SSAT Elementary Level Reading : How to Make Inferences Based on Fiction Passages

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #11 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Adapted from Wonderwings and other Fairy Stories by Edith Howes (1900)

Little Fairy Tenderheart was weeping. She sat on a ledge that overlooked the world, and her tears fell fast. In twos and threes her sisters flew from Fairyland to put their arms about her, but none could comfort her. "Come, dance and sing with us and forget your grief," they said. She shook her head. "The terrible fighting!" she said. "See where far below men rage, killing each other. Rivers run red with blood, and the sorrow of weeping women rises through the air to where I sit. How can I dance and sing?"

"It is the world at war," said an older fairy sadly. "I too have wept in earlier days when men have fought. But our tears are wasted, little sister. Come away."

Fairy Tenderheart looked eagerly at her. "You who have observed the world so many years," she said, "tell me why such dreadful deeds are done down there."

The older fairy bent her eyes on the blackened plains of earth. "I cannot tell you that," she slowly said. "We watch and pity, but we cannot know what works in the hearts of men that they should gather in their millions to destroy their brothers and themselves. No other creature turns on its own kind and kills so terribly as man."

Why does the older fairy tell Little Fairy Tenderheart that her tears are wasted?

Possible Answers:

There is nothing the fairies can do to stop the fighting. 

The fairies will have to involve themselves in the fighting. 

Fairies have been banished from Earth by humans.

Fairies are sworn not to intervene in the affairs of humans.

Men and women do not believe in fairies.

Correct answer:

There is nothing the fairies can do to stop the fighting. 

Explanation:

At first Fairy Tenderheart is optimistic that the fairies can do something about the situation on Earth, but one of the older fairies answers her by saying, "We watch and pity, but we cannot know what works in the hearts of men that they should gather in their millions to destroy their brothers and themselves. No other creature turns on its own kind and kills so terribly as man."’ This tells us that the fairies are powerless to stop the fighting.

Example Question #12 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

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.

Which of the following words best describes Daniel?

Possible Answers:

Generous

Furious

Sad

Perplexing

Mediocre

Correct answer:

Generous

Explanation:

Throughout the passage, there are numerous instances in which Daniel displays generosity. When he found out that his brother, Ezekiel, needed money, "[Daniel] gave him a hundred dollars. He kept but three dollars to get home with." Also, Daniel paid off all of his father's debt at the end of the story. The correct answer choice is "generous," meaning being willing to give more than explicitly asked for.

Example Question #13 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (1888)

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden.

It was a large, lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the springtime broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. "How happy we are here!" they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Ogre and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived, he saw the children playing in the garden.

"What are you doing here?" he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

"My own garden is my own garden," said the Giant. "Any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself." So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.

TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED

He was a very selfish Giant.

The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. "How happy we were there," they said to each other.

How did the children probably feel when the Giant yelled at them?

Possible Answers:

Optimistic

Excited

Depressed

Anxious

Scared

Correct answer:

Scared

Explanation:

When the Giant arrived home and saw the children playing in his garden, he was angry. So, he cried out at the children in his intimidating voice, which made the children run away in fear. Thus, the best answer choice is "scared," since the children ran away when the Giant yelled at them.

Example Question #14 : How To Make Inferences Based On Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (1888)

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden.

It was a large, lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the springtime broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. "How happy we are here!" they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Ogre and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived, he saw the children playing in the garden.

"What are you doing here?" he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

"My own garden is my own garden," said the Giant. "Any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself." So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.

TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED

He was a very selfish Giant.

The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. "How happy we were there," they said to each other.

How do you think the children feel at the end of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Clever

Elated

Nervous

Gloomy

Mean

Correct answer:

Gloomy

Explanation:

In the last paragraph of the passage, the children talk about how much fun they used to have in the Giant's garden. They try to find new places to play, but these new places are nowhere near as fun as the Giant's garden, which makes them sad. Thus, the best answer choice is "gloomy."

Example Question #1 : Inferences About Plot And Setting

Adapted from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)

One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it—it was the black kitten's fault entirely. For the white kitten had been having its face washed by the old cat for the last quarter of an hour (and bearing it pretty well, considering); so you see that it COULDN'T have had any hand in the mischief.

The way Dinah washed her children's faces was this: first she held the poor thing down by its ear with one paw, and then with the other paw she rubbed its face all over, the wrong way, beginning at the nose: and just now, as I said, she was hard at work on the white kitten, which was lying quite still and trying to purr—no doubt feeling that it was all meant for its good.

But the black kitten had been finished with earlier in the afternoon, and so, while Alice was sitting curled up in a corner of the great arm-chair, half talking to herself and half asleep, the kitten had been having a grand game of romps with the ball of worsted Alice had been trying to wind up, and had been rolling it up and down till it had all come undone again; and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles, with the kitten running after its own tail in the middle.

'Oh, you wicked little thing!' cried Alice, catching up the kitten, and giving it a little kiss to make it understand that it was in disgrace. 'Really, Dinah ought to have taught you better manners! You OUGHT, Dinah, you know you ought!' she added, looking reproachfully at the old cat, and speaking in as cross a voice as she could manage—and then she scrambled back into the arm-chair, taking the kitten and the worsted with her, and began winding up the ball again. But she didn't get on very fast, as she was talking all the time, sometimes to the kitten, and sometimes to herself. Kitty sat very demurely on her knee, pretending to watch the progress of the winding, and now and then putting out one paw and gently touching the ball, as if it would be glad to help, if it might.

Where in Alice’s house can we infer this passage takes place?

Possible Answers:

The cellar

The garden

The living room

The dining-room

The kitchen

Correct answer:

The living room

Explanation:

Considering the furniture mentioned in this passage can help you figure out the correct answer. Alice falls asleep in “a corner of the great arm-chair,” and later, the unwound ball of worsted is described in the clause “and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles.” So, we need to pick out a room in which one is likely to find an armchair and a hearth-rug. (A “hearth” is another word for a fireplace, so a hearth-rug is a rug one puts in front of the fireplace.) Given this evidence, only one answer choice makes sense: the living room.

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