ISEE Middle Level Reading : Textual Relationships in Contemporary Life Passages

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Main Idea, Details, Opinions, And Arguments In Argumentative Humanities Passages

"Addictions" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

Addictions come in many forms, often quite hidden from those who should be aware of them. It is helpful to be aware of how hidden these obsessive behaviors can be. Often, they appear to be harmless, but this appearance is deceptive.  Perhaps several examples can assist in increasing the reader’s awareness of these potentially problematic habits. 

A very simple example of such an apparently innocuous addiction is the addiction that many people have to a beverage like coffee. While not as destructive as an addiction to alcohol, an extreme need for caffeine often covers a need for more sleep or an overzealous desire to be completely energetic at every waking moment. Also, a great deal of caffeine can potentially do damage to one’s heart due to the stress caused by its stimulating effects. 

Another example of a seemingly harmless addiction can be found in the case of people who are addicted to work. It is very tempting to praise such obsessive behavior, as it provides many benefits for others and even for the one doing the work. The advancement of a career certainly seems beneficial and often allows for great personal and financial fulfillment. Nevertheless, constant work often hides some sadness, insecurity, or fear that should be confronted by the person who slaves away without cessation. Likewise, over time, such continuous work often can be greatly destructive of important personal relationships.

Of course, many more examples could be brought forth, for one can obsess over almost anything. Still, even these two simple examples should make clear to the reader that it is possible for there to be apparently harmless—indeed, seemingly helpful—life practices that in reality can pose a potential harm to one’s physical or mental well-being.

What is different about the way that the author presents addiction to work and addiction to coffee?

Possible Answers:

There are no significant differences in presentation.

In the case of caffeine, he focuses only on physical damage that can occur.

In the case of work, he ignores the psychological damage of such obsession.

In the case of work, he notes that addiction to work can even appear to be a positive thing.

In the case of work, he denies the negative aspects on the whole.

Correct answer:

In the case of work, he notes that addiction to work can even appear to be a positive thing.

Explanation:

The only acceptable answer is the one that notes that the author remarks that obsession with work can often appear to be a good thing, something he does not do in the case of coffee. Among the wrong answers, there is a trap answer: "In the case of caffeine, he focuses only on physical damage that can occur." It is true that the author focuses on physical damage in the case of coffee but does not do so for work. Still, the author does not focus only on that even in the case of coffee.

Example Question #1 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from "Errors in Our Food Economy" in Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

Scientific research, interpreting the observations of practical life, implies that several errors are common in the use of food.

First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare. And, unfortunately, those who are most extravagant in this respect are often the ones who can least afford it.

Secondly, the food which we eat does not always contain the proper proportions of the different kinds of nutritive ingredients. We consume relatively too much of the fuel ingredients of food, such as the fats of meat and butter, and the starch which makes up the larger part of the nutritive material of flour, potatoes, sugar, and sweetmeats. Conversely, we have relatively too little of the protein of flesh-forming substances, like the lean of meat and fish and the gluten of wheat, which make muscle and sinew and which are the basis of blood, bone and brain.

Thirdly, many people, not only the well-to-do, but those in moderate circumstances, use needless quantities of food. Part of the excess, however, is simply thrown away with the wastes of the table and the kitchen; so that the injury to health, great as it may be, is doubtless much less than if all were eaten. Probably the worst sufferers from this evil are well-to-do people of sedentary occupations.

Finally, we are guilty of serious errors in our cooking. We waste a great deal of fuel in the preparation of our food, and even then a great deal of the food is very badly cooked. A reform in these methods of cooking is one of the economic demands of our time.

It is the author's opinion that we should consume less/fewer __________ and more __________.

Possible Answers:

sugar . . . fat

wheat gluten . . . potatoes

lean meat . . . fish

sweetmeats . . . lean meat

fish . . . butter

Correct answer:

sweetmeats . . . lean meat

Explanation:

In the third paragraph, the author states, "We consume relatively too much of the fuel ingredients of food, such as the fats of meat and butter, and the starch which makes up the larger part of the nutritive material of flour, potatoes, sugar, and sweetmeats. Conversely, we have relatively too little of the protein of flesh-forming substances, like the lean of meat and fish and the gluten of wheat, which make muscle and sinew and which are the basis of blood, bone and brain." So, he or she thinks we should consume less fatty meat, butter, and starch in the form of flour, potatoes, sugar, and sweetmeats. This allows us to narrow down our answer choices to "sweetmeats . . . lean meat" and "sugar . . . fat." So, does the author think we should eat more lean meat, or more fat? The author says in the second sentence that we should eat more lean meat, fish, and wheat gluten, so "sweetmeats . . . lean meat" is the correct answer. The author mentions fat when discussing things of which we consume too much in the first sentence.

