3 Steps to Answering Questions

Step 1

  • Read the passage once through quickly to get the gist of the text

Step 2:

  • Analyse the questions (CUB Strategy)
  • Look for the correct paragraph/s with the ideas or keywords mentioned in the question
  • Compare similar information from different paragraphs before choosing your answer
  • Write your answers in complete sentences
  • Word / phrase is allowed only if the answer is to be written into the box (not lines) provided

Step 3: Check the Answer for

  • Precision

Do not lift the whole portion of the text blindly. Some parts might not be relevant to the question.

  • Adequacy

Use the marks indicated to guide you on how many points to include in your answer.

  • Language

Check for accuracy in tense, spelling and punctuation marks.

CUB Strategy (for analysing questions)

Circle the question stem

E.g. What (circle “What”) is Superman’s favourite colour?

What the question is asking for:

What / Which – state

How – explain

When – time

Why – reason

Where – place

Underline the tense marker

E.g. Why did Maggie finally decide to brush her teeth?

Bracket the key phrase

E.g. Why [didn’t Joe eat the hamburgers] even though he was [starving]?

Common mistakes made by students:

1. Not clarifying the question

  • What is the actual task?
  • Know what information you are looking for. Is it a ‘what’ or a ‘why’ that is being asked? Always take note of the question stem.

2. Not answering the question in full

  • Do not be tempted to answer the question from memory. Always go back to the passage and read closely for the precise information.
  • Using the keywords as a guide, bracket / underline / highlight the necessary information before you write out the answer.
  • Be especially careful with questions that require you to “explain fully”. Ensure you provide sufficient information in your answer to such questions.

3. Not checking the answers meticulously

  • Always check your answers for precision in


-punctuation marks


As with all skills, practice makes perfect.

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