International Schools Assessment – Reading

Please find below the practice reading task for ISA testing

STAIRS – an extract…

On the stairs, there was a clear, plain silence.

It was a short staircase, fourteen steps in all, covered in lino from which the original pattern had been polished away to the point where it had the look of a faint memory. Eleven steps took you to the turn of the stairs where the cathedral and the sky always hung in the window frame. Three more steps took you on to the landing, about six feet long.

‘Don’t move,’ my mother said from the landing. ‘Don’t cross that window.’

I was on the tenth step, she was on the landing. I could have touched her.

‘There’s something there between us. A shadow. Don’t move.’

I had no intention. I was enthralled. But I could see no shadow.

‘There’s somebody there. Somebody unhappy. Go back down the stairs son.’

I retreated one step. ‘How’ll you get down?’

‘I’ll stay for a while and it will go away.’

‘How do you know that?’

‘I’ll feel it gone.’

‘What if it doesn’t go?’

‘It always does. I’ll not be long.’

I stood there, looking up at her. I loved her then. She was small and anxious, but without real fear.

‘I’m sure I could walk up there to you, in two skips.’

‘No, no. God knows. It’s bad enough me feeling it; I don’t want you to as well.’

‘I don’t mind feeling it. It’s a bit like the smell of damp clothes, isn’t it?’

She laughed. ‘No. Nothing like that. Don’t talk yourself into believing it. Just go downstairs.’

I went down, excited, and sat at the range with its red heart fire and black lead dust. We were haunted! I heard her moving upstairs. The house was all cobweb tremors. No matter where I walked, it yielded before me and settled behind me. She came down after a bit, looking white.

‘Did you see anything?’

‘No nothing at all. It’s just your old mother with her nerves. All imagination. There’s nothing there.’

Stairs

4 Which one of the following quotations from the text suggests that the mother had experienced the strange feeling before?

 

1-‘Don’t cross that window.’

 

2-‘There’s somebody there.’

 

3-‘It always does.’

 

4-‘It’s a bit like the smell of damp clothes, isn’t it?’

 

5-‘where the cathedral and the sky always hung in the window frame.’

 

 

5 Is the writing effective in convincing you of a presence in the house?

 

YES

NO

Explain your answer by referring to the passage.

 

6 ‘On the stairs there was a clear, plain silence.’

Why do you think the author chose to begin the passage this way?

Explain your answer by referring to the rest of the passage.

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