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

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Narrative Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Boy Heroes of Crecy and Poitiers by Treadwell Walden (1879)

There was only one road to success or fame in those days, and that was the profession of fighting. The ambition of every high-born young fellow was to become a knight. Knighthood was something that both king and nobles regarded as higher in some respects than even the royalty or nobility to which they were born. No one could be admitted into an order of the great brotherhood of knights, which extended all over Europe and formed an independent society, unless he had gone through severe discipline, and had performed some distinguished deed of valor. Then he could wear the golden spurs; for knighthood had its earliest origin in the distinction of fighting on horseback, while ordinary soldiers fought on foot. Although knighthood changed afterward, the word "chivalry" always expressed it, from the French word “cheval,” a horse. And in addition to valor, which was the result of physical strength and courage, the knight was expected to be generous, courteous, faithful, devout, truthful, high-souled, high-principled. Hence the epithet, "chivalrous," which, even to-day, is so often heard applied to men of especially fine spirit. "Honor" was the great word which included all these qualities then, as it does in some measure now.

Which of these is not an adjective that the author says knights were expected to be?

Possible Answers:

Truthful

Devout

Courageous

Intelligent

Generous 

Correct answer:

Intelligent

Explanation:

Towards the end of the passage, the author describes the various attributes usually associated with knights: “And in addition to valor, which was the result of physical strength and courage, the knight was expected to be generous, courteous, faithful, devout, truthful, high-souled, high-principled.” Valor means bravery, heroism and courage, so the only answer choice not directly mentioned is “intelligent.” To help you, "devout" means highly religious; "courageous" means brave; "generous" means giving; "intelligent" means smart; and "truthful" means honest.

Example Question #21 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

Adapted from The Boy Heroes of Crecy and Poitiers by Treadwell Walden (1879)

There was only one road to success or fame in those days, and that was the profession of fighting. The ambition of every high-born young fellow was to become a knight. Knighthood was something that both king and nobles regarded as higher in some respects than even the royalty or nobility to which they were born. No one could be admitted into an order of the great brotherhood of knights, which extended all over Europe and formed an independent society, unless he had gone through severe discipline, and had performed some distinguished deed of valor. Then he could wear the golden spurs; for knighthood had its earliest origin in the distinction of fighting on horseback, while ordinary soldiers fought on foot. Although knighthood changed afterward, the word "chivalry" always expressed it, from the French word “cheval,” a horse. And in addition to valor, which was the result of physical strength and courage, the knight was expected to be generous, courteous, faithful, devout, truthful, high-souled, high-principled. Hence the epithet, "chivalrous," which, even to-day, is so often heard applied to men of especially fine spirit. "Honor" was the great word which included all these qualities then, as it does in some measure now.

From which language does the English word “chivalry” derive?

Possible Answers:

Dutch 

Spanish 

German 

French 

Italian 

Correct answer:

French 

Explanation:

The author states, “Although knighthood changed afterward, the word "chivalry" always expressed it, from the French word 'cheval,' a horse.” Chivalry comes from the French language, so "French" is the correct answer.

Example Question #22 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

"The Civil War" by Michael Verini (2014)

The Civil War, which took place from 1861 to 1865, is one of the most defining events in American history. The survival of the United States depended on the nation's ability to bring to reality the ideals of liberty, equality, and justice.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency in 1860, it brought the long-term debate about the powers of the federal and state governments to a climax. When Lincoln was inaugurated, six Southern states seceded from the Union and created the Confederate States of America. Within the next few years, five more states also seceded and joined the Confederate States. The creation of a new government in the United States caused the Civil War to occur between the North and the South.

After four years of war, the Union was preserved and slavery became illegal. Due to this outcome, over four million African-American slaves were freed from their former owners. Although the Civil War was a violent conflict between two differing American subcultures, it helped create a more united country in the years following the war.

According to the passage, what event eventually led to the start of the Civil War?

Possible Answers:

The federal government shut down.

The North wanted to join Canada.

The South wanted to join Mexico.

Great Britain encouraged the North and the South to engage in warfare.

President Lincoln was inaugurated.

Correct answer:

President Lincoln was inaugurated.

Explanation:

When Lincoln became the president of the United States, it directly caused six states to secede from the Union (and five more in the following years); thus, the best answer choice is "President Lincoln was inaugurated."

