Re: Prepping for ELA 30-1 and ELA 30-2 Diploma Exams?
30-1 Requirements of Part B: Reading
Being able to demonstrate reading comprehension skills without the use of a dictionary or
thesaurus is essential for the Part B: Reading portion of the diploma examination. The reading
examination requires you to draw on the understanding, knowledge, and skills that you have
developed as a reader. Your critical reading and thinking skills—understanding of vocabulary;
appreciation of tone and literary and rhetorical devices; understanding of the purpose and effect
of a text creator’s choices; and appreciation of the human experience and values reflected in the
texts—will be assessed at the level of challenge appropriate for graduating English Language
Arts 30–1 students.
In Part B: Reading, you will read selections from a variety of texts, such as fiction, nonfiction,
poetry or song, visual texts, Shakespearean drama, and modern drama (including television
or radio scripts or screenplays). The reading selections are not taken from the reading list
for your course of studies. Visual texts may be included within a written text to enhance the
reading and to help you to establish context, and/or may be presented independently as a reading
selection with questions. You may be asked to identify how elements of the visual text convey
meaning, relate to the purpose of the text, or contribute to the total effect of the text.
You will read and answer multiple-choice questions about each reading selection. The questions
ask you to assess and analyze thought, idea, tone, form, and technique in each selection and to
discern how these elements, devices, and techniques communicate to the reader. A header will
alert you when questions require you to consider more than one reading selection. If linked
readings and questions have been included, you should read the passages and answer the
questions in the order in which they appear.
Questions for each reading relate to content, context, the writer’s craft, and the characteristic
features of a genre. For example, the set of questions on a poem will acknowledge the poetic
aspects of that poem through the use of carefully chosen quotations that reflect effective patterns
of sound, image, and meaning. Each set of multiple-choice questions is designed to move you
through the reading selection in a sequential and helpful way.
The initial questions in a set will usually address the beginning of the reading and should alert
you to important ideas or details that will help you to understand the whole text. For example,
these questions could ask about a character’s emotions or the impact of the setting or atmosphere.
The middle questions within a set address specific elements of the selection. For example, there
could be questions regarding word meanings, figures of speech, the writer’s tone, the effect of the
writer’s choices on the reader’s impression, or details about characters, such as their motivation,
behaviour, relationships, attitudes, traits, or conflicts.
The last questions in a set often require you to consider the reading selection as a whole. For
example, they could be about the main idea, context, theme, controlling idea, writer’s purpose, or
Linked questions require you to consider specific elements of various reading selections, to
consider several reading selections thematically, or to manage ideas and information from
different reading selections collectively. For example, questions might ask you to focus on
purpose and presentation, to identify similar or contradictory ideas, to assess sources for bias,
or to assess the appropriateness of forming generalizations or inquiry/research questions. With
multiple texts in combination or in sequence, you must maintain a critical awareness as you read.
Evaluation questions have words in boldface type, such as most accurately, most strongly, or
most clearly. Boldface type is used within a question to emphasize what you must do to select
an answer, such as choosing the best possible answer from the alternatives or choosing the one
answer that stands out as an exception to the others. All of the alternatives (A, B, C, and D) may
be, to some degree, correct. However, only one of the alternatives is the best response to the
question, given the specific context of the reading selection and the writer’s purpose. Always
return to the text(s) to consider the specific details in context before you answer an evaluation
Suggestions for Writing Part B: Reading
Read the selections in order. The sequential placement of passages is intended to help you.
For example, an essay may describe the context in which the poem that follows it was created.
In effect, reading one selection may inform your reading of another. Reading the selections in
sequence will help you to understand what you must consider to answer the question.
Read the entire selection before attempting the questions. When you read each selection,
consider the title, as well as any introductory comments, footnotes, and brief notes about the
writer. This information can help you to understand the reading selection and may be required
to answer one or more questions correctly. For example, the title of a selection may represent
its main idea or theme. Introductory comments for a selection, written specifically for the
examination, provide information about the context of the excerpt, the plot, or the relationships
among characters. Footnotes or biographical notes can provide significant contextual
information, clarification, or definitions that you need to understand the reading selection.
As you answer the questions, be sure that you understand what is being asked. Try to
understand the meaning and tone of a selection before you examine the specific details of the
questions. You may want to underline or highlight important aspects of the reading or of the
questions to help you to stay focused. Questions require you to focus on a key or directing
word to select the correct answer. For example, the question “What is the irony of John’s
humorous comment?” focuses on irony, not humour. As well, a question that asks the meaning
of a word, such as irresolute, may require you to derive the meaning of the word from the
context, where clues to the meaning will be found. For example, reconsidering the context of
irresolute may reveal that the character in question was uncertain about what to do about his
mother’s request. This would lead you to choose the correct response undecided as the meaning
Pay particular attention to factors in each question that will limit the number of possible
correct answers. When direct quotations are included in a question, use the line references
provided and reread the quotation within its context in the reading. Make sure that you
understand the significance of quotations in the context of both the question and the entire text.
As well, when line numbers refer to a grouping of lines without specific quotations attached
to them, make sure that you carefully consider the context of the entire reading before you
choose your answer to the question. In each question, vocabulary is specifically chosen to guide
you. Carefully consider keywords that direct the question, such as verbs and terminology, and
keywords that identify characters’ emotions and behaviours.
Review the overall development of ideas in the reading, and the content and progression of
the questions. Remember, the questions are designed to lead you through the selection, and to
highlight both specific and general characteristics of its content, style, tone, and structure. Do not
let yourself be intimidated by selections that you think might be difficult. Students’ responses to
examination questions about Shakespeare’s plays, for example, indicate that, for most students,
these selections are actually not that difficult.
Try to save enough time to go back to questions that you found difficult or were uncertain
about. Use all of your acquired reading skills to reconsider the question, its context, and the
“answer.” However, if you cannot think of a valid reason why you should change an answer, do
not do so. Trust your instincts and your reading comprehension skills.