Many of us find the comprehension paper to be the most daunting paper amongst all English language question papers. The dictionary defines the word ‘comprehension’ as ‘the ability to understand something’, and the comprehension paper tests just that: the student’s ability to understand and interpret what is being read. How then do you tackle the comprehension paper? Here are 4 tips to help you answer comprehension questions to the best of your abilities! Brought to you by Tueetor Premium Partner Words Worth and edited by Cecilia Leong.
Tip #1: Read the passage or text FIRST
One common mistake is to read the questions before the text itself. This is not a good idea because it narrows your thought-process and subconsciously encourages you to skim the text for answers instead of carefully unpacking the content. Instead, you should:
- Identify the main theme/topic of the text. Drawing on your prior knowledge of the theme will help you to understand the text better.
- Explore how the theme develops through the passage. Make notes of key points along the margin.
- If you don’t understand something in the passage, reread the section again.
- Once you are confident with your knowledge of the passage, begin answering the questions!
Tip #2: Know your question types
There is a range of question types that make up the comprehension paper. It is important to first identify the type of question, and then understand its demands before attempting to answer it. Do you know how to approach them all? Here’s how:
Example 1: Literal questions
Question: What were the two actions Jacob did that suggested he was angry?
What you must do: Identify or state facts directly from the text. Select the two examples from the text that indicate that Jacob was angry and reword them.
Example 2 – Inferential questions
Question: Why did the writer feel a “sense of relief” when he saw the slender loophole in the wall?
What you must do: Locate the quote in the passage and identify the effect it has on the context, based on clues in the text.
Example 3 – Language for Impact
Question: What is unusual and effective about the phrase “dancing in the moonlight”?
What you must do: Understand and explain what the impact of the quote is on the reader. This question has two parts to it, and you must address both parts of the question separately.
Example 4 – Analysis/Justification
Question: Why is the prejudice towards the elderly ironic?
What you must do: You must understand and explain what the ‘irony’ is in the passage, and why the situation is ironic.
Tip #3: Use contextual clues
Answering vocabulary questions can be tricky if you are unsure of the meanings of the words. One tip to help you decipher the meanings of unknown words is by using contextual clues, which are often in the passage. The sentences before and after the chosen word/phrase are your best bet at ascertaining the meaning of a tough word.
“It is the confession, not the priest that gives us absolution. When Dorian had finished the letter, he felt that he had been forgiven.”
Here, the last sentence gives us a clue of what “absolution” means – forgiveness. Hence, if a question asks, ‘What did Dorian want by achieving “absolution”?’, the answer would be that Dorian wanted forgiveness.
Tip #4: Paraphrase and use connectors
Many questions in a comprehension paper require you to use your own words to explain your understanding of what has been discussed in the text. However, the trick to paraphrasing is ensuring that you do not lose the essence of the points. This tip works for short answer questions as well as for summary. Follow these steps!
- Underline relevant points for the answer.
- Remove redundant words/phases to focus on key points.
- Define those key points in your own words using synonyms, or alternative singular words to express a phrase.
- Use connecting words to make your writing clearer, as well to create structure for the writing.
- Lastly, read through the answer again to ensure it is cohesive and still brings across the original point.
Tell us what else you reckon is an essential Pro Tip for acing English comprehension. Like, share or comment below! If you still need dedicated help in responding to comprehension questions, Tueetor’s Premium Partner Words Worth can unlock that understanding you require, that would prove useful for life. Visit https://tueetor.com/wordsworth or call 64400374.