Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI)

Sample Test - Test of English Proficiency

Part I - Reading Comprehension

Directions: In this part, you will read several passages. Each passage is followed by questions or incomplete statements and 4 answer choices - A, B, C, and D. Check the circle of the best answer to each numbered question or statement.


Sapphira and the Slave Girl was the last novel of Willa Cather's illustrious literary career. Begun in the late summer of 1937 and finally completed in 1941, it is often regarded by critics as one of her more personal works. Although the story takes place in 1856, well before her own birth, she drew heavily on both vivid childhood memories and tales handed down by older relatives to describe life in rural northern Virginia in the middle of the 19th century. She even went on an extended journey to the area to give the story a further ring of authenticity.

Of all of Cather's many novels, Sapphira and the Slave Girl is the one most concerned with providing an overall picture of day-to-day life in a specific era. A number of the novel's characters, it would seem, are all included in the story only because they are representative of the types of people to be found in 19th century rural Virginia; indeed, a few of them play no part whatsoever in the unfolding of the plot. For instance, we are introduced to a poor white woman, Mandy Ringer, who is portrayed as intelligent and content, despite the fact that she has no formal education and must toil constantly in the fields. And we meet Dr. Clevenger, a country doctor who, with his patrician manners, evokes a strong image of pre-Civil War South.

The title, however, accurately suggests that the novel is mainly about slavery. Cather's attitude toward this institution may best be summed up as somewhat ambiguous. On the other hand, she displays almost total indifference to the legal and political aspects of slavery when she misidentifies certain crucial dates in its growth and development. Nor does she ever really offer a direct condemnation of slavery. Yet, on the other hand, the evil that was slavery gets through to us, albeit in typically subtle ways. Those characters, like Mrs. Blake, who oppose the institution, are portrayed in a sympathetic light. Furthermore, the suffering of the slaves themselves and the petty, nasty, often cruel, behavior of the slave owners are painted in stark terms.

Although Sapphira and the Slave Girl was certainly not meant to be a political tract, the novel is sometimes considered to be a denunciation of bygone days. Nothing could be further from the truth. In spite of her willingness to acknowledge that particular aspects of the past were far from ideal, Willa Cather was, if anything, a bit of a romantic. Especially in the final years of her life, an increasing note of anger about the emptiness of the present crept into her writings. Earlier generations, she concluded, had been the real heroes, the real creators of all that was good in America.

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1. The word extended in paragraph 1 mostly means:

2. In the second paragraph, the author mentions Mindy Ringer and Dr. Clevenger in order to emphasize which point about Sapphira and the Slave Girl?

3. According to the author, why is Willa Cather's attitude towards slavery "somewhat ambiguous" (paragraph 3)?

4. In context, "a bit of a romantic" (paragraph 4) suggests that Willa Cather

Kaplan SAR 5th Edition Verbal Handbook
Simon and Schuster, 2004

Reading Passage II: Pluto and Charon

From the surface of the planet Pluto, we would look up at Charon in the sky, 20 times closer to Pluto than our moon is to Earth. It is an impressive sight. Charon may rank twelfth in size among moons in the solar system, but it is so close to Pluto - only 11,650 miles (18,800 kilometers) above Pluto's equator - that it appears larger than any other moon appears from the surface of its planet. Charon covers almost 4 degrees in Pluto's sky - eight times as wide as our Moon appears from Earth. On our planet, you can hold a pea out at arm's length and completely eclipse our Moon. On Pluto, to block Charon from view, you would need a billiard ball.

It was no surprise that Charon rotates in the same period of time as it revolves so that it always presents the same hemisphere to Pluto. All the inner satellites and all the major satellites in the solar system have synchronous rotation and revolution because they are tidally coupled to their planets. A planet's gravity creates a slight tidal bulge in its moon and pulls on that bulge so that the moons cannot turn it away from the planet. One side of the satellite always faces the planet and the other side always faces away while the planet rotates rapidly, so that the moon rises and sets for all parts of the planet.

But Pluto furnished a surprise. Pluto and Charon are so close to twins in size and so close together that Charon's gravity induces a bulge in Pluto. The bulge is great enough that Pluto is tidally coupled to Charon just as Charon is tidally coupled to Pluto. Thus, Pluto always shows the same face to Charon just as Charon always shows the same face to Pluto. It is the only example of mutual tidal coupling in the solar system. The result is that for an astronaut standing on Pluto, Charon is either always visible or never visible.

The shadows we see on Charon reveal an uneven, cratered landscape. Like Pluto, Charon is light gray, although somewhat darker and more even in color than Pluto, as was known from measurements made from Earth using the Pluto-Charon eclipses. The very slightly reddish brown hue of Pluto is missing from Charon - or at least from Charon's Pluto facing side, that is the only side we get to see from the surface of Pluto. Missing too from Charon is the methane frost which partially covers Pluto. With Charon's smaller mass and therefore weaker gravity, whatever methane ice there was at the surface has evaporated. Perhaps this in part explains why Charon is less reflective. The escaping methane has exposed frozen water to view.

