Question of the Day




The current reality of smart cities is that there aren’t any. At the end of the day, most so-called smart cities are just cities with a few or several standout smart projects. Such projects can take shape in a variety of ways. In Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is piloting a $30 million smart-signal system that utilizes adaptive traffic signals to read traffic conditions and make adjustments to keep traffic flowing. Kansas City invested nearly $15 million in a smart lighting project that will install 200 lights along its new streetcar line. The lights have built-in sensors and cameras that detect the presence of people and can turn off when no one is around to save 20–30 percent in electricity costs. Both efforts represent the potential of smart city technology, but they certainly do not represent the networked, end-to-end planning of an entire smart city.


The references to “adaptive traffic signals” and “a smart lighting project” primarily serve to


A. celebrate the power of technological innovation.
B. call attention to recent developments in urban design.
C. illustrate the exceptional nature of certain projects.
D. emphasize the growing popularity of smart city technologies.


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Tipping as a phenomenon has long fascinated economists: paying extra, even though we are not legally required to do so, seems to go against our own best interest.


B. economists paying extra –
C. economists, paying extra,
D. economists; paying extra


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Over the last several decades, research has effectively disproved the claim that coffee is harmful to health. In fact, data suggest that coffee may offer some health benefits. In comparison to non-coffee drinkers, for example, drinking about three cups of coffee a day appeared to reduce the risk of heart problems.


B. about three cups of coffee a day can reduce people’s risk of heart problems.
C. heart problems are reduced in people who drink about three cups of coffee daily.
D. people who drink about three cups of coffee a day have a reduced risk of heart problems.


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As I looked down on the sleepy Bavarian town from the top of the tower, it was hard to picture the area as being anything other than tranquil. It was, however, a violent and otherworldly event, an asteroid strike occurring approximately 15 million years ago – that led to the strange reality of Nördlingen becoming Germany’s diamond-clad town.


B. event, an asteroid strike,
C. event – an asteroid strike
D. event: an asteroid strike


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About 10,000 years ago, members of the pumpkin and squash family have came dangerously close to extinction. Only our ancient ancestors’ drive to domesticate valuable crops and animals saved these gourds.


B. have come
C. had came
D. came


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Like today’s astronauts, future space colonists are likely to be selected on the basis of their suitability for long-duration spaceflight. They might have good natural resistance to radiation, high bone density, or they possess strong immune systems.


B. possessing strong immune systems.
C. strong immune systems.
D. possess strong immune systems.


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Far from being glorified pricelists, restaurant menus are sophisticated marketing tools that can nudge customers towards certain choices. Restaurant menus can even tell us what to think.

“Even the binding around the menu is passing us important messages about the kind of experience we are about to have,” explains Charles Spence, a professor in experimental psychology and multisensory perception at the University of Oxford. “There are a lot of elements on a menu that can be changed to nudge the customer in one way or another.”


As it is used in the passage, “passing” most nearly means


A. transmitting
B. denying
C. permitting
D. granting


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Over the past several decades, long-distance running has rushed in popularity. The number of finishers in all US marathons has grown from fewer than 300,000 in 1995 to more than 500,000 in 2016. This year, the entry quota for the largest half-marathon in the US was filled in a record 26 minutes.


B. flooded
C. gushed
D. surged


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In addition to the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City, Macy’s also sponsored Pittsburgh’s Celebrate the Season Parade. Which was held two days after the main event between 2006 and 2013.


B. Parade; it was held
C. Parade, it was held
D. Parade, being held


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Biofuels and lighter engines are an innovation, that could boost fuel efficiency, reducing pollutants and making airplane travel less harmful to the environment.


B. an innovation that could boost
C. innovations, that could boost
D. innovations that could boost


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Gravity forces Earth-bound bodies to work a surprising amount, even when they are at rest. However, such forces no longer apply in space. Muscles quickly grow weaker, and bones become more prone to breakage. Astronauts can lose roughly one to two percent of their bone mass each month, the greatest losses occur in their lower backs and legs.


