Question of the Day July




For years, Stefan Strumbel, a street artist born and raised in the small city of Offenburg, Germany, has wrestled with the idea of “heimat”—a German word that translates loosely as “homeland”—and how his art should reflect it. That’s one reason, he says that he decided to stop painting graffiti and focus on cuckoo clocks instead.


B. reason he says, that
C. reason, he says, that
D. reason he says that,


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Before publishing Silent Spring, the book that flung the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson was a well-known author of beautifully descriptive books about marine life, including The Sea Around Us, which became a surprise hit after it was published in 1951.


B. hurled
C. launched
D. tossed


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Because the Hollywood sign is so famous today, it may be surprising to learn that it wasn’t until fairly recently that it achieved its iconic status. In the 1930s and 1940s, however, the sign made an appearance in only a few of the movies that were about Hollywood or the movie industry. Other Hollywood institutions, like the Brown Derby restaurant, tended to represent the film world.


B. for example,
C. therefore,
D. likewise,


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It turns out that water worlds may be some of the worst places to look for living things. One recent study shows how a planet covered in oceans could be starved of phosphorus, a nutrient without which earthly life cannot thrive. Other work concludes that a planet swamped in even deeper water would be geologically dead, lacking any of the planetary processes that nurture life on Earth.


B. it
C. this
D. DELETE the underlined word.


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In 1934, Babe Ruth and his American teammates embarked on an 18-game tour of Japan. Swatting 13 home runs, waving American and Japanese flags, clowning with kids, and he even donned a kimono, the Babe won the hearts and minds of the Japanese people.


B. even donning
C. even to don
D. even don


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Our relationship with horses is distinct from our relationships with cats and dogs; horses sit at the intersection of being wild and domesticated and don’t fit easily into the category of pet. Perhaps this difference also has to do with its large size, which creates an element of danger.


B. it’s
C. their
D. they’re


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Recently, I did something that many people would consider unthinkable, or at least very strange. Before going to see a movie, I deliberately read a review that revealed all of the major plot points, from start to finish.


B. movie, I deliberately: read a review that
C. movie I deliberately read a review, that
D. movie, I deliberately read a review


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For centuries people set their clocks and watches by looking up at the sun and estimating, a tradition that led to wildly dissimilar results between (and often within) cities and towns. To railroad companies around the world, that wasn’t acceptable. They needed synchronized, predictable station times for arrivals and departures, so they proposed splitting up the globe into 24 time zones.


Which of the following would NOT be an acceptable alternative to the underlined word?


A. produced
B. created
C. resulted
D. yielded


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When the radio became prevalent in the 1930s, Orson Welles perpetrated a famous hoax about extraterrestrials with his infamous “War of the Worlds” program. This broadcast didn’t actually cause widespread fear of an alien invasion among listeners, as some have claimed; however, they did spark a national conversation about mass media and audience gullibility.


B. it
C. these
D. DELETE the underlined word.


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Based in Mexico City, the artist known only as Curiot is famous for his colorful paintings featuring mythical half-animal, half-human figures. Most of which are rooted in Mexican tradition and depicted with meticulous detail, geometrical patterns, and vibrant hues.


B. figures. Most of these creatures
C. figures, with most of these creatures
D. figures, most of them


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I don’t know why that particular photo of a half-finished sweater caught my attention, but as soon as I saw it, I wanted to learn to knit. At first, I wasn’t sure I needed another hobby, but after I read an essay by Ann Hood, “Ten Things I Learned From Knitting,” the decision was made by me.


B. my decision was made by me.
C. my decision had been made.
D. I made my decision.


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Located in Abu Dhabi, the new branch of the Louvre Museum is intended to look like a floating dome: the glimmering structure appears to hover over the sparkling water that surrounds it, and its webbed pattern allows the sky to filter through. The overall effect is meant to evoke rays of sunlight passing through palm leaves in a desert oasis.


If the writer were to delete the words glimmering and sparkling from the underlined portion, the sentence would most nearly lose details that:


A. emphasize the effects of light on the museum building.
B. highlight the contrast in appearance between the museum building and its surroundings.
C. provide an overview of the main sections of the museum.
D. make clear that water is the primary influence on the museum’s design.


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Unlike the Venus flytrap, the lobes or leaves of the waterwheel do not change shape when they snap shut; rather, closing like two halves of a mussel shell. In contrast, the Venus flytrap flexes its leaves from flat to curved when enclosing its prey.


