Sie sind auf Seite 1von 11

COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

1. ANSWERING DIRECT QUESTIONS

These include the following:


 Literal questions which are accompanied by the phrase “Use your own words as
far as possible”
 Questions phrased as ‘Explain what the author means by…’
 Direct lifting questions

1. Literal questions which are usually accompanied by the phrase “Use your own words as
far as possible”
 These are questions with answers that can be found directly from the text.
Paraphrasing of key words in the text is crucial here.
 Steps involved:
i. Locate the question words in the text
ii. Identify the key words/phrases for the answer in the text
iii. Extrapolate if necessary
iv. Rephrase the key words/ phrases
v. Edit your answer (to improve fluency; to show logical flow; to eliminate
repeated ideas)

Ex 1.1a

New forms of media have always caused panic: the printing press, newspapers, paperbacks
and television were all once denounced as threats to consumers’ brainpower and moral
fibre. This is also true of electronic technology. PowerPoint, we are told, is reducing
potentially intelligent discussion to bullet points. Search engines lower our intelligence
because we now skim the surface of knowledge and social networking platforms are
shrinking our attention spans.

According to paragraph 1, why do new forms of media cause ‘panic’ (line 1)? Use your own
words as far as possible. [2]

LIFTED ANSWER
1. ‘threats to consumers’ brainpower… [they are seen as] attacking/
dangerous to our cognitive/ mental
lower our intelligence capacity/ functions/ability/
undermining our ability to think

and concentrate
shrinking our attention spans
0 marks for affect our memory/ ability to focus/
concentration/ attention

0 marks for intellect/ intelligence/ intellectual

2. …and moral fibre’. and our sense of right and wrong/


values / righteousness/ sense of virtue /
ethics / ability to make the right decision
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

Ex 1.1b

Looking back, as historians always like to remind their readers, is an entirely natural and
even laudable thing to do. There can be few people who are not stirred by unexpected
memories of their youth, awakened by a glimpse of an old photograph or a snatch of a
half-forgotten hit. There are few pleasures as bittersweet as remembering happy days
that can never be recaptured. Yet, our current obsession with anniversaries and
retrospectives, our willing submersion in the warm, soapy bath of nostalgia, represents a
distinctly unhealthy flight from the possibilities of the future. George Santayana famously
wrote that 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it', but it
seems that whether we remember it or not, we are stuck in an interminable time loop.
Talk of the 'nostalgia industry' barely does justice to a vast, multi-million-pound operation
designed to exploit our childhood memories and teenage affectations.

Why does the author describe the memories as ‘bittersweet’ in line 4? Use your own words
as far as possible. [1]

Lifted Answer Suggested Paraphrase

There are few pleasures as Memories are described as bittersweet because


bittersweet as
 While one can have good recollections / experiences revisiting the
…remembering happy days past,

…that can be never be  it is impossible to recreate them/ relive the enjoyment


recaptured (l.4-5) OR
it encourages an unwholesome / unproductive escape from reality
…a distinctly unhealthy flight
from the possibilities of the  The writer wants to emphasise the inherent contradiction /
contrast in bittersweet memories.
future
[Answers must have both parts to be awarded 1 mark.]

0m for pleasant

Additional practice from TYS:


GCE A 2010 Qn1: In what different ways is the religious community ‘in crisis’(line 2)? Use
your own words as far as possible. (2mks)
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

2. Questions phrased as ‘Explain what the author means by…’

 Steps involved:
i. Underline the key words in the given phrase
ii. Rephrase the key words
iii. Give the contextual meaning

Ex 1.2a

Solitude isn't easy, and isn't for everyone. It has undoubtedly never been the province of
more than a few. But if solitude disappears as a social value and social idea, will even the
exceptions remain possible? Still, one is powerless to reverse the drift of the culture. One
can only save oneself — and whatever else happens, one can still always do that. But it
takes a willingness to be unpopular. Those who would find solitude must not be afraid to
stand alone.