B. month; and the greatest losses occur
C. month, with the greatest losses occurring
D. month, but the greatest losses occur


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As the crops grown around the world have shrunk to just a handful of foods, regional and local crops have become scarce or disappeared altogether. Wheat, rice and corn, plus palm oil and soybeans, are what we all eat now—the same type and the same amount.


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


A. decreased
B. dwindled
C. compressed
D. declined


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Circadian rhythms dictate many of the body’s most fundamental processes, including eating, sleeping and hormone secretion. Every organism previously studied—from humans to hamsters to fruit flies to bacteria—more or less follows the 24-hour day/night cycle. When the scientists measured the internal clocks of trashline orb weavers, however, they saw something extraordinary: The spiders ran on an 18.5-hour day, the shortest natural circadian cycle ever observed.


The discovery of trashline orb weavers’ 18.5-hour circadian cycle can best be described as


A. unprecedented
B. controversial
C. inexplicable
D. tentative


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Recognized today as one of the world’s leading authorities on the Sphinx, archaeologist, Mark Lehner, has conducted field research on the pyramids at Giza during most of the 37 years since his first visit to Egypt.


B. Sphinx; archaeologist, Mark Lehner
C. Sphinx, archaeologist Mark Lehner
D. Sphinx archaeologist Mark Lehner,


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Coffee rust has plagued farmers for more than a century. When a tree gets infected by it, its leaves produce a brown, thin powder when scratched, pretty much like iron rust. The disease, caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, also de-colors the bush’s leaves from a bright green to a brownish yellow. In the end, the tree loses all its leaves, as well as its ability to produce beans.
Coffee plants flourish in soil that is low in acid but high in nitrogen. In the late 19th century, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and other countries in Southeast Asia were the world’s major exporters of coffee, but in a matter of decades, their coffee industries were nearly destroyed.


Which of the following provides the best transition to the information that follows?


B. If allowed to spread, the disease can have dramatic consequences.
C. Temperatures in countries outside the tropics are too variable for coffee trees to thrive.
D. Coffee rust typically infects plants grown at elevations below 5,000 feet.


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Native to South America, the cashew plant was brought by the Portuguese to India around 1560 and had spread east into Asia and south into Africa during the seventeenth century.


B. has spread
C. spread
D. will spread


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According to marine biologist Gil Rosenthal, distance and motion often makes it difficult for certain predators to perceive fine details on the bodies of their prey.


B. often make
C. has often made
D. often making


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The architect Renzo Piano earned a reputation as an innovator for his design of Paris’s Pompidou Center. The Center’s exterior consisted of brightly colored tubes and marked a radical break with tradition.


What is the best way to join the sentence at the underlined portion?


A. Center, whose exterior consisted of brightly colored tubes that marked
B. Center, so its exterior consisting of brightly colored tubes marking
C. Center, its exterior consisted of brightly colored tubes that would mark
D. Center; and whose exterior consisted of brightly colored tubes that marked


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In a recent Job Outlook survey, employers rated the “ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization” as the most important quality in perspective workers.


B. for perspective
C. in prospective
D. to prospective


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Reading fiction allows people to understand other people’s actions by entering into characters’ minds and seeing situations from their interior points of view. In fact, recent studies suggest that people, who read novels regularly, tend to have higher levels of empathy.


B. people who read novels regularly,
C. people, who read novels regularly
D. people who read novels regularly


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Dinoflagellates emit blue light when disturbed, which is why they can be seen sparkling over wave crests, around boats or when a hand or paddle runs through them. These tiny creatures are the most common source of bioluminescence at the ocean’s surface. So-called bioluminescent bays such as in Puerto Rico and Jamaica are among the best-known places to witness the glow. However, the ephemeral phenomenon can be found throughout the ocean where there are dense gatherings of dinoflagellates. Sometimes dinoflagellates’ population increases rapidly, causing blooms, which by day are coloured a less attractive red-brown, sometimes known as red tides. And some, but not all, of these red tides are poisonous.


The passage implies that a rapid increase in dinoflagellates


A. can be harmful to other creatures.
B. improves dinoflagellates’ ability to produce light.
C. occurs primarily in warm waters.
D. is associated with the emission of blue light.


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Ammonia is a waste product that can be toxic to animals, however, plants, including phytoplankton, prize ammonia as the most energy-efficient way to build new cells.


