Multiple choice

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2007, 12:00am

Paper 1a15

You have been answering m.c. questions for a long time and do not need much introduction to them. Their disadvantage is that reading them can take up quite a bit of time, but at least you won't make spelling mistakes in your answers. Some examination texts are quite hard, but remember that you don't have to get every detail or recognise every word. Concentrate on the big meaning and the parts you are asked questions about.

A Vanishing World

Read the passage and then choose the correct options

The number of different types of animals and plants is decreasing sharply. This loss in biodiversity is receiving a lot of attention from scientists and environmentalists for what it implies about the health of our planetary ecosystem.

First of all, to see if this is a serious problem we need to discover what the normal rate of extinction is. The margins of error are large but these figures are the best we can come up with as there is very limited data from any parts of the world. The accepted figure is that one species of mammal or bird can be expected to vanish every 500 to 1,000 years. However, we know of 38 birds and mammals that died out from 1600 to 1810, and 112 from 1810 to 1995. The current rate of loss is nearly one hundred times what it normally was, and by 2020 it is predicted to be from one to ten thousand times the original rate. This vast increase is the result of threats to entire categories of ecosystems. For example, all the world's coral reefs are at risk and their disappearance would remove a very large number of species we hardly know.

Another figure puts the loss of all types of living organisms at 784 since 1500: 582 on land, 226 from rivers and lakes and 15 from the sea. The United Nations reckons that 11,046 more are at immediate risk.

Why is all this happening? Of course, the answer is that one greedy species is grabbing everything for itself. We are changing land use (turning wild land into agricultural land), cutting down forests, changing the climate, polluting the air and water, removing natural resources at a tremendous rate, and introducing new life forms to new habitats without thought or care. Our expanding cities, wars and waste production all add to the dismal picture of a civilisation that is destroying its own home and support system.

1. 'Biodiversity' means . . .

A. extinction

B. variety of species

C. study of ancient life forms

D. a clean environment

2. Scientists and environmentalists are studying what is happening because . . .

A. it is interesting

B. they hope to find new types of plants and animals

C. there are signs of danger

D. they are looking for new drugs

3. The writer in paragraph 2 . . .

A. says the figures are probably too wrong to be useful

B. denies the figures are wrong

C. explains how the figures were got

D. admits the figures are not perfect

4. An example of a category of eco-system would

be . . .

A. rain-forest

B. the sea round Hong Kong

C. banyan trees

D. ants' nests

5. How many marine extinctions have there been in the last 500 years?

A. 582

B. 784

C. 226

D. 15

6. Which of these is not included in the list of types human activities causing problems?

i. Pumping factory water straight into rivers

ii. Developing new types of plants by bioengineering

iii. Burning oil

iv. Over-fishing

v. Using a lot of packaging

vi. Living in smaller families

A. none

B. ii & iii

C. ii & vi

D. iii, v & vi

Hints for each question

1. Read the first sentence carefully; it is parallel to the second.

2. When do we ask a doctor to consider our health?

3. Look at the main words: large/error/ but/ best

4. Make sure the answer is parallel to the example: all coral reefs.

5. The Marine Police have boats and sail around the islands.

6. Look at each one and try to classify it: i. is polluting; iv. is removing natural resources.

General hints

1. Read the question

2. Think about the options

3. Decide which you think is likely to be correct

4. Go to the relevant part of the passage

5. Try to confirm or reject your idea


1B, 2C, 3D, 4A, 5D, 6C