Example Question #23 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

"The Civil War" by Michael Verini (2014)

The Civil War, which took place from 1861 to 1865, is one of the most defining events in American history. The survival of the United States depended on the nation's ability to bring to reality the ideals of liberty, equality, and justice.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency in 1860, it brought the long-term debate about the powers of the federal and state governments to a climax. When Lincoln was inaugurated, six Southern states seceded from the Union and created the Confederate States of America. Within the next few years, five more states also seceded and joined the Confederate States. The creation of a new government in the United States caused the Civil War to occur between the North and the South.

After four years of war, the Union was preserved and slavery became illegal. Due to this outcome, over four million African-American slaves were freed from their former owners. Although the Civil War was a violent conflict between two differing American subcultures, it helped create a more united country in the years following the war.

According to the passage, how many states joined the Confederate States of America?

Possible Answers:

Six

Five

Eleven

Fifty

Thirteen

Correct answer:

Eleven

Explanation:

When President Lincoln was inaugurated, six states seceded from the United States and created the Confederate States of America. Five additional states joined the Confederate States of America in the following years, bringing the total number of states to eleven.

Example Question #2 : Identifying And Analyzing Details In Science Passages

Adapted from A Catechism of Familiar Things: Their History and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery by the Benziger Brothers (1881)

Iron is one of the most useful and abundant metals, being found in all mineral earths, stones, plants, and animal fluids. Iron is found in great masses, in various states, in the bowels of the earth; it is usually, however, compounded with stone, from which it is separated by the action of fire. In some parts of the world, whole mountains are formed of iron; among these may be mentioned the Pilot Knob and the Iron Mountain, in Missouri, being unsurpassed by anything of the kind found elsewhere.

It is hard, fusible, not very malleable, but extremely ductile, and very tenacious; it is of a greyish color, and nearly eight times heavier than water. Without iron, society could make no progress in the cultivation of the ground, in mechanical arts or trades, in architecture or navigation; it is therefore of the greatest use to man.

Which of these statements is not supported by the text?

Possible Answers:

Iron is found in plants and animals.

Iron is much heavier than water.

For iron to be usable, it must be extracted from stone.

There is a plentiful supply of iron within the earth.

Iron is more valuable than bronze.

Correct answer:

Iron is more valuable than bronze.

Explanation:

The author says that iron is "nearly eight times heavier than water," so you know that the answer choice “Iron is much heavier than water” is supported by the text. The author also says “Iron is found in great masses, in various states, in the bowels of the earth; it is usually, however, compounded with stone," so you also know that “There is a plentiful supply of iron within the earth” and “For iron to be usable, it must be extracted from stone.” Finally, the author describes iron as "being found in all mineral earths, stones, plants, and animal fluids," so the answer choice “Iron is found in plants and animals” is also supported by the text. The only answer not supported by the text is that “iron is more valuable than bronze.” The author makes no mention of iron’s relative value compared to other specific metals.

Example Question #4 : Analyzing The Text In Science Passages

Adapted from A Catechism of Familiar Things: Their History and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery by the Benziger Brothers (1881)

Iron is one of the most useful and abundant metals, being found in all mineral earths, stones, plants, and animal fluids. Iron is found in great masses, in various states, in the bowels of the earth; it is usually, however, compounded with stone, from which it is separated by the action of fire. In some parts of the world, whole mountains are formed of iron; among these may be mentioned the Pilot Knob and the Iron Mountain, in Missouri, being unsurpassed by anything of the kind found elsewhere.

It is hard, fusible, not very malleable, but extremely ductile, and very tenacious; it is of a greyish color, and nearly eight times heavier than water. Without iron, society could make no progress in the cultivation of the ground, in mechanical arts or trades, in architecture or navigation; it is therefore of the greatest use to man.

“Pilot Knob” is an example of __________.

Possible Answers:

An American mining town

A stone in which iron is found

A tool used to extract iron

A mountain made of a significant amount of iron

An early English mining corporation

Correct answer:

A mountain made of a significant amount of iron

Explanation:

This question requires you to read in detail. The author says “whole mountains are formed of iron; among these may be mentioned the Pilot Knob.“ So, "Pilot Knob" is a mountain that contains a lot of iron.

Example Question #2 : Language In Science Passages

Adapted from "Sea-slugs and Cuttlefish" by Charles Darwin in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

I was much interested, on several occasions, by watching the habits of a cuttlefish. Although common in the pools of water left by the retiring tide, these animals were not easily caught. By means of their long arms and suckers, they could drag their bodies into very narrow crevices; and when thus fixed, it required great force to remove them. At other times they darted, with the rapidity of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the same instant discoloring the water with a dark chestnut-brown ink. These animals also escape detection by a very extraordinary, chameleon-like power of changing their color. They appear to vary their tints according to the nature of the ground over which they pass: when in deep water, their general shade was brownish-purple, but when placed on the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint changed into one of a yellowish green.

