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 #41 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

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

The tea-tree, when it has arrived at its full growth, which takes about seven years, is about a man's height; the green leaves are narrow, and jagged all round; the flower resembles that of the wild rose, but is smaller. The shrub loves to grow in valleys, at the foot of mountains, and on the banks of rivers where it enjoys a southern exposure to the sun. It endures considerable variation of heat and cold, as it flourishes in the northern clime of Pekin, where the winter is often severe, and also about Canton, where the heat is sometimes very great. The best tea, however, grows in a temperate climate, the country about Nankin producing better tea than either Pekin or Canton, between which two places it is situated.

Why reason does the author provide to back up the claim that Nankin produces the best tea?

Possible Answers:

Because the workers there are experts in their craft

Because Nankin is much colder than the usual environment where tea grows

Because Nankin is provided funding by the government

Because it has a clear access to water

Because it has the most moderate climate

Correct answer:

Because it has the most moderate climate

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read in detail and interpret what the author is saying. He says “The best tea, however, grows in a temperate climate, the country about Nankin producing better tea than either Pekin or Canton, between which two places it is situated.” You know that Pekin is very cold and Canton often very hot, so Nankin is best because it is in the middle, or “moderate” in climate.

Example Question #31 : Ideas In History Passages

Adapted from A Child’s History of England by Charles Darwin (1905)

Henry Plantagenet, when he was but twenty-one years old, quietly succeeded to the throne of England, according to his agreement made with the late king at Winchester. Six weeks after Stephen’s death, he and his queen, Eleanor, were crowned in that city, into which they rode on horseback in great state, side by side, amidst much shouting and rejoicing, and clashing of music, and strewing of flowers.

The reign of King Henry the Second began well. The king had great possessions, and (with his own property, and with that of his wife) was lord of one-third part of France. He was a young man of strength, ability, and determination, and immediately applied himself to remove some of the evils which had arisen in the last unhappy reign. He took away all the grants of land that had been hastily made, on either side, during the recent struggles; he forced numbers of disorderly soldiers to depart from England; he reclaimed all the castles belonging to the crown; and he forced the wicked nobles to pull down their own castles, to the number of eleven hundred, in which such dismal cruelties had been inflicted on the people.  

The king’s brother, Geoffrey, rose against him in France and forced Henry to wage a war in France. After he had subdued and made a friendly arrangement with his brother (who did not live long), his ambition to increase his possessions involved him in a war with the French king, Louis. He had been on such friendly terms with the French king just before, that to his infant daughter, then a baby in the cradle, he had promised one of his little sons in marriage, who was a child of five years old. However, the war came to nothing at last, and the Pope made the two kings friends again.

Why does the author call the underlined nobles “wicked” near the end of the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Because they were unable to provide food and protection for the people

Because they had refused to fight against the French

Because they had turned against the king

Because they had tortured the common people

Because they had abandoned their religion

Correct answer:

Because they had tortured the common people

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read in context and to understand the meanings of a few challenging words. In context, the author says that Henry "forced the wicked nobles to pull down their own castles . . . in which such dismal cruelties had been inflicted on the people.” “Dismal” means gloomy and depressing and “been inflicted on” means done to. So, the author is saying that the nobles were “wicked” because they had done gloomy and horrible things to the people, or “they had tortured the common people.”

Example Question #31 : Ssat Middle Level Reading Comprehension

Adapted from "The Dartmoor Ponies, or the Wandering of the Horse Tribe" by Arabella B. Buckley in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

It was a calm misty morning one day last week, giving promise of a bright and sunny day, when I started off for a long walk across the moor to visit the famous stone-circles, many of which are to be found not far off the track called Abbot’s Way, leading from Buckfast Abbey to the Abbey of Tavistock.

My mind was full of the olden times as I pictured to myself how, seven hundred years or more ago, some Benedictine monk from Tavistock Abbey paced this narrow path on his way to his Cistercian brothers at Buckfast, meeting some of them on his road as they wandered over the desolate moor in search of stray sheep. For the Cistercians were shepherds and wool-weavers, while the Benedictines devoted themselves to learning, and the track of about twenty-five miles from one abbey to the other, which still remains, was worn by the members of the two communities, the only variety in whose lives consisted probably in these occasional visits to each other.

