How to improve your comprehension skills

Tips to improve comprehension

Tips to improve your comprehension skills

One of the common problems the Singapore students face when sitting for their English Language examination is reading and understanding comprehension passages. They are a big challenge to most students lacking the skills in reading and comprehending the information presented on the examination paper.

There are strategies to improve your comprehension skills. Your skills will improve with constant practice and application of these strategies. We would like to first share a few tips on how you can develop your skills in reading.

  1. First line

Imagine you are a detective solving a case. You are trying to find out what happened and why it happened. What would you be doing first? That’s right, pick up clues! You would try and find out as many clues and as quickly as possible. It the same with reading a comprehension passage.

You have to have to skim through quickly and get a quick understanding of the passage. This can be easily accomplished by reading the first line of every paragraph. As you read the first line of every paragraph, you will begin to gain some idea of the passage quickly and also achieve some form of momentum in the understanding of the passage.

  1. Getting the picture

Once you are done with reading the first lines of every paragraph, try and picture the entire comprehension passage as a whole. Ask yourself what are the texts telling you. What is the structure and where are they leading to. For example, if the first few lines of the paragraphs mention about pollution, then we can expect a list of texts like smoke, oil spill, industrial waste and dirt.

Once you are able to form a general idea of the passage, you are more likely to feel more confident reading and picking up the details in every paragraph. Our brain will be aligned to the ideas presented and you will be able to follow the shape and structure of the passage easily.

  1. Reading in chunks

Most students who do not ace in their comprehension exam paper tend to have problem reading. When they read, they are reading word for word. When you are in lower primary, reading word for word is acceptable. But when you are sitting for the O level English examination, the sentences and passages are much longer. It is easy to forget what you have read at the start of the sentence when you are reading word for word.

To solve this problem, try reading in phrases instead. When you read in short phrases, you will pick up meaning faster and with better accuracy. You can test it out now with a paragraph and see what happens with the two methods: word for word and in phrases.

These are just some of the skills our English tutors teach in the centre. We are indeed honoured to have two great English Language tutors in the centre with us for the last 18 years. They are certified teachers and obtained their qualification from the Ministry of Education Singapore. We are proud to say they are one of the best English tutors in Singapore. If you like to enrol in our English classes, visit us at the Victoria Tutorial Centre or drop us an email at