ISEE Lower Level Reading : Making Inferences and Predictions in Contemporary Life Passages

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

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Contemporary Life Passages

My dear old friend Sebastian used to tell me that he had something of a sliding scale regarding the musicians to which he could listen. For him, Bach was the most celestial of musicians, and he could listen to him for an eternity without ever being wearied. Mozart was likewise favorably judged, though Sebastian said that he could only endure his music for approximately three to five hours at a time. When it came to Richard Wagner, however, my dear friend was quite unable to bear the intensity of the composer’s works. In stark contrast to his great patience and love for the music of Bach, he could spend little more than five minutes listening to compositions by Wagner.

Based on what this paragraph states, what would Sebastian likely think of the very overpowering musical movement "Mars" by Gustav Holst?

Possible Answers:

He would likely not enjoy listening to it.

He would likely enjoy it for a time at least.

He would love such a moving and inspiring piece of music.

He would like it less than he likes Mozart but more than he likes Wagner.

He would like it as much as he likes Bach.

Correct answer:

He would likely not enjoy listening to it.

Explanation:

You do not have to have any knowledge regarding Gustav Holst's "Mars" to infer what Sebastian would think about it. The song is described as being "very overpowering." Thus, it is very intense. Given Sebastian's inability to listen to Wagner for very long, it is likely that he will not enjoy this piece by Holst.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Text In Contemporary Life Passages

"Why Learning Multiple Languages in Graduate School is Important" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

In graduate school, students are often required to learn a number of foreign languages in addition to their regular coursework. This can be quite frustrating and difficult, for the normal courses in graduate school require significantly more reading and writing than do undergraduate courses. It is not unusual for graduate students to have regular reading assignments of several hundred pages for each course that they take. Likewise, they often write papers of much greater length than those that they wrote as undergraduate students. When language examinations are added to this difficult course load, it can be very frustrating for graduate students to try to find the time to prepare for these additional examinations.

Although these frustrations are understandable, this system has not been created solely to cause woe for graduate students. Much of the work for which these students are being prepared will focus on research. While much has been written in English about many topics, adequate research can only be done if one is able to read what people have written in other languages. For instance, there are many important articles and books written about almost every topic by European scholars. If a graduate student does not know any foreign languages, all of these article and books will be impossible to read, and hence useless to their research endeavors. This would be a great loss for a student's research. Therefore, in spite of its frustrating aspects, the language examination process is an important component of graduate school education.

Which of the following sentences implies a negative outcome that might occur if graduate students no longer were required to study (and be examined in) foreign languages?

Possible Answers:

If a graduate student does not know any foreign languages, all of these article and books will be impossible to read and hence useless to their research endeavors.

Although these frustrations are understandable, this system has not been created solely to cause woe for graduate students.

This can be quite frustrating and difficult, for the normal courses in graduate school require significantly more reading and writing than do undergraduate courses.

Therefore, in spite of its frustrating aspects, the language examination process is an important component of graduate school education.

Much of the work for which these students are being prepared will focus on research.

Correct answer:

If a graduate student does not know any foreign languages, all of these article and books will be impossible to read and hence useless to their research endeavors.

Explanation:

Throughout the second paragraph, it is argued that graduate students are being trained to do research. The place of foreign languages in graduate study is justified in light of this training. The correct answer among the options provided is the one that explains what will occur if the students are not able to read foreign languages: the many articles and books written in other languages will be useless because the students will be unable to read them.

Example Question #6 : Making Inferences In Narrative Humanities 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 Cistercians and Benedictines were most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

rivals who often traded with one another

two groups of sheepherders in the history of the region

great enemies

two groups of people who worked together to preserve the safety of the moors

two religious orders in the history of the region

Correct answer:

two religious orders in the history of the region

Explanation:

The language used by the author tells you that the Cistercians and the Benedictines were most likely "two religious orders in the history of the region." Take a look at what the author says: "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." The words “monk” and “brothers” provide you with useful evidence for determining the correct answer.

