SSAT Elementary Level Reading : Evaluative Understanding in Nonfiction Passages

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

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #61 : Ssat Middle Level Reading Comprehension

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 today, 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.

The underlined word “valor” most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

Guilt

Sorrow 

Bravery 

Doubt

Fear

Correct answer:

Bravery 

Explanation:

The word “valor” means courage, heroism or bravery. If you were not aware of this, you would need to read in context to try and figure out the correct answer. The author says, “And in addition to valor, which was the result of physical strength and courage . . .” The author tells us that whatever valor is, it is a result of strength and courage. Of the five answer choices, only “bravery” describes something that is related to courage. "Guilt" means a bad feeling about something you have done, "sorrow" means sadness, and "doubt" means disbelief.

Example Question #11 : Evaluative Understanding 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 today, 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.

The underlined word “profession” most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

house

war

teacher

career

amateur

Correct answer:

career

Explanation:

The word “profession” means job or career. If your mother is a doctor, then her profession is medicine. If your father is a famer, than his profession is agricultural work. In the context of the passage, the author describes the “profession of fighting.” None of the other choices make sense when plugged in for "profession." To help you, an "amateur" is someone not paid for their work or someone who is not an expert; an amateur is the opposite of a professional.

Example Question #21 : Language In History Passages

Adapted from Early European History (1917) by Hutton Webster

A medieval village usually contained several classes of laborers. There might be a number of freemen, who paid a fixed rent, either in money or produce, for the use of their land. Then there might also be a few slaves in the lord's household or at work on his domain. By this time, however, slavery had about died out in Western Europe. Most of the peasants were serfs.

Serfdom represented a stage between slavery and freedom. A slave belonged to his master; he was bought and sold like other belongings. A serf had a higher position, for he could not be sold apart from the land nor could his holding be taken from him. He was fixed to the soil. On the other hand, a serf ranked lower than a freeman, because he could not change his house, nor marry outside the manor, nor hand down his goods, without the permission of his lord.

What does the underlined word “belongings” most nearly mean?

Possible Answers:

Property 

Work

People

Food

Services

Correct answer:

Property 

Explanation:

The sentence that contains the word “belongings” describes how a slave “belonged to" his master. We know that masters owned slaves, so "belonged to" means owned by. "Belongings," therefore, means property or things we own.

Example Question #21 : Language In History Passages

Adapted from A Man Who Coveted Washington’s Shoes by Frank E. Stockton (1896)

The person whose story we are now about to tell was not a Jerseyman, but, as most of the incidents which make him interesting to us occurred in this state, we will give him the benefit of a few years' residence here.

This was General Charles Lee, who might well have been called a soldier of fortune. He was born in England, but the British Isles were entirely too small to satisfy his wild ambitions and his bold spirit. There are few heroes of romance who have had such a wide and varied experience, and who have engaged in so many strange enterprises. He was a brave man and very able, but he had a fault which prevented him from being a high-class soldier: he could not bear authority and was always restive under command of another, and, while always ready to tell other people what they ought to do, was never willing to be told what he ought to do.

He joined the British army when he was a young man, and he first came to this country in 1757, when General Abercrombie brought over an army to fight the French. For three years, Lee was engaged in the wilds and forests, doing battle with the Native Americans and French, and no doubt he had all the adventures an ordinary person would desire, but this experience was far from satisfactory.

The underlined word “able” most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

talented

apprehensive

generous

excitable

miserly

Correct answer:

talented

Explanation:

The author says that Lee was “a brave man and very able,” and goes on to talk about how despite being brave and able he had a serious flaw. Based on the construction of the sentence, you can assume that "able" must mean something positive, as it is being contrasted against something negative. That means the answer choice cannot be "miserly" (as that means not generous) and cannot be "apprehensive" (because that means worried). "Excitable" is neither a positive nor a negative word (it means easily excited), so you are left with only "generous" (giving) and "talented" (skilled). “Able” means capable, having the ability to do many things, or talented, so "talented" is the correct answer.

Example Question #11 : Determining Context Dependent Word Meanings In History Passages

Adapted from A Man Who Coveted Washington’s Shoes by Frank E. Stockton (1896)

The person whose story we are now about to tell was not a Jerseyman, but, as most of the incidents which make him interesting to us occurred in this state, we will give him the benefit of a few years' residence here.

This was General Charles Lee, who might well have been called a soldier of fortune. He was born in England, but the British Isles were entirely too small to satisfy his wild ambitions and his bold spirit. There are few heroes of romance who have had such a wide and varied experience, and who have engaged in so many strange enterprises. He was a brave man and very able, but he had a fault which prevented him from being a high-class soldier: he could not bear authority and was always restive under command of another, and, while always ready to tell other people what they ought to do, was never willing to be told what he ought to do.

He joined the British army when he was a young man, and he first came to this country in 1757, when General Abercrombie brought over an army to fight the French. For three years, Lee was engaged in the wilds and forests, doing battle with the Native Americans and French, and no doubt he had all the adventures an ordinary person would desire, but this experience was far from satisfactory.

