These questions ask you to identify referential relationships between the words in the passage. Often, the relationship is between a pronoun and its antecedent (the word to which the pronoun refers). Sometimes other kinds of grammatical reference are tested (like which or this).
How to Recognize Reference Questions:
Reference questions look similar to vocabulary questions. In the passage, one word or phrase is highlighted. Usually the word is a pronoun. Then you are asked :
The word X in the passage refers to:
The four answer choices will be words or phrases from the passage. Only one choice is the word to which the highlighted word refers.
Tips for Reference Questions:
1.) If the reference question is about a pronoun, make sure your answer is the same number (singular or plural) and case (first person, second person, third person) as the highlighted pronoun.
2.) Substitute your choice for the highlighted word or words in the sentence. Does it violate any grammar rules? Does it make sense?
Passage Excerpt: "... These laws are universal in their application, regardless of cultural beliefs, geography, or climate. If pots have no bottoms or have large openings in their sides they could haardly be considered containers in any traditional sense. Since the laws of physics, not some arbitrary decision, have determined the general form of applied-art objects, they follow basic patterns, so much so that functional forms can vary only within certain limits..."
The word they in the passage refers to:
1.) applied-art objects
2.) the laws of physics
4.) the sides of pots
The answer is 1 - applied art objects.
the law of physics