ISEE Middle Level Reading : Making Inferences and Predictions in History Passages

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #2 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

Adapted from “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Lucretia Mott; and others (1848)

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

Which of these statements would the author of this passage NOT agree with?

Possible Answers:

Women have suffered under the governance of men.

All men and women are created equal.

It is the right of the people to overthrow despotism.

It is prudent to overthrow any unsatisfactory government.

Men and women have equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Correct answer:

It is prudent to overthrow any unsatisfactory government.

Explanation:

The author of this passage makes explicit reference to her belief in the equality of men and women so you can rule out several of the possible answer choices that would contradict this belief. Likewise the author mentions that “the patient sufferance of women under this government.” So the author would obviously agree that women have suffered under the governance of men. Finally, the author clearly states that “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it.” The only possible answer choice is that the author would not agree with the statement that “It is prudent to overthrow any dissatisfactory government.” Instead, the author specifically states that it is not prudent to overthrow any and all dissatisfactory governments, only those that have become so unbearable in their abuses.

Example Question #56 : History Passages

Adapted from Early European History (1917) by Hutton Webster

A medieval village usually contained several classes of laborers. There might be a number of freemen, who paid a fixed rent, either in money or produce, for the use of their land. Then there might also be a few slaves in the lord's household or at work on his domain. By this time, however, slavery had about died out in Western Europe. Most of the peasants were serfs.

Serfdom represented a stage between slavery and freedom. A slave belonged to his master; he was bought and sold like other belongings. A serf had a higher position, for he could not be sold apart from the land nor could his holding be taken from him. He was fixed to the soil. On the other hand, a serf ranked lower than a freeman, because he could not change his house, nor marry outside the manor, nor hand down his goods, without the permission of his lord.

To whom does a serf owe his loyalty?

Possible Answers:

Another serf

A peasant

A lord

A freeman

A slave

Correct answer:

A lord

Explanation:

The passage never directly states that a serf owes his loyalty to a lord, but it is implied by the author’s description of the nature of relationships between serfs and lords that a serf must be loyal to his lord.

Example Question #56 : History Passages

Adapted from The Man who Spoiled Napoleon’s Destiny by Rev. W. H. Fitchett, LL.D. (1899)

From March 18 to May 20, 1799—for more than sixty days and nights, that is—a little, half-forgotten, and more than half-ruined Syrian town was the scene of one of the fiercest and most dramatic sieges recorded in military history. And rarely has there been a struggle so apparently one-sided.

A handful of British sailors and Turkish irregulars were holding Acre, a town without regular defenses, against Napoleon, the most brilliant military genius of his generation, with an army of 10,000 war-hardened veterans, the "Army of Italy"—soldiers who had dared the snows of the Alps and conquered Italy, and to whom victory was a familiar experience. In their ranks military daring had reached, perhaps, its very highest point. And yet the sailors inside that ring of crumbling wall won! At Acre Napoleon experienced his first defeat; and, years after, at St. Helena, he said of Sir Sidney Smith, the gallant sailor who baffled him, "That man made me miss my destiny." It is a curious fact that one Englishman thwarted Napoleon's career in the East, and another ended his career in the West, and it may be doubted which of the two Napoleon hated most—Wellington, who finally overthrew him at Waterloo, or Sidney Smith, who, to use Napoleon's own words, made him "miss his destiny," and exchange the empire of the East for a lonely pinnacle of rock in the Atlantic.

What can you infer about Sir Sidney Smith?

Possible Answers:

He is a native of Acre.

He is an ally of Napoleon.

He is an Englishman. 

He is Emperor of the East. 

He has never been on a boat.

Correct answer:

He is an Englishman. 

Explanation:

We know that Sir Sidney Smith has been on a boat because he is a sailor, and likewise, we know he is not an ally of Napoleon because he fights him in a battle. There is no evidence to suggest that he is from Acre or Emperor of the East. The only verifiable answer is that Sir Sidney Smith is an Englishman. The author says, “It is a curious fact that one Englishman thwarted Napoleon's career in the East, and another ended his career in the West." The Englishman that he is referring to as thwarting Napoleon in the the East is Sir Sydney Smith.

Example Question #3 : Making Inferences In Narrative Social Science Passages

Adapted from Early European History by Hutton Webster (1917) 

The prehistoric period is commonly divided, according to the character of the materials used for tools and weapons, into the Age of Stone and the Age of Metals. The one is the age of savagery; the other is the age of barbarism or semi-civilization.

