Verbal Ability – Reading Comprehension: Question Types

In this article, we deal with the different RC question types one at a time. On a broad level, Reading Comprehension (RC) question types can be divided into two broad categories:

  • Big Picture questions
  • Specific Detail questions

The various Big Picture questions are:

  • Main Idea of the passage
  • Primary Purpose of the author
  • Title of the passage
  • Tone of the author of the passage

The various Specific Detail questions are:

  • Fact based questions
  • Author Agreement questions
  • Paraphrase the author for specific content provided
  • Vocabulary questions
  • Inference questions

Specific Detail questions, deal with individuals fragments of information in the passage and require you identify the correct answer. Specific Detail questions require:

  • Extreme care and active reading in order to spot the exact references.
  • The ability to read between the lines so that you can establish meaningful inferences.

Main Idea questions

Main Idea questions, as the name suggests, are all about identifying the idea which is central to the passage; the one point that the author of the passage wishes to convey.

There are two critical things you need to keep in mind while solving these questions:

1. Keep in mind the SCOPE of the Passage

The option should contain the subject of the passage and should not exaggerate or undersell the same.

2. Do not pick Peripheral Ideas as the answer

You cannot pick any secondary idea from the passage as the correct answer, even though it may be correct.

The second question type is: Identify the apt title of the passage.

Essentially, title questions are main idea questions with a twist. You need to identify the option that conveys the main idea of the passage best.

Just keep the following in mind:

  • Essentially, you are searching for the main idea in a condensed form. From these condensed options, pick the option that relates closest to the main idea.
  • The main idea of the passage will be compressed in 4 to 6 words; you need to be able to understand what each option implies.
  • Mostly, incorrect options for this question type are either too broad or too narrow in their scope. Try to identify this when you solve the question.
  • On occasions, you might get indirect options that use figurative language. You have to be ready for such answer types and explore the deeper meaning to identify the correct answer.

Now let’s place our focus on the next related question type: Primary Purpose of the author of the passage.

By outlining the nature of the passage, that is, whether it is explanatory, comparative or argumentative, etc. you can establish the primary purpose of the author of the passage.