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Contemporary's GED Language Arts, Reading
John M. Reier

GED Practice Test


The Language Arts, Reading Test consists of excerpts from fiction and nonfiction. Each excerpt is followed by multiple-choice questions about the reading material.

Read each excerpt first and then answer the questions following it. Refer back to the reading material as often as necessary in answering the questions.

Each excerpt is preceded by a "purpose question." The purpose question gives a reason for reading the material. Use these purpose questions to help focus your reading. You are not required to answer these purpose questions. They are given only to help you concentrate on the ideas presented in the reading material.

Try to answer the 20 questions on this test in 33 minutes or less. Work carefully, but do not spend too much time on any one question. Be sure you answer every question.

When you have finished the test, click on Submit Answers to receive feedback and results. You may also choose to e-mail your results to your instructor. To determine your GED standard score, click on GED Score in the sidebar on the left-hand side of your screen.

Questions 1 through 8 refer to the following excerpt.


       The man flung a look back along the way he had come. The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow. It was all pure white, rolling in gentle undulations where the ice-jams of the freeze-up had formed. North and south, as far as his eye could see, it was unbroken white, save for a dark hairline that curved and twisted from around the spruce-covered island to the south, and that curved and twisted away into the north, where it disappeared behind another spruce-covered island. This dark hairline was the trail—the main trail—that led south five hundred miles to the Chilcoot Pass, Dyea, and salt water; and that led north seventy miles to Dawson, and still on to the north a thousand miles to Nulato, and finally to St. Michael on Bering Sea, a thousand miles and a half thousand more.

       But all this—the mysterious, far reaching hairline trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all—made no impression on the man. It was not because he was long used to it. He was a newcomer in the land, a cheechako, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in things, not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate on his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man’s frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man’s place in the universe. Fifty degrees below zero stood for a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded against by the use of mittens, ear flaps, warm moccasins, and thick socks. Fifty degrees below zero was to him just precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head.

Jack London, "To Build a Fire," 1910


In the first paragraph, what does the dark line cutting through the snow represent?

A)a river
B)a row of spruce trees
C)the horizon
D)a path
E)the timberline

Why do the cold and darkness make no impression on the man?


A)does not know what they mean
B)is accustomed to the cold
C)does not have very far to go
D)knows the sun will be shining soon
E)knows himself to be quick and alert

How does the man expect to ward off the cold?

A)by keeping moving
B)by following the trail
C)by wearing proper clothing
D)by accepting the discomfort
E)by building a fire

In the second paragraph the narrator says, "He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in things, not in the significances." What is the narrator suggesting about the man in these lines?

The man

A)can handle any situation
B)cannot see the danger he was in
C)believes material things are more important than values
D)is good at analyzing a situation
E)believes that the cold could really hurt him

In the last sentence, what is the "thought that never really entered his head?"

A)The temperature was fifty degrees below zero.
B)Extreme cold is life-threatening for humans.
C)Thinking about the cold will only make you colder.
D)People can do strange things in extreme cold.
E)Wolves may attack lone travelers in the North.

Why does the author describe the weather conditions in detail?

In order to

A)make the reader feel cold
B)show the difference between northern and southern climates
C)emphasize the importance that weather will play in the man’s life
D)point out the man’s exceptional capabilities
E)describe the normal weather conditions in the Yukon

What would the man most likely do if he were making his first attempt at mountain climbing?

He would

A)be prepared for all kinds of danger
B)be afraid of his first climb
C)ask a companion to go with him
D)believe he could cope with the situation
E)bring a journal to write about the experience

Which of the following phrases most closely defines the word cheechako?

A)a frail man
B)an experienced climber
C)a man without imagination
D)a traveler
E)a newcomer in the land

Questions 9 through 12 refer to the following poem.


A narrow Fellow in the Grass

A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides—
You may have met Him—did you not
His notice sudden is—

(5)The Grass divides as with a Comb—
A spotted shaft is seen—
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on—

He likes a boggy Acre
(10)A Floor too cool for Corn—
Yet when a Boy, and Barefoot—
I more than once at Noon
Have passed, I thought, a Whip lash
Unbraiding in the Sun
(15)When stooping to secure it
It wrinkled, and was gone—

Several of Nature’s People
I Know, and they know me—
I feel for them a transport
(20)of cordiality—

But never met this Fellow
Attended, or alone
Without a tighter breathing
And Zero at the Bone—

Emily Dickinson, "A narrow Fellow in the Grass"


What is the speaker’s attitude toward "Nature’s People" in the fourth stanza?


What is the "narrow Fellow in the Grass?"

A)an evil young boy
B)a whip
C)a snake
E)stalk of corn

Why are several words within some lines capitalized?

Because they

A)refer to a specific place
B)refer to the “Fellow”, to the speaker, or to nature
C)are more important than other words
D)should be emphasized when spoken
E)are being used for comparison

Emily Dickinson, an American poet, often personified human emotions and conditions in the form of an animal. Based on her feelings in the last line of the poem, what does the "narrow Fellow in the Grass" represent?


Questions 13 through 15 refer to the following business document.