Man's earliest implements were those that lay ready to his hand. A branch from a tree served as a spear; a thick stick in his strong arms became a powerful club. Later, perhaps, came the use of a hard stone such as flint, which could be chipped into the forms of arrowheads, axes, and spear tips. The first stone implements were so rude in shape that it is difficult to believe them of human workmanship. They may have been made several hundred thousand years ago. After countless centuries of slow advance, early people learned to fasten wooden handles to their stone tools and weapons and also to use such materials as jade and granite, which could be ground and polished into a variety of forms. Stone implements continued to be made during the greater part of the prehistoric period. Every region of the world has had a Stone Age.  Its length is reckoned, not by centuries, but by millennia.

The Age of Metals, compared with its predecessor, covers a brief expanse of time. The use of metals came in not much before the dawn of history. The earliest civilized peoples, the Babylonians and Egyptians, when we first become acquainted with them, appear to be passing from the use of stone implements to those of metal. Copper was the first metal in common use. The credit for the invention of copper tools seems to belong to the Egyptians. At a very early date they were working the copper mines on the peninsula of Sinai. The Babylonians probably obtained their copper from the same region. Another source of this metal was the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greek name of the island means "copper." But copper tools were soft and would not keep an edge. Some ancient smith, more ingenious than his fellows, discovered that the addition of a small part of tin to the copper produced a new metal—bronze—harder than the old, yet capable of being molded into a variety of forms. At least as early as 3000 BCE we find bronze taking the place of copper in both Egypt and Babylonia. Somewhat later bronze was introduced into the island of Crete, then along the eastern coast of Greece, and afterwards into other European countries.

The introduction of iron occurred in comparatively recent times. At first it was a scarce, and therefore a very precious, metal. The Egyptians seem to have made little use of iron before 1500 BCE They called it "the metal of heaven," as if they obtained it from meteorites. In the Greek Homeric poems, composed about 900 BCE or later, we find iron considered so valuable that a lump of it is one of the chief prizes at athletic games. In the first five books of the Bible iron is mentioned only thirteen times, though copper and bronze are referred to forty-four times. Iron is more difficult to work than either copper or bronze, but it is vastly superior to those metals in hardness and durability. Hence it gradually displaced them throughout the greater part of the Old World.

What can you infer about iron, as opposed to bronze and copper, based on the number of times each is mentioned in the Old Testament?

Possible Answers:

Iron was stronger than copper or bronze.

Iron was more readily available than copper or bronze.

The authors of the Bible thought that iron was less favored by God than was copper or bronze.

Iron was scarcer than copper or bronze.

Iron was weaker than copper of bronze.

Correct answer:

Iron was scarcer than copper or bronze.

Explanation:

The author says, “In the first five books of the Bible iron is mentioned only thirteen times, though copper and bronze are referred to forty-four times.” From this, you could infer that copper and bronze were more common than iron during the era in which the Bible was written. In addition, earlier in the passage, the author remarks, “The introduction of iron occurred in comparatively recent times. At first it was a scarce, and therefore a very precious, metal.” To help you, “scarce” means rare.

Example Question #8 : Drawing Conclusions

Adapted from The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Van Loon (1921)

During the first twenty years of his life, young Napoleon was a professional Corsican patriot—a Corsican Sinn Feiner, who hoped to deliver his beloved country from the yoke of the bitterly hated French enemy. But the French revolution had unexpectedly recognised the claims of the Corsicans and gradually Napoleon, who had received a good training at the military school of Brienne, drifted into the service of his adopted country. Although he never learned to spell French correctly or to speak it without a broad Italian accent, he became a Frenchman. In due time he came to stand as the highest expression of all French virtues. At present he is regarded as the symbol of the Gallic genius.

Napoleon was what is called a fast worker. His career does not cover more than twenty years. In that short span of time he fought more wars and gained more victories and marched more miles and conquered more square kilometers and killed more people and brought about more reforms and generally upset Europe to a greater extent than anybody (including Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan) had ever managed to do.

He was a little fellow and during the first years of his life his health was not very good. He never impressed anybody by his good looks and he remained to the end of his days very clumsy whenever he was obliged to appear at a social function. He did not enjoy a single advantage of breeding or birth or riches. For the greater part of his youth he was desperately poor and often he had to go without a meal or was obliged to make a few extra pennies in curious ways.

He gave little promise as a literary genius. When he competed for a prize offered by the Academy of Lyons, his essay was found to be next to the last and he was number 15 out of 16 candidates. But he overcame all these difficulties through his absolute and unshakable belief in his own destiny, and in his own glorious future. Ambition was the main-spring of his life. The thought of self, the worship of that capital letter "N" with which he signed all his letters, and which recurred forever in the ornaments of his hastily constructed palaces, the absolute will to make the name Napoleon the most important thing in the world next to the name of God, these desires carried Napoleon to a pinnacle of fame which no other man has ever reached.

