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Retrieval Questions ( type 1)

Test ability to locate information in the passage.
--Involves simple paraphrasing
--May be phrased as
1. " according to the passage, the three components of ..are.."
2." The passage STATES that .."
3. "Which of the following statements is/not mentioned ..."

Inference Questions ( type 2)

Require you to choose the answer that is BEST supported by the passage. there is no such thing as being too close to the passage to qualify as a inference
--May be phrased as
1. "It can be inferred from the passage that ..."
2. "Based on the passage, it is reasonable to assume that..."
3. "The author /passage SUGGESTS that ..."
4." With which of the following statements would the author be most likely to agree?"

Vocabulary in Context Questions ( type 3)

Ask you to define what the author means by a certain word or phrase. you must go back to the passage and read in context.
--May be phrased as
1. " As it is used in the passage the word, ..., refers to...
2. " The word .... used in paragraph # is used in the sense of "
3. " The term ... refers implicitly to Brown's ..."
4. ".... ( paragraph #) most likely indicates..."

Main Idea/Primary Purpose Questions (type 4)

Require you to summarize claims and implications made throughout the passage in order to formulate a general statement of the central point or primary activity of the passage.
Main Idea = overall claim, SUPPORTED by specific evidence in the various paragraphs
Primary Purpose= expresses what the author DOES in order to convey the Main Idea.

Tone/Attitude Questions (type 5)

Ask you to evaluate whether or not the author expresses an opinion regarding the material in the passage, and if so, to judge how strongly positive or negative that opinion is.
--May appear as:
1. " In this passage, the author's tone is one of..."
2. " The author's attitude can best be described as..."
3. " The author's attitude towards xyz can best be described as ..."

Structure Questions ( type 6)

Ask you to describe how the author makes his or her argument. They differ from other question in that they address the passage's construction or logical structure along with its content. ---> These questions ask for the purpose of a particular reference within the passage.
--May be phrased as
1. The author probably mentions xyz in order to..."
2. " Which of the following best describes the overall organization of the passage?"
3. " Which of the following best describes the logical progression of the author's argument?"

Evaluate Questions ( type 7)

These questions ask whether or not a particular claim/ is supported within that passage, or how well that claim supported.
--a. If the question asks which claim is SUPPORTED, look for words indicating examples, descriptions etc.
--b. if the question asks which claim is NOT SUPPORTED, eliminate the answer choices that are supported by specific examples.

Strengthen/Weaken Questions (type 8)

Asks you to evaluate the answer choices in terms of how they may support or undermine the passage.
--Strengthen questions :
a. Which of the following would provide the best support or
Which of the following, if true, would most STRENGTHEN the author's claims
--Weaken questions:
b. Which of following would most weaken the author's point or
Which of the following, if true, would most UNDERMINE the author's claims

New Information Questions ( type 9)

1. New Information/ Inference questions: give you new facts that are in the same general issue area of the passage and then ask what according to the passage is likely to be true.
--Draw inferences from both the new and old information!!
2. New Information / Strengthen or Weaken questions: provide new information in question stem and then ask what effect those new facts would have on the author's argument as a whole, or on one specific claim.

Analogy Questions ( type 10)

Ask you to take something described in the passage, abstract it, and then apply it to an entirely new situation.
--You are matching the logic or purpose of the author's argument... therefore, the CORRECT answer can match the logic of the passage!

Except/Least/Not Question

Looking for the WORST instead of the best

Steps to take in answering Verbal Reasoning Questions

1. Read the question carefully and identify the question type
2. Translate the question into your own words
3. Identify key words and phrases ( for specific questions) and go back to the passage to find the relevant information
4. Answer the question in your own words
5. Use Process of Elimination!!

Attractor 1: Decoys

These are written to sound just like the passage, BUT they include something that DOESN'T MATCH UP with the passage text or question task.
--"words out of context, half right/ half wrong, opposites, reversals, garbled language, right answer/wrong question, wrong point of view."

Attractor 2: Extremes

These choices go too far in one direction or the other.
--"absolutes, superlatives" ( first last best most worst),
--"judgments and recommendations": the choice passes judgment on whether something is good or bad, but in the passage its neutral.
--"not strong enough"

Attractor 3: Out of Scope

These answer choices introduce facts, issues, or claims that are never addressed in the passage, or, they do not match the scope of the question task.
--"not the issue"
--"outside knowledge" : wrong answer is true based on your OWN knowledge, but IS NOT directly supported by the text of the passage
--"crystal ball": wrong answer predicts the future ( but the passage doesn't) or goes beyond the timeframe of the passage.
--no such comparison.
--too narrow or too broad.

What should you look for when ranking passages?

1. Level of concreteness or abstraction: passages that are highly theoretical and that discuss abstract concepts will be MUCH harder to follow.
2. Language level: Difficult passages will often include language that no one really uses in everyday conversation.
3. Sentence structure: long, convoluted sentences are harder to read.

The Two-Pass System

1. Read the first 2 sentences of the first passage and look at the questions. Do the NOW passages and come back to the LATER and KILLER passages.
2. Once all the NOW passages are complete, take a second look thru the section and do all the LATER passages... and if there is time, the KILLER passages.

Main Point

Tells what the passage is trying to prove.


How does the passage use evidence to support the author's larger claims

Purpose ( Why was this passage written)

1. What is the purpose of the support provided by the author?
2. What is the purpose of the paragraph?
3. What is the purpose of the passage as a WHOLE?


What is the author's tone

Explanatory Passages

These passages include specific examples

Neutral Passages

These passages describe or explain something

Descriptive Passages

In these passages, each paragraph deals with a different characteristic of the thing being described.

Transition Words

but;yet; nonetheless; In spite of the fact that; although; despite; except; in contrast; however; nevertheless; admittedly; even though

Conclusion Words

therefore; thus; so; consequently; clearly

Opinion Indicators

finally; fortunately; thankfully; unfortunately; sadly;

Emphasis Words

most important; primarily; chiefly; key; crucial

Comparisons and Contrasts

similarly; like ; analogy; in contrast; the difference between; later; before/after

What question types are most often "Specific" ?

Retrieval, Inference, and Vocabulary in Context

What question types are most often "General" ?

Main Idea/Purpose and Tone/Attitude

What question types are most often "Complex"?

Structure, Evaluate, Strengthen/Weaken, New Information, Analogy

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