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Understanding the multiple facets of RC Questions

Learn about the different types of Reading Comprehension Questions.

Reading Comprehension Question Types


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?
  • Summarize 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 & Organization

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

  • Which of the following best describes the organization 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 organization 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 must be true?
  • According to the passage, which one of the must 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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