English Reading

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Looking for information

The first type of question tests your understanding of a text.

To answer this well you need to do two things:

  1. Find the information the question asks for.
  2. Explain why the information you have chosen answers the question.

The key skill tested here is how to summarise an argument. For this you need to identify what the text is about and then decide if the writer thinks the topic is a good or a bad thing.

You can do this by looking at:

  • The heading or title - this should help you decide on the main subject of the text.
  • Vocabulary - the kinds of words (nouns) used to give information will also indicate a particular subject.
  • Attitude - adjectives and intensifiers should tell you what the writer thinks about their subject. Look for words like.
  • Argument - the author will use points to develop their argument. Look for discourse markers.

Identifying Presentational Devices

The second question relates to the way the text looks. To get all the marks on this question you need to do two things:

  1. List the presentational devices the text uses.
  2. Explain why these devices are used and what effect they have.

To answer the first part of the question you need be able to recognise presentational devices such as:

  • Headings (titles) and sub-headings
  • Photos
  • Pictures
  • Illustrations
  • Font size and style (bold, italic etc)
  • Colour
  • Layout features (bullets, boxed text)
  • Structure (short or long paragraphs)
  • Quotations

Why presentational devices are used

The devices used depend on:

  • Purpose - what the text is trying to do (eg inform, advise, persuade).
  • Audience - who it is trying to talk to (eg children, adults, men, women).

 There are three main reasons for using presentational devices: mood, memory, clarity.


A piece of writing will always try to express feelings. The mood created could be fun and excitement (eg in a brochure for a theme park) or perhaps fear and concern (eg in an advice sheet about road safety). The feelings should always


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