Explain what the writer means by ‘Those who would find solitude must not be afraid to stand
alone.’ (line 46). [2]

LIFTED ANSWER
Solitude isn't easy, and isn't for People who wish / want to be by themselves /
everyone. It has undoubtedly never isolated / set apart have to be ready/accept the
been the province of more than a fact/must not fear that [1]
few…But it takes a willingness to be
unpopular. Those who would find (contextual implication)
solitude must not be afraid to stand
they will be seen as social anomalies / not be
alone.
accepted by others / be alienated /
marginalised [1]
[‘unpopular’= 0]
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

Ex 1.2b

Who, in the Western world, has not been deranged by a toxic cocktail of dissatisfaction,
restlessness, desire and resentment? Who has not yearned to be younger, richer, more
talented, more respected, more celebrated and, above all, more sexually attractive? Who
has not felt entitled to more, and felt aggrieved when more was not forthcoming? Who, in
other words, has not constantly sought happiness?

What does the author mean by the phrase ‘toxic cocktail’? (line 1). [2]

Lifted Answer Suggested Paraphrase

Who, in the Western world, has not He is referring to the dangerous/ detrimental / destructive
been deranged by a toxic cocktail of mix/ combination 1m
dissatisfaction, restlessness,
desire and resentment? Who has NB: 2 key ideas must be expressed
not yearned to be younger, richer,
more talented, more respected, more Cocktail = mix
celebrated and, above all, more
sexually attractive? Who has not felt Toxic = danger/ negative consequences
entitled to more, and felt aggrieved
when more was not forthcoming? (inference)
Who, in other words, has not
constantly sought happiness? of negative emotions OR social/ cultural pressures 1m

NO MARKS for literal /word-for-word substitution. If correctly


paraphrased for ALL 4 (dissatisfaction, restlessness,
desire and resentment) give the mark.

Additional practice from TYS:


GCE A 2004 Q 8: Explain what the author means by ‘our destiny is simply this chameleon
stranger – ourselves!’ (line 48) (1mk)
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

3. Direct Lifting Questions


 These are the only type of questions which allow for the lifting of answers.
 They are signaled in the following ways:
a. Which (GCE A 2008 Q4)
b. Identify (GCE A 2005 Q7)

Ex 1.3

Casual critics of new media use science itself to press their case, citing research that shows
how “experience can change the brain.” However, experience does not fundamentally
change the basic capabilities of the brain. Speed-reading programmes have long claimed to
do just that, but the verdict delivered by brain experts is that these claims are total lies as
they encourage reading without deep understanding. Genuine multitasking, too, is clearly a
fiction, as evidenced by the familiar sight of cars undulating between lanes as the driver
negotiates business deals on his mobile phone. The fact remains that we cannot change the
way the brain operates.

Identify and explain two phrases that emphasise the idea that experience cannot alter the
‘basic capabilities’ (line 16) of the brain. [2]

LIFTED ANSWER
‘long claimed’ ‘long claimed’ – extended unproven assertions/
assumptions (that perhaps have taken on an
unassailable, mythical / fabled quality)

‘total lies’ Lies – shows the untruthfulness of the critics’


claim

Total – absolute, extreme word which indicates


how the belief is “completely” wrong

‘clearly a fiction’ “fiction” is a word that shows how what is


proposed by the critics is not true

“clearly” is a strong word that emphasises/


highlights how the critics’ idea is not true/
obviously made up

OR

“clearly” adds to the meaning of “fiction” to doubly


emphasise that the situation is obviously made up
and does not exist

‘the fact remains’ “fact” implies that the idea is unchallenged truth/
proven to be the case/ indisputable

“remains” indicates that the idea is to stay


unchanged/ has withstood the test of time as it
has been unchanged over time and will stay
unchanged.
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

Additional practice from TYS:


GCE A 2005 Q7: From paragraph 8, identify three statements which might seem
controversial, and in each case, show how the author’s language seeks to give an
impression of open-mindedness.

