Four Steps to Becoming a Comprehension Whiz

Just shared this in our newsletter for our subscribers.. hope you enjoy reading this 🙂


Scoring in Comprehension might seem like an uphill task… INITIALLY. The key reason why most students do not do well is because they might not understand the passage, or they have not taken appropriate steps to verify what the question is asking for. Scoring full marks for comprehension involves basic steps such as highlight key phrases carefully, breaking the passage and the questions attached to it. If you’re wondering why your child is often unable to score even a pass out of the twenty marks for comprehension, it’s time to relook the methods they are using to solve their comprehension questions.

Take a look at your child’s script. Are they highlighting/underlining keyphrases? Are there working steps written beside the passage to ensure that they understand the passage? Have they written anything on the question, after highlighting the keyphrase, other than the answer?

If they have a clean paper, fret not!

Just apply these four simple steps (UISC) in your thought process and you’ll see how easy nabbing that 20 marks can be.

Step 1.             Understand the passage        
Step 2.             Identify the type of question
Step 3.             Simplify the question
Step 4.             Construct the answer

Step 1: Summarise and understand from keyphrases in the passage:

Keyphrase 1: Author’s father is illiterate [Why? He finds it difficult to write.]
by Top PSLE English Trainer, Adeline Yeo

Keyphrase 2A + 2B: He was cheated into signing the title deed of his farm away. [Someone else marked the deed for him, and walked away with his farm.]

Summary: Author’s father was cheated of his farm due to his illiteracy.

Step 2: **Identify Question

‘Explain why questions require step-by-step details on how something was done. They can be identified as inferential questions.’

Explain why the writer’s family had to move out of the farm eventually.

‘They had no choice but…’

Step 3: Simplify

We now know we need step-by-step details on how the author’s father lost the farm due to his illiteracy, thus causing them to move out of it.

Step 4: Construct Answer

The writer’s family had to move out of the farm as his father was cheated into signing the title deed of the farm to another man due to his illiteracy.

Common types of PSLE Questions

Inferential Questions (Answers not found in text, typically contains the word “why”):

Eg. Explain clearly why…/In line 20, explain what ‘ascertain’ means…/Why was the man..
Literal Questions (Answers found in text, typically contains the word “who, what, where, when or how)

Eg. How did the man…/When did the dog…/Who knocked on…/What did the lecturer…

Editor’s Note: Adeline is an established English PSLE Trainer at iSUN Education. With a track record in obtaining straight As in English throughout her academic life and the experience of having written work published in various media platforms, Adeline would like to spread the love for reading, writing and speaking English. By exposing the use of English to students through humorous methods and practical techniques, students will come to understand that they can have fun and still obtain desired results. In the course of mastering English through stories, music and videos, students also receive lessons on life that will build character. After all, she is a communications coach with a heart. Join her on 13 April, Friday at 7.30pm as she shares with parents and students effective ways to excel in PSLE English in a complimentary seminar. Parents can register for your seats now via


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