GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Questions
Studies of the factors governing reading development in young children have achieved a remarkable degree of consensus over the past two decades. This consensus concerns the causal role of phonological skills in young children’s reading progress. Children who have good phonological skills, or good ‘phonological awareness’, become good readers and good spellers. Children with poor phonological skills progress more poorly. In particular, those who have a specific phonological deficit are likely to be classified as dyslexic by the time that they are 9 or 10 years old.
Phonological skills in young children can be measured at a number of different levels. The term phonological awareness is a global one, and refers to a deficit in recognizing smaller units of sound within spoken words. Developmental work has shown that this deficit can be at the level of syllables, of onsets and rimes, or of phonemes. For example, a 4-year old child might have difficulty in recognizing that a word like valentine has three syllables, suggesting the lack of syllabic awareness. A 5-year old child might have difficulty in recognizing that the odd word out in set of words fan, cat, hat, mat is fan. This task requires an awareness of the sub-syllabic units of the onset and the rime. The onset corresponds to any initial consonants in a syllable, and the rime corresponds to the vowel and to any following consonants. Rimes correspond to rhyme in single-syllable words, and so the rime in fan differs from the rime in cat, hat, and mat. In longer words, rime and rhyme may differ. The onsets in val : en : tine are / v / and / t /, and the rimes correspond to the spelling patterns ‘al’, ‘en’ and ‘ine’.
A 6-year old might have difficulty in recognizing that plea and pray begin with the same initial sound. This is phonemic judgement. Although the initial phoneme / p / is shared between the two words, in plea it is part of the onset ‘pl’, and in pray it is part of the onset ‘pr’. Until children can segment the onset (or the rime), such phonemic judgements are difficult for them to make. In fact, a recent survey of different developmental studies has shown that the different levels of phonological awareness appear to emerge sequentially. The awareness of syllables, onsets, and rimes appears to emerge at around the ages of 3 and 4, long before most children go to school. The awareness of phonemes, on the other hand usually emerges at around the age of 5 or 6, when children have been taught to read for about a year. An awareness of onsets and rimes thus appears to be a precursor of reading, whereas an awareness of phonemes at very serial position in a word only appears to develop as reading is taught. The onset-rime and phonemic levels of phonological structure, however, are not distinct. Many onsets in English are single phonemes, and so are some rimes (e.g., sea, go, zoo).
The early availability of onsets and rimes is supported by studies that have compared the development of phonological awareness of onsets, rimes, and phonemes in the same subjects using the same phonological awareness tasks. For example, a study by Treiman and Zudowski used as same-different judgement task based on the beginning or the end sounds of words. In the beginning sound task, the words either began with the same onset, as in plea and plank, or shared only the initial phoneme, as in plea and pray. In the end-sound task, the words either shared the entire rime, as in spit and wit, or shared only the final phoneme, as in rat and wit. Treiman and Zudowski showed that 4- and 5- year old children found the onset-rime version of the same / different task significantly easier than the version based on phonemes. Only the 6 – year olds, who had been learning to read for about a year, were able to perform both versions of the tasks with an equal level of success.
What is the purpose of the writer behind writing this passage?
A)To analyze the phonological awareness and its levels in children that can affect their reading process.
B)To introspect deep into the psychology of a child and find out the capabilities of 3 to 6 year olds.
C)To trace the skills of a child to recognize different words of a language.
D)To compare the development of reading skills amongst children in good and poor readers.
E)To discuss the difficulty in recognizing one word from the other.
Answer explanation: Option A is the best option as in the passage the writer explains the meaning of phonological awareness, and the level of phonological skills in children. The writer solves this purpose with the help of examples of different words with smaller units of sound, representing some relation in either of onset, rime, phonemes or syllables. Option B is rejected since the passage is not about child psychology and thus the purpose of the writer is surely not to examine it. Option C is also rejected, since the passage does not explain larger words, but small words with small units of sound. Option D is also wrong, as the passage does not compare reading skills. This is only mentioned in the first paragraph of the passage in relation to phonological awareness. Option E is also rejected since the purpose behind the passage is not just to discuss the difficulty to find the odd word out, but to analyze the level of difficulty. Moreover, it does not deal with all words in general.
Which of the following statements is supported by the passage?
A)A child’s ability of reading is independent of his phonological skills.
B)Syllables, onsets, rimes and phonemes are the smaller components of sound from which words are formed.
C)The development of phonological awareness is independent of factors like age.
D)Phonological awareness adds to the ability of clear speech of a child.
E)Level of phonological awareness depends on how quickly a child grasps whatever he reads.
Answer explanation: Option A is false since in the beginning of the passage, the writer says that children with good phonological skills become better readers, thus we can not say that reading ability is independent of phonological skills. Option C is also wrong since the passage explains how different levels of phonological awareness develop sequentially, by taking examples of ages from 4 to 6. Thus, it is not independent of age. Option D is rejected since the passage does not explain speech defects and development. Thus, it does not explain if phonological awareness adds or does not add to the clarity in speech of a child. Option E is also false since understanding and grasping the read material has no mention in the passage. Therefore, there is no question of level of phonological awareness depending on it. Option B is the correct answer option since it is mentioned in the second paragraph while explaining the meaning of phonological awareness.
Provide a suitable title for the passage.
