ISEE Middle Level Reading : Making Inferences and Predictions in Science Passages

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

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Example Question #31 : Textual Relationships In Science Passages

Adapted from The Story of Eclipses by George F. Chambers (1900)

Observations of total solar eclipses during the nineteenth century have been, for the most part, carried out under circumstances so essentially different from everything that has gone before, that not only does a new chapter seem desirable but also a new form of treatment. Up to the beginning of the eighteenth century, the observations (even the best of them) may be said to have been made and recorded with but few exceptions by unskilled observers with no clear ideas as to what they should look for and what they might expect to see. Things improved a little during the eighteenth century, and the observations by Halley, Maclaurin, Bradley, Don Antonio Ulloa, Sir W. Herschel, and others in particular rose to a much higher standard than any that had preceded them. However, it has only been during the nineteenth century, and especially during the latter half of it, that total eclipses of the sun have been observed under circumstances calculated to extract from them large and solid extensions of scientific knowledge.

The total eclipse of July 28, 1851, may be said to have been the first which was the subject of an “Eclipse Expedition,” a phrase which of late years has become exceedingly familiar. The total phase was visible in Norway and Sweden, and great numbers of astronomers from all parts of Europe flocked to those countries. The red flames were very much in evidence, and the fact that they belonged to the sun and not to the moon was clearly established. Hind mentions that “the aspect of Nature during the total eclipse was grand beyond description.” This feature is dwelt upon with more than usual emphasis in many of the published accounts. I have never seen it suggested that the mountainous character of the country may have had something to do with it, but that idea would seem not improbable.

In the year 1858, two central eclipses of the sun occurred, both presenting some features of interest. That of March 15 was annular, the central line passing across England. The weather generally was unfavorable and the annular phase was only observed at a few places, but important meteorological observations were made and yielded results, as regards the diminution of temperature, which were very definite.

The author of this passage would most likely view the astronomical advancements of the twentieth century with __________.

Possible Answers:

great excitement

fear and awe

confusion

reservations and skepticism

nonchalance

Correct answer:

great excitement

Explanation:

Based on the author’s excitement about the advancements in the viewing of solar eclipses made during the nineteenth century, we may reasonably predict that he would feel the same “great excitement” about those made in the twentieth century. There is no evidence to suggest he would feel “confusion” or “skepticism.” Certainly he would not feel “nonchalance” (casual indifference).

Example Question #371 : Isee Lower Level (Grades 5 6) Reading Comprehension

Adapted from The Principles of Breeding by S. L. Goodale (1861)

The Jersey cow, formerly known as the Alderney, is almost exclusively employed for dairy purposes, and may not be expected to give satisfaction for other uses. Their milk is richer than that of any other cows, and the butter made from it possesses a superior flavor and a deep rich color, and consequently commands an extraordinary price in all markets where good butter is appreciated.

Jersey cattle are of Norman origin, and are noted for their milking properties. The cows are generally very docile and gentle, but the males when past two or three years of age often become vicious and unmanageable. It is said that the cows fatten readily when dry.

There is no branch of cattle husbandry which promises better returns than the breeding and rearing of milch cows. In the vicinity of large towns and cities are many cows which having been culled from many miles around, on account of dairy properties, are considerably above the average, but taking the cows of the country together they do not compare favorably with the oxen. Farmers generally take more pride in their oxen, and strive to have as good or better than any of their neighbors, while if a cow will give milk enough to rear a large steer calf and a little besides, it is often deemed satisfactory.

The author would most likely view using a Jersey cow as a source of beef as __________.

Possible Answers:

a foolish, but understandable mistake

a waste of resources

It is impossible to say.

a situational consideration

a viable way to make a profit

Correct answer:

a waste of resources

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read the first paragraph carefully and make an inference from what the author says: “These cattle, formerly known as Alderney, are almost exclusively employed for dairy purposes, and may not be expected to give satisfaction for other uses.” He goes on to say that the milk and butter produced from these cows is very valuable, so if a farmer employed a Jersey cow for different purposes, the author would probably view the decision as “a waste of resources.”

