Primary English Tips | Comprehension: Questions in Table Form

In all honesty, I think someone in curriculum planning for English at MOE is really giving children a fairer chance with the new format in comprehension assessment. With the variety in questions, children are given a greater chance to display their understanding of a passage. This is done through different possibilities offered for responding to the passage such as numbering of events according to sequence and direct transfer of a sentence from the passage (compared to the previous requirements to put the quote in a full sentence i.e. The sentence is "...". Punctuation marks are often deducted for such responses if the child is not careful.). 

However, questions set in the new table format still requires practice and understanding. In addition, I always emphasise to my children to write in full sentences when answering such questions to show completeness in their answers. In addition, the markers can penalise you for incomplete sentences but they cannot do so if you use complete sentences (that are grammatically accurate of course!).  


Source:  Gemma Correll

Here are some tips I shared with my kids regarding such questions. The questions below typically appear in a table form. The two types I am sharing about are the most commonly set table form questions but they require different thinking processes and strategies .

1. True/ False Questions with reason(Finding evidence to justify)

Assuming it is a false statement, the answer for the reason will be

"May had cried sorrowfully upon hearing that they won the second prize.

(Take note that the answer should not simply be the opposite of the sentence. 
"May was unhappy about the outcome of the competition.
Giving the opposite of the sentence without evidence to prove why it is false is usually not what the question is asking for.)

Next, let's look at the true statement. Even if the statement is true, it does not mean that you should repeat the sentence. Do understand that the "true" statement given is actually a paraphrase or a more general statement with similar meaning to an original sentence from the passage. Hence, look out for the original sentence to answer the question. 

"May was opening her door when the phone rang."

Getting to the answer:

1. Tense words and keywords MUST still be highlighted to ensure your answer is grammatically sound. ("was")

2. Identify the main point that you are proving to be True or False in a question. (Was May happy or was she not? How are you going to prove it?)

3. Pick out the sentence(s) from the passage that is evidence to prove whether the question is True or False. (This sentence tells and proves why May was not happy or was outside her house.)

4. Take note not to lift the answer i.e. to copy a sentence from the passage from the first word to the full stop. Transferring part of a sentence is acceptable.

To avoid lifting: Change the sentence structure (Only if you are proficient enough, if not use the next two suggested ways), use pronouns to replace nouns or omit irrelevant descriptions in the sentence if necessary. 

2. Cause/ Effect Questions

Some children find it helpful to write "because" on top of the Cause column and "so" in the effect column. When the two are strung together, it helps them to understand the question requirement more clearly.

When strung together, the answer will read

(because) A policeman shouted for the robber to stop what he was doing at once, (so) he dropped his knife and raised up his hands.

(because) The policeman saw a suspicious character, (so) he followed the man wearing a hooded jacket.

Getting to the answer:

1. string the two parts together with "because" and "so".
(because) _____________________, (so) he dropped his knife and raised up his hands.
(because) The policeman saw a suspicious character, (so) ________________________.

2. Find the statements given in the question and scan the sentences around it to located the answer.

3. Take note not to lift.

This strategy of stringing the answer and the given statements together has helped my pupils to better understand what to look for and also to check whether they are answering the question at the end. 

Ultimately, the same caution of not lifting the answer applies for all comprehension questions except those that require pupils to quote (Which sentence/ phrase tells you...).

With these tips to find the right content, the rest is to make sure that your answer is grammatically accurate. We will try and cover the use of the right tenses and checking of work in a post soon.