PTE Preparation Blog

MCQ, Choose Single Answer - Understand the Game

However, there are few question types, like where the test taker is supposed to infer the gist of the reading text, which most PTE test takers struggle with. Then there is the element of time, where students...

Author: GLS LLP       Date: 10-03-2017

Most PTE test takers manage to do pretty well in Reading multiple choice, choose single answer item type. However, there are few question types, like where the test taker is supposed to infer the gist of the reading text, which most PTE test takers struggle with. Then there is the element of time, where students spend too much time to get the answers right. In this blog we will suggest strategies and tips that will help you overcome these difficulties.

The task

Multiple-choice, choose single answer is a reading item type that assesses reading skills only. There are generally 2-3 questions in this item type. The aim of this item type is to assess your ability to analyze, interpret and evaluate a short text. It is a multiple choice question where you will have to read a text and then choose a single correct answer.

On the left side of the screen, you will find the text that you have to analyze, interpret and evaluate while reading. Beside the text, on the right side of the screen, you will find the question. The top section of the screen will contain instructions. The instruction will say something to the effect "Read the text and answer the multiple-choice question by selecting the correct response. Only one response is correct.". These instructions will remain same for all questions in this item type, so do not waste time reading them but understand and be aware of the instructions. Below the instructions you will find the question followed by response options.

Scoring

The communicative skill scored in this section is reading.

The reading sub skills tested in this section are dependent on the question and could be any of the following: Identifying the topic, theme or main ideas; identifying the relationships between sentences and paragraphs; evaluating the quality and usefulness of texts; identifying a writer's purpose, style, tone or attitude; identifying supporting points or examples; reading for overall organization and connections between pieces of information; reading for information to infer meanings or find relationships; identifying specific details, facts, opinions, definitions or sequences of events; inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words. You can interpret these sub skills as the task that the question may require you to perform and the purpose with which you read the text.

You score 1 for every correct response.

Strategies and tips

For this item type we will present the strategies and tips for various activities that you have to perform to select the correct answer. The activities are divided into 3 parts namely "Before reading", "during reading" and "after reading".

Before Reading

What some test takers do is, as soon as the screen for this question type opens, they jump straight to reading the text or they read the question and the options and quickly jump to the text to find the information in the question. These strategies are not the most efficient. You may get the correct answer with these strategies but you may spend too much effort and time than required for the question.

Reading MCQ, choose single answer questions are not randomly selected texts. If you had paid attention while reading the paragraph on sub skills tested in the scoring section of this blog, you would have learned that the questions for this item type are selected to test one or more reading sub skills. The reason this is important is because if you can identify the reading sub skills that Pearson intends to test in the given question; you have the broad purpose with which you read the text. These sub skills/purpose of reading are

  • Identifying the topic, theme or main ideas
  • identifying the relationships between sentences and paragraphs;
  • evaluating the quality and usefulness of texts;
  • identifying a writer's purpose, style, tone or attitude;
  • identifying supporting points or examples;
  • reading for overall organization and connections between pieces of information;
  • reading for information to infer meanings or find relationships;
  • identifying specific details, facts, opinions, definitions or sequences of events;
  • inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words;

In the light of the above facts, your strategy should be first to read the question. You read the question to infer the purpose with which to read the text. You then read the options to infer what the passage is likely to be about. At the same time you mark key words. Key words are words that while skimming and scanning the text will give you the approximate location where the answer is likely to be.

While Reading

After you have read the question; and the options; and have inferred the sub skills the question intends to test; and the purpose of your reading along with key words; it is time to read the text. Read the text with a purpose. Along with the purpose that you identified while reading the question, you should always read with a purpose to identify the structure of the text and to understand the overall point of the text. The goal of these purposes is to help you identify where in the text the answer is likely to be. If you struggle to achieve the goal of all purposes in one reading; you may read it 2 or 3 times. As you read, identify and remember the areas in the text where the keywords or their synonyms appear.

If you manage to identify the answer in your first two readings, jump to the after reading strategy. If not, then skim and scan looking for keywords and their synonyms and read the portion of the text around the keywords in detail. If this strategy does not get you the single correct answer; read the question and options again to check if you had identified the purpose correctly and update your keywords. Repeat the skim and scan process again till you get the single correct answer.

After Reading

After you have marked the single correct answer, it is time to assess the probability of other options being right. Read the other options one by one. If you carried out the steps in "during reading" strategy, you should have the gist and structure of the text on your fingertips. This will allow you to completely eliminate some options. If you come across options that you are not sure of or you think might be correct, make a note of keywords for that option. Skim and scan the text for the keywords and their synonyms. Read the text around the keywords in detail till you have eliminated all probability of the option being correct or are sure of single correct answer.

If you are ready for practice of reading multiple-choice, choose single answer; you can take the next step in your PTE Preparation by enrolling in one of our PTE preparation courses. You will get to practice your skills in an environment that stimulates actual PTE test. You will have the G-Analytics tool to tell you what skills you need to focus on most and personal tutor feedback to help you along the way and get you the scores you need in one attempt. Have a look at our courses section to learn more.


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