SSAT Elementary Level Reading : How to Locate and Analyze Details in Fiction Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SSAT Elementary Level Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #25 : Prose Passages

Adapted from "The Princess and the Pea" by Hans Christian Andersen (trans. Sommer 1897)

Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she would have to be a real princess. He travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. So he came home again and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess.

One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city gate, and the old king went to open it.

It was a princess standing out there in front of the gate. The water ran down from her hair and clothes; it ran down into the toes of her shoes and out again at the heels. She looked so destitute in the wind and the rain. And yet she said that she was a real princess.

“Well, we’ll soon find that out,” thought the old queen. But she said nothing, went into the bed-room, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a pea on the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on top of the pea.

On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept.

“Oh, very badly!” said she. “I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It’s horrible!”

Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.

Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.

So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it.

There, that is a true story.

What does the prince want more than anything at the start of the passage?

Possible Answers:

To be king 

None of these answers 

Any princess 

A real princess 

Someone to look after the king and queen

Correct answer:

A real princess 

Explanation:

In the first paragraph the author describes how the prince is looking all over for a “real” princess. It is clear that the prince will not marry any old princess because the passage says, “He travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be.”

Example Question #2 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

Now you must know that a Town Mouse once upon a time went on a visit to his cousin in the country. He was rough and ready, this cousin, but he loved his town friend and made him heartily welcome. Beans and bacon, cheese and bread, were all he had to offer, but he offered them freely. The Town Mouse rather turned up his long nose at this country fare, and said: "I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the country; come with me and I will show you how to live. When you have been in town a week you will wonder how you could ever have stood a country life." No sooner said than done: the two mice set off for the town and arrived at the Town Mouse's residence late at night. "You will want some refreshment after our long journey," said the polite Town Mouse, and took his friend into the grand dining-room. There they found the remains of a fine feast, and soon the two mice were eating up jellies and cakes and all that was nice. Suddenly they heard growling and barking. "What is that?" said the Country Mouse. "It is only the dogs of the house," answered the other. "Only!" said the Country Mouse. "I do not like that music at my dinner." Just at that moment the door flew open, in came two huge mastiffs, and the two mice had to scamper down and run off. "Good-bye, Cousin," said the Country Mouse, "What! going so soon?" said the other. "Yes," he replied; "Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear."

How does the Town Mouse react to the Country Mouse’s offer of food?

Possible Answers:

He attacks the Country Mouse

He is very grateful 

He rejects it 

He feels insulted 

None of these answers 

Correct answer:

He rejects it 

Explanation:

The author says that Town Mouse “turned up his long nose.” When you "turn up your nose" at something, that means you think you are too good for it. The Town Mouse thinks he is too good for the Country Mouse’s food, so he rejects it. 

Example Question #3 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Dog and the Wolf" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a House-dog who was passing by.

"Ah, Cousin," said the Dog. "I knew how it would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you. Why do you not work steadily as I do, and get your food regularly given to you?"

"I would have no objection," said the Wolf, "if I could only acquire a place."

"I will easily arrange that for you," said the Dog; "come with me to my master and you shall share my work."

So the Wolf and the Dog went towards the town together. On the way there the Wolf noticed that the hair on a certain part of the Dog's neck was very much worn away, so he asked him how that had come about.

"Oh, it is nothing," said the Dog. "That is only the place where the collar is put on at night to keep me chained up; it chafes a bit, but one soon gets used to it."

"Is that all?" said the Wolf. "Then good-bye to you, Master Dog."

Moral: "Better starve free than be a fat slave."

What does the dog think will be the ruin of the wolf?

Possible Answers:

The wolf is sickly and weak 

The wolf cannot understand the importance of freedom

The wolf does not appreciate what he has been given 

The wolf does not know how to hunt

The wolf's undisciplined life 

Correct answer:

The wolf's undisciplined life 

Explanation:

In the second paragraph, the dog says to the wolf "I knew how it would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you.” The dog means that because the wolf does not following a rigid, disciplined and safe lifestyle, the wolf will encounter a lot of trouble.  

Example Question #4 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Shepherd’s Boy" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so he came up with a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out "Wolf, Wolf," and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out "Wolf, Wolf," still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy's flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said: "A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth."

Why does the boy lie to the villagers about the wolf?

Possible Answers:

Because he wants to make fun of the villagers

Because the villagers were mean to him

Because he believes a wolf will soon appear

Because he is bored and lonely 

Because the boy is not very smart 

Correct answer:

Because he is bored and lonely 

Explanation:

The author tells us that the boy lied to the villagers because he was lonely and wanted excitement: “It was rather lonely for him all day, so he came up with a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement.”

Example Question #1 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Shepherd’s Boy" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so he came up with a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out "Wolf, Wolf," and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out "Wolf, Wolf," still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy's flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said: "A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth."

Why does the boy complain to the wise man of the village?

Possible Answers:

Because the boy is spoiled 

Because he blames the wise man for his sheep being eaten

Because no one came to help him when he was really in trouble

Because it is boring looking after sheep

Because the wolf did not take all of his flock

Correct answer:

Because no one came to help him when he was really in trouble

Explanation:

The boy complains to the wise man of the village because no one came to help him when he was really in trouble. 