B. animals however
C. animals however,
D. animals, but


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Hanging low on the horizon, ancient Polynesian mariners were helped by bright stars to navigate between the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.


B. Bright stars, which acted as compasses that helped ancient Polynesian mariners navigate between the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.
C. Bright stars acting as compasses helped ancient Polynesian mariners navigate the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.
D. Bright stars acted as compasses, they helped ancient Polynesian mariners navigate between the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.


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In 1977, the MIT professor Thomas J. Allen examined communication patterns among scientists and engineers and found that the farther apart their desks were, the less likely they were to communicate. At the 30-meter mark, the likelihood of regular communication approached zero. The expectation was that information technology would change that. Recently, therefore, researcher Ben Waber discovered that communication tools intended to erase distance are used largely among people who see one another face-to-face.


B. however,
C. moreover,
D. indeed,


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The planet Venus is believed to have contained Earth-like oceans at some point in they’re history, but these bodies of water evaporated as temperatures rose.


B. their
C. it’s
D. its


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It isn’t yet clear how much plastic is consumed by corals in the wild, or what harm it might do to these important marine organisms, which are already threatened by environmental dangers like warming seas and pollution. But understanding why plastic might appeal to them is important, especially because some particles appear to get stuck in the corals, potentially disrupting their digestive process.

Hundreds of chemicals are mixed into plastics to achieve certain textures or other characteristics. Because the corals sense the presence of food with receptors, it would not be all that surprising if some chemical additives mimicked substances that set off the corals’ appetites, suggested Alexander Seymour and Austin Allen, who were both graduate students at Duke University when they led this study.


In the last sentence, “set off” most nearly means


A. revealed
B. stimulated
C. responded
D. compensated for


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Chunks of ice and dust, which make their home in corners of the galaxy far beyond Pluto, and sometimes become dislodged and enter the solar system as streaky comets.


B. Pluto, they
C. Pluto and
D. Pluto,


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Thousands of years ago, two microscopic spores spawned and created a monster. It grew — up to three feet a year — sending out dark, gnarly, threadlike organs called rhizomorphs that explored the subterranean darkness, foraging for food. Now it’s a nebulous body, a tangled mat beneath the Oregon soil that occupies an area the size of three Central Parks and may weigh as much as 5,000 African elephants.

Its scientific name is Armillaria ostoyae, but you can call it The Humongous Fungus. It’s the largest known terrestrial organism on the planet, according to the United States Forest Service. It’s also a deadly forest pathogen.

Although none (that we know of) are as big, there are many others in the Armillaria genus. These fungi cause root rot disease in plants in forests, parks, orchards and vineyards across North America, Europe and Asia. What sets them apart from other fungi is those stringy rhizomorphs that find weak trees, colonize their roots, kill and eat them.

The passage indicates that “stringy rhizomorphs” are


A. beneficial to trees and other plants.
B. unique to members of the Armilliaria genus.
C. a common characteristic of fungi.
D. destroyed by exposure to light.


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For years, seismologists have been trying to identify microquakes. Earthquakes so tiny they don’t even register on traditional measurement tools. Identifying microquakes can help scientists understand earthquake behavior and help them predict dangerous seismic events.


B. microquakes; earthquakes
C. microquakes, earthquakes
D. microquakes, and earthquakes


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Self-portraiture isn’t just a byproduct of the smart phone. Since as early as the fifteenth century, artists across different mediums use self-portraits as a way to meditate on the world around them and their places within it. More than just capturing physical features, these images allow artists to channel their beliefs into their work in ways that are both revealing and revolutionary.


B. used
C. have used
D. had used


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The strings of letters that make up genes are largely useless on their own; instead, like blueprints for the many proteins in the body. To actually build something, or be expressed, certain genes must be switched on. Spaceflight seems to affect the level of this expression for some genes—especially those that play a role in the immune system, DNA repair, and bone growth.


B. own, instead like blueprints,
C. own. Instead, they are like blueprints
D. own instead being like blueprints


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In some form or another, doughnuts have existed for so long that archaeologists keep turning up what look like fossilized bits of them in the middle of prehistoric settlements. But the doughnut proper, (if that’s the right word), supposedly came to Manhattan, then still New Amsterdam, under the unappetizing Dutch name of olykoeks—“oily cakes.”


