SSAT Elementary Level Reading : How to Make Inferences Based on Fiction Passages

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Use the following passage to make an inference.

Matt was in a hurry! He needed to finish packing for a seven-day vacation to Hawaii, take out the trash, and turn off all the lights and TV’s in the house. His ride was already on its way to pick him up! He doesn’t want to be late!  

Why is Matt in a hurry?

Possible Answers:

He's rushing to get to the airport on time.

He needs to go to the store before he leaves on vacation.

He's going to miss his meeting at work.

He's going to be late for school.

He doesn't want to be late for the wedding.

Correct answer:

He's rushing to get to the airport on time.

Explanation:

Matt is packing for a trip to Hawaii. The best way to get to Hawaii is to fly. You would infer that Matt is rushing to the airport to catch his flight to Hawaii.

Example Question #2 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Use the passage below to make an inference.

Today is a special day for Olivia. She helped her mom clean the house, bake the cake, and decorate with balloons. She invited all of her friends from school and her neighborhood to come over at 2 o’clock.

Why is today a special day for Olivia?

Possible Answers:

She's having a meeting at her house.

She's going to dance class.

It's her birthday party!

It's her mom's birthday.

She is going to a party. 

Correct answer:

It's her birthday party!

Explanation:

Today is a special day for Olivia because it's her birthday party. You could infer that cleaning the house, baking a cake, decorating with balloons, and inviting her friends from her school/neighborhood means she's getting ready for her own birthday party.

Example Question #3 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

As the airplane began to descend from 35,000 feet, after a bumpy four hour flight, Eric felt relieved that he would soon be on the ground.

 

Why is Eric relieved that the plane will land soon?

Possible Answers:

He is starving. He needs to get something to eat!

He is glad that the plane landed because he cannot wait to get home and see his family. He's been gone for 2 weeks!

He is tired. He wants to get off the plane.

He is nervous about flying. The flight was bumpy and so he will be glad to get off the plane once it lands.

He loves flying. 

Correct answer:

He is nervous about flying. The flight was bumpy and so he will be glad to get off the plane once it lands.

Explanation:

Eric is relieved that the plane will land soon.  You can infer this based on the clue:

"after a bumpy four hour flight" 

If the flight was bumpy AND he's relieved, you can conclude that he does not like flying and will be glad to get off the plane soon.

Note: Some of the other answers seem reasonable, but remember to only use the information given when making an inference.

Example Question #4 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Max had not eaten all day and was feeling ravenous! He decided to go to the store to buy ingredients to make a delicious dinner. His shopping list was wheat buns, beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, and a tomato. When Max got home he got straight to work on his dinner and then gobbled it up! 

What will Max make for his dinner?

Possible Answers:

Hamburger

Steak with salad

Cheeseburger

Cheese pizza 

Chicken and vegetables

Correct answer:

Cheeseburger

Explanation:

Using the sentence below, we can find the answer.

"His shopping list was: wheat buns, beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato."

You can infer that he is going to make a cheeseburger for dinner.

Example Question #5 : How To Make Inferences Based On 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.

Based on this whole passage, which of these months can you infer would be best for Winona’s photography?

Possible Answers:

June 

March 

October 

January 

December

Correct answer:

June 

Explanation:

The author suggests that winter is a worse time for taking pictures than the summer. June is the only one of these five months that is a summer month, so it can be reasonably inferred that Winona could capture the best photography in June.

Example Question #6 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction 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."

Who is referred to as “King of Beasts"?

Possible Answers:

The Wolf

The Fox

The Lion

The Jackal 

The Stag

Correct answer:

The Lion

Explanation:

You have probably heard a lion referred to as “King of the Jungle” before. Throughout literature, lions are often associated with royalty or primacy. In this story, the phrase “King of Beasts” appears during the lion’s own description of how to divide the meat. The lion is talking about himself as “King of Beasts.”

Example Question #7 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction 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."

Why does the lion think he can easily claim the fourth piece of meat?

Possible Answers:

The other animals are not hungry. 

The other animals cannot stop him. 

He contributed most to the chase.

The Wolf owes him.

It his right as “King of Beasts.”

