SSAT Practice Test (Upper Level: Reading)


Except for one, all of the following types of archaeological evidence were discussed. Which is not included:

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: carbon dating.

This is a detail question that you answer through a process of elimination. Choices (E) and (A) are mentioned in the first paragraph, whereas (C) and (D) may be found in the second sentence of the second paragraph.

What is the passage's major point?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: Vaccines help the immune system function properly.

The main idea of this passage is that vaccines help the immune system function properly. Identifying main ideas is one of the key skills tested by the exam. One of the common traps that many test-takers fall into is assuming that the first sentence of the passage will express the main idea. Although this will be true for some passages, often the author will use the first sentence to attract interest or to make an introductory, but not central, point. On this question, if you assume that the first sentence contains the main idea, you will mistakenly choose "You have probably never had diphtheria.". Finding the main idea of a passage requires patience and thoroughness; you cannot expect to know the main idea until you have read the entire passage. In this case, a diligent reading will show you that "The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries...", "You have probably never had diphtheria.", and "Traditional vaccines contain altered microbes." express details from the passage, but only "Vaccines help the immune system function properly." is a comprehensive summary of the author’s message.

Which title best captures the essence of the passage's ideas?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: “Recognizing Colors”

The main idea, the topic of this passage, is looking closely at colors in order to truly recognize them. The farmer is the vehicle for making the point, and the sky and hills are used as illustrations.

________ is the finest word to define the author's attitude toward dogs.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: reverential

As you know, the author spends the first paragraph disparaging the foibles of man in contrast with the virtues of dogs, so it can be inferred that the author's attitude toward dogs must be positive. Only “reverential" respectful and “conditionally affectionate“ are positive answer choices. The author makes no indication that his affection is conditional upon anything; therefore, the best description of the author's attitude is ”reverential." This conclusion is best confirmed in the final paragraph, where the author describes the “noble" dog.

 ____________ was a turning point in scientific theories concerning the age of humanity's existence on Earth.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: the discovery in France of the remains of extinct animals and humans together in an unflooded area.

The correct answer is (C). Careful reading will find this detail in lines 13-17.

Which of the following statements is not a fact from the passage?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: The symptoms of disease do not emerge until the body has learned how to fight the microbe.

This passage does not state that the symptoms of disease will not emerge until the body has learned to fight the disease. The reading comprehension section of the exam will include several questions that require you to identify details from a passage. The typical structure of these questions is to ask you to identify the answer choice that contains a detail not included in the passage. This question structure makes your work a little more difficult, because it requires you to confirm that the other three details are in the passage. In this question, the details expressed in "Vaccines contain microbe parts or altered microbes.", "The immune system typically needs a week to learn...", and "A hundred years ago, children were at the greatest risk..." are all explicit in the passage. The passage never states, however, that the symptoms of disease do not emerge until the body has learned how to fight the disease-causing microbe. On the contrary, the passage implies that a person may become quite sick and even die before the body learns to effectively fight the disease.

The sky is usually ________ at the zenith.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: violet-blue.

The last sentence of the first paragraph gives you this detail.

The word "encounter" in the second paragraph very certainly means __________

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: contact

In context the word “encounter" means come into contact with. The author describes how a ma n's dog “will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world." Of the five answer choices, “contact" fits most naturally.

Early in the nineteenth century,

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: most people believed that humanity's existence was 6,000 to 7,000 years old.

The correct answer is (D). See the first sentence.

What does the word virulent signify when it's used in the third paragraph?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: malicious

Virulent means malicious.

According to the author,

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: perceived color varies.

You should be able to infer this answer from the passage. If not, you can choose the correct answer by eliminating all the other choices as being ridiculous.

The phrase "riches take wings" can be interpreted as ____________.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: a person loses money

The author uses “riches take wings" in the context of negative situations that a man can experience over the course of his lifetime; therefore, you can reasonably assume that the answer choice must describe a negative experience. This eliminates ”a person makes a successful investment," "a person makes a great deal of profit,” and ”a person owns property” as possible answer choices. As gold is never explicitly mentioned, ”a person misplaces gold" seems an unlikely answer choice. “Riches" suggests money and “take wings" suggests having something fly away or losing something. The correct answer is “a person loses money."

What's the reason why Wolverines are very scarce?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: they suffer in the survival of the fittest.

You must infer this answer from the information given. Because "the male wolverine . . . fights to the death any male that intrudes on his domain . . ." only the fittest, the best fighters, survive, and numbers are held down.