Stratford, Inc.
Human Resources Guide

Commitment to Equal Employment Opportunity

Equal Employment Opportunity
Stratford, Inc. is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment. Advancement opportunities and employment decisions will be made without regard to race, religion, gender, ethnicity, creed, color, citizenship status, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, national origin, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected under federal, state, or local law.

Furthermore, when filling open positions, managers are expected to seek out a diverse pool of candidates for consideration. Towards this end, the company develops annual Affirmative Action programs as required by its federal contractor status. Management plays an active role in demonstrating the corporation’s commitment by providing equal employment opportunities at all levels of employment. For advice or assistance in meeting this obligation, managers are encouraged to consult with their Human Resources Representative.

Equal Employment Opportunity Applies to Every Phase of the Employment Process
To advance the principles of equal employment opportunity, the corporation also extends this policy to every phase of the employment process including, but not limited to, recruitment, selection, placement, transfer, training and development, promotion, compensation, benefits, layoffs, termination, and all other conditions or privileges of employment. Each and every employee is expected to abide by and promote this policy of equal employment opportunity within the organization, as well as with those who have a business relationship with Stratford, Inc.

Equal Employment Opportunity Requires the Participation of All Employees
While overall authority for implementing an Equal Employment Opportunity policy is assigned to the Executive Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness, an effective equal employment opportunity program cannot be achieved without the support of all employees. Any employee who feels he/she has been denied equal opportunity or subjected to discrimination should bring the problem forward. The corporation’s Employee Concern Resolution Resources provide a number of ways for your concerns to be addressed.


Which of the following actions would NOT be in violation of the equal employment opportunity program?

A)reprimanding an employee who refuses to work with an Arab coworker
B)not hiring a prospective employee because he is over the age of 50
C)promoting a less-experienced woman over a more experienced woman because the less-experienced woman is more attractive
D)firing an employee who has just announced he is a homosexual
E)refusing to promote a pregnant woman because she will soon be on maternity leave

What is the main purpose of the corporation’s equal employment opportunity policy?

A)to point out the rules for termination
B)to prevent against the hiring of incompetent employees
C)to ensure an indiscriminating workplace
D)to prevent the company from being sued
E)to lay out the rules for promotion

What type of writing does this document sound like?

B)news article
D)legal policy

Questions 16 through 20 refer to the following excerpt from a play.


I'll offer myself as an assistant to Professor Nepean.

(rising in a fury) What! That imposter! That humbug! That toady ignoramus! Teach him my methods! My discoveries! You take one step in his direction and I'll wring your neck. (He lays hands on her.) Do you hear?

(defiantly nonresistant) Wring away. What do I care? I knew you'd strike me someday. (He lets her go, stamping with rage at having forgotten himself, and recoils so hastily that he stumbles back into his seat on the ottoman.) Aha! Now I know how to deal with you. What a fool I was not to think of it before! You can't take way the knowledge you gave me. You said I had a finer ear than you. And I can be civil and kind to people, which is more than you can. Aha! That's done you, Henry Higgins, it has. Now I don't care that (snapping her fingers) for your bullying and your big talk. I'll advertise it in the papers that your duchess is only a flower girl that you taught, and that she'll teach anybody to be a duchess just the same in six months for a thousand guineas. Oh, when I think of myself crawling under your feet and being trampled on and called names, when all the time I had only to lift up my finger to be as good as you, I could kick myself.

(wondering at her) You impudent hussy, you. But it's better than sniveling: better than fetching slippers and finding spectacles, isn't it? (Rising) By George, Eliza. I said I'd make a woman of you; and I have. I like you like this.

Yes, you turn 'round and make up to me now that I'm not afraid of you, and can do without you.

Of course I do, you little fool. Five minutes ago you were like a millstone round my neck. Now you're a tower of strength, a consort battleship. You and I and Pickering will be three old bachelors together instead of only two men and a silly girl.

George Bernard Shaw, excerpted from Pygmalion, 1916


Prior to this scene, how did Liza feel about herself when she compared herself to Higgins?

She felt she was

A)not as good as he
B)an equal of his
C)more foolish than he
D)more knowledgeable than he
E)a better teacher than he

What did Higgins most likely teach Liza?

A)how to act like a lady
B)how to be civil and kind to people
C)skills to use in a flower shop
D)methods for fooling people
E)how to argue with a man

Why does Higgins stamp his foot with rage?

Because he

A)does not want Nepean to learn his secrets
B)fell over the ottoman
C)allowed Liza to provoke him
D)knows Liza will work for Nepean
E)realizes what a fool Liza is

In his last lines in the passage, Higgins compares Liza to a "millstone" and a "consort battleship." What does this indicate about his feelings toward Liza?


A)thinks Liza has no feelings of her own
B)had thought Liza was a pushy disagreeable woman but now thinks she is terrifying
C)has no feelings for Liza
D)would rather not see her again
E)had regarded Liza as a burden but now regards her as his equal

If Higgins were the president of a company, which of the following policies would he practice?

He would

A)treat all his employees fairly
B)hire women as executives
C)think of all his employees as equals
D)think of himself as better than most of his employees
E)be willing to listen to his employees' complaints