SSAT Elementary Level Reading : How to Make Predictions Based on Nonfiction Passages

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Inferential Understanding In Nonfiction Passages

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

The children of Germany and France caught the madness of the hour, and resolved upon a crusade of their own. Inspired by the preaching of a fanatical priest named Nicholas, twenty thousand young boys assembled at Cologne. They came from all ranks of life; the heir of the proud noble marched side by side with the son of the humblest peasant. Sisters, priests, and servants joined the throng, swelling the numbers and adding to the confusion. They stayed in Cologne for several weeks, set back by chaos and disease. Eventually the ill-fated group set off for the Holy Land, but their difficulties were just beginning. 

Based on the end of the passage which of these sentences most likely summarizes the fate of the Children’s Crusade?

Possible Answers:

It ended in triumph and glory 

It captured the Holy Land for Christianity 

It ended terribly and tragically 

It was ended before it began and the children were saved

The children never left Cologne 

Correct answer:

It ended terribly and tragically 

Explanation:

In the last sentence the author says, “Eventually the ill-fated group set off for the Holy Land, but their difficulties were just beginning.” The use of the word “ill-fated” suggests the group would be unlucky and meet a tragic end; the use of the word “difficulties” also suggests a troubled future. 

Example Question #42 : Narrative Social Science Passages

Adapted from A Man Who Coveted Washington’s Shoes by Frank E. Stockton (1896)

The person whose story we are now about to tell was not a Jerseyman, but, as most of the incidents which make him interesting to us occurred in this state, we will give him the benefit of a few years' residence here.

This was General Charles Lee, who might well have been called a soldier of fortune. He was born in England, but the British Isles were entirely too small to satisfy his wild ambitions and his bold spirit. There are few heroes of romance who have had such a wide and varied experience, and who have engaged in so many strange enterprises. He was a brave man and very able, but he had a fault which prevented him from being a high-class soldier: he could not bear authority and was always restive under command of another, and, while always ready to tell other people what they ought to do, was never willing to be told what he ought to do.

He joined the British army when he was a young man, and he first came to this country in 1757, when General Abercrombie brought over an army to fight the French. For three years, Lee was engaged in the wilds and forests, doing battle with the Native Americans and French, and no doubt he had all the adventures an ordinary person would desire, but this experience was far from satisfactory.

Based on the ending of this passage, what can you predict General Charles Lee will do next?

Possible Answers:

Go and live in New Jersey

Be discharged from the army

Grow old and sick

Seek more and greater adventure

Return to the British Isles

Correct answer:

Seek more and greater adventure

Explanation:

The passage ends with this sentence: “For three years, Lee was engaged in the wilds and forests, doing battle with the Native Americans and French, and no doubt he had all the adventures an ordinary person would desire, but this experience was far from satisfactory.” The author suggests that Lee had had a great deal of adventure, more than enough for most people, but that for Lee those experiences were not "satisfactory," which means good enough. This suggests that he will go on to have more adventures that the author will describe in the future.

Example Question #2 : Inferential Understanding In Nonfiction Passages

"The Civil War" by Michael Verini (2014)

The Civil War, which took place from 1861 to 1865, is one of the most defining events in American history. The survival of the United States depended on the nation's ability to bring to reality the ideals of liberty, equality, and justice.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency in 1860, it brought the long-term debate about the powers of the federal and state governments to a climax. When Lincoln was inaugurated, six Southern states seceded from the Union and created the Confederate States of America. Within the next few years, five more states also seceded and joined the Confederate States. The creation of a new government in the United States caused the Civil War to occur between the North and the South.

After four years of war, the Union was preserved and slavery became illegal. Due to this outcome, over four million African-American slaves were freed from their former owners. Although the Civil War was a violent conflict between two differing American subcultures, it helped create a more united country in the years following the war.

Based solely on the information in the passage, how do you think most slaves viewed the Civil War?

Possible Answers:

Neutrally, because they were not directly involved in the war.

Negatively, because they did not want the states to fight.

Negatively, because they were treated worse during the war.

