i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Comprehension Skills

Tips on Tackling Reading Comprehensions

While many Hong Kong students excel in grammar exercises, they can find reading comprehensions relatively daunting because of unfamiliar themes and challenging vocabulary. Drawing on my teaching experience and observations of countless students, I can share a few useful tips on helping students excel in comprehensions:

Reading sequence

While some students are taught to strategically read the questions then scan the text to look for key words, it is advisable to read the passage once to have an idea of what each paragraph is about. It doesn’t matter whether students skim or read carefully for the first time; what is important is they get the gist and the writer’s stance.


Very often, students find difficult vocabulary impedes their understanding of a text. I would suggest tackling unfamiliar words using two approaches: 1. skip, 2. infer. Sometimes we don’t need to know every single word to understand a text, so we can pass over a word to save time and cognitive resources for comprehending the other components of the sentence. Alternatively, logically deduce the word’s meaning with the help of known information.

Answering questions

Pay attention to the question words carefully. Make sure to use the right tense and pronouns instead of merely copying the sentence as the answer. Students should note when they are required to rephrase to answer the questions more accurately.


As well as following the above tips, which can be applied in an exam, students should understand the importance of building a regular reading habit. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Reading constantly not only helps learners enrich their vocabulary, but also widens their horizons and improves reading speed.