ISEE Upper Level Reading Comprehension Practice Test 14

Home > ISEE Test > ISEE Reading Practice Tests

On a population map of the world, deserts are shown as great blank spaces. We often think of deserts as vast expanses of nothingness-stretches of hot, dry sand as far as the eye can see. And though deserts may seem barren at first glance, in reality they are anything but empty and lifeless. In fact, these areas contribute many things to our lives.

When you go to the market to buy a box of dates, you are buying a bit of sunshine and dry air from the oases of the Sahara Desert or the Coachella Valley. Fresh peas or a lettuce salad for your winter dinner might be the product of an irrigation farmer in the Salt River Valley or the Imperial Valley. That fine broadcloth shirt you received for your birthday was made from silky, long-fibered cotton grown in Egypt. A half-wool, half-cotton sweater might contain Australian wool and Peruvian cotton, which are steppe and desert products.

These products are only a few of the contributions these desert areas make to the quality of our lives. They have also made important cultural contributions.

Our number system is derived from the system used by the ancient civilizations of Arabia. The use of irrigation to make farming of dry areas possible was developed by the inhabitants of desert regions. The necessity of measuring water levels and noting land boundaries following flooding by the Nile River led to the development of mathematics and the practices of surveying and engineering. The desert people were also our early astronomers. They studied the locations of the stars in order to find their way across the limitless expanse of the desert at night.

The next time you gaze at a desert space on a map, then, you might reflect on the numerous contributions that desert areas have made to our heritage. The common notion that deserts hold little of interest is merely a myth.

1. The population of the world's deserts is

  • A. scattered.
  • B. starving.
  • C. large.
  • D. small.

2. The Imperial Valley produces

  • A. vegetables.
  • B. winter dinners.
  • C. shirts.
  • D. irrigation.

3. According to this passage, broadcloth is made of

  • A. wool.
  • B. cotton.
  • C. silk.
  • D. half wool, half cotton.

4. Culturally, desert civilizations have

  • A. made no contributions.
  • B. made important contributions.
  • C. not influenced western civilizations.
  • D. been blank spaces.

5. Surveying was developed because people needed to

  • A. study astronomy.
  • B. find their way across the deserts.
  • C. determine land boundaries after floods.
  • D. irrigate their crops.

6. According to the passage, the development of mathematics was influenced by the area of the

  • A. Coachella Valley.
  • B. Imperial Valley.
  • C. Nile River.
  • D. Salt River Valley.

Residents of Montana laughingly refer to the small, windblown settlement of Ekalaka in the Eastern badlands as "Skeleton Flats," but as curious as it may sound, the name is appropriate.

So many fossils have been dug up in this otherwise unremarkable town that it has become a paradise for paleontologists, scientists who use fossils to study prehistoric life forms. In fact, dinosaur bones are so plentiful in this area that ranchers have been known to use them as doorstops!

Ekalaka's fame began to grow more than 50 years ago when Walter H. Peck, whose hobby was geology, found the bones of a Stegosaurus, a huge, plant-eating dinosaur. The entire community soon became infected with Peck's enthusiasm for his find, and everyone began digging for dinosaur bones. Led by the local science teacher, groups of people would go out looking for new finds each weekend, and they rarely returned empty-handed. It would seem there is no end to the fossil riches to be found in Ekalaka.

Among the most prized finds were the remains of a Brontosaurus, an 80-foot-long monster that probably weighed 40 tons. The skeleton of a Triceratops was also found. The head of this prehistoric giant alone weighed more than 1,000 pounds. Careful searching also yielded small fossilized fish, complete with stony scales, and the remains of a huge sea reptile.

The prize find was a Pachycephalosaurus, a dinosaur whose peculiar skull was several inches thick. When descriptions of it reached scientific circles in the east, there was great excitement because this particular prehistoric animal was then completely unknown to scientists.

Researchers have used the fossil remains in Ekalaka and the surrounding area to help piece together more of what we know about the behaviors of dinosaurs. One well-studied finding is the fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex known as Jane. Markings discovered on the left side of Jane's face indicate that she was most likely bitten by another T. rex about her size. As Jane was only 11 or 12 when she died-a teenager in dinosaur years-the injuries suggest that even relatively young dinosaurs might have become involved in ferocious fighting, a behavioral dynamic that the Montana fossil findings have helped to convey.

7. In the first sentence, the author places "Skeleton Flats" in quotation marks to show that this phrase is

  • A. a nickname given to the town by Montana residents, not the actual name of the town.
  • B. spelled incorrectly.
  • C. being spoken by someone other than the author.
  • D. a scientific term.

8. This article is primarily about

  • A. paleontology.
  • B. products of the state of Montana.
  • C. fossil finds in Ekalaka.
  • D. the Pachycephalosaurus.

9. According to this passage, a paleontologist is

  • A. someone whose hobby is geology.
  • B. a paradise.
  • C. a plant-eating dinosaur.
  • D. someone who studies fossils.

10. In the third paragraph, the author is describing the

  • A. bones of a Stegosaurus.
  • B. discovery of the first fossil finds in Ekalaka.
  • C. town of Ekalaka.
  • D. people of Ekalaka.

11. Discovery of the Pachycephalosaurus caused excitement because

  • A. its skull was several inches thick.
  • B. it was the first evidence of this creature ever found and reported to scientists.
  • C. news of it reached eastern scientific circles.
  • D. it received a prize.

12. The discovery of the dinosaur known as Jane revealed that

  • A. ancient fish most likely were covered in scales.
  • B. the Triceratops had an extremely large head.
  • C. dinosaurs were likely to be bitten by crocodiles.
  • D. teenage dinosaurs engaged in intense combat.