Example Question #1 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

"Addictions" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

Addictions come in many forms, often quite hidden from those who should be aware of them. It is helpful to be aware of how hidden these obsessive behaviors can be. Often, they appear to be harmless, but this appearance is deceptive.  Perhaps several examples can assist in increasing the reader’s awareness of these potentially problematic habits. 

A very simple example of such an apparently innocuous addiction is the addiction that many people have to a beverage like coffee. While not as destructive as an addiction to alcohol, an extreme need for caffeine often covers a need for more sleep or an overzealous desire to be completely energetic at every waking moment. Also, a great deal of caffeine can potentially do damage to one’s heart due to the stress caused by its stimulating effects. 

Another example of a seemingly harmless addiction can be found in the case of people who are addicted to work. It is very tempting to praise such obsessive behavior, as it provides many benefits for others and even for the one doing the work. The advancement of a career certainly seems beneficial and often allows for great personal and financial fulfillment. Nevertheless, constant work often hides some sadness, insecurity, or fear that should be confronted by the person who slaves away without cessation. Likewise, over time, such continuous work often can be greatly destructive of important personal relationships.

Of course, many more examples could be brought forth, for one can obsess over almost anything. Still, even these two simple examples should make clear to the reader that it is possible for there to be apparently harmless—indeed, seemingly helpful—life practices that in reality can pose a potential harm to one’s physical or mental well-being.

 

What is different about the way that the author presents addiction to work and addiction to coffee?

Possible Answers:

There are no significant differences in presentation.

In the case of work, he denies the negative aspects on the whole.

In the case of work, he notes that addiction to work can even appear to be a positive thing.

In the case of caffeine, he focuses only on physical damage that can occur.

In the case of work, he ignores the psychological damage of such obsession.

Correct answer:

In the case of work, he notes that addiction to work can even appear to be a positive thing.

Explanation:

The only acceptable answer is the one that notes that the author remarks that obsession with work can often appear to be a good thing, something he does not do in the case of coffee. Among the wrong answers, there is a trap answer: "In the case of caffeine, he focuses only on physical damage that can occur." It is true that the author focuses on physical damage in the case of coffee but does not do so for work. Still, the author does not focus only on that even in the case of coffee.

Example Question #2 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 1157 Vol. XLV (March 5th, 1898)

Eleven submarine cables traverse the Atlantic between sixty and forty degrees north latitude. Nine of these connect the Canadian provinces and the United States with the territory of Great Britain; two (one American, the other Anglo-American) connect France. Of these, seven are largely owned, operated or controlled by American capital, while all the others are under English control and management. There is but one direct submarine cable connecting the territory of the United States with the continent of Europe, and that is the cable owned and operated by the Compagnie Francais Cables Telegraphiques, whose termini are Brest, France, and Cape Cod, on the coast of Massachusetts.

All these cables between sixty and forty degrees north latitude, which unite the United States with Europe, except the French cable, are under American or English control, and have their termini in the territory of Great Britain or the United States. In the event of war between these countries, unless restrained by conventional act, all these cables might be cut or subjected to exclusive censorship on the part of each of the belligerent states. Across the South Atlantic there are three cables, one American and two English, whose termini are Pernambuco, Brazil, and St. Louis, Africa, and near Lisbon, Portugal, with connecting English lines to England, one directly traversing the high seas between Lisbon and English territory and one touching at Vigo, Spain, at which point a German cable company has recently made a connection. The multiplication under English control of submarine cables has been the consistent policy of Great Britain, and today her cable communications connect the home government with all her colonies and with every strategic point, thus giving her exceptional advantages for commercial as well as for political purposes.

In the event of war between England and the United States, the author would most likely feel that __________.

Possible Answers:

the United States would have little chance of emerging triumphant

the United States would be wise to ally with France or Germany

communication between the Americas and Europe would suffer

the United States would have a massive advantage

communication between the United States and the rest of Europe would remain largely uninterrupted

Correct answer:

communication between the Americas and Europe would suffer

Explanation:

The focus of this essay is on communication between the Americas and Europe, and there is little evidence to suggest that the author would agree with any of the answer choices that discuss the chances of the United States winning or losing a hypothetical war. Similarly, the author makes no mention of an idea that the United States should ally with France or Germany. What the author does say, however, is that “In the event of war between these countries, unless restrained by conventional act, all these cables might be cut or subjected to exclusive censorship on the part of each of the belligerent states.” So, since the United States and England own the vast majority of transatlantic cables, if the two nations were at war and censoring the communication that flowed over these cables, presumably the state of communications between the Americas and Europe would suffer heavily.

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 1178 Vol. XLV (June 25th, 1898)

An invention, to be patented, must be applied for by the actual inventor, and in the absence of acts constituting a transfer, the patent, and all legal ownership in it and all rights under it, go exclusively to the inventor. In the absence of express or implied contract, a mere employer of the inventor has no rights under the patent. Only contracts or assignments give to the employer, or to anyone else, a license or a partial or entire ownership in the patent. The equity of this may be appreciated by example. The carpenter invents an improvement in window frames, and the shop owner has no rights. He has no right even to make the patented window frame without license. The shop owner, in merely employing the carpenter, acquires no rights to the carpenter's patented inventions. But there are cases in which an implied license would go to the shop owner. For instance, if the carpenter was employed on the mutual understanding that he was particularly ingenious in devising carpenter work, and capable of improving upon the products of the shop; and if in the course of his work he devised a new and patentable window frame, and developed it in connection with his employment and at the expense of his employer; and if the new frames were made by the employer without protest from the carpenter, the carpenter could, of course, patent the new frame, but he could not oust the employer in his right to continue making the invention, for it would be held that the employer had acquired an implied license.

If he could not use it, then he would not be getting the very advantage for which he employed this particular carpenter, and if he did get that right, he would be getting all that he employed the carpenter for, and that right would not be at all lessened by the fact that the carpenter had a patent under which he could license other people. The patent does not constitute the right to make or use or sell, for such right is enjoyed without a patent. The patent constitutes the "exclusive" right to make, sell or use, and this the shop owner does not get unless he specially bargains for it. Implied licenses stand on delicate ground, and where men employ people of ingenious talent, with the understanding that the results of such talent developed during the employment shall inure to the benefit of the employer, there is only one safeguard, and that is to found the employment on a contract unmistakably setting forth the understanding.

The author of this passage is most probably which of the following?

Possible Answers:

A carpenter

A legal expert

A shopkeeper

An inventor

A professor

Correct answer:

A legal expert

Explanation:

This passage is written from the perspective of someone who understands the intricacies of patent law deeply. There is no suggestion or direct statement that the author is a shopkeeper, inventor, or carpenter, even though he does talk at length about these things. It seems most reasonable to infer that the author is a legal expert.

Example Question #1 : Inferences And Predictions In Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

The rowboat Fox, of the port of New York, manned by George Harbo, thirty-one years of age, captain of a merchantman, and Frank Samuelson, twenty-six years of age, left New York for Havre on the sixth of June. Ten days later the boat was met by the German transatlantic steamer Fürst Bismarck proceeding from Cherbourg to New York. On the eighth, ninth and tenth of July, the Fox was cast by a tempest upon the reefs of Newfoundland. The two men jumped into the sea, and thanks to the watertight compartments provided with air chambers fore and aft, it was possible for them to right the boat; but the unfortunates lost their provisions and their supply of drinking water. On the fifteenth they met the Norwegian three-masted vessel Cito, which supplied them with food and water. The captains of the vessels met with signed the log book and testified that the boat had neither sail nor rudder. The Fox reached the Scilly Islands on the first of August, having at this date been on the ocean fifty-five days. It arrived at Havre on the seventh of August.

Cost what it might, the men were bent upon reaching this port in order to gain the reward promised by Mr. Fox, of the Police Gazette. Thanks to the wind and a favorable current, they made one hundred and twenty-five miles in twenty-four hours. One slept three hours while the other rowed. Their skins and faces were tumefied by the wind, salt water, and sun; the skin of their hands was renewed three times; their legs were weakened; and they were worn out.

How did the Norwegian vessel that the two men met most significantly help them?