B. proper, (if that’s the right word)
C. proper (if that’s the right word),
D. proper (if that’s the right word)


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For cost-conscious clothing shoppers in 1920, it must have seemed like a miracle: men’s suits in a choice of 50 different styles for a mere 60 cents each (about $7.66 today). What’s more, when a suit got dirty, you could easily clean it—with an eraser. The first rubber erasers had been produced in England more than a century earlier. Paper clothing had arrived, largely imported from Germany and Austria, where World War I shortages of wool and other materials had spurred its development.


The writer is considering deleting the underlined information. Should the writer do this?


A. Yes, because the passage does not state that rubber erasers could be used to clean the suits.
B. Yes, because the passage focuses primarily on paper clothing.
C. No, because the passage indicates that paper clothing was erasable.
D. No, because the passage states that the suits seemed like a miracle.


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In the sixteenth century, Thomas More coined the term utopia to describe a perfect yet fictitious island society’s ways of life. Since then, people have tried to replicate this society, not just in stories but also in real life. Around the world, a handful of towns and cities have been designed with this ideal society in mind. Though inevitably they fall short of perfection, it’s still possible to visit some of them.


What is the best placement for the underlined word?


A. Where it is now.
B. Before the word fall.
C. Before the word perfection.
D. Before the word possible.


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Twenty-five hundred miles from the nearest continental landmass and adrift in oceanic isolation, the Hawaiian islands are the most habitat-diverse place on the planet. Of its’ 1,200 native plant species, 90 percent exist nowhere else on earth.


B. its
C. there
D. their


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When fragments of China’s famed terracotta warriors were discovered by farmers in 1974, Zhao Kangmin was one of the first archaeologists on the scene. He consistently pieced the fragments together, spurring an excavation that would reveal thousands more clay soldiers packed into underground corridors.


Which choice most strongly emphasizes that Zhao Kangmin worked in a careful and detailed way?


B. compellingly
C. exclusively
D. meticulously


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The exhibition “Faces of Frida” includes not only paintings by Frida Kahlo and also her letters, personal photographs, and unpublished writings. Visitors can peruse the pages of her colorful diary, read her letters to her mother, Matilde Calderón y González, and browse through photos of Kahlo and her husband, the artist Diego Rivera.


B. along with
C. but also
D. in addition to


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The race is on to build the world’s first meaningful quantum computer—one that can help scientists do things like develop miraculous new materials and encrypt data with near-perfect security. Although technology companies persistently tout each new breakthrough, next-generation systems will also need new algorithms, software, interconnects and a number of other yet-to-be-invented technologies.


Which choice most clearly expresses that the technology companies are excited about new breakthroughs?


B. reportedly
C. breathlessly
D. skeptically


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Experts use to think that nearly all nitrogen in soil came directly from the atmosphere, sequestered by microbes or dissolved in rain. But it turns out that scientists have been overlooking another major source of this element, which is crucial to plant growth: up to a quarter of the nitrogen in soil and plants seeps out of bedrock.


B. use to think,
C. used to think
D. used to thinking


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No tidal dweller captured Rachel Carson’s imagination like Ascophyllum nodosum, a rubbery dark green algae known widely on the Atlantic coast as rockweed. The biologist was most enchanted by rockweed’s double life—how its identity changed with the tides.


B. nodosum, a rubbery, dark green, algae
C. nodosum a rubbery, dark green algae,
D. nodosum; a rubbery, dark green algae


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The tradition of using everyday objects in artwork is known as assemblage. London’s Tate Museum, which includes many assemblage-based works, traces its history back to Europe in the early 1900s when Pablo Picasso started making 3-D works with found objects. Therefore, some of the most famous twentieth-century assemblage artists, like the artist Robert Rauschenberg—born Milton Rauschenberg in Port Arthur, Texas—may have pulled their inspiration from work by African-American folk artists.