Example Question #2 : Inferences And Predictions In Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

The rowboat Fox, of the port of New York, manned by George Harbo, thirty-one years of age, captain of a merchantman, and Frank Samuelson, twenty-six years of age, left New York for Havre on the sixth of June. Ten days later the boat was met by the German transatlantic steamer Fürst Bismarck proceeding from Cherbourg to New York. On the eighth, ninth and tenth of July, the Fox was cast by a tempest upon the reefs of Newfoundland. The two men jumped into the sea, and thanks to the watertight compartments provided with air chambers fore and aft, it was possible for them to right the boat; but the unfortunates lost their provisions and their supply of drinking water. On the fifteenth they met the Norwegian three-masted vessel Cito, which supplied them with food and water. The captains of the vessels met with signed the log book and testified that the boat had neither sail nor rudder. The Fox reached the Scilly Islands on the first of August, having at this date been on the ocean fifty-five days. It arrived at Havre on the seventh of August.

Cost what it might, the men were bent upon reaching this port in order to gain the reward promised by Mr. Fox, of the Police Gazette. Thanks to the wind and a favorable current, they made one hundred and twenty-five miles in twenty-four hours. One slept three hours while the other rowed. Their skins and faces were tumefied by the wind, salt water, and sun; the skin of their hands was renewed three times; their legs were weakened; and they were worn out.

How did the Norwegian vessel that the two men met most significantly help them?

Possible Answers:

It provided them with food and water.

It towed them to Havre.

It verified that they were operating without sail or rudder.

It gave them additional fuel for their ship.

It rescued them from the open ocean.

Correct answer:

It provided them with food and water.

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read in detail, but also to be able to think critically and make an inference. The author tells you that the two men lost their supplies of food and water when they were tossed into the ocean on the tenth of July. He then notes, “On the fifteenth they met the Norwegian three-masted vessel Cito, which supplied them with food and water. The captains of the vessels met with signed the log book and testified that the boat had neither sail nor rudder.” So the Norwegian vessel gave the two men food and water and also verified that they were operating without sail or rudder. But, it is quite certain that as the two men were without food or water for five days on the open ocean, this gift would have been of a great deal more help to them than the verification offered by the captain. This is where you needed to think critically.

Example Question #2 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Contemporary Life 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.

Given the option between two identical meals, one of which costs ten dollars and another five dollars, the author would most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

It is impossible to say.

pick the cheaper meal

pick the more expensive meal

try and barter the more expensive meal down in value

investigate the reputations of those who have cooked the two meals

Correct answer:

pick the cheaper meal

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to pick up on one key argument made by the author. The author says, “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.” From this, we can determine that when given the choice between two identical meals, we should choose the one which is cheaper, for this would be less detrimental to our ability to purchase other food at a later date. The author clearly believes that the dignity attached to purchasing more expensive food is a false impression.

Example Question #3 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from The Principles of Breeding by S. L. Goodale (1861)

The Jersey cow, formerly known as the Alderney, is almost exclusively employed for dairy purposes, and may not be expected to give satisfaction for other uses. Their milk is richer than that of any other cows, and the butter made from it possesses a superior flavor and a deep rich color, and consequently commands an extraordinary price in all markets where good butter is appreciated.

Jersey cattle are of Norman origin, and are noted for their milking properties. The cows are generally very docile and gentle, but the males when past two or three years of age often become vicious and unmanageable. It is said that the cows fatten readily when dry.

There is no branch of cattle husbandry which promises better returns than the breeding and rearing of milch cows. In the vicinity of large towns and cities are many cows which having been culled from many miles around, on account of dairy properties, are considerably above the average, but taking the cows of the country together they do not compare favorably with the oxen. Farmers generally take more pride in their oxen, and strive to have as good or better than any of their neighbors, while if a cow will give milk enough to rear a large steer calf and a little besides, it is often deemed satisfactory.

“Milch cows” are most probably __________.

Possible Answers:

male cows

cows raised for their meat

cows raised for their milk

female cows

Jersey cows

Correct answer:

cows raised for their milk

Explanation:

A “milch cow” is a cow that produces milk for the farmer, but it is highly likely you have never encountered this term before. You must therefore read in context. The author makes the statement “There is no branch of cattle husbandry which promises better returns than the breeding and rearing of milch cows” immediately after he spends two paragraphs talking about the immensely productive dairy-producing qualities of Jersey cows, so you may infer that a “milch cow” is a dairy cow, or a cow raised for its milk.

