SSAT Middle Level Reading : Making Predictions Based on Narrative Social Science Passages

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

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Example Questions

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

Grow old and sick

Seek more and greater adventure

Go and live in New Jersey

Be discharged from the army

Return to the British Isles

Correct answer:

Seek more and greater adventure


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 #3 : How To Make Predictions Based On Nonfiction 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 stayed roughly the same size.

It was dramatically expanded.

It became slightly smaller.

It grew slightly larger.

It was dramatically reduced.

Correct answer:

It stayed roughly the same size.


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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