ISEE Upper Level Reading : Identifying and Analyzing Details in Literature Passages

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #101 : Ideas In Literature Passages

The following is a letter by T. Thatcher, published in The Publishers Circular on September 27th, 1902.

September 27th, 1902

A PLEA FOR A LONG WALK

SIR—In these days of increasing rapid artificial locomotion, may I be permitted to say a word in favour of a very worthy and valuable old friend of mine, Mr. Long-Walk?

I am afraid that this good gentleman is in danger of getting neglected, if not forgotten.  We live in days of water trips and land trips, excursions by sea, road, and rail—bicycles and tricycles, tram cars and motor cars, hansom cabs and ugly cabs; but in my humble opinion good honest walking exercise for health beats all other kinds of locomotion into a cocked hat.  In rapid travelling all the finer nerves, senses, and vessels are ‘rush’ and unduly excited, but in walking every particle of the human frame, and even the moral faculties, are evenly and naturally brought into exercise.  It is the best discipline and physical mental tonic in the world.  Limbs, body, muscles, lungs, chest, heart, digestion, breathing, are healthily brought into normal operation, while. especially in the long distance walk, the exercise of patience, perseverance, industry, energy, perception, and reflection—and, indeed, all the senses and moral faculties—are elevated and cultivated healthfully and naturally.  Many never know the beauty of it because they never go far enough: exercise and hard work should never be relinquished at any age or by either sex.  Heart disease, faintness, and sudden death, and even crime, are far more due to the absence of wholesome normal exercise and taste than to anything else, to enervating luxuries rather than to hill climbing.

I usually give myself a holiday on a birthday, and as I lately reached my 63rd I determined to give myself a day with my old friend Mr. Long-Walk, and decided to tramp to the city of Wells and back for my birthday holiday—a distance of about forty-two miles.  Fortune favours the brave, and, thanks to a mosquito that pitched on my nose and was just commencing operations, I woke very early in the morning.  It is an ill wind that blows no one any good.  Mosquitoes are early birds, but I stole a march on them.  But to my journey.

I started at about 5 A.M., and proceeding viá Dundry and Chow Stoke, reached Wells soon after 10 A.M.  After attending the Cathedral, I pursued my walk homeward by a different route, viá Chewton Mendip, Farrington, Temple Cloud, Clutton, and Pensford.

To make a walk successful, mind and body should be free of burden.  I never carry a stick on a long walk, but prefer to be perfectly free, giving Nature’s balancing poles—the pendulum arms—complete swing and absolute liberty.  Walking exercises, together with a well-educated palate, are the greatest physicians in the world: no disease can withstand them.  I returned from my forty-two miles tramp with birthday honours and reward.  I had no headache on the following morning, but was up early in good form, fresh and ready for work.  Forty-two miles may be too strong a dose for many, but I cannot too strongly recommend for a day’s companionship the society of my old and well-tried friend, Mr. Long-Walk.

Faithfully yours,

T. Thatcher

44 College Green, Bristol.

What evidence does the author give to support his claim that long walks are good for personal well-being?

Possible Answers:

Health statistics

He does not provide evidence

A personal anecdote

Scientific research

Correct answer:

A personal anecdote

Explanation:

The description of the author's birthday walk serves as a personal anecdote. The fact that a long walk had a positive effect in his own life supports his claim that long walks will have a positive effect in anyone's life.

Example Question #102 : Ideas In Literature Passages

The following is a letter by T. Thatcher, published in The Publishers Circular on September 27th, 1902.

September 27th, 1902

A PLEA FOR A LONG WALK

SIR—In these days of increasing rapid artificial locomotion, may I be permitted to say a word in favour of a very worthy and valuable old friend of mine, Mr. Long-Walk?

I am afraid that this good gentleman is in danger of getting neglected, if not forgotten.  We live in days of water trips and land trips, excursions by sea, road, and rail—bicycles and tricycles, tram cars and motor cars, hansom cabs and ugly cabs; but in my humble opinion good honest walking exercise for health beats all other kinds of locomotion into a cocked hat.  In rapid travelling all the finer nerves, senses, and vessels are ‘rush’ and unduly excited, but in walking every particle of the human frame, and even the moral faculties, are evenly and naturally brought into exercise.  It is the best discipline and physical mental tonic in the world.  Limbs, body, muscles, lungs, chest, heart, digestion, breathing, are healthily brought into normal operation, while. especially in the long distance walk, the exercise of patience, perseverance, industry, energy, perception, and reflection—and, indeed, all the senses and moral faculties—are elevated and cultivated healthfully and naturally.  Many never know the beauty of it because they never go far enough: exercise and hard work should never be relinquished at any age or by either sex.  Heart disease, faintness, and sudden death, and even crime, are far more due to the absence of wholesome normal exercise and taste than to anything else, to enervating luxuries rather than to hill climbing.

