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Topic Multiple-Choice Exercise
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Directions: Read each paragraph. Then determine its topic by asking yourself, "Who or what is this paragraph about?" The name, word, or phrase that answers that question is the paragraph's topic.


Tsunamis, large ocean waves caused by underwater earthquakes, can be deadly and destructive. For example, in December 2004, an underwater earthquake triggered a massive tsunami throughout the Indian Ocean. The tsunami killed more than 200,000 people and caused billions of dollars of damage to the coasts of numerous Southeast Asian countries.

The topic is
B)ocean waves

Even today, the U.S. Supreme Court does not reflect the U.S. population. It was 1967 before the first black justice was appointed. It was 1981 before the first woman was appointed to the Court. It was 1986 before the Court had its first justice of Italian descent. No person of Hispanic or Asian descent has yet been appointed as a member of the Court.

The topic is
A)U.S. Supreme Court
B)whether the Supreme Court reflects the U.S. population
C)the first black justice

In Africa, music is usually performed outdoors. There is spontaneous music making as well as performances by social and music groups at ceremonies and feasts. There is no musical notation (written music). African music tradition, like folklore and history, is transmitted orally. Music is a social activity in which almost everyone participates. Clearly, African music has several interesting characteristics.

The topic is
C)African music

High achievement motivation affects people's choice of occupation and job success. (High achievement motivation refers to the psychological need for success in school, sports, occupations, or other competitive situations.) People with high achievement motivation often go into occupations that provide rewards for individual achievement, such as sales, engineering, architecture, or law. Moreover, people with high achievement motivation tend to go into occupations that realistically match their abilities. For this reason, they have little anxiety or fear of failure. And when success is achieved, they enjoy the fruit of their labor more than the average person.

The topic is
A)high achievement
C)high achievement motivation

Democracy comes from the Greek word demos, which means "the people," and kratia, meaning "to rule." The term democracy refers to a form of government in which the people govern, either directly or through elected representatives. In other words, it is a set of rules for determining who will exercise the authority of government.

The topic is
B)the meaning of the term democracy
C)the Greek word demos and kratia

Some believe that Americans have become merely consumers of material goods who no longer care about helping others. This image is false, however. An estimated 90 million Americans volunteer, and the monetary value of their volunteer time is estimated at $200 billion a year. Many of these volunteers serve on committees, baby-sit, sing in church choirs, coach, and lead scout troops. More than 1.5 million of these volunteers provide fire protection and ambulance service without pay.

The topic is
A)American consumers
B)American volunteers
C)serving on committees

Is it an ant, you wonder, or a termite? Ants resemble termites, but they are quite different and can be easily distinguished. In contrast to termites, ants are usually dark in color, are hard bodied, and have constriction between the thorax and abdomen. Also, ants and termites belong to different orders.

The topic is
A)distinguishing between ants and termites
B)characteristics of ants
Adolescents tend to choose friends who are like them, and friends influence each other to become even more alike. Friends are usually the same race and have similar status within the peer group. Male adolescents tend to have many friends, but the friendships are rarely close ones. Among teenage girls, friendships are fewer but much closer, and they provide a great deal of emotional support.

The topic is
B)adolescents and their friends
C)teenage girls' friendships

An individual with the eating disorder bulimia first eats secretly, consuming an enormous amount of food in one sitting. The large quantity of food is clearly beyond simple hunger. Then, after the eating binge comes the purge. In this phase, the person vomits or uses laxatives to make sure the food does not stay in the body and produce weight gain. With bulimia, there is always a distinct "binge and purge" pattern.

The topic is
A)an eating disorder
B)eating large quantities of food
C)the binge and purge pattern of bulimia

When you listen to a speech, can it help you to focus on the speaker's strengths and weaknesses? By closely observing and listening to people when they give speeches, you can learn a great deal that will make you a more successful speaker. If the speaker is not effective, try to determine why. If he or she is effective, try to pick out techniques you can use in your own speeches. If the speaker is ineffective, avoid the errors the person made.

The topic is
B)becoming a better speaker by listening to others' speeches
C)picking out techniques you can use in your own speeches

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