Reading Comprehension Questions for Firefighter Exam Study Guide
You have probably encountered reading comprehension questions before. These are the kind that supply a passage to read and then ask multiple-choice questions about it. These kinds of questions give you two advantages as a test taker:
- You don't have to know anything about the topic of the passage.
- You are being tested only on the information the passage provides. Remember, even if you believe the information is not right, use only the information given in the passage.
The disadvantage is that you have to know where and how to find that information quickly in an unfamiliar text. This makes it easy to fall for one of the wrong answer choices, especially since they are designed to mislead you.
The best way to do well on a passage/question format like this is to be very familiar with the kinds of questions that are typically asked on the test. Questions most frequently ask you to
- identify a specific fact or detail in the passage.
- note the main idea of the passage.
- make an inference based on the passage.
- define a vocabulary word from the passage.
For you to do well on a reading comprehension test, you need to know exactly what each of these question types is asking you to do. Facts and details are the specific pieces of information that support the passage's main idea. The main idea is the thought, opinion, or attitude that governs the whole passage. Generally speaking, facts and details are indisputable—things that don't need to be proven, like statistics (18 million people) or descriptions (a green overcoat). Let's say, for example, you read a sentence that says "After the department's reorganization, workers were 50% more productive." A sentence like this, which gives you the fact that 50% of workers were more productive, might support a main idea that says, "Every department should be reorganized." Notice that this main idea is not something indisputable; it is an opinion. The writer thinks all departments should be reorganized, and because this is his or her opinion (and not everyone shares it), he or she needs to support this opinion with facts and details.
An inference, on the other hand, is a conclusion that can be drawn based on fact or evidence. For example, you can infer—based on the fact that workers became 50% more productive after the reorganization, which is a dramatic change—that the department had not been efficiently organized. The fact sentence, "After the department's reorganization, workers were 50% more productive," also implies that the reorganization of the department was the reason workers became more productive. There may, of course, have been other reasons, but we can infer only one from this sentence.
As you might expect, vocabulary questions ask you to determine the meaning of particular words. Often, if you have read carefully, you can determine the meaning of such words from their context; or how the word is used in the sentence or paragraph.
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