Types of Comprehension Questions

Types of Comprehension Questions

Since the purpose of the comprehension section is to test the candidates’ ability to understand, comprehension questions will go from shallow (how old was Edet?) to deep questions to test how you can read in between the lines. Here we have types of questions you can be asked. You are advised to get your past questions series beside you as references may be made to some years.

Literal Questions

As the name implies, this is a straightforward question. It asks you a simple and direct question. However, candidates are fond of giving more than enough probably out of the fear that the question seems too simple for the exam in focus. At times, candidates pre-empt the writer and supply answers from their box of assumption. In UTME, literal questions are used to test candidates’ vocabulary strength. In 2015 for instance, one of the questions was:

The expression third party, as used in the passage means ________.
A. politician
B. intruder
C. conformist
D. mediator

If you go through the passage, you will just pick the answer from the last line:

‘…For example, a conflict could be managed through ‘negotiation’ that is, direct bargaining by the parties involved in the conflict: or through ‘mediation’, that is with the help of a third party.

I believe you can answer the question now.

Also, in 2017, the literal question there was:

The expression binge drinking as used in the passage means _________.
A. drinking for a short period
B. drinking intermittently
C. drinking profusely
D. drinking against medical advice

Hmmm! When it comes like this and you don’t know the meaning of the word, you want to gamble. Let’s see an excerpt from the passage:

‘The global body put the number of deaths from alcohol abuse, every year, at 2.5 million. Rising incomes were identified to have triggered more drinking in Africa and Asia while binge drinking is a problem in many developed countries.’

Have you any clue? May be not. The truth is with literal questions, you can’t infer. If you don’t know it, you don’t. The dictionary is not allowed. My candid advice is that read the context again, pick your answer and move on.

Let’s answer it: binge means a short period of excessive consumption especially of excessive alcohol consumption. The answer is now obvious.

Note that the examiner is fond of using the expression, ‘as used in the passage’ to make it look like the statement carries an exclusive semantics from ordinary use. More often than not, it doesn’t. The context is always simple and of everyday use, hence, literal.

Inferential Questions

Inferential questions are meant to test candidates’ abilities to make deductive reasonings. Your answers are deduced from the various premises established in the discourse. You should by now be familiar with the word deduce or infer as this is very common in UTME questions. The very basic knowledge of logic is required here. For instance, if it is true that all bloggers are successful and Daniel is a blogger. Then, it can be deduced from the above premises/facts (all bloggers are successful and Daniel is a blogger) that Daniel is successful.

In 2016, one of the questions asked was:

Which of the following can be inferred from the passage? 
A. The approach to employ in conflict management depends on the state of affairs.
B. Only one conflict management approach can be applied in all situations.
C. All conflict management approached can be applied in all situations.
D. There is a general disagreement among scholars on conflict management.

The inference can be seen in the first paragraph:

There are many different approaches to conflict management, each of which may have utility in particular circumstances. A great deal of scholarship has been devoted to analysing how and in what situations different approaches can be applied most effectively.

Having read the passage, can you attempt the question above? The statement in bold can guide you to choose the correct option.

Option A is the correct answer.

Try the other question on deduction on your own and drop your comment.

Critical Questions

Here the candidate’s correct judgement is tested. In UTME your ability to give a sound judgement under comprehension is often times tested when you are asked to give the appropriate or suitable title to a passage. Check year 2014 comprehension passages’ questions to test your ability.

Do you want to suggest a correction or an addition to this content? Leave Contribution

[Attributions and Licenses]


This is a lesson from the tutorial, English Lexis and Structure and you are encouraged to log in or register, so that you can track your progress.

Log In

Share Thoughts


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!