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Answering
Short Questions
question analysis
types of paper 2 questions
1) Contextual or Literal Direct Qns
2) Inferential Qns
Enduring Understanding
1) Contextual or Literal Direct questions derive
their answers directly from the passage.
Enduring Understanding
2) Inference questions require the use of textual
clues to formulate answers. (Word choice,
signposts, examples, etc.)
3) Inference questions require the use of
background knowledge and information to
formulate answers.
Cambridge Examiner’s Report
• Candidates should remember that the shorter, lower
tariff questions should be answered concisely: having
offered an answer, do not repeat it in different words.
Time taken up by unnecessary repetition means less time
available for the application question, where far more
marks are at stake, and where a noticeable deterioration
in the quality of organisation, technical accuracy and
even handwriting can occur.
• The questions on the paper are worded very carefully and
should be read very carefully
Question type: Contextual
• First clue to look for:
“Use your own words as far as possible.”
UYOWAFAP.
Contextual / Literal Direct
Question type: Inferential
• Background knowledge
• Clues from the passage
• An educated guess
Try identifying!
1) What are the three myths which reinforce the idea of America
as “the land of opportunity” (line 2)? Use your own words as
far as possible.
2) What is the writers’ intention of using ‘yet’ (line 47) when they
discuss how free market economies cause materialism?
3) Explain in your own words why the “changing timetable for
adulthood” is a “double-edged sword” (line 41) for the young
adults.
Try identifying!
4) What are the social impacts of materialism when people are
less likely to “adopt community-based values” (line 58)? Use
your own words as far as possible.
6) What does the writer intend you to understand by the three
dots (…) at the end of the first paragraph?
7) What is the writer suggesting when he uses “sputters”?
Try identifying!
8) How can we use ‘psychology to slow materialism’ (line 71)?
Use your own words as far as possible.
9) Suggest one reason for the author ending the passage with the
Latin phrase rus in urbe (line 79).
10) Explain the irony in “America, that began first as a land of
immigrants, is now fearful of immigrants” (lines 75-76).
Pay attention to the key words…
BOTH contextual and inferential
questions use words like
‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’.
what I assume you know…
what
Give a straight-forward
explanation
why
Give reasons
how
Give method or manner by
which something is done
Inferential Question Types
*word choice
tone & attitude
paradox & irony
punctuation
metaphor
*how…illustrate
suggest…
*author’s intention
Inferential: Word choice
know and show understanding
of certain words/phrases and
their usage in context
What does the writer mean by the word ‘sexier’ ?
The psychoanalysts give a rather sexier reading.
Inferential: Tone & attitude
identify accurately
the author’s ‘sound’ and/or feeling
with regard to the point his is making
What is the author’s tone in calling people of the
modern world ‘worshippers of money’?
Inferential: Literary devices
Paradox & irony
explain
the (seeming) contradiction
in the contextual situation
Explain the irony in “America, that began first as a land
of immigrants, is now fearful of immigrants.”
Inferential: Literary devices
Punctuation
show an understanding
of what punctuations are used for
and
why they are used in certain contexts
What does the writer intend you to understand by the
three dots (…) at the end of the first paragraph?
Inferential: Literary devices
Metaphors
show an understanding
of how metaphors work
to clarify complex ideas
Explain how the phrase ‘costume jewellery’ reflects
the artificiality of life.
Inferential: How…illustrate
show an understanding of
the method used to
illustrate a point the author is making
How does the author illustrate men’s souls?
Inferential: Suggest
use strong contextual and background
knowledge to write a logical answer
Suggest one reason for the author ending the
passage with the Latin phrase rus in urbe.
Inferential: Author’s intention
show author’s purpose and
point that he is making
What is the author’s purpose in using the word
‘illusory’ to describe visits to zoos and gardens?
Interesting disclaimer
• The interesting thing about Paper 2 questions is
that a question can be a combination of types.
