ISEE Middle Level Reading : Textual Relationships in Literature Passages

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Literature Passages

Adapted from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlor next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to, only look up sudden and fierce and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him ask this question, but at last we began to see he was desirous to avoid them. When a seaman did put up at the Admiral Benbow (as now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol) he would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered the parlor; and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse when any such was present. For me, at least, there was no secret about the matter, for I was, in a way, a sharer in his alarms. He had taken me aside one day and promised me a silver fourpenny on the first of every month if I would only keep my "weather-eye open for a seafaring man with one leg" and let him know the moment he appeared. Often enough when the first of the month came round and I applied to him for my wage, he would only blow through his nose at me and stare me down, but before the week was out he was sure to think better of it, bring me my four-penny piece, and repeat his orders to look out for "the seafaring man with one leg.”

How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell you. I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. Now the leg would be cut off at the knee, now at the hip; now he was a monstrous kind of a creature who had never had but the one leg, and that in the middle of his body. To see him leap and run and pursue me over hedge and ditch was the worst of nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.

 Based on this passage, what can we predict is likely to happen later in the story?

Possible Answers:

The narrator will run away from home.

The man described at the beginning of the first paragraph will suddenly become friendly and sociable.

The narrator will go deaf.

The man with one leg will show up.

The narrator will tell the man who is paying him the monthly fourpenny piece that his work isn’t worth that much money.

Correct answer:

The man with one leg will show up.

Explanation:

Let’s consider what happens in each paragraph of the passage. In the first paragraph, a man is described, and we can tell that he is eager to avoid seafaring men. He pays the narrator to watch out for the man with one leg. The narrator then has nightmares about the man with one leg. Based on these events, it is reasonable to predict that the man with one leg might show up later in the story, as the man described in the first paragraph is paranoid and paying people to let him know if he shows up. None of the other answer choices are supported by the passage.

Example Question #31 : Literature Passages

Adapted from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time—just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired, and he was suffering to practice it undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music—the reader probably remembers how to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet—no doubt, as far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astronomer.

The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him—a boy a shade larger than himself. A newcomer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well-dressed, too—well-dressed on a weekday. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on—and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved—but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time.

What can we infer happened to Tom just before this passage begins?

Possible Answers:

Something good—he climbed a tree, from the top of which he could see the entire town

Something bad—he got into an argument with a friend

Something bad—one of his friends pushed him into the river

Something bad but ambiguous

Something good but ambiguous

Correct answer:

Something bad but ambiguous

Explanation:

The passage begins with the lines, "Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time—just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises." Based on this introduction, we can infer that something bad just happened to Tom, because it left him with "troubles," even thouhg he forgot about those troubles within two minutes. The passage doesn't tell us exactly what caused Tom to have troubles, just merely that he did. So, the best answer choice is "Something bad but ambiguous."

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Literature Passages

Adapted from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time—just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired, and he was suffering to practice it undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music—the reader probably remembers how to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet—no doubt, as far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astronomer.

The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him—a boy a shade larger than himself. A newcomer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well-dressed, too—well-dressed on a weekday. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on—and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved—but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time.

Which of the following is implied in the passage?

Possible Answers:

The two boys are actually relatives, but do not know this yet.

By moving in a circle, the boys are starting to perform a dance.

The newcomer earned the money to buy his fancy clothing on his own.

Most children in the town of St. Petersburg do not dress particularly nicely on Fridays.

The clothing the newcomer is wearing is not suitable for the climate of the town of St. Petersburg.

Correct answer:

Most children in the town of St. Petersburg do not dress particularly nicely on Fridays.

Explanation:

In the passage's second paragraph, Tom encounters a new boy who is well-dressed: "This boy was well-dressed, too—well-dressed on a weekday. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on—and it was only Friday." The details in this sentence that the boy's being "well-dressed on a weekday" is "simply astounding," and that "He had shoes on—and it was only Friday" tell readers that it is not the norm for children in the town of St. Petersburg to dress nicely, or wear shoes at all, on weekdays.

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Literature Passages

Adapted from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time—just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired, and he was suffering to practice it undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music—the reader probably remembers how to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet—no doubt, as far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astronomer.

The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him—a boy a shade larger than himself. A newcomer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well-dressed, too—well-dressed on a weekday. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on—and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved—but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time.

Which would be the most likely event to happen next in the story, based on the end of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Tom and the new boy will immediately become best friends.

Tom will show the new boy around town.

Tom and the new boy will argue or mock each other.

