Read the passages and choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions about a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.

Time – 20 minutes


1. The greatest demographic story of the twentieth century was the enormous increase in life expectancy, the average number of years a person can expect to live. In most modern societies, life expectancy rose dramatically, from about 47 years in 1900 to about 76 years in 2000. This does not mean, however, that people suddenly died on their forty–seventh birthday in 1900. It means that if half of the people born in 1900 died in childhood and the rest lived 95 years, the average age at death was around 47. The data for 1900 reflect high infant and childhood mortality rates. At that time, surviving the first fifteen years of life was the key to living to old age. Over the century, several factors increased life expectancy, most notably improvements in public health, such as pasteurized milk, sewers, and indoor plumbing. Advances in medical practice, including the use of antibiotics and vaccinations for childhood illnesses, made it increasingly likely that infants would reach adulthood.

2. On the one hand, increased life expectancy is a sign of societal well being; on the other hand, an aging population poses its own set of problems. Large numbers of elderly, many with chronic diseases, become a burden on the health care system and on their families. In societies where care of the elderly is a family responsibility, adult children caring for aging parents experience great personal and financial stress.


1. The oil technique for painting on canvas is superior to other methods mainly because of its great flexibility and ease of manipulation, as well as the wide range of effects that can be produced. Colors do not change to any great extent on drying, which means that the color the artist puts down is, with only slight variation, the color desired in the finished work. The artist is free to combine transparent and opaque effects in the same painting. However, the principal defect of oil painting is the darkening of the oil over time, but this may be reduced by using the highest quality materials.

2. The most widely used artists’ colors based on the synthetic resins are made by dispersing pigment in acrylic emulsion. Acrylic paints are thinned with water, but when they dry, the resin particles coalesce to form a tough film that is impervious to water. Acrylic colors may be made mat or glossy and can imitate most of the effects of other water–based colors. They are a boon to painters with a high rate of production because a painting can be completed in one session that might have taken days in oil because of the drying time required between layers of paint.

3. Acrylic colors are not a complete substitute for oil paints, and artists whose styles require the special manipulative properties of oil colors—including delicacy in handling or smoothly blended tones—find that these possibilities are the exclusive properties of oils. Although painting in acrylics has certain advantages over painting in oils, the latter remains the standard because the majority of painters find that its advantages outweigh its defects and that in optical quality oil paints surpass all others.


1. Climate is the general pattern of atmospheric conditions, seasonal variations, and weather extremes in a region over a period of decades. One major factor determining the uneven patterns of world climates is the variation in the amount of solar energy striking different parts of the earth. The amount of incoming solar energy reaching the earth’s surface varies with latitude, the distance north or south from the equator. Air in the troposphere is heated more at the equator (zero latitude), where the sun is almost directly overhead, than at the high–latitude poles, where the sun is lower in the sky and strikes the earth at a low angle.

2. The large input of heat at and near the equator warms large masses of air. These warm masses rise and spread northward and southward, carrying heat from the equator toward the poles. At the poles, the warm air becomes cool and falls to the earth. These cool air masses then flow back toward the equator near ground level to fill the space left by rising warm air masses. This general air circulation pattern in the troposphere results in warm average temperatures near the equator, cold average temperatures near the poles, and moderate average temperatures at the middle latitudes.

3. The larger input of solar energy near the equator evaporates huge amounts of water from the earth’s surface into the troposphere. As the warm, humid air rises, it cools rapidly and loses most of its moisture as rain near the equator. The abundant rainfall and the constant warm temperatures near the equator create the world’s tropical rain forests.

4. Two major factors cause seasonal changes in climate. One is the earth’s annual orbit around the sun; the other is the earth’s daily rotation around its tilted axis, the imaginary line connecting the two poles. When the North Pole leans toward the sun, the sun’s rays strike the Northern Hemisphere more directly per unit of area, bringing summer to the northern half of the earth. At the same time, the South Pole is tilted away from the sun; thus, winter conditions prevail throughout the Southern Hemisphere. As the earth makes its annual rotation around the sun, these conditions shift and cause a change of seasons.

5. As the earth spins around its axis, the general air circulation pattern between the equator and each pole breaks into three separate belts of moving air, or prevailing surface winds, which affect the distribution of precipitation over the earth.

troposphere: the lowest region of the earth’s atmosphere

Click for Question 2 for Passage 2

Click for Question 4 for Passage 3

Check your answers

Question 2 from Passage 2

Question 4 from Passage 3

Free 45-minute Lesson for TOEFL Speaking

Discover which popular Task 1 Introduction sentence is a “score-killer” and the “perfect” alternative for rapidly earning points and contributing to a high score like 26

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.