Excel in Narrative Comprehension
Of the three comprehension types in Paper 2, students often need the most guidance in the Narrative Comprehension passage. This section is often adapted from short stories and novels so many consider it as a wild card.
At Cognitus Academy, our students are prepared for this section using a detailed guide and a careful analysis of each practice.
As the Narrative Comprehension passage demands students to explain the writer’s ideas succinctly, our students are constantly encouraged to give a precise response.
Based on our teachers’ experience and effective practice, here are two key strategies students can adopt for the Narrative Comprehension section:
(1) Understand the Question Types
There are five major Question Types in this section:
For this question type, the answer can be found in the passage.
Students should look for keywords in the question and find them or any synonymous words in the passage.
The details found should be presented accurately and in full.
Sample: O Level 2015
In this question, students can lift the two details showcasing the foreigner’s curiosity, from the passage.
Students have to make logical deductions using the information given in the passage.
They should use their general knowledge to explain the events in the passage.
Sample: O level 2013
In this example, students should know that a landing strip is needed for an airplane to land safely. This information will guide their answer to this question.
Students are tested on their vocabulary by having to choose words from the passage that is synonymous with the words given in the question.
The quoted words must encapsulate every given idea presented.
Punctuation is also important: a complete sentence with quotation marks (The word/phrase is “…”) must be written in the answer.
Sample: O level 2016
In this question, students can identify two parts in Q10(ii) – “repetitive” and “yet varied”.
From the given sentences, the phrase that best represent these two ideas are “same strange mixture of monotony and change”.
Students may also be asked to make an inference using their knowledge of vocabulary.
They must first understand the definitions of the words given. Then, they can state the idea that was highlighted about the focus given in the question.
Often, an adjective will be needed in the answer.
In Q12(ii), the word “dwarf” means something is miniature or tiny.
Thus, the paddy terraces had appeared to be scaled down to the writer.
This question type also demands students to paraphrase details in the passage.
Students should first identify the details in the passage that answer the question. After that, they must substitute all the given words completely without changing the meaning.
In this question, students must pick out the danger of dozing off in the presence of a pack of hungry wolves.
Then, they should paraphrase the details with reference to the idea given (“With the night came horror.”)
4. Language for Impact
From a particular paragraph, students are asked to pick out two or three details that best convey an idea.
These details are often figurative language.
Students should quote the details and explain how each detail showcases the given idea. (i.e. The phrase “…” highlights that…)
Sample: O Level 2014
In this question, students will have to quote a figurative or sensory detail before explaining how that detail shows the lack of visibility on the mountain.
Students may also be asked to explain how a description is unexpected or contradictory based on what they would normally understand the language to be.
They will also have to state the idea that the writer intended to convey using this unusual phrase.
In this question, there is a contrast between the words, “motion” and “immobility”.
The phrase highlights that despite the boat being stationary as it was docked in the marina, the gentle wave was making it bob rhythmically in the water.
A flow chart will be given depicting changes in plot, characters’ feelings and stages in the narrative.
Students have to careful with the subtle differences in the given options.
Sample: O levels 2019
In this question, students must note how Alice responded to the events in the passage and fill in the blanks accurately.
Each Question Type has its respective steps to take to fulfill its requirements.
Students are asked to identify keywords in the questions and to have the questions at the forefront while reading the passage.
(2) Practise Close Reading Techniques
Students should annotate the text as they read. These annotations include:
1. Picking out unique vocabulary and descriptive phrases
2. Explaining key events and the writer’s ideas in simple terms
3. Indicating any elements of fiction in the text (e.g. tone, irony)
4. Determining the characters’ thoughts and feelings