Reading test – level 2

Below, you’ll find a level 2 (SLP 2222) reading comprehension test. It’s a courtesy of CKEJO MON. The answer key is given at the end of the test.

READING test, level 2


Task One

Read the text and choose the right answer.

The Big Biggs

In 1963 Ronald Biggs, together with other gang members, stole £2.6 million from a mail train, the equivalent of around £40 million today. After being convicted and jailed, Biggs escaped from prison on 7 July 1965. He then fled to Paris, where he acquired new identity papers and underwent plastic surgery. In late 1965 Biggs took a flight to Sydney where he lived for several months. He was soon joined by his wife and two children. In 1967, his family got bigger as their third child was born. Then Biggs received an anonymous letter from England telling him that Interpol suspected that he was in Australia, and that he should relocate. In May 1967 the family moved to Melbourne, where he rented a large house in the suburb of Blackburn North. In Melbourne, he had a number of jobs before undertaking set construction work at the Channel 9 TV studios. In October 1969 a newspaper report by a Reuters correspondent claimed that Biggs was living in Melbourne, and that police were closing in on him. The story then led the 6 o’clock news on Channel 9. Being afraid that someone might discover his identity, he immediately fled his home. Biggs left his wife and sons behind in Australia and went to Brazil.

In 1971, Biggs’s eldest son, Nicky, died aged 10 in a car crash. However, he was unable to go to a funeral, making journalists question his whereabouts. In 1974, Daily Express reporter Colin MacKenzie received information suggesting that Biggs was in Rio de Janeiro, and soon he confirmed this and broke the story. Scotland Yard detectives arrived soon afterwards, but Biggs could not be extradited because Biggs’s then girlfriend was pregnant. Brazilian law would not allow the parent of a Brazilian child to be expelled. As a result, Biggs was able to live freely there. Although he was not allowed to work, visit bars or be away from home after 10pm, he found himself in the center of public attention. Biggs’s family hosted barbeques at his home in Rio where tourists could meet Biggs and hear him tell numerous tales of his involvement in the robbery. What proved his popularity was that “Ronnie Biggs” mugs, coffee cups and T-shirts appeared in souvenir shops throughout Rio.

In 2001 Biggs announced to The Sun that he would be willing to return to the UK. Biggs returned voluntarily in May 2001, and was immediately arrested and re-imprisoned. His trip back to England on a private jet was paid for by The Sun, which reportedly paid Biggs £20,000 plus other expenses in return for exclusive rights to the story of his life which they wanted to publish. After his return he had a number of health problems. Biggs’s son, Michael, said in a press release that his father had not returned to the UK simply to receive health care. Health care was available in Brazil and he had many friends and supporters who would certainly have contributed to any such expenses. However, what really made Biggs go back was his desire “to just walk into a Margate pub as an Englishman and buy a pint of bitter”.

On 14 November 2001, Biggs petitioned Governor Hynd of Belmarsh Prison for early release. His health was deteriorating rapidly and he asked to be released into the care of his son for his remaining days. The application was denied. In August 2005, it was reported that Biggs was seriously ill. His representatives, who wanted him to be released on grounds of compassion, said that their client was likely to die soon. On 26 October 2005, the Home Secretary Charles Clarke declined their appeal stating that his illness was not fatal. Home Office compassion policy is to release prisoners with three months left to live. In December 2007, Michael Biggs issued a further appeal asking the prison head to release his father from jail and let him die with his family. In January 2009, Biggs had a series of strokes that were said to have made him unable to speak or walk. It was then that the Parole Board recommended that Biggs be released, having served a third of his 30 year sentence. The Board’s recommendation was accepted and Biggs was released from custody on 6 August, the day before his 80th birthday.

Following his release from prison, Biggs’s health improved, leading to suggestions that he might soon be moved from hospital to a nursing home. In response to claims that Biggs’s state of health was faked, his lawyer said, “This man is going to die, he is seriously ill.” However, Biggs himself explained, “I’ve got a lot of living to do yet. I might even surprise them all by lasting until next Christmas, that would be fantastic.”

1. Biggs moved to Melbourne because …

a) he got a job
b) he got a warning
c) he got a bigger house

2. The reason why he left Australia was that …

a) a journalist wanted to write an article about him
b) the news about him appeared on Channel 9
c) a television viewer recognized him

3. Biggs couldn’t be sent back to England because …

a) he was married to a Brazilian
b) he was going to be a father
c) he lost one of his children

4. Biggs was a popular figure as he …

a) sold tourists souvenirs
b) stayed in bars till late
c) told many stories

5. The main reason why Biggs returned to England was to …

a) have better health care
b) publish a story of his life
c) get a typical English drink

6. The Home Secretary didn’t accept an application prepared by …

a) Biggs’s son
b) Biggs himself
c) Biggs’s representatives

7. After Biggs had left prison, he …

a) thought positively of his future
b) went to a nursing home
c) became seriously ill

Task two

In this task six phrases have been removed from the text and placed at the bottom. An extra phrase has been included. You must decide which phrase goes into which gap and write the letter in the box below. An example has been done for you.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

PRTs, established in Afghanistan at the end of 2002, … (0) … designed to meet three objectives: improve security, bring the control of the Afghan government to rural areas, and help reconstruction in priority provinces. In 2002 for both the coalition headquarters and the PRTs, the main aim was … (8) … .

