3 Tips on Mastering Comprehension

kids reading

Mastering Comprehension is something which I hope my children would be able to do. Comprehension and Composition are the most difficult components of a language which a child has to grasp. Many of my students lose a lot of marks in comprehension as they are unable to fully understand the questions asked and answer them accordingly.

There are  various skills needed to ace answering the comprehension section of a test  paper or exercise.  The ten marks awarded in this section makes a great deal to whether the child passes or fail the exam. It would also add up to the total marks and  which band/grade  he would be awarded for English.


English and Maths marks are used to band and allocate students into classes over here in Singapore schools. Therefore, I feel that it is important for one to have a good grounding in all components of English especially comprehension.

I started introducing comprehension to my children when they are in Kindergarten 2 (5-6yrs old). We started 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 packet of chocolate milk.

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

Answer: A packet of chocolate milk.

Tip #1 : Highlight the answer on the passage when teaching the child how to spot the answer on the passage.

By doing so you are teaching your child where the answer can be located and it would be easier for him to refer back to the relevant part of the passage when he is filling in the answer to the given question.

Getting younger readers to read the passage and question aloud would also help facilitate their train of though and help in the understanding of the given comprehension.

Once your child has master this first skill of answering straightforward questions you can move on to teach him how to search for a fact.

Sample Passage

Durians are one of the favourite fruits of locals. This fruit is nicknamed the king of fruits. Many people love eating it as it has a juicy and fleshy pulp. Durians can be eaten on its own however nowadays you are able to eat durian ice-cream, pies, chocolate and cream puffs as delicacies.

Question: People love eating durians because___________.

a) It is the king of fruits.

b) it has a juicy and fleshy pulp.

c) it is one of the favourite fruits of locals.

d) you can find it as durian ice-cream, pies, chocolate and cream puffs.

Answer : (b)

This is a bit more tricky then the first as the answer is “hidden” inside the passage and not so “clear” at first glance. The child would have to be able to comprehend the whole passage before being able to select the relevant information from it.

Tip #2 Re-read the passage after reading through all the options given in the question. Highlight the key components of the question which you need to focus on I.e: ” Love eating durians” so it is easier for you to spot the answer.

As your child progresses through school they will have to deal with more complex types of comprehension questions. Some questions require answers which require the child to input their own opinion, answer based on contextual clues, giving explainations to the meanings of words and even to draw their own conclusion. Being able to infer and predict are also some higher order questions which maybe asked in a comprehension.

How then to prepare your child for the increase in difficulty?

Tip #3– Read widely and have lots of chance to practice completing comprehension on different genres. Your child should practice on both multiple choice question and answer comprehension passages and open ended answers. Only through practice would they be able to hone their skills in the mastery of comprehension.

How do you tackle comprehension with your child?