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  • Vanita Pal

Secondary Comprehension Tips: Knowing The 8 Question Types

You must know One Golden Rule before attempting the secondary comprehension paper.

That is, knowing the 8 types of questions.

Most students think that there are just 3 types but if the truth be told, comprehension questions these days are far more tricky than they used to be. Remember your teacher telling you to read and understand the question properly before attempting it? That’s because the setters of comprehension papers these days want to make sure that you do not have an easy time answering questions. The questions are meant to provoke and extricate information in precisely the way the question is targeted.

You need to be on your guard and not rush into answering the question the minute you read it. That’s because it may not be as it seems. The question may seem to be asking you to give the meaning of a phrase from the passage but it could really be asking you the intention which can be gathered from that phrase.

Alright, so we know the Golden Rule is to know the 8 types of questions.

Just what are these 8 types, you may be wondering?

Let us start with what you already know. The 3 types which you think you know.

1. Analysis – straight from the text

2. Vocabulary – meanings of words/ phrases

3. Inference – questions which ask you about implications and suggestions.

Unfortunately, there are more than that.

And fortunately, I am here to tell you about it so you need not worry.

1. Analysis questions are aimed at asking you information from the text which matches the intention of the question. The task before yo

u is to select suitable information so that you do not overlap into other parts of the text which are not relevant. The main purpose of the Analysis question is to determine whether you have understood the general flow of information in the passage.

Though these are seen as straightforward questions, you still need to take care in finding your answer which in certain cases could be scattered throughout the paragraph.

2. Literal questions are more straightforward. They will ask you a direct question which may mean literally copying it out. These answers have to be accurate and reply precisely according to the questions. They usually answer questions on ‘what’, ‘why’ or ‘where.’

Literal questions appear reg

ularly in exams and are often asking you to pinpoint the answer. The purpose of this is to see if you have understood the language used in that context.

3. Language based questions are very popular in comprehension papers. Why? These are the tricky questions, the ones you have to look out for.

That’s because they seem like vocabulary questions but they are actually asking you for the intention behind it or what it reveals. A sentence such as “It was an intrepid fantasy, one that gripped his mind for a fleeting few seconds.”

Question – What does this phrase reveal about his state of mind at that time?

Some students will give the meaning of that sentence and expect that to be the answer. This is where marks will be lost.

The bad part to Language based questions is that there are usually more than one per paper.

The good part is if you know how to answer it, there is no fear.

So, the answer should be about his state of mind.

Answer - He was having second thoughts and wanted to give in to his weakness, his imagination.

Note that I did not give the meaning of that sentence but am trying to explore how he thought.

4. Vocabulary questions. These are ‘gift’ questions as you need to simply answer the meaning of that phrase. The good news is that there is nothing tricky about it

but the bad news is that the question can be posed in rather complicated way.

The question could contain a sentence from the text and they could ask you to explain each part.

Or, they could ask you to find words which match a given phrase or two in the question.

No one said it was going to be easy.

And the only way to get around it is to practice.

5. Inference questions are also tricky. They usually come in the

form of questions which ask you what it ‘suggests’ or what it ‘implies.’ Inference questions never have corresponding answers in the text. You are expected to ‘guess’ or ‘infer’ the answer. Often a logical deduction is the best bet you have. The only way to get a perfect score in these questions is to read the parts pertaining to the questions back and forth. When you are able to finally get the gist of it, try to arrive at your own conclusion based on the text.

6. Literary questions use figures of speech. This is where your literature skills come in handy.

Knowing your critical skills inside out is the best way to score in these questions.

The questions will ask you on the tone, mood, irony, metaphor or simile. All of these have appeared in comprehension papers before and you will need to understand what each one means.

They are all figures of speech which mean that they describe in a poetic or indirect way.

“He spoke a stream of words.” This is a metaphor where there is not an actual stream but it implies that he spoke non-stop which is like a stream with water running through continuously.

7. Point of view questions allude to the portion of the second comprehension text. This is where you have 2 characters talking with speech bubbles.

Each one will have a particular point of view about the happenings in the text. And you will have to explain their own way of interpreting the facts.

Usually, each character will have an opposing point of view which will be based on the text. All you will have to do is to explain each point of view accordi

ng to the question.

8. Hybrid questions. These are questions which may be part vocabulary and part inference or part literary and part inference.

There are actually 2 kinds

of answers which are needed and you must make sure that you answer both. The combination of the two questions can be in any form from the list I have given.

Eg It may be a question which asks you to analyse what the character is doing and explain the meaning of that particular word.

So, you will be doing a part analysis and part vocabulary question. Failure to answer either part will mean that you will have no marks allocated.

The tricky part to these questions is to understand exactly what it is asking you to do.

And now, we have come to the end of my little blog on how to answer the 8 types of questions.

It may look like a lot but once you start getting

to know the questions, it will become second nature to you and you will be scoring well in no time.


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