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    Reading Comprehension
  I: Introduction  
  II: The Challenge  
  III: The Five Steps  
  IV: Question Types  
  V: Tips  
  VI: Sample Essays  
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VI. Reading Comprehension Sample Questions- Easy Essay 1  
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Sample Essays



6 questions / 10 minutes

Tammany Hall was the name given to the Democratic Party political machine that dominated New York City politics from 1854 through 1934. That eighty-year period marks the time in which Tammany was the city's driving political force.

Tammany is forever linked with the rise of the Irish in American politics. Beginning in 1846, Irish immigrants fleeing the Irish potato famine began arriving in New York. Equipped with knowledge of English and what some have called a genius for politics, the Irish quickly assumed a key role within Tammany. Viewing politics as a path out of poverty, they found in Tammany an ally in the struggle to survive the hellish conditions of New York slums. In exchange for jobs, loans, turkeys at Christmas and other favors, they provided organizational skills, governing capacity and their votes on Election Day. The Irish would come to dominate Tammany, supplying its leaders from 1872 through 1924.

By 1854 Tammany's lineage and support from immigrants had combined to make it a powerful force in New York politics. In that year, the group elected its first New York City mayor. As its power grew, Tammany's "bosses," called the Grand Sachem, and their supporters enriched themselves through means legal and illegal. Perhaps the most famous boss of all was William M. "Boss" Tweed. Though not Irish himself, Tweed was elected with the support of Irish immigrants. His outsized personality projected through his 300 pound frame and gargantuan appetites he was famous for devouring steaks and oysters by the plateful at Delmonico's made him a colorful if not controversial figure. His infamously corrupt reign was brazen enough to incite an attempt at reform in the early 1870s. Rutherford B. Hayes's involvement in this effort contributed to his success in the presidential election of 1876. New York minister Charles Henry Parkhurst publicly denounced the Hall in 1892, which led to a Grand Jury investigation, the appointment of the Lexow Committee and the election of a reform mayor in 1894.


1. The author is primarily concerned with which of the following?

(A) the plight of Irish immigrants in New York City
(B) an important time in the history of democracy
(C) a venue in which the Irish joined the political arena
(D) corruption in New York City politics
(E) New York City politics and how they differ from those of other cities

2. According to the passage, the Irish joined Tammany because:

I. They felt comfortable around other immigrants
II. Tammany helped the Irish meet their basic needs
III. Tammany provided the Irish with organizational skills

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

3. We can infer from the passage that:

(A) The Irish continued to dominate Tammany after 1924.
(B) Tammany helped the Irish in order to gain political power.
(C) The Irish immigrants learned to be politically savvy in Ireland.
(D) Tammany was located near the slums in which the Irish lived.
(E) Immigrant groups that were unfamiliar with English were not involved in politics of New York City.

4. The tone of the passage is:

(A) indignant
(B) skeptical
(C) objective
(D) optimistic
(E) reverent

5. What does the author mean by “His infamously corrupt regime was brazen enough to incite an attempt at reform” as used in the last paragraph?

(A) Tweed was a bold mayor who called for reform in New York City government.
(B) Tweed was a corrupt mayor and did his best to keep this out of the public eye. However, he was unsuccessful.
(C) Tweed did much to help immigrants even though he was a corrupt leader.
(D) Tweed's corruption was so noticeable that other city officials decided to take control of the situation.
(E) Tweed boldly chose to make reform Tammany during his time as mayor.

6. The author's primary objective in writing the passage is to:

(A) honor the great bosses of Tammany
(B) defend Tammany's political influence
(C) criticize political corruption
(D) present a new theory about immigrant self-empowerment
(E) illuminate a time in the history of politics


VI: Sample Essays

Easy Essay 2