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Chapter 1 – Reading Comprehension 1 In HKDSE Paper 1, reading comprehension will be the main focus.


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Chapter 1 – Reading Comprehension 1

In HKDSE Paper 1, reading comprehension will be the main focus.

Step 1 – Look for specific information

Identify the key words in the quesitons. Then look for the answer in the passage.

e.g. 1) According to the writer, people in Hong Kong were unhappy because of ____________ and _____________.

(Key words: unhappy, because – Look for reason)

2) What are the two bad things and two good things that have happened since 1997?

(Key words: bad things, good things – Look for advantages and disadvantages)

3) Where was the writer when his wife was involved in a traffic accident?

(Key words: where, wife, accident – Look for location. Also useful when searching for time, dates, numbers and specific names.)


sample sample


Target key word(s) and locate a specific piece of information.

Key word(s) may be the same as in the passage and question, or different, i.e. synonyms or paraphrase.

Passage: Sea fishing grew rapidly in the decades after the World War II. Mechanisation increased the fisherman’s catch in traditional grounds and then carried them to distant waters for more.

Question: Technological developments contributed to the higher fish catches after the World War II.

True 3 False Not given


Read the title, headings and topic sentences to get the main ideas only.

Passage: Every second, 10000 square metres of the world's rainforest is cut down. That is equivalent to a football field. An area the size of Hong Kong Island is lost every day.

Question: Which of the following is mentioned in the passage?

A. Hong Kong Island is lost.

B. Hong Kong Island is equivalent to a football field.

C. The rainforest is being destroyed by loggers.



Step 2 – Find the meaning of unfamiliar words

Find the meaning of unfamiliar words with the help of nearby adjectives, the main idea of the paragraph, and the tone of the writer.

Passage: Rats falling from restaurant ceiling – this blatant violation of the sanitary code has been reported once again in the local restaurant, ABC Diner. Despite numerous complaints by local residents, no official warnings have been issued to the owners of the restaurant by the Health Department. One official has been quoted saying,

‘There are more important things for us to deal with. We don’t have time for such mundane issues.’ After hearing this quote, one of the complainants said, ‘If the Health Department continues its inaction against these restaurants with sanitary problems, we feel the problem will get out of hand.’

e.g. 1 ) In line 1, what does ‘blatant’ mean? (understanding the main idea) A. non-existent

B. clearly bad C. pleasant D. unaware

2) Look at ‘mundane’ in the passage and decide which of the definitions below is closest in meaning. (with the help of nearby adjectives – important)

A. sophisticated B. enthusiastic C. heavenly D. boring

3) What does the complainant mean when he says that ‘the problem will get out of hand’? (understanding the tone)

A. The problem will be out of control.

B. The problem will be under control.

C. The inaction of the Health Department will be in control.

D. The Health Department will pass the





sample sample

Key words that show relationships between objects or ideas.

There are mainly 6 types of relationship.

1. Examples / Parallel (舉例子或並列關係)

- and ..., as well as ..., both ... and ..., either ... or..., also, besides, furthermore, moreover, in addition, one more thing, similarly, for example, for instance, including, such as, like, namely, to name but a few ...

2. Causal Relation (因果關係)

- as / since, because, for ..., for this reason, owing to, due to, as a result, consequently, so, therefore, thus, hence

3. Contrast (轉折 / 對比關係)

- in fact, as a matter of fact, but, however, nevertheless, while, whereas, yet, although / though, despite, on the contrary, on the other hand, instead, otherwise, in contrast / by contrast 4. Sequential (順序關係)

- first, at first, for a start, to begin with, for one thing ... for another, in the first place, in the middle of, finally, last but not least

- later, next, subsequently, then, until

- after, afterwards, before, previously, between ... and ..., meanwhile

5. Explanatory / Emphasising (補充 / 強調)

- actually, another way of saying, I mean, in other words, that is to say ..., in particular, especially, what’s more important ..., most importantly

6. Concluding (總結)



A. Questions for facts or specific Information Sample 1

Reference: HKDSESamplePaper1Q49 A section of the passage:

I love Hong Kong. I am proud to be Chinese, and I am also proud to be from Hong Kong.

