Reading comprehension questions measure your ability to read with understanding, insight and discrimination. This type of question explores your ability to analyze a written passage from several perspectives. These include your ability to recognize both explicitly stated elements in the passage and assumptions underlying statements or arguments in the passage as well as the implications of those statements or arguments.
Pay attention to the following as you review the passage:
- The function of a word in relation to a larger segment of the passage
- The relationships among the various ideas in the passage
- The relationship of the author to the topic or to the audience.
You will find five types of reading comprehension questions to answer:
- The main point of the passage
- Information explicitly stated in the passage
- Information or ideas implied or suggested by the author
- Possible applications of the author's ideas to other situations, including the identification of situations or processes analogous to those described in the passage
- The author's logic, reasoning, or persuasive techniques
From the opening days of the civil war, one of the Union’s strategies in its efforts to defeat the rebelling southern stars was to blockade their ports. Compared to the Union, relatively little was manufactured in the confederacy- either consumer goods or, more important, war materials- and it was believed that a blockade could strangle the south into submission. But the confederacy had 3500 miles of coastline and at the start of the war; the Union had only 36 ships to patrol them.
Even so, the confederate government knew that the Union could and would construct additional warships and that in time all its ports could be sealed. To counter this, the confederacy decided to take a radical step- to construct an ironclad vessel that would be impervious to Union gunfire. In doing so, the South was taking a gamble because, though the British and French navies had already launched experimental armor-plated warships, none had yet been tested in battle.
Lacking time as well as true ship-building capabilities, rather than construct an entirely new ship, in July, 1861, the Confederacy began placing armor-plating on the hull of an abandoned U.S. Navy frigate, the ship carried ten guns and an iron ram designed to stave in the wooden hulls of Union warships.
Until then, Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon welles had considered ironclads too radical an idea, and preferred to concentrate on building standard wooden warships. But when news of the Virginia reached Washington, the fear it engendered forced him to rethink his decision. In October, 1861, the own ironclad- the U.S.S Monitor-which would revolutionize naval warfare. Designed by John Ericson, a Swede who had already made substantial contribution to marine engineering, the Monitor looked like on other ship afloat. With a wooden hull covered with iron plating, the ship had a flat deck with the waterline and protected the propeller and other important machinery. Even more innovative, the ship had a round, revolving turret which carried two large guns. Begun three months after work started on the conversion of the Virginia, the Monitor was nevertheless launched in January, 1862, two weeks before the Confederacy launched its ironclad.
On March 8th, now completely fitted, the Virginia left the port of Norfolk, Virginia, on what was expected to be a test run. However, steaming into Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Confederate ship found no fewer than five Union ships at the mouth of the James River- the st. Lawrence, congress, Cumberland, Minnesota, and Roanoke. The first three of these were already obsolete sailing ships, but the other were new steam frigates, the pride of the Union navy.
Attacking the Cumberland first, the Virginia sent several shells into her side before ramming her hull and sinking her. Turning next to the Congress, the southern ironclad sent broadsides into her until fires started by the shots reached her powder magazine and she blew up. At last, after driving the Minnesota aground, the Virginia steamed off, planning to finish off the other ships the next day. In just a few hours, she had sunk two ships, disabled a third, and killed 240 Union sailors, including the captain of the Congress-more naval causalities than on any other day of the war. Although she had lost two of her crew, her ram, and two of her guns, and sustained other damage, more of the nearly 100 shots that hit her had pierced her armor.
The Monitor, however, was already en route from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the next morning, March 9th, the two ironclads met each other for the first – and only time. For nearly four hours the ships pounded at each other, but despite some damage done on both sides, neither ship could penetrate the armor-plating of its enemy. When a shot from the Virginia hit the Monitor’s pilot house, wounding her captain and forcing her to with draw temporarily, the Confederate ship steamed back to Norfolk.
Although both sides claimed victory, the battle was actually draw. Its immediate significance was that, by forcing the withdrawal of the Virginia; it strengthened the Union blockade, enabling the North to continue its ultimately successful stranglehold on the South. Even more important, it was a turning point in the history of naval warfare. Although neither ship ever fought again, the brief engagement of the Monitor and Virginia made every navy in the world obsolete, and, in time, spelled the end of wooden fighting ships forever.
According to the passage, the Confederate wanted an ironclad vessel for all the following reasons EXCEPT
- An iron clad vessel might be able to withstand Union attacks
- It needed open ports in order to receive supplies from overseas
- The British and French navies already had ironclads
- It knew that the Union would be building more warships
- Without an ironclad, it would probably be unable to break the Union blockade
The passage implies that the South was vulnerable to a naval blockade because of its
- Limited manufacturing capabilities
- Relatively short coastline
- Weak and ineffectual navy
- Lack of access to natural resources
- Paucity of skilled naval officers
All of the following were unusual design features of the Monitor EXCEPT its
- Armor plating
- Perpendicular sides
- Revolving gun turret
- Flat deck
- Wooden hull