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5 Ways to Tackle Difficult Open-Ended Comprehension Questions

Updated: Mar 21


Ways to Tackle Difficult Open-Ended Comprehension Questions

Understanding how to tackle difficult English comprehension open-ended questions is crucial, especially when facing assessments like PSLE English. These questions often require a deep understanding of the passage and the ability to analyse information critically. In this article, we will explore five effective strategies to tackle these challenging questions.


1. Read the Passage Carefully


Before diving into the questions, it is essential to read the passage carefully. This initial step lays the foundation for successfully answering open-ended questions.


Key Steps


Understanding Main Ideas: Pay close attention to the main ideas and themes presented in the passage.


Character and Setting Analysis: Take note of characters, settings, and key events that contribute to the overall narrative.


Author's Tone and Mood: Analyse the author's tone and the overall mood of the passage for contextual understanding.


Reading the passage attentively provides a solid base for comprehending the intricate details that open-ended questions often delve into.


Highlight or Underline Key Information

2. Highlight or Underline Key Information


Once the passage is thoroughly understood, the next step is to identify and highlight or underline keywords in the questions. This technique helps pinpoint specific details relevant to the questions.


Techniques to Implement


Keyword Identification: Identify keywords in the questions that are crucial for understanding and answering.


Focus on Highlighted Keywords: During the question-solving process, concentrate on the highlighted keywords in the passage.


Highlighting or underlining keywords serves as a visual aid, guiding you to the relevant information necessary for constructing well-informed responses.



Analyse the Question

3. Analyse the Question


Understanding the question's nuances is imperative. Analyse the question to discern its requirements and the specific skills it aims to assess.=


Steps to Follow


Break Down the Question: Break down the question to understand its components and what it's asking for.


Identify Clues: Look for keywords or phrases that provide clues about the focus of your response.


Follow Instructions: Pay attention to any specific instructions, such as providing evidence from the passage or addressing particular aspects.


Careful analysis ensures that you address the question's intricacies, showcasing a nuanced understanding of the passage.


Break Down the Question

Careful analysis ensures that you address the question's intricacies

Identify the Question Type

4. Identify the Question Type


Different open-ended questions require varied approaches. Identify the question type to tailor your strategy accordingly.


Common Question Types


Literal Questions: Direct questions with answers explicitly stated in the passage.


Inferential Questions: Questions that require drawing conclusions or making inferences based on the information provided.


Understanding the question type is pivotal for employing the appropriate strategies and providing accurate responses.


5. Think Critically and Make Inferences


For inference-type questions, it is essential to go beyond the literal meaning of the text. Think critically about the information presented and make logical inferences based on the context.


Strategies for Critical Thinking


Implicit Ideas: Look for implicit or implied ideas within the passage.


Character Motivations: Consider the motivations of characters and how they contribute to the overall narrative.


Underlying Themes: Explore underlying themes or messages conveyed by the author.


Thinking critically allows you to delve deeper into the passage, providing thoughtful responses to questions that require a deeper understanding.



Strategies for Critical Thinking

Think Critically and Make Inferences

Mastering the art of tackling difficult open-ended comprehension questions is not only essential for academic success, particularly in assessments like PSLE English, but it also cultivates a valuable set of analytical and critical thinking skills. The five strategies outlined in this article—careful passage reading, highlighting key information, question analysis, identifying question types, and critical thinking—form a comprehensive approach to navigating the intricacies of these challenging questions.


Understanding open-ended comprehension questions is a complex skill that goes beyond exams. It's about diving deep into what you read, fine-tuning your analytical abilities, and cultivating a lifelong knack for critical thinking. When students put these strategies to use, they don't just boost their grades; they develop skills that apply across their academic journey and beyond.


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