Enter Your Name (Optional)

Read this selection. Then answer the questions that follow it.

Talking Drums


The Lokele people are a tribe in Central Africa. It is the custom of

the Lokele people for young boys to learn important things from an

uncle on their mother’s side of the family. This story is about a

young Lokele boy named Sete. Read this story about something

special that Sete learns from his uncle.


  Sete searched the thick forest for a good bamboo stem. “Ah,” he  

said at last, “this one is perfect.” The piece of dried wood was

about as big around as his leg. Sete needed the bamboo to make a

practice drum. Later that day Sete would begin learning “drum

talk.” Drums had been used by Sete’s people to send messages

from one village to another for hundreds of years.

  Many of Sete’s friends were not interested in learning about  

the drums. They thought other ways of communicating were

better. Sete was different, though. Many of his people still used

the drums, and Sete wanted to know what the messages said. He

also wanted to learn to make the drums speak. Sete’s uncle Baelo

would show Sete how to use the “talking drums.” Sete felt lucky to

have his uncle as an instructor. Everyone said that Uncle Baelo

was the finest drummer in the village, so Sete would learn much

from him.

  First Sete would learn on a small drum, and then he would  

graduate to a much larger one. The large drums were made from

the logs of padouk trees. They made sounds that could be heard

far away.  

  “I see you have found a good piece of bamboo,” Uncle Baelo said  

when he arrived. Sete watched carefully as his uncle made the

bamboo stem into a drum. First his uncle cut a slit in the wood

using a special ax. Then he made the long, narrow cut deeper at

one end. By hitting this side of the bamboo with a stick, Sete could

make a deep, low sound. Then Uncle Baelo dug a smaller amount

of wood out of the other end. By hitting this side, Sete could make

a high sound. Later he would learn to use these sounds to make


  When the drum was finished, Sete received his

first lesson. His uncle taught him ki-ke—ki-ke, which made

“high-low, high-low” sounds. When people heard these

sounds, they knew a drummer was about to send a message.

  Uncle Baelo told Sete to  

practice the sounds again and again. "When you have learned

these sounds well, I’ll teach you how to drum some words.” Sete

drummed ki-ke—ki-ke until bedtime.  

  “I could hear you from the edge of the forest,” Uncle Baelo said  

the next day. “You know the sounds well.” Then he told Sete to

listen carefully to one of his favorite messages. Sete could hear the


  Ke-ki-ki-ki—ke-ke-ki—ke—ke-ki-ke” sounded like “sokolaka lik  

k lya botema.”  

  "This says, 'Take away the knot of the heart,'" said Uncle  


  “What does that mean?” Sete asked.  
  “It is a good message,” his uncle answered. “It means ‘Don’t  


  Sete practiced the drum sounds every day for many months. At  

the same time, he learned their meanings. One day Sete saw his

uncle coming from the far end of the village. Uncle Baelo was

carrying something large. As he got closer, Sete saw what it was.  

  “Are you letting me borrow this large drum?” Sete asked  


  “No,” Uncle Baelo answered. Sete stopped smiling. “Do not be  

sad, nephew,” Uncle Baelo said when he saw that the happiness

had disappeared from Sete’s face. “I made this drum for you as a

gift. It’s yours to keep. Use it wisely.”  

  Sete did not answer. As his uncle turned to walk away, Sete  

ran his hand over his smooth new drum and smiled. He waited

until the next day to use his gift for the first time. Uncle Baelo

was fishing on the river, but he would hear the message.  

  "Ki-ke—ki-ke," Sete began. Then "ke-ki-ki-ki—ke-ke-ki—ke—ke-  

ki-ke," he made his new drum say. "Sokolaka lik k lya botema."  

