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Cambridge Reading Comprehension Outline

There are three different types of comprehension questions on a basic level: Reference, Main idea, and Definition. Once you understand or identify the type of question that is being tested, you can easily figure out the answer. In this article, we will focus on tips and tricks for identifying the type of question, and as well the formula for figuring out the answer.

1. Reference question

A reference question looks like this, ‘Based on the information, what kind of person would be less likely to seek out alternative medicine or medical treatment?’ To answer this question, first, you need to figure out what the keywords are in the question. The keywords, in this case, are alternative medical treatment. You then need to locate these words from the passage. The answer should be somewhere around there. Sometimes you might not find the exact words within the passage. In this case, you need to look out for synonyms or similar meaning words.

2. Main idea question

The main idea question is like, ‘What is the main topic?’ You will always find these main idea questions at the very beginning of a test, probably as the first question of every single passage. Main idea questions make up about 20% of most exams, and so you must score them well. These kinds of questions simply require one to summarize and give the overall picture of what the writer is trying to say. The approach to answering main idea questions is by eliminating the wrong answers to find the right one. Eliminating the wrong answer is always better and easier than choosing the right answer.

3. Definition question.

These kinds of questions usually ask for the meaning of a word. Let’s say the question is, ‘The word funnel means?’ You might know the meaning of the word funnel, but that meaning might not be useful on this occasion because it might have been used differently in the passage. Sometimes, you might not even know the actual meaning of the word. You need to find the meaning of the word just from the way it has been used in the passage. Don’t jump straight to the conclusion. Instead, always make sure you look at the other options first before you make any selection. The second step is to substitute by replacing all the answer options into the passage. After that, loosely use your definition. That will probably help you figure out what the correct answer is.
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