Corsica is most probably __________.

Possible Answers:

a small portion of French territory within Germany

an island off the coast of Britain

None of these answers can be reasonably inferred

an region of France

a place in which Italian is spoken

Correct answer:

a place in which Italian is spoken

Explanation:

In the opening paragraph, the author makes it clear that Napoleon was from Corsica, and therefore, when he says “Although he never learned to spell French correctly or to speak it without a broad Italian accent, he became a Frenchman,” he is telling you that Napoleon spoke with an Italian accent and was from Corsica. Putting those two facts together should lead you to the correct answer that Corsica is most probably “a place in which Italian is spoken."

Example Question #3 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 1178 Vol. XLV (June 25th, 1898)

The United States “regular" is in many respects the least-equipped foot soldier of my acquaintance. This was my reflection as I overhauled the kit of a private this morning. There was not a single brush in his knapsack. I counted three in that of a Spanish foot soldier only a few weeks ago. The American’s knapsack is not intended to be carried on any extended marches, although the total weight he is ever called upon to carry is only 50 pounds, a good 12 pounds less than what is carried by German privates. The men of this regiment carry an overcoat with a cape, amongst other things; on this expedition overcoats are a superfluity, and it is absurd that troops should be sent to the tropics in summer wearing exactly the same uniform they would be using throughout the winter on the frontiers of Canada. This war will, no doubt, produce a change after English models.

Now, as to discipline in the American army I cannot speak at present, for the war is yet too young. It may, however, be worth noting that in this particular regiment, while most complete liberty was allowed the men all the twelve days of the rail journey from San Francisco to Tampa, not a single breach of discipline was reported. The firing discipline during the three times we have been under fire has been excellent; the obedience of soldiers to their officers has been as prompt and intelligent as anything I have seen in Europe; and as to coolness under fire and accuracy of aim, what I have seen is most satisfactory.

All this I note, because I have more than once heard European officers question the possibility of making an army out of elements different from those to which they were accustomed. I have heard Germans insist that unless the officer appears in uniform he cannot command the respect of his men. On this ship it would be frequently difficult to tell officers from men when the tunic is laid aside and shoulder straps are not seen. But we must go a little beneath the surface and see things, not on the parade ground, but in actual war. For the American parade uniform has been designed by a lot of unsoldierly politicians and tailors about Washington. They have made the patient United States army a victim of their vulgar designs. On the battlefield, however, there are no political tailors, and the Washington dress regulations are ruthlessly disregarded.

Which of these statements about the author is most likely to be true?

Possible Answers:

He is a graduate of West Point.

He is English.

He has never been to the United States.

He is a weapons manufacturer.

He is unfamiliar with the realities of warfare.

Correct answer:

He is English.

Explanation:

This passage is clearly written from the perspective of an outsider observing the behavior and style of an American army. That he is probably English therefore naturally follows; however, there is ample evidence to support this even if this was not immediately apparent. He says, “This war will no doubt produce a change after English fashions.” This suggests he places extra value with the behavior and style of the English army.

Example Question #4 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 841 Vol. XXXIII (February 13th 1892)

From the earliest times of which we have record, man has been disposed to strive with his fellow man, either to maintain his own rights or to possess himself of some rights or material advantage enjoyed by others. When one or only a few men encroach on the rights of others in an organized community, they may be restrained by the legal machinery of the state, such as courts, police, and prisons, but when a whole community or state rises against another, the civil law becomes powerless and a state of war ensues. It is not proposed here to discuss the ethics of this question, nor the desirability of providing a suitable court of nations for settling all international difficulties without war. The great advantage of such a system of avoiding war is admitted by all intelligent people. We notice here a singular inconsistency in the principles upon which this strife is carried on, viz.: If it be a single combat, either a friendly contest or a deadly one, the parties are expected to contest on equal terms as nearly as may be arranged; but if large numbers are engaged, or in other words, when the contest becomes war, the rule is reversed and each party is expected to take every possible advantage of his adversary, even to the extent of stratagem or deception. In fact, it has passed into a proverb that "all things are fair in love and war."

The author of this passage would most likely view the United Nations as __________.

