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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- Medium Essay 2  
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Sample Essays



8 questions/ 12 minutes

If the 1950s was a sparse period for Black poetry, the 1960s more than compensated for it; during the 1960s, Black poets appeared all over the United States. By the end of the decade not only had poetic giants such as Melvin Tolson, LeRoi Jones, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, and Langston Hughes reappeared with new volumes of poetry, but also at least five anthologies of Black poetry were published. Some of the new Black poets made their debuts in the anthologies. Others were first published in Harlem's new avant-garde literary publication, Umbra. As the decade drew to a close, the "Broadside Press" poets appeared through Dudley Randall's series of Broadside Press editions and in Hoyt Fuller's Negro Digest, which was later known as Black World. These poets brought with them new poetic concepts, a new aesthetic, and a strong awareness of the Black ghetto experience.

Like the spirituals and the secular songs of slavery, the new Black poetry burst forth out of a time of racial turmoil. The catalyst for creativity was a series of events beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott and encompassing the nonviolent sit-in demonstrations of the early 1960s and big-city riots of the mid-1960s. Behind the poets and their songs of bitter protest against racism in America, were the bombings, the assassinations, the burning ghettos, the screaming sirens, the violent confrontations, and the cruel awareness of spreading Black poverty amid white affluence.

The most forthrightly militant representatives of the new Black mood in poetry were the Broadside Press poets, so called because their poems are social, political, and moral broadsides protesting against the body politic and the establishment. Before the Broadside Press poets emerged as a definable literary group, other poets had written protest poetry in the early 1960s, that was caustic, bitter, and at times mordantly cynical. But the poetry became more than bitter militant protest. Under the leadership of LeRoi Jones and others, there developed a Black aesthetic that, in one measure, prescribed the guidelines for Black poetic militancy. Under the racial pressures of the late 1950s and early 1960s Jones himself had undergone a metamorphosis, moving from an avant-garde aestheticism to a Black nationalism-activism.

In the process, he abandoned his "slave" name and became Imamu Amiri Baraka. He also moved out of the deep melancholy and pessimism that permeate many of his earlier poems. His "Black Art" indicates that his pessimism was replaced by a vigilant and militant activism. Indeed, "Black Art" announces the credo of the new Black aesthetic - that the direct objective of all Black artistic expression is to achieve social change and moral and political revolution. Poems, Jones asserts, should be "fists and daggers and pistols to clean up the sordid Black world for virtue and love."

1. It can be inferred from the passage that the Broadside Press poets believed that poetry primarily should be:

(A)  entertaining
(B)  descriptive
(C)  aesthetic
(D)  escapist
(E)  remonstrative

2. The author mentions all of the following as indications of the new importance of Black poetry in the 1960s EXCEPT:

(A)   The appearance of several anthologies of Black poetry.
(B)  The appearance of new literary journals for Black literature.
(C)  Courses in Black literature at most colleges and universities.
(D)  New volumes of poetry by established Black writers.
(E)  The emergence of a committed Black literary group.

3. The primary purpose of the passage is to:

(A)   discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a new literary group.
(B)  compare contrasting literary movements.
(C)  analyze the impact of a literary movement on American social structure.
(D)  describe a literary movement and the factors that influenced it.
(E)  outline the history of a literary genre.

4. It is most likely that immediately preceding this passage the author had discussed:

(A)  Black poetry of the 1950s.
(B)  Black prose of the 1960s.
(C)  some minor Black poets of the 1960s.
(D)  the racial atmosphere of America in the 1960s.
(E)  the new periodicals devoted to Black literature .

5. According to the passage, the new Black poetry was characterized by:

(A)  individual introspection.
(B)  profound despair.
(C)  moral pessimism.
(D)  psychological detachment.
(E)  social protest.

6. According to the passage, the flourishing of black poetry during the 1960's was chiefly a reflection of:

a)  an increased awareness of black cultural heritage.
B)  a renewed interest in the work of older Black poets.
c)  the feeling that poetry is more expressive than prose.
d)  the racial trouble in the United States at the time.
e)  new goals the older Black writers had set for themselves.

7. The passage implies that LeRoi Jones' main contribution to the new Black poetry was to:

(A)  make other black writers more aware of social conditions.
(B)  attract the attention of whites to Black literature.
(C)  provide a link between the older and the younger generations of Black writers.
(D)  provide the philosophy of the new Black literature.
(E)  serve as a personal example of what the artist's role should be.

8. In which of the following ways is the passage organized?

(A)  A phenomenon is discussed and then further explained by its appearances in history.
(B) A trend is described, followed by an example of a group that exemplified that trend.
(C) A hypothesis is stated and then proven through historical examples.
(D) A group is praised for its historical merits and then shown to be part of a larger movement.
(E) A perspective is analyzed and then called into question


Medium Essay 1

Medium Essay 3