Name two things the writer is proud of.

The writer is proud of:

i. being Chinese ii. Hong Kong

Usually you cannot simply copy the exact same words from the original passage to fill in the blanks or complete a Q&A. Make sure you have checked the grammar clues before filling in the blank since the grammatical errors will cost you marks.


sample sample

If you are reading for reasons or results, try to look for words that reveal the logical relationship e.g. because / as a result.

Sample 2

Reference: HKALE09SectionC A section of the passage:

In social institutions, members typically give certain people special powers and duties; they create roles like president and judges with special powers and duties because, and only because we all believe and act as if they fill these roles and have these powers.

According to paragraph 6, people have power in their roles in society because _______________ .

A. they need that power B. they have earned that power

C. others allow them to have that power D. others want to fill those roles




B. Lexicon questions Sample 1

Reference: HKDSESamplePaper1Q4 A section of the passage:

The email command popped up on the screen. ‘Tell us what the future is likely to be for Hong Kong in 2020. Make it forward looking since we don’t want just a recap of past events,’ said my boss. So I decided to get it deliberately wrong and look back to 1950 instead.

Find words in the passage which could be replaced by the following words.

A. summary recap (noun)

B. displayed popped up (verb, past tense)

Try to figure out what part of speech the word is and sort out other grammar clues.

e.g. any tenses involved (past form), plural or singular noun, etc.


sample sample

Try to understand the contextual meaning; the highlighted word may appear more than once in the passage and therefore you have to make sure you do not confuse the word meaning.

Sample 2

Reference: HKCEE10Paper1A A section of the passage:

The gadget can record during the day and at night. It can also be set up to begin recording at scheduled times, so that you can save battery life by not running it all the time. If anyone were to pick up the entire machine, they might find out something different about it. You can also pick this up through the Soho department store for US$800, which might be a little expensive for an average household appliance.

Look at the phrasal verb ‘pick up’ in line 3. Now read the examples and decide which use of ‘pick up’ is closest to the meaning in the text.

A. He picked up his newspaper from the floor. (取) B. I picked this up at a discounted price during

the Christmas Sales. (購買)

C. They picked up an infection from the new virus. (感染)

D. Where did you pick up your Spanish? (學習)




When you encounter a difficult word in the passage, try to guess its meaning from the spelling. Here is a list of common prefixes, suffixes and roots to help you with it.

Common prefixes 字首

1. a / an, dis, in, im, il, ir, non, un 表示 ‘否定’ 意義的詞首 2. ac, ad, af, ag, al, an ap, ar, as, at 表示 ‘到,向,附加’

3. aero 表示 ‘天空’

4. after, post, re, retro 表示 ‘向後,在後’

5. anti, contra(o), counter, obs, op 表示 ‘反對,相對’

6. bene, eu, well 表示 ‘好’

7. circum 表示 ‘圓,圈,環,周,圍’

8. co, col, com, con, cor, syn, sym 表示 ‘共同,一起’

9. de, di, dis, se 表示 ‘離開,出去’

10. de, down, sub, under 表示 ‘向下,在下面,亞,副’

11. dis, mal(e), mis 表示 ‘壞,錯’

12. e, ex 表示 ‘出來,在外’

13. equ, homo 表示 ‘相同,相等,一致’

14. extra, hyper, out, over, super, sur, up 表示 ‘超過’

15. fore, pre, pro 表示 ‘在前,向前’

16. hemi, semi 表示 ‘半,類似’

17. hetero 表示 ‘不同’

18. im, in, inter, intro 表示 ‘進入, ……之間’

19. macro, magni, maxi, mega (lo) 表示 ‘很大,宏大’

