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 acceptanceof 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 next four questions (Examples 8, 9, 10 & 11) also are based on this Passage.
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 is the main idea of this passage?
(A) In society we must take more time for our neighbors
(B) The traditions of society are timeless
(C) An accepted way of measuring time is essential for smooth functioning of society
(D) Society judges people by the times at which they conduct certain activities
Obviously A, B and D are all factually wrong and can not be therefore be stated to be the main idea of the passage. Throughout this short passage, the author emphasizes the importance of the public acceptance of a single yardstick of time.
So, C is the most appropriate answer.
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