Comprehension; Tips


To comprehend means to read with understanding.

In any given comprehension exercise the reader is tested on the ability to read the passage, understand and answer questions correctly.

Comprehension is designed for systematic checking and reinforcement of reading skills.

In this case the following skills are acquired:

  • Vocabulary development and word mastery
  • Ability to follow directions and instructions
  • Independent thinking and evaluation
  • Extraction of main ideas from any given passage
  • Judgement and corrections on daily activities or making an independent opinion.

Start out with simple passages and straight forward questions with answers that can be found easily in the passage.

Sample Passage

This morning Anne and her mother went to the supermarket. Her mother bought her a glass of chocolate milk.

Question: What did Anne’s Mother buy for her?

Answer: A glass of chocolate milk.

1. Read the passage carefully before attempting to answer any question

2. Do not rush to write down your answers

3. Read the passage at least twice before you begin writing out your answers

4. During the second reading, make notes.

Write down one sentence beside each paragraph to describe the main idea of that paragraph

5. Know the difference between a fact and an opinion in the text

6. For questions that require you to explain the meaning of a word, read the sentences before and after that word as these might provide clues to its meaning

7. Underline the question word or words used in the question like ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘explain’

8. Be sensitive to tenses in the question and use the correct tense when answering

9. Do not lift whole sentences from the passage to answer your questions

10. Remember, top marks are awarded to students who manage to accurately answer questions in their own words


Tips on tackling comprehension (continued)

  • Try to get the meanings of the words from the passage before using the dictionary.
  •  The comprehension exercises do not test on previous knowledge.
  • All the answers can be found in the passage.

If you read the passage carefully, you should be able to answer all the questions correctly.

  •  What is tested is your ability to read , understand, think and use your imagination.

  •  For revision purposes, do not look at the answers at the back of the book until you have answered all the questions.

  • If your answers differ from the ones given, do not shy away from defending your answer.

However, look at the passage again and work through the questions carefully.

You may have a very good reason for having a different answer.

  •  In multiple choice questions, it is good practice to work through the alternative answers given and understand why they are wrong .

Tips on improving Reading Comprehension (RC)

The most important thing about RC is understanding what you read.

Being able to read fast is also important, but remember that speed is always secondary to understanding.

Below are some tips for exam-preparation as well as for general improvement.

Exam Tips

  •  Don’t rush yourself. 

It is natural that you will start alittle slowly and then build up as you gain farmiliarity with the passage. 

  • Read all the questions first

     (if the exam format permits this).

This will help you zero in on the relevant portions when you start reading the passage.

  • Read actively. This means, try to anticipate the next sentence. Reading this way will help you engage with the passage more closely.

  • Make notes to capture the essence of each paragraph within the passage.

The first sentence of the paragraph usually conveys the main idea or theme of the paragraph.

  • Don’t try to memorize anything. Memorizing consumes time and is not very useful.

  • Get the overview. After you have read the passage, ask yourself the following questions: 
    (1) what is the passage as a whole trying to say?
    (2) How does each paragraph contribute to the broad message of the passage?

Play this video and learn more:

  • chocolate-milk by pixabay used under CC_BY-SA
  • kids-reading by Ayiba magazine used under CC_BY-SA
  • tips_2 by Unknown used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
  • get-kids-to-read by MS another way used under CC_BY-SA
  • girl-reading by pixabay used under CC_BY-SA
  • memorizing by The Oregonian used under CC_BY-SA
  • read_actively by Cracked used under CC_BY-SA
  • rush by Edited used under CC_BY-SA
  • taking-notes by The black homeschool used under CC_BY-SA
  • Reading_Comprehension_Strategies_-_4_EASY_steps_to_ACE_comprehensions_1 by Unknown used under CC_BY-SA

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    All work unless implicitly stated is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.