B. However,
C. Hence,
D. Moreover,


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More than 150 years ago, the first whales and dolphins were brought from the wild and into aquariums, and since that time, scientists learn an enormous amount about their intelligence and complex social lives.


B. learned
C. have learned
D. would have learned


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Cheesemaking, which began 10,000 years ago, was originally about survival for a farm family or community: taking a very perishable protein (milk) and transforming it into something less perishable (cheese) so that there would be something to eat later. Many of us today think of cheese in the context of tradition, flavor, or family farms, but a basic goal—whether a producer is making farm-made cheddar or concocting the cheeseless industrially produced dairy product Velveeta, has always been getting as much edible food from a gallon of milk as possible.


B. Velveeta has
C. Velveeta—has
D. Velveeta has,


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To evoke and conjure the spirit of the Rocky Mountains, the peoples of Stoney Nakoda have created artworks that have deep roots in the history of their homeland. A seemingly straightforward landscape image, for instance, pays homage to the region as a place to gather herbs, hold vision quests, and hunt.


B. To evoke while conjuring
C. To evoke yet conjure
D. To evoke


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The Loch Ness Monster is one of Scotland’s oldest and most enduring myths, having inspired books, TV shows and films, and sustains a major tourism industry around its home. The story of the monster can be traced back 1500 years to 565 AD, when an Irish missionary is said to have encountered a beast in the River Ness. Later, in the 1930s, they announced the first modern sighting of the creature, dubbed “Nessie.”


B. one
C. we
D. reporters


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It’s hard to imagine now, but a little over a century ago, there was hardly anyone in the world whom knew what plastic was. Today, that material fuels modern life, from medical devices to the lightweight materials used in cars, computers, spaceships, and shopping bags.


B. who knew
C. which knew
D. in which they knew


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Throughout the exhibitions at The American Jazz Museum, collections of photographs, sheet music, and posters from the height of jazz’s popularity creates context for historic artifacts such as Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone and a sequined gown worn by Ella Fitzgerald.


B. create
C. has created
D. creating


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It’s probably no surprise to dog owners, but growing research suggests that dogs often act more human than canine. They can: read facial expressions, communicate jealousy, display empathy, and even watch television.


B. can read facial expressions; communicate jealousy; display empathy, and even watch television.
C. can read facial expressions, communicate jealousy; display empathy; and even watch television.
D. can read facial expressions, communicate jealousy, display empathy, and even watch television.


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The Outer Space Treaty—written in 1967 and signed by all the major world powers—is the closest thing we have to a constitution for space. For a document conceived before the moon landing, it’s remarkably forward-looking: it declares “celestial bodies” like the moon and asteroids off-limits for private development and requires that countries authorize and continually supervise companies’ activities in space.


B. company’s activities
C. companies activity’s
D. companies activities’


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Not only are parrots known for being a loud and destructive bird, but they are also highly intelligent and live up to 80 years. Nevertheless, the draw to keep them can be irresistible.


B. a loud, and destructive bird, and
C. loud and destructive birds, but
D. loud and destructive birds, and


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A few years ago, my family and I piled into our car and headed west for a summer to explore Yosemite National Park. I tasted the freedom of the open road and experienced the wonders of wild places. I had never seen such dramatic scenery before. Last August, therefore, I set out on an expanded version of that adventure, seeking to spend 10 months visiting all the national parks in the contiguous United States.]


Which choice provides the most effective transition between the previous sentence and the information that follows?


B. I couldn’t wait to experience that kind of adventure again.
C. I didn’t want to come at first, but my family insisted.
D. I’d been camping before, but never for so long.


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The idea for the first youth hostel was conceived in 1909 by Richard Shirrmann, an elementary school teacher living in the industrial center of Germany. Alarmed at the effects of the industrial revolution on his students’ health, he created a “wandering school” on weekends by taking students on field trips into the countryside for fresh air and exposure to nature. Students unrolled their bedding each night in school buildings, and the concept of student “youth hostels” was born.


B. effects of the industrial revolution,
C. affects of the industrial revolution
D. affects of the industrial revolution,


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Since the invention of digital technology and audio sampling, films have been able to rely on digital samples to imitate the sound of live instruments. Today, many scores are created and performed wholly by the composers, themselves, through the use of sophisticated music composition software.