On Earth, we are used to the rising and setting of the Sun, Moon, and stars as our planet turns. On Pluto, the Sun rises and sets, if somewhat slowly, but Charon stays fixed in the sky. It never rises or sets, thanks to tidal coupling. As Charon revolves once around Pluto in 6.4 days, Pluto spins once around on its axis in that same period of time. The results is that Charon hangs almost stationary in the sky while the Sun and the stars glide slowly past in the background. Because Charon is so large in the sky, stars are frequently blocked from view. These stellar occultations are the only eclipses visible during the 120 year gap between seasons of solar and lunar eclipses.

From the vantage point of Earth, Pluto and Charon pass in front of and behind one another very rarely. The earth experiences solar and lunar eclipses at least four times and sometimes as many as seven times a year. Because of Pluto's axial tilt and Charon's position over Pluto's equator, the pair go for almost 120 years without their shadows ever falling upon one another. Then, in a period of roughly six years long, Charon's orbit is nearly edge on to Earth and every 6.39 day orbit Charon makes carriers it across the face of Pluto and then around behind Pluto. The result is an eclipse frenzy. Serendipitously, that eclipse season began in 1985, soon after Charon was discovered.

During an eclipse of the Sun on Pluto, Charon would look like a giant dark hole in the sky, marked only by the absence of stars. It would be dark but not black because it would be illuminated by reflected light from Pluto. The corona - the outer atmosphere of the Sun, which makes solar eclipses seen from Earth so beautiful - would be visible only just after the Sun vanished and just before it reappeared. At mid-eclipse, the disk of Charon covers the entire orbit of the Earth. The corona is far too faint at that distance from the Sun to peer around the edges of Charon.

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5. The passage asserts that Charon's relationship with Pluto is unique in our solar system in regard to

6. The main point of the first paragraph is that

7. The passage asserts that one feature of Pluto that is lacking on Charon is

8. The passage suggests that the discovery of Charon was made even more interesting for scientists because that discovery coincided with

Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System
John Wiley & Sons, 1990

Part II - Synonyms

Directions: In this part, you will read several sentences. Each one contains an underlined word or phrase and is followed by four answer choices - A, B, C, and D. Check the circle for the lettered option that is most similar to the underlined word or phrase.

9. Ernesto, the most pompous senior in the entire school, struts around the halls like he's royalty.

10. It has been promulgated that AIDS patients should be quarantined.

11. For three years, the castaway survived on paltry amounts of fish, coconut, and bamboo.

12. Mice have a keen sense of smell and quickly discern approaching danger.

13. The government agent trained for years before he began his clandestine activities overseas.

14. To accede to a terrorists' demand would set a dangerous precedent.

15. After years of living a sophisticated, liberal life in the city, Ramon found his parents' small-town mindset unbearably parochial.

16. Traversing the infinite points between two locations within a finite time is a paradox.

Part III - Grammar and Usage

Directions: In this part, each item contains four answer choices - A, B, C, and D. There are two kinds of items- Idiomatic Expressions and Standard Written English.

Section 1: Idiomatic Expressions

In the first section, check the circle of the option that is closest in meaning to the underlined idiomatic expression.

17. This car came hurtling towards me and I thought my number was up.

18. If you lay a hand on her I'll report you to the police.

19. When the football player broke his leg, his substitute wept crocodile tears.

20. The lawyer wanted to open up the old case, but his partner advised him to let sleeping dogs lie.

Section 2: Standard Written English

In the second section, identify the written sentence that represents the most appropriate form of standard written English. Then check the circle of the item number that corresponds to the answer you have chosen.





Part IV - Sentence Completion

Directions: In this part, you will read several sentences. Each one contains one or two blanks and is followed by four answer choices-A, B, C, and D. Each answer choice contains a word or set of words. Check the circle of the word or set of words that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

25. Today Wegener's theory is ___________________; however, he died as an outsider treated with _____________________ by the scientific establishment.

26. The two artists differed markedly in their temperaments; Palmer was reserved and courteous, Frazer ____________________ and boastful.

27. The intellectual flexibility inherent in a multicultural nation has been ___________________ in classrooms where emphasis on British-American literature has not reflected the cultural _______________ of our country.

28. Bird species ________ to this island were exterminated by feral cats, ________ of pets abandoned here decades ago by sailors.

29. An editorial praised the generosity of an anonymous ________ who had donated over a million dollars and several priceless paintings to the college.

30. Although marine engineers claimed that its hull was ________, the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg.

31. The restaurant manager, who had ________ provided crayons and paper tablecloths for the amusement of small children, found that adult patrons were equally ________ the opportunity to express themselves.

32. __________________ by nature, Jones spoke very little even to his own family members.

Part V - Antonyms

Directions: In this part, you will read several sentences. Each one contains an underlined word or phrase and is followed by four answer choices-A, B, C, and D. Check the circle of the answer that is opposite to the underlined word or phrase.

33. The evanescent mist disappears each day after the sun rises above the city.

34. The situation required a perfunctory reading of the transcript.

35. Abe tried to defend himself against spurious accusations that he had rigged the cheerleading competition.

36. When she turned eighteen, Lily set out on a quixotic pursuit of roller skating fame.

37. Edward, looking morose, stared out at the rain and felt sorry for himself.

38. The young novelist, who had prodigious talent, won the Pulitzer Prize when she was in her mid-twenties.

39. The poignancy of the performance affected the audience.

40. The prisoners unwittingly exacerbated their plight.

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