GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Questions

It must be the season of pessimism. Having worried about the war in Afghanistan, the battle against Al’ Qaeda, the Arab reaction and the anthrax scare, we have found the next target for our gloom and it’s an easy one: the prospect for Afghanistan. You can hear the weary phrases tripping off people’s tongues: the country can’t be rebuilt, it will revert to civil war and a Marshall Plan would be a colossal waste of money. If these were just the musings of commentators, they wouldn’t matter much. But many within the administration are urging Washington to quickly and quietly wash its hands off Afghanistan and move on. Not only would this be a strategic error, but it would show blindness to one of the most important lessons of the last decade.

Let’s try a word-association game. What comes to mind when you think of the following: Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Mozambique and Uganda? For most people the answer is civil war, ethnic cleansing, failed states and intractable woes. And that’s what they represented the last time you looked at them. But a funny thing happened over the last five years. As the UN Development Chief, Mark Malloch Brown, puts it, “The spotlight went away, but these countries slowly began putting their houses in order. Today they are all peaceful, reasonably stable societies with the first stirrings of genuine economic activity.”

In some cases, it’s better than that. Mozambique, for example, was growing at nine per cent in 1999 when a flood hit its economic growth (temporarily, one hopes). There’s been political progress across the board. Rwanda has a war-crimes tribunal. Kosovo is doing better than anyone could have expected. East Timor will have seceded nonviolently from Indonesia and set up a liberal democratic regime in a few years. None of these places is likely to become a Switzerland or Singapore any time soon. But they are far removed from the hell holes of war, genocide, drugs and terrorism that many once were.

Despite mountains of skepticism (and I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone) the reality has been that over the last five years the international community and the United Nations learned tough lessons from their initial failures in dealing with peace-keeping and nation-building. Today the major powers and the international agencies are pulling together and working effectively. As a result, once hopeless situations are moving toward some semblance of normalcy. Is it so crazy to think that may be Afghanistan can be next on this list?



Of course the situation in Afghanistan is gruesome. The country has been through invasion, occupation and civil war for two decades. Economic activity has come to a standstill, a condition worsened by periodic famine and drought. Millions of Afghans have come forward and improving people’s lives will not be so difficult. Even modest achievements – rebuilding the roads, getting rural irrigation flowing, restoring electricity- could have dramatic effects.

And there are many hopeful signs. So far there have been very few reprisals by the victors- a marked shift in behavior. The neighboring powers- Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Russia – are not competing to destabilize the country, as they did in the past, but working to stabilize it. As Richard Haass, Washington’s top diplomat on Afghanistan put it: “The Great Games has given way to the greater good.” Perhaps most significant, the generation of Afghans who thrived on the feuds of the civil war are being replaced by a younger wave of leaders who want to build a modern country. Rapacious warlords like Rashid Dostum may represent the past and moderate, modern men like the interim president, Hamid Karzai, the future. But first you need peace. The international community had learned one big lesson over the last decade: when a country is still plagued by problems of basic security – Somalia, Bosnia (for a while) and Congo – peacekeeping and reconstruction are impossible. The other important lesson is that the United Nations cannot provide this security. It must come from the major powers.

Thus, the most urgent priority in Afghanistan is a strong, multinational force that will bring security and stability to Kabul. Britain had volunteered to be the lead country and, if not for America’s strange foot dragging on this issue, the British would have already deployed their troops (Turkey is another possibility). Beyond Kabul, security must come from agreements between the Afghan war lords. It will be a test of their desire for peace and security in their regions.

There are good reasons for pessimism. Afghanistan is the most ambitious project that the international community will have ever undertaken. And as a senior American official said, “The one thing that seems to unite Afghans over long period of time is they don’t much like foreigners. But consider what the foreigners were up to in the past. The British and the Russians tried to colonize the place. The Arabs turned it into a base for international terrorism. Maybe now that the foreigners are coming for quite different reasons, the locals will be more welcoming.”



1.What could be the most appropriate title for the passage?

(A) Comparison of War-torn Countries.

(B) Re-building of Afghanistan.

(C) Internal Situation in Afghanistan.

(D) Role and Interests of America in Afghanistan.

(E) Ensuring Peace in Afghanistan.

2.According to the writer, the pre requisite for any development in Afghanistan is

(A)elimination of tribal leaders.

(B)cooperation of the neighboring countries.

(C)ensuring peace and security.

(D)sending British troops before American troops.

(E)sending troops of neighboring countries to Afghanistan.

3.Peace and security in Afghanistan can be achieved through

(I)agreements with tribal leaders.

(II)cooperation of the neighboring countries.

(III)sending multi-national forces to Afghanistan.

(A)I and II only.

(B)I and III only.

(C)II and III only.

(D)All of the above.

(E)None of the above.

4.Local population is now more likely to accept foreign forces due to following factor:

(A) Local leaders are now ready for negotiations.

(B) Neighboring countries are now more supportive of the idea.

(C) It will lead to economic growth.

(D) Intentions of the multinational forces are likely to be in favor of Afghanistan.

(E) Britain and America have now reached a consensus on the issue.

5.The writer hints towards inadequacy of UN when he says that :-

(A)Beyond Kabul warlords cannot be controlled.

