ISEE Middle Level Reading : Analyzing Cause and Effect in Contemporary Life Passages

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #172 : Hspt Reading

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.

Why did the two men want to row across the Atlantic?

Possible Answers:

To claim the promised reward

To achieve fame

To atone for breaking the law

To impress their wives

To prove that it could be done

Correct answer:

To claim the promised reward

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read carefully. The author says, "the men were bent upon reaching this port in order to gain the reward promised by Mr. Fox, of the Police Gazette.”

Example Question #1 : Cause And Effect In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from "Wild Animals in Captivity" by W. A. Atkinson in Chatterbox Periodical (1906, ed. J. Erskine Clark)

Notwithstanding all the care which is now bestowed upon wild animals in our zoological gardens and menageries, nearly all of them suffer a little in some way or other by confinement. When we think of the great difference which exists between the surroundings natural to a free wild animal, and those of even the best zoological gardens, we cannot but be surprised that so many animals from all parts of the world can be kept alive and in good condition in a climate so changeable as ours. Every effort is made by the keepers to copy as far as possible the natural conditions to which each animal is accustomed.

It was usual, for instance, to deprive all the flesh-eating animals of one of the greatest traveling menageries of food during one day in each week. It was found by experience that the animals were healthier when they suffered periods of fasting like this, than they were when they were fed regularly every day without a break. The explanation of this was very simple. These animals, when they were living wild in the jungles, forests, deserts, or ice-fields, obtained all their food by hunting. When game was scarce or difficult to catch, they were compelled to go hungry; and this occurred so often as to be a natural condition to which they were well accustomed. When, therefore, they were placed in cages, and were fed as regularly, though not as frequently as human beings, their health was more or less impaired.

Animals in confinement often undergo slight changes even when no alteration in their appearance or falling-off in health is noticeable. Many of them, for instance, rarely have young ones, and even when they have, the young are seldom as healthy and robust as if born in a wild state. The keepers have frequently the utmost difficulty in rearing animals which are born in menageries and zoological gardens. Yet if these animals were born in their own countries and under natural conditions, they would grow up healthy and strong, without receiving any more care than a kitten receives from its mother.

An incident which occurred in the Zoo not long ago affords a striking illustration of these facts. A wolf had an ordinary family of eight young ones. The keepers, probably thinking that these were too many for the captive wolf to bring up alone, divided the family. Four of them were left with their mother, and four of them were placed in charge of a collie. The dog took kindly to her foster-children, and reared them successfully with her own. This was only what the keepers expected. But when they placed the young ones together again, and compared the collie's family with the wolf's family, they were surprised to find that the four which had been nurtured by the collie were stronger and better animals than their four brothers and sisters. The best explanation of this result is that the collie was living a healthy natural life, while the wolf, though to all appearance quite well, was not enjoying the full vigor which results from a free and active life.

Why did the dog have greater success raising the wolf pups than the wolf pups' mother?

Possible Answers:

Because the wolf was sickly and dying and the dog was full of the vigor of life.

Because the dog was happy and in her natural environment, whereas the captive wolf was hindered by her captivity.

Because the wolf was too aggressive and food was too scarce to provide a healthy childhood for eight pups.

Because the dog had experience raising puppies before, whereas the wolf had never had pups before was totally inexperienced.

Because the dog was helped by the zookeepers and the wolf was left to fend for herself as if she were in the wild.

Correct answer:

Because the dog was happy and in her natural environment, whereas the captive wolf was hindered by her captivity.

Explanation:

This is another question that relates to the overall argument of the passage. Here, the author is providing anecdotal evidence to support the passage's overall point that animals suffer in perhaps unexpected ways in captivity. In context, the author says, “[the zookeepers] were surprised to find that the four [wolf pups] which had been nurtured by the collie were stronger and better animals than their four brothers and sisters. The best explanation of this result is that the collie was living a healthy natural life, while the wolf, though to all appearance quite well, was not enjoying the full vigor which results from a free and active life.” So, the collie raised healthier puppies because she was living her natural life (being a dog, and genetically accustomed to captivity) whereas the wolf mother raised less healthy puppies because she herself was suffering from the effects of captivity.

Example Question #3 : 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.

Which of these factors does the author believe is most relevant to why the excessive preparation of food is less injurious to our health than the other mistakes and fallacies he discusses?

Possible Answers:

All of these answers are given equal credibility by the author.

The excess food can be saved and eaten at a later date.

The consumption of excess food on one occasion allows us to consume less food at a later date.

Much of the excess, instead of being eaten, is simply thrown away.

The preparation of excess food encourages social gathering and bonding.

Correct answer:

Much of the excess, instead of being eaten, is simply thrown away.

Explanation:

When discussing the excessive preparation of food, the author says, “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.” This is the only example he gives for which he provides a mitigating factor, so we know that he believes this particular mistake is less injurious to our health than others which he discusses. The reason he gives is that, rather than consuming this excess food, we generally just throw it away. No doubt he still believes this to be a problem, but the harm it does to individuals is reduced by the fact that so much of it is not eaten.

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