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Here are CXC past paper type reading comprehension questions

These questions do not have any suggested answers. You should attempt to answer them to give yourself practice on CXC type reading comprension questions. These are the types of questions that will appear in section 2, paper 2 of the English A exam. 1. Read the following extract carefully and then answer all the questions set on it. Pita panicked. There was nothing he could do. He was trapped. Trapped with hundreds of others. The monster had come and was slowly, surely dragging them from the deep. He swam through the excited crowd to try the bottom. Then he tried the top again. The great monster had encircled them completely. There were millions of holes in its great hands, but none large enough. If only they were a little larger. Pita tried to push himself through one of the holes again. He squeezed and squeezed. Great tails lashed around him. Not only he but against his eyes. If only his head could get through. He pushed again, hard, and the pain quivered through his body. There was nothing he could do. He heard the breakers roaring above now. That meant they were nearing the shore. Pita whipped his tail in fury. The monster was gradually closing its hands. There were cries now above the surface. Below, the monster grated on sand. The shore! They had reached the shore! Frantically, Pita flung himself against one of the tiny holes. He gave a cry as the scales tore from his back - then a cry of joy. He was free! Free! He lunged forward below the surface. Down he sped, rejoicing in his tinyness. If he was only a little bigger, he would have been dying on the shore now. The fateful shore! There had been those who had actually come back from that world. This was one of the great mysteries. But some said they had been there, and had talked of that awesome place. There was no more blood now. Down he swam. Deep, deep until the sound of the breakers was only a bitter memory, and the sea was not sandy but blue and clear, and until, far, far away in the distance, green with fern and the tender moss, he saw the rocks of home. Question a) To whom or what does 'he' refer? (1 mark)
Suggested answer

a) 'He' refers to the fish or Pita Question b) What effect is the author trying to create by using short sentences in the passage? (2 marks)
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b) The writer is trying to create suspense/tension/fast-moving action.

Question c) State ONE word which could describe Pita's feelings when he realised, There were millions of holes ... but none large enough. (2 marks) c) Alarm/anxiety/frustration/desperation. Question d) Why does the author repeat 'squeezed' in line 6? (3 marks)
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d) The word is repeated to show the tremendous effort the fish is making in its bid to escape. Question e) Who or what does the 'monster' refer to? (2 marks)
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e) The 'monster' is the net Question f) Why does the writer use 'fateful' to describe the shore? (2 marks)
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f) The word is used because that is where the fate of the fish was decided/where death took place. Question g) Why does Pita utter a cry of joy? (1 mark)
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g) Pita utters a cry of joy as he was now free. Question h) Why was 'the sound of the breakers' a bitter memory? (2 marks)
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h) It was the sound of the place where he would have died. You can find the original question here.

2. Read the following poem carefully and and answer the questions which follow it. Growing pains My child-eyes cried for chocolate treats And sticky sweets 'Twill rot yu' teet'! Tinkly silver wrapper hides Germs Worms Decay How can a child-eye see?






This child-heart cried for mid-teen love A blow, a shove Study yuh' book! Leather jacket Football boots Are not the most sought-after truths How can a child-heart know? So watch the young-girl-heart take wing! Watch her groove And watch her swing She's old enough She's strong and tough She'll see beneath the silver wrapper Beneath the flashy football boots She'll find the great sought-after truth That child-eye tears are not as sad And child-heart pain is not as bad As grown-up tears and grown-up pain Oh Christ, what do we have to gain From growing up For throwing up Our childlike ways For dim Disastrous Grown-up days. ANITA

Question (a)(i)Who is likely to have said the following lines: 'Twill rot yu' teet'! (line 3) and Study yu' book! (line 11) (ii)What effect is the writer trying to create by using them? (3 marks)
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(a) The words would have been spoken by an adult, possibly a parent. Question (b) In what ways is the content of the first two stanzas (lines 1 - 15) similar? (3 marks)
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(b) The content of the first two stanzas is similar in that they show the views/concerns of the adult with regard to the child. Also, both stanzas offer guidance from the adult.

