CXC English A exam: Past paper type reading comprehension questions 2

English A exam: Past paper tyep reading comprehension questions II

Here are CXC past paper type reading comprehension questions

These questions do not have any suggested answers. You should attempt to answer them to give yourself practice on CXC type reading comprension questions. These are the types of questions that will appear in section 2, paper 2 of the English A exam.

1. Read the following extract carefully and then answer all the questions set on it.

Pita panicked. There was nothing he could do. He was trapped. Trapped with hundreds of others. The monster had come and was slowly, surely dragging them from the deep. He swam through the excited crowd to try the bottom. Then he tried the top again. The great monster had encircled them completely. There were millions of holes in its great hands, but none large enough. If only they were a little larger. Pita tried to push himself through one of the holes again. He squeezed and squeezed. Great tails lashed around him. Not only he but against his eyes. If only his head could get through. He pushed again, hard, and the pain quivered through his body.

There was nothing he could do. He heard the breakers roaring above now. That meant they were nearing the shore. Pita whipped his tail in fury. The monster was gradually closing its hands. There were cries now above the surface. Below, the monster grated on sand. The shore! They had reached the shore! Frantically, Pita flung himself against one of the tiny holes. He gave a cry as the scales tore from his back - then a cry of joy. He was free! Free!

He lunged forward below the surface. Down he sped, rejoicing in his tinyness. If he was only a little bigger, he would have been dying on the shore now. The fateful shore! There had been those who had actually come back from that world. This was one of the great mysteries. But some said they had been there, and had talked of that awesome place.

There was no more blood now. Down he swam. Deep, deep until the sound of the breakers was only a bitter memory, and the sea was not sandy but blue and clear, and until, far, far away in the distance, green with fern and the tender moss, he saw the rocks of home.

a) To whom or what does 'he' refer? (1 mark)
Suggested answer
a) 'He' refers to the fish or Pita

b) What effect is the author trying to create by using short sentences in the passage? (2 marks)
Suggested answer
b) The writer is trying to create suspense/tension/fast-moving action.

c) State ONE word which could describe Pita's feelings when he realised, There were millions of holes ... but none large enough. (2 marks)
c) Alarm/anxiety/frustration/desperation.

d) Why does the author repeat 'squeezed' in line 6? (3 marks)
Suggested answer
d) The word is repeated to show the tremendous effort the fish is making in its bid to escape.

e) Who or what does the 'monster' refer to? (2 marks)
Suggested answer
e) The 'monster' is the net

f) Why does the writer use 'fateful' to describe the shore? (2 marks)
Suggested answer
f) The word is used because that is where the fate of the fish was decided/where death took place.

g) Why does Pita utter a cry of joy? (1 mark)
Suggested answer
g) Pita utters a cry of joy as he was now free.

h) Why was 'the sound of the breakers' a bitter memory? (2 marks)
Suggested answer
h) It was the sound of the place where he would have died.

You can find the original question here.

2. Read the following poem carefully and and answer the questions which follow it.

Growing pains
My child-eyes cried for chocolate treats
And sticky sweets
'Twill rot yu' teet'!
Tinkly silver wrapper hides
5 Germs
How can a child-eye see?
This child-heart cried for mid-teen love
10 A blow, a shove
Study yuh' book!
Leather jacket
Football boots
Are not the most sought-after truths
15 How can a child-heart know?
So watch the young-girl-heart take wing!
Watch her groove
And watch her swing
She's old enough
20 She's strong and tough
She'll see beneath the silver wrapper
Beneath the flashy football boots
She'll find the great sought-after truth
That child-eye tears are not as sad
25 And child-heart pain is not as bad
As grown-up tears and grown-up pain
Oh Christ, what do we have to gain
From growing up
For throwing up

Our childlike ways
For dim
Grown-up days.


(a)(i)Who is likely to have said the following lines:

'Twill rot yu' teet'! (line 3) and Study yu' book! (line 11) (ii)What effect is the writer trying to create by using them? (3 marks)
Suggested answer
(a) The words would have been spoken by an adult, possibly a parent.

(b) In what ways is the content of the first two stanzas (lines 1 - 15) similar?
(3 marks)
Suggested answer

(b) The content of the first two stanzas is similar in that they show the views/concerns of the adult with regard to the child. Also, both stanzas offer guidance from the adult.

(c) Why does the poet refer to leather jacket (line 12) and ;football boots (line 13)? (2 marks)
Suggested answer
(c) The poet refers to leather jackets and football boots, items which we associate with the male, to indicate that these attract teenage girls.

(d) Comment on the poet's choice of the following words:

(i)Tinkly (line 4)
(ii)dim (line 31) (2 marks)
Suggested answer
d)(i) Tinkly is an example of the figurative device, ono- matopoeia; hence it appeals to the sense of hearing. Children will be attracted to the sound of the paper.
(ii) Through the use of dim, the poet maintains the contrast between childhood and adulthood, innocence and experience.

(e) What do the following lines,

She'll see beneath the silver wrapper

Beneath the flashy football boots ... (lines 21 - 22) tell us about the young girl?
(2 marks)
Suggested answer
(e) The lines tell us that the young girl realises later on in life that things are not what they seem to be. She would arrive at this position because of her maturity and experience.

(f)What is suggested by the poet in the last seven lines (lines 27 - 33) of the poem? (2 marks)
Suggested answer
(f) The poet is saying that it is difficult for anyone to see why adulthood, with all its problems, should be preferred to childhood.

Total 14 marks

Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions below it.

Quiet and the night came early and Leonard sat there feeling a flicker of restlessness. He needed his books, a radio perhaps, he wasn't sure why he had been delaying going into Kingston to fetch his things. The pattern he had established of working on the house had completely absorbed him, but, he thought, stretching lazily, it was time to make the trip into town. He would go there the next day, get it over with. If he went like that, mid-week, there would be nobody there. He could simply pick up his two boxes and leave the key with the next-door neighbour. He would not have to face his parents and their angry comments, the small guilt-making jabs, 'after all they had done', giving up his job, 'such good prospects', to hide himself away 'in the depths of beyond', as they put it. And, of course, he could not explain. He could not say that the prospect of working to buy things did not interest him, of drifting into a marriage, much like theirs, did not interest him. It was all sound, solid, and it frightened him, the years stretching ahead, known even before they had happened. He wanted to make something very simple, very different, for himself. He could not explain because they were so proud of having lived out Grandma Miriam's dream, to be educated, professionals, a far remove from Grandpa Sam, travelling in on the country bus with his country talk and his bag of yams.

a) Why was Leonard feeling a flicker of restlessness (line 2)? (2 marks)

b) What does the phrase get it over with (line 12) tell us about Leonard's reaction to the idea of the trip into town? (2 marks)

c) How did Leonard decide to avoid his parents? (2 marks)

d) How did Leonard's parents feel about his chosen lifestyle? (2 marks)

e) What was Grandma Miriam's ambition for her children? (1 mark)

f) What does the last sentence suggest about Grandma Miriam's' reaction to the lifestyle of Grandpa Sam? (2 marks)

Total: 11 marks

You can find the original question here

4. Read the following poem carefully and then answer the questions set on it.

The Hawk

The hawk slipped out of the pine, and rose in the sunlit air:
Steady and still he poised: his shadow slept on the grass:
And the bird's song sickened and sank: she cowered with furtive stare,
Dumb, till the quivering dimness should flicker and shift and pass.
Suddenly down he dropped: she heard the hiss of his wing,
Fled with a scream of terror: oh, would she had dared to rest.
For the hawk at eve was full, and there was no bird to sing,
And over the heather drifted the down from a bleeding breast.


(a) Briefly state what happens in the poem. (2 marks)

(b) What does the following tell you about the bird? she cowered with furtive stare... (2 marks)

(c) Explain what is meant by ;the quivering dimness. (2 marks)

(d) Comment on the poet's use of each of the following:
(i) slipped
(ii) drifted (4 marks)

(e) Name one sense to which this poem appeals and quote a word or phrase in support of your choice. (2 marks)

(f) Identify a figure of speech and comment on its effectiveness. (2 marks)

Here are more sample CXC reading comprehension questions. These sample questions have suggested answers to guide you in recognizing the way CXC wants you answer these types of questions. You must login to access these questions and answers.


strackiecebanton (not verified) 14 April 2009 - 4:30pm

i found the way you answered these question very interesting

Jazzby (not verified) 15 April 2009 - 3:26pm

(@)You did? That would be remarkable . How?

marci (not verified) 11 November 2009 - 10:04am

You make those question seems so easy how did u do it?
Can u help me 2 do it also?

chanti (not verified) 15 September 2010 - 12:14pm

I want to past English Language. I have a problem with writing short stories.

andrean (not verified) 16 May 2011 - 4:29pm

i'm going to do english cxc 2marrow n i really hope i do my best

keize (not verified) 16 May 2011 - 8:13pm

In reply to by andrean (not verified)

i did principles of accounts today but it was not that hard but there was some difficulty in paper 2

sweetchick the… (not verified) 3 October 2011 - 10:28pm

love this sub

guest (not verified) 12 November 2012 - 4:01pm

In reply to by sweetchick the… (not verified)

this is 1 of the best sub ever...Thanks to mrs Jual

Range 1 Student (not verified) 12 May 2013 - 10:48pm

You know the first story isn't hard at all. When i read through the questions including the answers i saw how easy is was. The story also reminded me of a event just like that in

warning virus (not verified) 5 July 2013 - 9:20pm

In reply to by keneil harriott (not verified)

yes it was easy after all 2 c wat it was like

ZAHRIA LOVE (not verified) 3 June 2014 - 5:32pm


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I would love to be a batter English student

jessica (not verified) 7 May 2015 - 2:52pm

i hate English

SAJ barbour (not verified) 8 January 2018 - 9:20am

i wold like someone to help me with english A and maths

Vivick Harripersaud (not verified) 4 April 2019 - 5:56pm

I will be writing the CSEC Exam next month and I really need help with my English A.

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