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Computer TOEFL Reading Practice: Kangaroos

Reading Passage

Ever since they were discovered by early settlers, kangaroos have fascinated biologists.  They are unique animals, considered both comical and exotic. They are found only in Australia, New Zealand and a few surrounding islands.

There are more than fifty species of kangaroos in existence today. The best known and largest species is the red and gray kangaroos, which can stand up to six feet and can weigh nearly 200 pounds. But there are kangaroo breeds that are much smaller, such as the musky rat kangaroo, which is only one foot tall. Kangaroos are very adaptable and can live in almost any climate. They can be found in mountainous regions, deserts, grasslands, even remote islands off the coast of southwestern Australia.

Kangaroos are very well suited to their environment. They have adapted over millions of years to fit into their ecological niche. They have large ears, and relatively small heads. Their front limbs are very small, but their paws are very nimble. Their hind legs are very large and powerful. When they are moving slowly, kangaroos walk on all four limbs, with the front limbs barely touching the ground. But when they feel the need to move quickly, they stand nearly upright, and start hopping on their hind legs. When they begin to hop, kangaroos use their muscular, agile tails to balance themselves, and to help them change direction.

Like all marsupials, kangaroos carry their offspring in a pouch. The mother kangaroo may nurse her young, called a joey, for up to a year. Because the joeys stay in a pouch for so long, kangaroos almost never have more than one baby at a time. They typically raise one litter per year, though environmental conditions sometimes make this impossible. If they survive childhood, kangaroos can live as long as eighteen years in the wild, even longer in captivity.

Except for the smallest species like the musky rat kangaroo, which eats insects and small animals, kangaroos are herbivores, subsisting upon grass and other forest vegetation. Like many other grazing animals, kangaroos have developed multi-chambered stomachs to aid in the breakdown of otherwise indigestible plant material.

Questions

1. According to the passage, which of the following is NOT true about kangaroos?

 kangaroos carry their offspring in a pouch
 kangaroos have multi-chambered stomachs
 kangaroos use their tails for balance
 kangaroos can weigh nearly 300 pounds

Magic Explanation

We learn in the second paragraph that the largest species of kangaroo "[weighs] nearly 200 pounds."

2. When do kangaroos switch from walking on four legs to walking on two legs?

 when they are frightened
 when they need to move fast
 when their front limbs are holding something
 when their front limbs are tired

Magic Explanation

We learned in the passage that "But when they feel the need to move quickly, they stand nearly upright, and start hopping on their hind legs."

3.  The follow sentence can be added to the first paragraph. Where would it best fit in the paragraph? Click on the square to add the sentence to the paragraph.

Passage

1 Ever since they were discovered by early settlers, kangaroos have fascinated biologists. 2 They are unique animals, considered both comical and exotic. 3 They are found only in Australia, New Zealand and a few surrounding islands. 4

Insert this sentence

Perhaps because of their existence in such remote locations, kangaroos are regarded with fascination by schoolchildren all the world over.

Magic Explanation

4 is the only possible place that we could insert the sentence. The trick here is to look at the word such. When we use such with a noun and without as, we are referring to a noun that we have already mentioned or a noun that we know about. In this case, we are talking about such remote locations, and only in the last sentence do we talk about any locations at all.

4. Look at the word species in paragraph 2. Click on the word that is closest in meaning to species.

There are more than fifty species of kangaroos in existence today. The best known and largest species is the red and gray kangaroos, which can stand up to six feet and can weigh nearly 200 pounds. But there are kangaroo breeds that are much smaller, such as the musky rat kangaroo, which is only one foot tall. Kangaroos are very adaptable and can live in almost any climate. They can be found in mountainous regions, deserts, grasslands, even remote islands off the coast of southwestern Australia.

Magic Explanation

species is closest in meaning to breeds. Yeah, we know. You want to know how to answer the question if you don't know the answer, right? Right. Your first trick here is to choose a word that is the same part of speech. In this case, we need to choose a noun. Now, our next trick is to make sure that we also choose a noun that is plural, since species is plural. Finally, our last trick is to try to "mimic" or imitate the way the word is used in the original sentence. We could also eliminate a bunch of the other plural nouns, such as regions, deserts, etc. because those are geographical things.

5. Look at the first sentence of the passage. What does the pronoun they refer to?

Ever since they were discovered by early settlers, kangaroos have fascinated biologists.

 settlers
 kangaroos
 biologists
 natives

Magic Explanation

Not so hard, right? Right. kangaroos were discovered by early settlers. Pay attention to questions like this--sometimes it's possible to put the pronoun referent after the pronoun.

6. Look at the word nimble in paragraph 3. Click on the word that is closest in meaning to nimble.

Kangaroos are very well suited to their environment. They have adapted over millions of years to fit into their ecological niche. They have large ears, and relatively small heads. Their front limbs are very small, but their paws are very nimble. Their hind legs are very large and powerful. When they are moving slowly, kangaroos walk on all four limbs, with the front limbs barely touching the ground. But when they feel the need to move quickly, they stand nearly upright, and start hopping on their hind legs. When they begin to hop, kangaroos use their muscular, agile tails to balance themselves, and to help them change direction.

Magic Explanation

First, see our explanation for number 4. Now, we need to "mimic" the way the word is used. With nimble, we are describing the kangaroos' paws; with agile, we are describing their tails.

7. Look at the word them in paragraph 3. Click on the word that them is referring to.

Kangaroos are very well suited to their environment. They have adapted over millions of years to fit into their ecological niche. They have large ears, and relatively small heads. Their front limbs are very small, but their paws are very nimble. Their hind legs are very large and powerful. When they are moving slowly, kangaroos walk on all four limbs, with the front limbs barely touching the ground. But when they feel the need to move quickly, they stand nearly upright, and start hopping on their hind legs. When they begin to hop, kangaroos use their muscular, agile tails to balance themselves, and to help them change direction.

Magic Explanation

The key here is to look at the sentence. Are we talking about helping tails, legs, or kangaroos change directions? We should say that the kangaroos' tails help the kangaroos change direction.

8. Look at the word their in paragraph 4. Click on the word that their refers to.

Like all marsupials, kangaroos carry their offspring in a pouch. The mother kangaroo may nurse her young, called a joey, for up to a year. Because the joeys stay in a pouch for so long, kangaroos almost never have more than one baby at a time. They typically raise one litter per year, though environmental conditions sometimes make this impossible. If they survive childhood, kangaroos can live as long as eighteen years in the wild, even longer in captivity.

Magic Explanation

If you know the word offspring ("babies, young ones"), then this one is pretty easy. Of course, we are talking about the "babies" of the kangaroos.

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