English/Reading Placement Test Review

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English Placement Test ReviewWelcome to the Gaston College NCDAP English/Reading placement test review section. The questions in the review are designed to allow you to practice the basic skills necessary to succeed in curriculum level English courses.

The review is divided into four sections: Grammar, Basic Writing Skills, Essay Writing Skills, and Reading Comprehension. You may view these sections in any order. After answering a question, click the link to the right of the question to view a brief explanation of the correct answer. Best of luck!

Basic Writing Skills

  1. A paragraph should contain which of the following?

A. many topics and opinions, the more topics the better the paragraph
B. questions and answers which debate a specific issue
C. a main idea containing a topic and details that support the main idea
D. ideas, lists, and descriptions of topics


  1. The topic sentence in any paragraph should be _______________________.
    A. very broad to allow a flow of ideas
    B. an announcement beginning with “my paper is about…”
    C. a list of all supporting details
    D. a single statement of the topic and controlling point (provable point)


  1. Which of the following would be the best topic sentence in a narrative paragraph?
    A. There were many causes of World War II.
    B. Dogs clearly make better pets than cats.
    C. Traveling in Europe is an exciting experience.
    D. Many health problems can arise from poor eating habits.


  1. Which of the following sentences does not support the point in the sentence below?

      Running is a beneficial activity for social interaction and improved fitness.

A. Running burns calories and increases metabolism.
B. Running clubs provide support and opportunities to meet new people.
C. Running with a friend helps with motivation and perseverance.
D. A new pair of track shoes may cost as much as $100.

  1. A paragraph describing a favorite vacation spot might include ______________.

A. population statistics
B. an argument against visiting tourist traps
C. sights, sounds, and activities that make the location appealing
D. a list of important items to take on vacation


  1. Which of the following is NOT a relevant supporting detail for the topic sentence below?

Advertising campaigns can be misleading to potential customers.
A. Ads focus on emotional appeal more than facts.
B. Ads may suggest a product is popularized by celebrity endorsements.
C. Advertising agents earn high salaries.
D. Advertising language promotes a “buy it now” philosophy.


  1. A good transition to explain a process might include__________________.

A. in contrast to
B. as a result of
C. the first step
D. similarly


  1. Which transition best fits the meaning in this sentence?

There are many benefits to having an exercise routine, ______________ increased energy, healthy metabolism, and a decreased risk of obesity.

A. contrastingly
B. similarly
C. because
D. such as

  1. When writing a comparison and contrast the writer should focus on __________________.

A. arguing a point
B. discussing similarities and differences
C. explaining a method or process
D. telling a story


To answer the next two questions read the following paragraph:

           1 __________________________________________________________________ 2It is important to have a spreadsheet program or at least a dedicated notebook to record incoming and outgoing money. 3Allocating every penny of money is important, so a list of all monthly expenditures is necessary. 4In this way bills are paid in a timely manner. 5Big ticket items like cars or boats may be fun to purchase. 6A crucial point to remember is that while finances may look good on paper, if there is frequent overspending in any of the expense categories, the positive rewards of budgeting can be lost. 7Budgeting takes discipline, but it pays great dividends in lower stress and financial independence.


10. Which sentence would make the best topic sentence?

A. Budgeting is a fun and exciting activity.
B. The right tools, organization, and the proper mindset lead to a successful budget.
C. Creating a budget is complicated and time consuming.
D. Many people do not take time to budget.


11. Which sentence is off topic and does not support the paragraph’s main idea?

A.   2
B.   4
C.   5
D.   8


12. In the sentence below, while could take the place of _________________.
Sarah was driving her brother to school at the same time that her mom was driving to work.

A. driving to work
B. driving her brother to school
C. at the same time that
D. Mom was driving

13. A brainstorming activity for a paragraph about dog breeds produced the following ideas. Which one might not fit into the outline or draft?