Yet even these monks belonged to modern times compared to the ancient Britons who raised the stone-circles over the moor; and my mind drifted back to the days when, long before that pathway was worn, men clad in the skins of beasts hunted wild animals over the ground on which I was treading, and lived in caves and holes of the ground.

I wondered, as I thought of them, whether the monks and the ancient Britons delighted as much in the rugged scenery of the moor as I did that morning. For many miles in front of me the moor stretched out wild and treeless, while the early mist was rising off the hill-tops. It was a pleasure, there on the open moor, with the lark soaring overhead, and the butterflies and bees hovering among the sweet-smelling furze blossoms, to see horses free and joyous, with no thought of bit or bridle, harness or saddle, whose hooves had never been handled by the shoeing-smith, nor their coats touched with the singeing iron. Those little colts, with their thick heads, shaggy coats, and flowing tails, will have at least two years more liberty before they know what it is to be driven. Only once a year are they gathered together, claimed by their owners and branded with an initial, and then left again to wander where they will.

Who built the famous stone-circles that the author talks about in the first paragraph?

Possible Answers:

The Cistercians

The Benedictines

It is impossible to say.

The Abbey of Tavistock

The ancient Britons

Correct answer:

The ancient Britons

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to pay attention to the details throughout the whole of the passage. Because the author talks about the stone-circles being "found not far off the track called Abbot’s Way, leading from Buckfast Abbey to the Abbey of Tavistock," it might be tempting to answer that the stone-circles were built by the Abbey of Tavistock. However, in the third paragraph, the author says, “Yet even these monks belonged to modern times compared to the ancient Britons who raised the stone-circles over the moor.” So, the stone-circles were built by the ancient Britons.

Example Question #91 : History Passages

Adapted from A Child’s History of England by Charles Darwin (1905)

As great and good in peace as he was great and good in war, King Alfred never rested from his labors to improve his people. He loved to talk with clever men and travelers from foreign countries and to write down what they told him for his people to read. He had studied Latin after learning to read English, and now another of his labors was to translate Latin books into the English-Saxon tongue, that his people might be interested and improved by their contents. He made just laws, that they might live more happily and freely; he turned away all partial judges, that no wrong might be done them; he was so careful of their property, and punished robbers so severely that it was a common thing to say that under the great King Alfred, garlands of golden chains and jewels might have hung across the streets, and no man would have touched one. He founded schools, and he patiently heard causes himself in his Court of Justice. The great desires of his heart were, to do right to all his subjects, and to leave England better, wiser, and happier in all ways than he found it. His industry in these efforts was quite astonishing. Every day he divided into certain portions, and in each portion devoted himself to a certain pursuit. That he might divide his time exactly, he had wax torches or candles made, which were all of the same size, were notched across at regular distances, and were always kept burning. Thus, as the candles burnt down, he divided the day into notches, almost as accurately as we now divide it into hours upon the clock. But when the candles were first invented, it was found that the wind and draughts of air, blowing into the palace through the doors and windows and through the chinks in the walls, caused them to gutter and burn unequally. To prevent this, the King had them put into cases formed of wood and white horn. And these were the first lanterns ever made in England.

All this time, he was afflicted with a terrible unknown disease, which caused him violent and frequent pain that nothing could relieve. He bore it, as he had borne all the troubles of his life, like a brave good man, until he was fifty-three years old; and then, having reigned thirty years, he died. He died in the year nine hundred and one; but, long ago as that is, his fame, and the love and gratitude with which his subjects regarded him, are freshly remembered to the present hour.

For what purposes did King Alfred have candles and lanterns made?

Possible Answers:

So he could read throughout the night

So he could better organize his time

So people felt safer on the streets at night

So that more people could have access to literature

To provide priests with enough light to carry out their exhausting work

Correct answer:

So he could better organize his time

Explanation:

Answering this question requires little more than reading carefully in detail. The author says, “That he might divide his time exactly, he had wax torches or candles made, which were all of the same size, were notched across at regular distances, and were always kept burning. Thus, as the candles burnt down, he divided the day into notches, almost as accurately as we now divide it into hours upon the clock.” So King Alfred has candles made so that “he might divide his time exactly.” Alfred wanted to “better organize his time.”

