Advertisements are all around us, such as those that greet us at bus stops, at train platforms and on the walls of shopping malls. While print advertisements have been around for a long time, we are certainly not spared the up and coming digital (non-print) advertisements and commercials that dominate the Internet and social media. And so, with these forms of visual media (or “visual texts”) bombarding us in this day and age, it is important that we become discerning readers and consumers of such content. What are advertisers trying to say? How are they influencing our thoughts and actions? And how can we respond wisely?

In this post, we will discuss four common Visual Text question types (Paper 2 Section A) , using authentic visual texts that have been developed over the past few months in relation to COVID-19.

What are the four common visual text question types?

The four common visual text question types are:

Question type 1: Who is the target audience?

Who is it primarily aimed at?

Question type 2: What is the purpose?

What does it seek to achieve, e.g. influence thoughts or actions?

Use an action word/phrase (verb) like “educate“, “raise awareness“, “warn“, “persuade“.

Question type 3: What are the language features used?

How is language used to capture readers’ attention?

Question type 4: How does the image support the message/statement?

Describe how the image illustrates certain words/phrases (in a headline, sentence).

Common visual text questions example 1

Study the poster below. We will address Question Types 1 and 2 in this post, and the other two in a second post.

poster to practice the common visual text question - secondary english singapore

(Source: NEA)

1. Who is the target audience?

While you may derive the answer from the headline “Practise 7 Good Public Hygiene Habits”, advertisements are rarely aimed at people in general. This means you have to be more precise in your answer. Think about who/what group of people would need to read these set of instructions.


People who have not already adopted these seven habits of public hygiene.

*Not acceptable: The public. (too broad)

2. What is the purpose?

A good place to start would be: Why are readers asked to practise these 7 habits, especially in light of COVID-19? While public hygiene has always been important, it is now more crucial than ever.


To persuade readers to practise the seven habits in order to maintain a high level of public hygiene.

*Not acceptable: To raise the public’s awareness of public hygiene. (too weak – not just bring to their awareness but induce a certain set of actions)

Common visual text questions example 2

Study the poster below. We will address Question Types 1 and 2 in this post, and the other two in a second post.

poster 2 to practice the visual text questions for secondary English students in Singapore

(Source: SwissCham)

1. Who is the target audience?

The hint can be found in the subheading “Why workplace health might be the key to your high-performing team post-COVID”. When you see pronouns like “your“, think about who this person might be. In this case, this person works with and likely leads a team in the workplace.

However, you need to be as precise as possible – what kind of employers? What are their priorities?


Employers who are concerned about the mental health of their employees/ workers.

2. What is the purpose?

You know that it is promoting a breakfast seminar on mental health in the workplace. Hence, the desired action should be for readers to register for the seminar. The details provided are also to allow potential participants to check their availability and save the date.


To encourage readers to sign up for this breakfast seminar on managing workplace health post-COVID*.

* I would say “during COVID” as we have not quite passed out of the pandemic yet.

Common visual text questions exercise

Now that you have been guided through the thought process and techniques of answering these two types of questions – the target audience and purpose – try them on this other visual text.

poster visual text question Secondary English singapore

(Source: Health Hub)

Think about:

  • Who is it primarily aimed at? (look for clues like pronouns)
  • What does it seek to achieve, e.g. readers’ desired action?

Answers can be found in the 4 common visual text question types (Part 2)

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