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 #42 : Literal Understanding In Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Fox and the Crow by Aesop, translated by Joseph Jacobs (1909)

A Crow, having stolen a bit of meat, perched in a tree and held it in her beak.  A Fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat himself and by a wily stratagem, succeeded. "How handsome is the Crow," he exclaimed, "in the beauty of her shape and in the fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to her beauty, she would deservedly be considered the Queen of Birds!" 

This he said deceitfully, but the Crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast upon her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The Fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the Crow, "My good Crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting."

Why did the Crow open her mouth?

Possible Answers:

She was embarassed of her voice.

She was looking for her children and thought the Fox might know where they were.

She wanted to give the Fox her meat.

She wanted to prove to the Fox that her voice was nice.

She forgot where she was and needed to ask the Fox for help.

Correct answer:

She wanted to prove to the Fox that her voice was nice.

Explanation:

The Fox mentions that the Crow could be the "Queen of the Birds" if only her voice matched her beauty. The Crow was anxious to prove to the Fox that her voice was also beautiful, so she made a loud caw, which caused her to drop her meat. The best answer choice is "She wanted to prove to the Fox that her voice was nice."

Example Question #45 : Literal Understanding In Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Lion and the Mouse by Aesop, translated by Joseph Jacobs (1909)

Once, when a Lion was asleep, a little Mouse began running up and down upon him. This soon woke the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him and opened his big jaws to swallow him. 

"Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse, "forgive me this time and I shall never forget it. Who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some 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.

Some time 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, 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.

Why was the Lion going to eat the Mouse?

Possible Answers:

The Mouse stole some of his food.

The Mouse was rude.

The Mouse woke him up.

The Mouse stepped on his tail.

The Mouse tied him to a tree.

Correct answer:

The Mouse woke him up.

Explanation:

Right before the Lion was about to eat the Mouse, we found that the "Lion was asleep," and the "little Mouse began running up and down upon him." We can assume that the Lion was annoyed that the mouse disturbed his sleep and this caused him to almost eat the Mouse. The best answer choice is "The Mouse woke him up."

Example Question #47 : Ssat Elementary Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from The Book of Nature Myths by Florence Holbrook (1902)

One day, a crane was sitting on a rock far out in the water when he heard a voice say, "Grandfather Crane, Grandfather Crane, please come and carry us across the lake." It was the voice of a child and when the crane had come to the shore, he saw two little boys holding each other's hands and crying bitterly.

"Why do you cry?" asked the crane, "and why do you wish to go across the lake, away from your home and friends?"

"We have no friends," said the little boys, crying more bitterly than ever. "We have no father and no mother and a cruel witch troubles us. She tries all the time to do us harm and we are going to run away where she can never find us."

"I will carry you over the lake," said the crane. "Hold on well, but do not touch the back of my head, for if you do, you will fall into the water and go to the bottom of the lake. Will you obey me?"

"Yes, indeed, we will obey," they said. "We will not touch your head, but please come quickly and go as fast as you can. We surely heard the voice of the witch in the woods."

It really was the witch and she was saying over and over to herself, "I will catch them and I will punish them so that they will never run away from me again. They will obey me after I have caught them."

The crane bore the two little boys gently to the other shore and when he came back, there stood the witch.

"Dear, gentle crane," she said, "you are so good to everyone. Will you carry me over the lake? My two dear children are lost in the woods and I have cried bitterly for them all day long."

The spirit of the lake had told the crane to carry across everyone that asked to be taken over, so he said, "Yes, I will carry you across. Hold on well, but do not touch the back of my head, for if you do, you will fall into the water and go to the bottom of the lake. Will you obey me?"

"Yes, indeed, I will," said the witch, but she thought, "He would not be so timid about letting me touch the back of his head if he were not afraid of my magic. I will put my hand on his head and then he will always be in my power." So when they were far out over the lake, she put her hand on the crane's head, and before she could say "Oh!" she was at the bottom of the lake.

"You shall never live in the light again," said the crane, "for you have done no good on earth. You shall be a whitefish."

Why did the witch touch the back of the crane's head?

Possible Answers:

She wanted to fall off of the crane.

She wanted to annoy the crane.

She thought his feathers were gorgeous.

She wanted to control him.

She thought the little boys left her a message there.