Example Question #42 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

Adapted from The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Van Loon (1921)

Early in the tenth century a Viking by the name of Rollo had repeatedly attacked the coast of France. The king of France, too weak to resist these northern robbers, tried to bribe them into "being good." He offered them the province of Normandy, if they would promise to stop bothering the rest of his domains. Rollo accepted this bargain and became Duke of Normandy.

But his children remained interested in conquest. Across the channel, only a few hours away from the European mainland, they could see the white cliffs and the green fields of England. Poor England had passed through difficult days. For two hundred years it had been a Roman colony. After the Romans left, it had been conquered by the Angles and the Saxons, two German tribes from Schleswig. Next the Danes had taken the greater part of the country and had established the kingdom of Cnut. The Danes had been driven away and now (it was early in the eleventh century) another Saxon king, Edward the Confessor, was on the throne. But Edward was not expected to live long and he had no children. The circumstances favored the ambitious dukes of Normandy.

In 1066 Edward died. Immediately William of Normandy crossed the channel, defeated and killed Harold of Wessex (who had taken the crown) at the battle of Hastings, and proclaimed himself king of England.

In another story I have told you how in the year 800 a German chieftain had become a Roman Emperor. Now in the year 1066 the grandson of a Norse pirate was recognized as King of England. Why should we ever read fairy stories, when the truth of history is so much more interesting and entertaining?

The Kingdom of Cnut was established by __________.

Possible Answers:

the Danes

Edward the Confessor

the Saxons

Rollo

the Angles

Correct answer:

the Danes

Explanation:

This is a reasonably simple question asked to see if you can read in detail. In the second paragraph, the author says, “Next the Danes had taken the greater part of the country and had established the kingdom of Cnut.” So, the correct answer is “the Danes.”

Example Question #73 : Nonfiction Passages

Adapted from The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Van Loon (1921)

Early in the tenth century a Viking by the name of Rollo had repeatedly attacked the coast of France. The king of France, too weak to resist these northern robbers, tried to bribe them into "being good." He offered them the province of Normandy, if they would promise to stop bothering the rest of his domains. Rollo accepted this bargain and became Duke of Normandy.

But his children remained interested in conquest. Across the channel, only a few hours away from the European mainland, they could see the white cliffs and the green fields of England. Poor England had passed through difficult days. For two hundred years it had been a Roman colony. After the Romans left, it had been conquered by the Angles and the Saxons, two German tribes from Schleswig. Next the Danes had taken the greater part of the country and had established the kingdom of Cnut. The Danes had been driven away and now (it was early in the eleventh century) another Saxon king, Edward the Confessor, was on the throne. But Edward was not expected to live long and he had no children. The circumstances favored the ambitious dukes of Normandy.

In 1066 Edward died. Immediately William of Normandy crossed the channel, defeated and killed Harold of Wessex (who had taken the crown) at the battle of Hastings, and proclaimed himself king of England.

In another story I have told you how in the year 800 a German chieftain had become a Roman Emperor. Now in the year 1066 the grandson of a Norse pirate was recognized as King of England. Why should we ever read fairy stories, when the truth of history is so much more interesting and entertaining?

Who is the “Norse pirate” of whom William is a grandson?

Possible Answers:

Harold of Wessex

Saxon

Edward the Confessor

Rollo

Cnut

Correct answer:

Rollo

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to track a detail across the whole body of text. As such, it is a little more difficult than the standard detail-based question. The first detail that is relevant is “Now in the year 1066 the grandson of a Norse pirate was recognized as King of England.” This information tells you to track William’s lineage back to the beginning of the text. You will notice in the first paragraph that the author says “Rollo accepted this bargain and became Duke of Normandy.” Seeing as you are also told that Rollo was a Viking pirate and seeing as William is also "of Normandy," there is more than enough information to lead you to the correct answer, which is “Rollo."

Example Question #74 : Nonfiction Passages

The stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, which officially began the Great Depression in the United States. Starting on the above date (often called "Black Tuesday"), unemployment rapidly rose, causing economic hardships for many workers and their families. President Herbert Hoover tried to halt the Great Depression, but his numerous attempts were futile. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the presidential office in 1932, he enacted the "New Deal" to offer work relief for many displaced American workers. All of the "New Deal" programs were focused on the 3 Rs: relief for the poor and unemployed, recovery from the economic downturn, and reform efforts to prevent a second Great Depression. The Great Depression ended in 1941 when the United States entered World War II.

When did the Great Depression end?