Positively, because their owners left the plantations to fight in the war.

Positively, because they were freed from their owners after the war was over.

Correct answer:

Positively, because they were freed from their owners after the war was over.

Explanation:

When the North won the Civil War, four million slaves were freed from their former owners; thus, the best answer choice is "Positively, because they were freed from their owners after the war was over." Although some of the other answer choices may be true, they are never explicitly referred to in the passage.

Example Question #44 : Science Passages

Adapted from "Life Growth - Frogs" by Margaret Warner Morley in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

Our common frogs, like many of the fishes, do not trouble themselves about the fate of their eggs after they are carefully laid in a safe place. They trust Mother Nature to see the little tadpoles safely through the perils of childhood, to help them avoid being eaten or starving, and cut, not their teeth, but their arms and legs.

In Venezuela, however, there dwells a frog with well developed maternal instinct. The mothers have pockets on their backs, not for their own convenience, but as cradles for their babies. The fathers put the fertilized eggs into the pockets of the mothers, and there they remain, well guarded, until the young are able to care for themselves.

What can you most reliably predict based on the information in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Frogs are in the midst of a significant evolutionary development.

Few birds in Venezuela eat frogs.

Venezuela is absolutely full of frogs.

Venezuelan frogs are far more likely to survive infancy than their counterparts elsewhere.

Fishes carefully guard their young until they are old enough to survive alone.

Correct answer:

Venezuelan frogs are far more likely to survive infancy than their counterparts elsewhere.

Explanation:

Many of these answer choices may be true, but only one can be reliably predicted based on this passage. That is that “Venezuelan frogs are far more likely to survive infancy than their counterparts elsewhere.” You can make this prediction because you are told that elsewhere infant frogs are left to take care of themselves, but in Venezuela the mother’s take care of the frogs during infancy. If the Venezuelan frogs are cared for and raised it is reasonably to assume they would be far more likely to survive than other frogs.

Example Question #11 : Textual Relationships In History Passages

Adapted from A Child’s History of England by Charles Darwin (1905)

Henry Plantagenet, when he was but twenty-one years old, quietly succeeded to the throne of England, according to his agreement made with the late king at Winchester. Six weeks after Stephen’s death, he and his queen, Eleanor, were crowned in that city, into which they rode on horseback in great state, side by side, amidst much shouting and rejoicing, and clashing of music, and strewing of flowers.

The reign of King Henry the Second began well. The king had great possessions, and (with his own property, and with that of his wife) was lord of one-third part of France. He was a young man of strength, ability, and determination, and immediately applied himself to remove some of the evils which had arisen in the last unhappy reign. He took away all the grants of land that had been hastily made, on either side, during the recent struggles; he forced numbers of disorderly soldiers to depart from England; he reclaimed all the castles belonging to the crown; and he forced the wicked nobles to pull down their own castles, to the number of eleven hundred, in which such dismal cruelties had been inflicted on the people.  

The king’s brother, Geoffrey, rose against him in France and forced Henry to wage a war in France. After he had subdued and made a friendly arrangement with his brother (who did not live long), his ambition to increase his possessions involved him in a war with the French king, Louis. He had been on such friendly terms with the French king just before, that to his infant daughter, then a baby in the cradle, he had promised one of his little sons in marriage, who was a child of five years old. However, the war came to nothing at last, and the Pope made the two kings friends again.

What can you predict happened to King Henry’s French territory during his lifetime?

Possible Answers:

It grew slightly larger.

It became slightly smaller.

It stayed roughly the same size.

It was dramatically reduced.

It was dramatically expanded.

Correct answer:

It stayed roughly the same size.

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to identify the correct clue to help you predict what might have happened to Henry’s French territory. In the concluding paragraph, the author is talking about Henry’s war with the French King Louis, which Henry waged in order to increase the size of his French territory. The author says “However, the war came to nothing at last, and the Pope made the two Kings friends again.” Because the war “came to nothing,” this tells you that very little happened, and therefore it is reasonable to predict that Henry’s French territory “stayed roughly the same size.”

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