TOEFL Reading Comprehension



The railroad was not the first institution to impose regularity on society or to draw attention to the importance of precise time keeping. For as long as merchants have set out their wares at day break and communal festivities have been celebrated, people have been in rough agreement with their neighbors as to the time of the day. The value of this tradition is more apparent than ever. Were it not for public acceptance of a single yardstick of time, social life would be unbearably chaotic. The massive daily transfers of goods, services and information would proceed in fits and starts. The very fabric of modern society would begin to unravel.

The difficult words in this passage are impose (dictate), precise (accurate), wares (goods for sale), apparent (obvious), chaotic (confusing), it fits and starts (in a haphazard manner) and unravel (come apart).


What did the paragraph preceding the passages most probably discuss?

(A) The time at which religious services used to be held

(B) The regulatory effect of the railroad on society

(C) The need to regulate the railroads

(D) The sale of clocks and time pieces by merchants


It is obvious that the passage is not talking about the religious services, the need to regulate the railroads or the sale of clocks and timepieces by merchants. The preceding paragraph must talk about the regulatory effect of railroads on the society.

So, B is the answer.

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