TOEFL IBT Reading Practice Test 16 from Barron’s TOEFL iBT

Reading 2 “Civilization ”

Between 4000 and 3000 B.C., significant technological developments began to transform the Neolithic towns. The invention of writing enabled records to be kept, and the use of metals marked a new level of human control over the environment and its resources. Already before 4000 B.C., craftspeople had discov-ered that metal-bearing rocks could be heated to liquefy metals, which could then be cast in molds to produce tools and weapons that were more useful than stone instruments. Although copper was the first metal to be utilized in producing tools, after 4000 B.C. craftspeople in western Asia discovered that a combination of cop¬per and tin produced bronze, a much harder and more durable metal than copper. Its widespread use has led historians to call the period the Bronze Age; there¬after, from around 3000 to 1200 B.C., bronze was increasingly replaced by iron.

At first, Neolithic settlements were hardly more than villages. But as their inhabitants mastered the art of farming, more complex human societies emerged. As wealth increased, these societies began to develop armies and to build walled cities. By the beginning of the Bronze Age, the concentration of larger numbers of people in the river valleys of Southwest Asia and Egypt was leading to a whole new pattern for human life.

As we have seen, early human beings formed small groups that developed a simple culture that enabled them to survive. As human societies grew and developed greater complexity, a new form of human existence—called civilization—came into being. A civilization is a complex culture in which large numbers of human beings share a number of common elements. Historians have identified a number  of basic characteristics of civilization, most of which are evident in the Southwest Asian and Egyptian civilizations. These include (1) an urban focus: cities became the centers of political economic, social, cultural, and religious development; (2) a distinct religious structure: the gods were deemed crucial to the community’s success, and professional priestly classes, as stewards of the gods’ property, regulated relations with the gods; (3) new political and military structures: an organized government bureaucracy arose to meet the administrative demands of the growing population while armies were organized to gain land and power and for defense; (4) a new social structure based on economic power: while kings and an upper class of priests, political leaders, and warriors dominated, there also existed large groups of free people (farmers, artisans, craftspeople) and at the very bottom, socially, a class of slaves; (5) the development of writing: kings, priests, merchants, and artisans used writing to keep records; and (6) new forms of significant artistic and intellectual activity: monumental architectural structures, usually religious, occupied a prominent place in urban environments.

-> Why early civilizations developed remains difficult to explain. [A] Since civilizations developed independently in India, China, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, can general causes be identified that would explain why all of these civilizations emerged? [B] A number of possible explanations of the beginning of civilization have been suggested. A theory of challenge and response maintains that challenges forced human beings to make efforts that resulted in the rise of civilization. Some scholars have adhered to a material explanation. [C] Material forces, such as the growth of food surpluses, made possible the specialization of labor and development of large communities with bureaucratic organization. [D] But the area of the Fertile Crescent, in which civilization emerged in Southwest Asia, was not naturally conducive to agriculture. Abundant food could be produced only with a massive human effort to carefully manage the water, an effort that created the need for organization and bureaucratic control and led to civilized cities. Some historians have argued that nonmaterial forces, primarily religious, provided the sense of unity and purpose that made such organized activities possible. Finally, some scholars doubt that we are capable of ever dis¬covering the actual causes of early civilization.

14. Which of the following is the best definition of a “civilization”?

A/ Neolithic towns and cities B/ Types of complex cultures C/ An agricultural community D/ Large population centers

15. The word its in the passage refers to

A/ copper B/ bronze C/ metal D/ iron

16. According to paragraph 2, what happens as societies become more prosperous?

A/ More goods are produced.
B/ Walled cities are built.
C/ Laws are instituted.
D/ The size of families increased.
Paragraph 2 is marked with an arrow [->].

17. The word hardly in the passage is closest in meaning to

A/ frequently

B/ likely
C/ barely ‘
D/ obviously

18. Why does the author mention “Neolithic settlements” in paragraph 2?

A/ To give an example of a civilization

B/ To explain the invention of writing systems

C/ To argue that they should be classified as villages

D/ To contrast them with the civilizations that evolved
Paragraph 2 is marked with an arrow [->].

19. According to paragraph 3, how was the class system structured?

A/ An upper class and a lower class
B/ Slaves, free people, and a ruling class
C/ A king, an army, and slaves
D/ Intellectuals and uneducated fanners and workers
Paragraph 3 is marked with an arrow [->].

20. Which of the sentences below best expresses the information in the highlighted statement in the passage? The other choices change the meaning or leave out important information.

A/ Southwest Asian and Egyptian civilizations exhibit the majority of the characteristics identified by historians.
B/ The characteristics that historians have identified are not found in the Egyptian and Southwest Asian cultures.
C/ Civilizations in Southwest Asia and Egypt were identified by historians who were studying the characteristics of early cultures.
D/ The identification of most historical civilizations includes either Egypt or Southwest Asia on the list.

21. The word crucial in the, passage is closest in meaning to

A/ fundamental

B/ arbitrary

C/ disruptive

D/ suitable

22. The word prominent in the passage is closest in meaning to

A/ weak

B/ important

C/ small
D/  new

23. According to paragraph 4, how can the independent development of civilization in different geographic regions be explained?

A/ Scholars agree that food surpluses encouraged populations to be concentrated in cer¬tain areas.
B/ There are several theories that explain the rise of civilization in the ancient world.
C/ The model of civilization was probably carried from one region to another along trade routes.
D/ Historians attribute the emergence of early cities at about the same time as a coincidence.
Paragraph 4 is marked with an arrow [->].

24. All of the following are cited as reasons why civilizations developed EXCEPT

A/ Religious practices unified the population.
B/ The management of water required organization.
C/ A major climate change made living in groups necessary.

D/ Extra food resulted in the expansion of population centers.

25. Look at the four squares [ ■ ] that show where the following sentence could be inserted in the passage.

Some historians believe they can be established.
Where could the sentence best be added?
Click on a square [■] to insert the sentence in the passage.

26. Directions: An introduction for a short summary of the passage appears below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that mention the most important points in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not included in the passage or they are minor points from the pas¬sage. This question is worth 2 points.

Certain qualities appear to define a civilization.




Answers choices

A/ Free citizens who work in professions for pay

B/ Bureaucracies for the government and armies
C/ Libraries to house art and written records

D/ A strategic location near rivers or the sea
E/ Organized religion, writing, and art
F/ A densely populated group with a class structure

Reading Passage 1   Reading Passage 3  Answer Keys & Explanation