English Reading Exercises for A2 – Staying alive

1. Match the pairs of adjectives with similar meanings. Put them in the correct columns.

astonishing      bad      big      disgusting      exhausted      filthy

good      hungry      sad      stunning      tasty      terrifying      tiny

Simple adjective

Extreme adjective


1) astonishing

























Show answers

2) tasty 3) stunning   4) bad   5) disgusting   6) hungry

7) tiny   8) good   9) terrifying   10) sad   11) filthy

12) big   13) exhausted

2. Read the text. Underline five extreme adjectives from exercise 1.

Alone at sea


On 29 January 1982, Steven Callahan left the Canary Islands in a small yacht. 1) _____. But a week later, during an awful storm, something (probably a whale) hit the yacht and made a huge hole in it. 2) _____. He had to act quickly!


Steven got into an inflatable life raft and just had time to get a sleeping bag, a first-aid kit, some food, maps, and a torch from the yacht before it sank. He also managed to get a copy of a book called Sea Survival3) _____. But he couldn’t rescue the radio from the yacht.


4) _____. His food ran out after a few days so he had to survive by catching sea-birds, fish and flying fish. He drank rain water which he caught in the raft.


After about two months at sea, the raft was 3,000 km from the place where the yacht sank. 5) _____. But unfortunately they didn’t see him. He was beginning to think that he might not survive. He was starving, exhausted, weak and very thin.


Finally, after 76 days, some fishermen saw the sea-birds that were flying around the raft and took Steven to the island of Guadeloupe. After his terrifying experience, he was finally in the Caribbean!

Show answers

awful; huge; starving; exhausted; terrifying

Reading Strategy

When you do a task with gapped sentences in a narrative text, look carefully at the sentence before each gap and think about what is likely to happen next. Then look at the options and see which of the sentences matches your ideas. Finally, check that the text reads smoothly with your chosen sentence in place.

3. Read the Reading Strategy. Match sentences A-G with gaps 1-5 in the text. There are two extra sentences.

a During this time, Steven saw nine ships.

b Water was coming in and the boat was sinking fast.

c But he couldn’t swim back to the yacht.

d It contained lots of useful information about surviving at sea.

e He was planning to sail to the Caribbean.

f Some men were fishing near Steven’s raft.

g Alone in the life raft, Steven travelled slowly across the Atlantic Ocean.

Show answers

1) D   2) B   3) F   4) A

4. Read the text again, including the missing sentences. Are the sentences true (T) or false (F)? Write the paragraph (A-E) which contains the answer.

1) Steven wanted to sail to the Canary Islands. T or F? Paragraph?

2) Steven’s nightmare started four days into the trip. T or F? Paragraph?

3) Steven managed to get some useful things from the sinking yacht. T or F? Paragraph?

4) Steven ate birds and fish in order to survive. T or F? Paragraph?

5) Steven didn’t reach the Caribbean. T or F? Paragraph?

Show answers

1) F   2) T   3) T   4) T   5) F

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