Example Question #32 : Textual Relationships In Science Passages

Adapted from Anecdotes of the Habits and Instincts of Animals by Mrs. R. Lee (1852)

Otters will certainly consume an immense quantity of fish, and the owners of salmon or trout streams have great spite against them. It is, however, very possible to tame them so as to make them bring the fish that they catch. This practice is much more followed in other countries than in England; they are purposely kept for it in Sweden, and at a signal from the cook will go and fetch the fish for dinner. Bishop Heber mentions that he saw several large and very beautiful otters fastened to bamboo stakes by the side of the Matta Colly river, some of which appeared to be at play, and uttered a shrill whistling noise. They wore straw collars and were very tame and docile. They should be caught quite young, and fed on small fish; then they are allowed bread and milk at alternate meals, till at last they entirely live upon this food. They are taught to fetch and carry with artificial fishes made of leather, and stuffed with wool. Then they are made to bring dead fishes, and if they attempt to tear them, they are severely punished. Thus trained, in process of time, the otter becomes useful and domesticated.

In their natural condition, otters will wander to considerable distances for their prey; Mr. St. John says, "I was rather amused at an old woman living on the Findhorn, who, complaining of the hardness of the present times, when 'a puir body couldn't get a drop smuggled whisky, or shoot a roe without his lordship's sportsman finding it out,' added to her list of grievances that even the otters were nearly all gone—'puir beasties.' 'Well, but what good could the otters do you?' I asked her. 'Good, your honor? Why scarcely a morning came but they left a bonny grilse (young salmon) on the scarp down yonder, and the venison was none the worse of the bit the puir beasts ate themselves.’ The people here (Morayshire) call every edible animal—fish, flesh, or fowl—“venison,” or as they pronounce it, “venisaan.” For instance, they tell you that the snipes are good venison, or that the trout are not good venison in the winter. The people of the Findhorn have learned well how to utilize the natural tenacity of the otter, but they have yet to attempt to domesticate them.

Which of these statements can most reasonably be inferred about the author based on the passage?

Possible Answers:

She is English. 

She is an environmentalist.

She is dedicated to animal rights.

She has attended a college or university.

She is a farmer.

Correct answer:

She is English. 

Explanation:

It is fairly obvious that the author is not an environmentalist or dedicated to animal rights from her statement near the end of the first paragraph, “Then they are made to bring dead fishes, and if they attempt to tear them, they are severely punished. Thus trained, in process of time, the otter becomes useful and domesticated.” Her statement about how otters are “severely punished” is delivered matter-of-factly and without any indication that it concerns the author. There is no evidence to support an inference that the author has attended a college or university other than perhaps that she is writing an academic essay. Also, although she is concerned with farmers and farming life, there is no indication that she is a farmer herself. The only answer choice that could be reasonably inferred is that the author is English. She says, “This practice is much more followed in other countries than in England; [otters] are purposely kept for it in Sweden." This information suggests that the author is living and writing in England for an English audience.

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

Adapted from "Birds’ Nests" by John Burroughs in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The woodpeckers all build in about the same manner, excavating the trunk or branch of a decayed tree, and depositing the eggs on the fine fragments of wood at the bottom of the cavity. Though the nest is not especially an artistic work, requiring strength rather than skill, yet the eggs and the young of few other birds are so completely housed from the elements, or protected from their natural enemies—the jays, crows, hawks, and owls. A tree with a natural cavity is never selected, but one which has been dead just long enough to have become soft and brittle throughout. The bird goes in horizontally for a few inches, making a hole perfectly round and smooth and adapted to his size, then turns downward, gradually enlarging the hole, as he proceeds, to the depth of ten, fifteen, twenty inches, according to the softness of the tree and the urgency of the mother bird to deposit her eggs. While excavating, male and female work alternately. After one has been engaged fifteen or twenty minutes, drilling and carrying out chips, it ascends to an upper limb, utters a loud call or two, when its mate soon appears, and, alighting near it on the branch, the pair chatter and caress a moment; then the fresh one enters the cavity and the other flies away.

What can you infer about male and female woodpeckers from this passage?

Possible Answers:

They have a close and intimate bond.

They work quickly and hastily.

They are incapable of showing emotion.

They do not always work together very well.

They mate for life.

Correct answer:

They have a close and intimate bond.

Explanation:

In the concluding lines of this passage, the author talks about how “while excavating, male and female work alternately.” He also says, “the pair chatter and caress a moment; then the fresh one enters the cavity and the other flies away.” The key word for answering this question is “caress.” It means touch and stroke with affection. From the sum of this information, you can reasonably infer that woodpeckers “have a close and intimate bond.”

Example Question #21 : Making Inferences And Predictions In Science Passages

Adapted from "Wasps" by Thomas G. Belt in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

One day I saw a small black and yellow banded wasp hunting for spiders; it approached a web where a spider was stationed in the center, made a dart towards it—apparently a feint to frighten the spider clear of its web; at any rate it had that effect, for it fell to the ground, and was immediately seized by the wasp, who stung it, then ran quickly backwards, dragging the spider after it, up a branch reaching to the ground until it got high enough, when it flew heavily off with it. It was so small, and the spider so cumbersome, that it probably could not have raised it from the ground by flight.

All over the world there are wasps that store their nests with the bodies of spiders for their young to feed on. In Australia, I often witnessed a wasp engaging with a large flat spider that is found on the bark of trees. It would fall to the ground, and lie on its back, so as to be able to grapple with its opponent; but the wasp was always the victor in the encounters I saw, although it was not always allowed to carry off its prey in peace. One day, sitting on the sandbanks on the coast of Hobson’s Bay, I saw one dragging along a large spider. Three or four inches above it hovered two minute flies, keeping a little behind, and advancing with it. The wasp seemed much disturbed by the presence of the tiny flies, and twice left its prey to fly up towards them, but they darted away with it. As soon as the wasp returned to the spider, there they were hovering over and following it again. At last, unable to drive away its small provocateurs, the wasp reached its burrow and took down the spider, and the two flies stationed themselves one on each side of the entrance, and would, doubtless, when the wasp went away to seek another victim, descend and lay their own eggs in the nest.

Which of these inferences about the author can be most easily assumed?

Possible Answers:

He lives in Australia.

He has observed the behavior of wasps around the world.

He has recently graduated from university after studying entomology, the study of insects.

He is not used to writing about his research.

He is more interested by the behavior of spiders than that of wasps.

Correct answer:

He has observed the behavior of wasps around the world.

Explanation:

There is no evidence to support any of these inferences except the one that suggests that the author has “observed the behavior of wasps around the world.” The author says “All over the world there are wasps that store their nests with the bodies of spiders for their young to feed on.” Seeing as he cites no one else's research, it is reasonable to infer that he has conducted this research himself. Although he only mentions his time in Australia, it is unreasonable to conclude that this necessarily means he lives in Australia—he might have only been visiting to conduct research.

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

Adapted from “The Stars” by Sir Robert S. Ball in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902, ed. Edward Singleton Holden)

The group of bodies that cluster around our sun forms a little island in the extent of infinite space. We may illustrate this by drawing a map in which we shall endeavor to show the stars placed at their proper relative distances. 

We first open the compasses one inch, and thus draw a little circle to represent the path of Earth. We are not going to put in all the planets; we take Neptune, the outermost, at once. To draw its path, I open the compasses to thirty inches, and draw a circle with that radius. That will do for our solar system, though the comets no doubt will roam beyond these limits. 

To complete our map, we ought to put in some stars. There are a hundred million to choose from, and we shall begin with the brightest. It is often called the Dog Star, but astronomers know it better as Sirius. Let us see where it is to be placed on our map. Sirius is a good deal further off than Neptune; so I try at the edge of the drawing-board; I have got a method of making a little calculation that I do not intend to trouble you with, but I can assure you that the results it leads me to are quite correct; they show me that this board is not big enough. But could a board which was big enough fit into this lecture theatre? No; in fact, the board would have to go out through the wall of the theatre, out through London. Indeed, big as London is, it would not be large enough to contain the drawing-board that I should require. It would have to stretch about twenty miles from where we are now assembled. We may therefore dismiss any hope of making a practical map of our system on this scale if Sirius is to have its proper place. 

Let us, then, take some other star. We shall naturally try with the nearest of all. It is one that we do not know in this part of the world, but those that live in the southern hemisphere are well acquainted with it. The name of this star is Alpha Centauri. Even for this star, we should require a drawing three or four miles long if the distance from the earth to the sun is to be taken as one inch. 

You see what an isolated position our sun and its planets occupy. The stars might be very troublesome neighbors if they were very much closer to our system; it is therefore well they are so far off. If they were near at hand, they would drag us into unpleasantly great heat by bringing us too close to the sun, or produce a coolness by pulling us away from the sun, which would be quite as disagreeable.

Which of these statements about the author can you most reasonably infer to be true?

Possible Answers:

He dropped out of university.

He worked for the American space program.

He is unmarried and childless.

He works in London.

He is an amateur astronomer.

Correct answer:

He works in London.

Explanation:

There is no evidence in this passage to support that the author is “unmarried” or that “he dropped out of university.” Likewise, there is no mention of the “American space program” or of the author’s professional or amateur status as an astronomer. It is reasonable to assume he is a professional from the assuredness of his tone. The only piece of information that could possibly lead to an inference being made is found in the third paragraph where the author is talking about constructing a scale model of the known universe. He says, “in fact, the board would have to go out through the wall of the theatre, out through London. Indeed, big as London is, it would not be large enough to contain the drawing-board that I should require. It would have to stretch about twenty miles from where we are now assembled.” The author is clearly in London and giving a lecture to a group of assembled individuals, so we can reasonably infer that the author “works in London.” Of course, this is not a concrete inference; he might simply be in town for a conference. But, there is such little evidence to support any other inference, so this is the answer choice that can be “most reasonably” inferred.

Example Question #31 : Textual Relationships In Science Passages

Adapted from "Comets" by Camille Flammarion in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902) edited by Edward Singleton Holden.

These tailed bodies, which suddenly come to light up the heavens, were for long regarded with terror, like so many warning signs of divine wrath. Men have always thought themselves much more important than they really are in the universal order; they have had the vanity to pretend that the whole creation was made for them, while in reality the whole creation does not suspect their existence. The Earth we inhabit is only one of the smallest worlds, and therefore it can scarcely be for it alone that all the wonders of the heavens, of which the immense majority remains hidden from it, were created. In this disposition of man to see in himself the center and the end of everything, it was easy indeed to consider the steps of nature as unfolded in his favor, and if some unusual phenomenon presented itself, it was considered to be without doubt a warning from Heaven.

If these illusions had had no other result than the amelioration of the more timorous of the community one would regret these ages of ignorance; not only were these fancied warnings of no use, seeing that once the danger passed, man returned to his former state, but they also kept up among people imaginary terrors, and revived the fatal resolutions caused by the fear of the end of the world.

When one fancies the world is about to end—and this has been believed for more than a thousand years—no solicitude is felt in the work of improving this world; by the indifference or disdain into which one falls, periods of famine and general misery are induced which at certain times have overtaken our community. Why use the wealth of a world which is going to perish? Why work, be instructed, or rise in the progress of the sciences or arts? Much better to forget the world, and absorb oneself in the barren contemplation of an unknown life. It is thus that ages of ignorance weigh on man, and thrust him further and further into darkness, while Science makes known by its influence on the whole community, its great value, and the magnitude of its aim.

How would the author of this passage expect mankind to react if armageddon seemed likely?

Possible Answers:

With resistance and combined effort

With chaotic aggression and destructive tendencies

With passivity and fear

With confusion and denial

With apathy and dereliction of responsibility

Correct answer:

With apathy and dereliction of responsibility

Explanation:

In the third paragraph, the author discusses what he believes happens to society when mankind believes that complete annihilation is imminent. He says “by the indifference or disdain into which one falls . . . why use the wealth of a world which is going to perish? Why work, be instructed, or rise in the progress of the sciences or arts? Much better to forget the world, and absorb one's self in the barren contemplation of an unknown life.”

It is clear that he believes man reacts with apathy and stops trying to better himself, he “abandons his duty” or “with dereliction of responsibility.” There is no evidence to suggest the author believes mankind would resist and organize a combined effort or would react with confusion and denial. It might be reasonable to say “passivity and fear,” but the author rarely mentions fear and instead focuses on how mankind chooses to abandon his duties.

Example Question #41 : Textual Relationships In Science Passages

Adapted from "Comets" by Camille Flammarion in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902) edited by Edward Singleton Holden.

These tailed bodies, which suddenly come to light up the heavens, were for long regarded with terror, like so many warning signs of divine wrath. Men have always thought themselves much more important than they really are in the universal order; they have had the vanity to pretend that the whole creation was made for them, while in reality the whole creation does not suspect their existence. The Earth we inhabit is only one of the smallest worlds, and therefore it can scarcely be for it alone that all the wonders of the heavens, of which the immense majority remains hidden from it, were created. In this disposition of man to see in himself the center and the end of everything, it was easy indeed to consider the steps of nature as unfolded in his favor, and if some unusual phenomenon presented itself, it was considered to be without doubt a warning from Heaven.

If these illusions had had no other result than the amelioration of the more timorous of the community one would regret these ages of ignorance; not only were these fancied warnings of no use, seeing that once the danger passed, man returned to his former state, but they also kept up among people imaginary terrors, and revived the fatal resolutions caused by the fear of the end of the world.

When one fancies the world is about to end—and this has been believed for more than a thousand years—no solicitude is felt in the work of improving this world; by the indifference or disdain into which one falls, periods of famine and general misery are induced which at certain times have overtaken our community. Why use the wealth of a world which is going to perish? Why work, be instructed, or rise in the progress of the sciences or arts? Much better to forget the world, and absorb oneself in the barren contemplation of an unknown life. It is thus that ages of ignorance weigh on man, and thrust him further and further into darkness, while Science makes known by its influence on the whole community, its great value, and the magnitude of its aim.

With which of these statements about mankind would the author of this passage be most likely to disagree?

Possible Answers:

Mankind is sufficiently dedicated to the sciences.

Mankind has a narrow worldview.

Mankind is fatalistic.

Mankind is self-centered.

Mankind is incapable of appreciating the cosmos.

Correct answer:

Mankind is sufficiently dedicated to the sciences.

Explanation:

The author would most likely disagree that “mankind is sufficiently dedicated to the sciences.” In the conclusion he argues that “why work, be instructed, or rise in the progress of the sciences or arts . . . It is thus that ages of ignorance weigh on man, and thrust him further and further into darkness, while Science makes known by its influence on the whole community, its great value, and the magnitude of its aim.”

It is clear he believes the impact of science can be extremely positive for the progression of mankind and seems to be urging the increased support of science. That mankind is “self-centered,” “has a narrow worldview,” is “incapable of appreciating the cosmos,” and is “fatalistic” are all supported by the author’s description of mankind’s inadequacies in the first paragraph.

 

 

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