How to handle difficult comprehension questions in PSLE English Paper 2?

Understanding and effectively tackling challenging comprehension questions in the PSLE English Paper 2 is a multifaceted process. It requires not just a solid foundation in English grammar and vocabulary but also the ability to deploy strategic thinking, sharp analytical skills, and effective time management.

When examining comprehension questions in PSLE, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) and Ministry of Education (MOE) look for a student’s ability to understand, infer, and interpret textual information accurately. Examiners place emphasis on the capability to draw conclusions, make predictions, and use the text to support these interpretations. It’s crucial to remember that the PSLE is not just about content knowledge but also tests higher-order thinking skills.

In the face of difficult comprehension questions, it’s essential to remain calm and composed. First, ensure you fully understand the question before attempting to answer it. Look for keywords or phrases in the question that might guide your response. If a question seems particularly challenging, try breaking it down into smaller parts to make it more manageable.

To enrich your comprehension skills, it’s useful to read widely and diversely. This includes newspapers, novels, non-fiction books, and other forms of literature. Reading a variety of texts allows you to experience different writing styles and broadens your exposure to various kinds of comprehension questions.

Practice regularly with past PSLE papers and other English comprehension exercises. This not only allows you to familiarise yourself with the format and types of questions that will be asked but also helps to build up your speed and confidence in answering questions.

Understanding the marking scheme can also be beneficial. SEAB provides a guide on how marks are awarded for comprehension questions in the PSLE English examination. It can provide insights into what examiners are specifically looking for in students’ responses, which can inform the way you approach the questions.

Lastly, consider seeking guidance from your teachers or attending additional English classes or tuition. Teachers have a wealth of experience in helping students prepare for the PSLE, and they can provide specific strategies and tips for handling difficult comprehension questions.

Power of Inference

Inferential skills, crucial for comprehension, involve reading beyond the text and drawing conclusions based on the given information and one’s own knowledge. This critical thinking skill can be honed with consistent practice and effective strategies.

Here are some ways a student can train to improve their inferential skills for comprehension:

1. Regular Reading: Reading habit is foundational to develop inference skills. Different genres and types of text provide varied contexts that require inferential thinking. While reading, students should practice asking themselves questions about the text’s implications and meaning that may not be explicitly stated.

2. Highlighting Clues: Train students to recognize and highlight words or phrases that suggest something without directly stating it. Such textual clues can be found in the descriptions of characters, settings, actions, dialogues, and more. This will help students to actively engage with the text and look for information that aids in making inferences.

3. Practice Inferential Questions: Past PSLE papers and other English comprehension exercises often contain inferential questions. Regularly working on these questions can help students familiarize themselves with the process of drawing inferences from a text.

4. Think Aloud Strategy: This involves verbalizing thought processes when making inferences. By articulating their thoughts, students can better understand how they’re deriving certain conclusions, which helps to hone their inferential skills.

5. Use Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers like Venn diagrams, flow charts, and cause-and-effect charts can help students visually organize information and see connections more clearly, aiding the inferencing process.

6. Peer Discussion and Collaboration: Discussing interpretations of a text with peers can expose students to different perspectives, helping them to understand various possible inferences.

7. Guided Practice: A teacher or tutor can provide guided practice by walking through the inferential process with the student. They can ask leading questions that prompt the student to think more deeply about the text and draw conclusions.

8. Bridging Known and Unknown: Encourage students to link their prior knowledge with new information in the text to make educated guesses or predictions. This strategy forms the basis of inference.

Remember, developing inference skills is a gradual process, requiring regular and consistent practice. Over time, students will become more proficient and confident in their ability to infer, which will significantly enhance their comprehension skills for the PSLE English Paper 2 and beyond.


In summary, handling difficult comprehension questions in PSLE English Paper 2 involves a combination of a strong foundation in the English language, exposure to a variety of texts, regular practice, understanding of the marking scheme, strategic thinking, and seeking additional help when needed. By adhering to these steps, students can better position themselves to successfully navigate challenging comprehension questions.