Correct answer:

She wanted to control him.

Explanation:

Near the end of the story, the witch states, "I will put my hand on his head and then he will always be in my power." The best answer choice is "She wanted to control him." The witch did not deliberately try to annoy the crane, she simply wanted to use her powers to control the crane.

Example Question #41 : Literal Understanding In Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Book of Nature Myths by Florence Holbrook (1902)

One day, a crane was sitting on a rock far out in the water when he heard a voice say, "Grandfather Crane, Grandfather Crane, please come and carry us across the lake." It was the voice of a child and when the crane had come to the shore, he saw two little boys holding each other's hands and crying bitterly.

"Why do you cry?" asked the crane, "and why do you wish to go across the lake, away from your home and friends?"

"We have no friends," said the little boys, crying more bitterly than ever. "We have no father and no mother and a cruel witch troubles us. She tries all the time to do us harm and we are going to run away where she can never find us."

"I will carry you over the lake," said the crane. "Hold on well, but do not touch the back of my head, for if you do, you will fall into the water and go to the bottom of the lake. Will you obey me?"

"Yes, indeed, we will obey," they said. "We will not touch your head, but please come quickly and go as fast as you can. We surely heard the voice of the witch in the woods."

It really was the witch and she was saying over and over to herself, "I will catch them and I will punish them so that they will never run away from me again. They will obey me after I have caught them."

The crane bore the two little boys gently to the other shore and when he came back, there stood the witch.

"Dear, gentle crane," she said, "you are so good to everyone. Will you carry me over the lake? My two dear children are lost in the woods and I have cried bitterly for them all day long."

The spirit of the lake had told the crane to carry across everyone that asked to be taken over, so he said, "Yes, I will carry you across. Hold on well, but do not touch the back of my head, for if you do, you will fall into the water and go to the bottom of the lake. Will you obey me?"

"Yes, indeed, I will," said the witch, but she thought, "He would not be so timid about letting me touch the back of his head if he were not afraid of my magic. I will put my hand on his head and then he will always be in my power." So when they were far out over the lake, she put her hand on the crane's head, and before she could say "Oh!" she was at the bottom of the lake.

"You shall never live in the light again," said the crane, "for you have done no good on earth. You shall be a whitefish."

What happens when someone touches the back of the crane's head?

Possible Answers:

The crane refuses to fly them anywhere.

They are given a surprise treat.

They fall into the water.

The crane laughs.

They are scolded for ignoring the crane's directions.

Correct answer:

They fall into the water.

Explanation:

Although it is the crane's duty to transport people across the lake, he warns everyone to "not touch the back of my head, for if you do, you will fall into the water and go to the bottom of the lake." The best answer choice is "They fall into the water."

Example Question #49 : Ssat Elementary Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston (1896)

Daniel Webster was a great statesman. As a little boy he was called "Little Black Dan." When he grew larger, he was thin and sickly-looking, but he had large, dark eyes. People called him "All Eyes."

He was very fond of his brother Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a little older than Daniel. Both the boys had fine minds. They wanted to go to college, but their father was poor.

Daniel had not much strength for work on the farm, so little "All Eyes" was sent to school and then to college. Ezekiel stayed at home and worked on the farm.

While Daniel was at school, he was unhappy to think that Ezekiel could not go to college also. He went home on a visit. He talked to Ezekiel about going to college. The brothers talked about it all night. The next day Daniel talked to his father about it. The father said he was too poor to send both of his sons to college. He said he would lose all his little property if he tried to send Ezekiel to college, but if their mother and sisters were willing to be poor, he would send the other son to college.

The mother and sisters were asked. It seemed hard to risk the loss of all they had. It seemed hard not to give Ezekiel a chance. They all shed tears over it.

The boys promised to take care of their mother and sisters if the property should be lost. Then they all agreed that Ezekiel should go to college too.

Daniel taught school while he was studying to help pay the expenses. After Daniel was through his studies in college, he taught school in order to help his brother. When his school closed, he went home. On his way, he went round to the college to see his brother. Finding that Ezekiel needed money, he gave him a hundred dollars. He kept but three dollars to get home with.

The father's property was not sold. The two boys helped the family. Daniel soon began to make money as a lawyer. He knew that his father was in debt. He went home to see him. He said, "Father, I am going to pay your debts."