Possible Answers:

When the United States bailed all of its banks out of debt

When "Black Tuesday" repeated itself in 1941

When President Hoover's reform efforts were successful

When the United States entered World War II

When the New Deal replaced the Old Deal

Correct answer:

When the United States entered World War II

Explanation:

As mentioned in the final sentence of the passage, "the Great Depression ended in 1941 when the United States entered World War II."

Example Question #43 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

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

After bursting from the egg, it becomes a large worm or caterpillar of a yellowish-white color, (which is its first state); this caterpillar feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree, until, arriving at maturity, it winds itself up in a silken bag or case, called a cocoon, about the size and shape of a pigeon's egg, and becomes a chrysalis, in which state it lies without signs of life. In about ten days it eats its way out of its case, a perfect butterfly, which lays a number of eggs and then dies. In the warmth of the summer weather, these eggs are hatched and become worms, as their parents did at first.

What is the purpose of a chrysalis?

Possible Answers:

To protect the caterpillar while it becomes a butterfly

To provide food for the infant caterpillar

To provide a final resting place for a dying butterfly

None of the other answers

To provide food for the mature butterfly

Correct answer:

To protect the caterpillar while it becomes a butterfly

Explanation:

The purpose of a chrysalis is "to protect the caterpillar while it becomes a butterfly." This can be seen in the text where the author says it "becomes a chrysalis, in which state it lies without signs of life. In about ten days it eats its way out of its case, a perfect butterfly." Answering this question requires little more than reading in detail and understanding which piece of information to apply to which defined term.

Example Question #44 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

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

Thebes was an ancient city in Greece, founded by Cadmus, a Phoenician, though of Egyptian parentage. Sailing from the coast of Phoenicia, he arrived in Greece, and built the city, calling it Thebes, from the city of that name in Egypt. The prince is credited with the invention of sixteen letters of the Greek Alphabet. Athens was the capital of Attica, founded by Cecrops, an Egyptian. It was the seat of learning and the arts, and has produced some of the most celebrated warriors, politicians, orators, poets, and sculptors in the world. Since the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman Empire, Athens has been chosen as its capital, and is still a considerable town adorned with splendid ruins of the beautiful buildings it once possessed.

Cadmus is credited with __________.

Possible Answers:

the founding of Athens

the destruction of Thebes

the liberation of Athens

inventing some of the Greek alphabet

being the man who adorned Athens with such spectacular buildings

Correct answer:

inventing some of the Greek alphabet

Explanation:

Cadmus is first credited with the founding of Thebes, but this is not an answer choice given as an option, so you have to read more carefully: the author also says that "the prince is credited with the invention of sixteen letters of the Greek Alphabet."

Example Question #45 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Nonfiction Passages

Penguins - The flightless wonders

Molly Kubik, 2016

The penguin is very special bird.  Everyone knows that most birds love to fly, but not the penguin!  Penguins are unique.  They are very different from other birds.  Penguins have feathers, but even their feathers are different from other birds.  The penguin's feathers grow all over their body like hair grows on a mammal's body.  Other birds have rows of feathers, which helps them fly, but you won't see an penguin in a tree like an eagle or a hawk.  Penguins have heavy, solid bones, so they are too heavy to fly, but they are great swimmers.  They can swim faster than most birds and many sea creatures.  The penguin lives by the ocean, and you are most likely to see them swimming quickly through the ocean waters as they hunt for fish.  Penguins eat a lot of fish.  It is one of their main sources of food.  Their thick, strong, muscular wings, and flippers make the penguin a great swimmer.  Penguins are not good at walking on land, which is one reason that they spend so much of their time in the water.  A penguin can spend months in the ocean without taking a break!

Why is the fish one of the penguin's main food sources?

Possible Answers:

Penguins live near rivers that are filled with fish

Penguins have very good vision and can see the fish from high up in the air

Penguins are very good swimmers and can easily catch fish

Penguins only like to eat fish

Correct answer:

Penguins are very good swimmers and can easily catch fish

Explanation:

The text states that, "The penguin lives by the ocean, and you are most likely to see them swimming quickly through the ocean waters as they hunt for fish. Penguins eat a lot of fish. It is one of their main sources of food." The text also states that "they are great swimmers" and "their thick, strong, muscular wings, and flippers make the penguin a great swimmer."

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