ISEE Lower Level Reading : Analyzing Cause and Effect in History Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ISEE Lower Level Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #152 : Ssat Elementary Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Early European History by Hutton Webster (1917)

The Phoenicians were a Syrian people whose country was a narrow stretch of coast, about one hundred and twenty miles in length, seldom more than twelve miles in width, between the Lebanon Mountains and the sea. This tiny land could not support a large population. As the Phoenicians increased in numbers, they were obliged to betake themselves to the sea. The Lebanon cedars furnished soft, white wood for shipbuilding, and the deeply indented coast offered excellent harbors. Thus, the Phoenicians became preeminent sailors. Their great cities, Sidon and Tyre, established colonies throughout the Mediterranean and had an extensive commerce with every region of the known world.

Why could the Phoenician land not support a large population?

Possible Answers:

All of these answers

Because the Phoenicians were always attacking one another

Because it was a very small country

Because the people suffered under a cruel dictator

Because it was not very fertile

Correct answer:

Because it was a very small country

Explanation:

The author states that the reason why the Phoenician land could not support a large population is because “their country was a narrow stretch of coast, about one hundred and twenty miles in length, seldom more than twelve miles in width, between the Lebanon Mountains and the sea. This tiny land could not support a large population.”

Example Question #153 : Ssat Elementary Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Early European History by Hutton Webster (1917)

The Phoenicians were a Syrian people whose country was a narrow stretch of coast, about one hundred and twenty miles in length, seldom more than twelve miles in width, between the Lebanon Mountains and the sea. This tiny land could not support a large population. As the Phoenicians increased in numbers, they were obliged to betake themselves to the sea. The Lebanon cedars furnished soft, white wood for shipbuilding, and the deeply indented coast offered excellent harbors. Thus, the Phoenicians became preeminent sailors. Their great cities, Sidon and Tyre, established colonies throughout the Mediterranean and had an extensive commerce with every region of the known world.

Which of these is NOT one of the reasons why the Phoenicians became "preeminent sailors"?

Possible Answers:

Their population was growing beyond the capacity of their lands.

All of these answers are reasons why the Phoenicians became "preeminent sailors."

They had access to excellent Lebanese cedar for shipbuilding.

They lived in a very small, coastal country.

They had a coastline perfectly designed for harbors.

Correct answer:

All of these answers are reasons why the Phoenicians became "preeminent sailors."

Explanation:

The author talks about how the Phoenicians lived in a small, coastal country, so when their population grew too large, they took to the sea. The author also mentions the availability of Lebanese wood to help build ships and the perfect design of the coastline for constructing natural harbors. All of the answer choices played a part in making the Phoenicians "preeminent sailors."

Example Question #21 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

"The Holy Roman Empire" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

The Holy Roman Empire was somewhat unique among the various organized states of Middle and Early Modern Europe in that the Emperor was chosen by a group of electors. This is in stark contrast to the strict hereditary nature of English or French succession, where the position of monarch was handed down from the outgoing ruler to his closest legitimate heir, usually a son. In the Holy Roman Empire, the Emperor was chosen by seven electors, which in theory might seem to give the Empire a sort of early democratic flavor. However, in practice, only two or three families were ever able to draw on sufficient personal wealth to stand for election. Of these, the Luxembourgs and the Hapsburgs are most well known. The Hapsburgs were so successful that they were able to maintain their “elected” position for almost four centuries, and the Luxembourgs somehow still have a small country named after their family almost seven hundred years after their fall from dominance.

Why were the Hapsburg and Luxembourg families able to stand for election?

Possible Answers:

They were deemed highly virtuous and religious families

They were beloved by the people

They had the historical legitimacy necessary to be elected

They were renowned throughout Europe

They had sufficient personal wealth to afford it

Correct answer:

They had sufficient personal wealth to afford it

Explanation:

This question is asking you to identify a relevant detail from the text. When you are asked to do this, it is important to read carefully to determine which of the answers is most directly supported in the text. The author says, "only two or three families were ever able to draw on sufficient personal wealth to stand for election. Of these the Luxembourgs and the Hapsburgs are most well known.” So, the correct answer is that the Hapsburgs and Luxembourgs were able to stand for election because they were wealthy enough to afford the costs involved.

Example Question #22 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

"The Units of Ancient Warfare" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

The armies of the ancient world were generally composed of three distinct units who faced off against each other in a gigantic game of rock-paper-scissors. These were the infantry, cavalry, and slingers. The heavily armored but slow-moving infantry were able to fend off the cavalry with their long pikes, but were sitting ducks for the fast moving slingers who carried only a sling and a bag of small rocks. The slingers in turn were great at taking down infantry as they could out-maneuver them and never get bogged down in hand-to-hand combat, but were easily decimated by the rapidly advancing cavalry.

In this manner the history of warfare progressed for several thousand years. The slingers were replaced by archers, and then by heavily artillery; the cavalry constantly advanced in tactical awareness and arms; and the infantry progressed from swordsmen, to pikemen, to riflemen. Next time you are playing rock-paper-scissors to decide who gets the last slice of pizza, don’t forget that you are channeling your inner Scipio Africanus.  

Why did slingers maintain an advantage over infantry?

Possible Answers:

Because they were better equipped for hand-to-hand combat

Because the infantry was generally comprised of peasants and farmers who were forced into conflict

Because they were generally better trained and led by more competent leaders

None of the other answer choices is correct.

Because they were able to maintain their distance and avoid direct contact

Correct answer:

Because they were able to maintain their distance and avoid direct contact

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read for detail and interpret the correct portion of text. The advantage of the slingers, according to the author, is that “they could out-maneuver [the infantry] and never get bogged down in hand-to-hand combat.” This is very similar to the answer choice that reads "they were able to maintain their distance and avoid direct contact."

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