What is the author's main motivation for writing the essay?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: to inform

The author’s primary purpose in writing this essay is to inform. The reading comprehension section of the exam will include a few questions that ask you to determine the purpose of the author. The answer choices are always the same: The author’s purpose is to entertain, to persuade, to inform, or to analyze. When an author is writing to entertain, he or she is not including a great deal of factual information; instead, the focus is on vivid language and interesting stories. Writing to persuade means “trying to convince the reader of something.” When a writer is just trying to provide the reader with information, without any particular bias, he or she is writing to inform. Finally, writing to analyze means to consider a subject already well known to the reader. For instance, if the above passage took an objective look at the pros and cons of various approaches to fighting disease, we would say that the passage was a piece of analysis. Because the purpose of this passage is to present new information to the reader in an objective manner, however, it is clear that the author’s intention is to inform.

In the first paragraph, the word zenith most likely refers to  ________.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: a point directly overhead.

Reread the first paragraph carefully if you got this wrong. The phrase “moves up toward the zenith” should lead you to the correct answer.

The first paragraph's portrayal of man's duplicity is intended to emphasize ___________.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: the loyalty of dogs

The author highlights the common foibles, vices, and selfish actions of man to create a contrast with the loyalty and inherent goodness of dogs. You can infer this most obviously from the author's conclusion to the first paragraph, “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog." The immorality of humans as opposed to animals seems partly right, but the author is expressly talking about just dogs, so there is a better answer choice.

This selection's author is most likely a __________.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: conscious naturalist.

The writer's total fascination with and expertise on the subject of the wolverine leads us to infer that he is a naturalist. The fact that he is carrying a gun in wild country does not necessarily imply that he is a hunter. Prudent naturalists may carry guns for self-defense in the wilderness.

What is the passage's major point?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: foodborne illnesses

The subject of this passage is foodborne illnesses. Identifying the subject of a passage is similar to identifying the main idea. Do not assume that the first sentence of the passage will declare the subject. Oftentimes, an author will approach his or her subject by first describing some related, familiar subject. In this passage, the author does introduce the subject of the passage in the first sentence. However, it is only by reading the rest of the passage that you can determine the subject. One way to figure out the subject of a passage is to identify the main idea of each paragraph, and then identify the common thread in each.

Which title is the best fit for this group?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: “Early Polynesian Navigation”

You should have no trouble finding the main idea of this passage

What is the first five sentences' major point?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: The King is struggling to tell his daughter something when he is abruptly stopped.

We can tell that the King is trying to tell his daughter something but is uncertain of how to do it due to his daughter's opinions. He is struggling to change her mind when something unrelated to the conversation stops the conversation. So, the only points you need in a possible answer are a combination of any of the following: that the Princess does not want a mother; that the King is struggling to express himself; that the King wants his daughter to be open to the idea of having a mother; and that the King is stopped in his speech by an unrelated, outrageous occurrence or event. Any other points are incorrect.

Succumb means

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: surrender.

The wolverine is a destroyer, and even large animals succumb to his attacks. The large animals are overcome by the wolverine, but the word succumb is an active verb; therefore, what the animals who are overcome do is surrender.

Which of the following statements is not a fact from the passage?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: Once food is cooked, it cannot cause illness.

This passage never states that cooked food cannot cause illness. Indeed, the first sentence of the third paragraph states that harmful bacteria can be present on cooked food that is left out for two or more hours. This is a direct contradiction of "Once food is cooked, it cannot cause illness.". If you can identify an answer choice that is clearly contradicted by the text, you can be sure that it is not one of the ideas advanced by the passage. Sometimes the correct answer to this type of question will be something that is contradicted in the text; on other occasions, the correct answer will be a detail that is not included in the passage at all.

Polynesians visited __________ on numerous times.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: New Zealand.

The first sentence tells us that the Polynesians made trips to New Zealand

The information regarding the King of Barodia's birthday present in the second paragraph ___________________.

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: explains the interruption

Although the second paragraph does begin a story that seems unrelated, we know that the author is, in a convoluted way, explaining the interruption to the conversation as the passage goes straight from the interruption into the explanation “It was all because of a birthday present to the King of Barodia."

What does the word pathogens signify in the context of the first paragraph?

Correct! Wrong!

Correct answer: disease-causing substances

In the first paragraph, the word pathogens means “disease-causing substances.” The vocabulary you are asked to identify in the reading comprehension section of the exam will tend to be health related. The exam administrators are especially interested in your knowledge of the terminology used by doctors and nurses. Some of these words, however, are rarely used in normal conversation, so they may be unfamiliar to you. The best way to determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word is to examine how it is used in context. In the last sentence of the first paragraph, it is clear that pathogens are some substances that cause disease. Note that the pathogens are not diseases themselves; we would not say that an uncooked piece of meat “has a disease,” but rather that consuming it “can cause a disease.” For this reason, "disease-causing substances" is better than "diseases".

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