Is there a difference in risk? Is there such a thing as good risk and bad risk? What’s the difference?
c. Describe one time that you took a risk and how it turned out.
17. “TV is chewing gum for the eyes.” Frank Lloyd Wright, famous architect
a. What do you the speaker means by this?
b. How much time do you spend watching TV? Is that too much time or do you wish you could watch it more?
c. Is TV artistic? Do you think that culturally important things happen on TV? Why?
18. The internet has made it easier than ever before to find people with similar interests and hobbies. Many of these people have formed into groups called subcultures, with their own unique culture and philosophy. Some examples include, goth, emo, punk, cosplayers, gamers, hipster, steampunk, etc.
a. Describe one subculture that you know of. How do they look? Act? What are they interested in?
b. Is there any subculture that you are interested in knowing more about or joining?
c. Do you think that subcultures are a good thing or a bad thing? Why?
19. What do you think the most important invention of the last 100 years has been?
a. How has that invention changed people’s lives?
b. How has that invention changed your life?
c. What would the world be like without that invention?
20. Two years ago, the mayor of New York City made it illegal to sell soda larger than a certain size. The people of New York were very angry about this.
a. Why do you think he made this law? What problem might he have been fighting?
b. Why do you think the people became so angry over a law about soda?
c. Do you think that it is right for the government to tell people what they can and can’t do with their own bodies?