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I have some reading comprehension questions and don't know how to solve them.

The passage:

The kids are hanging out. I pass small bands of students, on my way to work these mornings. They have become a familiar part of the summer landscape. These kids are not old enough for jobs. Nor are they rich enough for camp. They are school children without school. The calendar called the school year ran out on them a few weeks ago. Once supervised by teachers and principals, they now appear to be “self care”. Passing them is like passing through a time zone. For much of our history, after all, Americans arranged the school year around the needs of work and family. In 19th-century cities, schools were open seven or eight hours a day, 11 months a year. In rural America, the year was arranged around the growing season. Now, only 3 percent of families follow the agricultural model, but nearly all schools are scheduled as if our children went home early to milk the cows and took months off to work the crops. Now, three-quarters of the mothers of school-age children work, but the calendar is written as if they were home waiting for the school bus.

The six-hour day, the 180-day school year is regarded as something holy. But when parents work an eight-hour day and a 240-day year, it means something different. It means that many kids go home to empty houses. It means that, in the summer, they hang out. “We have a huge mismatch between the school calendar and the realities of family life,” says Dr. Ernest Boyer, head of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Dr. Boyer is one of many who believe that a radical revision of the school calendar is inevitable. “School, whether we like it or not, is educational. It always has been.” His is not a popular idea. Schools are routinely burdened with the job of solving all our social problems. Can they be asked to meet the needs of our work and family lives? It may be easier to promote a longer school year on its educational merits and, indeed, the educational case is compelling. Despite the complaints and studies about our kids’ lack of learning, the United States still has a shorter school year than any industrial nation. In most of Europe, the school year is 220 days. In Japan, it is 240 days long. While classroom time alone doesn’t produce a well-educated child, learning takes time and more learning takes more time. The long summers of forgetting take a toll. The opposition to a longer school year comes from families that want to and can provide other experiences for their children. It comes from teachers. It comes from tradition. And surely from kids. But the most important part of the conflict has been over the money.

Which of the following is an opinion of the author’s?
A. “The kids are hanging out.”
B. “They are school children without school.”
C. “These kids are not old enough for jobs.”
D. “The calendar called the school year ran out on them a few weeks ago.”

Some people think A is correct because the author uses "hang out" to show his disapproval of students hanging out.

While some think B is correct because B is the opinion, while others are facts.

I don't know which is the best answer.

“The long summers of forgetting take a toll” in the last paragraph but one means that __.
A. long summer vacation slows down the progress of learning
B. long summer vacation has been abandoned in Europe
C. long summers result in less learning time
D. long summers are a result of tradition

Some people think A is correct because this is the meaning of the quoted sentence.

While some think C is correct because the author emphasized that more learning needs more time and long summer means learning time is short.

I still don't know how to choose.

Can you help me understand the answers?

share|improve this question
    
What type of exam are you preparing for ESL, SATs, GMATs? –  David M Feb 24 at 5:06
    
The exam is Test for English Majors band 4 (TEM4) in China. I found different reference books give the different answers. I am quite confused. –  user66891 Feb 24 at 5:27
    
Well, let me advise you that we have a separate SE site for English Language Learners, as well. I have done my best to explain the proper answers below. Unfortunately, the bigger issue is the lack of quality in the test questions themselves. They are not particularly representative of good testing questions as the answers are mildly ambiguous. –  David M Feb 24 at 5:29

1 Answer 1

When doing reading comprehension, I would recommend reading the questions first. Then the passage and returning to the questions again. This will tell you what to look for on your first read through and save you a lot of time rereading the passage.

First question:

A) is an opinion that the kids are hanging out. It has nothing to do with his attitude toward hanging out. It's just his opinion that they aren't doing something other than hang out.

The rest are facts:

B) Don't have school (It's summer.)
C) The kids are too young for jobs. (This could be an opinion, too. But, it is less likely that the author couldn't spot a 9 year-old as too young for a job.)
D) And school ended weeks ago. (A calendar isn't an opinion based device.)

Second Question:

A) Long Summer vacations slow down the progress of learning.

It is the only choice that fits the meaning of the quote "... the long Summers of forgetting ..."

B) Has nothing to do with the quote.
C) Could be true, but A is a better fit to the quote.
D) Is true, but has nothing to do with the quote.

The point isn't the lack of learning time, but rather the lack of learning stimulation during the Summers causes kids to forget.

share|improve this answer
    
For the first question, I think B is better because the sentence shows a metaphorical sense. The author implies the kids don't have enough time learning. “The kids are hanging out.” is more like a fact. Don't you think so? For the second one, I agree with you. –  user66891 Feb 24 at 5:35
    
The question isn't asking you to identify a metaphor. It is asking you to identify opinion. During the Summer, seeing children who are not in a classroom, it is a reasonable assumption that they are without school. To say they are hanging out is an opinion. They could be standing on the corner waiting for their mothers to come out of the store. They could be playing baseball on an organized team, but waiting for practice to begin. And, so on. It is his opinion that they are hanging out. –  David M Feb 24 at 5:43
    
@user66891 I could be swayed by choice C. Too young can be an opinion, too. This is why I said these questions are ambiguous. –  David M Feb 24 at 5:50

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