14 Jan 2016

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English Comprehension Practice Set II


On the surface, the conquest of the Aztec empire by Herman Cortes is one of the most amazing military accomplishments in history. With a small fighting force numbering in the hundreds, Cortes led the Spanish explorers into victory against an Aztec population that many believe topped 21 million. In light of such a seemingly impossible victory, the obvious question is: how did a small group of foreign fighters manage to topple one of the world's strongest, wealthiest, and most successful military empires?

Several factors led to Cortes' success. First, the Spanish exploited animosity toward the Aztecs among rival groups and convinced thousands of locals to fight. In one account of a battle, it is recorded that at least 200,000 natives fought with Cortes. Next, the Spanish possessed superior military equipment in the form of European cannons, guns, and crossbows, leading to effective and efficient disposal of Aztec defenses. For example, Spanish cannons quickly defeated large Aztec walls that had protected the empire against big and less technically advanced armies.

Despite the Spanish advantages, the Aztecs probably could have succeeded in defending their capital city of Tenochtitlan had they leveraged their incredible population base to increase their army's size and ensured that no rogue cities would ally with Cortes. In order to accomplish this later goal, Aztec leader Motecuhzoma needed to send envoys to neighboring cities telling their inhabitants about the horrors of Spanish conquest and the inevitability of Spanish betrayal.

In addition, the Aztecs should have exploited the fact that the battle was taking place on their territory. No reason existed for the Aztecs to consent to a conventional battle, which heavily favored the Spanish. Motecuhzoma's forces should have thought outside the box and allowed Cortes into the city, only to subsequently use hundreds of thousands of fighters to prevent escape and proceed in surprise "door-to-door" combat. With this type of battle, the Aztecs would have largely thwarted Spanish technological supremacy. However, in the end, the superior weaponry of the Spanish, the pent-up resentment of Aztec rivals, the failure of Aztec diplomacy, and the lack of an unconventional Aztec war plan led to one of the most surprising military outcomes in the past one thousand years.

  • 1. Which of the following best characterizes the main point the author is trying to convey in the passage?

    1. Aztec failure to fight an unconventional war led to an unnecessary defeat

    2. Spanish victory was neither as impressive nor as surprising as it may first appear

    3. Herman Cortes masterminded an amazing military accomplishment

    4. The myopic vision of the Aztecs led to their unnecessary downfall

  • 2. The passage is sequentially organized in which of the following ways?

    1. Define a problem; explain the sources of the problem; offer a solution to the problem

    2. Pose a question; offer an answer to the question; offer an alternative answer to the question

    3. Introduce a mystery; offer an explanation for the mystery; provide an alternative explanation for the mystery

    4. Introduce an enigma; explain the reasons for the enigma; discuss the inevitability of the enigma

  • 3. According to the passage, all of the following led to Cortes success except:

    1. Advanced crossbows

    2. Local Spanish allies

    3. Nimble military force

    4. Local tribal friction

  • 4. The author implies which of the following about the nature of Aztec regional influence and power?

    1. Achieved with a non-traditional military campaign

    2. Engendered some anger

    3. Achieved through alliances

    4. Based upon small yet swift and brutal military force

  • 5. The author's tone can best be described as ?

    1. Analytical

    2. Anger

    3. Frustrated

    4. Optimistic

    1 B  2 D  3 C  4 B  5 A

    The classical realist theory of international relations has long dominated both academic institutions and the American government. Even at the birth of the nation, early political thinkers, such as Alexander Hamilton, promoted a realist view of international relations and sought to influence the actions of the government based on this perspective. While the classical realist school of international relations is not entirely homogeneous in nature, there are certain premises that all classical realists share.

    The primary principle underlying classical realism is a concern with issues of war and peace. Specifically, classical realists ask, what are the causes of war and what are the conditions of peace? The members of the classical realist school mainly attribute war and conflict to what is termed the security dilemma. In the absence of any prevailing global authority, each nation is required to address its own security needs. However, each nation’s quest for security—through military buildups, alliances, or territorial defenses—necessarily unsettles other nations. These nations react to feelings of insecurity by engaging in their own aggressive actions, which leads other nations to react similarly, perpetuating the cycle.

    It is important to note that for realists, unlike idealists or liberal internationalists, international conflict is a necessary consequence of the structural anarchy that nations find themselves in. Whereas other schools may see international conflict as the result of evil dictators, historical chance, flawed socio political systems, or ignorance of world affairs, classical realists see war as the logical result of a system that by its nature lacks a true central authority.

    Hand in hand with this view of conflict as an inevitable condition of the global power structure is the realists’ view of the nation as a unitary actor. Because classical realists see international relations as a continuing struggle for dominance, the nation can not be viewed as a collection of individuals with disparate wants, goals, and ideologies. The realist view requires the formulation of a national interest, which in its simplest terms refers to the nation’s ability to survive, maintain its security, and achieve some level of power relative to its competitors.

    Realism is not without its critics, many of whom challenge the premise that war is the natural condition of international relations or that there can be a truly national interest. However, the realist school of international relations continues to shape foreign policy because of the successes it has had in describing real world interactions between nations.

    • 1. Which of the following, if true, would best support the classical realist theory of international conflict as it is described in the passage?

      1. Some countries ruled by dictators maintain peaceful relations with their neighbours

      2. Despite the presence of a world superpower, many countries continue to fight wars with their neighbours.

      3. War has existed from the beginning of recorded history.

      4. After the nations of the world form an authoritative world court, wars decrease dramatically.

    • 2. It can be inferred from the passage that members of the classical realist school would be LEAST likely to support.

      1. a domestic policy that attempts to unify the nation’s citizens behind a common cause

      2. an international policy that seeks to reduce threats of war by providing humanitarian aid to potential aggressor countries

      3. an international policy based on building a strong military force to deter threats

      4. an international policy based on joining a common defense contract with other nation

    • 3. According to the passage, the formation of a national interest serves what function in the classical realist theory of war and peace?

      1. It provides the necessary justification for the classical realist view of a continuous global power struggle.

      2. It is a convenience used by theorists to describe national interests where none exist.

      3. It is less important to the theory than is the idea of the nation as a unitary actor

      4. It is the part of the theory that receives the most criticism from opponents.

    • 4. The author most likely regards the classical realist theory of international relations with

      1. general apathy

      2. skeptical dismissal

      3. qualified acceptance

      4. glowing approval

      1 D  2 B  3 A  4 C

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