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Tips to do well in English – Comprehension

Comprehension has always been a daunting task for all levels, from primary school to junior college. Many students have trouble understanding the passage given, and as a result, experience much difficulties in answering the questions that follow.


To do well in comprehension is not easy, as this section requires students to be able to understand the given passage and also the questions that are posed to them. A good range of vocabulary will be a great help as there may be difficult words appearing in the passage and they may be crucial in answering some of the questions. To build up your vocabulary, you may refer to our other post on improving English foundations. Here at Start Tuition, we have come up with some strategies to help students to fare better in comprehension.


#1 – Read the entire passage a few times to understand the passage better

For the first read, skim through the passage quickly to get a rough understanding of what the passage is talking about. If it is a narrative passage, try to imagine the scenes depicted and play them in your mind to make the story more vivid. If it is a discursive/expository, try to link the points in the passage to your general knowledge to understand better. After the first read, switch to reading the questions. This can help you understand more about the passage from another perspective. Then, read the passage again, slower this time, to take in more detail.


#2 – Identify the nature of the question

It is important to know what the question is asking for in order to answer it correctly and appropriately. Generally, there are a few types of questions: Factual, Inference, Cause & Effect, Vocabulary.

  • Factual – The question will ask you to provide a fact from the passage. E.g. What was Peter’s thoughts when Mary reprimanded the child?
  • Inference – The question will ask you to infer from a certain section and the answer is usually indirect and you have to answer in your own words. E.g. What can you infer from Charlie’s action about his emotions in paragraph 3? Provide evidence from the paragraph to support your answer.
  • Cause & Effect – The question will ask for the reason for a certain action/event in the passage. E.g. Why did Teck Ghee keep silent when the disciple master asked the class about the culprit?
  • Vocabulary – The question usually asks for meaning of a particular word/phrase in the passage or it can ask you to quote a word/phrase from the passage that has a similar meaning as a given word/phrase provided in the question

Knowing how to identify the question types can help you to answer the better.


#3 – Highlight/Underline the parts relevant to particular questions

When attempting the questions, DO highlight the relevant phrases/words that are linked to the questions. The questions are usually posed in order of the paragraphs. Take note of the marks allocated to the questions as they will tell you how long do you need to answer.


With these tips, students should be able to use tackle comprehension passages ore efficiently and thus score better!

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