Intermediate Question-Answer Relationships

Lesson Summary

This lesson introduces the Question-Answer Relationship strategy to intermediate students. Students should be able to differentiate between a question and a statement, and to generate questions before, during, and after reading.


  • Students will identify and explain question-answer relationships in texts by identifying where to find the answers to questions.

  • Students will categorize types of questions by sorting the question-answer relationships.

Key Understandings
  • Asking and discussing questions improves our comprehension of the text.

  • Understanding the question-answer relationship will help:

    • Look for the answer to a question in the right place

    • Answer questions accurately


The levels and types of comprehension questions are described below.

A. In the Text The answers are right there in the text. These types of questions are literal.

  • Right There The answer is in one sentence of the text; the question and answer usually have the same wording. Answers usually are one-word or short-phrase responses. There is usually only one right answer to Right There questions. Some examples of phrases used for Right There questions: Who is....?
    When is...?
    Where is...?
    How many..?
    When did...?
    What is...?

  • Think and Search The answer is found in several parts of the text. The question and answer have different wordings. Answers are usually short answers. Some examples of phrases used for Think and Search questions:
    For what reason...?
    How did...?
    Why was...?
    What caused...?

B. In My Head Students must use their prior knowledge to answer these types of questions.

  • Author and Me The answer to the question comes from both clues in the text and students' prior knowledge. Students must synthesize the text to fully understand the question. Some examples of phrases used for Author and Me questions:
    Would you...?
    Which character...?
    Did you agree with...?
    What did you think of...?

  • On My Own The answer comes entirely from students' prior knowledge. These questions require inferential and evaluative thinking. Answers do not require information from the text, but do require that students make some type of judgment about or relate to the topic of the text. Some examples of phrases used for On My Own questions: Do you know...? Have you ever...? Would you ever...?


Tell students that they will learn a questioning strategy that they can use whenever they read to understand the relationship between questions and answers. Explain that understanding these relationships will help them identify where to find answers in their reading. Discuss why being able to find an answer in a story is important (for example, to solve problems, comprehend the story, justify an opinion, or as practice for answering questions on tests). Introduce the QAR strategy. Discuss the two levels of questions: In the Text and In My Head. Explain that the levels tell where students can go to find the answers to questions. Next, introduce the two types of questions at each level. Discuss each type of question-answer relationship, what type of thinking each question-answer relationship requires, and provide examples of each. Read the following sentences aloud.

Sam and Tanya were hiking in the Black Mountains. The rain from the night before made the leaves and rocks slippery. They planned to reach the top of the mountain by noon, so they started hiking early in the morning and planned to reach the bottom of the mountain before dark. Halfway up the mountain Sam slipped and broke his leg.

Ask each student to write down one question about the above passage on a sticky note, with the answer on the back. Have them put their questions aside. Model an example of each type of question-answer relationship based on the reading passage. For each question-answer pair, talk through where you found your answer, and how you decided on which question-answer relationship to use.

Question-Answer Pairs

Right ThereThink and Search Author and MeOn My Own
QuestionsWhere did Sam and Tanya go hiking?Why did Sam fall? Do you think that they got down the mountain before dark? Do you think that it is smart for inexperienced people to do serious hiking on their own?
AnswersSam and Tanya went hiking in the Black Mountains. Sam probably fell on the slippery rocks and leaves. No, I do not think that Tanya could carry Sam down. She would have to get help, and it would take a while to hike down, find help, and hike back. I think that it would be dark by the time all of that happened. I think that people without much experience can go hiking on their own as long as they have a way to contact help in case of an emergency, such as a cell phone.

Guided Practice

Divide students into cooperative groups. Have groups find the question-answer relationships for each question they wrote. Have students read the question-answer pairs, tell where they found the information, and categorize the question-answer relationships. Monitor students and give them immediate feedback on their progress. If students struggle, ask them to split the sticky notes into the two categories: In the Text or In My Head. Then assist the students in refining the categories to Right There, Think and Search, Author and Me, or On My Own.


Help students create a graph so they can compare the number of questions in each category. Discuss the implications of the results. Make a prediction: Do you think our reading comprehension is better when we ask and answer only one type of question or when we ask and answer many different kinds of questions? Explain your answer. Using an Excel spreadsheet, graph the data from the class chart. Data can be collected over time at a class or individual level to track progress.


Provide students with another three to six-sentence reading passage. Direct them to categorize each question according to its question-answer relationship. Monitor students' progress by asking individuals to explain the question-answer relationships. Ask, "Why does that represent that particular type of QAR and not another?" Ask students to interpret the results of the graph. Discuss these questions.

  • Under which category do most of our questions fall?

  • Does the graph show variety in your questioning?

  • Compare the first and second graphs. Did the variety of your questioning improve as a class?

  • Is it getting easier to categorize the QAR? Who is an expert? Who would like more time to practice?

  • If we read a book tomorrow for a different purpose (expository/functional), do you think our results will change? Why or why not? If you think that the results will change, explain how you think they will change.

Reflection Journal

Have students answer these questions in their reflection journals:
"What types of questions were easiest to categorize?"
"What types were most difficult?"
"What types of questions were easy to write?"
"What types were difficult to write?"

Pearson Education

Use a lesson that introduces the Question-Answer Relationship strategy to intermediate students. Students should be able to differentiate between a question and a statement, and to generate questions before, during, and after reading.

3 |
4 |
loading gif