  "Do not worry, Uncle, " Sete thought as he pounded out the  

sounds. "I will take very good care of my fine new drum. And

someday I will show my own nephews how to make the drums



1 Paragraph 4 tells mostly about —
A how the practice drum is made
B when Sete gives Uncle Baelo the piece of wood
C which messages can be sent by the drums
D what Uncle Baelo uses to cut the wood
7 Which words in paragraph 4 help the reader know what slit means?
A deep, low sound
B long, narrow cut
C special ax
D bamboo stem
2 How is Sete different from his friends?
F He lives in a small village in Central Africa.
G He is one of the Lokele people.
H He wants to understand the drum talk.
J He learns important lessons from an uncle.
8 Which idea from the story shows that the large drum makes loud sounds?
F Sete would learn how to make the drum speak.
G This way of sending messages has been used for a long time.
H Sete's friends thought other ways of communicating were better.
J Uncle Baelo was fishing, but he would hear the message.
3 Who taught Uncle Baelo to play the talking drums?
A His Uncle
B His friends
C His brother
D His father
9 In paragraph 2, what does the word instructor mean?
A Worker
B Friend
C Teacher
D Partner
4 In paragraph 14, the word disappeared means —
F not bright
G moved aside
H came into sight
J not there anymore
10 Uncle Baelo cuts out different amounts of wood from the two ends of the bamboo so that —
F the drum will look different
G the sounds will not be so loud
H the sounds will be different
J the drum will not break
5 From what the reader learns about Sete, which statement does not make sense?
A Uncle Baelo will teach Sete a new message.
B Sete will decide to stop practicing on the talking drums.
C Uncle Baelo will send a message to Sete on a drum.
D Sete will someday make a talking drum for his nephew.
11 Why does Sete want to learn about the talking drums?
A He wants to send messages to his friends.
B He wants to continue the custom of the talking drums.
C He wants his uncle to make him a talking drum.
D He wants to be different from everyone else.
6 Which sentence from the story shows that Sete knows the importance of what Uncle Baelo has taught him?
F He also wanted to learn to make the drums speak.
G Later he would learn to use these sounds to make words.
H "I could hear you from the edge of the forest," Uncle Baelo said the next day.
J "And someday I will show my own nephews how to make the drums talk."
12 Read the first sentence in the summary below. Then answer the question that follows.
  Summary: Sete wants to learn how to use the talking drums of his people.
  Which set of sentences best finishes the summary of this story?
F Some of the boys are not interested in the talking drums. Sete wants to know how to make the sounds. He practices every day for many hours.
G His uncle gives him lessons. Sete practices every day. When he learns how to make the sounds and messages, his uncle gives him a large drum.
H Sete searches the forest for a perfect bamboo stem. When he finally finds one, his uncle makes him a practice drum. His uncle also makes him a larger drum.
J Sete's uncle gives him a new drum. Sete sends a message to his uncle. Sete tells his uncle not to worry. He will teach his own nephews about talking drums.

Read the next two selections. Then answer the questions that follow them.



Use  "Huge Bones"   to answer questions 13-19.

13 Which word in paragraph 5 of the newspaper article helps the reader know what dispute means?
A argument
B member
C judge
D dollars
17 Paragraph 4 of the newspaper article is mainly about —
A the skeleton that Hendrickson found
B the bones that the T. rex was missing
C other skeletons that have been found
D the cliff where Hendrickson spotted the bones
14 Why are the museum visitors not allowed to touch the real dinosaur bones?
F The bones might get damaged.
G The bones do not belong to the museum.
H The bones can be dangerous to people.
J The bones are still being cleaned and repaired.
18 How were experts able to learn more about Dinosaur Sue?
F They read the article in the newspaper.
G They studied the dinosaur's bones.
H They asked the judge many questions.
J They made a plaster copy of the skull.
15 From the article, what can the reader tell about the Badlands of South Dakota?
A It is a very cold area.
B It was once home to many T. rex dinosaurs.
C It has many science museums.
D It is the only place where T. rex bones are found.
19 Which word in paragraph 6 of the newspaper article helps the reader know what assemble means?
A ground
B stands
C connected
D price
16 In paragraph 2 of the newspaper article, the word colossal means —
F huge
G difficult
H lifelike
J missing

Use  "Lisa's Report About the Museum"   to answer questions 20-25.


20 How does Lisa feel when she first gets to the museum?
F She is anxious to see Dinosaur Sue.
G She wants to see how long a T. rex tooth is.
H She is sad that dinosaurs are no longer alive.
J She doesn't want to learn about dinosaurs.
23 What is the purpose of Lisa's report?
A To tell what the museum looked like
B To describe her experience at the museum
C To tell what she wants to be when she grows up
D To describe the students in her class
21 From paragraph 2 of the report, the reader can tell that Lisa is —
A surprised by the size of the skeleton
B afraid Dinosaur Sue will fall apart
C glad that Dinosaur Sue has a room of her own
D confused because the skeleton stares at her
24 In Lisa's report, what is paragraph 3 mainly about?
F The way a T. rex ate meat
G The number of teeth Dinosaur Sue had
H The information Lisa learns about Sue from the guide
J The guide who gives tours of the museum to students
22 How do Lisa's thoughts about dinosaurs change after she sees Dinosaur Sue?
F She thinks dinosaurs are not important.
G She believes dinosaurs were not real.
H She wants to touch the dinosaur.
J She becomes interested in dinosaurs.
25 Which sentence from Lisa's report shows that she is interested in learning more about dinosaurs?
A Why would anyone want to learn about something that's not around anymore?
B It was Dinosaur Sue, the museum's Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.
C I'm glad I wasn't around when the dinosaurs were alive.
D It made me wonder about other creatures that had once lived here.

