In addition to the more specialized vocabulary and quantitative examining that occurs on the ISSE Middle Level examination, this test also appraises general skills that are useful for all types of study. This kind of general diagnostic is particularly provided by the questions asked in the reading comprehension section of the examination. Language and logic are both “instruments” used by human reason to gain an understanding of any topic. Both the ability to read with insight as well as skills at reasoning with clarity bear fruit in every academic undertaking. Every subject of study will require a student to be able to interpret the English language with ease, and all thinking must be logical if it is worthy of being called “thinking” at all. These skills are well-tested on the ISEE Middle Level reading comprehension examination section, which provides the admissions boards of potential schools with an excellent metric for comparing and contrasting the general abilities of its applicants.
Although this section focuses on reading, it is not geared to be a literature interpretation examination. Instead of emphasizing such a specialized use of the child’s linguistic abilities, the exam presents him or her with six passages of various genres in an attempt to test the general skills used in reading texts of all varieties; therefore, this section of the examination is rightly considered a test of reasoning and inferential abilities just as much as it might be construed to be a test of reading skills. By asking the student to analyze the overall structure and argumentation of the passages presented, the reading comprehension examination section provides a metric for admissions boards to assess the overall reasoning abilities of young students.
There are two approaches that should be taken in preparing for the rigors of this particular examination portion. The first approach actually should begin long before the time of examination: extensive, self-driven reading by the young student. There are few experiences that can replace this kind of reading. Regular contact with texts and avidity for reading provide irreplaceable contexts within which the users of a language gain the skills needed for interpreting and analyzing the logic of writing done in that language. Although logic and interpretation have a kind of “formalized rigor” that can be studied and applied to data, many of the abilities of logic are known and learned by their actual use. Generally speaking, it is better to have the “natural flair” for such organized thought. The details are helpful additions.
A second, important preparatory strategy is the more standard methods of tutorial preparation. It is helpful to have students prepare for such reading examinations by learning to outline and provide analyses of the texts presented. Such skills help to add clarity to the young student’s approach to the material and build on the natural skills that he or she may already have for logical reasoning.
With adequate preparation, the young test-taker can provide an excellent showing of skills to potential admissions boards. By bearing evidence to such logical reasoning abilities, he or she will be able to add a promising element to his or her application, helping to set it above the other competitors for positions in your choice school.