A. terriers
B. working dogs
C. veterinarians
D. retrievers

14. In a paragraph a concluding sentence should ___________________.

A. echo the main idea of the paragraph
B. contain additional supporting details
C. pose a new question
D. present an argument

Video Explaining Each Question and Providing Answers:

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Essay Writing Skills

Please Note: A video explaining each question and providing the correct answer is located at the end of this section.

Read the following introductory paragraph and answer the questions that follow.

1 Why do so many people waste all of their time staring at an electronic screen that connects to the internet? 2Many people spend day after day on websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and don’t even realize how much time they are losing. 3Safety, relationships, perspective, and time are all at stake when an addiction to social networking takes over. 4A disconnection from reality to fantasy is easier than they think. 5When something consumes a person, a line is crossed, and it’s hard to get back to the right mind. 6Social networking can be addicting, and people should moderate their usage. (Introductory paragraph by GC student M. Bailey)


  1. Based on the content of this introductory paragraph, what type of essay is the student writing?

A. Cause and effect essay
B. Comparison/contrast essay
C. Persuasive essay
D. Example essay

  1. Which sentence indicates what the student plans to prove in the essay (the thesis statement)?

A. Sentence 1
B. Sentence 2
C. Sentence 5
D. Sentence 6

  1. What method does this student use to get the readers’ attention focused on the overall topic?

A. Making a controversial statement that makes the reader angry
B. Asking a question that make the reader curious
C. Making a shocking statement that surprises the reader
D. All of the above


Read the following introductory paragraph and answer the questions that follow.

1Who are those people standing on the sidelines at football games wearing khakis and fanny packs? 2 They are athletic trainers, the “behind the scenes” support system of almost every high school, college and professional sports team. 3 Most people don’t fully understand what athletic trainers do, how they help athletes or even why they’re needed. 4An understanding of their responsibilities reveals they are an integral part of the team and work hard to earn respect and trust from the players throughout the season. 5However, because their duties are not fully noticed or understood by all players, some trainers feel under-appreciated. 6Whether it’s working long hours at practices and games, dealing with players’ attitudes, sitting through certification classes or helping injured players, athletic trainers have to deal with a lot of stressful events. 7For all these reasons, athletic trainers clearly deserve recognition for everything they do. (Introductory paragraph by GC student A. Carnavale)

  1. Based on the content of this introductory paragraph, what type of essay is the student writing?

A. Cause and effect essay
B. Comparison/contrast essay
C. Example essay
D. Persuasive essay

  1. What is the topic of this essay?

A. Football
B. Football players
C. Athletic trainers
D. Athletic trainers’ responsibilities

  1. Which sentence indicates what the student plans to prove in the essay (the thesis statement)?

A. Sentence 1
B. Sentence 2
C. Sentence 6
D. Sentence 7

Read the following body paragraph and answer the questions that follow.

1In regards to personal appearance, these two artists could not be more different. 2Jill Scott’s form of fashion is casual and comfortable. 3For example, once she did a performance without shoes, and she was wearing a tee shirt and blue jean skirt. 4Rather than her physique being society’s ideal of an hour-glass figure, it represents a robust, full-figured woman, who is so content with herself that she does not engage in publicizing sex appeal like Beyoncé. 5Beyoncé would not be who she is if she did not have the long blonde hair, curvaceous figure, and provocative style of dancing. 6Many see her look as being beautiful and sexy. 7These characteristics may be a nuisance at times for true music fans because they are drawn to look at her rather than to listen. 8She hardly ever performs without exposing the majority of her body. 9Contrary to popular image-based standards, Jill Scott’s appearance demonstrates uniqueness, not an image of what society thinks it should be. (paragraph by GC student N. Adams)


  1. Which sentence best indicates the topic of this body paragraph?

A. Sentence 1
B. Sentence 2
C. Sentence 6
D. Sentence 9

  1. After reading the previous body paragraph, which transitional word/phrase would be most appropriate at the beginning of sentence 5?

A. As a result,
B. Next,
C. On the other hand,
D. Secondly,

  1. What is the purpose of Sentence 9?

A. To provide another minor supporting detail about Jill Scott’s appearance
B. To summarize the paragraph
C. To emphasize the winner of the appearance category
D. To both summarize the paragraph and emphasize the writer’s preference


Read the following body paragraph and answer the questions that follow.