20. micro, mini 表示 ‘很小,微小’

21. para 表示 ‘相對,平行,輔助’

22. per 表示 ‘穿過,滲透,徹底’

23. phil 表示 ‘愛,戀,喜歡’


sample sample

24. pseudo 表示 ‘假,冒充’

25. trans 表示 ‘穿過,越過’

26. tele 表示 ‘遙遠’

Prefixes related to numbers

1. mono, mon, uni 表示 ‘統一,單’

2. amphi, bi, du, twi 表示 ‘二,雙,兩’

3. tri 表示 ‘三’

4. quadru(i) , quar 表示 ‘四’

5. multi, poly 表示 ‘許多’

6. omni, pan 表示 ‘所有,全部’

Common suffixes 字尾

1. –able, ible 表示 ‘可以的,值得……的,


2. –(a)rium / orium 表示 ‘場所’

3. –cide 表示 ‘殺’

4. –ee 表示 ‘人’

5. –ette 表示 ‘小’

6. –ful 表示 ‘滿的’

7. –less 表示 ‘沒有’

8. –(l)et 表示 ‘小’

9. –like 表示 ‘似……的,像……的’

10. –mania 表示 ‘狂熱’

11. –most 表示 ‘最……的’

12. –(r)ess 表示 ‘女性’

13. –scope 表示 ‘儀器’



Common Roots 字根

1. arch 表示 ‘首腦,重要的’

2. audi, audio, audit 表示 ‘聽’

3. aut(o), ego 表示 ‘自己,自動’

4. avi 表示 ‘鳥,飛行’

5. bio, vi, vig, vit, viv 表示 ‘生命,活力’

6. botan 表示 ‘植物’

7. cap, capit 表示 ‘頭,首,重要’

8. cardi / cardio 表示 ‘心臟’

9. cede, ceed(v.); cess(n.); gress 表示 ‘去,離開,讓步,進行’

10. circ, cycl 表示 ‘圓,圈,環,周’

11. clued (v.), clus (n.) 表示 ‘關閉’

12. corp, corpor 表示 ‘身體,團體’

13. cred 表示 ‘信任,信譽’

14. cur, flu 表示 ‘流動’

15. derm / derma / dermat 表示 ‘皮膚’

16. dict, lingu, phon(o) 表示 ‘說話,發聲’

17. dyn, dynamo 表示 ‘威力,力量’

18. fix 表示 ‘固定,繫’

19. form, forma, morph 表示 ‘模型,形態,模式’

20. ge, geo, terr 表示 ‘土地,地球’

21. gen, gener, gent 表示 ‘生產,產生,出生’

22. grad 表示 ‘步,走,級別’

23. habit 表示 ‘居住’

24. hydr(o) 表示 ‘水’

25. ject 表示 ‘投擲,拋’

26. labor 表示 ‘勞動,工作’

27. man, manu 表示 ‘手’

28. mar 表示 ‘與海洋有關的’

29. mater, matr(i) 表示 ‘母親’


sample sample

30. medi, middle 表示 ‘中間,中央’

31. mem(o) 表示 ‘記憶’

32. meter, metre, metry 表示 ‘測量’

33. miss, mit 表示 ‘發送,扔出,釋放’

34. mo, mob, mo(v)e, mot 表示 ‘運動,移動,推動’

35. norm 表示 ‘規則,規範’

36. part, pater, patri, patro 表示 ‘父親’

37. path 表示 ‘情感’

38. pel, puls 表示 ‘推動,驅動’

39. petro 表示 ‘石頭,化石’

40. popu 表示 ‘人,人民’

41. pose, posit, post 表示 ‘擺放,放置’

42. psych(o) 表示 ‘心智,精神’

43. quest, quire, quisit 表示 ‘尋求,探究’

44. radi 表示 ‘發光,光澤’

45. rupt 表示 ‘破裂’

46. simil, simul 表示 ‘相同,像’

47. sist, st, sta, stitut 表示 ‘站立,堅持’

48. sol 表示 ‘太陽的’

49. somn 表示 ‘睡’

50. spec, spect; vi, vid, vis 表示 ‘看,觀’

51. thermo 表示 ‘熱力’

52. urb 表示 ‘城巿’

53. vac 表示 ‘空’

54. volu, volv 表示 ‘轉動’

55. zo(o) 表示 ‘動物’的



Chapter 2 – Reading Comprehension 2

In this chapter, we will examine more skills that are useful for tackling the HKDSE reading test.