In total 22 PRTs are operating in Afghanistan, 13 managed by the US-led Combined Forces Command, Afghanistan and 9 by ISAF. The basic organisation and working rules of US-led PRTs were agreed to by the Afghan government. These … (9) … in June 2003. The guidance thought that civilian representatives and military officers in the PRT would work as a team to achieve the three primary objectives.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) was made responsible for: improving security in their area of operation, all logistical support, and protecting all PRT members, including civilians. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) … (10) … . All members of the PRT leadership structure – military and civilian – … (11) … and cooperate with local government offices and national ministries.

Although they are given guidance, the PRTs had a lot of freedom to adapt to local conditions. This flexibility became a double-edged sword, however. On the one hand, Afghanistan’s different regions … (12) … . In Gardez, for example, the USAID representative chose to support the work of the Tribal Liaison Office. This agency was successful in making it easier for powerful tribes in unstable areas to talk with the new central government. On the other hand, it meant … (13) … . For example, some PRTs built schools that central government could not fill with teachers and text books.

A … (example) are civilian-military organizations
B … was given the lead on reconstruction
C … there was little coordination
D … minimising the side-effects of international military presence
E … would not be treated the same
F … cooperation became much better
G … were required to accept reconstruction projects
H … were then accepted by the US representatives

0 8 9 10 11 12 13

Task three

Read the text and write if the statements from 14 to 20 are true (T) or false (F).

Sisyphean Task

Brick by brick, tiny figure by tiny figure, Alec Garrard has painstakingly worked for 30 years on an amazing 1:100 scale model of Herod’s temple. It is commonly believed that the construction of the actual Herod’s complex lasted only three years, although historians say it took far longer.

It was his fascination with religion and buildings which first started Alec on the biblical project which now measures 20 by 12 feet and is housed in a shed in his garden. His version is so impressive that thousands of visitors from all over the world have come to see it. “I’ve had a lot of offers from people to buy it, but for me the model is priceless. I can’t imagine ever parting with it.” His wife, on the other hand, would be happy to see some profit from this time-consuming hobby. “I don’t mind all the time he spends on the temple, but with all the people visiting, he should accept at least modest sums for entry,” she says.

The first temple was raised as early as 959BC under King Solomon. It was completely destroyed by Babylonian troops and another temple was constructed in the same place in 515BC. It lasted until the 19th year of King Herod the Great’s reign. The King decided to pull the structure down and construct a new one on a larger scale. Herod’s temple was then destroyed in AD70 by Roman troops during the siege of Jerusalem. Today, all that is left of Herod’s temple is the Western Wall known to tourists as the Wailing Wall.

According to historical records Herod’s temple was a truly magnificent building. The king was really keen to make a name for himself as a constructor of famous projects, so he made sure that the temple dominated the Jerusalem landscape. The ambitious project involved an estimated 10, 000 workers, doubling the size of the pre-existing site.
It is this remarkable site, the fruit of Herod’s life, that Mr Garrard is trying to imitate. He has dedicated 33, 000 hours to constructing his model. “I have been working on it for decades and I’m always finding something new to add,” Mr Garrard says. “I’ve always loved making models and as I was getting older I started to think about making one big project which would see me through to the end of my life. And Herod’s Temple has turned out to be exactly like that,” he explains.

Mr Garrard’s model includes the Court of the Priests where animals were prepared for sacrifice. And, like in the ancient building, there’s the Golden Vine at the entrance to the temple and the Eastern Gate. There’s also an area known as Solomon’s Porch where Jesus debated with rabbis, amazing them with his questions and answers. Since the temple was destroyed by the Romans, archeologists have argued over the detail of its construction. Mr Garrard has also spent a great deal of time researching the ancient building. Although nobody can be sure about the details of the original Jewish temple, historians believe Garrard’s model is its most accurate imitation.

To make his model even more vibrant, Mr Garrard has populated it with 4, 000 human figures. Each of them measures just half an inch and wears a correct costume. “Each one takes about three hours to make and there are thirty-two versions of Jesus, although no one can ever recognize him no matter how religious they are,” Mr Garrard laughs. Everything in the model is made by hand. Each clay brick and tile was baked in the oven and painted. “I look upon it as a work of art, there’s a lot of detail and I want it to look as real as possible,” Garrard says. His lifelong mission continues.

Example: Garrard has been working on a full-scale model of Herod’s temple. (…F..)

14. According to experts, the real Herod’s temple took 3 years to build. (….…)
15. Garrard’s wife says he should sell the model. (….…)
16. One part of Herod’s temple still exists. (….…)
17. The temple built by Herod was twice as big as the one before. (….…)
18. Garrard never thought that the project would take him so long. (….…)
19. Garrard has made the most precise model of Herod’s temple so far. (….…)
20. It’s easy to notice the figure of Jesus. (…….)

Answer key:

Task One:

1)B   2)B    3)B    4)C    5)C    6)C   7)A

Task Two:

8)D    9)H    10)B    11)G    12)E    13)C

Task Three:

14)F    15)F    16)T    17)T   18)F    19)T    20)F