Document Sample
Original: 1999

(Year 12 E004)

TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples


The aim of this document is to provide teachers with support material relating to the new Comprehension section of the TEE English Examination 1999. The examination will not necessarily reflect any of these formats, however it will have two or more questions on two or more passages and all of the questions will be compulsory.

Each example tries to show different ways in which the rubric might be interpreted; in terms of the number of questions, passages and types of responses sought. Sample passages have been included for two examples only, owing to the constraints of copyright clearance. Teachers could substitute any suitable passages and modify the questions where necessary.

Thank you to Lisa Spiers and Sue Turnbull from Churchlands Senior High School and The English Syllabus Committee for their assistance in producing this document.

Kaye Stevens Penny McLoughlin Curriculum Council

EXAMPLE ONE The questions for example one are written for "My Mother Never Worked", a personal essay by Bonnie Smith-Yackel, first published in 1975 and an extract from “Evolution Annie” a short story by Rosaleen Love. Instructions You are required to answer both of the following questions by making reference to both of the passages. They are worth equal marks so it is suggested you spend 40 minutes on each question. 1. Discuss how these texts represent the experiences of women in society. (20 marks) 2. Consider your reactions to or reading of one of the passages. Discuss the factors influence your reading. You might consider your attitudes and values and/or other reading experiences. (20 marks)

PASSAGE ONE MY MOTHER NEVER WORKED “Social Security Office.” (The voice answering the telephone sounds very self-assured.) “I‟m calling about … I … my mother just died … I was told to call you and see about a … death benefit check, I think they call it …” “I see. Was your mother on Social Security? How old was she?” “Yes … she was seventy eight …” “Do you know her number?” “No … I, ah … don‟t you have a record?” “Certainly. I‟ll look it up. Her name?” “Smith. Martha Smith. Or maybe she used Martha Ruth Smith. … Sometimes she used her maiden name … Martha Jerabek Smith.” “If you‟d care to hold on, I‟ll check our records – it‟ll be a few minutes.” “Yes …” Her love letters – to and from Daddy – were in an old box, tied with ribbons and stiff, rigid-withage leather thongs: 1918 through 1920; hers written on stationery from the general store she had worked in full-time and managed, single-handed, after her graduation from high school in 1913; and his, at first, on YMCA or Soldiers and Sailors Club stationery dispensed to the fighting men of World War I. He wooed her thoroughly and persistently by mail, and though she reciprocated all his feelings for her, she dreaded marriage … “It‟s so hard for me to decide when to have my wedding day – that‟s all I‟ve thought about these last two days. I have told you dozens of times that I won‟t

Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples


be afraid of married life, but when it comes down to setting the date and then picturing myself a married woman with half a dozen or more kids to look after, it just makes me sick. I am weeping right now – I hope that some day I can look back and say how foolish I was to dread it all.” They married in February 1921, and began farming. Their first baby, a daughter, was born in January 1922, when my mother was 26 years old. The second baby, a son, was born in March 1923. They were renting farms; my father, besides working his own fields, also was a hired man for two other farmers. They had no capital initially, and had to gain it slowly, working from dawn until midnight every day. My town-bred mother learned to set hens and raise chickens, feed pigs, milk cows, plant and harvest a garden, and can every fruit and vegetable she could scrounge. She carried water nearly a quarter of a mile from the well to fill her wash boilers in order to do her laundry on a scrub board. She learned to shuck grain, feed threshers, shuck and husk corn, feed corn pickers. In September 1925, the third baby came, and in June 1927, the fourth child – both daughters. In 1930, my parents had enough money to buy their own farm, and that March they moved all their livestock and belongings themselves, 55 miles over rutted, muddy roads. In the summer of 1930 my mother and her two eldest children reclaimed a 40 – acre field from Canadian thistles, by chopping them all out with a hoe. In the other fields, when the oats and flax began to head out, the green and blue of the crops were hidden by the bright yellow of wild mustard. My mother walked the fields day after day, pulling each mustard plant. She raised a new flock of baby chicks – 500 – and she spaded up, planted, hoed, and harvested a half-acre garden. During the next spring their hogs caught cholera and died. No cash that fall. And in the next year the drought hit. My mother and father trudged from the well to the chickens, the well to the calf pasture, the well to the barn, and from the well to the garden. The sun came out hot and bright, endlessly, day after day. The crops shrivelled and died. They harvested half the corn, and ground the other half, stalks and all, and fed it to the cattle as fodder. With the price at four cents a bushel for the harvested crop, they couldn‟t afford to haul it into town. They burned it in the furnace for fuel that winter. In 1934, in February, when the dust was still so thick in the Minnesota air that my parents couldn‟t always see from the house to the barn, their fifth child – a fourth daughter – was born. My father hunted rabbits daily, and my mother stewed them, fried them, canned them, and wished out loud that she could taste hamburger once more. In the fall the shotgun brought prairie chickens, ducks, pheasant, and grouse. My mother plucked each bird, carefully reserving the breast feathers for pillows. In the winter she sewed night after night, endlessly, begging cast-off clothing from relatives, ripping apart coats, dresses, blouses, and trousers to remake them to fit her four daughters and son. Every morning and every evening she milked cows, fed pigs and calves, cared for chickens, picked eggs, cooked meals, washed dishes, scrubbed floors, and tended and loved her children. In the spring she planted a garden once more, dragging pails of water to nourish and sustain the vegetables for the family. In 1936 she lost a baby in her sixth month. In 1937 her fifth daughter was born. She was 42 years old. In 1939 a second son, and in 1941 her eight child – and third son.


Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples

But the war had come, and prosperity of a sort. The herd of cattle had grown to 30 head; she still milked morning and evening. Her garden was more than a half acre – the rains had come, and by now the Rural Electricity Administration and indoor plumbing. Still she sewed – dresses and jackets for the children, housedresses and aprons for herself, weekly patching of jeans, overalls, and denim shirts. Still she made pillows, using the feathers she had plucked, and quilts every year – intricate patterns as well as patchwork, stitched as well as tied – all necessary bedding for her family. Every scrap of cloth too small to be used in quilts was carefully saved and painstakingly sewed together in strips to make rugs. She still went out in the fields to help with the haying whenever there was a threat of rain. In 1959 my mother‟s last child graduated from high school. A year later the cows were sold. She still raised chickens and ducks, plucked feathers, made pillows, baked her own bread, and every year made a new quilt – now for a married child or for a grandchild. And her garden, that huge, undying symbol of sustenance, was as large and cared for as in all the years before. The canning, and now freezing, continued. In 1969, on a June afternoon, mother and father started out for town so that she could buy sugar to make rhubarb jam for a daughter who lived in Texas. The car crashed into a ditch. She was paralysed from the waist down. In 1970 her husband, my father, died. My mother struggled to regain some competence and dignity and order in her life. At the rehabilitation institute, where they gave her physical therapy and trained her to live usefully in a wheelchair, the therapist told me: “She did fifteen pushups today – fifteen! She‟s almost seventy-five years old! I‟ve never known a woman so strong!” From her wheelchair she canned pickles, baked bread, ironed clothes, wrote dozens of letters weekly to her friends and her “half dozen or more kids,” and made three patchwork housecoats and one quilt. She made balls and balls of carpet rags – enough for five rugs. And kept all her love letters. “I think I‟ve found your mother‟s records – Martha Ruth Smith; married to Ben F Smith?” “Yes, that‟s right.” “Well, I see that she was getting a widow‟s pension…” “Yes, that‟s right.” “Well, your mother isn‟t entitled to our $255 death benefit.” “Not entitled! But why?” The voice on the telephone explains patiently: “Well, you see – your mother never worked.”

Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples




The following passage was used in a previous TEE paper. Teachers could use any other suitable text. (This text is the beginning of a short story, Evolution Annie, published in 1991 in a book called Heroines: A Contemporary Anthology of Australian Women Writers. Its author, Rosaleen Love, teaches at the Swinburne Institute of Technology.) You know all those stories of origins, those myths of our beginnings. “A group of animals lived in the trees” they‟d start, and continue with the saga of how one day, down we came, we discovered the plains and the joys of upright posture. We stood up, looked around and decided to stay. I have to tell you something. That story is a myth. That wasn‟t how it happened, not how it happened at all. I suppose you‟ve read all about the importance of the dominant male in this early group, the primeval Father, and how civilisation began one day when a group of his sons got together and co-operated for the first time in rejecting their father‟s authority. They killed and ate him, or so the story goes, and that was the beginning of it all – guilt (naturally) and civilisation as the o-sothin veneer covering the beast within. I ask you, does that sound a likely story? Just because it‟s complicated and inherently improbable doesn‟t mean it has to be true. Take hold on your own common sense in these matters. It sounds improbable because it is. Call me Annie Evolution Annie. Come listen to my tale. Let me tell you the story of our beginnings. We didn‟t decide to come down from the trees, as an act of free choice. We fell out of the trees and had to make the best of our new circumstances. “This is it,” said Father. “This is the sign from above that we must embark on a long and dangerous journey. Clearly the moment has come to get up on our two feet and take a long walk. We shall meet danger, and suffer discomfort, and we shall be sorely tried along the way, but we must go on, upwards and ever onwards.” “That‟s a good idea, Edward,” Mother agreed. “Why don‟t you and the boys go off and do all that, and we‟ll stay here in the long grass under this shady tree, and wait for you to return?” So the boys went off with Father, and some of them returned, after tests of fortitude and endurance which Mother agreed would surely have been too much for me, Annie, and my various aunts and cousins and sisters and their babies. While the boys battled raging torrents and the common cold from the icy blasts from the north, and sandy blight from the hot desert winds from the south, and lions, tigers, killer ants one way, the woolly mammoth in the opposite direction, Mother just sat underneath the tree. She taught us all she knew: sewing, rope-making, splicing, basket-work, the practical things of life, though she did not neglect our higher natures. Along the way she also devised the first alphabet, a fairly primitive affair in the light of what came later, but the little ones picked it up quickly. She baked a few clay tablets, for the cuneiform*, she said vaguely,

cuneiform: an early form of writing


Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples

though she never did much with them, being busy at the time with plans for her funeral. Not for her the old ways where we chewed the deceased around for a bit, and threw the bones out of the trees. She wanted something more for herself, a small burial chamber inside a largish pyramid, to keep out the hyenas, and our father, for eternity. (Though this was a passing phase. Later Mother decided the pyramid was not really her.) Mother stayed at home and developed tools and the skills of reason. Father and boys went out into the world and got cold and wet and suffered broken bones and falls into chasms and some of them survived frostbite, crocodiles, tigers, giant leeches that fell from the trees, snakes that rose up from the earth, poisonous berries (soon to be so labelled by my mother, the experimental botanist), killer crabs with giant pincers, elephants, and worse. So many ways for a primitive prosimian to die out there, but we were protected from it all through Mother‟s care and foresight. The male of the species, we knew it even back then, is more prone to accidental death. Staying home under the trees made excellent sense to us girls. Fire, now, I‟m sure you‟ve heard their version of events. How Man the Hunter strode to the edge of the spitting volcano, bravely dodging the hissing dragons, the smoking sulphurous fumaroles, the lions, and bears that stood between him and the precious new discovery. Man the Brave strode to the edge of the bubbling lava, thrust a stick into the fire from below, and took it back, overcoming all the trials and tribulations of keeping it alight. Man harnessing an unruly Nature to his own ends. Man bringing Woman the tools of cooking. Man pointing the way to the Division of Labour, with Man the Hunter of fire, and Woman the Grateful Recipient. No. These are stories they tell, but they are truly myths of our beginnings. They are the yarns men spin around the campfire to make them feel good about things. Father didn‟t bring fire from the volcano. Fire just happened. One day there was a great storm, and a lightning strike, and fire came to the grassy plains of the veldt, and we ran before it, until it veered away from us. It left behind a few burning logs, which we kept alight out of scientific interest in manipulating and controlling our environment. Father was away doing something else at the time. **************************************

Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples


EXAMPLE TWO The following questions were written for five short passages presenting different versions of masculinity. Most of this material is drawn from Reading Fictions, other texts could be substituted. Instructions You are required to answer both of the following questions. Suggested working time is 40 minutes each. 1. Discuss how these texts present versions of masculinity. You must make connections between all of the texts, although you may choose to discuss one or more texts in more detail. (20 marks) 2. Write a response that presents the situation described in passage three from one character's perspective. (20 marks)

PASSAGE ONE The following passage was published in Reading Fictions, Chalkface Press, WA.

MANHOOD (by John Wayne) „Five feet eight, Rob,‟ said Mr Willison, folding up the wooden ruler. „You‟re taller than I am. This is a great landmark.‟ „Only just taller.‟ „But you‟re growing all the time. Now all you have to do is to start growing outwards as well as upwards. We‟ll have you in the middle of that scrum. The heaviest forward in the pack.‟ Rob picked up his shirt and began uncertainly poking his arms into the sleeves. „When do they pick the team?‟ Mr Willison asked. „I should have thought they‟d have done it by now.‟ „They have done it,‟ said Rob. He bent down to pick up his socks from under a chair. „They have? And you-‟ „I wasn‟t selected,‟ said they boy, looking intently at the socks as if trying to detect minute differences in colour and weave. Mr Willison opened his mouth, closed it again, and stood for a moment looking out of the window. Then he gently laid his hand on his son‟s shoulder. „Bad luck,‟ he said quietly. „I tried hard,‟ said Rob quickly.


Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples

„I‟m sure you did.‟ „I played my hardest in the trial games.‟ „It‟s just bad luck,‟ said Mr Willison. „It could happen to anybody.‟ There was silence as they both continued with their dressing. A faint smell of frying rose into the air, and they could hear Mrs Willison laying the table for breakfast. „That‟s it, then, for this season,‟ said Mr Willison, as if to himself. „I forgot to tell you, though,‟ said Rob. „I was selected for the boxing team.‟ „You were? I didn‟t know the school had one.‟ „It‟s new. Just formed. They had some trials for it at the end of last term. I found my punching was better than most people‟s because I‟d been getting plenty of practice with the ball.‟ Mr Willison put out a hand and felt Rob‟s biceps. „Not bad, not bad at all,‟ he said critically. But if you‟re going to be a boxer and represent the school, you‟ll need more power up there. I tell you what. We‟ll train together.‟ „That‟ll be fun,‟ said Rob. „I‟m training at school too.‟ „What weight do they put you in?‟ „It isn‟t weight, it‟s age. Under fifteen. Then when you get over fifteen you get classified into weights.‟ „Well,‟ said Mr Willison, tying his tie, „you‟ll be in a good position for the under-fifteens. You‟ve got six months to play with. And there‟s no reason why you shouldn‟t steadily put muscle on all the time. I suppose you‟ll be entered as a team, for tournaments and things?‟ „Yes, there‟s a big one at the end of next term. I‟ll be in that.‟ Confident, joking, they went down to breakfast.

PASSAGE TWO This is an extract from a short story published in Reading Fictions, Chalkface Press. The main character, Ted, has just discovered via his friends that his wife has won 5,000 pounds. The story is set in the 1930’s but was published in the late 1960’s.

THE LOTTERY (by M. Bernard) „Five thousand pounds,‟ he thought. „Five thousand pounds.‟ Five thousand pounds stewing gently in its interest, making old age safe. He could do almost anything he could think of with five thousand pounds, It gave his mind a stretched sort of feeling, just to think of it. It was hard to connect five thousand pounds with Grace. She might have let him know. And where had the five and threepence to buy the ticket come from? He couldn‟t help wondering about that. When you budgeted as carefully as they did there wasn‟t five and threepence over. If there had been, well, it wouldn‟t have been over at all, he would have put it in the bank. He hadn‟t noticed any difference in the housekeeping, and he prided himself he noticed everything. Surely she hadn‟t

Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples


been running up bills to buy lottery tickets. His mind darted here and there suspiciously. There was something secretive in Grace, and he‟d thought she told him everything. He‟d taken it for granted, only, of course, in the ordinary run there was nothing to tell. He consciously relaxed the knot in his mind. After all, Grace had won the five thousand pounds. He remembered charitably that she had always been a good wife to him. As he thought that he had a vision of the patch on his shirt, his newly washed cream trousers laid out for tennis, the children‟s neatness, the tidy house. That was being a good wife. And he had been a good husband, always brought his money home and never looked at another woman. Theirs was a model home, everyone acknowledged it, but – well – somehow he found it easier to be cheerful in other people‟s homes than in his own. It was Grace‟s fault. She wasn‟t cheery and easy going. Something moody about her now. Woody. He‟d worn better than Grace, anyone could see that, and yet it was he who had had the hard time. All she had to do was to stay at home and look after the house and the children. Nothing much in that. She always seemed to be working, but he couldn‟t see what there was to do that could take her so long. Just a touch of woman‟s perversity. It wasn‟t that Grace had aged. Ten years married and with two children, there was still something girlish about her – raw, hard girlishness that had never mellowed. Maybe she‟d be a bit brighter now. He could not help wondering how she had managed the five and three. If she could shower five and threes about like that, he‟d been giving her too much for the housekeeping.

PASSAGE THREE This extract is from the UWA publication Pelican, Feb 1999

THE TROUBLE WITH TESTES (by Jon Gifford) Australian men and boys are struggling. They have, on average, less academic success than women at all levels. There are higher levels of suicide. Men make up around 70% of the prison population. They have higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse. And they are overwhelmingly involved in and the perpetrators of physical and psychological violence; violence that is often aimed at their partners and children. Why is this so? The first response is, of course, that women are better. They have freed themselves from the constraints that men had constructed – societal, psychological and in some cases physical – and are simply proving why men had to constrain women for so long. Because women are superior. But if so, why? Are male children raised incorrectly? Are the societal constraints and expectations on men and male children too great? Are boys being taught the wrong way at school? Or is it simply that testosterone rots the brain? “I don‟t think that it‟s a generational thing,” responds psychologist Di Thompson, “there are probably similarities and there are probably differences (between generations of men) but it‟s the similarities that are important.” That men today, in fact, have the same problems as they‟ve always had, it‟s just that the times have changed.


Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples

PASSAGE FOUR This is a complete short story. It was published in Reading Fictions, Chalkface Press A LOT TO LEARN (R T Kurosaka) The Materialiser was completed. Ned Quinn stood back, wiped his hands, and admired the huge bank of dials, light and switches. Several years and many fortunes had gone into this project. Finally it was ready. Ned placed the metal skullcap on his head and plugged the wires into the control panel. He turned the switch to ON and spoke: “Pound Note.” There was a whirring sound. In the Receiver a piece of paper appeared. Ned inspected it. Real “Martini,” he said. A whirring sound. A puddle formed in the Receiver. Ned cursed silently. He had a lot to learn. “A bottle of beer,” he said. The whirring sound was followed by the appearance of the familiar brown bottle. Ned tasted the contents and grinned. Chuckling, he experimented further. Ned enlarged the Receiver and prepared for his greatest experiment. He switched on the Materialiser, took a deep breath and said, “Girl.” The whirring sound swelled and faded. In the Receiver stood a lovely girl. She was naked. Ned had not asked for clothing. She had freckles, a brace and pigtails. She was eight years old. „Hell! Said Quinn‟. Whirr. The fireman found two charred skeletons in the smouldering rubble. PASSAGE FIVE Terry Colling is an Australian marriage guidance counsellor. The following extract is from his book Beyond Mateship: Understanding Australian Men, published in 1992.

