ISEE Lower Level Reading : Textual Relationships in History Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ISEE Lower Level Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #11 : History Passages

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

I am going to take you to the top of the highest pyramid and I am going to ask that you imagine yourself possessed of the eyes of a hawk. Way, way off, in the distance, far beyond the yellow sands of the desert, you will see something green and shimmering. It is a valley situated between two rivers. It is the land of mystery and wonder which the Greeks called Mesopotamia—the "country between the rivers."

The names of the two rivers are the Euphrates and the Tigris. They begin their course amidst the snows of the mountains of Armenia and slowly they flow through the southern plain until they reach the muddy banks of the Persian gulf. They perform a very useful service. They turn the arid regions of Western Asia into a fertile garden.

The valley of the Nile had attracted people because it had offered them food upon fairly easy terms. The "land between the rivers" was popular for the same reason. It was a country full of promise and both the inhabitants of the northern mountains and the tribes which roamed through the southern deserts tried to claim this territory as their own and most exclusive possession. The constant rivalry between the mountaineers and the desert-nomads led to endless warfare. Only the strongest and the bravest could hope to survive, and that will explain why Mesopotamia became the home of very strong people.

In the underlined sentences, Mesopotamia is primarily compared to __________.

Possible Answers:

Albania

The Euphrates

Egypt

The Tigris

Persia

Correct answer:

Egypt

Explanation:

“Mesopotamia” is the area of the world between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris; it was for a time also called “Persia.” So, none of these can be the correct answer. The correct answer is “Egypt.” The author compares Mesopotamia to Egypt in this passage when the author says, “The valley of the Nile had attracted people because it had offered them food upon fairly easy terms. The 'land between the rivers' was popular for the same reason” (Egypt being in the valley of the Nile).

Example Question #1 : Inferences And Predictions In Argumentative Social Science Passages

"What Do We Remember About History?" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

Henry the Eighth is most commonly remembered for the unique fact that he took six different wives over the course of his lifetime. There is even a famous ditty uttered by English schoolchildren to help them remember the fate of his various wives: “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.”

However, during Henry’s rule, England permanently ended its long-standing relationship with the Catholic church and became forever a Protestant kingdom. This break has had long-felt repercussions up to and including the present day. Yet, in spite of the deep importance of Henry’s decision to leave the family of Catholic nations, he is best known for taking six wives. This difference between importance of actions and nature of popular remembrance should tell us something about the collective understanding of history—it is often the trivial and merely interesting that survives, whilst the significant but less fascinating can fade from memory.

What can you infer about Henry’s sixth wife?

Possible Answers:

She wrote many books.

She was divorced shortly before Henry died.

She was killed along with Henry.

She gave him a son.

She outlived him.

Correct answer:

She outlived him.

Explanation:

The famous English ditty goes “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” If we are to take it that, as the author says, this saying is used to remember the fates of the various wives, it seems reasonable to infer that the sixth wife was neither “divorced,” “beheaded,” nor did she “die.” But, rather she “survived,” so “she outlived him.” There is no evidence to suggest she gave Henry a son, was killed along with Henry, wrote many books, or was divorced.

Example Question #21 : Isee Lower Level (Grades 5 6) Reading Comprehension

Adapted from The Man who Spoiled Napoleon’s Destiny by Rev. W. H. Fitchett, LL.D. (1899)

From March 18 to May 20, 1799—for more than sixty days and nights, that is—a little, half-forgotten, and more than half-ruined Syrian town was the scene of one of the fiercest and most dramatic sieges recorded in military history. And rarely has there been a struggle so apparently one-sided.

A handful of British sailors and Turkish irregulars were holding Acre, a town without regular defenses, against Napoleon, the most brilliant military genius of his generation, with an army of 10,000 war-hardened veterans, the "Army of Italy"—soldiers who had dared the snows of the Alps and conquered Italy, and to whom victory was a familiar experience. In their ranks military daring had reached, perhaps, its very highest point. And yet the sailors inside that ring of crumbling wall won! At Acre Napoleon experienced his first defeat; and, years after, at St. Helena, he said of Sir Sidney Smith, the gallant sailor who baffled him, "That man made me miss my destiny." It is a curious fact that one Englishman thwarted Napoleon's career in the East, and another ended his career in the West, and it may be doubted which of the two Napoleon hated most—Wellington, who finally overthrew him at Waterloo, or Sidney Smith, who, to use Napoleon's own words, made him "miss his destiny," and exchange the empire of the East for a lonely pinnacle of rock in the Atlantic.