The father said, "You cannot do it, Daniel. You have not money enough."

"I can do it," said Daniel, "and I will do it before Monday evening."

When Monday evening came round, the father's debts were all paid.

Why did people call Daniel "All Eyes?"

Possible Answers:

He worked as a spy for the American government.

He had perfect vision.

He could see through the lies of others.

He was very intelligent.

He had large, dark eyes.

Correct answer:

He had large, dark eyes.

Explanation:

To find this answer, simply look back at the first paragraph of the passage in which his nickname, "All Eyes," is referred to. "When he grew larger, he was thin and sickly-looking, but he had large, dark eyes. People called him 'All Eyes.'" The best answer choice is "He had large, dark eyes." It is also true that Daniel was very intelligent, but that is not the reason people called him "All Eyes."

Example Question #51 : Prose Passages

Adapted from The Rabbi Who Found the Diadem translated from the Talmud by Dr. A. S. Isaacs, as collected in The Junior Classics: Stories of Courage and Heroism (P. F. Collier & Son, 1912)

Great was the alarm in the palace of Rome, which soon spread throughout the entire city. The empress had lost her costly diadem, and it could not be found. They searched in every direction, but all in vain. Half distracted, for the mishap boded no good to her or her house, the empress redoubled her efforts to regain her precious possession, but without result. As a last resource it was proclaimed in the public streets: "The empress has lost a precious diadem. Whoever restores it within thirty days shall receive a princely reward. But he who delays, and brings it after thirty days, shall lose his head."

In those times all nationalities flocked toward Rome; all classes and creeds could be met in its stately halls and crowded thoroughfares. Among the rest was a rabbi, a learned sage from the East, who loved goodness, and lived a righteous life in the stir and turmoil of the Western world. It chanced one night as he was strolling up and down, in busy meditation, beneath the clear, moonlit sky, he saw the diadem sparkling at his feet. He seized it quickly, brought it to his dwelling, where he guarded it carefully until the thirty days had expired, when he resolved to return it to the owner.

He proceeded to the palace, and, undismayed at sight of long lines of soldiery and officials, asked for an audience with the empress.

"What do you mean by this?" she inquired, when he told her his story and gave her the diadem. "Why did you delay until this hour? Did you not know the penalty? Your head must be forfeited."

"I delayed until now," the rabbi answered calmly, "so that you might know that I return your diadem, not for the sake of the reward, still less out of fear of punishment; but solely to comply with the divine command not to withhold from another the property which belongs to him."

"Blessed be thy God!" the empress answered, and dismissed the rabbi without further punishment; for had he not done right for right's sake?

How many days must pass before the Empress will no longer forgive the person who returns her diadem?

Possible Answers:

Twenty 

Thirty

One

Five

Ten

Correct answer:

Thirty

Explanation:

The passage says "'The empress has lost a precious diadem. Whoever restores it within thirty days shall receive a princely reward. But he who delays, and brings it after thirty days, shall lose his head,'" so the correct answer is “thirty.”

Example Question #52 : Prose Passages

Adapted from The Rabbi Who Found the Diadem translated from the Talmud by Dr. A. S. Isaacs, as collected in The Junior Classics: Stories of Courage and Heroism (P. F. Collier & Son, 1912)

Great was the alarm in the palace of Rome, which soon spread throughout the entire city. The empress had lost her costly diadem, and it could not be found. They searched in every direction, but all in vain. Half distracted, for the mishap boded no good to her or her house, the empress redoubled her efforts to regain her precious possession, but without result. As a last resource it was proclaimed in the public streets: "The empress has lost a precious diadem. Whoever restores it within thirty days shall receive a princely reward. But he who delays, and brings it after thirty days, shall lose his head."

In those times all nationalities flocked toward Rome; all classes and creeds could be met in its stately halls and crowded thoroughfares. Among the rest was a rabbi, a learned sage from the East, who loved goodness, and lived a righteous life in the stir and turmoil of the Western world. It chanced one night as he was strolling up and down, in busy meditation, beneath the clear, moonlit sky, he saw the diadem sparkling at his feet. He seized it quickly, brought it to his dwelling, where he guarded it carefully until the thirty days had expired, when he resolved to return it to the owner.