I usually give myself a holiday on a birthday, and as I lately reached my 63rd I determined to give myself a day with my old friend Mr. Long-Walk, and decided to tramp to the city of Wells and back for my birthday holiday—a distance of about forty-two miles.  Fortune favours the brave, and, thanks to a mosquito that pitched on my nose and was just commencing operations, I woke very early in the morning.  It is an ill wind that blows no one any good.  Mosquitoes are early birds, but I stole a march on them.  But to my journey.

I started at about 5 A.M., and proceeding viá Dundry and Chow Stoke, reached Wells soon after 10 A.M.  After attending the Cathedral, I pursued my walk homeward by a different route, viá Chewton Mendip, Farrington, Temple Cloud, Clutton, and Pensford.

To make a walk successful, mind and body should be free of burden.  I never carry a stick on a long walk, but prefer to be perfectly free, giving Nature’s balancing poles—the pendulum arms—complete swing and absolute liberty.  Walking exercises, together with a well-educated palate, are the greatest physicians in the world: no disease can withstand them.  I returned from my forty-two miles tramp with birthday honours and reward.  I had no headache on the following morning, but was up early in good form, fresh and ready for work.  Forty-two miles may be too strong a dose for many, but I cannot too strongly recommend for a day’s companionship the society of my old and well-tried friend, Mr. Long-Walk.

Faithfully yours,

T. Thatcher

44 College Green, Bristol.

“Mr. Long-Walk” is an example of which literary device?

Possible Answers:

alliteration

personification

analogy

simile

Correct answer:

personification

Explanation:

Calling a long walk a friend named "Mr. Long-Walk" presents the activity as a person, and is therefore personification. Alliteration is the repetition of sounds. Both analogies and similes form comparisons between different concepts or things.

Example Question #103 : Ideas In Literature Passages

Adapted from "Breaking into Fast Company" by Zane Grey (1920) 

They may say baseball is the same in the minor leagues that it is in the big leagues, but any old ball player or manager knows better. Where the difference comes in, however, is in the greater excellence and unity of the major players, a speed, a daring, a finish that can be acquired only in competition with one another.

I thought of this when I led my party into Morrisey's private box in the grand stand of the Chicago American League grounds. We had come to see the Rube's break into fast company. My great pitcher, Whittaker Hurtle, the Rube, as we called him, had won the Eastern League Pennant for me that season, and Morrisey, the Chicago magnate, had bought him. Milly, my affianced, was with me, looking as happy as she was pretty, and she was chaperoned by her mother, Mrs. Nelson.

With me, also, were two veterans of my team, McCall and Spears, who lived in Chicago, and who would have traveled a few miles to see the Rube pitch. And the other member of my party was Mrs. Hurtle, the Rube's wife, as saucy and as sparkling-eyed as when she had been Nan Brown. Today she wore a new tailor-made gown, new bonnet, new gloves—she said she had decorated herself in a manner befitting the wife of a major league pitcher.

Morrisey's box was very comfortable, and, as I was pleased to note, so situated that we had a fine view of the field and stands, and yet were comparatively secluded. The bleachers were filling. Some of the Chicago players were on the field tossing and batting balls; the Rube, however, had not yet appeared.

A moment later a metallic sound was heard on the stairs leading up into the box. I knew it for baseball spiked shoes clanking on the wood.

The Rube, looking enormous in his uniform, stalked into the box, knocking over two chairs as he entered. He carried a fielder's glove in one huge freckled hand, and a big black bat in the other.

Nan, with much dignity and a very manifest pride, introduced him to Mrs. Nelson.

There was a little chatting, and then, upon the arrival of Manager Morrisey, we men retired to the back of the box to talk baseball.

According to the narrator, what primarily differentiates the major from the minor leagues?

Possible Answers:

Fans typically take greater interest in major league games than in minor league games.

Major league players have social status that minor league players do not.

Major league play is often more competitive than minor league play.

There isn't much at all that differentiates them.

Major league plays display a greater excellence and bond of unity.

