SKILL 1. Identify + paraphrase
What you need to do:
For these questions, the answer comes straight from the passage. What you need to do is identify ALL relevant lines in the text that answer the question, and paraphrase them.
It’s far safer to over-deliver in your answer. Writing additional information costs you time, but it could well gain you marks.– You identified all the points, but missed out DETAILS in your paraphrase.
Remember, details matter. Pay attention to the adjectives, the value words, the conjunctions “and” and “or”, and commas which separate different ideas.– You tried, but lost marks due to inaccurate paraphrasing. To improve, work on your vocabulary, and practice, practice, practice!
SKILL 2. Definition in Context
Typically, the question will include a short phrase or word in inverted commas. However, do note that this is not always the case. Similarly, just because there’s a word or phrase in inverted commas, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the skill required.
To answer these questions, your answer must show that you understand the definition of the word(s) in inverted commas, and you must incorporate the CONTEXT of this definition – so you’ll need to refer to the passage, identify the context, and paraphrase that context in your answer.
SKILL 3. Inference in Context
Often, this question goes something like this:What does the phrase “____________” tell you about the nature of _______________?
These questions might explicitly state that they’re looking for an adjective to describe the nature of humans (or any other subject matter), or the fact that this is a “what is the nature of” type of question might need to be implied.
To answer such questions, you’ll need to infer* the answer. Often, the answer will be a single word or a short phrase to describe the nature of the subject referred to in the question.
For example, “It shows that humans are selfish/stubborn/irrational/desire structure and order in their lives/etc.
”*If you’re lucky, you may not have to infer this – it might actually be stated in the passage! If that is the case, all you need to do is paraphrase the word/phrase in the passage.
SKILL 3. Function of Example
Comprehension questions that test this skill often look like this:
What is the writer trying to show by using the examples of ‘humanitarian missions to Haiti and Sudan’?
Why does the author use the example of the ‘killer flu’?
What these questions want to see in your answer is an understanding of the purpose of an example.
And examples are used for one main purpose – to illustrate an author’s main argument.
Thus, to answer such questions, you must first identify the author’s main argument in that paragraph, and draw the link between the example and the argument.
Often, this link is explicitly mentioned in the text – so just paraphrase this link, and you have your answer.
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