He proceeded to the palace, and, undismayed at sight of long lines of soldiery and officials, asked for an audience with the empress.

"What do you mean by this?" she inquired, when he told her his story and gave her the diadem. "Why did you delay until this hour? Did you not know the penalty? Your head must be forfeited."

"I delayed until now," the rabbi answered calmly, "so that you might know that I return your diadem, not for the sake of the reward, still less out of fear of punishment; but solely to comply with the divine command not to withhold from another the property which belongs to him."

"Blessed be thy God!" the empress answered, and dismissed the rabbi without further punishment; for had he not done right for right's sake?

At the beginning of the story, why is there “great alarm spreading through the city”?

Possible Answers:

The empress has gone missing.

The empress is sick.

The empress is planning to abdicate her throne.

The empress does not wish to marry.

The empress has lost her diadem. 

Correct answer:

The empress has lost her diadem. 

Explanation:

This is a question that checks if you can recall details from the passage. If you read the whole passage carefully and took in most of the information, you likely had no trouble answering this question. If you did have trouble with this question, remember that the first step to doing well on this test is to make sure you read each passage carefully from start to finish. A great many questions will be simply asking you to recall specific details from the passage. In case you were unable to find the answer, it is located in the first two sentences where the author says, “Great was the alarm in the palace of Rome, which soon spread throughout the entire city. The empress had lost her costly diadem, and it could not be found.”

Example Question #52 : Prose Passages

Adapted from an article in Chatterbox Periodical edited by J. Erskine Clark (1906)

Steven Daniels, a magistrate from London, once showed great wisdom and ingenuity in detecting a thief. A man was brought before him charged with stealing a small, but very valuable, jeweled table. The prisoner denied the charge. He said that he was weak and feeble with long illness. For that reason it was impossible for him to have carried off a piece of furniture.

The judge listened very gravely to his story. After hearing of the poor man's misfortunes, he professed great sorrow and sympathy for the sufferer.

“Go home and get cured,” said he kindly; “and as you are poor, take with you that bag of cash”—heavy British Pounds—“as a gift from this court.”

The prisoner bowed, quickly threw the heavy bag over his shoulder, and departed, while everyone wondered. But he had hardly got outside the door of the court, when he was arrested. The judge remarked that if he could easily carry off a heavy sack of money, he would have no difficulty in stealing a light table.

Where is Steven Daniels from?

Possible Answers:

Moscow

America

Tokyo

London 

Scotland 

Correct answer:

London 

Explanation:

This question is simply checking that you have read the passage and taken in the basic information involved. This should be your first step on every question—make sure you read the whole passage. The correct answer, as revealed in the first sentence, is that Steven Daniels is from London.

Example Question #53 : Prose Passages

Adapted from an article in Chatterbox Periodical edited by J. Erskine Clark (1906)

Steven Daniels, a magistrate from London, once showed great wisdom and ingenuity in detecting a thief. A man was brought before him charged with stealing a small, but very valuable, jeweled table. The prisoner denied the charge. He said that he was weak and feeble with long illness. For that reason it was impossible for him to have carried off a piece of furniture.

The judge listened very gravely to his story. After hearing of the poor man's misfortunes, he professed great sorrow and sympathy for the sufferer.

“Go home and get cured,” said he kindly; “and as you are poor, take with you that bag of cash”—heavy British Pounds—“as a gift from this court.”

The prisoner bowed, quickly threw the heavy bag over his shoulder, and departed, while everyone wondered. But he had hardly got outside the door of the court, when he was arrested. The judge remarked that if he could easily carry off a heavy sack of money, he would have no difficulty in stealing a light table.

What crime is the thief charged with committing?

Possible Answers:

Refusing to wear the appropriate clothes

Speaking ill of the king

Disorderly behavior in public

Stealing a jeweled table

Taking gold from the court

Correct answer:

Stealing a jeweled table

Explanation:

This is another question that checks to see if you can notice details in the passage. In the second sentence, the author reveals that the thief is charged with stealing a jeweled table.

Example Question #54 : Prose 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.

Where was Humphry Davy born?

Possible Answers:

London

New York

Rochester

Scotland

Penzance

Correct answer:

Penzance

Explanation:

The author states that "[Humphry] 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.”

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