Use  "Huge Bones"   and   "Lisa's Report About the Museum"   to answer questions 26-29.

26 The newspaper article and Lisa's report both tell about —
F the price the museum paid for the skeleton
G where Dinosaur Sue was found
H the museum showing Dinosaur Sue's skeleton
J what Dinosaur Sue used to eat
27 Lisa's mother could not have seen the Dinosaur Sue exhibit when she was in fourth grade because —
A she could not afford to go to the museum
B the exhibit was too dangerous for the public
C the Dinosaur Sue skeleton had not yet been discovered
D scientists were still trying to put the Dinosaur Sue skeleton together
28 The diagram below shows events from these selections. Use the diagram to answer the next question.
A diagram with 5 boxes: 1)Hendrickson finds some dinosaur bones. 2) The bones are dug up, cleaned, and prepared. 3)Blank 4)Lisas class visits the museum. 5)Lisa writes a report about Dinosaur Sue. 
  Which of these belongs in the empty box?
F Lisa hunts for dinosaur bones.
G Hendrickson goes to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.
H Another T. rex skeleton is found.
J Dinosaur Sue is put together at a museum.
29 Lisa's report is different from the newspaper article because the report —
A gives facts about where Dinosaur Sue was found
B describes what the bones look like
C tells how Lisa feels when she sees Dinosaur Sue
D explains how the bones were put together

Read this selection. Then answer the questions that follow it.

The Story of Stickeen


John Muir (1838-1914) was a well-known author and explorer

who helped establish the United States' national parks. He is best

known for his exploration of the mountains of California's Sierra

Nevada and the glaciers of Alaska.



  It was early in the morning when John Muir stepped out of his  

tent into the rain. The other men were still asleep. Muir slipped

some bread into his pocket and made his way toward the large

glacier. He had come to Alaska to study these giant mountains of

ice, which can be miles wide.  

  As Muir walked toward the massive glacier, he heard a  

familiar sound behind him. He turned to see Stickeen, a little

black dog, following him.

a picture of the rugged ice of a glacier

  "Go away, Stickeen! Stay at camp!" Muir commanded. Stickeen  

only wagged his bushy tail. The dog always followed Muir, even

though he belonged to another man in the team of explorers.  

  "You never could obey an order," Muir sighed. It had begun to  

rain harder, and he knew crossing the glacier would be a

dangerous hike. He also knew that no matter what he did,

Stickeen would follow him. Anxious to explore the glacier, he gave

up the fight.  

  Muir started his way through the icy wilderness with Stickeen  

close behind. The cracking ice on the glaciers made splits called

crevasses. These cracks in the ice are deep and wide. Muir knew

that he and Stickeen would have to cross many of these crevasses.

One slip on the icy surface could mean death for both of them.

a picture of a crevasse in a glacier

  They traveled over the glacier for hours, stopping every so  

often to eat a bit of bread. Muir kept a careful eye on Stickeen as

they hiked. He remembered another time when Stickeen had

followed him onto the glacier. Stickeen's feet had begun to bleed

from the sharp ice, but the little dog kept going. The little dog

showed no fear as he followed Muir.  

  As darkness approached, Muir and Stickeen started back  

toward camp. Suddenly they came to a huge crevasse that was too

wide to jump over. Muir looked down and saw a narrow bridge of

ice about 25 feet below where they stood. It was too late in the day

to find another way back to camp. Muir knew that the icy bridge

was the only way across. If they didn't make it back to the

campsite, they might not survive the cold of night. The

temperature would drop so low, they would surely freeze to death.  

  To make his way down to the bridge, Muir took his ax and dug  

out some ice near the edge of the crevasse. He put his foot into the

depression. Then he leaned over the edge of the crevasse and

began cutting out another little foothold. While Muir worked,

Stickeen gave him a scared look and began to whimper.  