Correct answer:

The other animals cannot stop him. 

Explanation:

The lion lists reasons for why he should receive each portion of meat. His reason for claiming the fourth piece is expressed as “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.”

Example Question #8 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Box of Robbers" in American Fairy Tales by L. Frank Baum (1901)

No one intended to leave Martha alone that afternoon, but it happened that everyone was called away, for one reason or another. Mrs. McFarland was attending the weekly card party held by the Women's Anti-Gambling League. Sister Nell's boyfriend had called quite unexpectedly to take her for a long drive. Papa was at the office, as usual. It was Mary Ann's day out. As for Emeline, the maid, she certainly should have stayed in the house and looked after the little girl, but Emeline had a restless nature.

"Would you mind, miss, if I just crossed the alley to talk to Mrs. Carleton's girl?" she asked Martha.

"'Course not," replied the child. "You'd better lock the back door, though, and take the key, for I shall be upstairs."

"Oh, I'll do that, of course, miss," said the delighted maid, and ran away to spend the afternoon with her friend, leaving Martha quite alone in the big house, and locked in, into the bargain.

What can you infer from the statement “Papa was at the office, as usual”?

Possible Answers:

None of these answers 

Martha’s parents are separated

Martha’s father works a lot 

Martha’s father is a very smart man

Martha does not like her father

Correct answer:

Martha’s father works a lot 

Explanation:

The inclusion of the clause “as usual” suggests it is very normal for Martha’s father to be working at the office. It can therefore be inferred that he works a lot. 

Example Question #9 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

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

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down on top of him; this soon woke up the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon the mouse, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but maybe I shall be able to assist you one of these days?" The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go. Sometime after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was in, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse. “Little friends may prove great friends and a small mercy can go a long way.”

From the whole of this story, what can you infer about the mouse?

Possible Answers:

He is calm. 

He is regal. 

He is not really a mouse. 

He is loyal.

He is big. 

Correct answer:

He is loyal.

Explanation:

Because the mouse promises to help the lion and then actually follows through with that promise by saving the lion’s life, it can be inferred that the mouse is loyal. To help you, "regal" means associated with royalty.

Example Question #10 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Adapted from Humphry Davy and the Safety-Lamp by George C. Towle (1912)

Few boys have ever led a happier, busier, or more varied existence than did Humphry Davy. He was the son of a poor wood-carver, who lived in the pretty seaside town of Penzance, in England, where Humphry was born in 1778. Lowly, however, as was his birth, in his earliest years Humphry gave many proofs that nature had endowed him with rare talents.

Some of the stories told of his childish brightness are hard to believe. They relate, for instance, that before he was two years old he could talk almost as plainly and clearly as a grown person; that he could repeat many passages of Pilgrim's Progress, from having heard them, before he could read; and that at five years old he could read very rapidly, and remembered almost everything he read.

His father, the wood-carver, had died while Humphry was still very young, and had left his family poor. But by good-fortune a kind neighbor and friend, a Mr. Tonkine, took care of the widow and her children, and obtained a place for Humphry as an apprentice with an apothecary of the town. Humphry proved, indeed, a rather troublesome inmate of the apothecary's house. He set up a chemical laboratory in his little room upstairs, and there devoted himself to all sorts of experiments. Every now and then an explosion would be heard, which made the members of the apothecary's household quake with terror.

Why does the author talk about Humphry Davy being able to repeat many passages from Pilgrim’s Progress?

Possible Answers:

To suggest that Humphry Davy was predisposed towards certain ideas

To show that Humphry Davy was talented for his age

To comment on the wonderful job done by Humphry’s parents

To encourage the reader to read Pilgrim’s Progress

To demonstrate the popularity of Pilgrim’s Progress

Correct answer:

To show that Humphry Davy was talented for his age

Explanation:

The detail about Davy being able to repeat many passages from Pilgrim’s Progress is included in the paragraph that begins, “Some of the stories told of his childish brightness are hard to believe.” So, the author sets up the paragraph with that statement about Davy’s unusual talents, and then offers several pieces of evidence, such as the anecdote about him being able to repeat passages of Pilgrim’s Progress, to help show that Davy was talented for his age.

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