Question (c) Why does the poet refer to leather jacket (line 12) and ;football boots (line 13)? (2 marks)
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(c) The poet refers to leather jackets and football boots, items which we associate with the male, to indicate that these attract teenage girls. Question (d) Comment on the poet's choice of the following words: (i)Tinkly (line 4) (ii)dim (line 31) (2 marks)
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d)(i) Tinkly is an example of the figurative device, ono- matopoeia; hence it appeals to the sense of hearing. Children will be attracted to the sound of the paper. (ii) Through the use of dim, the poet maintains the contrast between childhood and adulthood, innocence and experience. Question (e) What do the following lines, She'll see beneath the silver wrapper Beneath the flashy football boots ... (lines 21 - 22) tell us about the young girl? (2 marks)
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(e) The lines tell us that the young girl realises later on in life that things are not what they seem to be. She would arrive at this position because of her maturity and experience. Question (f)What is suggested by the poet in the last seven lines (lines 27 - 33) of the poem? (2 marks)
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(f) The poet is saying that it is difficult for anyone to see why adulthood, with all its problems, should be preferred to childhood. Total 14 marks

3. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions below it. Quiet and the night came early and Leonard sat there feeling a flicker of restlessness. He needed his books, a radio perhaps, he wasn't sure why he had been delaying going into Kingston to fetch his things. The pattern he had established of working on the house had completely absorbed him, but, he thought, stretching lazily, it was time to make the trip into town. He would

go there the next day, get it over with. If he went like that, mid-week, there would be nobody there. He could simply pick up his two boxes and leave the key with the next-door neighbour. He would not have to face his parents and their angry comments, the small guilt-making jabs, 'after all they had done', giving up his job, 'such good prospects', to hide himself away 'in the depths of beyond', as they put it. And, of course, he could not explain. He could not say that the prospect of working to buy things did not interest him, of drifting into a marriage, much like theirs, did not interest him. It was all sound, solid, and it frightened him, the years stretching ahead, known even before they had happened. He wanted to make something very simple, very different, for himself. He could not explain because they were so proud of having lived out Grandma Miriam's dream, to be educated, professionals, a far remove from Grandpa Sam, travelling in on the country bus with his country talk and his bag of yams.

a) Why was Leonard feeling a flicker of restlessness (line 2)? (2 marks) b) What does the phrase get it over with (line 12) tell us about Leonard's reaction to the idea of the trip into town? (2 marks) c) How did Leonard decide to avoid his parents? (2 marks) d) How did Leonard's parents feel about his chosen lifestyle? (2 marks) e) What was Grandma Miriam's ambition for her children? (1 mark) f) What does the last sentence suggest about Grandma Miriam's' reaction to the lifestyle of Grandpa Sam? (2 marks) Total: 11 marks You can find the origninal question here

4. Read the following poem carefully and then answer the questions set on it. The Hawk The hawk slipped out of the pine, and rose in the sunlit air: Steady and still he poised: his shadow slept on the grass: And the bird's song sickened and sank: she cowered with furtive stare, Dumb, till the quivering dimness should flicker and shift and pass. Suddenly down he dropped: she heard the hiss of his wing, Fled with a scream of terror: oh, would she had dared to rest. For the hawk at eve was full, and there was no bird to sing, And over the heather drifted the down from a bleeding breast.

A.C. BENSON (a) Briefly state what happens in the poem. (2 marks) (b) What does the following tell you about the bird? she cowered with furtive stare... (2 marks) (c) Explain what is meant by ;the quivering dimness. (2 marks) (d) Comment on the poet's use of each of the following: (i) slipped (ii) drifted (4 marks) (e) Name one sense to which this poem appeals and quote a word or phrase in support of your choice. (2 marks) (f) Identify a figure of speech and comment on its effectiveness. (2 marks)

How to score CXC English A summary writing questions There are three (3) things you need to do and they are listed below:


Get a study buddy to work with.