Possible Answers:

It gave them additional fuel for their ship.

It provided them with food and water.

It towed them to Havre.

It rescued them from the open ocean.

It verified that they were operating without sail or rudder.

Correct answer:

It provided them with food and water.

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read in detail, but also to be able to think critically and make an inference. The author tells you that the two men lost their supplies of food and water when they were tossed into the ocean on the tenth of July. He then notes, “On the fifteenth they met the Norwegian three-masted vessel Cito, which supplied them with food and water. The captains of the vessels met with signed the log book and testified that the boat had neither sail nor rudder.” So the Norwegian vessel gave the two men food and water and also verified that they were operating without sail or rudder. But, it is quite certain that as the two men were without food or water for five days on the open ocean, this gift would have been of a great deal more help to them than the verification offered by the captain. This is where you needed to think critically.

Example Question #51 : History 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 was divorced shortly before Henry died.

She gave him a son.

She outlived him.

She wrote many books.

She was killed along with Henry.

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 #2 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from "Errors in Our Food Economy" in Scientific American Supplement No. 1082 Vol. XLII (September 26th, 1896)

Scientific research, interpreting the observations of practical life, implies that several errors are common in the use of food.

First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare. And, unfortunately, those who are most extravagant in this respect are often the ones who can least afford it.

Secondly, the food which we eat does not always contain the proper proportions of the different kinds of nutritive ingredients. We consume relatively too much of the fuel ingredients of food, such as the fats of meat and butter, and the starch which makes up the larger part of the nutritive material of flour, potatoes, sugar, and sweetmeats. Conversely, we have relatively too little of the protein of flesh-forming substances, like the lean of meat and fish and the gluten of wheat, which make muscle and sinew and which are the basis of blood, bone and brain.

Thirdly, many people, not only the well-to-do, but those in moderate circumstances, use needless quantities of food. Part of the excess, however, is simply thrown away with the wastes of the table and the kitchen; so that the injury to health, great as it may be, is doubtless much less than if all were eaten. Probably the worst sufferers from this evil are well-to-do people of sedentary occupations.

Finally, we are guilty of serious errors in our cooking. We waste a great deal of fuel in the preparation of our food, and even then a great deal of the food is very badly cooked. A reform in these methods of cooking is one of the economic demands of our time.

Given the option between two identical meals, one of which costs ten dollars and another five dollars, the author would most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

try and barter the more expensive meal down in value

pick the more expensive meal

pick the cheaper meal

investigate the reputations of those who have cooked the two meals

It is impossible to say.

Correct answer:

pick the cheaper meal

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to pick up on one key argument made by the author. The author says, “First, many people purchase needlessly expensive kinds of food, doing this under the false impression that there is some peculiar virtue in the costlier materials, and that economy in our diet is somehow detrimental to our dignity or our welfare.” From this, we can determine that when given the choice between two identical meals, we should choose the one which is cheaper, for this would be less detrimental to our ability to purchase other food at a later date. The author clearly believes that the dignity attached to purchasing more expensive food is a false impression.

Example Question #1 : Making Predictions Based On Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from "Wild Animals in Captivity" by W. A. Atkinson in Chatterbox Periodical (1906, ed. J. Erskine Clark)

Notwithstanding all the care which is now bestowed upon wild animals in our zoological gardens and menageries, nearly all of them suffer a little in some way or other by confinement. When we think of the great difference which exists between the surroundings natural to a free wild animal, and those of even the best zoological gardens, we cannot but be surprised that so many animals from all parts of the world can be kept alive and in good condition in a climate so changeable as ours. Every effort is made by the keepers to copy as far as possible the natural conditions to which each animal is accustomed.

It was usual, for instance, to deprive all the flesh-eating animals of one of the greatest traveling menageries of food during one day in each week. It was found by experience that the animals were healthier when they suffered periods of fasting like this, than they were when they were fed regularly every day without a break. The explanation of this was very simple. These animals, when they were living wild in the jungles, forests, deserts, or ice-fields, obtained all their food by hunting. When game was scarce or difficult to catch, they were compelled to go hungry; and this occurred so often as to be a natural condition to which they were well accustomed. When, therefore, they were placed in cages, and were fed as regularly, though not as frequently as human beings, their health was more or less impaired.

