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8 Types of Comprehension Questions: Tips & Strategies for PSLE English

February 15, 2023
StudySmart Team
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Sitting in a classroom, an Asian schoolgirl writes English compEnglishs in a book.

The PSLE English Examination holds significant importance in Singapore's National Exams, specifically in evaluating a student's language proficiency. A good score in this subject can impact a student's future educational and career paths. In this context, the Comprehension component aims to assess a student's understanding of both visual and written texts through a series of questions. These skills have real-world applications and are crucial for academic and professional progress. However, many students may underestimate the importance of Comprehension and come unprepared, as it may seem like an easy section to score in. But, in reality, it has a strict marking scheme that requires analytical reasoning and attention to detail.

While preparing for the exam, students can always rely on PSLE English apps to understand the structure and format of the exam better. Today, in this article, we have outlined the 8 main categories of PSLE English Comprehension based on past exam papers. Understanding these categories and their respective requirements can help students easily acquire the marks for each type.

Understanding the Different Types of PSLE Comprehension Questions

1. Factual Questions

Factual questions are used to test the student’s ability to find relevant information that can be easily obtained from the given passage. However, it is important for students to be mindful not to lift irrelevant parts of a sentence when picking out the obvious details.

Step 1- Determine the details.
Step 2 -Omit the irrelevant information.

What did Rose have for lunch?
For what reason did Rose avoid the puppy?

2.Inference Questions

Inference based questions are significantly more difficult than factual questions because they require students to uncover the underlying meaning behind a statement while keeping an eye out for clues from words that imply these "hidden" meanings.


tears streamed down his face–> he cried.

3. Sequencing Questions

In this case, the students are tasked with creating a chronological description of the events recounted in the passage.

In the following example, students must sequence all three statements correctly. The correct sequence should be indicated by numbering each statement as "1" for the first event, followed by "2" and "3" for the subsequent events.

Hint: Ignore the order in which things happened in the passage. They are often made to be traps.


(3) The whale enjoyed the refreshing sensation of the seashore water on its skin.

(2) A group of locals put extreme force in an attempt to move the whale.

(1) The snail rushed off to get help.

4. True or False Questions

Questions of this type require students to determine if a given statement is entirely true or if there is a false detail included. Generally, a true statement will be a paraphrased version of an original sentence from the passage. Students are then expected to provide evidence from the text to support why the statement is true, typically by selecting the original sentence. If the statement includes a false detail, students should identify what is actually true according to the passage and provide the correct sentence to contrast with the given statement.

For example:

Statement True//False Reason
May was pleased with the competition's outcome. False ?
When May's phone rang, she was outside her home. True ?

5. Information Transfer Questions

There are different types of information transfer questions. One example is the "cause and effect" questions in which students must explain the relationship between an event and the factors that brought it about .

Another example is the "before and after" question that requires students to note and explain the differences between two states of the same object or event.

Other categories include:

  • Similarities and differences
  • Actions and causes
  • Feelings and actions
  • Problems and solutions
  • Advantages and drawbacks
  • Any other way in which information can be divided into tabular formats.

6. Contextualized Vocabulary Questions

To a large extent, these questions are designed to assess the students' vocabulary. Bear in mind, though, that many words can have more than one meaning. Students should determine the proper application of the terms by analyzing the context in which these words are used within the passage.

For example:

Which term or expression means the exact opposite of...?

Look up synonyms for the following terms and write them down:

7. Vocabulary Application Questions

These questions are typically more difficult than vocabulary in context questions because they need students to think critically and come up with their own words to appropriately describe an event or character.


1) What was the atmosphere in class before the teacher came in? (for instance, tense, calm)

2. What impression do you get of Mr. August from the passage? (such as serious or friendly)

* Typically, questions of this type are laid up in a table. They could be straight-up fact checks or more inferential inquiries.

Also Read : What to Look For in Secondary Schools After PSLE Exam

8. Reference Questions

In the question, a noun or pronoun will be provided, and students will be asked to identify what it is referring to. Examples of common pronouns are:

  • He, she, and they (people)
  • It/they (conditions/animals).
  • This, that, these, and those (circumstances/objects)

Step 1- Find the pronoun that has been highlighted in bold.

Step 2- Consider the pronoun's surrounding context, including the sentences and phrases that come before and after it.

Step 3- Determine the noun phrase or noun that can be used in place of the pronoun.

PSLE English - Common Mistakes Students Should Avoid

1. Not asking for clarification

What exactly is the task?

The student should have a clear idea of what information they are looking for. Is it a ‘what’ or a ‘why’ question? Always remember to focus on the intent of the question.

2. Failing to provide a comprehensive response to the query

Students should not be tempted to answer a question from their memory. They should always go back to the passage and read closely for precise information.

To ensure that students include all relevant details in their responses, it is helpful to use the keywords provided in the question as a guideline. Students can indicate these keywords by using brackets, underlining, or highlighting them in the passage.

Students should be especially careful with questions that require them to “explain fully”. They should ensure that they provide sufficient information in the answer to such questions.

3. Not double-checking the solutions

Students should always ensure that their answers contain the correct tenses, comma splices and spelling. Repeated practice can help them perfect this.

An Asian elementary school boy wearing glasses reading a thick english book.

Ways to Improve English Reading Skills Using a PSLE English App

1.Read the section again

Half the battle is won by comprehending what each line in the chapter means. Students can be encouraged to take additional time on complicated passages if needed. Once the student grasps the central idea of the passage, it will be much simpler for them to determine which part of the passage they need to read in order to get the answer.

2. Highlight and annotate for better understanding

Using a highlighter is crucial. The best way to learn the meaning of a new word or phrase is to circle it in the text and highlight any clues provided in the preceding or following lines.

3. Summarizing, rephrasing, and recalling methods

For narrative texts in particular, it is important that students take a minute or two to review the main themes to ensure they understand the text. Outlining the major points will allow for a clearer expression of their ideas and will help to identify the areas that need more investigation. Paraphrasing is most easily accomplished through introspection and reiteration of the story's major ideas in one's own words.

4. Picture the Data

Reading the sentences is not enough for English Comprehension because the passages might be either narrative or non-narrative. Students should make an effort to visualize things by creating a mental image or picture of the subjects that are discussed in the paragraphs. Students that learn best via the use of visuals will find this recommendation particularly helpful. Students in elementary school find this approach particularly effective because it encourages them to use their creativity and personal connections to the story to have a deeper understanding of the material.

Putting it all together

For students looking to ace the PSLE English exam, it's essential to focus on both comprehension and language skills. The exam puts heavy emphasis on a student's understanding skills, and accurately answering questions is crucial to score well.

However, building comprehension skills requires consistent practice. Therefore, it's essential for students to keep practicing and learn from their mistakes to improve.

To help students prepare for the PSLE English exam effectively, StudySmart recommends using the PSLE English App. This app provides students with comprehensive practice exercises to enhance their comprehension and language skills. With StudySmart's PSLE English App, students can boost their confidence, learn from their mistakes, and improve their chances of achieving great results in the exam. To know more, get in touch with us.

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