(See Steps 1 and 2 in Chapter 1)

Steps 3 – Reference skill

Identify the proper noun of which the pronoun has taken place.


Pronoun Object

Pronoun Possessive

Pronoun Demonstrative Pronoun Singular I

you he she it

me you him her it

my your his her its

this that

Plural we

they us

them our

their these


Substitution method 代入法

Replace the pronoun with the correct form of a proper noun to see if the sentence still makes sense.

Reference: HKCEE09Paper1AQ18

Passage: Mrs. Smith joined Kowloon College as English panel head when I was in Form Six. She encouraged us to explore things we possibly hadn’t thought of doing.


sample sample

Question: Who does ‘us’ refer to?

Students of Mrs. Smith.

Explanation: Substitute ‘us’ with ‘students of Mrs. Smith’ to see if the sentence still makes sense.

Trace back method

Trace back to one or two sentences back for any clues of what the pronoun really means.

Reference: HKALE09SectionCQ11

Passage: In social institutions, members typically give certain people special powers and duties; they create roles like president or teacher with special powers and duties because we all believe and act as if they fill these roles and have these powers.

Question: In the paragraph, ‘they’ refers to __________ . A. presidents

B. people with special powers and duties

C. members of social institutions D. teachers

Explanation: Trace back to the previous sentence. Members of social institutions give people powers and duties, and create




Step 4 – Inference skill 暗示答案 (非直接)

Make inference with personal knowledge, the information given in the passage, or indirect hints from the passage.

Combine all the given information with your own personal knowledge

Look for the clues and add in your personal knowledge. Then, draw your conclusion.

Passage: After I did my doctorate study in Scotland, I returned to Hong Kong but I discovered that nobody here recycled their newspaper. When I cycled to work, people found me strange and gossiped about my behaviour. Once I took the stairs instead of the lift, my neighbours thought I was out of my mind. As a result, I felt the need to start a charitable organisation to promote my cause.

Question: What does the writer’s organisation promote?

A. healthy exercises

B. doctorate study in Scotland C. environmental protection D. strange behaviours

Explanation: Recycling newspaper, cycling to work, and taking the stairs instead of the lift are all related to environmental protection.



sample sample

Step 5 – Match people and their viewpoints

Identify the characters’ tone of voice and viewpoints.

Common Words that Express Viewpoints

◇ agree / support 同意

◇ argue / criticise 批評

◇ assert / emphasise 強調

◇ boast / brag 誇大

◇ claim 聲稱

◇ disagree / reject 不同意

◇ say / state / point out 指出

Identify names, adjectives and verbs

Look for specific names and nearby adjectives and verbs that express ideas for these names.

Reference: HKDSESamplePaper1Q76

Passage: Education Minister Steve Robinson told the annual conference at the University of Dublin that the government had rejected a call for teaching boys and girls in different ways.

Speakers Quotes

Steve Robinson The government wants to be fair in providing equal opportunities for both gender.

Explanation: Aside from spotting the action verb ‘told’, candidates



A. Reference questions Sample 1

Reference: HKCEE10Paper1AQ18 A section of the passage:

Walkman is rather cumbersome. My friends couldn’t imagine their parents using this huge box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.

What does ‘thing’ refer to? Use one word only.

walkman .

