Lesson - Critical Reading Skill: Detail Questions

GRE Critical Reading: Detail Questions

Detail questions ask the reader to recall specific information such as anecdotes, cited evidence, data, or descriptions used to support the main idea of the passage.

The answers to these questions can be found in each passage.  So, what do you think test-makers would do to make these questions challenging?

  • Paraphrase the detail, so that it does not have the exact wording of the detail in the passage
  • Use the exact wording of unrelated details in the passage
  • Use pairs of words for an answer choice in which only 1 out of 2 terms are correct
  • Change the order of key words in the detail

Choose one answer for each question below.

Passage 1

    1What causes reading disabilities, or dyslexia? 2Studies have been conducted for generations in an attempt to find answers to this difficult question. 3Rather than a single answer, however, several factors have emerged that seem to contribute to the disability.4One factor points to a genetic link from one generation to the next. 5In particular, males are more likely to be affected if a father, grandfather, or uncle had dyslexia. 6Early difficulty in discriminating sounds appears to be another factor. 7Children who cannot hear the subtle differences within and among words will also have difficulty in reading those sounds. 8Finally, visual-perceptual problems, a difficulty in clearly seeing the written words, also contribute to dyslexia. 9If the words do not appear clearly, seem to move, or create distortions, the reader will not be able to read fluidly and comprehension will suffer.

1.    What is the passage above mostly about?

A.    The effects of dyslexia on a family
B.    The genetics behind dyslexia
C.    Signs that a child may have dyslexia
D.    Efforts to diagnose dyslexia
E.    Factors that may contribute to dyslexia

2.   According to the passage, what evidence has been found to support the idea that dyslexia could be genetic?

A.  Males tend to read less than females in early childhood.
B.  The gene for dyslexia is located on the Y chromosome.
C.  Males with dyslexia often have a male relative with the same condition.
D. Poor vision is an inherited condition and a cause of dyslexia.
E. A parent with dyslexia will most likely have a child with dyslexia.

3.  All of the following are possible causes of dyslexia EXCEPT

A. genetics
B. a struggle to discern sounds
C. visual—perceptual difficulties
D. a hearing impairment
E. difficulty with phonics


Many of the detail questions on the GRE have more than one possible answer.  These questions will be labeled and only have three answer choices.  In order to receive credit for this type of question, all possible answers need to be selected.

To make sure you have the correct answer, take the time to go back to the passage and double check each fact.  Does the passage include this specific detail?

 Passage 2

     1Poets and authors have frequently written about sunset, a magical time in the daily cycle. 2For great writers and spiritual leaders, sunset has often symbolized the end of an event or the death of a loved one. 3Glorious sunsets on beautiful beaches have inspired lovers to reflect on the day just passing and to dream of tomorrow. 4Soft pink sunsets seen from porches or patios have provided a sense of peace to parents after a hard day at work. 5This traditionally reflective time of day, however, has taken on a new meaning in the late twentieth century, and those in the medical profession have even dubbed a certain behavioral change in elderly dementia sufferers as "the sundown effect." 6People who suffer from dementia have short-term memory loss or impairment. 7For example, they forget the names of their friends and family and often get lost while driving in their own neighborhoods. 8They struggle to make general conversation, for they cannot find the right words to complete their thoughts. 9Many times they become overwhelmed by previously simple tasks, such as paying bills. 10But one of the most frightening aspects of dementia seems to occur at sunset. 11The coming darkness creates incredible fear for those who suffer from dementia. 12They may become delirious and imagine they see monsters coming at them. 13Sunset, once proclaimed by poets as a natural time of death and reflection, has become a time of terror for millions of aging people who have lost their precious ability to remember.

1.  The topic of the paragraph is --

A.  death
B.  reflection
C.  dementia
D.  "sundown effect"
E.  dusk

2.  The two sentences best expressing the main idea are --

A.  5 & 13
B.  13 & 10
C.  12 & 8
D.  1 & 6
E.  6 & 5

 Please select all possible responses for questions 3 to 5.

3.  According to the passage, which changes in behavior are associated with dementia?

A.  Increased trust in strangers.
B.  Increased frustration with common tasks
C.  Short-term memory loss

4. Which of the following is NOT associated with sunsets in this passage?

A.  reflection
B.  a spike in criminal activity
C.  an increased risk of delirium for people with dementia

5.  In this passage, which groups of people have been positively affected by sunsets?

A.  poets and writers
B.  lovers
C.  parents

Note that there will always be 1 to 3 answer choices, never 0.

Passage 3

     1Ranked as the world's highest point, Mt. Everest has become the ultimate challenge for many adventurous and daring people.2In the early days of climbing the mountain, the people who dared to climb relied on their bravery; they knew little about survival at such extreme altitudes and lacked adequate equipment and supplies. 3The British led the first expeditions to reach the heights of Mt. Everest, and by 1924, one man, Edward Felix Norton, came within 900 feet of reaching the top, but he could not reach the summit. 4Two other members of that British expedition, George Leigh Mallory and Andrew Irvine, continued climbing. 5They were last spotted near the top, but they never returned. 6The honor of being the first men to conquer the majestic peak went to members of the 1953 British team, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who took bottled oxygen in order to survive momentarily at the top of the world. 7Today the mountain still challenges people from around the world, and many make it to the top with the help of experienced and expensive guides and lots of oxygen; some have even made it without bottled oxygen. 8Nevertheless, many like Mallory and Irvine do not return from the highest mountain in the world.

1.  The topic of the selection is --
A.  survival
B.  expeditions
C.  climbing Mt. Everest
D.  risk
E.  notoriety

2.  The main idea of the selection is best expressed in sentence number
A.  2
B.  7
C.  1
D.  6
E.  5

Please select all possible responses for questions 3 to 5.

3.  All of the following is true about the British-led expedition in 1924 EXCEPT --
A.  The climbers had extensive training in surviving at high altitudes.
B.  Two climbers never returned.
C.  The climber who survived ascended 900 feet but did not try to go to the summit.

4.  How do contemporary expeditions differ from the British-led expedition in 1924?
A.  All climbers now bring bottled oxygen.
B.  Many climbers hire established guides to lead expeditions.
C.  The climbers need to take survival training in order to climb.

 5.  Who were the first climbers to reach the summit?
A.  Edward Felix Norton and Edmund Hillary
B.  George Leigh Mallory and Andrew Irvine
C.  Andrew Irvine and Edward Felix Norton
D.  Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary
E.  George Leigh Mallory and Tenzing Norgay






Answer Key

Passage 1

1. E
2. C
3. D

Passage 2

1. D
2. A 
3. B, C
4. B
5. A, B, C

Passage 3

1.    C
2.    C
3.    A, C
4.    B
5.    D