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

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

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

Adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1784)

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good bookseller's shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the ale-house, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences, but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from books more common by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skilful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement, to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

Franklin's primary purpose in starting the library was to __________.

Possible Answers:

buy more books for he and his friends to read

make books more readily available

make money from library subscriptions

make reading more fashionable

Correct answer:

make books more readily available

Explanation:

Franklin tells us he hoped to "render the benefit from books more common," which implies that he hoped to make books more readily available.

Example Question #2 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

Adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1784)

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good bookseller's shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the ale-house, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences, but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from books more common by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skilful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement, to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

Franklin implies that his earliest attempts at establishing a library were __________.

Possible Answers:

not immediately successful

was immediately successful

was successful only with the readers in Philadelphia

was not successful at all

Correct answer:

not immediately successful

Explanation:

Franklin tells us that he "was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum," but the rest of the passage tells us that the library eventually succeeded.

Example Question #4 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

Adapted from Emancipation of the Working Class by Eugene Debs (1918)

You remember that, at the close of Theodore Roosevelt's second term as President, he went over to Africa to make war on some of his ancestors. You remember that, at the close of his expedition, he visited the capitals of Europe, and that he was wined and dined, dignified and glorified by all the Kaisers and Czars and Emperors of the Old World. He visited Potsdam while the Kaiser was there, and, according to the accounts published in the American newspapers, he and the Kaiser were soon on the most familiar terms. They were hilariously intimate with each other, and slapped each other on the back. After Roosevelt had reviewed the Kaiser's troops, according to the same accounts, he became enthusiastic over the Kaiser's legions and said: "If I had that kind of an army, I could conquer the world." He knew the Kaiser then just as well as he knows him now. He knew that he was the Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin. And yet, he permitted himself to be entertained by that Beast of Berlin; had his feet under the mahogany of the Beast of Berlin; was cheek by jowl with the Beast of Berlin. And, while Roosevelt was being entertained royally by the German Kaiser, that same Kaiser was putting the leaders of the Socialist Party in jail for fighting the Kaiser and the Junkers of Germany. Roosevelt was the guest of honor in the White House of the Kaiser, while the Socialists were in the jails of the Kaiser for fighting the Kaiser. Who then was fighting for democracy? Roosevelt? Roosevelt, who was honored by the Kaiser, or the Socialists who were in jail by order of the Kaiser?  "Birds of a feather flock together."

When the newspapers reported that Kaiser Wilhelm and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt recognized each other at sight, were perfectly intimate with each other at the first touch, they made the admission that is fatal to the claim of Theodore Roosevelt, that he is the friend of the common people and the champion of democracy; they admitted that they were kith and kin; that they were very much alike; that their ideas and ideals were about the same. If Theodore Roosevelt is the great champion of democracy—the arch foe of autocracy—what business had he as the guest of honor of the Prussian Kaiser? And when he met the Kaiser, and did honor to the Kaiser, under the terms imputed to him, wasn't it pretty strong proof that he himself was a Kaiser at heart? Now, after being the guest of Emperor Wilhelm, the Beast of Berlin, he comes back to this country, and wants you to send ten million men over there to kill the Kaiser, to murder his former friend and pal. Rather queer, isn't it? And yet, he is the patriot, and we are the traitors. I challenge you to find a Socialist anywhere on the face of the earth who was ever the guest of the Beast of Berlin, except as an inmate of his prison.

From the whole of this passage it can be inferred that the author __________.

Possible Answers:

feels distraught by the actions of Theodore Roosevelt

supports the war in Europe 

has never served time in prison

feels sympathetic towards Theodore Roosevelt

is opposed to the war in Europe

Correct answer:

is opposed to the war in Europe

Explanation:

You know that the author does not feel sympathetic towards Theodore Roosevelt because he condemns him in pretty conclusive terms. Likewise, he never expresses dismay or surprise at Roosevelt’s actions so you could not reasonably claim he feels distraught. The author discusses how many members of the Socialist movement, of which he is clearly a part, have spent time in jail so it would be foolish to infer he has never spent time in prison. That leaves only whether he supports or opposes the war in Europe. The author says of the passages antagonist, Theodore Roosevelt; “Now, after being the guest of Emperor Wilhelm, the Beast of Berlin, he comes back to this country, and wants you to send ten million men over there to kill the Kaiser, to murder his former friend and pal. Rather queer, isn't it? And yet, he is the patriot, and we are the traitors.” As the man he heavily disparages is in favor of the war it makes sense to infer that the author is opposed to the war. Furthermore, he uses words like “murder” to describe warfare and suggests that Roosevelt is a “traitor” for wanting to send “ten million men” to war.

Example Question #3 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

Adapted from the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America by Thomas Jefferson (1776)

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect 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 are 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 right, 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 these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

What can be inferred to follow this passage?

Possible Answers:

A summary of the contents found in the passage

A list of demands to be met by England

A list of the acts committed by England against the colonies 

A longer philosophical treatise on the rights of man

The format of the new government for the colonies

Correct answer:

A list of the acts committed by England against the colonies 

Explanation:

The last two sentences of this selection are key for answering this question. Consider them directly: "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world." The first of these sentences states that the current king of Great Britain had repeatedly and continually acted against the colonies. Then, the author states that "facts" are to be "submitted" to the world. That is, the facts proving the claim about the king will then be listed at length. Hence, we can suppose that there will be a list of acts committed against the colonies by England. (Indeed, this is what follows in the actual document.)

Example Question #102 : Social Studies

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

I proceed to inquire whether the federal government or the state governments will have the advantage with regard to the predilection and support of the people. Notwithstanding the different modes in which they are appointed, we must consider both of them as substantially dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States. I assume this position here as it respects the first, reserving the proofs for another place. The federal and state governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject, and to have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other. Truth, no less than decency, requires that the event in every case should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.

What can we infer about the author's feelings about the Constitution based on the passage?

Possible Answers:

The author opposes the Constitution because he believes that it will create a federal government that is too weak to govern effectively.

The author likely has mixed feelings about the potential of the Constitution to create an effective federal government.

The author likely opposes the Constitution because he believes that it will create too strong of a federal government.

The author is neutral about the Constitution but feels that its detractors have been overly zealous.

The author is likely a supporter of the Constitution.

Correct answer:

The author is likely a supporter of the Constitution.

Explanation:

We can infer that the author of this passage supports the Constitution for a number of reasons. On one hand, he refers to "The adversaries of the Constitution" as "These gentleman" in the sentence "These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error." Since the author is not including himself with "these gentlemen," he is not including himself with the Constitutions' adversaries, so he does not oppose it. In saying that they need to be "reminded of their error," he is suggesting that the adversaries of the Constitution are wrong in some respect, providing evidence that he probably supports the constitution and opposes its adversaries. 

Example Question #4 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

Adapted from "Federalist No. 46. The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared" by James Madison in The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

Many considerations, besides those suggested on a former occasion, seem to place it beyond doubt that the first and most natural attachment of the people will be to the governments of their respective states. Into the administration of these a greater number of individuals will expect to rise. From the gift of these a greater number of offices and emoluments will flow. By the superintending care of these, all the more domestic and personal interests of the people will be regulated and provided for. With the affairs of these, the people will be more familiarly and minutely conversant. And with the members of these, will a greater proportion of the people have the ties of personal acquaintance and friendship, and of family and party attachments; on the side of these, therefore, the popular bias may well be expected most strongly to incline.

Experience speaks the same language in this case. The federal administration, though hitherto very defective in comparison with what may be hoped under a better system, had, during the war, and particularly whilst the independent fund of paper emissions was in credit, an activity and importance as great as it can well have in any future circumstances whatever. It was engaged, too, in a course of measures which had for their object the protection of everything that was dear and the acquisition of everything that could be desirable to the people at large. It was, nevertheless, invariably found, after the transient enthusiasm for the early Congresses was over, that the attention and attachment of the people were turned anew to their own particular governments; that the federal council was at no time the idol of popular favor; and that opposition to proposed enlargements of its powers and importance was the side usually taken by the men who wished to build their political consequence on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens.

The author would most likely agree with which of the following statements?

Possible Answers:

It is unlikely that the federal government will ever exceed the previous importance it attained during the war.

Fewer people will likely participate in state governments in the author's near future.

Family ties and party affiliations have nothing to do with the relative popularity of federal or state governments.

It is not surprising that the U.S. federal government's popularity exceeded that of its states' governments after the war.

During the previous war, the federal government focused its attention on relatively unimportant things.

Correct answer:

It is unlikely that the federal government will ever exceed the previous importance it attained during the war.

Explanation:

In the second sentence of the second paragraph, the author states, "The federal administration . . . had, during the war, . . . an activity and importance as great as it can well have in any future circumstances whatever." This directly supports the answer choice "It is unlikely that the federal government will ever exceed the previous importance it attained during the war." The other answer choices are all contradicted by information elsewhere in the passage.

Example Question #5 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

Adapted from Women’s Political Future by Frances E. W. Harper (1893)

The world has need of all the spiritual aid that woman can give for the social advancement and moral development of the human race. The tendency of the present age, with its restlessness, religious upheavals, failures, blunders, and crimes, is toward broader freedom, an increase of knowledge, the emancipation of thought, and recognition of the brotherhood of man; in this movement woman, as the companion of man, must be an equal. So close is the bond between man and woman that you cannot raise one without lifting the other. The world cannot move without woman's sharing in the movement, and to help give a right impetus to that movement is woman's highest privilege.

If the fifteenth century discovered America to the Old World, the nineteenth is discovering woman to herself. Not the opportunity of discovering new worlds, but that of filling this old world with fairer and higher aims than the greed of gold and the lust of power, is hers. Through weary, wasting years men have destroyed, dashed in pieces, and overthrown, but today we stand on the threshold of woman's era, and woman's work is grandly constructive. In her hand are possibilities whose use or abuse must tell upon the political life of the nation, and send their influence for good or evil across the track of unborn ages.

