Pictures and stories all have details. Details tell more about the big idea, or main idea. Details in pictures often show who or what the picture is about. They also sometimes show what is happening, and where something is happening. Details in stories often tell who the story is about, what is happening and where the story takes place.
Putting Things in Order
Pictures often show the order in which things are done or happen. Details in a picture may help you figure out what happens first, second and last. Also, many things in a story are done or happen in order. Clue words in a story often tell about order. Some clue words are first, second and last. Other clues words are before, after, then and next. Stories also have three parts – a beginning, a middle and an ending. These story parts can tell about order.
Understanding What Happens and Why
Everything that happens has two parts – what happens and why it happens. Pictures often show what is happening and why it is happening. To figure out what is going on in a picture, ask yourself, "What is happening?" To figure out why something happens in a picture, ask yourself, "Why does this happen?" Stories often have details that tell about what happens and why. Some clue words that tell about what happens and why are because, if, so and since. You can also use what you already know to figure out what happens and why.
Making a Guess
Making a guess is a way of using what you know to figure out what might happen. Pictures often contain clues to help you make a guess. Stories also often have clues to help you make a guess. Some clues are found in the title of the story. Other clues are found in the details of the story. Details about the things characters do or say help you figure out what they might do and say later in a story. You can use details and what you already know about something to help you make a guess.
Figuring Things Out
Sometimes you have to figure things out as you look at a picture or read a story. Pictures often have clues to help you figure out what is happening in the picture. Sometimes pictures can help you figure out what is happening in a story as well. That’s why authors often have pictures to go with their stories. You might read a story that says, "The moon is bright in the dark sky." The story does not say that it is night-time. You can figure that out because the moon is out and the sky is dark. Readers often use such clues in the story to help figure things out.
Questions about reading pictures sometimes ask you to figure out what a picture shows. Other times a question about reading pictures asks you to choose a picture that shows something that happened in a story. Think about what the question is asking. Then look back to the story if you need help choosing an answer.
Finding Main Idea
The main idea of a reading passage is a sentence that tells what the passage is mostly about. Questions about main idea might ask you to find what a passage is mostly about or mainly about. The questions might also ask you to choose the best title for a passage. When answering a question about main idea, ask yourself, What is the passage mostly about? Then choose your answer.
Recalling Facts and Details
Every reading passage contains facts and details. The facts and details tell more about the main idea. Questions about facts and details ask you about something that was stated in the passage. To answer a question about a fact or detail, look back to the passage to find the answer.
Sometimes, a passage is told in order, or sequence. Different things happen at the beginning, middle and ending of a passage. Questions about sequence ask you to remember and put events or details in order. Questions about sequence often contain key words such as first, then, last, after or before
Distinguishing Between Real and Make-believe
Some things in passages could happen. These things are real. Some things in passages could not really happen. These things are make-believe. Questions about real and make-believe ask you to find things that could happen or things that could not happen. These questions often contain the key words could really happen or could not really happen.
Recognising Cause and Effect
A cause is something that happens. An effect is something that happens because of the cause. Read this sentence: "I forgot to set my alarm clock, so I was late for school." The cause of being late for school was forgetting to set the alarm clock. The effect of forgetting to set the alarm clock is being late for school. Questions about cause and effect usually begin with the key words why, what happened or because
Comparing and Contrasting
Some questions ask you to find how two things are alike or different. This is called compare and contrast, or finding likenesses and differences. Questions that ask you to compare or contrast usually contain key words such as most like, different, alike or similar.
A prediction is something you think will happen in the future. Questions about predictions ask what will probably or most likely happen next. You will not find the answer to these questions in the passage. But there are clues you can use from the passage to make a good guess about what might happen next
Finding Word Meaning in Context
Sometimes when you read, you find a word whose meaning you do not know. Often you can tell the meaning of the word by the way the word is used in the sentence. This is called understanding word meaning in context. Questions about meaning in context ask you to find the meaning of a word that may not be familiar to you. If you have trouble choosing an answer for a question like this, try each answer choice in the sentence where the word appears in the passage. See which answer choice makes the most sense.
Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion
Questions about facts and opinions ask you to find which statements are fact statements and which statements are opinion statements. Remember, a fact is something that is true. An opinion tells how a person feels about something. Facts can be proven. Opinions cannot. Statements that are opinions often contain key words such as most, best, nicest and greatest.
Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences
When you read, many times you must figure out things on your own. The author doesn’t always tell you everything. For example, you might read these sentences: "The moon cast an eerie glow in Jake’s room. Suddenly, he saw a shadow by the window. Jake sat up in bed, frozen with fear." From what the author has written, you can tell that it is probably night-time, because the moon is out and Jake is in bed. Questions about drawing conclusions often contain the key words you can tell or probably.
Identifying Author's Purpose
Questions about author’s purpose ask you why the author wrote the passage. Most authors write for one of these reasons: to persuade (make someone want to do something), to give information, to describe or to entertain. You can remember these four reasons by remembering P.I.D.E. – P for persuade, I for information, D for description and E for entertain.
Interpreting Figurative Language
Sometimes, writers use words in such a way that their meaning is different from their usual meaning. For example, someone who has told a secret might say, "I spilled the beans." This is an example of figurative language. These words do not mean that the person actually spilled some beans. These words mean "I didn’t mean to tell the secret."
Questions about the best summary of a passage ask you about the main points of the passage. When you answer questions about summary, first ask yourself, What is the main idea of the passage? A good summary is closer to the main idea than to any single detail found in the passage.
Distinguishing Between Real and Make-believe
Some things in passages could happen. These things are real. Some things in passages could not really happen. These things are make- believe. Questions about real and make-believe ask you to find things that could happen or things that could not happen. These questions often contain the key words could really happen or could not really happen.