Reading Comprehension and types of questions

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Reading Comprehension is an integral part of English and also an important component of 11 Plus exams. Louise, faculty at Champs Learning explains the different types of question on this area.


Reading Comprehensions are accompanied by a number of different question types. Generally, we can classify the different question types into two broad categories: big picture questions (based on the whole passage) and specific purpose questions (based on some specific element of the passage). These two categories along with their sub-categories are discussed as follows:


Big Picture Questions:

These questions refer to the broad overview of the passage and check your overall understanding of the passage. These are mostly asked in the following forms:


1. Main Idea Question:

This relates to the central idea/theme of the passage. Eg.

  • Which of the following most accurately states the main idea of the passage?

  • Which of the following best states the central idea of the passage?

  • The gist of the passage is:

  • Which of the following is the principal topic of the passage?

  • Summarise the passage in one line.

2. Primary Purpose Question:

This refers to the most important and emphasised point of the passage. Eg.

  • The primary purpose of this passage is to:

  • The primary focus of this passage is on which of the following?

  • The main concern of the passage is to:

  • In the passage, the author is primarily interested in:

  • The passage is chiefly concerned with:

This question type can also be asked for a specific paragraph (eg. The primary purpose of paragraph 3 is) instead of the whole passage.


3. Title Question:

By title, we mean the heading that would be most suitable for the passage. The title should be built around the central idea of the passage. Eg.

  • The most apt title for the passage is:

  • Select the most suitable title for the passage from the following:

4. Structure & Organisation

Structure/Organisation is the pattern that the author follows to convey his notions about the given subject. Eg.

  • Which of the following best describes the organisation of the passage?

  • The structure of the passage can be outlined as:

The questions may also refer to a particular paragraph of the passage:
  • Which of the following best describes the organisation of the first paragraph of the passage?

  • One function of the third paragraph is to:


Specific Questions:


5. Fact-based/Specific Detail/Target Question:

These questions intend to ask you to identify the correct/incorrect facts. Eg.

  • According to the passage,....

  • The passage states that:

  • Which, out of the following, is true/false?

  • Which _____ has not been cited as ______?

  • According to the author, what is ______?

  • By a ______, the author means.......

  • According to the passage, _______?

  • Which factor has not been cited _______?

6. Inference Question:

Inferences are the indirect conclusions of the passage. They are not directly stated in the passage. Eg.

  • It can be inferred from the passage:

  • It cannot be inferred from the passage:

  • The passage uses ______ to imply that ______"

  • What can be inferred when the author states_____?"

  • The sentence, '_____', implies that

This question type can also be constructed from a specific portion of the passage.


7. 'Must be true' Question:

These refer to the direct and logical conclusions that follow from the passage. Eg.

  • According to the passage, which one of the musts be true?

  • According to the passage, which one of the musts be false?

  • According to the passage, which one of the following would the author agree with?

  • According to the passage, which one of the following would the author disagree with?

This question type can be constructed from a specific paragraph instead of the whole passage.


8. Paraphrase Question:

These questions essentially ask you to explain the meaning of a particular statement in other words or in different words than that given in the passage. Eg.

  • The following extract, "..........", can be paraphrased as:

  • "........." can be rewritten as:

Paraphrase refers to 'Express the same message in different words/ Rewording for the purpose of clarification'.


9. Vocabulary Question:

These questions test your vocabulary- ask you the meaning of a word/phrase/synonym or the opposite of the word/antonym. The contextual meaning of the word holds more importance here. Eg.

  • Identify the meaning of the word, "............", in the given context.

  • In the passage, the phrase ______ refers to

  • In the sentence, _________, what is the meaning of '______'?

The above-mentioned list is a comprehensive list of question types that are generally asked from the RCs. Any new question will be a derivative of these only.


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