• Take for example the question:
Explain what the author means by calling
Nero ‘vain’?
• What type of question is this?
• Word choice
Examples
• What is the author’s intention in using the word
‘vain’ to describe Nero?
author’s intention + word choice
• How does the author illustrate his description of
Nero as ‘vain’?
illustrate + word choice
Examples
• Explain the irony in calling Nero ‘vain’.
irony + word choice
Do paper 2 questions consciously with your eyes
open! Meet the demands of the question.
Recapitulation
Contextual or Literal Direct questions derive
their answers directly from the passage.
“Use your own words as far as possible.”
Recapitulation
Inference questions require the use of textual clues to
formulate answers.
• Word choice,
• Signposts,
• Examples,
• Punctuations, etc.
Inference questions require the use of background
knowledge and information to formulate answers.
some tips…
• Read the questions thoughtfully.
• Write intentionally: Formulate the answer in your
mind nicely before putting pen to paper.
• Meet the demand of the questions. Do not be
caught up with the number of marks indicated.
• Let’s try!!
Let’s practice!
Question 1
Is sport’s appeal also, perhaps, to be found in the sense of order and
completion which its rules and time-limits impose, so unlike the endless
arbitrary flow of events in our everyday lives?
(A-level 2009)
Explain why the author uses the word ‘arbitrary’.
Author’s intention/purpose & word choice:
Your answer should include the author’s purpose and point
that he is making (bringing out meaning of ‘arbitrary’)
Question 1
Is sport’s appeal also, perhaps, to be found in the sense of order and
completion which its rules and time-limits impose, so unlike the endless
arbitrary flow of events in our everyday lives?
(A-level 2009)
Explain why the author uses the word ‘arbitrary’.
What is the author’s purpose?
To draw a contrast.
What is the author’s point in using ‘arbitrary’? (word choice)
Sports appeals to Man because it has an order to it quite
unlike our everyday lives which are arbitrary.
Question 1
Is sport’s appeal also, perhaps, to be found in the sense of order and
completion which its rules and time-limits impose, so unlike the endless
arbitrary flow of events in our everyday lives?
(A-level 2009)
Explain why the author uses the word ‘arbitrary’.
purpose
Ans:
The author uses the word ‘arbitrary’ to contrast how our
unpredictable/random/subjective lives make man appreciate
sports and its rules because they provide order.
Meaning of ‘arbitrary’
Question 2
In addition to advertisements influencing more citizens to pursue
unrealistic material aspirations, the presence of free-market economies
that have proliferated in our society is yet another contributing factor.
(SAJC Promos 2011)
What is the writers’ intention of using ‘yet’ (line 47) when they
discuss how free market economies cause materialism?
Author’s purpose and punctuation/word choice:
Your answer should include the author’s purpose and bring
out the point through the meaning/use of ‘yet’.
Question 2
In addition to advertisements influencing more citizens to pursue
unrealistic material aspirations, the presence of free-market economies
that have proliferated in our society is yet another contributing factor.
(SAJC Promos 2011)
What is the writers’ intention of using ‘yet’ (line 47) when they discuss
how free market economies cause materialism?
What is the author’s purpose?
To put emphasis on…
What is the point made as brought out by the use of ‘yet’?
Free-market economies is another factor in addition to
advertisements that make people pursue unreal aspirations.
Question 2
In addition to advertisements influencing more citizens to pursue
unrealistic material aspirations, the presence of free-market economies
that have proliferated in our society is yet another contributing factor.
(SAJC Promos 2011)
What is the writers’ intention of using ‘yet’ (line 47) when they
discuss how free market economies cause materialism?
purpose
Ans: Yet is used to emphasise that free market economies can
be one of the many factor[s] that drives/fuels/powers our
Point bringing out
materialistic aspirations.
meaning of ‘yet’
Question 4
Our identity is determined by a complex mix of things. To begin with, every one
of us is born unique. Our individual DNA and our unique fingerprints serve to
identify us among all other beings. We also have natural gifts, strengths and
capabilities. We acquire core values and beliefs and basic orientation toward the
world around us. We may even consider our name to be part of our identity, and
yet many of us have common names that we share with others. Society assigns us
personal identification numbers to distinguish one individual from another.
