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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 2  
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Sample Essays



5 questions/ 9 minutes

Although the twentieth century saw the rise of women as professional musicians, the majority of composers and performers were, and still are, men. The music industry in the U.S. and Britain overwhelmingly reflects the values of a patriarchal society; the success or failure of a female artist is based largely on her physical appearance and gendered performance style. Blues, rock, and pop began as genres dominated by men, and thus included styles of dress, lyrics, and sound born of a male perspective. The history of these genres, then, is also a history of women seeking to locate their space within a predominately masculine musical environment.

Women are always judged, in part, on their image, and it is through the manipulation of this image that some women artists have been able to push the boundaries of gender identity. Women have been able to enter popular genres of music either by playing with the aesthetics of masculinity, or by playing into a male expectation of femininity. Sexuality, therefore, is a tool women continue to use to shape and reshape their place within popular music.

Pushing boundaries is a balancing act, however, and a contradictory process. In order to gain access to the world of popular music, a female artist must at once be pleasing her audience, and, at the same time, remain true to herself as a woman. A desire to be too much “one of the guys” can lead to identity problems and ultimately to self-destruction. An artist's use of irony or parody may run the risk of being mistaken for genuineness, causing her to be objectified. Working within the limits of popular music has proven difficult and dangerous for women. But due to the professionalism and inventiveness of many female performers, the space for women in popular music is being expanded and redefined.

1. According to the passage, successful women in popular music

I. parody their gender
II. are under constant scrutiny by audiences
III. use sexuality to their advantage

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

2. The passage suggests which of the following about the 20th century?

(A) Female musicians were tolerated because of their physical appearance.
(B) Professional male musicians did not respect women.
(C) Song lyrics changed over time to fit the most current female perspective.
(D) Rapid technological advancements helped women achieve notoriety in music.
(E) Women's musical progress happened slowly and with much struggle.

3. Which of the following best summarizes the main idea of the last paragraph?

(A) Entering the music world is not easy for women but they are making progress.
(B) Parody and irony are the only ways in which women can hope to achieve success in music.
(C) Women in popular music cannot escape being judged on their appearance.
(D) Women assume stereotypically female appearances in order to attract audiences.
(E) Popular music has space for women if only they would seek it out.

4. The author is likely to have which of the following attitudes when advising women about the music business?

(A) persuasive
(B) cautionary
(C) ambivalence
(D) discouraging
(E) hostile

5. From which of the following sources was the passage most likely excerpted?

(A) a newspaper editorial
(B) an American history textbook
(C) a book on gender studies
(D) a teaching manual
(E) a music magazine

Easy Essay 1

Easy Essay 3