LET Review 2021: Paragraph and Poem Comprehension Questions Strategy (English)

The English comprehension exam usually comes out in both the English Major Exam and the General Exam. There are three variations of this type of exam based on the number of questions that comes after it and the type of text used.

One-Paragraph with One Question

The first variation of this exam comes with one short paragraph, usually 4-7 sentences long and followed by just one question. The question that follows usually focuses on the meaning of the paragraph given.

How to Answer:

The difficulty with the paragraph comprehension exams is that it usually takes a lot of time to read the paragraph, read the question, read all the options and decide on an answer. In the LET, 2 hours is given to the General Education part of the test while English Majors have 3 hours for their Area of Specialization Exam. With 150 questions per exam, you will have 48 seconds to answer a paragraph comprehension question in the General Education test. English majors on the other hand, will have 1 minute and 12 seconds to answer it in their Area of Specialization Exam.

Step 1: The best strategy to answer this type of exam in the given time is by reading the question first.

Step 2: After that, you can move on to the paragraph to find the answer. By reading the question first, you will be able to know what to look for in the paragraph while reading it.

Step 3: The moment you find the answer in the paragraph, go to the choices and look for the answer.
The key to answering this type of question is to avoid spending too long in reading the paragraph. If you cannot find the answer right away and it seems like you need more thinking time, skip the question, take note of it in your scratch paper and go back to it later.

Sample Question (You have 48 seconds to answer):

Question #1: The soldiers were relieved to find a figure wearing the same uniform come out of the hole. It had been more than a month since they’ve met another friendly face. They greeted him and he greeted them back. It was at that point that they knew they were saved.
Who did the soldiers see come out of the hole?

a. A fellow soldier
b. An Enemy
c. A civilian
d. An insurgent

Poem stanza with one question

There are also some questions that use poem stanzas instead of a paragraph. The questions that follow these paragraphs focus on the meaning of the stanza or ask what the poem is about.

How to answer:

If a poem stanza is given, you should be able to answer the question faster because of the shorter length of text. However, you should still use the same strategy which is to read the question first. This way, you will already know what to look for. You will be able to find the answer immediately while reading the poem stanza.

Sample question (You have 48 seconds to answer this question):

Question #2: What does this poem stanza mean?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

a. It refers to a man choosing between two roads to take when traveling
b. It’s about the woods and the forest
c. It talks about the different choices we have in life and how we must choose between difficult options
d. It’s about a man who is looking for a yellow wood in the forest where he has been traveling through for so long.

Long-Paragraph followed by multiple questions

The last type uses a long paragraph followed by multiple questions. You usually need to find specific details in the long paragraph to answer these questions.

How to answer:

A longer paragraph like this will require a lot of time to answer. However, if you could answer multiple questions fast, you will be able to save a lot of time in the exam, giving you more time to review your other answers. The key to answering a question like this is, again, to read the questions first. However, your strategy when reading the paragraph should depend on the types of questions asked. If the questions are simple and only require facts, you could just scan the paragraph for the answer.
However, if the question requires a deeper level of understanding, that’s the time when you should really read the details of the paragraph.

Sample question

(You have 2 minutes and 24 seconds for this question):

With the game tied, Jeremy perfectly read the pass and took the ball from midair. In just a second or two, he already dribbled it to the middle of the court. When he got there, he found that all defenders were behind him and he had a clear path to the basket. Knowing that the game is tied, he did not need to look back to know that they were running after him. He knew he could run from half-court to the hoop in less than five steps. He ran as fast as he could knowing that his fast break could give his team the lead. He did not care about the time. He has done this a thousand times before and one more layup could win his team and his school the state championship.

Jeremy knew the motion, with two more steps left, he took the ball and held it with both hands. One step, two step and jump, he was almost there. As he laid the ball ever so delicately to hit the backboard, a shadow swiftly passed through and a hand entered his field of vision. It took him a moment to realize that it was an arm aiming to block the shot. “Can he reach it?” Jeremy thought. The defender almost had it, but his fingers were just less than a centimeter short.

Question #3: What is the paragraph about?
a. A baseball game
b. A basketball game
c. A cricket match
d. A football game

Question #4: In the story, what was Jeremy trying to do?
a. Block a shot
b. Make a layup
c. Hit a homerun
d. Win the 100 meter dash

Question #5: What was the shadow mentioned in the passage?
a. A bird in the sky
b. An opponent blocking the shot
c. The ball bouncing at the backboard
d. The bat flying through the air

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Remember that each question in the LET is rewarded with one point each. The more time you spend on one question, the shorter you have to answer the others. The key is to go through each of the questions fast, so that you will have time for all of the question. If you fail to answer the questions in the later part of the test, you will not have a chance to score with them.

Answer Key:

Question #1: A
Question #2: C
Question #3: B
Question #4: B
Question #5: B

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