The reading comprehension component is usually one of the more challenging components found in English Paper 2. Students can lose most of their marks in that section alone. With the curriculum changes some time ago, the comprehension section tests students on a variety of skills; from answering factual type questions to inferencing and referencing.

Students are tested from Primary 1 and the difficulty of the questions increases as they move up to the PSLE year. That is why at TF, we follow a step sequence on how students should work on the Comprehension section in all our classes, even our lower primary ones.

Below is a comprehension passage that we will be working on with our P3 students this week.

Reading comprehension: How to answer 6 different question types?

Using the below example found in the P3 Marie Stella High SA2 2019 paper, let us look at 6 different reading comprehension question types that lower primary students face and how they can answer the question types accurately.

Lower primary English Comprehension question types and how to answer them

1. Factual questions

What kind of sport had the three friends been playing during the school holidays? (1m)

This question type is considered the easiest type of question. Students are able to find the answers without much dificulty. In the question above, the keywords and phrases are ‘what’, ‘sport’, and ‘school holidays’. By identifying the key words and phrases in the question, students are able to find the answer in Line 1 of Paragraph 1.


The three friends had been playing soccer during the school holidays.

2. Inferential questions

How did Ben stop the robber from escaping? (1m)

Inferential question types require students to search for the answer in the passage. The answer may be found in different parts of the passage and students will have to summarise the points to fully answer the question. ‘Lifting’ from the passage for inferential questions does not work as most inferential questions require students to paraphrase the information from the text to fully answer the question.

In the question above, the keywords or phrases are ‘how’, ‘stop’, and ‘escaping’. When they have identified the keywords and phrases in the question, students need to collect the information from the 4th paragraph of the passage. The whole paragraph describes how Ben stopped the robber. Thus, they will need to select and summarise the key points needed.


Ben stopped the robber from escaping by kicking his soccer ball swiftly in the air. The ball hit the robber’s head so hard that the robber collapsed unconscious on the ground.

3. Reference questions

What does the word ‘It’ in line 14 refer to? (1m)

Reference question types require students to explain what the pronoun refers to in the passage. In the case above, ‘it’ can be found in line 14. However, the answer can be found before line 14 and sometimes even in the paragraph before line 14 or the answer can be found after line 14. This is something that all lower primary students must understand. Answers to reference questions can be found anywhere in the passage, not just in the line where the pronoun is found.

Here the ‘it’ refers to the ‘soccer ball’ which is mentioned in line 12.


‘It’ refers to the soccer ball that Ben used to stop the robber from escaping.

4. True or False questions

ExampleA handbag was stolen. 
44The lady appreciated the boys’ help.  
45The police arrived before the boys caught the robber.  

The true or false question type tests students on their understanding of the passage that they have read. Lower primary students need to decide if the statements given are true or false and put a tick in the correct box. From Primary 4 – 6, students are tested further by selecting evidence from the passage to prove that a statement is true or false. This often adds another layer of difficulty as students oftentimes choose the wrong evidence in the passage. At TF, we teach students how to find the keywords in true or false statements.

In question 44, the keyword is ‘appreciated’ and in question 45 the keyword is ‘before’.


In question 44, the statement is TRUE because, in the last paragraph of the passage, the lady thanked the boys for their kindness.

In question 45, the statement is FALSE because David called the police only after the robber was unconscious.

5. Vocabulary questions

Write one word from paragraph 4 (lines 12-16) which has the same meaning as ‘fell down suddenly’. (1m)

Vocabulary and vocabulary in context require students to find synonyms, antonyms, or similar words in the passage. The paragraph where the word is found is given to students so they will need to take note of this in the question.

The keywords in the question are ‘one word’, ‘lines 12 – 16’ ‘same’, and ‘fell down suddenly’.



6. Sequencing questions

Put the following events in the right sequence, according to the flow in the story. Write 1, 2 and 3 on the lines. (1m)

________ Ben jumped for joy.

________ David called the police.

________ Ali smiled at his friend.

The sequencing question type requires students to list the series of events given in order. While it may look simple, students actually need to reflect on when each event took place logically and not according to when it appears in the story.


1 3 2

Ben jumped for joy when he stopped the robber (Line 15).
Ali then smiled at his friend (Line 16).
David then called the police (Line 18).

We hope that this post has helped you to understand the different question types that students may face in the Reading Comprehension component. For more practice, come join Tr Jaime and Tr Pauline in our weekly classes.

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2024 P3 English Tuition Timetable

Bukit TimahMON5 pm to 7 pm
HougangWED3 pm to 5 pm