Test 7, Crux, Q35
Linked from: Interpreting explicit information: Interpreting explicit information 130-139
PAT Reading scale score: 139
PAT Reading descriptor: Links information in the diagram and the text of a complex information text.
Curriculum code: ACELY1734
Key concepts and skills: Interpreting explicit information
What is the principal star in Centaurus?
D: Rigil Kentaurus
Students need to integrate information across several parts of the text to answer this question. It is not until the third paragraph that the reader is informed that the pointer stars 'are part of the nearby constellation Centaurus'. It would be very easy for students to miss that Crux and Centaurus are separate constellations, although the first paragraph does refer to 'the constellation Crux'. For these students, option B would seem likely because the text states that 'Acrux is the principal star in Crux'—which provides a word match to the term 'principal star' in the question. The information concerning which pointer is the principal star can be found in the final paragraph. But here the information is embedded in a paragraph that is about the types of names given to the stars. The second sentence in this paragraph reveals that the Greek alphabet was used 'to order all the stars' and the name that would indicate the principal star can be gathered from the examples of the Greek alphabet provided here: 'alpha, beta, gamma …'. Students must then link this information to the map, which provides the Greek names, to see which pointer is 'Alpha'. Even if students did not manage to interpret the Greek naming specifically, the answer could be reached by matching the name 'Alpha' on the map of both Acrux and Rigil Kentaurus.
Students will be familiar with this kind of information text and will know about constellations, but the technical language and specific ideas relating to constellations are likely to be new to them.
This text has unfamiliar vocabulary related to the constellations (in particular Latin and Greek names). The recurring presence of these words will pose a challenge to some students, who may find it alienating.
There are some complex sentences, but most of the sentences are short and direct to aid comprehension.
The information provided in this text is logically structured, but there are no sub-headings to support comprehension. The map provides an added complexity and the most difficult questions require students to make links between the map and the text.
There is minimal inference required to understand this text.