Example Question #14 : Identifying And Analyzing Details In Literature Passages

Adapted from The Luckiest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil (1916)

December and January were scarcely good months for taking pictures, but Winona attempted some time exposures, with varying results. It was difficult to make the children realize the necessity of keeping absolutely still, and they ruined several of her pictures by grinning or moving. She secured quite a nice photo of the house, however, and several of the village, and promised herself better luck with family portraits when the summer came round again. She turned a large cupboard in the attic into her dark-room, and spent many hours experimenting with chemicals. She had urgent offers of help, but rejected them steadfastly, greatly to the disappointment of her would-be assistants. In the summer she meant to try all kinds of experiments. She had visions of rigging up a shelter made of leaves and branches, and taking a series of magnificent snap-shots of wild birds and animals, and she certainly intended to secure records of the sports at school. In the meantime she must content herself with landscape and still life.

How did the children ruin several of Winona’s pictures?

Possible Answers:

By moving and grinning 

By dancing around

By keeping totally still

By refusing to pose

By telling jokes

Correct answer:

By moving and grinning 

Explanation:

According to the author the children ruined several of Winona’s pictures “by grinning or moving.” Winona wanted the children to keep absolutely still. 

Example Question #2 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Luckiest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil (1916)

December and January were scarcely good months for taking pictures, but Winona attempted some time exposures, with varying results. It was difficult to make the children realize the necessity of keeping absolutely still, and they ruined several of her pictures by grinning or moving. She secured quite a nice photo of the house, however, and several of the village, and promised herself better luck with family portraits when the summer came round again. She turned a large cupboard in the attic into her dark-room, and spent many hours experimenting with chemicals. She had urgent offers of help, but rejected them steadfastly, greatly to the disappointment of her would-be assistants. In the summer she meant to try all kinds of experiments. She had visions of rigging up a shelter made of leaves and branches, and taking a series of magnificent snap-shots of wild birds and animals, and she certainly intended to secure records of the sports at school. In the meantime she must content herself with landscape and still life.

Which of these is Winona planning to photograph in the summer?

Possible Answers:

Wild birds 

Her sports teams

Wild animals 

Her family

All of the answer choices

Correct answer:

All of the answer choices

Explanation:

The author reveals how Winona is planning to photograph “family portraits when the summer came round again." The author also writes, ”She had visions of rigging up a shelter made of leaves and branches, and taking a series of magnificent snap-shots of wild birds and animals, and she certainly intended to secure records of the sports at school.” This means that she plans to photograph all of the answer choices in the summer. 

Example Question #32 : Prose Passages

Adapted from "The Lion’s Share" in The Fables of Aesop by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1902)

The Lion once went hunting with the Fox, the Jackal, and the Wolf. They hunted and they hunted till at last they surprised a Stag, and soon took its life. Then came the question of how the spoil should be divided. "Quarter me this Stag," roared the Lion; so the other animals skinned it and cut it into four parts. Then the Lion took his stand in front of the carcass and pronounced judgment: "The first quarter is for me in my capacity as King of Beasts; the second is mine as arbiter; another share comes to me for my part in the chase; and as for the fourth quarter, well, as for that, I should like to see which of you will dare to lay a paw upon it." "Humph," grumbled the Fox as he walked away with his tail between his legs; but he spoke in a low growl. “You may share the labors of the great, but you will not share the spoil."

Which of these animals is not mentioned in the story?

Possible Answers:

Fox 

Tiger

All of these answers 

Jackal 

Wolf

Correct answer:

Tiger

Explanation:

This story mentions a lion, a jackal, a wolf, a fox, and a deer. It does not mention any tigers.

Example Question #33 : Prose Passages

Adapted from "The Buffoon and the Countryman" in The Fables of Aesop by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1902)

At a country fair there was a Buffoon who made all the people laugh by imitating the cries of various animals. He finished off by squeaking so like a pig that the spectators thought that he had a porker concealed on him. But a Countryman who stood by said: "Call that a pig’s squeak! Nothing like it. You give me 'till tomorrow and I will show you what it's like." The audience laughed, but next day, sure enough, the Countryman appeared on the stage, and putting his head down squealed so hideously that the spectators complained and threw stones at him to make him stop. "You fools!" he cried, "see what you have been hissing," and held up a little pig whose ear he had been pinching to make him utter the squeals. Men often applaud a copy and boo the real thing.

How did the Buffoon make people laugh?

Possible Answers:

By dancing with the Countryman

By telling a joke about farm animals

By singing about farm animals

By making animals noises

By showing the audience a pig

Correct answer:

By making animals noises

Explanation:

This question is simply asking if you understand the details found in the passage. The buffoon makes people laugh by “imitating the cries of various animals.” 

Example Question #34 : Prose Passages

Adapted from "The Buffoon and the Countryman" in The Fables of Aesop by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1902)

At a country fair there was a Buffoon who made all the people laugh by imitating the cries of various animals. He finished off by squeaking so like a pig that the spectators thought that he had a porker concealed on him. But a Countryman who stood by said: "Call that a pig’s squeak! Nothing like it. You give me 'till tomorrow and I will show you what it's like." The audience laughed, but next day, sure enough, the Countryman appeared on the stage, and putting his head down squealed so hideously that the spectators complained and threw stones at him to make him stop. "You fools!" he cried, "see what you have been hissing," and held up a little pig whose ear he had been pinching to make him utter the squeals. Men often applaud a copy and boo the real thing.

Why did the spectators throw stones at the Countryman?

Possible Answers:

For looking like a pig

None of these answers; the spectators threw rocks at the Buffoon.

For trying to explain morals to them 

For being unkind to the Buffoon

For making a hideous squealing sound

Correct answer:

For making a hideous squealing sound

Explanation:

The passage tells us that the spectators threw stones at the countryman for “putting his head down [and squealing] so hideously.”

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