GCE A 2008 Q4: In paragraph 3, Anna Banatvala gives four possible explanations of history
in a series of four questions. Which explanation would support the idea of humans
possessing free will?
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

2. ANSWERING TECHNICAL/LANGUAGE QUESTIONS

These can take the form of:

 Parallel phrasing
 Repetition
 Ellipsis
 Rhetorical Qns
 Punctuation e.g. italics, inverted commas, capital letters…

Ex 2.1

Our minds are under attack. Text messages make us illiterate. Blogs make us coarse,
YouTube makes us shallow. Author Nicholas Carr has argued that the Internet is damaging
our brains, robbing us of our memories and deep thoughts. “As we come to rely on
computers to mediate our understanding of the world,” he wrote, “it is our own intelligence
that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

In paragraph 1, the author illustrates the idea of our minds being ‘under attack’ (line 1). What
are two ways by which he does this? Use your own words as far as possible. [2]

LIFTED ANSWER
Text messages make us illiterate. Blogs (Language use)
make us coarse, YouTube makes us shallow.
Parallel phrasing as emphasis to indicate the
direct, undesirable consequences that are
inflicted upon human beings, as a result of these
forms of technology.

OR

The constant repetition of terse/abrupt


sentences conveys a sense of being under
attack/fire.

OR

The aggressive repetition of “make/s us”


suggests that we are passive/vulnerable
recipients of an inevitable onslaught.

Internet is damaging our brains, robbing (Language use)


us…flattens into artificial intelligence.
The Internet is personified.

The use of highly negative verbs suggest that


our minds are severely incapacitated by the
Internet  we are encouraged to
villainise/exaggerate its inherently “evil”
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

qualities.

NB: First identify the technique/strategy and then explain its function using the context.

Ex 2.2
(Prior para for context)

Realistically, the non-conformist doesn't really have an alternative, does he? As our societies
are organised fairly tightly – from wearing clothes that society does not agree with, to
choosing a lifestyle which is deemed deviant – it is sometimes too easy to appear to be
outside the normal behaviour of the community. And not to mention how society reinforces
the code through the use of sanctions. A microcosmic example of sanctions may be found at
the local child care centre. Little Suzy has performed each activity of the day obediently and
with a positive attitude. She earns a shiny gold star next to her name on the board.
Conversely, Little Christy threw a tantrum during snack time and was sent to time out.

Yet, advocates of the present consensus do not necessarily enamour the eyes and mind of
the non-conformist. After all, success, he would contend, is the result of bending if not
breaking the rules. Yes, he knows that many of the highly successful cyberspace
megabuckers are not college graduates. Yes, he knows that the public education system is
more driven by creative thought than common knowledge. Yes, he remembers that those
who succeed in school in his day were those who could and did think for themselves. And
yes, they were even given a grade on "Deportment". (That means manners and obedience).

In paragraph 3, the author argues that ‘success […] is the result of bending if not breaking
the rules.’ Why does the author repeat the word ‘yes’ in lines 20, 21 and 22? [1]

Suggested Answer

The writer intends to emphasise his mounting pride in those who had succeeded in
school and in life in spite of breaking the rules. [1]

 As far as possible, candidates must explain both the writer’s intention, and how the writer
achieves his intention, in order to secure the full mark.
 Accept answers which lift ‘rules’
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

Ex 2.3
But most criticism of conformity entirely misses what should be the real point. If we consider
conformity as simply following the path established by others without deliberation, conformity
would include every instance of following an established convention which has not been
consciously researched, examined, analysed, evaluated... Surely, if we stop to consider
every convention we follow with every action and every thought, we will get nothing done.
Nor do we actually have the choice. Our mental faculties are incapable of pausing to reflect
on everything, including the very elements of language, symbols and conceptual models we
use to formulate thoughts. So, at the extreme generality of what we might mean by
conformity, clearly it is innate, and it is necessary. Therefore, it is, first of all, important to
accept that if conformity were always such a hindrance to the fullest expression of life, it
would be puzzling to explain just why it is so ingrained in human behaviour.

From your reading of lines 15 – 18, explain why the author ends the sentence with three dots
(...)? [1]

Suggested Answer

The author wishes to mock those who define conformity as blind followers of entrenched
ideas/practices which are actually the products of an infinite number of tedious / mundane
processes/routines. [1]

The above would be the best answer, but we also accepted the following answer:
The author outlines
an infinite/endless number [1/2] of (intellectual) routines/processes [1/2]
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

Ex 2.4 (note changes to last line AND Qn)

