Answering multiple choice questions – Part 1

In this post, you will be asked to answer a number of multiple-choice questions based on a text. Some of them will focus on specific information or details in the text. In this unit we will explain, develop, and practise the strategies and techniques which you will need to successfully answer such questions.

Developing Strategies

  1. Read the following paragraph quickly. What is the main idea?

It was past twelve o’clock when I awoke, and the sun was streaming in through the curtains of my room in long slanting beams of dusty gold. I told my servant that I would be at home to no-one. After I had had a cup of hot chocolate and a bread roll, I took down my copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets from the bookshelf and began to go carefully through them. Every poem seemed to me to support Cyril Graham’s theory. I felt as if I had my hand upon Shakespeare’s heart and was counting each separate throb and pulse of passion.

THE PORTRAIT OF MR. W. H.
THE PORTRAIT OF MR. W. H.
  1. Now, read the paragraph more carefully and answer the following questions, which focus on different details.
    1. What time of day is it? __________
    2. Where is the writer? __________
    3. What does the writer seem to enjoy doing? __________
  2. Now answer the following question based on the text above. Under the correct option, write the part of the text which expresses the same idea. Under each of the wrong options, write why it is not correct.

What did the writer do as soon as he had had breakfast?

A He gave his servant instructions. __________

B He read Cyril Graham’s theory. __________

C He searched through his bookshelves for a book. __________

D He read some poetry. __________

Exam tip:

When answering questions which focus on details or specific information, always read the text once quickly (skim the text) to understand its gist and what each paragraph is about. T hen, read the relevant parts of the text more carefully (scan the text) to answer the questions.

Exam tip:

In the examination you have to answer a number of multiple choice questions, for each of which there are four options. Always read the questions and the options carefully. The wrong options are usually written in such a way that they appear to be correct.

Avoid using options which:

  • sound logical, but are not mentioned anywhere in the text,
  • include a word/phrase from the text but do not mean the same thing,
  • overgeneralise using words like always, never, all, every etc.

Remember that such options are wrong. The correct option will always answer the question accurately and the idea it expresses can always be found in the text.

  1. Read the following paragraph and underline any words that you do not know.

When I first tried bungee jumping, it was undoubtedly the most exciting experience of my life. The sun was streaming down and the river was flowing far below in a torrent. I was insecurely balanced on the parapet of the bridge in terror. However, when I finally launched myself, I experienced an extraordinary sensation of freedom which I had never felt in my life before. As the river came rushing up to meet me, I had the brief thought that maybe my harness wouldn’t work. Unexpectedly, this idea was less disturbing than one might think.

Practice your reading comprehension skill with Oscar Wilde’s work: THE PORTRAIT OF MR. W. H. at Literature Reading practice 2: THE PORTRAIT OF MR. W. H. (writingaddict.xyz)

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