To some lucky people it comes easy, but for many this is the section with some of the most difficult questions in the exam. Whether you are just starting your HPAT preparation or are deep in your practice so far, the following tips from an experienced tutor who scored highly in this section should help you maximize your score:
Firstly, read the introductory text included in the passage.
• This appears before the actual body of the passage and is often written in italics or brackets. Although this may seem like an obvious tip, many students don’t take the time to read it properly. However, it can give you important information as to the setting of the passage, helping you to understand the context, and often who the characters are. This can prevent confusion later on in the passage.
Forget any bias you may have and don’t make generalisations.
• Many students fall into the trap of choosing answers based on their own previous experiences or from what they have observed in similar situations. Everyone reacts differently to situations, so the way you feel that you or “most” people will react may not be how the character in the passage will act. Remember that you need to answer within the scope of the text.
Your initial impression isn’t always the correct answer so try not to spend too little time on each question.
• People often find that they are able to complete understanding people questions in much less time than the other two sections and say that this is because there is no true “working out” like that required in non-verbal reasoning or problem solving questions. However, keep in mind that this can be very risky as your gut feeling may be based on bias and your personal experiences rather than the evidence within the text.
Choose the best answer.
• Often times with understanding people questions you will notice that none of the options to a certain question are completely correct. In these cases, you need to select the option that is BEST supported by evidence from the passage (even if the option isn’t 100% right). In a similar way, there may be multiple options to a question that are somewhat correct. You need to choose the one that is BEST supported by the passage.
Words may seem like synonyms but have different connotations.
• It can be a simple job to eliminate 1 or 2 options when answering questions, but it can be much more difficult to delineate the final few answers which may seem very similar. Although certain words within options may seem like synonyms you need to determine the connotations behind the words and decide on the intensity of the vocabulary. For example, although frustration, anger and fury are similar emotions, frustration is mild, anger is medium and fury is intense.
These are just a few top tips that when put into practice in Drills and Practice Exams will help to improve your score in understanding people questions. Try them out for yourself!