B. shut, but rather closing
C. shut but rather close
D. shut but rather closes


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There are almost 90 million cats in the United States, or one for every three households. That makes cats more popular, petwise, than dogs. The majority of them—about two-thirds to three-fourths, surveys say—are sweet, harmless, cuddly housecats, which seldom set foot outside. The other one-quarter to one-third aren’t so harmless. Equipped with laser-quick paws and razor-tipped claws, they are the stuff of every bird and small mammal’s nightmares.


B. three-fourths, surveys say, are sweet
C. three-fourths, surveys say, are sweet—
D. three-fourths—surveys say are sweet,


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Announced in 2013, the BRAIN Initiative is a massive project undertaken by a group of agencies and individuals, including universities, technology companies, and neuroscientists. The Initiative includes a variety of programs designed to lower the barriers between the human brain and the digital world, with the goal being to understand how the brain processes information.


B. to be
C. has been
D. is


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Training to go to Mars requires a substantial suspension of disbelief. But that has not stopped scores of people from participating in simulations that re-create Mars on Earth in order to better understand and prepare for the challenges of one day sending humans to the red planet. Often set in dusty, remote locations, these so-called Mars analogs often feature lifestyle choices meant to approximate humanity’s journey to the next planet over. There’s a 20-minute communications delay (no phone calls); freeze-dried meals; and limited water supplies. Moreover, participants can never leave the habitat without a spacesuit on.


The writer is considering deleting the underlined portion of the sentence. Should the writer do this?


A. Yes, because it provides background information that is irrelevant to the main focus of the paragraph.
B. Yes, because it suggests that people will travel to Mars in the near future.
C. No, because it provides an explanation for why people choose to participate in simulations of life on Mars.
D. No, because it describes some of the challenges involved in traveling to Mars.


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Because laws prohibiting excess noise failed to satisfy people’s desire for quiet products and technologies emerged to meet the demand of increasingly sensitive consumers. In the early twentieth century, sound-muffling curtains, softer floor materials, room dividers, and ventilators kept the noise from the outside from coming in, while preventing sounds from bothering neighbors.


B. quiet, products and technologies
C. quiet products, and technologies
D. quiet products and technologies,


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There are over 50,000 therapy dogs in the United States, and they’re becoming more popular in countries from Norway to Brazil. Trained and certified by a variety of organizations, hospitals and other facilities welcome these dogs and their handlers, who interact with patients.


B. Trained and certified by a variety of organizations, these dogs and their handlers interact with patients and are welcomed by hospitals and other facilities.
C. These dogs and their handlers, welcomed by hospitals and other facilities and trained and certified by a variety of organizations.
D. Welcomed by hospitals and other facilities, these dogs and their handlers being trained and certified by a variety of organizations.


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Like many successful authors of the nineteenth century, Washington Irving struggled against literary bootleggers. In England, some of his sketches were reprinted in periodicals without his permission, a legal practice since there was no international copyright law at the time. To prevent further piracy in Britain, Irving paid to have the first four American installments published as a single volume by John Miller in London.


Which of the following would NOT be an acceptable alternative to the underlined portion?


A. permission—a legal practice
B. permission; that practice was legal
C. permission, and a legal practice
D. permission, a practice that was legal


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The older you get, the more difficult it is to learn to speak French like a Parisian. However, no one knows exactly what the cutoff point is—at what age it becomes harder, nevertheless, to pick up noun-verb agreements in a new language.


B. for instance,
C. moreover,
D. likewise,


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They call it “the Never-Ending Storm of Catatumbo” or “The Lighthouse of Maracaibo”: something so familiar that people in the state of Zulia in Venezuela even put it on their flag. Less than half an hour after the first cloud forms, it starts to flash. It does this faster and faster — 200 times a minute is not uncommon. Afterward, the cloud becomes a giant bulb that lights up the night.


Which choice provides new information that is relevant to the rest of the paragraph?


B. lightning
C. a storm
D. a natural force


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Crossword puzzles are said to be the most popular and widespread word game in the world, yet they have a relatively short history. The first crosswords appeared in British children’s books during the nineteenth century, they were simple games, apparently derived from the word square: a group of words arranged so that the letters read alike vertically and horizontally. In the United States, however, the puzzle developed into a serious adult pastime.