Once you have CXC past paper type summary questions to practice on, you may be asking yourself, How do I know if I am doing the right thing in my answers? Well, the first thing we suggest here is that you do not practice alone, get a study buddy to work with. You can help each other improve your summary writing skills. When someone else is scoring your summary, they can be more objective that you can. Why? you ask, well, because they cannot read your mind so they will only score what you have written and nothing else just like an examiner would.

2) Learn how to use a scoring rubric When you have a study buddy to work with, what happens next? Whats next is that you both need to become familiar with a scoring rubric. Yes, I said it, a scoring rubric, and no, its not a cuss word either. ;-) What is the scoring rubric? A scoring rubric is a scoring tool that you and your buddy can use to help identify where each of you is good in writing summaries and where you need to work on your skills.

The rubric is made up of a list of things that CXC examiners look for when they are correcting summary essays. We have identified these things from an analysis of CXC English A subject reports and used them to construct our rubric. Next, we created skill levels in the rubric they are a way to check how well you are performing on the things that the CXC examiners want in the summaries. Good right? How do I use this rubric? Well, when you are correcting your buddys summary, you are checking to see which skill level the summary is at for each CXC criteria. If there are mistakes in any area, you note which skill level you think the summary is at. When you are finished, you check the overall skill levels for all the critera. Next, you send the summary back to your buddy with your completed rubric to let him know which CXC exam criteria s/he needs to work on to get better at summary writing. Sound difficult? Okay, I will show you how to do one. (Coming soon!)

3) Practice writing and scoring CXC past paper type summary essay questions What else do I need? Practice. Thats what you need now, practice. practice, practice and more practice, that is the most important thing. Practice writing summaries AND practice scoring summaries. Do you want to know something else? The more summaries you score, the better you will become at writing them. It sounds strange I know, but thats how it works. The more you see the mistakes that other people are making; the more you learn not to make them yourself in your own summary writing. So I repeat again, practice and more practice in both writing AND scoring summary essays. (Did I say practice? :-))

Elements of the Short Story

Online Activities
Technology in the Classroom

Home Teacher


Point of View




Plot: What makes a good story? What is it

about a story that makes you say, "this was really good!" Chances are that the action in the story had something to do with your response. Click on the activities below to explore elements of plot . Activity 1: Click on The Elements of Plot. Read the information and then click on "What Goes into Plot" at the bottom of the page. When you have finished, click the back button on the browser to return to this page. To learn a few more important terms related to plot, click on Terms. Activity 2: Click on Plotting a Fairy Tale and put the elements of plot in the correct order. If you are having trouble with this site, click here.

Character: Defining who we are.

Are we solely defined by what we look like, or how we act? Does anyone bother to look inside of us to see why we behave the way we do? Explore the nature of character through the following activities. Activity 1: Click on Creating Character. Read the information and then click on Learning About Character. When you have finished, click the back button on your browser to return to this page. To learn a few more terms about character, click here. Activity 2: Click on the picture of the man above to create a character profile.

Setting is so much more than where the action of a story takes place. It can also determine how characters behave and even influence the mood of the story. Click on the activities below to learn more about setting. Activity 1: Click on Describing Setting. Read the information and then click on What Setting Tells Us.. When you have finished, click the back button on your browser to return to this page. Activity 2: Painting pictures with words. In this activity you will work with figurative language in describing setting, and you will examine the relationship between character

The Eye of the Beholder:

Theme: What Does It All Mean?