________________________________________________2 Each student is taught what constitutes legal and illegal activity. 3This is important because, as a future law officer, he/she needs to be aware if someone is breaking the law or simply doing something legal. 4Knowing the laws within the community helps to increase his/her knowledge of legal and illegal activities. 5Once the individual has obtained the degree, he/she will need to know what the job entails. 6Knowing the Miranda rights is one of the criteria criminal justice majors learn. 7This helps increase a student’s knowledge of what he/she can and cannot legally do. 8Knowing what the job entails will also help improve an officer’s interaction with members of the community. 9In this way, a law officer can enforce the laws in the proper manner. (paragraph by GC student B. Woods)


10. Based on your reading, which of the following should be inserted at the beginning of the paragraph as a topic sentence?

A. The importance of knowledge for criminal justice majors.
B. Gaston College offers a state-certified criminal justice program.
C. Earning a criminal justice degree is beneficial in several ways.
D. Expanding each student’s knowledge of the law is one of the most important aspects of earning a criminal justice degree.

11. After reading the previous body paragraph, which transitional word/phrase would be most appropriate at the beginning of sentence 4?

A. Also,
B. As a result,
C. On the other hand,
D. Finally,

12. Which of the following sentences would make the best summary sentence for this paragraph?

A. These are just a few ways that knowing the law helps a criminal justice major; there are many others.
B. Besides learning the law, being in top physical condition is important for all criminal justice majors.
C. Clearly, criminal justice majors benefit by taking time to learn the law.
D. All of the above


Read the following concluding paragraph and answer the questions.

1Old age can truly be a golden time if people make good choices earlier in their lives. 2They can increase their likelihood of physical health in several ways. 3One is to move away from a high-fat, high-salt diet. 4Another smart move is to exercise three or more times a week throughout adulthood. 5Dropping bad habits like smoking tobacco products, drinking alcohol in excess and misusing prescription drugs also has a huge impact on future health. 6Finally, staying mentally active can keep people on course for a healthier and happier old age. 7Fear of the future can be put aside as wise people simply adjust their daily behavior and set their sights on a physically and mentally healthy senior adulthood. (Concluding paragraph submitted by GC instructor B. McCall)

13. What is/are the purpose(s) of a conclusion?

A. To restate the thesis of the essay using different words.
B. To briefly summarize the major supporting details
C. To give the reader a sense of completion.
D. All of the above

14. According to this conclusion, what was the topic of this essay?

A. Old age
B. Senior adults’ choices
C. Senior adults’ physical health
D. Senior adults’ diets

15. Based on the summary of the major supporting details found in the middle of this conclusion, how many body paragraphs did this essay have?

A. Three
B. Four
C. Five
D. Seven

Video Explaining Each Question and Providing Answers:


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1. Read the following sentence. Then answer the question below.
-My brothers and sister are coming to visit me over the Christmas holidays.

Which answer correctly shows the subject(s) of this sentence?
A. My brothers
B. brothers, sister
C. Christmas holidays
D. are coming

2. Read the following sentence. Then answer the question below.
-The inexperienced skier tripped and fell down the bunny slope.

Which answer correctly shows the verb(s) in this sentence?
A. inexperienced
B. tripped
C. fell
D. tripped, fell

3. Read the following sentence. Choose the correct form of the adjective to fill in the blank.

-Of the two brothers, Robert is _______________________.

A. athletic
B. more athletic
C. most athletic

4. Read the following sentence. Choose the correct form of the adverb to fill in the blank.

The Olympic runner _________________passed all of his opponents in the relay race.

A. quick
B. quickly
C. more quickly

5. Choose the correct verb tense to complete the following sentence.

Yesterday, the children _________________in the pool for three long hours in the hot sun.

A. swim
B. swam
C. swum
D. have swam

6. Choose the correct verb tense to complete the following sentence.

-I could have _____________________a whole gallon of water after running the race.