Possible Answers:

It is impossible to say.

powerless to prevent conflict

a good idea, but one which is practically impotent

an overdue, but much needed organization

something impossible to maintain

Correct answer:

an overdue, but much needed organization

Explanation:

The author discusses how there are certain institutions that mediate a dispute between two small parties within states, but notes that there is no such organization for the mediation of conflict between nations and states. The author says, “It is not proposed here to discuss the ethics of this question, nor the desirability of providing a suitable court of nations for settling all international difficulties without war. The great advantage of such a system of avoiding war is admitted by all intelligent people.” From his statement that such a system would be a “great advantage,” we can reasonably conclude that he would view the United Nation as much needed and would consider its adoption long overdue.

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences In Social Science Passages

Adapted from A Modern History from the Time of Luther to the Fall of Napoleon by John Lord (1874)

For more than ten centuries, great struggles have been going on in society between the dominant orders and sects. The victories gained by the oppressed millions over their different masters, constitute what is called the progress of society. When any great order defended the cause of the people against the tyranny and selfishness of another order, then the people have advanced a step in civil and social freedom.

When feudalism weighed heavily upon the people, the clergy sought justice on their behalf. By the aid of the church, royalty also rose above feudalism, and aided the popular cause. The church, having gained the ascendency, sought then to enslave the kings of the earth. But royalty, borrowing help from humiliated nobles and from the people, became the dominant power in Europe.

In these struggles, the people acquired political importance. They had obtained a knowledge of their rights and of their strength; and they were determined to maintain them. They liked not the tyranny of either nobles, priests, or kings; but they bent all their energies to suppress the power of the latter, since the two former had been already humiliated.

The struggle of the people against royalty is preeminently the genius of the English Revolution. It is to be doubted whether any king could have resisted the storm of popular fury which hurled Charles from his throne. But no king could have managed worse than he; no king could be more unfortunately and unpropitiously placed, and his own imprudence and folly hastened the catastrophe.

The House of Commons, which had acquired great strength, spirit, and popularity during the reign of James, fully perceived the difficulties and necessities of Charles, but made no adequate or generous effort to relieve him from them. Some of the more turbulent rejoiced in them. They knew that kings, like other men, were selfish, and that it was not natural for people to part with their privileges and power without a struggle, even though this power was injurious to the interests of society. In the Middle Ages, barons, bishops, and popes had fought desperately in the struggle of classes; and it was only from their necessities that either kings or people had obtained what they demanded. King Charles, no more than Pope Boniface VIII, would surrender, as a boon to man, without compulsion, his supposed omnipotence.

Based on the passage, one can tell that the author most supports __________.

Possible Answers:

the clergy

the nobles

the people

royalty

It is impossible to tell.

Correct answer:

the people

Explanation:

The author begins by discussing how "the people" relate to "the dominant orders and sects" in the first paragraph. The specific attention he gives to the people at the expense of the other groups mentioned throughout the essay suggests he is probably on their side. Furthermore, later in the essay, the author states, "The struggle of the people against royalty is preeminently the genius of the English Revolution." This combined with the earlier clue suggests that the author is on the side of the people more so than any of the other specific groups mentioned.

Example Question #5 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

Adapted from Ten Great Events in History by James Johonnot (1887)

Following the Council of Clermont, preparations for invading the Holy Land began in almost every country of Europe. The nobles mortgaged their estates, the farmer endeavored to sell his plow, and the artisan his tools to purchase a sword. During the spring and summer of 1096, the roads teemed with crusaders, all hastening to the towns and villages appointed as the rendezvous of the district. Very few knew where Jerusalem was. Some thought it fifty thousand miles away, and others imagined it but a month's journey; while at the sight of every tower or castle the children exclaimed "Is that Jerusalem?" 

Little attempt at any organization was made, though the multitude had three leaders. It is said that the first band, consisting of twenty thousand foot, with only eight horsemen, were led by a Burgundian gentleman called Walter the Penniless. They were followed by a rabble of forty thousand men, women, and children led by Peter the Hermit. Next followed a band of fifteen thousand men, mostly Germans, under a priest named Gottschalk.

Like their nominal leader, each of the followers of Walter the Penniless was poor to penury, and trusted for subsistence to the chances of the road. In Hungary, they met with loud resistance from the people, whose houses they attacked and plundered, but in Bulgaria, the natives declared war against the hungry horde; they were dispersed and almost exterminated. Some, including Walter, reached Constantinople, where they awaited Peter and his companions. The Hermit, who had the same difficulties to contend with in marching through Hungary and Bulgaria, reached Constantinople with his army greatly reduced, and in a most deplorable condition. Here he and Walter joined forces. They were hospitably received by the emperor, but their riotous conduct soon wearied out his patience, and he was glad to listen to a proposal to help them at once pass into Asia. 