Point of View
"Truth is a hard deer to hunt," states John, the son of a

What message are we supposed to get from a short story? And how are we supposed to get the message? Theme brings all of the elements of the short story together. Activity 1: Click on Literary Analysis Terms and read about theme. Activity 2: Read The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov. When you have finished, write a paragraph explaining the theme of the story. As you are forming your opinion, keep in mind the impact setting, plot, characters, and point of view have in presenting the "whole picture." Reviewing What You Know: Plot:
Matching Quiz (fill in the blank)

priest, in By the Waters of Babylon. What is true for one man, may not be true for another. Our perspective on life is influenced by many factors such as age, experience, culture, and time. What is true for you today, may not be so tomorrow. To examine how point of view affects the development of the short story, click on the following activities. Activity 1: Click on Point of View to review the different types of point of view. When you are sure you understand the differences among the three, click the back button on the browser to return to this page. Next click on activity 2 to practice what you just read.

and setting.

Try Writing Your Own Short Story: Some Activities and Sites to get you started.

Activity 2: In this activity, you will take a given scenario and rewrite it showing different points of v

Matching Quiz (fill in the blank)

Figurative Language:
Matching Quiz (multiple choice)

Name That Literary Element (an interactive game)

Page updated 08/08/2008 Terry Carr

Tip 1: Write about the things that you know well. It is easier, faster and smarter to write about the things that you know well. When you choose a short story to write, try to stick to a story that you can connect to your own life and or experiences. When you do this, you don't have to reach into your imagination so much. You already know much of the story because you have lived it yourself or you know someone who has.

Tip 2: Write about one short event or short experience. Write about one event, one moment in time or one emotional experience. When you make your story take place in a short space of time, or focus on one emotional moment, it is easier to start and end the story in 45 minutes. If you don't believe me, check out the CXC best short stories, each one is about an event that happens in a few minutes.

Tip 3: Make your sentences work hard. Every sentence in a short story has to work overtime. It has to "double up" on what it does. It has to tell the story and build the mood or theme of the story at the same time. It's not just, " the road stretched in front of him", it's, "the road that stretched in front of him, seemed to echo the emptiness of his future". See? In that one sentence I not only talked about the road but I also related it to the character's feelings and future. Please note that a sentence doesn't have to be long to work hard.

Tip 4: Use short sentences. It is easier to read short sentences than it is to read long sentences. You don't want the examiner slowing down his reading to try to figure out what you want to say. You will impress the examiner more by using simple, clear language to tell an exciting story, than using complex language to tell a story he can't figure out.

Tip 5: Use simple words.

Sometimes exam candidates think that they need to use "essay language" to impress examiners. They use '10 dollar words' when '10 cent words' will get the job done just as good or better. One way to tell if you are using 10 dollar words in your essay is to read your essay back to your self as you are writing. If you find yourself stumbling over words, change the ones that you are stumbling over for easier words. If the essay does not flow smoothly when you are reading it to yourself, see where you can rewrite it so that it is easier to read.

Tip 6: If you are not sure, don't use it. If you are not sure about using quotation marks and other punctuation signs when writing direct speech, don't use direct speech in your story. Make life easy for yourself, use normal sentences and write in paragraph form. If you are not sure about the spelling of a word, don't use it. Use another word that you are sure you know how to spell. This is an easy way to save some marks.

Tip 7: Do not write about sex (or a lot of unecessary violence). The examiners really, really do not like when CXC exam candidates write sexually explicit stories. They have said this publicly.

Tip 8: Write neatly. I know this sounds too easy but many people do not write neatly in exams. They are so busy trying to get everything down on paper within the time limit, they don't worry about neat handwriting. This is not a good idea. When your handwriting is neat and easy to understand, you are reducing the work the examiner has to do to read your essay. This puts him/her in a good mood, you want that. I repeat, you want that.

Tip 9: Leave time to proof read your essay. Leave 5 minutes out of your 45 minutes to proof read your essay at the end. We all make mistakes. In the heat of trying to get the whole essay on paper, you may have made spelling and/or grammar mistakes. Take a few minutes at the end of the exam to clean up the essay and make sure it reads well (sounds good to your ear).