  "Hush your fears, my boy," Muir said. "We'll get across safely,  

but it's not going to be easy."  

  Muir put his foot into the foothold and leaned over to make  

another one. He did this until he finally reached the narrow ice

bridge. He looked up to see whether Stickeen had followed, but the

dog had not moved.  

  Muir carefully slid along the bridge. He did not dare to look  

down at the thousand-foot drop. When he came to the end, he

again made a foothold in the ice. He made his way up the other

side. Across the way, Stickeen whined loudly.  

  Muir called and called for Stickeen to come. He knew that  

Stickeen was scared and that this would be difficult for the little

dog. Muir called for quite some time. Finally Stickeen, looking

straight into Muir's eyes, began to cross. He put his body in the

hollow Muir had made at the top of the ice. Then, front feet first,

the brave little dog slid down to the first foothold, then the second,

and then the next, until he slid down the bridge.  

  Stickeen crossed the bridge without trouble. On the other side,  

however, he faced a new obstacle. The climb out of the crevasse

was very steep. Muir tried to reach down to grab the dog but

couldn't. Muir knew that dogs are poor climbers. He wasn't sure

how the dog was going to get to the top. As Muir tried to think of a

way to help the dog, Stickeen suddenly hooked his paws into the

foothold. He leaped up the wall to safety. With danger behind

them, the two danced on the glacier's edge.  

  After many hours of adventure, Muir, with Stickeen close  
  behind, arrived back at the camp.  


30 The author's description of the Alaskan wilderness helps the reader understand —
F how crevasses and cracks are formed in glaciers
G why Stickeen liked to follow Muir on hikes
H why Muir went out while the other men were asleep
J how dangerous Muir and Stickeen's situation was
36 On an earlier trip, why did Stickeen start to bleed?
F He stepped on Muir's ax.
G His feet had become frozen.
H The ice had cut his feet.
J His foot had gotten stuck in a crevasse.


31 From paragraph 6, the reader can tell that Stickeen was —
A tough and determined
B mean and fierce
C old and weak
D well behaved and shy
37 Which of these is the best summary of the story?
A John Muir went out to study a glacier, and a dog named Stickeen followed him. Later they had to cross a dangerous crevasse to get back to camp.
B John Muir and a dog named Stickeen climbed a large glacier in Alaska. Glaciers are large mountains of ice that can have deep cracks in them.
C On their way back to camp, John Muir and Stickeen were trapped on one side of a large crevasse. The temperature was dropping so they needed to get back to camp.
D John Muir cut hollows in the ice so he and Stickeen could climb across a crevasse. After many hours they made it back to camp.


32 Muir did not want Stickeen to follow him because he —
F didn't like the little dog
G knew it would be a difficult hike
H wanted to camp on the glacier all night
J didn't want to share his bread
38 Paragraph 5 is mainly about —
F why Stickeen showed no fear
G what glaciers are like
H the food Muir and Stickeen ate
J why Stickeen didn't listen to Muir


33 Why was it important that Muir and Stickeen get back to camp quickly?
A It would get even colder after dark.
B It would be hard to see the crevasses at night.
C Muir wanted to share his findings with other explorers.
D Muir wanted to treat Stickeen's feet.
39 In paragraph 8, what does the word depression mean?
A A special climbing boot
B A gentle warm breeze
C A dug-out or lowered area
D Icy cold water


34 Based on information given in this story, the reader can tell Muir's camp was —
F at the top of the mountain
G in a deep crevasse of a glacier
H the icy wilderness near a glacier
J on a huge river of ice in Alaska
40 Why is it important to know that it was raining when Muir started his hike?
F It makes the reader feel sorry for Muir.
G It shows why the other explorers stayed at camp.
H It explains why Stickeen couldn't follow Muir's tracks.
J It makes Muir's trip seem even more dangerous.


35 Read the chart of events.
Muir Crossing the Ice Bridge: 1)Dug out footholds 2)Lowered himself over the edge 3)Blank 4)Called for Stickeen to cross
  Which of the following best completes the chart?
A Slid along the ice bridge
B Put bread in his pocket
C Jumped to the other side
D Danced on the side of the glacier

You have reached the end of the test. To score the test, click on the "Score Test" button. To clear your answers and begin the test again, click on the "Reset" button. The scoring of the test will take a minimum of 10 seconds.

Copyright©2003, Texas Education Agency. All rights reserved. Reproduction of all or portions of this work is prohibited without express written permission from the Texas Education Agency.