Instruction: Factual or detail questions ask about explicit facts and details given in the passage. To answer factual questions, you have to locate and identify the information that the question asks about. Negative questions ask you to determine which of the choices is not given in the passage. These questions contain the words NOT, EXCEPT, or LEAST. Scanning questions ask you to find where in the passage some particular information or transition is located. They are easy to identify: the answers are usually found in the line of the text.

If you are not sure from your first reading where to look for specific answers, use the following scanning techniques.

Focus on one or two key words as you read the stem of each question. Lock these words in your mind.

Scan the passage looking for the key words or their synonyms. Look only for these words. Do NOT try to read every word of the passage.

It may help to focus your attention. Don’t reread the passage completely—just look for key words.

When you find the key words in the passage, carefully read the sentence in which they occur. You may have to read the sentence preceding or following that sentence as well.

Compare the information you read with possible answer choices.

Text: Basics of genetic research

The beginning of genetic science

The new genetic medicine has grown out of the scientific study of genes, the basic units of heredity in all living organisms. It has its roots in the work of Gregor Johann Mendel, an Austrian monk who lived in the 1800’s. Working for years in his monastery’s garden, Mendel crossbred pea plants and observed how traits for height and other characteristics were passed from one generation to the next. Mendel theorized that these traits were determined by «hereditary units» passed on by each plant’s male and female parents. From his observations, Mendel theorized that a parent has two hereditary units for each trait, but only one is passed on to an offspring. Mendel further concluded that among these units there were what he called dominant and recessive types. When an offspring inherits a dominant type from one parent and a recessive type from the other, the dominant hereditary unit will always «overrule» the recessive one. The offspring will exhibit the characteristics associated with the dominant type. An offspring could NOT exhibit a trait associated with a recessive hereditary unit EXCEPT only by inheriting two recessive types –one from each parent.

B. Mendel’s work laid the foundation for the modern study of genetics. But Mendel died in 1884 without having the LEAST idea about what his hereditary units actually were. And, the importance of his work was NOT recognized until the early 1900’s, when three botanists studying heredity each rediscovered Mendel’s work. These scientists — Carl Correns of Germany, Erich von Tschermak of Austria, and Hugo de Vries of the Netherlands &mda

sh; all conducted plant breeding experiments and independently obtained the same results as had Mendel. In 1909, Danish botanist Wilhelm Ludwig Johannsen proposed that Mendel’s hereditary units be called genes, from a Greek word meaning to give birth to.

Genes of twin brothers

Genes can influence whether a man becomes heterosexual or homosexual, according to a recent report. The study by psychologist J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University in Evanston, Il., and psychiatrist Richard C. Pillard of Boston University School of Medicine raised controversy while NOT identifying specific genes involved in homosexuality.

Bailey and Pillard recruited and interviewed 161 gay or bisexual men. Each man had an identical twin brother, a fraternal twin brother, or an adopted brother. Identical twins have the same genetic material, while fraternal twins have some but NOT all genes in common. Unrelated adoptive siblings would have NO more genetic similarities than any other unrelated pair.

The researchers questioned the men’s brothers to determine their sexual orientation. The interviewers found that in 50 per cent of the identical twins, both brothers were homosexual, compared with 24 per cent of the fraternal twins and 19 per cent of unrelated brothers.

The researchers concluded that genes may equal or outweigh environmental influences on the development of male homosexuality and heterosexuality. Critics of the study charged that a larger sample of twins or different interview questions about sexuality might have produced different results.

The development of genetic engineering

The next major chapter in the genetic science story was the development of techniques for working with genes. These techniques, called recombinant DNA technology or genetic engineering, were to lead to a variety of medical applications. The first recombinant DNA techniques were developed in the early 1970’s by molecular biologists Paul Berg and Stanley Cohen of Stanford University, in Stanford, Calif., and Henry Boyer of the University of California at San Francisco. They and other molecular biologists discovered how to cut a piece of DNA out of one organism and splice it into the DNA of another organism. Berg won the 1980 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his role in this work.

The earliest genetic engineering experiments involved splicing pieces of DNA from simple organisms into a plasmid, a circular piece of DNA found in bacteria. For these experiments, the scientists used restriction enzymes, a kind of «biochemical scissors,» that cut strands of DNA at specific base pair sequences. The scientists could cut a gene from one organism, open a bacterial plasmid, and insert the «foreign» gene.

