SSAT Reading Comprehension Practice Test 2
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Read the following passage and answer the question

In this passage a Mexican American historian describes a technique she used as part of her research.

     Doña Teodora offered me yet another cup of strong,

black coffee. The aroma of the big, paper-thin Sonoran

tortillas filled the small, linoleum-covered kitchen, and I


knew that with the coffee I would receive a buttered tortilla


straight from the round, homemade comal (a flat, earthen-

ware cooking pan) balanced on the gas-burning stove. For

three days, from ten in the morning until early evening, I

had been sitting in the same comfortable wooden chair,

taking cup after cup of black coffee and consuming hot


tortillas. Doña Teodora was ninety years old, and although

she would take occasional breaks from patting, extending,

and turning over tortillas to let her cat in or out, it appeared

that I was the only one exhausted at the end of the day. But

once out, as I went over the notes, filed and organized the


tape cassettes, exhilaration would set in. The intellectual

and emotional excitement I had previously experienced

when a pertinent document would suddenly appear now

waned in comparison to the gestures and words, the joy

and anger doña Teodora offered.


     She had not written down her thoughts; but the ideas,

recollections, and images evoked by her lively oral expres-

sion were jewels for anyone who wanted to know about the

life of Mexicanas * in booming mining towns on both sides

of the Mexico-United States border in the early twentieth


century. She never kept a diary. The thought of writing a

memoir would have been put aside as presumptuous. But

all her life doña Teodora had lived amidst the telling and

retelling of family stories. Genealogies of her own family

as well as complete and up-to-date information of the


marriages, births, and deaths of numerous families that

made up her community were all well-kept memories.

These chains of generations were fleshed out with recollec-

tions of the many events and tribulations of these families.

Oral history had proven to be a fertile field for my research


on the history of Mexicanas.

     My search had begun in libraries and archives—reposi-

tories of conventional history. The available sources were

to be found in census reports, church records, directories,

and other such statistical information. These, however, as


important as they are, cannot provide one of the essential

dimensions of history, the full narrative of the human

experience that defies quantification and classification. In

certain social groups this gap can be filled with diaries,

memoirs, letters, or even reports from others. In the case of


Mexicanas in the United States, one of the many devastating

consequences of defeat and conquest has been that the

traditional institutions that preserve and transfer culture

(the documentation of the past) have ignored these personal

written sources. The letters, writings, and documents of


Mexican people have rarely, if ever, been included in

archives, special collections, or libraries. At best, some

centers have attempted to collect newspapers published by

Mexicans, but the effort was started late. The historian who

tries to reconstruct the past from newspapers is constantly


frustrated because, although titles abound, collections are

scarce and often incomplete.

     Although many hours of previous study and preparation

had taken me to doña Teodora's kitchen, I was initially

unsure of my place. Was I really an insider or were the


experiences that had made the lives of my interviewees

such that, although I could speak Spanish and am Mexicana,

I was still an outsider?

     I realized, nonetheless, that the richness and depth of the

spoken word challenges the comforting theories and models


of the social sciences. Mexican history challenges social-

science models derived solely from victorious imperialistic


     Our history cannot be written without new sources.

These sources will determine which concepts are needed to


illuminate and interpret the past, and these concepts will

emerge from the people themselves. This will permit the

description of events and structures to assume a culturally

relevant perspective, thus emphasizing the point of view of

the Mexican people. The use of theoretical constructs must


follow the voices of the people who live the reality, con-

sciously or not. For too long the experiences of women

have been studied according to male-oriented sources and

constructs. These must be questioned. For the history of

Mexican people, the sources primarily exist in our own


worlds. And it is here where we must begin. I often found

that as the memory awakened, other sources would emerge.

Boxes of letters, photographs, and even manuscripts and

diaries would appear. Long-standing assumptions of

illiteracy were shattered and had to be reexamined. I saw


that constant reevaluation became the rule rather than the

exception. I entered women's worlds created on the margin

—not only of Anglo life, but of, and outside of, the lives

of their own fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, or priests,

bosses, and bureaucrats.

The author's comments in the third paragraph (lines 36-56) suggest that her research project resembles more conventional research in its


SSAT Information

SSAT stands for Secondary School Admissions Test. The SSAT consists of 3 levels of testing - the Elementary Level, the Middle Level, and the Upper Level. 

  • Students entering grades 4 or 5 will take the Elementary Level SSAT.
  • Students entering grades 6-8 will take the Middle Level SSAT.
  • Students entering grades 9-12 will take the Upper Level SSAT.

The four sections that make up the SSAT include:

  • Quantitative Section
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Verbal Section
  • Writing Sample Section


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