2002 June | Part A, Section B – Comprehension

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Comprehension Passage 1
Comprehension Passage 1 Questions
Comprehension Passage 2
Comprehension Passage 2 Questions


Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions that follow.

When health workers first came to the village and talked about family planning, no one took them seriously, including Amusa, whose young wife was then pregnant with their first baby. Had their fathers and forefathers before them not had as many wives and children as they desired? And have they not been able to take care of their families? So everyone shunned the family planning clinic which was established in the village shortly afterwards.

Twelve years later, Amusa was a clerical assistant in the city and lived with his wife and eight children in a single room because he could not afford larger quarters. For as long as he could remember, his large family had been going through difficult times, which appeared to be worsening lately. Only yesterday, his third child had been sent away from school because her parents could not replace her old torn school uniform. Last year, their first son could not proceed to the secondary school as the family could not afford the cost. Then recently, the landlord had announced his intention to increase the rent.

Amusa found himself thinking about the days when he himself was a young child. His own father had two wives and thirteen children, yet as far as he could remember, the family had not faced anything similar to what he was going through now. He suddenly realized that this was because the times had changed and that the requirements of modern living put great pressure on large family sizes.

His father’s time and age had been different: he had been a successful farmer in the village, had lived in his own house, employed members of his large family as farm hands and fed everyone from the abundance of the farm. On the other hand, Amusa lived in the city on a limited income. He had no farm land nor even a vegetable garden, and had to pay for everything, from his rented room to the smallest domestic needs of his family. And at four times what they cost a few years before!

It was then that he sadly remembered the health workers and their gospel of family planning. How he wished he had listened and taken their advice! Unfortunately, he had not. And what was even more unfortunate was that the millions in Amusa’s shoes became wiser only when it was too late.   Top


(a) What advise do you think the health workers gave the villagers?

(b) Give two reasons why the villagers did not take the health workers seriously.

(c) Give two indications of Amusa’s financial difficulties.

(d) Mention any two differences between Amusa’s conditions and his father’s.

(e) And what was even more unfortunate.........

(i) What grammatical name is given to this expression as it is used in the passage?
(ii) What does it mean?

(f) And had they not been able to take care of their families?

(i) What literary device is used in this expression?
(ii) What does it mean?

(g) For each of the following words or phrases, find another word or phrase which means the same and can replace it as it is used in the passage:

(i) shunned
(ii) established
(iii) announced
(iv) going through
(v) limited
(vi) shoes   Top


Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.

The great white shark is at the top of the marine food chain. In the shark family, it is the king, it will eat anything, even other sharks. But as it gets older, bigger and slower, it develops a preference for seals, penguins and carrion, especially dead whales.

In locating their food, most sharks use all their senses, including excellent vision. Their sense of smell is incredible and their ears are aided by pressure-sensitive cells along each side of their body. Nothing escapes this eavesdropping system, which is attuned to vibrations in the water. Sharks also have a sixth sense which enables them to detect the weak electrical fields emanating from the beating heart or the swimming muscles of a potential prey.

The white shark’s most fearsome assets are its huge head, its black eyes, and its razor-sharp serrated teeth. The circulatory system of the white shark is different from that of most other sharks. Its blood temperature is about three to five degrees Celsius above water temperature, which speeds up digestion and adds to its strength and endurance.

It is known that the white shark pits out its wounded prey after an initial, powerful bite. Then it waits for the victim to die before eating it. Why does it use this bite-and-spit strategy? Experts speculate that this is because of its eyes. Unlike other sharks, the white shark no eyelid-like membrane to protect its eyes, rather, it rotates them in their sockets when a collision is imminent. At the moment of impact, the eye is left exposed, perhaps to the flying claws of a seal. Therefore, for the white shark, a quick mortal strike and release is common behaviour.

The public image of sharks has been greatly coloured by the novel 'Jaws', which was turned into a popular movie. Overnight, the white shark became evil incarnate. However, it is not a demon craving human flesh. The smell of blood does not drive it into a frenzy as it does certain other sharks. Nevertheless it is a dangerous animal and should be treated with caution and respect.   Top


(a) How do sharks use their sixth sense?

(b) In what significant way is the circulatory system of the white shark different from that of other sharks?

(c) What, according to the passage, is the probable reason why the white shark waits for its victim to die before eating it?


(i) What is the writer’s attitude to the white shark?
(ii) Quote an expression from the passage to support your answer.

(e) At the moment of impact..........

(i) What figure of speech is given to this expression as it is used in the passage?
(ii) What is its function?

(f) However, it is not a demon craving human flesh.
What figure of speech is contained in this expression?

(g) For each of the following words, find another word or phrase which means the same and can replace it as it is used in the passage:

(i) preference
(ii) incredible
(iii) emanating
(iv) speculate
(v) mortal
(vi) coloured  Top


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