SSAT Elementary Level Reading : How to Locate and Analyze Details in Fiction Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SSAT Elementary Level Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : Literal Understanding In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "Belling the Cat" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. "You will all agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily hide while she was in the neighborhood." This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?" The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said: "It is easy to propose impossible remedies."

Who is the common enemy of the mice?

Possible Answers:

The cat 

The young mouse 

The homeowner

None of these answers 

The old mouse 

Correct answer:

The cat 

Explanation:

The passage begins by saying, “Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat," so the common enemy of the mice is the cat.

Example Question #32 : Literal Understanding In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "Belling the Cat" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. "You will all agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily hide while she was in the neighborhood." This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?" The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said: "It is easy to propose impossible remedies."

Why does the young mouse want to put a bell around the cat’s neck?

Possible Answers:

So the mice will be able to hear when the cat is coming 

So that the cat will look festive for the Christmas season

So the mice can kill the cat

So that the cat will announce his presence at mealtimes

So the mice will be able to befriend the cat

Correct answer:

So the mice will be able to hear when the cat is coming 

Explanation:

The young mouse wishes to put a bell around the cat’s neck so that the mice will be able to hear the cat coming. The young mouse says: “Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat.”

Example Question #11 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Man, the Boy and the Donkey" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: "You fools, why do you not ride your donkey?" So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: "See that lazy youngster; he lets his father walk while he rides." So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: "Shame on that lazy man to let his poor little son trudge along." Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey?" The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders and carried the donkey with them. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them 'till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned. "That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them: "Please all, and you will please none."

Why does the first man that the father and son meet mock them?

Possible Answers:

Because the man and boy have no money

Because the boy cannot respond to the man’s question

Because they are walking beside the donkey, rather than making good use of it 

Because the man is very ugly

Because they are travelling with a donkey

Correct answer:

Because they are walking beside the donkey, rather than making good use of it 

Explanation:

The first man that the father and son meet criticizes them for walking beside the donkey, rather than riding on it. He says, “You fools, why do you not ride your donkey?”

Example Question #12 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Man, the Boy and the Donkey" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: "You fools, why do you not ride your donkey?" So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: "See that lazy youngster; he lets his father walk while he rides." So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: "Shame on that lazy man to let his poor little son trudge along." Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey?" The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders and carried the donkey with them. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them 'till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned. "That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them: "Please all, and you will please none."

What strange action do the father and son take after everyone has mocked them for abusing their donkey?

Possible Answers:

They dance in the town square for money

They split up and go their separate ways

They sell the donkey for almost nothing 

They give away all their food 

They pick up the donkey and carry it 

Correct answer:

They pick up the donkey and carry it 

Explanation:

Throughout the story, the man and his son are constantly mocked by the people they meet for not knowing how to properly make use of or treat their donkey. Eventually, frustrated by the constant criticism, they decide to pick the donkey up and carry it: “The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders and carried the donkey with them.”

Example Question #35 : Literal Understanding In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Box of Robbers" in American Fairy Tales by L. Frank Baum (1901)

No one intended to leave Martha alone that afternoon, but it happened that everyone was called away, for one reason or another. Mrs. McFarland was attending the weekly card party held by the Women's Anti-Gambling League. Sister Nell's boyfriend had called quite unexpectedly to take her for a long drive. Papa was at the office, as usual. It was Mary Ann's day out. As for Emeline, the maid, she certainly should have stayed in the house and looked after the little girl, but Emeline had a restless nature.

"Would you mind, miss, if I just crossed the alley to talk to Mrs. Carleton's girl?" she asked Martha.

"'Course not," replied the child. "You'd better lock the back door, though, and take the key, for I shall be upstairs."

"Oh, I'll do that, of course, miss," said the delighted maid, and ran away to spend the afternoon with her friend, leaving Martha quite alone in the big house, and locked in, into the bargain.

Why was Mrs. McFarland not at home?

Possible Answers:

She was talking to Mrs. Carleton

She was working at the office 

She was attending a weekly party 

She was out for a long drive 

She was on vacation in Europe 

Correct answer:

She was attending a weekly party 

Explanation:

The passage describes how everyone responsible for looking after Martha has gone out. The author says that Mrs. McFarland was not there because “Mrs. McFarland was attending the weekly card party held by the Women's Anti-Gambling League.”

Example Question #122 : Literature Passages

Adapted from "The Lion and the Mouse" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down on top of him; this soon woke up the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon the mouse, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but maybe I shall be able to assist you one of these days?" The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go. Sometime after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was in, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse. “Little friends may prove great friends and a small mercy can go a long way.”

Why does the lion not eat the mouse?

