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Madison Oster June 13th, 2018

TOEFL® Reading Practice with Question types

We have been talking a lot about many different types of questions. Yet, we talk about them separately. This time, I’ll show you an example of an actual reading passage from the TOEFL test. With that, I will include some different question types so you can see how all of these questions fit into one passage.

This exercise helps you practice keeping track of different types of information while reading the passage. Before, when practicing one type of question, you knew exactly what information to keep track of while reading and would use that information to effectively answer the question. Now, without much guidance, you need to keep track of multiple types of information at once while reading the passage.

Here is the example. No answers to the questions can be found in this blog. For now, give your best shot at every question. The answers and explanations can be found in this post: titled TOEFL Reading Practice - All Question Type Answers.

Hope you will enjoy this practice example.

[1] It is believed that eyes evolved over a few million years during the Cambrian explosion, a rapid period of evolution. Prior to this era, there is no direct evidence of eyes. Eyes have a vast range of adaptations to meet the needs of the organism. They vary in visual acuity, the array of wavelength detected, sensitivity in low light, color discrimination and their capacity to identify motion.

[2] Charles Darwin, in On the Origin of Species, suggests that the eye evolved from "an optic nerve merely coated with pigment, and without any other mechanism" to "a moderately high stage of perfection". Darwin presented intermediate grades of evolution and made suggestions that were soon shown to be correct. Since this time, modern scientists have been putting forward work on the topic of eye evolution, suggesting that the eye developed from a vertebrate patch of photoreceptors. Current research validates the theory of Darwin.

[3] The first eye fossils date back to 540 million years ago. Prior to this time, organisms may have had use for light sensitivity, but not for fast locomotion and navigation by vision. However, it remains difficult to evaluate the rate of eye evolution because the fossil record of this period is weak. The development of the circular patch of photoreceptor cells into a fully functional vertebrate eye has been estimated on the rates of mutation, relative benefit to the organism and natural selection. Based on these estimations, it is suggested that it would take less than 364,000 years for the complete evolution of the eye.

[4] The fundamental light-processing unit of the eye is the photoreceptor cell, a specialized cell with two types of molecules in its membrane: the opsin, a light-sensitive protein, and the chromophore – a pigment that can distinguish colors – which it surrounds. This group of cells is called an ‘eyespot. These eyespots allow animals a basic sense of light direction and intensity. However, 96% of species have a more complex optical system that allows light discrimination within a few degrees. These optical systems began as multi cellular eye patches and gradually evolved into a cup which first allowed the capacity to discriminate brightness in directions, then in finer and finer directions as the pit became deeper. Whereas a flat shape of the eyes allowed limited directional differentiation, the cup shape of the pit eye allows for increasingly precise visual information. Pit eyes, which date back to Cambrian period, were detected in ancient snails, and are still found in snails today.

[5] When a photon is absorbed by the chromophore, a chemical reaction causes the photon's energy to be converted into electrical energy and relayed, in higher animals, to the nervous system. These photoreceptor cells form part of the retina, a thin layer of cells that relays visual information, including the light and day-length information needed by the circadian rhythm system, to the brain. However, some jellyfish, such as Cladonema, have elaborate eyes but no brain. Their eyes transmit a message directly to the muscles without the intermediate processing provided by a brain.

[6] During the Cambrian explosion, evolution of the eye was very fast, with dramatic developments in image-processing and light direction detection. As the photosensitive cell region developed, there came a point when the reduction of the width of the light opening became more efficient for visual resolution than the ongoing deepening of the cup. With a reduced size of the opening, organisms achieved true imaging, allowing for finer sensing of direction and shape. The nautilus, a marine mollusc, has this type of opening. Without a cornea or lens, the eye openings provide poor resolution and dim imaging. However, they are still a major evolution from the earlier eye patches.

[7] So, why is it that eyes specialize in detecting a specific, narrow range of wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum —the visible spectrum? It is probably because the earliest species to develop photosensitivity were aquatic (such as jellyfish), and only two specific wavelength ranges of electromagnetic radiation, blue and green visible light, can be transmitted through water. This same light-filtering property of water also influenced the photosensitivity of plants.


The vocabulary question

The word ‘evolution’ in paragraph 1 is closest in meaning to:

  1. Progress
  2. Change in habits and behavior
  3. Change in heritable traits
  4. Development of the human species

The inference question

Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 1 about eyes before the Cambrian Explosion?

  1. We can safely assume eyes existed prior to the Cambrian Explosion
  2. We can safely assume eyes did not exist prior to the Cambrian Explosion
  3. We can assume that prior to the Cambrian Explosion, eyes varied in visual acuity
  4. Prior to the Cambrian Explosion, eyes had not ability to identify motion, color or light.

The Negative Factual question

According to paragraph 4, all of the following statements are true about the light processing unit of the eye, EXCEPT:

  1. The photoreceptor cell contains two molecules: the opsin and the chromophore
  2. The group of cells is called an ‘eyespot’
  3. 96% of species have a light processing unit that allows a basic light sensitivity and direction
  4. Complex optical systems permit light discrimination within a few degrees

The Paraphase question

Which of the sentence below best expresses the essential information in the following sentence?

These optical systems began as multi cellular eye patches and gradually evolved into a cup

  1. These optical systems started out as cells grouped into eye patches and then developed over time into a cup
  2. These multi cellular systems were cups that gradually evolved into optical systems
  3. These optical systems started out as eye patches grouped into cells and gradually became cups
  4. These eye patches were cups that gradually evolved into multiple cells

The Insert Text question

Examine the four spaces in the selection below and indicate at which block the following sentence could be inserted into the passage:

This is proposed in the research paper of modern scientists, Nilsson and S. Pelger.

□[A] Darwin presented intermediate grades of evolution and made suggestions that were soon shown to be correct. □ [B] Modern scientists have been putting forward work on the topic of eye evolution, suggesting that the eye developed from a vertebrate patch of photoreceptors. □ [C] Current research validates the theory of Darwin. □ [D]

  1. [A]
  2. [B]
  3. [C]
  4. [D]

This question was taken from our free TOEFL Reading Question

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