Reading Comprehension Test Practice

Practice for a multiple-choice reading comprehension test with these questions based on the text of "Where Ideas Come From."  Read the transcript and answer the questions before you watch the video.

(The transcript is the written text of the talk. You can find it just below the video of “Where Ideas Come From.” The page will open in another window, so you can refer to it when you need to.)  

Of course, if you're not preparing for a reading test, you can improve your listening comprehension by just watching the video.

interior of an old coffee shop: door, window, table with chair, table, and a mug.
interior of an old coffee shop with chair, table, & mug

If you don’t need test practice, it’s still a good idea to make sure you understand the main ideas of this talk. However, in that case it’s O.K. to watch the video (or read a transcript of it in your own language) before or after reading and watching it in English.

The more times you read or watch it in English, the more familiar you’ll get with English rhythms and word order, as well as with the vocabulary. So enjoy it multiple times-- but if you’re practicing for a test, try the test right after your first reading! How did you do on it?

(If you would prefer to take this practice test offline, you can download a pdf version of it by right-clicking here.

Demonstration Question & Explanation

Johnson said coffee houses were important to the development of the Enlightenment for at least two reasons. One was because people could think more clearly and have better ideas if their preferred drink was tea or coffee rather than beer all day long. The second was that coffeehouses

      A. were open and airy and light.

      B. allowed people of different backgrounds to meet and share ideas.

      C. led to sexy ideas.

Answer: B. The talk does not tell us much about what those coffee houses looked like, but from the photo of the Grand Café entrance and from Hogarth’s painting, they were probably dark and crowded. So A is not given, and probably not even true.

C is a restatement of something Johnson said, but it is an effect (of B), not a reason.

Johnson’s point was that coffeehouses provided “a space where people would get together from different backgrounds, different fields of expertise, and share…ideas would get together there” -- just what B says. 

Practice for a Reading Comprehension Test

Choose the best answer:


For more practice to prepare for reading comprehension tests, see Practice for Reading Tests (with a reading on American agricultural history) and A Practice Reading Test (on a type of mental health therapy), as well as a comprehension test on a TED talk on motivation, reading comprehension practice on 2 TED talks on the environment, and a comprehension worksheet on a TED talk about new ways of understanding cancer.

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