Sample 2

Reference: HKDSESamplePaper1Q7 A section of the passage:

My boss sent me an email asking me to write about Hong Kong’s future in 2020. He urged me to make it forward looking and didn’t want just a recap of the past events. However, I decided to get it deliberately wrong and look back to 1950 instead. Well why not?

What does ‘it’ refer to?

the job asssigned .

Candidates have to come up with an answer in their own words. So make


sample sample

B. Inference questions Sample 1

Reference: HKDSESamplePaper1Q64 A section of the poem:

Her husband has eyes for no one else but Sally.

His arms are round the full-shaped vase that is her body.

Which phrase is used to imply that Sally is physically mature?

Her body is described as a full-shaped vase .

In poems, the use of image is extensive and it always implies a deeper meaning. Only a mature woman would have a shape like a vase, indicating Sally is not a little girl.

Quote from the HKDSE Reading Descriptors:

‘Able to make inferences from diverse complex texts, ... (i.e. poems)’



Sample 2

A section of the poem:

I have sighed and known that I must journey on again to sigh, And I have to live in the world of envy and hear the voice of shame.

What is the tone of the above two lines in a poem?

A. weary (使人疲累的)

B. ironic (諷刺的)

C. dramatic (戲劇性的)

D. nostalgic (懷緬過去的)


Pay attention to adjectives, adverbs and verbs that appear more than once. In this example, ‘sigh’ is the verb that carries a frustrating mood. It appears twice, indicating a strong sense of frustration.


sample sample

Sample 3

Reference: HKDSESamplePaper1Q40 A section of the passage:

Hong Kong now and then

A decade has passed since the handover of Hong Kong, when it was returned to Chinese rule after a century of British administration. Mainland China has agreed to protect the interests of Hong Kong people, under the principle of ‘one country, two systems’.

Paradoxically it seems that change may be inevitable, if our city is to maintain its vibrant image. If you have observed any differences over the past ten years, or would like to share your views with us about Hong Kong’s future, please send your comments and personal stories to our website.

Who set up the website?

People in ...

A. mainland China B. Hong Kong C. the U.K.

D. the U.S.A.

The clues for inference questions may hide in anywhere in the passage, including pronouns. In this example, as ‘our city’ refers to




C. People and viewpoints Sample 1

Reference: HKCEE09Paper1AQ38 A section of the passage:

Billy Anderson, a 17-year-old clerk, was to challenge the negative view of teenagers in the UK. He says, ‘Young black boys get a bad reputation and I’d like to be a role model to the younger kids. I want to show that we can do something good and be the leaders of tomorrow. ’

Speakers Quotes

Billy Anderson I stand up for those teenagers who are being criticised for no apparent reasons.

In the actual exam, candidates will have to identify numerous speakers from their quotes.


sample sample

Students often get confused with words that have similar spelling. Compiled from past examinations, here is a list of the most easily confused word pairs for your reference.

Easily Confused Word Pairs

abroad aboard

access assess

adapt adept

addition addiction

affect effect

anticipate participate

appeal appear

attitude altitude

bribe tribe

clue glue

commence commerce

compete complete

conceive deceive

condemn contemn

confirm conform

conscious conscience

conserve deserve

conversation conservation

cooperation corporation

council counsel

dairy diary



dense tense

describe prescribe

despise despite

efficient deficient

eternal external

evolve devolve

exceed succeed

exhibit prohibit

expand expend

expose impose

extent intent

extinct instinct

favour flavour

fiction friction

flatter flatten

foul soul

gamble ramble

general generous

hasty nasty

hostage postage

idea ideal

immense immerse

industrial industrious

inferior superior

insult result

intimidate intimate

massive passive

messenger passenger

moral morale

naughty haughty


sample sample

rebel repel

refuge refugee

regard reward

resent recent

reserve preserve

rigorous vigorous

scope slope

sensible sensitive

slander slender

statue status

stray astray

study sturdy

surrender surround

vacation vocation

wander wonder

warship worship



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