SSAT Middle Level Reading : Making Inferences in Narrative Social Science Passages

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #8 : Making Inferences And Predictions 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.

Which of these statements about Eleanor is suggested by the passage?

Possible Answers:

She was older than Henry when they were married.

She owned extensive territory in France.

She was a Scottish princess.

She had never married before marrying Henry.

She never loved Henry.

Correct answer:

She owned extensive territory in France.

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read carefully in detail and make a small inference. The author tells you that “The King had great possessions, and (with his own property, and with that of his wife) was lord of one-third part of France.” You are told that Henry owns a great deal of property and, that in combination with his wife, owns one-third of France. This suggests that the reason Henry owns such a large territory in France is because his wife also owned French territory before they were married, so it can be easily proven true that Eleanor most likely “owned extensive territory in France.”

Example Question #61 : Isee Middle Level (Grades 7 8) Reading Comprehension

Adapted from A Modern History from the Time of Luther to the Fall of Napoleon by John Lord (1874)

The period at which this history commences—the beginning of the sixteenth century—when compared with the ages which had preceded it, since the fall of the Roman empire, was one of unprecedented brilliancy and activity. It was a period very fruitful in great people and great events, and, though stormy and turbulent, was favorable to experiments and reforms. The nations of Europe seem to have been suddenly aroused from a state of torpor and rest, and to have put forth new energies in every department of life. The material and the political, the moral and the social condition of society was subject to powerful agitations, and passed through important changes.

Great discoveries and inventions had been made. The use of movable types, first ascribed to Gutenberg in 1441 and to Peter Schœffer in 1444, changed the whole system of book-making, and vastly increased the circulation of the scriptures, the Greek and Latin classics, and all other valuable works, which, by the industry of the monkish copyist, had been preserved from the ravages of time and barbarism. Gunpowder, whose explosive power had been perceived by Roger Bacon as early as 1280, though it was not used on the field of battle until 1346, had changed the art of war, which had greatly contributed to undermining the feudal system. The polarity of the magnet, also discovered in the middle ages, and not practically applied to the mariner's compass until 1403, had led to the greatest event of the fifteenth century—the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, in 1492. The impulse given to commerce by this and other discoveries of unknown continents and oceans, by the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Dutch, the English, and the French, cannot be here enlarged on. America revealed to the astonished European its riches in gold and silver; and Indian spices, and silks, and drugs, were imported through new channels. Mercantile wealth, with all its refinements, acquired new importance in the eyes of the nations. The world opened towards the east and the west. The horizon of knowledge extended. Popular delusions were dispelled. Liberality of mind was acquired. The material prosperity of the western nations was increased. Tastes became more refined, and social intercourse more cheerful.

With which of these statements about the era of the Roman empire would the author be most likely to agree?

Possible Answers:

The author would not agree with any of these statements.

The era of the Roman empire has had a lasting impact on the arts and sciences of contemporary Europe.

The era of the Roman empire was brutal and difficult when compared to the centuries that followed it.

The era of the Roman empire was a time of great intellectual and material wealth.

The era of the Roman empire was the only period of history that could reasonably claim to have been as innovative as the sixteenth century.

Correct answer:

The era of the Roman empire was the only period of history that could reasonably claim to have been as innovative as the sixteenth century.

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to identify the relevant clue in the text and then make an inference based on this clue. The author begins the passage by saying, "The period at which this history commences—the beginning of the sixteenth century—when compared with the ages which had preceded it, since the fall of the Roman empire, was one of unprecedented brilliancy and activity." The author says that the sixteenth century, when compared to the centuries which had come before, was a period of unusual innovation. But, he also notes that he is comparing the sixteenth century with the years “since the fall of the Roman empire,” which suggests he considers the Roman empire to be roughly equal to the sixteenth century. The correct answer is therefore that “the era of the Roman empire was the only period of history that could reasonably claim to have been as innovative as the sixteenth century.”

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