ISEE Lower Level Reading : Identifying and Analyzing Supporting Ideas in Contemporary Life Passages

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #3 : Passage Reasoning In Contemporary Life Passages

"The Aging of Public Transportation Systems" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

As cities develop, their public transportation systems often show signs of aging that are mixed with aspects that are quite up-to-date.  An example of such a situation can be found in the transportation system in Washington DC. This system is made up of a mixture of buses and trains that connect people to locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. While the system has been well maintained and updated over the years, it still shows evidence that certain sections are older than others.

This is particularly noticeable when one considers the multiple lines that connect in Washington DC itself. Within the city, there are five different sets of tracks that run in various directions and to sundry places. A number of the newer lines are in excellent condition and rarely break down; however, the case of the red line is somewhat different. This oldest line of the metro train system often has issues because of its age, experiencing a number of track and signal issues even at rush hour when the overall system is its most efficient. Admittedly, the transportation authority is working to update this line and make it less problematic. Still, until this work is completed, it is obvious to all who are familiar with the metro train system that the red line is the oldest and most out of date.

Why is it obvious to all who are familiar with the metro train system that the red line is the oldest and most out of date?

Possible Answers:

Its tracks are visibly rusting and showing wear after many years of use.

Its signals look much older than the others, indicating the age of the line.

It is the slowest metro line in the city.

It is the most prone to break down because of its aging parts.

It travels from Maryland to DC and back out to another section of Maryland, which is very strange.

Correct answer:

It is the most prone to break down because of its aging parts.

Explanation:

Do not infer anything more than you can from the paragraph itself. Some of the wrong answers come up with details that are not at all justified. We are not told anything about rust on the tracks or the appearance of the signals. All that we know from the paragraph is that the red line is the most prone to break down due to its aging parts. This is what allows those familiar with the system to know that is the oldest and most out of date.

Example Question #1 : Identifying And Analyzing Supporting Ideas In Contemporary Life Passages

"The Dangers of Sugar" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

Sugar is a highly addictive substance that plays a dangerous role in the health and well-being of people around the world. It is particularly threatening to American health, as it is placed in everything from carbonated sodas to beef jerky and vegetable juice. The average American consumes seventy-five pounds of sugar every year—that is roughly the weight of a elementary school child. Many health experts believe that sugar is the number one contributing factor in the high rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes that can be found in the contemporary United States.

According to this passage, in which of the following products is sugar NOT found in the United States?

Possible Answers:

Sugar is found in none of these products.

Sodas

Beef jerky

Sugar is found in all of these products.

Vegetable juice

Correct answer:

Sugar is found in all of these products.

Explanation:

Sugar is found in all of these products, as the author says, "it is placed in everything from carbonated sodas to beef jerky and vegetable juice."

Example Question #2 : Identifying And Analyzing Supporting Ideas In Contemporary Life Passages

"The Pets of the Elderly" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

Many younger people think that it is a bit strange to see elderly widows and widowers fussing greatly over their pet dogs and cats. While it is perhaps amusing to see a mature adult babying an animal, this aspect of life often is of crucial importance for the health and happiness of these aging persons. Although they have lost their spouses and often have a dwindling number of friends, these people often have a social network outside of the house that can be deceptively large and active. All of this activity can hide the great loneliness that these people experience when they return home. Often having been the shared refuge with the loving presence of a spouse, the widow’s house or apartment can become a lonely isolation cell, no matter how active he or she might be. Pets often are a solution to this loneliness, becoming dear companions in a life that would otherwise be very devoid of personal contact every morning and night. They offer great joy and consolation to these elderly people. It is therefore understandable that their owners often give them such large amounts of attention.

Which of the following sentences explicitly describes how pets are important in the lives of elderly widows and widowers?

Possible Answers:

While it is perhaps amusing to see a mature adult babying an animal, this aspect of life often is of crucial importance for the health and happiness of these aging persons.

Pets often are a solution to this loneliness, becoming dear companions in a life that would otherwise be very devoid of personal contact every morning and night.

It is therefore understandable that their owners often give them such large amounts of attention.

Often having been the shared refuge with the loving presence of a spouse, the widow’s house or apartment can become a lonely isolation cell, no matter how active he or she might be.

All of this activity can hide the great loneliness that these people experience when they return home.

Correct answer:

Pets often are a solution to this loneliness, becoming dear companions in a life that would otherwise be very devoid of personal contact every morning and night.

