Mastering the Art of Crafting High-Quality Text-Dependent Questions


This blog post equips educators with the know-how to craft effective text-dependent questions (TDQs). TDQs are powerful tools for assessing student comprehension, critical thinking, and analytical skills.

In the realm of education, the importance of asking the right questions cannot be overstated. Text-dependent questions (TDQs) serve as potent tools for educators to gauge students’ comprehension, critical thinking skills, and ability to extract meaningful insights from a given text. However, crafting effective TDQs requires finesse and careful consideration. Read on to dive into the art of creating high-quality TDQs that foster deep understanding and engagement among learners.

Understanding Text-Dependent Questions

Let’s clear up the purpose of TDQs before we delve deeper. Unlike open-ended questions that welcome various interpretations, text-dependent questions force students to dig into the text. They require students to find evidence and specific passages to support their answers, anchoring their responses firmly in textual analysis and comprehension.

Guidelines for Crafting High-Quality TDQs

  • Align with Standards and Objectives: Start by aligning your TDQs with the Iowa Core Learning Standards. Ensure that the questions target key skills and concepts that students are expected to master.
  • Focus on Key Ideas and Details: Effective TDQs should prompt students to focus on the core ideas, themes, and details presented in the text. Avoid questions that veer off into unrelated topics or irrelevant information.
  • Require Textual Evidence: Expect students to support their responses with evidence from the text. This not only reinforces close reading skills but also fosters critical thinking and analytical reasoning.
  • Promote Higher-Order Thinking: Aim to craft questions that elicit higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These questions challenge students to think deeply about the text and draw connections between ideas.
  • Offer Diverse Question Types: Incorporate a variety of question types, including literal, structural, inferential, and evaluative questions, to cater to different levels of comprehension and cognitive abilities.
  • Encourage Discussion and Debate: Design TDQs that lend themselves to meaningful discussions and debates among students. These interactions not only enhance comprehension but also promote collaboration and communication skills.
  • Revise and Refine: Continuously assess and revise your TDQs based on student responses and feedback. Refine questions to ensure clarity, relevance, and effectiveness in promoting deep comprehension.

Scaffolding Support through TDQ’s

  • Literal Comprehension: When we ask literal comprehension questions we ensure students have a general understanding of the text.  These questions uncover key ideas and details in a text and are the foundation for digging deeper. An example would be, “According to the passage, what are the main reasons cited for the decline in bee populations?”
  • Structural Level Questions: This question type encourages students to identify how the text works, digging into vocabulary, structure and author’s craft.  An example of this type of question would be, “How does a sequential structure help the reader understand the events?”
  • Inferential Analysis: Inferential analysis allows readers to understand how parts of a text build to a whole, craft questions that promote deep analysis of what the text means, and make intertextual connections.  An example would be, “How does the author use symbolism to convey the theme of isolation in the protagonist’s journey?”
  • Evaluative Interpretation: After reading the text several times and learners have a deep understanding of the text, we should ask about their opinions prompting them to argue their stance using textual evidence, experience, and beliefs.  An example would be, “Do you agree or disagree with the author’s argument about the impact of social media on interpersonal relationships? Support your answer with evidence from the text.”


Crafting high-quality text-dependent questions is both an art and a science. By attending to these guidelines and principles, educators can create TDQs that foster deep comprehension, critical thinking, and engagement among students.  Embrace the challenge, refine your skills, and watch as your students embark on a journey of discovery through the power of text-dependent inquiry.


Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2021). Rigorous Reading, Florida Edition: 5 Access points for comprehending Complex Texts.Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2014). TDQ Text Dependent Questions, Grades 6-12: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2014). TDQ Text Dependent Questions, Grades 6-12: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading