Question of the Day: ISEE Upper Level Verbal
Although the prosecutor acted as though his evidence was conclusive, in reality it was based only on __________ facts related to the defendant’s work schedule on the day of the crime.
Much could be said about “pointed review” for the ISEE Upper Level Verbal Reasoning section. Indeed, it would be foolish to act as though one could not prepare for this section by means of structured exercises before the examination day. However, it is helpful to consider for a while a kind of test preparation that is often overlooked because of the great deal of time involved in it. The preparation to which I refer is copious amounts of reading undertaken by the student over the years before the examination. While it is impossible to turn back the clocks of time in order to allow for such preparation, it is possible that your young student has been an avid reader for some time. It is helpful, therefore, to consider the skills that are gained by such devotion to reading, particularly as is applicable to the Verbal Reasoning section of the ISEE.
By the time the young student takes the Upper Level Verbal examination for the ISEE, he or she is expected to have encountered a vast array of vocabulary terms. While it is possible to “cram” such vocabulary as well as to learn a variety of root-word aids for interpreting unknown words, the best situation is that the test-taker have developed a natural flair for the English language that can help him or her ably intuit the meanings of words without much memorization or difficulty. One of the best sources of such intuitive awareness is a long exposure to a large number of English phrases and terms, best gained by a general penchant for reading texts of various genres. Slowly but surely, such words become part of the general mindset of the student, much like the flavor of chicken permeates the stock of a soup as it cooks slowly upon the stovetop. It is possible to ask, “When did the water begin to taste like that?” and answer, “It is hard to tell!”—so too with the learning of vocabulary. It is difficult to tell when the exact “moment” of acquisition occurs when one augments his or her vocabulary through extensive reading. What is certain, however, is that at a certain time, it is finally grasped and naturally known. This kind of mixed knowledge allows the student to quickly guess the meanings of words as well as to quickly eliminate words that just do not “seem right.” Often this intuitive sense of meaning serves as an excellent source of unspoken knowledge that can help the test-taker deal with rather troublesome words and sentences.
In addition to such intuitive awareness of vocabulary, such broad reading also helps the student learn the general ways that words interact in sentences. This can greatly help him or her ascertain the structures of context clues that play a pivotal role in the sentence completion questions presented over the course of the Verbal Reasoning section. While it is of course helpful to have developed an explicit ability to “pick out” clues, it is equally as important to be able to have a quick sense of how such clues are used in general in English sentences and how they can interact with potentially extracted words.
Of course, test preparation must also have a dedicated, pre-examination component. The young student should always undertake a regimen that provides such preparation; however, there are few activities that can supply skills as can a long-term regimen of reading, providing the test-taker with an ample set of natural skills applicable to the rigors of the ISEE Upper Level Verbal section.