How does the author illustrate that ‘every one of us is born
unique’?
How…illustrate
Your answer should show the method used to surface a point.
Question 3
Some people define themselves individually or collectively based on certain
criteria and deem themselves as superior to those who do not identify themselves
by the same criteria. Worldwide, these ethnic and sectarian divisions assert their
‘superior’ identity and afflict many countries through terrorism and violence. (
adapted from AJC Prelim 2012)
Why does the author put the word ‘superior’ in inverted
commas?
Author’s intention and punctuation
Your answer should include the author’s purpose and an
understanding of the use of inverted commas and the
meaning of the word in context.
Question 3
Some people define themselves individually or collectively based on certain
criteria and deem themselves as superior to those who do not identify themselves
by the same criteria. Worldwide, these ethnic and sectarian divisions assert their
‘superior’ identity and afflict many countries through terrorism and violence. (
adapted from AJC Prelim 2012)
Why does the author put the word ‘superior’ in inverted commas?
What is the author’s intention?
To draw attention to/highlight…
What is the true meaning of “superior” in inverted commas in this
case?
Superiority here is only as defined by ethnic and sectarian
divisions. It is not necessarily superior in the widely-accepted term
of the word.
Question 3
Some people define themselves individually or collectively based on certain
criteria and deem themselves as superior to those who do not identify themselves
by the same criteria. Worldwide, these ethnic and sectarian divisions assert their
‘superior’ identity and afflict many countries through terrorism and violence.
(adapted from AJC Prelim 2012)
Why does the author put the word ‘superior’ in inverted
commas? purpose
Meaning in Context
Ans: The author is highlighting that the idea that this
superiority is only a subjective perception/feeling/thinking
which may not necessarily be true. Meaning of
inverted commas
Question 4
Our identity is determined by a complex mix of things. To begin with, every one
of us is born unique. Our individual DNA and our unique fingerprints serve to
identify us among all other beings. We also have natural gifts, strengths and
capabilities. We acquire core values and beliefs and basic orientation toward the
world around us. We may even consider our name to be part of our identity, and
yet many of us have common names that we share with others. Society assigns us
personal identification numbers to distinguish one individual from another.
How does the author illustrate that ‘every one of us is born unique’?
What is the method?
By pointing out/ by drawing our attention to the fact that…
What is the illustration for the point?
Each of us is born unique as can be seen from our DNAs
and unique fingerprints.
Question 4
Our identity is determined by a complex mix of things. To begin with, every one
of us is born unique. Our individual DNA and our unique fingerprints serve to
identify us among all other beings. We also have natural gifts, strengths and
capabilities. We acquire core values and beliefs and basic orientation toward the
world around us. We may even consider our name to be part of our identity, and
yet many of us have common names that we share with others. Society assigns us
personal identification numbers to distinguish one individual from another.
How does the author illustrate that ‘every one of us is born
method
unique’?
Ans: : The author does so by pointing out that we have we have
different genetic makeups/genes and different fingerprints at
Point
birth.
Remember!!!
Contextual or Literal Direct questions derive
their answers directly from the passage.
“Use your own words as far as possible.”
Remember!!!
Inference questions require the use of textual clues to
formulate answers.
• Word choice,
• Signposts,
• Examples,
• Punctuations, etc.
Inference questions require the use of background
knowledge and information to formulate answers.
some tips…
• Read the questions thoughtfully.
• Write intentionally: Formulate the answer in your
mind nicely before putting pen to paper.
• Meet the demand of the questions. Do not be
caught up with the number of marks indicated.
thank you!
(:

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