CEM style


Video, quizzes and sample questions will be uploaded shortly. In the mean time, here are some tips for approaching multiple choice questions.

Not all reading comprehension tests require written answers. Some exams (including CEM style papers) give you four or five possible answers. But before you think this makes things easy, slow down... Multiple choice questions can be tricky too! Mostly because they make it easy to get caught out. The examiner is a bit more sneaky in these types of tests; don't fall for any dirty tricks.

1. (STILL) GO BACK TO THE PASSAGE: Just because you don't need to write quotes, many students assume that they can just use their memory to figure out the answers. This is not true. EVERY comprehension is testing you on your understanding of the text, so the usual method of tackling the text still applies (see Meet the Examiner sections for recap).

2. PROCESS OF ELIMINATION: This is the most important and useful method in this situation. Don't just look for the correct answer! This is how the examiner can catch you out. First, rule out every question which you are sure is wrong, ridiculous or not backed up by the text. Then, you can look at the remaining answer/s and think carefully about which one is MOST correct.

Options usually include the following, in a random order:

a) A stupid, obviously wrong answer.
b) A generally inaccurate answer.
c) An ALMOST correct answer, similar to the correct answer but not quite true, designed to catch you out.
d) The actual correct answer, backed up by the text.

You can mentally or physically cross out the first two, narrowing it down to the last two. Then, you will be able to see the small difference between them much more clearly, and allow yourself to make the right choice.

3. CONSIDER ALL OPTIONS: Don't go for an answer as soon as you see it. Even if it looks correct, this is a risky approach. Make sure you look at every option, holding back your decision before you have thought about each one. This is because the examiner often puts a trick answer first. This way, they can catch out the sloppy thinkers and the rushers.

4. WORDING IS IMPORTANT: Don't get caught out by sneaky phrasing in the question or answers. The 'almost correct' answer can be the most dangerous one. For example, if a question asks 'Where did Bob grow up?' and the passage tells you he grew up in a city to the east of New York, don't be tricked by an answer that says 'In the East of New York.' That sounds the same, but it is not. Sneaky, right? An almost correct answer is the same as an incorrect answer.

5. READ AROUND THE LINES: When a question refers to certain lines (e.g. lines 27-28), do not make the mistake of simply reading those lines again. Make sure you read the lines BEFORE and AFTER the ones mentioned. This is because sometimes the clue to the answer is in the surrounding information. If you don't consider the text more widely, it will be easier for the examiner to trick you into choosing an 'almost correct' answer.

Complete and Continue