Explanation:

While several of the incorrect options are related to the positive relationship between these elderly people and their pets, the only one that is explicit is the sentence that says that the pets often "are a solution to . . . loneliness" because they are "dear companions" particularly "every morning and night." 

Example Question #302 : Ssat Elementary Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from "The Dartmoor Ponies, or the Wandering of the Horse Tribe" by Arabella B. Buckley in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

It was a calm misty morning one day last week, giving promise of a bright and sunny day, when I started off for a long walk across the moor to visit the famous stone-circles, many of which are to be found not far off the track called Abbot’s Way, leading from Buckfast Abbey to the Abbey of Tavistock.

My mind was full of the olden times as I pictured to myself how, seven hundred years or more ago, some Benedictine monk from Tavistock Abbey paced this narrow path on his way to his Cistercian brothers at Buckfast, meeting some of them on his road as they wandered over the desolate moor in search of stray sheep. For the Cistercians were shepherds and wool-weavers, while the Benedictines devoted themselves to learning, and the track of about twenty-five miles from one abbey to the other, which still remains, was worn by the members of the two communities, the only variety in whose lives consisted probably in these occasional visits to each other.

Yet even these monks belonged to modern times compared to the ancient Britons who raised the stone-circles over the moor; and my mind drifted back to the days when, long before that pathway was worn, men clad in the skins of beasts hunted wild animals over the ground on which I was treading, and lived in caves and holes of the ground.

I wondered, as I thought of them, whether the monks and the ancient Britons delighted as much in the rugged scenery of the moor as I did that morning. For many miles in front of me the moor stretched out wild and treeless, while the early mist was rising off the hill-tops. It was a pleasure, there on the open moor, with the lark soaring overhead, and the butterflies and bees hovering among the sweet-smelling furze blossoms, to see horses free and joyous, with no thought of bit or bridle, harness or saddle, whose hooves had never been handled by the shoeing-smith, nor their coats touched with the singeing iron. Those little colts, with their thick heads, shaggy coats, and flowing tails, will have at least two years more liberty before they know what it is to be driven. Only once a year are they gathered together, claimed by their owners and branded with an initial, and then left again to wander where they will.

The horses in the last paragraph are primarily characterized by their __________.

Possible Answers:

speed

fear of people

ancient lineage

freedom

aggression

Correct answer:

freedom

Explanation:

The passage in general is an expression of the author’s love of the wilderness and the freedom of nature. This, combined with the language in the final paragraph, tells you that the horses are primarily characterized by their “freedom.” This can be seen in excerpts such as "horses free and joyous, with no thought of bit or bridle, harness or saddle, whose hooves had never been handled by the shoeing-smith" and “Those little colts, with their thick heads, shaggy coats, and flowing tails, will have at least two years more liberty before they know what it is to be driven.”

Example Question #4 : Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from "A Very Narrow Shave" by John Lang in Adventures in Many Lands (1912)

It was a cold, clear, frosty morning when we started, the stars throbbing and winking as they seem to do only during frost, and we toiled, not particularly gaily, up the bed of a creek, stumbling in the darkness and barking our shins over more boulders and big stones than one would have believed existed in all creation. Just before dawn, when the grey light was beginning to show us more clearly where we were going, we saw in the sand of the creek fresh tracks of a large bear, the water only then beginning to ooze into the prints left by his great feet, and I can hardly say that I gazed on them with the amount of enthusiasm that Halley professed to feel.

The author primarily characterizes the expedition as __________.

Possible Answers:

underwhelming

cold and dreary

very challenging

a waste of time

unappreciated

Correct answer:

very challenging

Explanation:

Although the author does mention that it was “cold,” this is not the primary characterization of the expedition. Instead, it is much more reasonable to say that the author is characterizing it as “very challenging.” The author says “we toiled" and, "stumbling in the darkness . . . over more boulders and big stones than one would have believed existed in all creation.” The general tone and attitude is one of great irritation at the challenges of the journey.

Example Question #2 : Passage Reasoning In Natural Science Passages

Adapted from "Errors in Our Food Economy" in Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

Scientific research, interpreting the observations of practical life, implies that several errors are common in the use of food.

First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare. And, unfortunately, those who are most extravagant in this respect are often the ones who can least afford it.

Secondly, the food which we eat does not always contain the proper proportions of the different kinds of nutritive ingredients. We consume relatively too much of the fuel ingredients of food, such as the fats of meat and butter, and the starch which makes up the larger part of the nutritive material of flour, potatoes, sugar, and sweetmeats. Conversely, we have relatively too little of the protein of flesh-forming substances, like the lean of meat and fish and the gluten of wheat, which make muscle and sinew and which are the basis of blood, bone and brain.

