Open-Ended Questions

Open-Ended Questions

            Open-ended questions are an essential part of the HSPA exam you will be taking in 11th grade.  Don’t worry, open-ended questions are easy to answer if you follow the correct formula.

First, what is an open-ended question?  An open-ended questions are usually given to the test taker after reading a passage.  There will be a statement usually followed by two bullet pointed questions.

Ex.  In Dead Man’s Walk, Bigfoot Wallace has a dream about Gomez and Buffalo Hump.

  • In his dream, what are the two of them doing?
  • Why might the two war chiefs be doing this?

How do they want me to answer an open-ended question?  The HSPA people are nice enough to give out a booklet with a checklist of the things for which their exam graders look.  Here is that list:

  • Restate the Question
  • Include the author of the story and the title of the story/book/poem/etc.
  • Provide evidence from the text (quote)
  • Relate the story (question) to a personal example or an example from literature/movies/etc.
  • Answer all the questions
  • Proofread/editing

How do I apply it? Well it’s very easy.  For every bullet point, write a paragraph.

But of what does a paragraph consist?  Here is the simple formula, which I will explain later.



Bullet/Paragraph 1

Restate the question and add your answer (main idea).

Provide the name of the author and title of article/story Provide an example from the text which proves that your answer is correct.

Explain how your example from the text proves that your answer (main idea) is true.

Bullet/Paragraph 2

Restate the question and add your answer.

Provide an example from your life or movies/literature.

Explain how your example relates to the story/answer (main idea).


The formula is rather simple and, if you follow it, not only will you have done everything on the checklist, you probably have gotten a 3 or a 4 on it (which are very good scores).


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