Here are some useful 11 Plus English Comprension tips.
11 Plus English Comprehension tips
11 Plus English Comprehension tip 1 – Key words
Watch out for certain key words and phrases in either the passage or question (or both!). These key words often act as the link between different pieces of information. In many cases they qualify the information that has been given. When you come across key words in passages and questions you need to focus on their precise meanings. You are being tested on reinterpreting the passage so ask yourself: do exactly the same emphasis in both the passage and question?
Contrast words and phrases (e.g. however, although, but, alternatively, whereas, despite, rather, unless, instead, while and nevertheless). used to highlight differences are these contrast words: yet, at the same time and conversely. These make a transition between two clauses, or parts of a sentence.
11 Plus English Comprehension tip 3 – Propositions
There are certain words and phrases that you need to treat as propositions. Don’t be misled into thinking that they are facts. These include the following: claims, suggests, advocates, recommends, advises, offers, proposes, believe and considers. Treat these words with caution as they indicate a subjective statement based on one person’s opinions rather than absolute evidence.
Be on the look-out for comparative adjectives. These are words that compare two or more things. At the simplest level, these are superlatives such as most, highest, biggest and least. But there are other words for making comparisons, e.g. more, lower and less.
11 Plus English Comprehension tips Part II
Absolutes and generalisations
Adverbs such as never or always compare how frequently something occurs. Be alert for any words that imply something absolute, such as no, never, none, always, every, entire, unique, sole, all, maximum, minimum and only. Don’t confuse them with generalisations, such as many, almost always, some, nearly, usually, seldom, regularly, generally, frequently, typically, ordinarily, as a rule, commonly, and sometimes. These generalisations create something of a grey area where a fact only applies some of the time. This is an important distinction. Just because something usually happens does not mean you can assume it always happens. It is important to recognise these words and interpret them accurately. Some words are relatively low generalisations, such as ‘a few’, ‘a little’, and ‘only some’. Similarly, ‘unlikely’ and ‘infrequent’ tell you that there is still a slight chance, which is not the same as ‘impossible’.
Cause and effect
After doing lots of practice tests you will come to recognise cause and effect words and phrases. These include: since, because, for, so, consequently, as a result, thus, therefore, due to and hence. It is a good idea to focus on these as often a question will ask you to interpret how these words have been used to link different aspects of an issue or argument together. There are subtle differences between these words and phrases, as some signal stronger causal relationships than others. A word like because indicates a direct causal link. The word so also joins facts together but does not necessarily mean that it was the first fact that led to the second.
Look out for words or phrases indicating speculation, such as perhaps, probably, possibly and maybe. Words such as may, might and can also point to the possibility of something happening. You need to tread carefully with such phrases – they do not mean the suggested outcome is guaranteed, only that it is a possibility.
If you are told – The team is almost certain to win the championship – you should not interpret this as meaning that the team will definitely win. It is just speculation, even if there are good reasons for making that prediction.
Independent school differences.
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