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Reading task type nine: short answer questions

Task description
You will be provided with a number of questions which you have to answer. Generally your answers must be in three words or fewer but confirm this with the instructions.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • skim for general information
  • read for details
  • identify the focus of the question
  • understand paraphrase in the incomplete sentences

Sample task


Using no more than three words, answer the following questions. Write your answers in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

1) Alexander Carlisle implied that the Titanic’s owners were more concerned about the ship’s appearance than what?

2) The laws of which government regulated the lifeboat requirements that the Titanic conformed to in 1912?

3) What term used in the passage tells the reader that this was the Titanic’s first journey?

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How to approach short answer questions


Step 1: Read the instructions carefully. Note that in the sample task you may use your own words but you may not use more than three words for each answer.
Step 2: Briefly read through all of the questions to get an idea of what information you will have to find in the text.
Step 3: Read the first question more carefully. Decide what information you will skim for. In this case you will skim for reference to Alexander Carlisle.
Step 4: Once you have found the relevant section of the reading text, look back at the question and decide what specific information you need to answer the question. In this case, you need to find what the owners thought was less important than Titanic’s appearance.
Step 5: Read that part of the text more carefully to find the answer.
Step 6: Your answer does not need to be a complete sentence but it does need to make sense grammatically.

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