Reading Comprehension I: Introduction II: The Challenge III: The Five Steps IV: Question Types V: Tips Sample Questions 4. Acclimatization 5. Mermen Sightings
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Section 6: Passage 5 - Mermen Sightings

The mid-thirteenth-century

1. Which of the following statements best expresses the central idea of the passage?

(A) Early Norse mariners were incorrect in attributing to mermen the power to bring on storms at sea.
(B) A Norse merman is actually a distorted visual image created by anomalous atmospheric refraction.
(C) The Norse merman is unlikely to be merely a manatee or a dugong.
(D) The thermoclines that generate mermen images are more common in the North Atlantic than elsewhere in the world.
(E) A whale projecting its head vertically out of the water is an excellent source for mermen images.

2. The author is impressed by the King's Mirror because of its

(A)  Universality
(B)  Comprehensiveness
(C) Ingenuity
(D) Faithfulness to reality
(E) Sound reasoning

3. According to the passage, the thermoclines that generate mermen images are most likely to be present when two air masses in close proximity differ significantly in

(A)  Elevation
(B)  Density
(C) Temperature
(D) Rate of movement
(E) Moisture content

4. According to the passage, an object sighted at sea will appear most distorted by a thermocline when the

(A) Distance from the object to the observer is short.
(B) Vertical dimension of the object is large.
(C) Surface of the water near the observer is smooth.
(D) Elevation of the observer above the water level is low.
(E) Frontal system that created the thermocline is strong.

5. According to the author, Norse mariners made which of the following errors?

(A) They worked their ships only from the deck.
(B) They converted to higher-decked ships in later centuries.
(C) They did not record their sightings of mermen in later centuries.
(D) They mistook one sea mammal for another.
(E) They mistook an effect of storm conditions for a cause of storms.

6. Which of the following phrases could best be substituted for the word "reconsidered" in the last sentence of the first paragraph, without changing the meaning of the passage as a whole?

(A)  Evaluated objectively
(B)  Verified experimentally
(C)  Questioned seriously
(D)  Compared with other theories
(E)  Reasserted more emphatically

7. According to the passage, the likelihood of optical distortion is increased in the presence of which of the following atmospheric conditions?
I. A temperature inversion
II. A warm front
III. Dead calm followed by a sudden rise in temperature

(A)  I only
(B) II only
(C) I and III only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II, and III

8. Which of the following would most strengthen the author's assertions concerning the cause of mermen images?

(A) Accurate measurement of the average temperature gradient in a thermocline.
(B) Empirical verification of computer simulations made by the author.
(C) Explanation by historians of the reasons behind the design changes made in Norse ships after the thirteenth century.
(D) Discovery of records showing frequent sightings of mermen by Norse mariners after the thirteenth century.
(E) Discovery of errors in the correlations developed by Wegener.

9. The passage implies that the hafgerdingar are most likely to be seen as a result of which of the following?

(A) Irregularities in the atmospheric temperature profile.
(B) Movement of a cool air mass over significantly warmer surface air.
(C) Upward refraction of light rays through the atmosphere.
(D) A period of several consecutive warm days on the Greenland Sea.
(E) A change in atmospheric temperature profile after a storm at sea.

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