Study Guide

MoGEA English Language Arts Subtest
Sample Questions

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Read the passage below; then answer the two questions that follow.

1     Inside the human body, millions of organisms called bacteria live, multiply, and thrive. Most of these organisms are quite harmless, and some even contribute to human health. A few forms of bacteria, however, are extremely dangerous. When these organisms enter the bloodstream, they can overwhelm the body's immune system and cause diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. Throughout much of human history, people could do little to stop them.

2     It was not until the nineteenth century that scientists even discovered that bacteria caused disease. The search for effective antibacterial treatments began soon afterward. Scientists believed they could cure many conditions if they found a way to destroy these microorganisms without harming the human body. This proved more difficult than originally anticipated. Killing the bacteria was no problem, but doing so in a way that did not harm patients was another matter altogether.

3     Then, almost by accident, a Scottish microbiologist made a major breakthrough. In 1928 Alexander Fleming left some dirty petri dishes in his laboratory while he was on vacation. When he returned and began to clean the dishes, he made an interesting discovery: a mold in one dish seemed to be killing bacteria. Intrigued, Fleming tried to identify the mold, but fungal experts had difficulty determining what it was. Following their advice, Fleming and his assistants searched for more samples of the mold. Their experiments led to the discovery that the mold produced an antibacterial chemical that Fleming called penicillin. When further experiments showed that the chemical did not cause harm to animal test subjects, Fleming was overjoyed. His elation soon turned to discouragement, however, when additional research indicated that penicillin would lose its antibacterial properties at body temperature before it could cure an infection.

4     For 12 years Fleming continued to reproduce the mold and send samples to researchers around the world, few of whom shared the Scottish scientist's belief that it could be used as an antibacterial drug. Then, at the outbreak of World War II, a team of scientists led by the Australian pathologist Howard Florey and the German-born British biochemist Ernst Chain decided to reexamine the properties of penicillin. With little financial support, they conducted many of the same experiments Fleming had previously undertaken. Their research yielded similar results until they administered the drug to diseased mice. Aware that most scientists believed penicillin would likely fail at body temperature, they did not expect much from the experiment. To their surprise, they found that the penicillin completely cured the mice of their bacterial infections.

5     The subsequent influence of penicillin on the development of modern medicine has been immense. Soon after Florey and Chain's discovery, the drug became widely available and was used to cure bacterial infections ranging from gas gangrene to pneumonia. No less important, penicillin provided the blueprint for the creation of other antibacterial drugs that have been employed to cure an even greater variety of diseases. Thus it happened that the discovery of a rare mold on a dirty petri dish initiated a series of experiments that ultimately saved the lives of tens of millions of people around the world.

Competency 0001
Demonstrate the ability to comprehend, interpret, and analyze text from a variety of styles and genres.

1. Which of the following outlines best reflects the way in which the author develops the central ideas of the passage?

    1. the ways in which bacteria live and multiply inside the human body
    2. Fleming's correspondence with other scientists
    3. the increasing availability of penicillin during World War II
    1. a comparison of harmless and harmful bacteria
    2. Fleming's discovery of the penicillin mold
    3. Florey and Chain's experiments with mice
    1. the problems involved in the treatment of bacterial diseases
    2. experiments conducted by Fleming, Florey, and Chain
    3. the influence of penicillin on the development of modern medicine
    1. the effect of bacteria after entering the human bloodstream
    2. Fleming's strengths and shortcomings as a researcher
    3. the use of penicillin to treat various types of infections
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. This question requires the examinee to analyze the development of central ideas or themes over the course of a text. In this passage, the author first establishes the dangers that certain bacteria pose to human health, then discusses the ways in which Florey and Chain's experiments built on Fleming's work and the successful use of penicillin in treating bacterial infections and a wide range of diseases.

Competency 0002
Demonstrate the ability to use critical reasoning skills to evaluate an informational or persuasive text.

2. Which of the following assumptions most influenced the author's argument in the passage?

  1. Most important scientific breakthroughs are the result of framing familiar problems in new ways.
  2. The longer it takes to complete a series of scientific experiments, the more likely it is that the resulting discovery will be effective.
  3. It is much easier to discover ways of successfully treating disease in laboratory animals than it is in human beings.
  4. Scientific discovery is a cumulative process in which scientists build on the findings of researchers who preceded them.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. This question requires the examinee to recognize the assumptions on which a writer's argument is based. Placing at the center of the narrative a description of how Florey and Chain reexamined and expanded the findings of Fleming and his assistants to produce an effective antibacterial drug strongly suggests that the author assumes scientific discovery is a cumulative process.

Competency 0003
Demonstrate the ability to use critical reasoning skills to evaluate literary text from a variety of cultures and time periods.

3. Read the excerpt below from "A Rose for Emily" (1930), a short story by William Faulkner; then answer the question that follows.

When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.

Source: Excerpt from "A Rose for Emily". Copyright 1930 & renewed 1958 by William Faulkner, from COLLECTED STORIES OF WILLIAM FAULKNER by William Faulkner. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

In this excerpt, the author uses a description of setting primarily to:

  1. suggest a connection between Miss Emily and soldiers who died during the Civil War.
  2. emphasize that Miss Emily had become, in her old age, a remnant of a bygone era.
  3. establish the significance and depth of Miss Emily's roots within her community.
  4. create a mood of compassion for Miss Emily, who had become an object of pity.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. This question requires the examinee to interpret works of literature in terms of form, subject, theme, mood, or technique. In this excerpt, the author associates Miss Emily closely with her house and the street on which she lived. The house was designed in a "lightsome style," "decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies." It "had once been white," and it sat on what "had once been our most select street." Since that bygone era, though, "garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood." So, like Miss Emily, considered "a fallen monument," the house and street on which she lived fell, too, becoming remnants of a distant past.

Competency 0004
Demonstrate understanding of effective oral communication and public speaking skills.

4. When considering a topic for a speech, which of the following questions is most important to answer first?

  1. Who will make up the audience for the speech?
  2. How should the speech be organized?
  3. What is the speech meant to accomplish?
  4. How much time will be available for the speech?
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of how to identify, use, and create speeches for different types of speaking purposes. In developing a speech, the determination that a speaker must make first is the purpose of the speech. Only once the purpose of the speech is clearly understood should consideration be given to the audience, time frame, and structure of the speech.