Animals in confinement often undergo slight changes even when no alteration in their appearance or falling-off in health is noticeable. Many of them, for instance, rarely have young ones, and even when they have, the young are seldom as healthy and robust as if born in a wild state. The keepers have frequently the utmost difficulty in rearing animals which are born in menageries and zoological gardens. Yet if these animals were born in their own countries and under natural conditions, they would grow up healthy and strong, without receiving any more care than a kitten receives from its mother.

An incident which occurred in the Zoo not long ago affords a striking illustration of these facts. A wolf had an ordinary family of eight young ones. The keepers, probably thinking that these were too many for the captive wolf to bring up alone, divided the family. Four of them were left with their mother, and four of them were placed in charge of a collie. The dog took kindly to her foster-children, and reared them successfully with her own. This was only what the keepers expected. But when they placed the young ones together again, and compared the collie's family with the wolf's family, they were surprised to find that the four which had been nurtured by the collie were stronger and better animals than their four brothers and sisters. The best explanation of this result is that the collie was living a healthy natural life, while the wolf, though to all appearance quite well, was not enjoying the full vigor which results from a free and active life.

Based on this whole passage, what can you predict is the best way for zookeepers to best provide for the health of their captive animals?

Possible Answers:

Separate animals' young at birth to ensure the most young survive.

Ensure that each animal is allowed out of its cage on a regular basis to experience a taste of freedom.

Keep male and female animals of the same species separate to avoid confrontation between males.

Imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.

Keep the animals well fed and meticulously nurtured.

Correct answer:

Imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.

Explanation:

The overall argument of this passage, as demonstrated by the stories about the study of the wolf and the collie raising the wolf's pups and the discussion of why it is best to deny captive animals an occasional meal, is that the best way for zookeepers to provide for the health of their captive animals is to “imitate the animals’ experience of the wild as closely as possible.” 

Example Question #21 : Passage Reasoning

"Conservatism" by Matthew Minerd (2013)

In American politics, there is perhaps no word that is more over-simplified than “conservative.” Many people use this term as though it has a single meaning and expresses a single historical-political outlook. Nothing could be further from the truth. The development of American conservatism must be understood as a combination of a number of strands of ideology that often coexist with great tension and difficulty. Although there are many groups that are combined in this larger assortment, two examples will suffice to show the great diversity present in this seemingly simple group.

For instance, there are the “traditionalist conservatives,” who generally are concerned with preserving Western culture and tradition against the developments of modern thought and culture. In many ways, this type of conservatism is the most “conserving”; that is, traditionalists are primarily concerned with maintaining the “old order” of Western civilization and learning. Because of these concerns, the traditionalist conservatives are very wary of any kind of major governmental program that promises to bring a “new order” into existence. While not disagreeing with the idea of progress, these conservatives believe that any such changes should occur organically, in a natural manner over a period of years. 

On the other hand, there are also the “libertarians," who are often classed as “conservatives” as well. They are surprisingly different from the traditionalist conservatives. The libertarians are primarily concerned with maximizing freedom and limiting the role of government in individual lives. In many ways, they represent the kind of modern individualism disagreed with by the traditionalists.

These two opposed groups are able to come together in the general notion of “conservatism” because of their shared attitudes toward the government, particularly the federal government. The traditionalists wish to limit the role of the federal government out of a fear that it will ruin traditional culture through radically new plans and agendas. The libertarians seek to limit it out of a desire to give individual citizens maximum freedom of choice and action. While these two branches of “conservatism” are in many ways opposed to each other, they somehow manage to coexist along with many other positions that are all called “conservative” in spite of similarly striking differences.

Why does the author choose the two examples used in the selection?

Possible Answers:

In order to present the stages of a progressive argument for the passage's thesis

In order to show the incoherence of the word "conservatism"

In order to present a fact, followed by a counter-fact

In order to provide an exhaustive example of the divisions in conservatism

In order to provide a striking set of examples to support the passage's thesis

Correct answer:

In order to provide a striking set of examples to support the passage's thesis

Explanation:

The thesis of this passage is that the word "conservative" is used to describe a set of groups that are very different from each other. At the end of the first paragraph, the author states, "Although there are many groups that are combined in this larger assortment, two examples will suffice to show the great diversity present in this seemingly simple group." This is a clear statement of the reasoning behind the second and third paragraphs. They provide two very striking examples of the wide divergences in ideas accepted by people who call themselves "conservatives."

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