SSAT Middle Level Reading : Locating Details in Argumentative Humanities Passages

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Locating Details In Argumentative Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Van Loon (1921)

Early humans did not know what time meant, but in a general way they kept track of the seasons. They had noticed that the cold winter was invariably followed by the mild spring—that spring grew into the hot summer when fruits ripened and the wild ears of corn were ready to be eaten and that summer ended when sudden gusts of wind swept the leaves from the trees and a number of animals were getting ready for the long hibernal sleep.

But now, something was the matter with the weather. The warm days of summer had come very late. All the time the days grew shorter and the nights grew colder than they ought to have been.

It began to snow. It snowed for months and months. All the plants died and the animals fled in search of the southern sun. The early humans hoisted their young upon their backs and followed them. But they could not travel as fast as the wilder creatures and he were forced to choose between quick thinking or quick dying. They seem to have preferred the former, for they have managed to survive the terrible glacial periods which threatened to kill every human being on the face of the earth.

First, it was necessary that early humans clothe themselves lest they freeze to death. They learned how to dig holes and cover them with branches and leaves, and in these traps they caught animals, which they then killed with heavy stones and whose skins they used as coats for himself and their families.

Next came the housing problem. This was simple. Many animals were in the habit of sleeping in dark caves. The early humans now followed their example, drove the animals out of their warm homes and claimed them for their own.

In this way thousands of years passed. Only the people with the cleverest brains survived. They had to struggle day and night against cold and hunger. They discovered fire. They were forced to invent tools. They learned how to sharpen stones into axes and how to make hammers. They were obliged to put up large stores of food for the endless days of the winter and they found that clay could be made into bowls and jars and hardened in the rays of the sun. And so the glacial period, which had threatened to destroy humanity, became its greatest teacher because it forced humans to use their brains.

Which of these statements is NOT supported by the passage?

Possible Answers:

Humans were forced to live in glacial conditions for millennia.

All the plants died during the ice age.

Humanity first made tools out of necessity. 

All animals fled south during the ice age.

Early humans might not have survived had people not learned to employ the pelts of animals for warmth.

Correct answer:

All animals fled south during the ice age.

Explanation:

All of these statements are supported by this passage except the idea that “all animals fled south during the Ice Age.” While the author does state “All the plants died and the animals fled in search of the southern sun. The early humans hoisted their young upon their backs and followed them. But they could not travel as fast as the wilder creatures and he were forced to choose between quick thinking or quick dying,” this excerpt actually contains information that must refute the answer choice we have chosen. We know that “all the plants died,” and that man could not keep up with the animals that were fleeing. This means that man would surely have starved to death if “all the animals fled south.” Some of them must have remained, e.g. for him to trap and chase out of caves.

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