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  • Vanita Pal


The most common type of comprehension question is the Vocabulary question.


It’s actually true. Vocabulary questions have suddenly proliferated as examiners want to know the exact extent of your language skills.

Believe it or not, vocabulary is the basis of all language skills. Whether you speak it or write it, having that smooth way of interpreting a situation can be such a bonus.

If your skills in the vocabulary department are not up to par, never fear.

I have just the right kind of exercise and tips for you to follow so that you will handle all your vocabulary questions with ease and finesse.

STEP 1 - How to use your own words.

Vocabulary questions to be answered using your own words.

Vocabulary questions are no longer the standard set which ask for direct meanings of words at the end of the list of comprehension questions. There are many more vocabulary questions which are usually ‘hidden’ in the comprehension set of questions.

There are several phrases which need to be explained. And there is always the type of questions which says “answer using your own words.”

These take up about 70% of the questions in this paper.

The best way is to remember that adjectives, adverbs and verbs are the easiest to be paraphrased.

STEP 2 – Practice Sample questions

Example 1

Mr Albert’s face became swollen with rage. Quince had never seen such a rich, glorious purple before. It looked like he should be Queen Victoria’s town crier. Quince suddenly felt himself being shaken to reality when he saw him poke at his poor, hapless Minnie with his silver-topped cane. Suddenly alarm bells started ringing in his head.


  1. What was it about Mr Albert’s face which Quince seemed to be struck by? Answer using your own words.


  1. Quince seemed to be struck by Mr Albert’s face which had changed to a deep shade of purple as he seemed to be extremely angry.

The answer avoids using “rich” and “glorious” and uses “deep” and “shade” instead. However the word purple cannot be substituted. Nouns cannot be paraphrased with very few exceptions.

Example 2

Martina stood poised to deliver the ball. It was the fifth set and her knees were already beginning to protest at the pounding on the hard court at Wimbledon. She was in her forties and she knew it wouldn’t be long before she would have to give way gracefully altogether. Already younger, more athletically primed women stood poised for the takeover. She knew they would, eventually but she wasn’t going to make it easy for them. Martina gritted her teeth and suddenly shot at her ball with such force that it knocked her opponent almost completely by surprise causing her to lose a few precious seconds before she swerved and raced after the rocketing ball.


  1. What was it about Martina indicates that she was older than the rest of the players? Answer using your own words.


The fact that her knees felt pain with the constant playing on the hard court at Wimbledon and that she was forty something indicates that she was older than the rest of the players.

Once again, the expression, “knees were beginning to protest” has been substituted with “her knees felt pain.”

Paraphrasing should be kept simple with the meaning directly alluding to the context. Flowery words and phrases should be avoided as these can detract from the original meaning.


  1. How do we know that it would be a while before Martina would leave playing? Answer using your own words.

It is mentioned that Martina would play in an extremely tough manner which would make it difficult for others to overtake her. Also the ball which she served was so forceful that it was difficult for her opponent to intercept.

(It can be seen here that several words have to be changed with the meaning kept intact.)

These are the most commonly seen vocabulary questions for your comprehension passages.

Tackling them can be a piece of cake if you continue to observe and practice the strategies which I have mentioned.

One important point is that you need to practice some sort of vocabulary exercises every day. Vocabulary skills can be easily forgotten if you only do them once in a while. Like any daily regiment, this too will only be a benefit if you work on it each and every day.

This is especially useful for those who have weak vocabulary skills. You will be able to tackle almost any kind of comprehension vocabulary question in no time.

And you will find that your marks will increase rapidly as almost 70% of comprehension questions are vocabulary based.

Give it your best shot and watch your vocabulary skills grow.


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