What is the "destiny” that Napoleon misses out on?

Possible Answers:

To be named protector of France

To live on a rock in the Atlantic

To be Emperor of the East

To be General of the Army of Italy

To die in Syria

Correct answer:

To be Emperor of the East

Explanation:

The author says that Napoleon felt he had missed out on his destiny when Sir Sidney Smith defeats him at Acre. The author says: “. . . to use Napoleon's own words, made him "miss his destiny," and exchange the empire of the East for a lonely pinnacle of rock in the Atlantic.” Here “his destiny” is equated with “the empire of the East,” so you can infer that Napoleon’s destiny is “to be Emperor of the East.”

Example Question #131 : Inferential Comprehension

Adapted from The Man who Spoiled Napoleon’s Destiny by Rev. W. H. Fitchett, LL.D. (1899)

From March 18 to May 20, 1799—for more than sixty days and nights, that is—a little, half-forgotten, and more than half-ruined Syrian town was the scene of one of the fiercest and most dramatic sieges recorded in military history. And rarely has there been a struggle so apparently one-sided.

A handful of British sailors and Turkish irregulars were holding Acre, a town without regular defenses, against Napoleon, the most brilliant military genius of his generation, with an army of 10,000 war-hardened veterans, the "Army of Italy"—soldiers who had dared the snows of the Alps and conquered Italy, and to whom victory was a familiar experience. In their ranks military daring had reached, perhaps, its very highest point. And yet the sailors inside that ring of crumbling wall won! At Acre Napoleon experienced his first defeat; and, years after, at St. Helena, he said of Sir Sidney Smith, the gallant sailor who baffled him, "That man made me miss my destiny." It is a curious fact that one Englishman thwarted Napoleon's career in the East, and another ended his career in the West, and it may be doubted which of the two Napoleon hated most—Wellington, who finally overthrew him at Waterloo, or Sidney Smith, who, to use Napoleon's own words, made him "miss his destiny," and exchange the empire of the East for a lonely pinnacle of rock in the Atlantic.

What can you infer about Sir Sidney Smith?

Possible Answers:

He is Emperor of the East. 

He has never been on a boat.

He is an ally of Napoleon.

He is an Englishman. 

He is a native of Acre.

Correct answer:

He is an Englishman. 

Explanation:

We know that Sir Sidney Smith has been on a boat because he is a sailor, and likewise, we know he is not an ally of Napoleon because he fights him in a battle. There is no evidence to suggest that he is from Acre or Emperor of the East. The only verifiable answer is that Sir Sidney Smith is an Englishman. The author says, “It is a curious fact that one Englishman thwarted Napoleon's career in the East, and another ended his career in the West." The Englishman that he is referring to as thwarting Napoleon in the the East is Sir Sydney Smith.

Example Question #2 : 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 first paragraph, who can you infer was the intended audience for this passage?

Possible Answers:

People from the British Isles

People from New Jersey

People from Australia

People from France

People from New York

Correct answer:

People from New Jersey

Explanation:

In the first paragraph the author says, “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 suggests that this passage was taken from a larger piece about famous people from New Jersey and because the author refers to the audience in a personal and collective way, as in “make him interesting to us,” we know that the intended audience is people from the state of New Jersey.

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences In 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.

Which of these cannot be inferred from the passage?

Possible Answers:

During Lee’s life there was a war with the French and the Native Americans.

Charles Lee was from the British Isles.

Charles Lee served in the army.

Charles Lee lived for some time in New Jersey.

Charles Lee was wounded in battle. 

Correct answer:

Charles Lee was wounded in battle. 

Explanation:

We know that Lee was from the British Isles and lived in New Jersey for some time because the author tells us so. Likewise, we know that Lee served in the army and that there was a war with the French and the Native Americans because the author says, “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.” The only piece of information not directly stated by the passage is that Charles Lee was wounded in battle; there is no evidence to support this inference. 