B. Although the first crosswords
C. Until the first crosswords
D. When the first crosswords


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When German immigrants first started coming to the United States in the 1700s, they brought the pretzel with them. Bavarians and other southern Germans had been enjoying pretzels for hundreds of years. Sometimes they ate pretzels as a side to a main dinner course; other times, they chowed down on sweet pretzels for dessert. In Swabia, a region in southwestern Germany, signs for bakeries still include gilded pretzels hanging over the door.


B. chomped on
C. consumed
D. chugged


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While most paintings produced by members of the Hudson River School were rendered realistically, many of the scenes they depicted were synthesized from a variety of natural images observed by the artists. In gathering the visual data for their paintings, the artists would travel to environments with extraordinary and extreme conditions that did not permit extended painting in these environments. During the expeditions, the artists recorded sketches and memories, returning to their studios to paint the finished works later.


B. in such environments.
C. in such places.
D. DELETE the underlined portion.


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Key-Sook Geum is an artist, fashion designer, and scholar from the Republic of Korea. Having taught and worked in fashion design, Geum combines art with fashion through her exquisite wire sculptures in the shape of women’s clothing.
She is inspired by the shapes and styles of clothing from Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). The items tell stories about the people who wore them: their lives, values, and beliefs.


B. sculpture’s in the shape of womens
C. sculptures in the shape of womens’
D. sculptures’ in the shape of women’s


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Located in London’s Kew Gardens, the greenhouse known as the Temperate House is home to a geographically arranged collection of 10,000 plants from temperate climates around the world. These areas are sometimes described as “the Goldilocks zone” of the planet. Plants are safe from frost there.


Which of the following choices most effectively combines the underlined sentences?


A. These areas are sometimes described as the “Goldilocks zone” of the planet, being that plants are safe from frost there.
B. These areas are sometimes described as the planet’s “Goldilocks zone,” where plants are safe from frost.
C. These areas are sometimes described as the “Goldilocks zone” of the planet, and that is an area where plants are safe from frost.
D. Described sometimes as the “Goldilocks zone” of the planet, plants are safe from frost there.


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It’s difficult to describe how excited I was when two veteran mountain climbers asked me to join them for a winter attempt on Gasherbrum II, one of the tallest peaks in the Himalayas. Like any adventurous activity, mountaineering has hazards. They must find someone who can tolerate extremely challenging conditions—frostbite burns, intense hunger, the loss of feeling in fingers and toes, overwhelming weariness—all while maintaining the will to push forward.


Which of the following true statements provides the most appropriate transition between the previous sentence and the information that follows?


B. Mountaineers must choose their climbing partners with extreme care.
C. Personal preparedness and skill development are very important.
D. Instructors teach many skills, including the fundamentals of survival in a cold environment.


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Many marine animals are large, rare, elusive, and highly mobile. Sharks are an obvious example: in the oceans they make up a small proportion of the biomass, are difficult to catch, and they have been in conflict with humans for thousands of years.


B. have been
C. having been
D. being


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We know a lot about carbon, the element that forms the chemical backbone of life, in our crust and oceans. We know far less about it in the Earth’s core and mantle. So far, it’s proved challenging to sample the mantle, which extends up to 1,800 miles below the surface and plays a huge yet mysterious role in the global carbon cycle.


B. surface, and plays a huge yet mysterious,
C. surface and plays a huge, yet mysterious
D. surface, and plays a huge yet mysterious,


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If you’ve heard the term “grazer” before, it may bring to mind familiar farm animals, such as cows or sheep munching on pastureland. But the ocean has its own suite of grazers, one with very different — even bizarre — body forms and feeding techniques.


B. animals such as cows or sheep,
C. animals such as cows or sheep
D. animals such as: cows or sheep


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Five decades into his life, Phineas Taylor Barnum from Bethel, Connecticut, had risen above his humble beginnings as an impoverished country boy and become a showman—indeed, the “greatest showman” (as he would claim) of his generation. Thanks to a combination of brilliant marketing tactics and less-than-upstanding business practices, Barnum had truly arrived, and with his book Humbugs of the World, published in 1865, he wanted to inform you, his audience, that he hadn’t achieved his rags-to-riches success story by scamming the public.


The use of parentheses in the underlined portion is most likely intended to


A. distinguish Barnum’s exact words from the surrounding description of his life.
B. emphasize the obstacles that Barnum overcame to achieve success.
C. illustrate the pride that Barnum took in his career.
D. suggest that Barnum may have exaggerated his accomplishments.


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