BEYOND MATESHIP: UNDERSTANDING AUSTRALIAN MEN We need to consider the differences in ways that men and women tend to make decisions. Not surprisingly, they fall into categories that seem to represent traditional spheres of responsibility. Men favour the macro, long-term, instrumental welfare issues, while women favour the short to medium term, emotional welfare issues. Consequently, they will approach decision-making with different and rarely acknowledged perspectives. A typical discussion may go something like this. He: “I think we should buy a sandwich bar. The turnover would be terrific and we could both work in it and be comfortable for the rest of our lives.” (Unspoken message: “I‟m fed up with my job, I want to find some security for our future, I‟m not sure I can support the family on my salary.”) She: “What are you talking about? Who would look after the baby during the day while I spend my time cutting sandwiches?” (Unspoken message: “What a fool you are! We can hardly manage things now, let alone embarking on harebrained schemes that won‟t work.”) He: “You always pour cold water on my ideas. You

Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples


never support me like other men‟s wives, you just drag me down.” And so the whole thing would probably escalate into a session of personal abuse, with both digging into their respective hurt bags to pull out the most telling stories form the past to validate their respective positions. Men are significantly disadvantaged in these sessions; women have an incredible capacity for detailed recollection of past events. Men have poor detail recall and will tend to disbelieve women who recount events in the past with conviction, dismissing what they say as made up. Because of this difference in approach, men will often accuse women of bearing grudges and being unable to forgive and forget. Perhaps women have developed this characteristically detailed memory by necessity. Because they have the overall responsibility for the daily welfare of the family, women need to know and keep in their heads masses of data that, while apparently trivial, individually ensure the smooth functioning of the household. I remember counselling a couple, Kevin and Jessica, who were both forty-six and who had been married for twenty-two years. When they came for counselling they had been fighting for most of the last decade, and the atmosphere was charged with resentment. From the outset both tried to take control, vying to be heard: clearly, neither felt the other had been listening for years. Jessica‟s list of complaints went back to the time before they were married. She was angry that he had forgotten the first anniversary of their first date, and spoke with great sadness about his having asked his mother to look after her when she first came home with their baby because he needed to work, as well as having ignored her at a particular party when he was aware she knew nobody else except him. On the other hand, his accusations were much more generalised, couched in such terms as “You‟re cold, you never have anything nice to say to me.” His main hurt was that she would take anybody‟s word but his, she would ridicule his plans and took no interest in his work. The fact that institutions in our society are controlled by men, may seem to place men at an enormous advantage – all benefiting from the power of significant individuals. But, while a handful of men wield enormous power, the bulk of them will never exercise control over much more than their children, and even then the efficacy of that control is questionable. In general, the actual power wielded by the average bloke is more illusory than real. He is more likely to see himself as controlled than controlling, beset by demands on him that severely restrict his freedom of choice. His family‟s needs dictate his commitment to work, both at his place of employment and around the home, and this in turn dictates his response to his superiors at work because he needs the job. Far from being masters of their own lives, men are more likely to feel slaves to everybody‟s competing needs, with themselves coming a poor last.



Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples

EXAMPLE THREE The following questions were written for two feature articles on unrelated topics. We thought they could be applied to any feature articles that focused on issues and presented some argument. The articles we used were both approximately 1200 words in length. Instructions Answer ALL of the following questions. They are NOT worth equal marks. Your suggested working time should reflect the different weighting given to the questions. 1. Explain the argument/s developed in each of the passages. (20 marks)

2. Choose one of the texts and comment on the techniques influencing your response. (10 marks) 3. Explain whether you accept or reject the argument presented by the article and why. (10 marks)

******************************************************************* EXAMPLE FOUR The following is a model of the sort of questions and mark allocations that might be used if there were four questions and two or more passages in the comprehension section. Instructions Answer all four questions. They are worth equal marks. You should allocate your time accordingly. 1. Explain how the subjects in extract one are constructed. Make reference to selection of detail, structure and style as well as any significant devices. (10 marks) 2. What attitudes are you being invited to confront as a result of this construction? (10 marks) 3. Is the representation of ___________in extract ____a legitimate presentation of __________________? (10 marks) 4. What factors should be considered when reading extract ____from the perspective of _________________? (10 marks)



Curriculum Council – English Year 12 (E004) – Year 12 TEE English Exam Comprehension Examples


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