From the very beginning, recombinant DNA technology raised a number of questions regarding ethics and safety. Scientists, environmentalists, and political leaders feared the accidental creation of a deadly strain of microorganism. In 1974, a number of distinguished scientists, including Berg, Cohen, and Watson, called for a voluntary ban on gene-splicing experiments until safeguards could be established. Many of the scientists involved in this work met for a conference at Asilomar, Calif., in 1975 to discuss potential dangers and propose research guidelines. In 1976, the National Institutes of Health set standards requiring that laboratories in which these experiments took place be designed to prevent any microorganisms from escaping. EXCEPT ethical concerns about potential abuses of genetic technology that continue to this day, the LEAST likely fears about potential dangers of gene splicing did NOT prove to be largely grounded.

D. Eventually, scientists learned how to splice human genes into plasmids and insert the plasmids into fast-growing bacteria. Whenever the bacteria reproduced, so did the plasmid and the human gene that had been inserted. This process, called gene cloning, made it possible for scientists to create billions of copies of a particular human gene.

Factual questions.

The order of factual or detail questions about a passage almost always follows the order in which ideas are presented in the passage. In other words, the information you-need to answer the first detail question will usually come near the beginning of the passage; the information for the second will follow that, and so on. Knowing this should help you locate the information you need.

Correct answers for detail questions are seldom the same, word for word, as information in the passage; they often contain synonyms and use different grammatical structures.

Factual questions often contain one of the whquestion words: who, what, when, where, why, how much, and so on. Factual questions often begin with the phrases «According to the passage,...» or «According to the author. ...» When you see these phrases, you know that the information needed to answer the question is directly stated somewhere in the passage.

Sample Questions

What did Mendel observe while crossbreeding pea plants? (A) Traits for height and other characteristics of plants; (B) How traits were lost while being passed on from parents to an offspring; (C) Hereditary units passed on by each plant’s male and female parents.

  • · How many hereditary units are passed to an offspring?
  • · What did Mendel’s work lay the foundation for?
  • · In what line does the author shift his focus to sexual orientation?
  • · Where in the passage does the author first discuss twin brothers?
  • · According to the passage, a description of twin brothers can be found in paragraph 2. Where in the passage does the author specifically stress absence of genetic similarities?
  • · In what paragraph does the author first mention the concept of. recombinant DNA technology?
  • · What did scientists fear about gene-splicing?
  • · According to the author, definite standards were set by the National Institutes of Health. What standards were required from experimental laboratories?

Scanning questions

Scanning questions are usually easy to answer. Use the same techniques for scanning given about detail questions. For each question, locate that part of the passage in which the answer will probably be found, and write it out. Don’t worry about answering the question itself, only about finding the information. Do these scanning questions as fast as you can.

Sample Questions

What hereditary characteristics will the offspring exhibit?

(A) The characteristics associated with the dominant type;.

(B) Traits associated with a recessive hereditary unit;

(C) No hereditary types.

  • · According to the article, which of the twin brother types were most homosexual?
  • · In what way are «biochemical scissors» used?
  • · When did molecular biologists discover genetic engineering?
  • · Where is the «foreign» gene inserted?
  • · How is the process of gene cloning performed?

Negative questions

Negative questions often take more time to answer than other questions. Therefore, you may want to guess and come back to these questions if you have time. Scan the passage to find the answers that ARE correct or ARE mentioned in the passage. Sometimes the three distractors NOT, EXCEPT, or LEAST are clustered in one or two sentences; sometimes they are scattered throughout the passage. The correct answer, of course, is the one that does not appear.

Sample Questions

According to the passage, only one of the following is true:

A) The dominant hereditary unit will sometimes «overrule» the recessive one.

(B) The recessive hereditary unit will sometimes «overrule» the dominant one.

(C) The recessive hereditary unit will always «overrule» in one case.

Which choice is true?

Which of the following is the LEAST likely: When Mendel died in 1884 he had about what his hereditary units actually were.

(A) a good idea,

(B) no idea,

(C) a vague idea

Which of the following is NOT mentioned in the passage?

The importance of Mendel’s work became widely known

(A) in the end of the 19th century,

(B) middle of the 20th century,

(C) first decades of the 20th century.

Find the line where it is stated which of the brother types has more common genetic material _

(A) identical twins

(B) fraternal twins or

(C) adopted brothers.