From the whole of this passage, what does the author likely believe will be the product of women’s increased political participation?

Possible Answers:

Moderation of human ambitions

Social unrest

Constructive good

Reassertion of male dominance

Political discord

Correct answer:

Constructive good

Explanation:

The author makes direct reference to her belief in the ability of women to have a positive effect on the growth of human society when she says: “Today we stand on the threshold of woman's era, and woman's work is grandly constructive.” This evidence, combined with the overall tone of the passage, should give enough information to answer that the author believes increased female participation will lead to constructive good.

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions 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 prudent to overthrow any unsatisfactory government.

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

It is the right of the people to overthrow despotism.

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 #4 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

"What Do We Remember About History?" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

Henry the Eighth is most commonly remembered for the unique fact that he took six different wives over the course of his lifetime. There is even a famous ditty uttered by English schoolchildren to help them remember the fate of his various wives: “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.”

However, during Henry’s rule, England permanently ended its long-standing relationship with the Catholic church and became forever a Protestant kingdom. This break has had long-felt repercussions up to and including the present day. Yet, in spite of the deep importance of Henry’s decision to leave the family of Catholic nations, he is best known for taking six wives. This difference between importance of actions and nature of popular remembrance should tell us something about the collective understanding of history—it is often the trivial and merely interesting that survives, whilst the significant but less fascinating can fade from memory.

What can you infer about Henry’s sixth wife?

Possible Answers:

She was divorced shortly before Henry died.

She gave him a son.

She wrote many books.

She was killed along with Henry.

She outlived him.

Correct answer:

She outlived him.

Explanation:

The famous English ditty goes “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” If we are to take it that, as the author says, this saying is used to remember the fates of the various wives, it seems reasonable to infer that the sixth wife was neither “divorced,” “beheaded,” nor did she “die.” But, rather she “survived,” so “she outlived him.” There is no evidence to suggest she gave Henry a son, was killed along with Henry, wrote many books, or was divorced.

Example Question #6 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

While the Gutenberg press was perhaps one of the greatest inventions of all time, we should not let its importance blind us to other very important events in the history of linguistic development. Granted, the efficiency of printing allowed for the dissemination of much learning in Europe. Still, such printing was not unique to Europe, and even in the scope of world history, there are several events that are equally as miraculous regarding the transmission of knowledge.

For instance, most people overlook the amazing nature of the first time that human beings communicated with spoken language. Perhaps there were simple signs by which these early humans could indicate their needs to each other; however, when the first event of person-to-person speech occurred, it was far more marvelous than simple practical communication. Such speech was like a sharing in ideas. When true speech happened, persons were able to communicate knowledge to each other, freeing it from its isolation in one lonely person. By means of such speech, knowledge could be orally transmitted from generation to generation, thus preserving wisdom in a way that is completely impossible without speech.

Of course, such spoken tradition is very fragile, relying on memories and stories that are passed down from generation to generation. For this reason, the invention of writing is extremely important. In contrast to the spoken word, the written word can continue to exist and be useful so long as it can be read intelligently. Likewise, much more can be recorded than ever could be remembered by someone with the best of memories. Indeed, once these records are written, copies can be sent to anyone who is able to read the language in question. Just so, it can be translated into written copies to be read by others. For these (as well as many other reasons) the invention of writing was a very significant event in history, greatly expanding the possibilities for the exchange of knowledge.

Thus, the printing press is quite important, but it is part of a larger story. Like both spoken and written communication, it allows human beings to communicate knowledge not only to each other but also across multiple generations. Often, we think of the press merely in its ability to provide a great number of books in a short period of time; however, when considered as a chapter in this longer tale, it likewise appears as the means by which humanity is able to conquer time by allowing the knowledge of today to live for multiple generations.

What does the author imply about the audience reading this passage?

Possible Answers:

That they tend to focus too much on one event in linguistic development, accidentally ignoring others

That they are wholly ignorant of factual history and misunderstand the meaning of communication

That they have long given into stereotypes about history and have thus misjudged much of the past

That they overestimate the power of the spoken word, forgetting how fragile it is in reality

That they need more information about the nature of speech and its physiological development

Correct answer:

That they tend to focus too much on one event in linguistic development, accidentally ignoring others

Explanation:

The best thing to do in answering this question is to pay attention to the author's tone.  In particular, note the uses of the word "us" and the word "we."

(1) We should not let its importance blind us to other very important events in the history of linguistic development.

(2) Often, we think of the press merely in its ability to provide a great number of books in a short period of time; however, when considered as a chapter in this longer tale, it likewise appears as the means by which humanity is able to conquer time by allowing the knowledge of today to live for multiple generations.

Clearly the author wishes to fix an historical misunderstanding, but it does not appear that the audience is judged to be completely ignorant. The author wishes to show that there are other important events in linguistic development. Likewise, knowledge of this history helps us to understand the meaning of the printing press in a fuller manner.

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