A. drink
B. drank
C. drunk
D. drunken

7. Which sentence correctly displays subject/verb agreement?

A. My mother and father are visiting me this weekend.
B. My mother and father is visiting me this weekend.

8. Which sentence correctly displays subject/verb agreement?

A. The stack of old newspapers stand on the coffee table.
B. The stack of old newspapers stands on the coffee table.

9. Read the following sentences. Choose the answer that best displays pronoun/antecedent agreement.

A. One of the boys played with his toy truck.
B. One of the boys played with their toy truck.

10. Read the following sentences. Identify which sentence creates a comma splice. (Note: a comma splice is created when a comma is used to connect two sentences together.)

A. This morning, I bought bread, milk, and cereal at the grocery store.
B. I wanted to go to the movies with you, I had too much homework to do.
C. The children wanted to go to the park, but they were on restrictions.
D. No one would believe that Roger won the talent contest.

11. Read the following sentences. Identify which sentence creates a run-on. (Note: a run-on is created when two sentences are connected without the proper punctuation.)

A. I didn’t think the hair dye would turn my hair purple it did.
B. What time do you get out of school this afternoon?
C. During the morning commute, Sarah listened to the radio and sang along.
D. The basketball team has been practicing for weeks to prepare for the biggest game of the season.

12. Read the following choices. Which choice shows a sentence fragment? (Note: a fragment is an incomplete thought.)

A. Over the hill and through the woods lives the old man with his dog.
B. To see if the new calculator would work magic.
C. The baby cried.
D. Without you, the team is lost.

13. Read the following sentences. Which joining word best connects the two sentences together?

-Sara wanted to make an A on her history test, ____________ she spent all week studying over her class notes.

A. and
B. so
C. for
D. but

14. Read the following sentences. Which joining word best connects the two sentences together?

-The Mattisons wanted to go on a family cruise; ________________, they did not have enough money in their budget.

A. therefore
B. furthermore
C. however
D. subsequently

15. Read the following sentences. Which joining word best connects the two sentences together?

-I will not be able to buy a new car ________________________I receive a raise at work.

A. because
B. after
C. unless
D. when

16. Read the following sentence. Which best shows parallel structure?

A. My favorite hobbies are reading, writing, and to swim.
B. The children wanted to run, playing in the backyard, and tug of war.
C. Before you leave, wash the dishes, make the bed, and vacuum the living room.
D. Strength, agility, and having stamina are requirements of all good athletes.

Video Explaining Each Question and Providing Answers:



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Reading Comprehension

Passage A

1In recent years, technology has dramatically bolstered the performance of top-level athletes. 2For example, every four years Olympic swimmers have a new style of swimsuit. 3 In a sport where winning or losing a race is measured in hundredths of a second, some teams are trying new suits modeled after sharkskin. 4The resulting times for all swimmers, not just those winning medals, have improved significantly. 5Another instance of how technology has improved performance can be found in the bicycling. 6Ultra-aerodynamic bicycle designs have resulted in faster splits in the Tour de France as well as in track racing. 7Mountain bike racing has also been affected by the new designs, as competitors now use lighter-weight, yet stronger frames and pneumatic tires. 8Rowing, another popular college and Olympic level sport, has also benefitted from new technology. 9Many of the boats and oars are now being made of carbon-fiber, a light-weight, flexible material that has been shown to significantly improve performance. 10Innovations in technology have made it possible for athletes in a variety of sports to perform at higher levels than could ever have been imagined in the past.

1. What is the topic of passage A?

A. Olympic athletes
B. world records
C. sports technology
D. aerodynamic bicycles

2. What is the main idea of the passage?

A. Technological advances have improved athletic performance.
B. Olympic swimmers have benefitted from new types of swimsuits.
C. Today’s athletes can do more than athletes in the past.
D. Lighter weight equipment affects athletic performance.