A)Development of Reading Habit in Children
B)Development of Language in Children
C)Importance of Reading Progress
D)Child Psychology and Reading
E)Phonological Awareness Amongst Children
Answer explanation: A title must be reflective of the passage and must tell us in brief what the passage is about. This passage contains details of phonological awareness and level of phonological skills amongst children. Thus, option A is rejected since the passage is not about reading habit. Option B is also rejected since it does not deal with language, but sounds of a language. Option C is also rejected since the passage does not concentrate on reading process but on the basis of reading process, as well as the development of phonological skill with knowledge of reading. Option D is also wrong, since there is no explanation of child psychology in the passage. Option E is the best option since it describes the passage completely.
What is meant by phonological awareness?
A)The deficit of recognizing units into which a word is divided, containing a vowel sound and usually one or more consonants.
B)The deficit of recognizing the terminal sounds of words.
C)The deficit of recognizing initial consonants in a syllable.
D)The deficit of recognizing phonemes.
E)All of the above.
Answer explanation: Option A is rejected since it means that phonological awareness means deficit of recognizing syllables, however, it also means deficit of recognizing rimes, onsets as well as phonemes. Similarly, option B is rejected since it mentions only deficit of recognizing the terminal sounds of words, which are the same as rimes. Options C and D are also incomplete as they also mention deficit of recognizing onset and phonemes respectively. Thus, the option E that mentions all the choices, that is the deficit of recognizing syllables, rime, onset as well as phonemes is the complete meaning of phonological awareness.
What can be concluded from the study done by Treiman and Zudowski?
A)That 4-5 year old children found the task based on phonemes easy.
B)That 6-year-old children find it easier to read since they have been learning for a year. C)That the same-different task, where words like spit and wit were compared, was comparatively easier for 4 to 5 years old, than the task where plea and pray were compared.
D)That the same-different tasks, where words like plea and plank or where plea and pray were compared were easier for 4-5 year olds then the task where wit and spit were compared.
E)That the tasks where words like rat and wit or words like plea and pray were compared were comparatively simpler for 4-5 year old children.
Answer explanation: Option A is wrong, since the paragraph clearly mentions that children of the age 4 to 5 find the task based on phonemes tougher than that based on onset-rime. Option B is obviously wrong since the study did not conclude anything about reading of 6 year olds. Option D is rejected since the words plea and pray are ones which share the initial phoneme, and this version is not easy for 4 to 5 year olds. Option E is also rejected for the same reason, as the words plea, pray, and wit and rat share either initial or the final phonemes, and according to the study done by Treiman and Zudowski, this version based on phonemes was difficult for 4 to 5 year olds. The best answer option is C since according to it the words like spit and wit, which share the same rime were easier for 4 to 5 year olds to recognize than words like plea and pray that share the same phoneme.
How can the scope of the second paragraph be extended to the following set of words: nut, hut, cut, sun
A)4-5 year olds can recognize the odd one out.
B)All the words share the same rime.
C)4-5 year olds find it difficult to recognize the odd one out as these sets of words contain three syllables.
D)To recognize the odd one out children require the awareness of initial consonants in a syllable and a rime.
E)Children who can recognize the odd one out become good readers and can gain mastery over spellings.
Answer explanation: Option A is wrong since the second passage takes the example of fan, cat, hat, mat to describe that a 5 year old finds it difficult to recognize the odd one out. Similarly, in this set of words, sun differs from nut, hut and cut in rime, is difficult to recognize for a 4 to 5 year old. Option B is obviously wrong, since the rime of sun is different from other words in the same way as fan is different from cat, hat and mat. We reject option C because it mentions that these words contain three syllables. However, these words contain lesser syllables than the word valentine, which has three syllables. Option E is false since this is not mentioned in the second paragraph. Option D is the most satisfactory answer, since according to the paragraph, the task of recognizing the odd one out of similar words, an awareness of the sub-syllabic units of the onset and the rime is required.
Fill in the blanks: option
According to the passage, the___________ around the ages of 4 – 5, whereas _________ at around the age of 5 – 6.
A)phonological awareness begins; reading and writing skills develop
B)knowledge of syllables, onsets and rimes generally begins; phonemic judgement
C)specific phonological deficit can be found in children; it can be overcome
D)difficulty in recognizing a word with one syllable happens; difficulty in recognizing a word with three syllables happens
E)phoneme version of same-different task is easier; onset-time version of same different task is easier.
Answer explanation: We reject option A since it mentions that reading and writing develop at the age of 5 to 6, but the passage does not talk about writing skills at all. Option C is rejected since it mentions that a child becomes dyslexia at the age of 4 to 5, but in the passage it is mentioned in the first paragraph that it happens at the age of 9 or 10. Option D is rejected since it can be understood from the passage that children of the age 4 or 5 can recognize words with one syllable, and nothing is mentioned about 5 to 6 year olds recognizing three syllables in a word. Option E is also false as the last paragraph mentions that phoneme version of the same-different task is not easy for 4 to 5 year olds. Option B is the best answer choice since according to the passage the awareness of syllables, onsets, and rimes appears to emerge at the age of 4 or 5 and that of phonemes at the age of 5 to 6.
What is the synonym of the word ‘precursor’ mentioned in the third paragraph?
Answer explanation: The word ‘precursor’ means something that precedes or comes before. A synonym of this word will be same in meaning. In the passage it is used to explain that awareness of onsets and rimes comes before reading. Thus option B is the correct answer. Option C is an antonym and thus it is rejected. The other options, A, D and E are not related to the main word, and thus are rejected.
GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Questions