English Olympiad

Are you interested in learning English? Check yourself and do English Olympiad Year 8 Reading Test 2

Reading Comprehension Test for Year 8 Students

Text 1

The Coliseum is one of the world’s most recognizable images. Learn about its rich and interesting history and then answer multiple-choice and extended response questions. Refer to the text to check your answers when appropriate.

The Coliseum is an ancient stadium in the center of Rome. It is the largest of its kind. It is very old. They started building it in the year 70. It took ten years to build. It is still around today.

The Coliseum has been used in many ways. In ancient Rome, men fought each other in it. They fought against lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my! It was dreadful. But most of the people loved it. As many as 80,000 Romans would pack inside to watch. These gruesome events went on until 523.

The Coliseum has been damaged many times over the years. It was struck by lightning in the year 217. This started a fire. Much of the Coliseum is made of stone. But the fire damaged the upper levels. They were made of wood. This damage took many years to repair. It was not finished until the year 240.

The worst damage happened in 1349. A mighty earthquake shook Rome and the Coliseum. The south side of the building collapsed. Pieces of the arena were all over the ground. Many people took the fallen stones. Others took stones from the seating areas. They used them to repair houses and churches.

The Romans of those days were not connected to the Coliseum. It had last been used as a castle. Before that it was a graveyard. It has been hundreds of years since the games. The damage to the Coliseum was never repaired. It’s a good thing the outer wall of it still stands strong.

Today the Coliseum is one of Rome’s most popular attractions. People from all over the world come to Italy to see it. The Pope leads a big march around it every Good Friday. It is a symbol that many know. It has even appeared on the back of a coin. I guess that makes it a symbol that many people want too.

1. Which happened first?

a. An earthquake damaged the Coliseum.
b. The Coliseum was struck by lightning.
c. The Coliseum appeared on the back of a coin.
d. The Coliseum was used as a castle.

2. When did the Romans finish building the Coliseum?

a. The year 70
b. The year 523
c. The year 80
d. The year 240

3. What caused the fire that damaged the upper levels of the Coliseum?

a. A bolt of lightning
b. Rowdy people who came to watch the events
c. An attacking army
d. An angry mob

4. For which purpose was the Coliseum not used?

a. People fought other people in it.
b. It was a private castle.
c. People fought animals in it.
d. It was a meeting place for the government.

5. Which caused the most damage to the Coliseum?

a. Fires
b. Earthquakes
c. Wars
d. Hurricanes

6. What did the people do with the stones that they took from the Coliseum?

a. They repaired buildings.
b. They sold them.
c. They used them as weapons.
d. They used them as tombstones.

7. Which best defines the word gruesome as it is used in the second paragraph?

a. Exciting
b. Funny
c. Horrifying
d. Boring

8. Which best describes the main idea in the last paragraph?

a. This is about all the things the Coliseum has been used for throughout history.
b. This is about how the Coliseum is a popular place to visit today.
c. This is about how the Coliseum is a symbol that many people know.
d. This is about how the Coliseum is used today.

9. Which was not a way in which the Coliseum was damaged over the years?

a. Earthquake
b. Tornado
c. Lightning
d. Fire

10. Which statement would the author most likely agree with?

a. The Coliseum should be replaced with a building that is not damaged.
b. The Coliseum has its place in history but it is not useful today.
c. The Coliseum should be used for fighting once again.
d. The Coliseum is very old and has been used for many purposes.

Extended Response

  1. Why was the Coliseum repaired after the fire but not after the earthquake? Use the text in your answer.
  2. Why did the fire only damage the upper levels of the Coliseum? Refer to the text in your answer.
  3. Why is the Coliseum still important today? Use the text in your answer.

Text 2

Read the text “Chess” and answer the questions that follow. Refer to the text to check your answers when appropriate.

Chess is called the game of kings. It has been around for a long time. People have been playing it for over 500 years. Chess is based on an even older game from India. The chess we play today is from Europe. Chess is a two-player game. One player uses the white pieces. The other uses the black pieces. Each piece moves in a special way. One piece is called the king. Each player has one. The players take turns moving their pieces. If a player lands on a piece, he or she takes it. The game ends when a player loses his or her king. There are a few more rules, but those are the basics.

Some people think that chess is more than a game. They think that it makes the mind stronger. Good chess players use their brains. They take their time. They think about what will happen next. These skills are useful in life and in chess. Chess is kind of like a work out for the mind.

You don’t always have lots of time to think when playing chess. There is a type of chess with short time limits. It’s called blitz chess. In blitz chess, each player gets ten minutes to use for the whole game. Your clock runs during your turn. You hit the time clock after your move. This stops your clock. It also starts the other player’s clock. If you run out of time, you lose. Games of blitz chess are fast-paced.

Chess is not just for people. Computers have been playing chess since the 1970s. At first they did not play well. They made mistakes. As time went on they grew stronger. In 1997, a computer beat the best player in the world for the first time. It was a computer called Deep Blue. Deep Blue was big. It took up a whole room. By 2006 a cell phone could beat the best players in the world. Chess sure has come a long way. Don’t you think so?

1. What is the author’s purpose in writing the second paragraph?

a. To explain the rules of chess
b. To compare different types of games
c. To talk about game pieces
d. To persuade people to play chess

2. Which is not a reason that chess is a good workout for the mind according to the text?

a. Good chess players think about what will happen next.
b. Good chess players take a lot of risks.
c. Good chess players take their time.
d. Good chess players use their brains.

3. How long have people been playing chess?

a. Over 100 years
b. Over 500 years
c. Over 1000 years d. Over 5000 years

4. Where did the game that chess is based on come from?

a. Europe
b. America
c. India
d. All of these

5. Which best describes the main idea in the fourth paragraph?

a. This paragraph argues that players should think less.
b. This paragraph explains how blitz chess is played.
c. This paragraph explains time clocks work.
d. This paragraph describes many different ways to play chess.

6. How does a game of chess end according to the text?

a. One player takes all of the other player’s pieces.
b. One player makes it to the end of the board.
c. One player becomes king.
d. One player loses his or her king.

7. Which happened first?

a. Computers did not play chess well.
b. Deep Blue won an important game.
c. Cell phones got good at playing chess.
d. Deep Blue took up a whole room.

8. How is blitz chess different from regular chess?

a. Each player has two kings.
b. Players are blindfolded.
c. Players only have ten minutes to play.
d. Players start from a random position.

9. If it’s your turn in blitz chess, what happens when you hit the clock?

a. Both your clock and the other person’s clock keep running.
b. The other person’s clock stops running and yours starts.
c. Both clocks stop running.
d. Your clock stops running and the other person’s clock begins.

10. When did a computer first beat a strong human player in chess?

a. 2006
b. 1997
c. 1970
d. 1976

Extended Response

  1. How might playing chess be good for people? Refer to the text in your answer.
  2. Why might blitz chess be more challenging to play than regular chess? Use text to support your answer.
  3. How have computer chess programs changed over time? Use the text in your answer.

Were the texts in English Olympiad Year 8 Reading Test 2 difficult? Were they interesting?