Of course, there is a logical end to any cyber cat-and-mouse game that goes on long enough. During
Burma's saffron rebellion in 2007, the junta maintained its heavy-handed Web censorship tactics,
blocking many foreign sites and e-mail programs, but protesters easily circumvented them and
managed to post photos and firsthand accounts of the regime's brutality, including a video of a soldier
shooting a Japanese reporter dead. On September 29, the junta decided it had had enough and
simply shut down the country's two Internet service providers. To the techno-utopians, this was a
splash of ice-cold water to the face, suggesting that the government in power virtually always holds
the trump card. But in one way the junta's extreme reaction actually revealed the futility of its
censorship. Their choice was a binary one: accept that the Web cannot be controlled, or eliminate it
altogether. Choosing the latter sets a nation on a path to becoming the Hermit Kingdom, a decision
that almost every nation is unwilling to make.

Why does the author use italics in the last sentence (lines 45-46)? [1m]

LIFTED ANSWER
Choosing the latter sets a nation on a path to He wants to emphasise the seriousness /
becoming the Hermit Kingdom severity of the implications (of censorhip):
superceding/overtaking (North Korea) the
current stronghold/bastion of international
isolation.

Ex 2.5

Mass advertising developed out of a need to persuade people to buy. Manufacturers merely
made products, but advertisers "manufactured consumers". Advertising involved a shift in
cultural values away from a Victorian Protestant ethic which demanded that production,
property, and personal behaviour be controlled. It encouraged an ethic which permitted
pleasure and even sensuality. Advertising came to concentrate not on describing the product
it was selling, but on the emotional satisfactions that its consumption would afford its
purchaser. It preached the new, "therapeutic" doctrine of 20th century capitalism, that its
citizens should seek self-realisation through the intense experiences brought about through
buying products for their leisure time.

In what way is 20th Century capitalism ‘therapeutic’ (line 57) and why does the author put
inverted commas round this word? Use your own words as far as possible in your answer.
[2]

LIFTED ANSWER
...emotional satisfactions… (l.56) The strong feelings / catharsis from
purchasing/consuming desired goods
self-realisation through the intense purportedly/supposedly bring(s)
experiences brought about through
buying products (l. 58-59) fulfilment/gratification OR self-awareness [1]

Answer to be inferred The author wants to convey his


scepticism/doubt about this claim (because
such catharsis is actually fabricated by
COMPREHENSION SKILLS (RVHS 2013)

product marketers).

Examiners’ comments: While most students understood the question, their answers ‘dropped’ details or lacked
accuracy. The sense of gratification comes from purchasing goods, not merely consuming them. Author’s intent
should be made clear for the second question.

Ex 2.6
But the most important agent in the secularising process was the progress of science. To the
practitioners of the scientific method, religion was an infantile fantasy which was necessary
when men did not understand what lightning was. Today, some scientists even assert that
the belief in religion is at best irrelevant, at worst dangerous. They cite Creationists who
deny the entire Theory of Evolution by teaching some godly hocus-pocus masquerading as
science in the classroom. And what about those good-intentioned but clearly misguided
activists that prevent funding of stem-cell research that could potentially save millions of
lives?

Why, in your opinion, does the writer end the third paragraph with a question? [1]

LIFTED ANSWER
And what about those good- He ends it with a rhetorical question to provoke
intentioned but clearly misguided / challenge the reader/ to think further about the
activists that prevent funding of implications of the potential loss of such
research. [1]
stem-cell research that could
OR
potentially save millions of lives? He ends it with a rhetorical question to
reinforce his point that religion is dangerous
*because it may result in the potential loss of
such research*. [1]

*Mark is to be awarded only if the justification is


present.

Additional practice from TYS:


GCE A 2003
Q 4a) Why does the author put quotation marks round ‘suffer’, ‘enjoy’ and ‘desire’?
Q 4b) Why is ‘exploit’ in quotation marks in line 40?

GCE A 2004 Q2: What does the author intend you to understand by the three dots (…) at
the end of the first paragraph?

GCE A 2007 Q2: ‘pandemics spread by superbugs…’ (line 15) Which phrase earlier in the
first sentence explains the three dots at its conclusion?

GCE A 2009 Q8: ‘…those favoured’ few…’ (line 66). Why does the author place inverted
commas around ‘favoured’?

GCE A 2010 Q6: Why is the word ‘her’ (line 66) in inverted commas?

THE END