Which of the two types has more genetic similarities:

(A) unrelated adoptive siblings or

(B) other unrelated pairs?

Which of the following is the LEAST likely:

(A) potential abuses of genetic technology or

(B) potential dangers of gene splicing?


Errors with pronouns

Pronoun errors involve several groups of pronouns.

Personal pronouns

(he, she, it, they, and so on)

Reflexive pronouns

(himself, herself, itself, themselves, and so on) Relative pronouns (adjective-clause markers) (who, whose, which, that, and so on)

Demonstrative pronouns

(this, that, these, those)

For the purposes of this lesson, possessive pronouns {his house, their bicycles) are considered together with personal pronouns.

The greatest number of errors involve personal pronouns.

A pronoun must agree with the noun to which it refers (the pronoun’s referent).

Most agreement errors with personal pronouns, reflexive pronouns, and demonstrative pronouns consist of a singular pronoun referring lo a plural noun or a plural pronoun referring to singular nouns.

Agreement errors with relative pronouns usually involve the use of who to refer to things or which to refer to persons. (Note: The relative pronoun that can be used in certain sentences to refer to both persons and things.)

Another error involves the use of this or these in place of that and those. (This and these are used lo refer to things that are perceived as close in time or space; that and those are used to refer to things that are perceived as distant in time or space.)


Jackrabbits have powerful rear legs that enable it to leap long distances. The pronoun referring to the plural noun Jackrabbits must be plural.

The best way for children to learn science is for them to perform experiments himself

The referent is plural (children), so the reflexive pronouns must also be plural (themselves) to agree with it.

The Canadian Shield is a huge, rocky region who curves around Hudson Bay like a giant horseshoe.

The referent for the pronoun who is region. To agree with the referent, the relative pronoun that must be used. The pronoun who can refer only to a person.

Errors in pronoun form

These errors involve personal pronouns. A subject form like he might be used in place of an object form like him, or a possessive pronoun like hers might be used in place of a possessive adjective like her. This type of pronoun error is usually easy to spot.

Incorrect type of pronouns

In some sentences, the wrong type of pronoun is used. For example, a reflexive pronoun might be used when a personal pronoun is needed, or a personal pronoun used when a relative pronoun is required.


As larvae, barnacles are free-swimming, but as adults they attach them to stones, docks, and hulls of ships.

The reflexive pronoun is required because the subject and object are the same entity: they attach themselves.

A barometer is a device it is used to measure atmospheric pressure.

A personal pronoun (it) cannot be used to connect an adjective clause to the rest of the sentence. A relative pronoun [which or that) must be used instead.

Incorrect inclusion of pronouns

Some errors involve the unnecessary use of pronouns. Often, this type of error occurs when a personal pronoun is used as a subject in a sentence that already has a noun subject. Or it may involve a personal pronoun used unnecessarily in a relative clause.

In a few cases, a relative pronoun is used unnecessarily.


Block Island in Long Island Sound it_is surrounded by cold, dangerous waters.

The subject of the sentence is Block Island; the personal pronoun it is an unnecessary repetition of the subject.

Dutch elm disease, which it is caused by a fungus, can destroy a tree within four weeks.

The pronoun it is not needed.

Certain types of turtles that may live as long as 100 years.

There is only one verb (may live). A sentence that contains a relative clause must have a verb in each clause.


Identify and correct errors involving pronouns

This traits were determined by «hereditary units» passed to each plant. John’s parents that were on a trip asked his aunt to look after his.

Whether a man becomes heterosexual or homosexual is influenced by their genes.

The twin brothers looked very much alike. To distinguish between they was a problem for their teachers.

The police questioned the man’s brother to determine their alibi.

Berg won the 1980 Nobel Prize it was in chemistry for his role in this work. Many of the scientists involved in those work met for a conference at Asilo-

mar, Calif. to discuss potential dangers and propose research guidelines.

In 1976, the National Institute of Health set their standards requiring that laboratories in what that experiments took place be designed to prevent any microorganisms from escaping.

A young researcher prefers to make his decisions by him.

This is your book and that is my.

Negative questions often take more time to answer than other questions.

Therefore, you may want to guess oneself.

This should help you locate the information you need yourselves.

Husband and wife, he and she must share the good and the bad between his and her.

The recessive hereditary unit will sometimes «overrule» the dominant one who will become recessive in his turn.

There are questions that require yourself to make inferences.