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Reading task type five: selecting factors

Task description
You will be provided with a number of statements some of which paraphrase or summarise what the writer said. In this task type you need to show that you know what information the writer did (and did not) mention on a particular topic.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • skim and scan the text for details
  • understand paraphrase
  • understand inference

Sample task


The writer mentions a number of factors related to poor communication which contributed to the disaster.

Which THREE of the following factors are mentioned?

A. The Titanic was travelling too fast.
B. Ships were not required to operate their wireless continually.
C. There were insufficient lifeboats on the ship.
D. The Titanic’s wireless was not operating around the clock.
E. Ice warnings were not dealt with systematically.
F. The Californian’s wireless had broken down.
G. The Titanic’s wireless had broken down.
H. Captain Smith did not give his officers enough information.

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How to approach questions where you have to select factors


Step 1: Read the instructions carefully. Note that only three of the factors are correct. Note also that the instructions in this sample task tell you what topic to focus on. In this case the instructions tell you to focus on poor communication as a contributing factor in the disaster. Although other factors may have contributed to the disaster (such as A and C) only the three correct answers focus on poor communication as a contributing factor.
Step 2: Read through the list of factors.
Step 3: Scan the text and find the sections or paragraphs which discuss poor communication.
Step 4: Read those sections carefully and select the appropriate three factors.

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