Tom will forget how to whistle.

Tom will go swimming.

Correct answer:

Tom and the new boy will argue or mock each other.

Explanation:

The passage's second paragraph tells us that Tom "turned up his nose at [the new boy's] finery" and that the new boy's "citified air" "ate into Tom's vitals." Based on the fact that Tom is both annoyed by the new boy and snubbing him, it seems that, of the given answer choices, it is most likely that Tom and the new boy might argue or mock each other—Tom because the new boy's style of dress is incongruous with the rest of the town's, and the new boy because Tom is dressed in shabbier clothing than his own.

Example Question #11 : Making Inferences In Literary Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Fight at the Pass of Thermopylæ by Charlotte M. Yonge (1876)

The troops sent for this purpose were from different cities, and amounted to about 4,000 who were to keep the pass against two millions. The leader of them was Leonidas, who had newly become one of the two kings of Sparta, the city that above all in Greece trained its sons to be hardy soldiers, dreading death infinitely less than shame. Leonidas had already made up his mind that the expedition would probably be his death, perhaps because a prophecy had been given at the Temple at Delphi that Sparta should be saved by the death of one of her kings of the race of Hercules. He was allowed by law to take with him 300 men, and these he chose most carefully, not merely for their strength and valor, but selecting those who had sons, so that no family might be altogether destroyed. These Spartans, with their helots or slaves, made up his own share of the numbers, but all the army was under his generalship. It is even said that the 300 celebrated their own funeral rites before they set out lest they should be deprived of them by the enemy, since, as we have already seen, it was the Greek belief that the spirits of the dead found no rest till their obsequies had been performed. Such preparations did not daunt the spirits of Leonidas and his men, and his wife, Gorgo, not a woman to be faint-hearted or hold him back. Long before, when she was a very little girl, a word of hers had saved her father from listening to a traitorous message from the King of Persia; and every Spartan lady was bred up to be able to say to those she best loved that they must come home from battle "with the shield or carried upon it."

Who can you infer is an ancestor of Leonidas?

Possible Answers:

Delphi 

Gorgo 

Hercules

Sparta 

Hector 

Correct answer:

Hercules

Explanation:

The author reveals that “Leonidas had already made up his mind that the expedition would probably be his death, perhaps because a prophecy had been given at the Temple at Delphi that Sparta should be saved by the death of one of her kings of the race of Hercules.” As the person being discussed is Leonidas and we know that he is a king of Sparta, it makes sense that he is the royal descendent of Hercules.

Example Question #11 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Literature Passages

Adapted from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)

One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it—it was the black kitten's fault entirely. For the white kitten had been having its face washed by the old cat for the last quarter of an hour (and bearing it pretty well, considering); so you see that it COULDN'T have had any hand in the mischief.

The way Dinah washed her children's faces was this: first she held the poor thing down by its ear with one paw, and then with the other paw she rubbed its face all over, the wrong way, beginning at the nose: and just now, as I said, she was hard at work on the white kitten, which was lying quite still and trying to purr—no doubt feeling that it was all meant for its good.

But the black kitten had been finished with earlier in the afternoon, and so, while Alice was sitting curled up in a corner of the great arm-chair, half talking to herself and half asleep, the kitten had been having a grand game of romps with the ball of worsted Alice had been trying to wind up, and had been rolling it up and down till it had all come undone again; and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles, with the kitten running after its own tail in the middle.

'Oh, you wicked little thing!' cried Alice, catching up the kitten, and giving it a little kiss to make it understand that it was in disgrace. 'Really, Dinah ought to have taught you better manners! You OUGHT, Dinah, you know you ought!' she added, looking reproachfully at the old cat, and speaking in as cross a voice as she could manage—and then she scrambled back into the arm-chair, taking the kitten and the worsted with her, and began winding up the ball again. But she didn't get on very fast, as she was talking all the time, sometimes to the kitten, and sometimes to herself. Kitty sat very demurely on her knee, pretending to watch the progress of the winding, and now and then putting out one paw and gently touching the ball, as if it would be glad to help, if it might.

Where in Alice’s house can we infer this passage takes place?

Possible Answers:

The garden

The cellar

The living room

The kitchen

The dining-room

Correct answer:

The living room

Explanation:

Considering the furniture mentioned in this passage can help you figure out the correct answer. Alice falls asleep in “a corner of the great arm-chair,” and later, the unwound ball of worsted is described in the clause “and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles.” So, we need to pick out a room in which one is likely to find an armchair and a hearth-rug. (A “hearth” is another word for a fireplace, so a hearth-rug is a rug one puts in front of the fireplace.) Given this evidence, only one answer choice makes sense: the living room.