Correct answer:

Major league plays display a greater excellence and bond of unity.

Explanation:

Although some of these responses might be inferred from the passage, the passage only directly states that "Where the difference comes in, however, is in the greater excellence and unity of the major players, a speed, a daring, a finish that can be acquired only in competition with one another."

Example Question #104 : Ideas In Literature Passages

Adapted from "Breaking into Fast Company" by Zane Grey (1920) 

They may say baseball is the same in the minor leagues that it is in the big leagues, but any old ball player or manager knows better. Where the difference comes in, however, is in the greater excellence and unity of the major players, a speed, a daring, a finish that can be acquired only in competition with one another.

I thought of this when I led my party into Morrisey's private box in the grand stand of the Chicago American League grounds. We had come to see the Rube's break into fast company. My great pitcher, Whittaker Hurtle, the Rube, as we called him, had won the Eastern League Pennant for me that season, and Morrisey, the Chicago magnate, had bought him. Milly, my affianced, was with me, looking as happy as she was pretty, and she was chaperoned by her mother, Mrs. Nelson.

With me, also, were two veterans of my team, McCall and Spears, who lived in Chicago, and who would have traveled a few miles to see the Rube pitch. And the other member of my party was Mrs. Hurtle, the Rube's wife, as saucy and as sparkling-eyed as when she had been Nan Brown. Today she wore a new tailor-made gown, new bonnet, new gloves—she said she had decorated herself in a manner befitting the wife of a major league pitcher.

Morrisey's box was very comfortable, and, as I was pleased to note, so situated that we had a fine view of the field and stands, and yet were comparatively secluded. The bleachers were filling. Some of the Chicago players were on the field tossing and batting balls; the Rube, however, had not yet appeared.

A moment later a metallic sound was heard on the stairs leading up into the box. I knew it for baseball spiked shoes clanking on the wood.

The Rube, looking enormous in his uniform, stalked into the box, knocking over two chairs as he entered. He carried a fielder's glove in one huge freckled hand, and a big black bat in the other.

Nan, with much dignity and a very manifest pride, introduced him to Mrs. Nelson.

There was a little chatting, and then, upon the arrival of Manager Morrisey, we men retired to the back of the box to talk baseball.

 

The third paragraph suggests that the narrator and his entourage entered the field at what stage in the game?

Possible Answers:

During a key break in the game

Before the game had begun, as players were still practicing

Not on a game day, but on a practice day

As the game had just concluded

Mid-game, while the Rube was taking a break and out of sight

Correct answer:

Before the game had begun, as players were still practicing

Explanation:

Key descriptive notes like "filling" bleachers and descriptions of baseball players practicing suggest that the game had not yet started when the narrator and his entourage entered the box, not to mention that some of the players had yet to enter the field.

Example Question #132 : Humanities

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would—that is to say, who could—detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say—but, perhaps, the authorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers—poets in especial—prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy—an ecstatic intuition—and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought—at the true purposes seized only at the last moment—at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view—at the fully-matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable—at the cautious selections and rejections—at the painful erasures and interpolations—in a word, at the wheels and pinions—the tackle for scene-shifting—the step-ladders, and demon-traps—the cock's feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell are pursued and forgotten in a similar manner.

Poe says that most authors would shudder at readers seeing the following EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

the painstaking revision process that authors subject a work to

the tricks that authors use to cover a blemish or problem in a work

the fact that authors themselves often only know the purpose of the work at the last moment

the careful outlining process that authors go through when writing

Correct answer:

the careful outlining process that authors go through when writing

Explanation:

In the lengthy list of things that Poe gives that authors would prefer their readers not to see, he does not mention outlining at all. He mentions the painstaking revision process that authors subject a work to when he says "at the fully-matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable—at the cautious selections and rejections—at the painful erasures and interpolations," he mentions the tricks that authors use to cover a blemish or problem in a work when he says "the tackle for scene-shifting—the step-ladders, and demon-traps—the cock's feathers, the red paint and the black patches," and he mentions the fact that authors themselves often only know the purpose of the work at the last moment when he says "at the true purposes seized only at the last moment."

Example Question #1 : Identifying And Analyzing Details In Literature Passages

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would—that is to say, who could—detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say—but, perhaps, the authorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers—poets in especial—prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy—an ecstatic intuition—and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought—at the true purposes seized only at the last moment—at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view—at the fully-matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable—at the cautious selections and rejections—at the painful erasures and interpolations—in a word, at the wheels and pinions—the tackle for scene-shifting—the step-ladders, and demon-traps—the cock's feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell are pursued and forgotten in a similar manner.

