Strategies for Direct Questions (Multiple Choice)
Direct questions are questions that can be answered just by locating information in the text. Skimming and scanning are some of the best strategies for answering direct questions, because you need to be able to quickly locate information.
There are three main ways that you can read in order to find information from texts:
- Close Reading is what most people think of when they talk about "reading" something. This is when you read every word and think about what the author is trying to convey.
- Skimming is where you preview or review a text you are working with in order to get an idea of the concepts and langauge used in the text or to locate specific information.
- Scanning is when you look for a specific thing in the text in order to quickly locate information.
Reading comprehension is a complex topic beyond the scope of this tips page. Working with your English or Literacy teacher to get constructive feedback is usually the best way to improve your close reading. For additional resources, see the Literacy Links page.
Skimming is when you quickly go over a text to see what you should expect, or to review something you've read and find something specific. Both cases can use similar strategies:
- Read headings and look at images. If you are previewing the text, the main idea of the text is usually contained in these elements.
If you are locating information, headings will give you an excellent idea of the information that is in that section.
- Look at the first and last sentences of each paragraph. These key sentences will give you the main idea of the information contained in the paragraph.
An additional strategy for previewing the text is to read the introduction and conclusion. These two paragraphs should provide a good summary of the text as a whole.
Scanning a text means to look for specific information, like a name or a date. Some types of information are easier to scan for in texts than others. Trying to find something small and specific (like a number or capital letter) that stands out in the text is ideal.
- Sometimes going backwards through sentences is easier, because your brain isn't trying to make sense of the sentences.
- You often need to try scanning for a word more than once. Sometimes the best thing to scan for isn't the thing that appears in the text. If you don't find what you're scanning for, don't give up. Pick a new word and keep trying!