Example Question #1 : Making Predictions In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax (1910)

The big ranches of the West are now being cut up into small farms. The nester has come, and come to stay. Gone is the buffalo and the free grass of the open plain—even the stinging lizard, the horned frog, the centipede, the prairie dog, the rattlesnake, are fast disappearing. Save in some of the secluded valleys of southern New Mexico, the old-time round-up is no more; the trails to Kansas and to Montana have become grass-grown or lost in fields of waving grain; the maverick steer, the regal longhorn, has been supplanted by his unpoetic but more beefy and profitable Polled Angus, Durham, and Hereford cousins from across the seas. The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song. The last figure to vanish is the cowboy, the animating spirit of the vanishing era. He sits his horse easily as he rides through a wide valley, enclosed by mountains, clad in the hazy purple of coming night,—with his face turned steadily down the long, long road, "the road that the sun goes down." Dauntless, reckless, without the unearthly purity of Sir Galahad though as gentle to a woman as King Arthur, he is truly a knight of the twentieth century. A vagrant puff of wind shakes a corner of the crimson handkerchief knotted loosely at his throat; the thud of his pony's feet mingling with the jingle of his spurs is borne back; and as the careless, gracious, lovable figure disappears over the divide, the breeze brings to the ears, faint and far yet cheery still, the refrain of a cowboy song.

The next paragraph will most likely contain __________.

Possible Answers:

a description of cowboy songs

an introduction of the American cowboy

a discussion of profitable ranching

a comparison of cowboy and Arthurian legends

a critique of the Wild West lifestyle

Correct answer:

a description of cowboy songs

Explanation:

This paragraph is an introduction of the American cowboy, so it is unlikely that the next will be the same. More likely, the next paragraph will expound on what this one mentioned at the end: the cowboy song. Also, earlier in the paragraph the author mentions that “The changing and romantic West of the early days lives mainly in story and in song.” If he wants to tell us more about the West, it would make sense that he discuss the songs to do so.

Example Question #31 : Making Inferences In Literary Fiction Passages

Adapted from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlor next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to, only look up sudden and fierce and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him ask this question, but at last we began to see he was desirous to avoid them. When a seaman did put up at the Admiral Benbow (as now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol) he would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered the parlor; and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse when any such was present. For me, at least, there was no secret about the matter, for I was, in a way, a sharer in his alarms. He had taken me aside one day and promised me a silver fourpenny on the first of every month if I would only keep my "weather-eye open for a seafaring man with one leg" and let him know the moment he appeared. Often enough when the first of the month came round and I applied to him for my wage, he would only blow through his nose at me and stare me down, but before the week was out he was sure to think better of it, bring me my four-penny piece, and repeat his orders to look out for "the seafaring man with one leg.”

How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell you. I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. Now the leg would be cut off at the knee, now at the hip; now he was a monstrous kind of a creature who had never had but the one leg, and that in the middle of his body. To see him leap and run and pursue me over hedge and ditch was the worst of nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.

Based on the underlined sentence, the reader can infer that __________.

Possible Answers:

the man often forgets to ask about whether any seafaring men passed by that day

seafaring men pass by the house every day

men pass by on the road far too quickly to be identified as seafaring men

seafaring men never go by along the road

the man goes on a stroll every day

Correct answer:

the man goes on a stroll every day

Explanation:

The underlined sentence is “Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road.”  This doesn’t tell us that “seafaring men pass by the house every day,” nor does it tell us that “seafaring men never go by along the road” —if either of these were the case, why would the man ask if any seafaring men had gone by? Those answers can be eliminated. Similarly, if men passed by on the road far too quickly to be identified as seafaring men, there would be no reason to ask if any had gone by, since they wouldn’t have been able to be identified at the time. The sentence doesn’t tell us anything about the man forgetting to ask his daily question, so “the man often forgets to ask about whether any seafaring men passed by that day” cannot be correct either. This leaves us with the correct answer, “the man goes on a stroll every day.” We can assume this because the sentence says, “Every day when he came back from his stroll.” If, every day, the time at which the man asks his question is being described as it relates to his stroll, he must go on a stroll every day, or at least be thought to do so.