When Poe uses the metaphor "the tackle for scene-shifting," what field is he borrowing language from?

Possible Answers:

Theater

Fishing

Painting

Construction

Correct answer:

Theater

Explanation:

The phrase "scene-shifting" refers to the moving of scenery during a play, which is at times achieved by using a block-and-tackle or pulley system.

Example Question #133 : Humanities

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would—that is to say, who could—detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say—but, perhaps, the authorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers—poets in especial—prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy—an ecstatic intuition—and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought—at the true purposes seized only at the last moment—at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view—at the fully-matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable—at the cautious selections and rejections—at the painful erasures and interpolations—in a word, at the wheels and pinions—the tackle for scene-shifting—the step-ladders, and demon-traps—the cock's feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell are pursued and forgotten in a similar manner.

Poe states that which type of writer is most likely to want readers to think they write via pure inspiration?

Possible Answers:

Novelists

Essayists

Poets

Playwrights

Correct answer:

Poets

Explanation:

Poe singles out poets "in especial" as desiring their readers to think of them as composing purely "by a species of fine frenzy."

Example Question #106 : Ideas In Literature Passages

Adapted from "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift (1729)

It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabin doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, and I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true, a child just dropt from its dam, may be supported by her milk, for a solar year, with little other nourishment: at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing of many thousands.

In the first paragraph, Swift's narrator says that the children of these beggars grow up to do all of the following EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

have children of their own who become beggars

sell themselves into slavery

become thieves because they can find no work

go off to fight for enemy armies

Correct answer:

have children of their own who become beggars

Explanation:

Swift's speaker discusses the children of the discussed beggars becoming thieves because they can find no work ("as they grow up . . .  turn thieves for want of work"), going off to fight for enemy armies ("leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain"), and selling themselves into slavery ("or sell themselves to the Barbadoes"). However, the narrator says nothing in this passage about the beggars' children having children of their own.

Example Question #2 : Identifying And Analyzing Details In Literature Passages

Adapted from "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift (1729)

It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabin doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, and I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true, a child just dropt from its dam, may be supported by her milk, for a solar year, with little other nourishment: at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing of many thousands.

Swift's narrator says that his solution will involve __________.

Possible Answers:

beggars and their children

only the children of beggars

all infants of a particular age

only the beggars themselves

Correct answer:

all infants of a particular age

Explanation:

The speaker says that his plan will "take in the whole number of infants at a certain age" and not just "the children of professed beggars."

Example Question #43 : Ssat Upper Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1836)

Whoever considers the final cause of the world, will discern a multitude of uses that result. They all admit of being thrown into one of the following classes: Commodity; Beauty; Language; and Discipline.

Under the general name of Commodity, I rank all those advantages which our senses owe to nature. This, of course, is a benefit which is temporary and mediate, not ultimate, like its service to the soul. Yet although low, it is perfect in its kind, and is the only use of nature which all men apprehend. The misery of man appears like childish petulance, when we explore the steady and prodigal provision that has been made for his support and delight on this green ball which floats him through the heavens. What angels invented these splendid ornaments, these rich conveniences, this ocean of air above, this ocean of water beneath, this firmament of earth between? This zodiac of lights, this tent of dropping clouds, this striped coat of climates, this fourfold year? Beasts, fire, water, stones, and corn serve him. The field is at once his floor, his work-yard, his play-ground, his garden, and his bed.

Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the material, but is also the process and the result. All the parts incessantly work into each other's hands for the profit of man. The wind sows the seed; the sun evaporates the sea; the wind blows the vapor to the field; the ice, on the other side of the planet, condenses rain on this; the rain feeds the plant; the plant feeds the animal; and thus the endless circulations of the divine charity nourish man.

In the final paragraph, Emerson says that all of the following are examples of how nature is useful to man EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

the condensation of water in the atmosphere into rain

the tendency of wind to blow seeds to fertile fields

the evaporation of sea water by the sun

the ability of man to plow the fields

Correct answer:

the ability of man to plow the fields

Explanation:

While Emerson states that "the wind sows the seed; the sun evaporates the sea; the wind blows the vapor to the field," and "the ice, on the other side of the planet, condenses rain on this," he does not mention any of man's actions (like plowing fields) in the final paragraph as examples of how nature serves man.

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