B. composers themselves,
C. composers, themselves
D. composers themselves


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Wilhelm Von Osten firmly believed that humanity had greatly underestimated the reasoning skills and intelligence of animals. To test his hypothesis, he took it upon himself to tutor a cat, a horse, and a bear in mathematics. The cat was indifferent in his efforts, and the bear seemed outright hostile, but the Arab stallion named Hans showed some real promise.


B. to
C. at
D. from


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Cactuses are spiky and rough, foreboding and strange, gnarled and occasionally dangerous. They evoke harsh and unforgiving landscapes, but when they are removed from their native habitats, individually potted, and selling as decorations for a house, a garden, or an office, they are among the easiest plants, requiring little or no care and still looking good.


B. selling them
C. they sell
D. sold


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Color vision depends on our eyes and brain working together to perceive different properties of light. Although we see the natural and artificial light that illuminates our world as white, but it is actually a mixture of colors that, perceived on their own, would span the visual spectrum from deep blue to deep red. You can see this when rain separates sunlight into a rainbow or a glass prism separates white light into a multi-color band.


B. so
C. when
D. DELETE the underlined word.


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In 1984, several graffiti vandals were given the option of either going to jail or taking part in a new city beautification initiative. They chose the latter and became some of the first members of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Since then, the program overseen the creation of more than 3,800 pieces of art painted on sides of buildings. 2,000 of the works are still viewable by the public, making this collection the “World’s Largest Outdoor Art Gallery.”


B. has oversaw
C. has overseen
D. oversaw


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One issue that often plagues even the most sturdily built old homes is the “improvements’’ made in the intervening decades. Whether the culprit was a clueless homeowner or an unlicensed contractor or an unskilled handyman, substandard repairs are common.


B. most sturdy built
C. more sturdier built
D. sturdier built


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Japanese woman who rented out a spare room in her house. She seemed excited to hear from me and sent me useful information about public transportation, along with some maps. Tokyo was originally known as Edo, but its name was changed to Tokyo when it became the imperial capital in 1868. I could not wait to meet this interesting Japanese family.


Which choice provides the most relevant information at this point in the passage?


B. She also described her husband, who had a black belt in Karate, and her 85-year-old grandmother, who still rode a bicycle.
C. The house was located in Shinjuku, which is one of the busiest and most popular areas of the city.
D. Tokyo is divided into 23 districts, or wards, each of which is governed as an independent city.


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Born William Harrison Dempsey in Manassa, Colorado, “Jack” Dempsey was one of 11 children. He left home at the age of 16 and traveled west on freight trains with hobos, settling occasionally in mining towns. It was during that period of his life that Dempsey learned how to box. Initially, he only needed to defend himself at first, but soon he showed exceptional talent for the sport.


B. first of all
C. in the first place
D. DELETE the underlined portion.


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In 1931, RCA Victor developed and released the first 33 1/3 rpm records to the public. The format initially was a commercial failure because the records and playback equipment were expensive and because the audio performance was poor. When the stylus for playback was improved and the product released, the record became the standard in music playback for decades.


B. the product that was released,
C. the product being released,
D. the product has been released,


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The moment a volunteer with a therapy dog walks into a hospital room, you can instantly feel a change in mood. Their eyes immediately focus on the animal, and smiles spread across their faces.


B. Your
C. One’s
D. Patients’


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Throwing everything you own into your beat-up van and heading to California is a familiar path many aspiring musicians and actors follow as they head out West to chase their dreams. Although the odds are stacked quite heavily against them, opportunities are there for the taking. Such is the case for Richard Gibbs, a dreamer turned rock star and blockbuster film composer whose had a knack for being in the right place at the right time.


B. who’s had a knack for being
C. who’s had a knack to be
D. whose knack for being


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People are divided about whether hedgehogs should be kept as pets. Wild animals should stay wild, one argument goes. On the other hand, cats and dogs were wild once, and domestication has to start somewhere. At first, a hedgehog may feel threatened and extend they’re quills when handled by humans, but eventually most hedgehogs come to enjoy being petted and cuddled.


B. their
C. its
D. it’s


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