The rabble accordingly crossed the Bosphorus, and took up their quarters in Bethynia. Here they became perfectly ungovernable, ravaging the country around, and committing incredible excesses; at length Peter, utterly disgusted and despairing, left them to their own guidance and returned to Constantinople. The bravest of them were annihilated in a battle fought near Nice, Walter the Penniless falling with seven mortal wounds. Between two and three thousand alone escaped. The emperor dismissed them, with orders to return home, and thus ended the disastrous expedition of Walter the Penniless and Peter the Hermit.

The fifteen thousand Germans led by Gottschalk never reached Constantinople, being slaughtered or dispersed during their passage through Hungary. Thus, within a few months, upward of a quarter of a million of human beings were swept out of existence. And they had spent their lives, without one important result having been accomplished. This was the worst paroxysm of the madness of Europe.

What can we infer about European society at the time the author describes from the passage?

Possible Answers:

It was dedicated to peace.

It was at constant war with Constantinople.

It had poor rates of education.

It answered only to the church.

It revolved around poverty.

Correct answer:

It had poor rates of education.

Explanation:

We can infer for certain only one of the given answers: that education was poor in Europe at this time. We know this because the author states that "Very few knew where Jerusalem was. Some thought it fifty thousand miles away, and others imagined it but a month.” This lack of knowledge concerning geography shows that those in “the rabble” were poorly educated. Those in charge were probably educated as they lead the way to Jerusalem; however, education for the majority of the population must have been poor.

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

Adapted from A Modern History from the Time of Luther to the Fall of Napoleon by John Lord (1874)

The period at which this history commences—the beginning of the sixteenth century—when compared with the ages which had preceded it, since the fall of the Roman empire, was one of unprecedented brilliancy and activity. It was a period very fruitful in great people and great events, and, though stormy and turbulent, was favorable to experiments and reforms. The nations of Europe seem to have been suddenly aroused from a state of torpor and rest, and to have put forth new energies in every department of life. The material and the political, the moral and the social condition of society was subject to powerful agitations, and passed through important changes.

Great discoveries and inventions had been made. The use of movable types, first ascribed to Gutenberg in 1441 and to Peter Schœffer in 1444, changed the whole system of book-making, and vastly increased the circulation of the scriptures, the Greek and Latin classics, and all other valuable works, which, by the industry of the monkish copyist, had been preserved from the ravages of time and barbarism. Gunpowder, whose explosive power had been perceived by Roger Bacon as early as 1280, though it was not used on the field of battle until 1346, had changed the art of war, which had greatly contributed to undermining the feudal system. The polarity of the magnet, also discovered in the middle ages, and not practically applied to the mariner's compass until 1403, had led to the greatest event of the fifteenth century—the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, in 1492. The impulse given to commerce by this and other discoveries of unknown continents and oceans, by the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Dutch, the English, and the French, cannot be here enlarged on. America revealed to the astonished European its riches in gold and silver; and Indian spices, and silks, and drugs, were imported through new channels. Mercantile wealth, with all its refinements, acquired new importance in the eyes of the nations. The world opened towards the east and the west. The horizon of knowledge extended. Popular delusions were dispelled. Liberality of mind was acquired. The material prosperity of the western nations was increased. Tastes became more refined, and social intercourse more cheerful.

With which of these statements about the era of the Roman empire would the author be most likely to agree?

Possible Answers:

The era of the Roman empire was a time of great intellectual and material wealth.

The author would not agree with any of these statements.

The era of the Roman empire was the only period of history that could reasonably claim to have been as innovative as the sixteenth century.

The era of the Roman empire was brutal and difficult when compared to the centuries that followed it.

The era of the Roman empire has had a lasting impact on the arts and sciences of contemporary Europe.

Correct answer:

The era of the Roman empire was the only period of history that could reasonably claim to have been as innovative as the sixteenth century.

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to identify the relevant clue in the text and then make an inference based on this clue. The author begins the passage by saying, "The period at which this history commences—the beginning of the sixteenth century—when compared with the ages which had preceded it, since the fall of the Roman empire, was one of unprecedented brilliancy and activity." The author says that the sixteenth century, when compared to the centuries which had come before, was a period of unusual innovation. But, he also notes that he is comparing the sixteenth century with the years “since the fall of the Roman empire,” which suggests he considers the Roman empire to be roughly equal to the sixteenth century. The correct answer is therefore that “the era of the Roman empire was the only period of history that could reasonably claim to have been as innovative as the sixteenth century.”

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