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:

Return to the British Isles

Grow old and sick

Seek more and greater adventure

Go and live in New Jersey

Be discharged from the army

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 #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

Adapted from Early European History by Hutton Webster (1917)

History cannot easily go back beyond written records. These alone will preserve a full and accurate account of man's achievements. Manuscripts and books form one class of written records. The old Babylonians used tablets of soft clay, on which signs were impressed with a metal instrument. The tablets were then baked hard in an oven. The Egyptians made a kind of paper out of the papyrus, a plant native to the Nile valley. The Greeks and Romans at first used papyrus, but later they employed the more lasting parchment prepared from sheepskin. Paper seems to have been a Chinese invention. It was introduced into Europe by the Arabs during the twelfth century of our era.

History, based on written records, begins in different countries at varying dates. A few manuscripts and inscriptions found in Egypt date back three or four thousand years before Christ. The annals of Babylonia are scarcely less ancient. Trustworthy records in China and India do not extend beyond 1000 B.C. For the Greeks and Romans the commencement of the historic period must be placed about 750 B.C. The inhabitants of northern Europe did not come into the light of history until about the opening of the Christian era.

Which of these civilizations was the last to keep a reliable written history?

Possible Answers:

Northern Europeans 

Chinese 

Babylonians

Egyptians 

Greeks and Romans 

Correct answer:

Northern Europeans 

Explanation:

In the final paragraph the author discusses, in chronological order, the various periods of time in which each nation began keeping a written history. As the Northern Europeans come last on this list you can infer that they were the last to keep a reliable written history. Alternatively, the author says, “The inhabitants of northern Europe did not come into the light of history until about the opening of the Christian era.” He also tells you that all the other civilizations mentioned had written history from at least 750 B.C. Therefore, if you knew that B.C. stands for "Before Christ," then you would know that the Christian Era must have come after all the other eras had finished. 

Example Question #23 : Isee Lower Level (Grades 5 6) Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Early European History by Hutton Webster (1917)

History cannot easily go back beyond written records. These alone will preserve a full and accurate account of man's achievements. Manuscripts and books form one class of written records. The old Babylonians used tablets of soft clay, on which signs were impressed with a metal instrument. The tablets were then baked hard in an oven. The Egyptians made a kind of paper out of the papyrus, a plant native to the Nile valley. The Greeks and Romans at first used papyrus, but later they employed the more lasting parchment prepared from sheepskin. Paper seems to have been a Chinese invention. It was introduced into Europe by the Arabs during the twelfth century of our era.

History, based on written records, begins in different countries at varying dates. A few manuscripts and inscriptions found in Egypt date back three or four thousand years before Christ. The annals of Babylonia are scarcely less ancient. Trustworthy records in China and India do not extend beyond 1000 B.C. For the Greeks and Romans the commencement of the historic period must be placed about 750 B.C. The inhabitants of northern Europe did not come into the light of history until about the opening of the Christian era.

Which of the civilizations mentioned in this passage can you infer lived in or near the Nile valley?

Possible Answers:

The Babylonians 

The Chinese 

The Egyptians 

The Greeks 

The Romans 

Correct answer:

The Egyptians 

Explanation:

The author states, “The Egyptians made a kind of paper out of the papyrus, a plant native to the Nile valley.” As the Egyptians used the plant, and the plant was native to the Nile Valley, it can be inferred that the Egyptians lived in or near the Nile Valley. The Nile is a very important river, both historically and today for the massive amounts of farming its flood plains allow.

Example Question #2 : Making Inferences And Predictions 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.

Stephen was most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

A French king

The king of England before Henry

A French soldier fighting the British

A religious leader in England

Eleanor’s previous husband

Correct answer:

The king of England before Henry

Explanation:

In context, the author says “Henry Plantagenet . . . quietly succeeded to the throne of England, according to his agreement made with the late King at Winchester. Six weeks after Stephen’s death . . . “ The word “late” in this context means recently deceased or dead. So, you can see that the author is discussing how Henry became king after an agreement was made with the previous king who had just died. The next sentence begins by saying “after Stephen’s death,” so you can infer that Stephen was most likely the “King of England before Henry.”

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