Possible Answers:

Lions do not ever eat mice.

The lion is tied down and helpless.

The lion has just eaten and is not hungry.

The mouse promises to help the lion in the future.

The mouse is too quick for the lion.

Correct answer:

The mouse promises to help the lion in the future.

Explanation:

The author says, “The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go.” This tells us that the lion only refuses to eat the mouse because the mouse promises to help the lion in the future.

Example Question #121 : Literature Passages

Adapted from "The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

A great conflict was about to take place between the Birds and the Beasts. When the two armies were gathered together, the Bat hesitated which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said "Come with us," but he said to them, "I am a Beast."

Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath him looked up and said "Come with us," but he said, "I am a Bird." Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the celebrations, but they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts, but soon had to run away, or else they would have torn him to pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now: he that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends."

Why does the bat refuse to side with either the birds or the beasts?

Possible Answers:

The bat is a coward.

The bat is a beast.

The bat is a bird.

The bat feels he is a member of both groups. 

The bat does not know how to fight.

Correct answer:

The bat feels he is a member of both groups. 

Explanation:

The bat refuses to fight with either the birds or the beasts because he feels he is a member of both groups. When the birds ask for his assistance, the bat says "I am a Beast," and when the beasts ask for his help, the bat says "I am a Bird."

Example Question #11 : Literature Passages

Adapted from "The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

A great conflict was about to take place between the Birds and the Beasts. When the two armies were gathered together, the Bat hesitated which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said "Come with us," but he said to them, "I am a Beast."

Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath him looked up and said "Come with us," but he said, "I am a Bird." Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the celebrations, but they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts, but soon had to run away, or else they would have torn him to pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now: he that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends."

Who won the battle between the beasts and the birds?

Possible Answers:

The beasts with the help of the bat.

No one; they never fought.

The birds without the help of the bat.

The birds with the help of the bat.

The beasts without the help of the bat.

Correct answer:

No one; they never fought.

Explanation:

The author says, “Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place.” This tells us that the battle between the beasts and the birds was never fought, so no one could have won.

Example Question #13 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from Myths and Legends of All Nations by Logan Marshall (1914)

When the great city of Troy was taken, all the chiefs who had fought against it set sail for their homes. But there was wrath in heaven against them, for they had carried themselves haughtily and cruelly in the day of their victory. Therefore they did not all find a safe and happy return. For one was shipwrecked and another was shamefully slain by his false wife in his palace, and others found all things at home troubled and changed and were driven to seek new dwellings elsewhere. And some, whose wives and friends and people had been still true to them through those ten long years of absence, were driven far and wide about the world before they saw their native land again. And of all, the wise Ulysses was he who wandered farthest and suffered most.

How long have the chiefs been away from home?

Possible Answers:

One year

Ten months

Ten years

One month

Twenty years

Correct answer:

Ten years

Explanation:

Near the end of the passage the author refers to "some [chiefs], whose wives and friends and people had been still true to them through those ten long years of absence." "Absence" means the state of being away from home or the state of not being present somewhere, so this sentence tells us that the chiefs have been away from home for ten years.

Example Question #43 : Literal Understanding In Fiction Passages

Adapted from Humphry Davy and the Safety-Lamp by George C. Towle (1912)

Few boys have ever led a happier, busier, or more varied existence than did Humphry Davy. He was the son of a poor wood-carver, who lived in the pretty seaside town of Penzance, in England, where Humphry was born in 1778. Lowly, however, as was his birth, in his earliest years Humphry gave many proofs that nature had endowed him with rare talents.

Some of the stories told of his childish brightness are hard to believe. They relate, for instance, that before he was two years old he could talk almost as plainly and clearly as a grown person; that he could repeat many passages of Pilgrim's Progress, from having heard them, before he could read; and that at five years old he could read very rapidly, and remembered almost everything he read.

His father, the wood-carver, had died while Humphry was still very young, and had left his family poor. But by good-fortune a kind neighbor and friend, a Mr. Tonkine, took care of the widow and her children, and obtained a place for Humphry as an apprentice with an apothecary of the town. Humphry proved, indeed, a rather troublesome inmate of the apothecary's house. He set up a chemical laboratory in his little room upstairs, and there devoted himself to all sorts of experiments. Every now and then an explosion would be heard, which made the members of the apothecary's household quake with terror.

What was the occupation of Humphry Davy's father?

Possible Answers:

Wood-carver

Merchant

Blacksmith

Ship-builder

Sailor

Correct answer:

Wood-carver

Explanation:

This is a simple question that asks you to recall a detail from the passage or go find it again. The author says “[Humphry] was the son of a poor wood-carver," so his father was a wood-carver.

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