ISEE Middle Level Reading Flashcards
The ISEE Middle Level examination includes a section of Reading Comprehensions questions that test the young student’s abilities to apply his or her analytic skills to prose passages from various genres. The purpose of this section is to provide potential admissions boards with a metric for judging the overall linguistic and logical reasoning skills of the young applicant. Although such abilities do not represent the whole of one’s intelligence or academic prowess, they do represent an important part of the overall application to competitive schools. Generally speaking, such skills of analysis and comprehension are not limited in applicability only to literature and compositional studies. Indeed, this fact is acknowledged by the variety of passages topics used by the ISEE exam writers, who include not only literary passages among those presented in the examination, but also passages about the sciences, current affairs, and history. By offering a differentiated group of passage types, the exam attempts to test the general skills of students instead of focusing on one particular type of passage to the detriment of others.
The overall thrust of the exam’s questioning looks to ascertain the test-taker’s ability to understand the content of a given passage as a synoptic whole and then to analyze how that whole is held together as a composition made up of discrete parts. Some of the questions ask the young student to identify main themes, the conclusions of arguments, and the outcomes that are implied by a passage’s main arguments. Likewise, the section asks questions about the overall viewpoint of the author as expressed in the whole of the passage. All such inquiries help to test the young student’s ability to grasp the passage as a formal whole.
In addition to such comprehensive and synoptic questioning, the Middle Level ISEE’s Reading Comprehension section also looks to ascertain the young student’s overall logical reasoning abilities as evidenced by his or her skills at noting the general structure of argumentation in passages. This sort of questioning is more analytical in character, making various inquiries of the student regarding the reasoning used by the author of a given passage. They ask the student to identify elements of the passage’s sequence and structure, noting the way that it has been constructed as a series of interrelated logical stages. Such examination helps to show the young student’s ability to identify logical patterns and attests to his or her general skills in reasoning—skills that are critical to every kind of academic undertaking.
Finally, the examination tests less “tangible” abilities such as skills at recognizing and interpreting non-literal language. Such questions ask the student to note figurative uses of language as well as the stylistic variants utilized by authors. These questions provide an important final examination point, testing the student’s ability to understand the logic of meaning transference as well as the ways that language can be used to express multiple levels of communication at once.