3. Which sentence(s) is/are the topic sentence?

A. Sentence 1
B. Sentence 5
C. Sentences 2 and 8
D. Sentences 1and 10

4. Passage A is organized by using:

A. lists
B. examples
C. cause and effect
D. compare and contrast

5. What are the details that support the topic sentence in passage A?

A. Olympic athletes, bicycle races, college rowing
B. sharkskin, Tour de France, flexible boats
C. winning medals, fast track racing, shattering world records
D. new swimsuits, aerodynamic bicycles, carbon-fiber boats and oars

6. Based on the context, what does the word bolstered (sentence 1) mean?

A. decreased
B. improved
C. hindered
D. changed

Passage B

1No one would argue the fact that conflict is an inevitable part of everyone’s life. 2Although conflict is a common denominator, what differs is the way individuals deal with conflict. 3A study by Thomas and Kilmann, conducted in the 1970s, is still used today to identify five styles people generally use to respond to conflict. 4The first style identified is competitive. 5Competitive people take a firm stand, know exactly what they want, and often use a position of power to achieve their goal. 6In the collaborative style, a person works to meet the needs of all involved. 7Collaborative people are assertive but will use cooperation effectively to achieve a group goal. 8The third style is compromise. 9Here the person will attempt to appease everyone involved and will expect all members to willingly give up a part of their position for the good of the team. 10Next is accommodation. 11People who have an accommodating style will often look toward the needs of others, even if it means their own needs go unmet. 12The final style is avoidance. 13When using avoidance, a person will literally walk away from a potential conflict, will not attend a meeting in which conflict is expected, or will avoid conflict by mentally and emotionally withdrawing from a situation. 14Although most people have a preferred style, each method does have its place; consequently, practicing a style that does not come naturally is often beneficial.

7. Which sentence is the topic sentence of the passage?

A. Sentence 1
B. Sentence 2
C. Sentence 3
D. Sentence 14

8. Which sentences in the passage contain details that supporting the topic sentence?

A. 2, 3, 6, 11, 14
B. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
C. 1, 4, 7, 11, 13
D. 4, 6, 8, 10, 12

9. The word inevitable in sentence 1 means:

A. welcome
B. unavoidable
C. helpful
D. unwanted

10. The tone of the passage is:

A. informative
B. sincere
C. lively
D. idealistic

11. Sentence 14 is a statement of :

A. fact
B. opinion
C. fact and opinion
D. neither fact nor opinion


Passage C

1Howdo you know it is fall? 2The cooler days? 3Changing colors? 4Many of us know when it is fall because we are suddenly inundated with political ads on television and radio. 5Political ads are run at the local, state and national level; their purpose is to persuade the public to vote for or against a candidate or to sway a voter’s opinion on matters of legislation. 6Another type of advertisement, not related to seasons, is the business ad. 7The purpose of business ads is to convince consumers that the company sponsoring the ad has a product or service that the consumer needs or wants. 8Many times business ads try to associate images that have emotional appeal or glamour to try to sell their product. 10Probably the least familiar type of ad is the public service ad. 11These ads are aired to attempt to educate the public on a topic or to promote attitudes or behaviors that will benefit the general public. 12Often these ads start or end with the words, “This is a public service announcement,” as a way to alert the audience to the importance of the message.

12. The implied main idea of this passage is:

A. There are many ways to indicate that fall is coming.
B. Political advertisements are annoying.
C. Advertisements are divided into three categories based on their purpose.
D. Public service ads always include an announcement.

13. Which of the following inferences is supported by the passage?

A. Political advertisements increase in frequency in the fall because elections are generally held in November.
B. The author of the passage does not like political advertisements.
C. Businesses shouldn’t use emotional appeal or glamour to sell products.
D. Public service announcements are the least frequent type of ads because most people get that type of information from the internet.

14. Based on the context, the word inundated in sentence 4 means:

A. indulged
B. tantalized
C. chronicled
D. flooded

15. The purpose of this passage is to:

A. entertain the reader with a passage about different fall activities
B. inform the reader about the different types of advertisements
C. persuade the reader to listen to political advertisements
D. convince the reader that public service announcements are ads

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Video Explaining Each Question and Providing Answers:


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