How Do We Tackle the New Comprehension Format?

I am going to have intensive practice with my students this weekend ahead of the SA2 Paper 2.

With the new English exam format, the comprehension component has changed too. Some parents are very worried- fret not. We are here to help. And guess what, it’s actually easier to score with the new system.

What has changed:
OLD: A text with 10 open-ended questions to be answered in complete sentences
NEW: A text, 10 open-ended questions (in tables and sentences)- to test sequencing, true/false, justification/comparison.

What’s unchanged is that the key to this exercise is for the student to understand the passage.

What the student should do:
1. Read through the questions first to know what to look out for.
2. Read the passage and understand it.

You were already doing this with the old format. Continue doing that.

What about the new parts:
1. Sequencing- this is not tough. Have a calm peace of mind. Look for the parts mentioned in the question. Understand the flow and analyse what comes first.
Sometimes it may not be that straight forward. Try to have a chronological sense of event. If you have time, draw a quick mind map on the events required. This will give you a clearer sense of what’s happening.

2. True/False. Read the statement and find the relevant part in the passage. Do you agree with it? Why not? Is it logical? These are questions you need to ask as you need to explain why you don’t agree with the statement.

-Be careful about specifics.
E.g. The passage: Everyone, including the daughter-in-law, helped with the housecleaning.
Statement: The son and his parents helped with the housecleaning.

The statement included almost everyone mentioned in the story. However, it didn’t include the daughter-in-law. Just because it’s close enough doesn’t mean it’s correct.

-Be careful with the references
E,g The passage: The old man lived on the south side of the mountain. The young man lived on the other side.
Statement: The young man lived on the north side of the mountain.

Is this true? It requires just a little of understanding and interpretation so don’t get such questions wrong. And yes, it’s true.

Most students fear this type of questions. The answer is usually found near the statement.

E.g. The passage: “Right, go on and perform your smart antics for all I care,” the old man shouted.
The young man ignored that and walked away.
Question: What does “THAT” refer to?
You can see the answer is just above the word “that”. The old man was being sarcastic and demeaning. So we could say “that” refers to the sarcastic remark by the old man.

3. Describe
This is easy. The examiner will ask you to use two words to describe the protagonist. As long as you understood the passage, this shouldn’t be too tough.

Of course, the best way to improve your comprehension is to keep working on them. The above mentioned may not apply to all questions so it’s good to have exposure. The more you practise, the better you score in your examinations.