(B)UN cannot guarantee that multinational forces will not exploit the country.

(C)On its own, UN cannot provide security. (D)It is difficult for UN to bring all the coalition partners on a common platform.

(E)UN has been a failure in a number of such attempts in the past.

6.Optimism about Afghanistan can be derived from following factors:-

(I)Neighboring countries are not trying to destabilize Afghanistan.

(II)New generation of leaders.

(III)Comparatively peaceful environment.

(A)I and II only.

(B)I and III only.

(C)II and III only.

(D)All of the above.

(F)None of the above.

7.One of the important lessons learnt by the international community in peace keeping missions and nation building is

(A)coordination between major powers and international agencies.

(B)controlling local warlords.

(C)economic development, for example, as in the case of Mozambique.

(D)infrastructural development.

(E)supporting the modern leadership.

8.A pitiable description of Afghanistan has been made by the writer consequent to civil war, famine, invasion, occupation etc. However, the writer claims that this situation can be exploited for betterment as

(A)civil wars have left the local warlords at their weakest levels.

(B) it provides an opportunity for international forces to easily enter Afghanistan and eliminate terrorist hideouts.

(C)even humble infrastructural developments can bring fruitful results.

(D)UN gets an opportunity to demonstrate its capabilities and emerge as a stronger organization which could ultimately result in world peace.

(E)if not entered now, the opportunity will be lost forever.



1.The most appropriate answer is D. The author compares various war torn countries to derive analogy for the future prospects of Afghanistan. Therefore, A is not correct as it cannot be a suitable title for the entire passage. C can be partially correct but the essence of the passage is to explain the reasons why America should show interest in Afghanistan and the role to be played by it. B and E are the reasons why America should show interest in Afghanistan. Therefore, the best answer is D.

2.The most appropriate answer is C. As can be seen from the examples of various countries given in the passage, development was possible only after peace and security had retuned. The writer emphasizes this fact several times in the passage. A, D and E are factually wrong as they have not been explicitly brought out by the writer. B is one of the means for ensuring security and peace. Therefore, the best answer is C.

3.Most appropriate answer is D as all three issues need to be negotiated for ensuring peace and security. After due deliberation on the facts stated by the writer it becomes evident that all the three issues should be addressed appropriately for return of peace and security in Afghanistan. Therefore, the best answer is D.

4.Most appropriate answer is D. There are no indications in the passage that local leaders are now ready for negotiations. Therefore A is wrong. Support of neighboring countries on the issue has also not been explicitly stated in the passage, hence B is incorrect. C will eventually be correct once peace and security has been established. E is clearly wrong. The last paragraph of the passage clearly brings out the writer’s opinion about the local population which he believes would now be more supportive as compared to their reactions to earlier foreigners who had totally different intentions. Therefore, D is the best answer.

5. The most appropriate answer is C. Agreements between warlords are a pre requisite for lasting peace. However they cannot be interpreted as a shortcoming of UN. B has not been explicitly commented upon by the writer though references to the earlier occupying forces have been made. The writer clearly brings out option C in paragraph number 7 of the passage. Option D may be interpreted from general knowledge but the writer has not touched the topic. With regards to option E, attempts by UN to ensure peace and stability may have failed initially but eventually the programs were successful in most of the cases. Therefore, E cannot be termed as a completely correct statement. In view of the above, it is evident that C is the best answer.

6.The correct answer is A. The writer clearly brings out the changed stance of the neighboring countries with respect to the situation in Afghanistan and the new generation of Afghans who are willing to work for a better country. Option III is wrong as absence of peace in Afghanistan is perhaps the genesis of the article. Therefore, A emerges as the best answer.

7. Option A is the most appropriate answer as brought out by the writer in the course of the passage. The writer emphasizes this point in the third and fourth paragraphs of the passage. He has categorically stated the names of countries which are experiencing economic growth after years of turmoil. The writer conveys the message that countries are slowly moving towards normalcy as a result of the coordination between the major powers and international agencies. Options B to E are possible only after the restoration of peace and stability which can be enforced as a result of this coordination and this aspect has been aptly brought out in the second last paragraph. Therefore, A is the best answer.

8. Option C is the most appropriate answer as made aptly clear by the writer in paragraph number 5. Relative strength of the warlords has not been commented upon by the writer. Therefore, option A is incorrect. Option B is against the very essence of the passage with respect to the likely intention of the coalition forces. Option D and E have not been commented upon by the writer during the course of the passage. Therefore, C is the best answer.

GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Questions


Subscribe to our free newsletter.

Don’t have an account yet? Get started with a 12-day free trial

Related Posts

View all
  • Nam lacinia arcu tortor, nec luctus nibh dignissim eu nulla sit amet maximus.

    Continue reading
  • Nam lacinia arcu tortor, nec luctus nibh dignissim eu nulla sit amet maximus.

    Continue reading
  • Nam lacinia arcu tortor, nec luctus nibh dignissim eu nulla sit amet maximus.

    Continue reading
  • Nam lacinia arcu tortor, nec luctus nibh dignissim eu nulla sit amet maximus.

    Continue reading