Thirdly, many people, not only the well-to-do, but those in moderate circumstances, use needless quantities of food. Part of the excess, however, is simply thrown away with the wastes of the table and the kitchen; so that the injury to health, great as it may be, is doubtless much less than if all were eaten. Probably the worst sufferers from this evil are well-to-do people of sedentary occupations.

Finally, we are guilty of serious errors in our cooking. We waste a great deal of fuel in the preparation of our food, and even then a great deal of the food is very badly cooked. A reform in these methods of cooking is one of the economic demands of our time.

The primary argument of the second paragraph is that _________.

Possible Answers:

Society has betrayed the poorer people in society by requiring them to spend more money on food than is necessary in order to maintain a sense of dignity.

Poorer people are just as inclined as wealthy people to be overly extravagant in their food purchases.

Wealthy people have created an injustice in society by attaching a sense of dignity to the purchase of needlessly expensive food, which has the effect of reducing the buying power of poorer people.

None of these answers represents the primary argument of the second paragraph.

People who can least afford the expense are most likely to be convinced that there is some benefit accrued by spending more money on food than is necessary.

Correct answer:

People who can least afford the expense are most likely to be convinced that there is some benefit accrued by spending more money on food than is necessary.

Explanation:

The primary argument of the second paragraph is actually two ideas combined. First, the idea that “many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food" is argued. This idea is expressed in many of the answer choices, so we need to combine it with the second idea, which is that “unfortunately, those who are most extravagant in this respect are often the ones who can least afford it.” So, those people who can least afford the expense are most likely to needlessly spend money. Only one of these answer choices reflects this argument. The rest are primarily concerned with attaching blame, either to “society” or to “wealthy people,” which the author does not do.

Example Question #3 : Identifying And Analyzing Supporting Ideas In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from "The Dartmoor Ponies, or the Wandering of the Horse Tribe" by Arabella B. Buckley in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

It was a calm misty morning one day last week, giving promise of a bright and sunny day, when I started off for a long walk across the moor to visit the famous stone-circles, many of which are to be found not far off the track called Abbot’s Way, leading from Buckfast Abbey to the Abbey of Tavistock.

My mind was full of the olden times as I pictured to myself how, seven hundred years or more ago, some Benedictine monk from Tavistock Abbey paced this narrow path on his way to his Cistercian brothers at Buckfast, meeting some of them on his road as they wandered over the desolate moor in search of stray sheep. For the Cistercians were shepherds and wool-weavers, while the Benedictines devoted themselves to learning, and the track of about twenty-five miles from one abbey to the other, which still remains, was worn by the members of the two communities, the only variety in whose lives consisted probably in these occasional visits to each other.

Yet even these monks belonged to modern times compared to the ancient Britons who raised the stone-circles over the moor; and my mind drifted back to the days when, long before that pathway was worn, men clad in the skins of beasts hunted wild animals over the ground on which I was treading, and lived in caves and holes of the ground.

I wondered, as I thought of them, whether the monks and the ancient Britons delighted as much in the rugged scenery of the moor as I did that morning. For many miles in front of me the moor stretched out wild and treeless, while the early mist was rising off the hill-tops. It was a pleasure, there on the open moor, with the lark soaring overhead, and the butterflies and bees hovering among the sweet-smelling furze blossoms, to see horses free and joyous, with no thought of bit or bridle, harness or saddle, whose hooves had never been handled by the shoeing-smith, nor their coats touched with the singeing iron. Those little colts, with their thick heads, shaggy coats, and flowing tails, will have at least two years more liberty before they know what it is to be driven. Only once a year are they gathered together, claimed by their owners and branded with an initial, and then left again to wander where they will.

The horses in the last paragraph are primarily characterized by their __________.

Possible Answers:

aggression

freedom

ancient lineage

fear of people

speed

Correct answer:

freedom

Explanation:

The passage in general is an expression of the author’s love of the wilderness and the freedom of nature. This, combined with the language in the final paragraph, tells you that the horses are primarily characterized by their “freedom.” This can be seen in excerpts such as "horses free and joyous, with no thought of bit or bridle, harness or saddle, whose hooves had never been handled by the shoeing-smith" and “Those little colts, with their thick heads, shaggy coats, and flowing tails, will have at least two years more liberty before they know what it is to be driven.”

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