Example Question #11 : Making Inferences About The Author Or Literary Fiction Passage Content

Adapted from Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1895)

He sounded the clacker till his arm ached, and at length his heart grew sympathetic with the birds' thwarted desires. They seemed, like himself, to be living in a world which did not want them. Why should he frighten them away? They took upon more and more the aspect of gentle friends and pensioners—the only friends he could claim as being in the least degree interested in him, for his aunt had often told him that she was not. He ceased his rattling, and they alighted anew.

"Poor little dears!" said Jude, aloud. "You shall have some dinner—you shall. There is enough for us all. Farmer Troutham can afford to let you have some. Eat, then my dear little birdies, and make a good meal!"

They stayed and ate, inky spots on the nut-brown soil, and Jude enjoyed their appetite. A magic thread of fellow-feeling united his own life with theirs. Puny and sorry as those lives were, they much resembled his own.

His clacker he had by this time thrown away from him, as being a mean and sordid instrument, offensive both to the birds and to himself as their friend. All at once he became conscious of a smart blow upon his buttocks, followed by a loud clack, which announced to his surprised senses that the clacker had been the instrument of offense used. The birds and Jude started up simultaneously, and the dazed eyes of the latter beheld the farmer in person, the great Troutham himself, his red face glaring down upon Jude's cowering frame, the clacker swinging in his hand.

"So it's 'Eat my dear birdies,' is it, young man? 'Eat, dear birdies,' indeed! I'll tickle your breeches, and see if you say, 'Eat, dear birdies' again in a hurry! And you've been idling at the schoolmaster's too, instead of coming here, ha'n't ye, hey? That's how you earn your sixpence a day for keeping the rooks off my corn!"

It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that __________.

Possible Answers:

the clacker is lost at the end of the passage

the birds are about as big as sparrows

Jude gains comfort from seeing the bird's satiation

Jude is passionate about animal welfare

Jude falls asleep

Correct answer:

Jude gains comfort from seeing the bird's satiation

Explanation:

We know the birds are bigger than sparrows as they are called "rooks," which are akin to crows. The information in the passage that proves Jude is comforted by the bird’s hunger being fulfilled, or satiated, is “Jude enjoyed their appetite.”

Example Question #12 : Making Inferences In Literary Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (1879 Kingston ed.)

Thus talking, we pushed on until we came to a pleasant grove which stretched down to the water's edge. Here, we halted to rest, seating ourselves under a large tree, by a rivulet that murmured and splashed along its pebbly bed into the great ocean before us. A thousand gaily-plumaged birds flew twittering above us, and Fritz and I gazed up at them. 

My son suddenly started up.

"A monkey," he exclaimed. “I am nearly sure I saw a monkey." 

As he spoke, he sprang round to the other side of the tree, and in doing so, stumbled over a small round object. He handed it to me, remarking as he did so that it was a round bird's nest, of which he had often heard. "You may have done so," said I, laughing, "but this is a coconut."

We split open the nut, but, to our disgust, found the kernel dry and uneatable. 

"Hullo," cried Fritz, "I always thought a coconut was full of delicious sweet liquid, like almond milk."

"So it is," I replied, "when young and fresh, but as it ripens the milk becomes congealed, and in course of time is solidified into a kernel. This kernel then dries as you see here, but when the nut falls on favorable soil, the germ within the kernel swells until it bursts through the shell, and, taking root, springs up a new tree."

"I do not understand," said Fritz, "how the little germ manages to get through this great thick shell, which is not like an almond or hazelnut shell, which is divided down the middle already."

"Nature provides for all things," I answered, taking up the pieces. " Look here, do you see these three round holes near the stalk? It is through them that the germ obtains egress. Now let us find a good nut if we can." 

As coconuts must be overripe before they fall naturally from the tree, it was not without difficulty that we obtained one in which the kernel was not dried up. When we succeeded, however, we were so refreshed by the fruit that we could defer eating until later in the day, and so spare our stock of provisions.

The last paragraph allows readers to infer that the narrator and Fritz __________.

Possible Answers:

own a coconut farm

have a limited supply of food

are lost in a desert, far from water

are on vacation

are vegetarians

Correct answer:

have a limited supply of food

Explanation:

In the last paragraph, as the narrator describes how he and Fritz ate the coconut, saying, “We were so refreshed by the fruit that we could defer eating until later in the day, and so spare our stock of provisions.” The narrator’s saying that they could “spare [their] stock of provisions,” means that he and Fritz must have a limited supply of food, since “provisions” means food taken on an extended trip where no more will be available and implies that they only have a certain amount of food with them. None of the other answer choices are supported by the passage. 

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