ISEE Reading Comprehension Practice Test 1

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If you are asked the color of the sky on a fair day in summer, your answer will most probably be "blue." This answer is only partially correct. Blue sky near the horizon is not the same kind of blue as it is straight overhead. Look at the sky some fine day and you will find that the blue sky near the horizon is slightly greenish. As your eye moves upward toward the zenith, you will find that the blue changes into pure blue, and finally shades into a violet-blue overhead.

Have you heard the story of a farmer who objected to the color of the distant hills in the artist's picture? He said to the artist, "Why do you make those hills blue? They are green, I've been over there and I know!"

The artist asked him to do a little experiment. "Bend over and look at the hills between your legs." As the farmer did this, the artist asked, "Now what color are the hills?"

The farmer looked again, then he stood up and looked. "By gosh, they turned blue!" he said.

It is quite possible that you have looked at many colors that you did not really recognize. Sky is not just blue; it is many kinds of blue. Grass is not plain green; it may be one of several varieties of green. A red-brick wall frequently is not pure red. It may vary from yellow-orange to violet-red in color, but to the unseeing eye it is just red brick.

1. Which title best expresses the ideas of this passage?

  • A. The Summer Sky
  • B. Artists vs. Farmers
  • C. Recognizing Colors
  • D. Blue Hills

2. At the zenith, the sky is usually

  • A. violet-blue.
  • B. violet-red.
  • C. greenish-blue.
  • D. yellow-orange.

3. The author suggests that

  • A. farmers are color-blind.
  • B. perceived color varies.
  • C. brick walls should be painted pure red.
  • D. some artists use poor color combinations.

4. The word zenith in the first paragraph probably refers to

  • A. a color.
  • B. a point directly overhead.
  • C. a point on the horizon.
  • D. the hills.

While the Europeans were still creeping cautiously along their coasts, Polynesians were making trips between Hawaii and New Zealand, a distance of 3,800 miles, in frail canoes. These fearless sailors of the Pacific explored every island in their vast domain without even the simplest of navigational tools.

In the daytime, the Polynesians guided their craft by the position of the sun, the trend of the waves and wind, and the flight of seabirds.

Stars were used during long trips between island groups. Youths studying navigation were taught to view the heavens as a cylinder on which the highways of navigation were marked. An invisible line bisected the sky from the North Star to the Southern Cross.

In addition to single canoes, the Polynesians often used twin canoes for transpacific voyages. The two boats were fastened together by canopied platforms that shielded passengers from sun and rain. Such crafts were remarkably seaworthy and could accommodate 60 to 80 people, in addition to water, food, and domestic animals. Some of these vessels had as many as three masts.

These Pacific mariners used paddles to propel and steer their canoes. The steering paddle was so important that it was always given a personal name. Polynesian legends not only recite the names of the canoe and the hero who discovered a new island but also the name of the steering paddle he used.

5. Which title is best for this selection?

  • A. European Sailors
  • B. The History of the Pacific Ocean
  • C. The Study of Navigation
  • D. Early Polynesian Navigation

6. The Polynesians made trips to

  • A. New Zealand.
  • B. the Atlantic.
  • C. the Southern Cross.
  • D. Europe.

7. The word mariner means

  • A. propeller.
  • B. seaman.
  • C. paddle.
  • D. navigation.

8. This passage suggests that the Polynesians

  • A. trained seabirds to guide their canoes.
  • B. had seen a line in the sky that was invisible to others.
  • C. used a primitive telescope to view the heavens.
  • D. were astronomers as well as explorers.