Example Question #3 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 1157 Vol. XLV (March 5th, 1898)

Eleven submarine cables traverse the Atlantic between sixty and forty degrees north latitude. Nine of these connect the Canadian provinces and the United States with the territory of Great Britain; two (one American, the other Anglo-American) connect France. Of these, seven are largely owned, operated or controlled by American capital, while all the others are under English control and management. There is but one direct submarine cable connecting the territory of the United States with the continent of Europe, and that is the cable owned and operated by the Compagnie Francais Cables Telegraphiques, whose termini are Brest, France, and Cape Cod, on the coast of Massachusetts.

All these cables between sixty and forty degrees north latitude, which unite the United States with Europe, except the French cable, are under American or English control, and have their termini in the territory of Great Britain or the United States. In the event of war between these countries, unless restrained by conventional act, all these cables might be cut or subjected to exclusive censorship on the part of each of the belligerent states. Across the South Atlantic there are three cables, one American and two English, whose termini are Pernambuco, Brazil, and St. Louis, Africa, and near Lisbon, Portugal, with connecting English lines to England, one directly traversing the high seas between Lisbon and English territory and one touching at Vigo, Spain, at which point a German cable company has recently made a connection. The multiplication under English control of submarine cables has been the consistent policy of Great Britain, and today her cable communications connect the home government with all her colonies and with every strategic point, thus giving her exceptional advantages for commercial as well as for political purposes.

In the event of war between England and the United States, the author would most likely feel that __________.

Possible Answers:

the United States would be wise to ally with France or Germany

communication between the United States and the rest of Europe would remain largely uninterrupted

communication between the Americas and Europe would suffer

the United States would have a massive advantage

the United States would have little chance of emerging triumphant

Correct answer:

communication between the Americas and Europe would suffer

Explanation:

The focus of this essay is on communication between the Americas and Europe, and there is little evidence to suggest that the author would agree with any of the answer choices that discuss the chances of the United States winning or losing a hypothetical war. Similarly, the author makes no mention of an idea that the United States should ally with France or Germany. What the author does say, however, is that “In the event of war between these countries, unless restrained by conventional act, all these cables might be cut or subjected to exclusive censorship on the part of each of the belligerent states.” So, since the United States and England own the vast majority of transatlantic cables, if the two nations were at war and censoring the communication that flowed over these cables, presumably the state of communications between the Americas and Europe would suffer heavily.

Example Question #5 : Making Inferences In Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (1903)

 I am told that while I was still in long dresses I showed many signs of an eager, self-asserting disposition. Everything that I saw other people do I insisted upon imitating. At six months I could pipe out "How d'ye," and one day I attracted every one's attention by saying "Tea, tea, tea" quite plainly. Even after my illness I remembered one of the words I had learned in these early months. It was the word "water," and I continued to make some sound for that word after all other speech was lost. I ceased making the sound "wah-wah" only when I learned to spell the word.

They tell me I walked the day I was a year old. My mother had just taken me out of the bathtub and was holding me in her lap, when I was suddenly attracted by the flickering shadows of leaves that danced in the sunlight on the smooth floor. I slipped from my mother's lap and almost ran toward them. The impulse gone, I fell down and cried for her to take me up in her arms.

These happy days did not last long. One brief spring, musical with the song of robin and mockingbird, one summer rich in fruit and roses, one autumn of gold and crimson sped by and left their gifts at the feet of an eager, delighted child. Then, in the dreary month of February, came the illness that closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a newborn baby. They called it acute congestion of the stomach and brain. The doctor thought I could not live. Early one morning, however, the fever left me as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come. There was great rejoicing in the family that morning, but no one, not even the doctor, knew that I should never see or hear again.

I fancy I still have confused recollections of that illness. I especially remember the tenderness with which my mother tried to soothe me in my wailing hours of fret and pain, and the agony and bewilderment with which I awoke after a tossing half sleep, and turned my eyes, so dry and hot, to the wall away from the once-loved light, which came to me dim and yet more dim each day. But, except for these fleeting memories, if, indeed, they be memories, it all seems very unreal, like a nightmare. Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different, until she came—my teacher—who was to set my spirit free. But during the first nineteen months of my life I had caught glimpses of broad, green fields, a luminous sky, trees and flowers which the darkness that followed could not wholly blot out. If we have once seen, “the day is ours, and what the day has shown."

Which of the following can we infer from the information presented in the passage?

Possible Answers:

The narrator lost her sight and hearing due to her illness.

The narrator lost her sight due to her illness, but not her hearing.

The narrator lost her hearing due to her illness, but not her sight.

The narrator's mother lost her sight and hearing due to illness.

The narrator's mother passed away after falling ill.

Correct answer:

The narrator lost her sight and hearing due to her illness.

Explanation:

There is no mention of the narrator's mother falling ill in the passage, so the two answer choices that concern the narrator's mother are both incorrect. However, there is a lot of evidence that tells us that she lost both her sight and her hearing due to her illness. At the beginning of the passage's third paragraph, the narrator describes her illness as "the illness that closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a newborn baby." Because the author says that "[her] eyes and ears" were closed, we can infer that she means that she lost her sight and her hearing. At the end of the passage's third paragraph, the narrator says "There was great rejoicing in the family [after I recovered from my illness], but no one, not even the doctor, knew that I should never see or hear again." This tells us that the narrator lost both her sight and her hearing to her illness. Also, in the passage's fourth paragraph, the narrator says, "Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different, until she came—my teacher—who was to set my spirit free." Based on the narrator's description of being surrounded by "silence and darkness," we can infer that her illness left her both blind and deaf.

Example Question #1 : Inferences And Predictions In Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax (1910)

The big ranches of the West are now being cut up into small farms. The nester has come, and come to stay. Gone is the buffalo and the free grass of the open plain—even the stinging lizard, the horned frog, the centipede, the prairie dog, the rattlesnake, are fast disappearing. Save in some of the secluded valleys of southern New Mexico, the old-time round-up is no more; the trails to Kansas and to Montana have become grass-grown or lost in fields of waving grain; the maverick steer, the regal longhorn, has been supplanted by his unpoetic but more beefy and profitable Polled Angus, Durham, and Hereford cousins from across the seas. The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song. The last figure to vanish is the cowboy, the animating spirit of the vanishing era. He sits his horse easily as he rides through a wide valley, enclosed by mountains, clad in the hazy purple of coming night,—with his face turned steadily down the long, long road, "the road that the sun goes down." Dauntless, reckless, without the unearthly purity of Sir Galahad though as gentle to a woman as King Arthur, he is truly a knight of the twentieth century. A vagrant puff of wind shakes a corner of the crimson handkerchief knotted loosely at his throat; the thud of his pony's feet mingling with the jingle of his spurs is borne back; and as the careless, gracious, lovable figure disappears over the divide, the breeze brings to the ears, faint and far yet cheery still, the refrain of a cowboy song.

As can be inferred from the passage, the author most values __________.

Possible Answers:

the ranching culture of the American West

a scholarly approach to legends

the profitability of farms and ranches

supporting local farms and ranches

preserving the natural ecosystem

Correct answer:

the ranching culture of the American West

Explanation:

By describing the cowboy as a homegrown hero, the author presents him as a cultural figure instead of a historical or political one. He says that the legends are carried through stories and songs, both cultural art forms. It is therefore reasonable to say that he most values the ranching culture of the American West, as opposed to, say, the economic value of ranching or the ecosystem of the prairies.

Example Question #4 : Making Inferences And Predictions 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 Cistercians and Benedictines were most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

rivals who often traded with one another

two religious orders in the history of the region

two groups of sheepherders in the history of the region

great enemies

two groups of people who worked together to preserve the safety of the moors

Correct answer:

two religious orders in the history of the region

Explanation:

The language used by the author tells you that the Cistercians and the Benedictines were most likely "two religious orders in the history of the region." Take a look at what the author says: "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." The words “monk” and “brothers” provide you with useful evidence for determining the correct answer.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: