Reading Keys
Test 5: Drawing Inferences

Copyright 2006 © Laraine Flemming.
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Directions: Read each passage. In the blanks that follow, write the implied main idea.


In 1940, Congress passed the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prohibits anyone from pursuing, shooting, wounding, killing, poisoning, trapping, molesting, or disturbing these two species of birds. Despite this legislation, though, the bald eagle population had reached its lowest number by 1963, and the symbolic American bird was in danger of disappearing from the wilderness forever. Consequently, when the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, the bald eagle was named a threatened species and thereby received significant protections. Around the same time, chemicals like DDT, which weakens the birds' eggshells, and PCBs, which poison their diets, were banned. As a result, the number of nesting pairs of eagles in Virginia alone rose from 260 to 435 between 1999 and 2004. In 2003, there were 7,678 nesting pairs nationwide, and bald eagles lived in 48 of our 50 states. (Source of information: Felicity Barringer, "Thriving Bald Eagle Finding Its Way Off Endangered List," The New York Times, May 19, 2004,

Main Idea:


American novelist Upton Sinclair was one of the most famous of the "muckrakers," a group of early 20th century writers and editors who exposed corruption and abuse in business and government. When Sinclair published in 1906 The Jungle, a brutally graphic novel about the Chicago stockyards and meat-packing industry, outraged Americans were inspired to reform federal food inspection laws. Another muckraker, author Samuel Hopkins Adams, wrote a series of Collier's Weekly articles about the condition of public health in the United States. These articles ultimately influenced the passage of the first Pure Food and Drugs Act. In 1902, muckraker Lincoln Steffens, editor of McClure's Magazine, began a series of articles on corruption in city governments. Soon afterward, citizens began electing reformers who promised to bring about change. Muckrakers' exposés also led Congress to pass the 1906 Hepburn Act, which corrected abuses in the railroad industry.

Main Idea:


Americans generally think of themselves as good people who do good things for other nations. A Gallup poll reveals that two-thirds of Americans believe that the United States should help to solve international problems. They are happy with their country's active role in foreign affairs. However, when the British Broadcasting Corporation polled 11,000 people in 11 different countries in 2003, it found that 65 percent of those surveyed thought that Americans were "arrogant." Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said that Americans were not "humble." A poll of European nations in 2003 showed that only 25 percent of Germans, 31 percent of French citizens, and 34 percent of Italians had a favorable opinion of the United States. Almost two-thirds of citizens of Egypt and Pakistan have unfavorable opinions of the United States, and 75 percent of people in Jordan dislike Americans. (Sources of information: The Pew Research Center, "What the World Thinks in 2002," December 4, 2002,; Jennifer Harper, "Americans Not Ruffled by World's Contempt," The Washington Times, June 20, 2003,

Main Idea:


The National World War II Memorial (2004) has been described by its critics as "ugly" and "mediocre." Many historians and architects expressed disappointment in the memorial's lack of "spirit and fervor," as one critic put it. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1981) divided Americans almost as much as the war did. Many veterans didn't like "The Wall;" former Army platoon leader Tom Carhart, for example, called it a "degrading ditch." Others called it a "a black gash of shame." The Korean War Veterans Memorial (1995), a black granite wall etched with soldiers' faces, was called a "design disaster." The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (1997) was criticized by disabled Americans because the statue did not show enough of the president's wheelchair. The Jefferson Memorial (1943) also caused angry debate; traditionalists wanted the design based on the Roman Pantheon, and modernists argued that a historical design was no longer meaningful. If President Roosevelt had not intervened, that particular monument might not have been built. The Lincoln Memorial (1922) had many Southern opponents, who didn't want it built at all. Even Lincoln supporters called the architecture "pompous" and criticized its site, which was a swamp at the time, as "unworthy" of the savior of the Union. (Source of information: "Tributes Often Born of Controversy," no author credited, USA Today, May 20, 2004, p. 2A.)

Main Idea:


The Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism law passed after the attacks on September 11, 2001, allows the FBI to search the records of businesses, libraries, and bookstores to obtain information about suspected terrorists. Critics of the law, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say that these searches are unconstitutional and can be misused. The federal Justice Department, however, argues that the searches can occur only in a narrow set of circumstances, so the law still manages to carefully protect citizens' rights. Another controversial element of the Patriot Act is its allowance of property searches without first informing owners or occupants. Opponents of the law say that these searches threaten citizens' civil liberties. But the law's supporters say that delaying notification of such searches is necessary in order to avoid tipping off terrorists ahead of time. They point out, too, that such searches have been a crime-fighting tool for a long time. Civil libertarians also worry that the Patriot Act undermines citizens' right to free speech because they fear the consequences of criticizing their government. Those who support the Patriot Act, however, feel that during the war on terror, this law is required to help strengthen our national security. (Sources of information: Kevin Bohm, "ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Patriot Act,", July 30, 2003,

Main Idea:

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