This cuttlefish displayed its chameleon-like power both during the act of swimming and whilst remaining stationary at the bottom. I was amused by the various arts to escape detection used by one individual, which seemed fully aware that I was watching it. Remaining for a time motionless, it would then stealthily advance an inch or two, like a cat after a mouse; sometimes changing its color, it proceeded, till having gained a deeper part, it darted away, leaving a dusky train of ink to hide the hole into which it had crawled.

What is the “chameleon-like” power of the cuttlefish that the author describes?

Possible Answers:

Their dexterity and swiftness

The ability to change color to match the background behind them

Their skill at avoiding detection by remaining still at all times

The ability to spray ink behind themselves to cover their tracks

Their skill at finding appropriately sized crevices to hide in

Correct answer:

The ability to change color to match the background behind them

Explanation:

Answering this question merely requires you to read carefully in detail. The author says “These animals also escape detection by a very extraordinary, chameleon-like power of changing their color. They appear to vary their tints according to the nature of the ground over which they pass."

Example Question #1 : Identifying And Analyzing Details In Science Passages

Adapted from "America the Old World" by L. Agassiz in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902, ed. Edward Singleton Holden)

There is, perhaps, no part of the world where the early geological periods can be studied with so much ease and precision as in the United States. Along their northern borders, between Canada and the United States, there runs the low line of hills known as the Laurentian Hills. Insignificant in height, nowhere rising more than fifteen hundred or two thousand feet above the level of the sea, these are nevertheless some of the first mountains that broke the uniform level of the earth's surface and lifted themselves above the waters. Their low stature, as compared with that of other more lofty mountain ranges, is in accordance with an invariable rule, by which the relative age of mountains may be estimated. The oldest mountains are the lowest, while the younger and more recent ones tower above their elders, and are usually more torn and dislocated also. So it is known the Alps, Rockies, and Himalayas are considerably younger than the Appalachian mountains.

What is considered significant about the Laurentian Hills?

Possible Answers:

They are exceedingly tall. 

They are the youngest mountains in the Northern Hemisphere.

They are some of the oldest mountains yet studied.

They are shared by the United States and Canada.

They stretch for vast, uncommon distances.

Correct answer:

They are some of the oldest mountains yet studied.

Explanation:

The author says that the Laurentian Hills are “insignificant in height,” so we know it is not important how tall or short they are. What is significant is that they are “the first mountains that broke the uniform level of the earth’s surface." So, they are significant because “they are some of the oldest mountains yet studied.”

Example Question #1 : Identifying And Analyzing Supporting Ideas In Contemporary Life Passages

"The Dangers of Sugar" by Daniel Morrison (2014)

Sugar is a highly addictive substance that plays a dangerous role in the health and well-being of people around the world. It is particularly threatening to American health, as it is placed in everything from carbonated sodas to beef jerky and vegetable juice. The average American consumes seventy-five pounds of sugar every year—that is roughly the weight of a elementary school child. Many health experts believe that sugar is the number one contributing factor in the high rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes that can be found in the contemporary United States.

According to this passage, in which of the following products is sugar NOT found in the United States?

Possible Answers:

Sugar is found in none of these products.

Beef jerky

Vegetable juice

Sodas

Sugar is found in all of these products.

Correct answer:

Sugar is found in all of these products.

Explanation:

Sugar is found in all of these products, as the author says, "it is placed in everything from carbonated sodas to beef jerky and vegetable juice."

Example Question #22 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

Adapted from Early European History by Hutton Webster (1917)

The Phoenicians were a Syrian people whose country was a narrow stretch of coast, about one hundred and twenty miles in length, seldom more than twelve miles in width, between the Lebanon Mountains and the sea. This tiny land could not support a large population. As the Phoenicians increased in numbers, they were obliged to betake themselves to the sea. The Lebanon cedars furnished soft, white wood for shipbuilding, and the deeply indented coast offered excellent harbors. Thus, the Phoenicians became preeminent sailors. Their great cities, Sidon and Tyre, established colonies throughout the Mediterranean and had an extensive commerce with every region of the known world.

Who, according to this passage, were a Syrian people who became great sailors?

Possible Answers:

The Romans

The Phoenicians

The Greeks

The Lebanese

The Huns

Correct answer:

The Phoenicians

Explanation:

This is a question designed to test if you can identify details. The author discusses the Phoenicians throughout the passage, and near the end of the passage, states, "Thus, the Phoenicians became preeminent sailors."

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