The underlined word “satisfactory” most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

boring

over-the-top 

unacceptable

under control

good enough

Correct answer:

good enough

Explanation:

The word “satisfactory” means acceptable or good enough. In the context of the passage, it is used to describe how the adventures Lee had while fighting the French and the Native Americans were not satisfactory for him. Given that we are told earlier in the story that Lee has a wild spirit and had an adventurous nature, we can assume that he would want greater and wilder adventures and that those adventures he had while fighting the French and the Native Americans might not have been good enough for him.

Example Question #51 : History Passages

Adapted from A Man Who Coveted Washington’s Shoes by Frank E. Stockton (1896)

The person whose story we are now about to tell was not a Jerseyman, but, as most of the incidents which make him interesting to us occurred in this state, we will give him the benefit of a few years' residence here.

This was General Charles Lee, who might well have been called a soldier of fortune. He was born in England, but the British Isles were entirely too small to satisfy his wild ambitions and his bold spirit. There are few heroes of romance who have had such a wide and varied experience, and who have engaged in so many strange enterprises. He was a brave man and very able, but he had a fault which prevented him from being a high-class soldier: he could not bear authority and was always restive under command of another, and, while always ready to tell other people what they ought to do, was never willing to be told what he ought to do.

He joined the British army when he was a young man, and he first came to this country in 1757, when General Abercrombie brought over an army to fight the French. For three years, Lee was engaged in the wilds and forests, doing battle with the Native Americans and French, and no doubt he had all the adventures an ordinary person would desire, but this experience was far from satisfactory.

The underlined word "residence" most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

living

traveling

fighting

farming

working

Correct answer:

living

Explanation:

Your "residence" is the place or the building where you live. In the context of the passage, the author says "but, as most of the incidents which make him interesting to us occurred in this State, we will give him the benefit of a few years' residence here." Here, "residence" means living or residing.

Example Question #12 : Determining Context Dependent Word Meanings In History Passages

Adapted from Early European History by Hutton Webster (1917)

History cannot easily go back beyond written records. These alone will preserve a full and accurate account of man's achievements. Manuscripts and books form one class of written records. The old Babylonians used tablets of soft clay, on which signs were impressed with a metal instrument. The tablets were then baked hard in an oven. The Egyptians made a kind of paper out of the papyrus, a plant native to the Nile valley. The Greeks and Romans at first used papyrus, but later they employed the more lasting parchment prepared from sheepskin. Paper seems to have been a Chinese invention. It was introduced into Europe by the Arabs during the twelfth century of our era.

History, based on written records, begins in different countries at varying dates. A few manuscripts and inscriptions found in Egypt date back three or four thousand years before Christ. The annals of Babylonia are scarcely less ancient. Trustworthy records in China and India do not extend beyond 1000 B.C. For the Greeks and Romans the commencement of the historic period must be placed about 750 B.C. The inhabitants of northern Europe did not come into the light of history until about the opening of the Christian era.

The underlined word “employed” most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

used 

fired 

worked 

served 

hired 

Correct answer:

used 

Explanation:

In context, the author is discussing the different ways in which different groups of people used materials to keep written records. The author says “The Greeks and Romans at first used papyrus, but later they employed the more lasting parchment prepared from sheepskin.” From this sentence, you learn that the Greeks and Romans first “used” one thing, and then they “employed” another, so “employed” means "used."

Example Question #62 : Ssat Middle Level Reading Comprehension

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.

The underlined word “distinguished” most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

well-known 

energizing

tiresome

enigmatic

mysterious

Correct answer:

well-known 

Explanation:

The word “distinguish” means separate someone from others. Something that is distinguished is known for being different and recognized as an accomplishment. The author says, “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.” In order to become a knight, one had to perform some kind of heroic act. "Mysterious" and "unknown" both mean not known or hard to predict, which makes little sense because someone can't become recognized for doing something unknown. The correct answer is “well-known,” because that most accurately fits into the sentence. As for the other answer choices, something that is "tiresome" is exhausting and boring, and something that is "energizing" gives you energy.

Example Question #13 : Evaluative Understanding 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.

The underlined word “distinction” most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

arrogant

boastful

similarity 

lofty 

difference

Correct answer:

difference

Explanation:

The word “distinction” is taken from this sentence in the passage: “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.” This sentence compares two things, fighting on horseback and fighting on foot, and discusses how the knight is different from the soldier because he fights on the back of a horse. The word “distinction” is used to describe a difference between two things where one is usually of a higher quality or deserving of greater respect, so "difference" is the correct answer because it is closest in meaning to "distinction." As for the other answer choices, "lofty" means high up or proud; "arrogant" and "boastful" are loose synonyms of one another that both mean proud and constantly talking about yourself in a way that other people find annoying.

Example Question #11 : How To Determine The Meaning Of A Word From Its Context In A Nonfiction Passage

"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.

Which of the following is a synonym of the underlined word "seceded?"

Possible Answers:

Withdrew

Inserted

Joined

Helped

Argued

Correct answer:

Withdrew

Explanation:

"Secede" is defined as to withdraw formally from a political organization or federal union, thus the best answer choice is "withdrew."

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors