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Understanding Different Types of PSLE English Comprehension Questions

The PSLE is one of the most important exams your children will need to pass in order to get into the Secondary School they want. Some students find it a breeze to score in them, while others struggle in certain areas, specifically the English Comprehension part of the exam.

Many students find it hard to prepare for this section of the test and determine the best strategy to use to ace it.

Fortunately, the best way to score in this section of the exam is by determining what type of question is being asked and how to answer it.

Below we look into the different types of PSLE English Comprehension Exam questions and how to recognise it.


Factual questions can be answered by the key details that you can see from the passage. Students must be able lift the important and obvious details from a passage, removing the irrelevant points at the same time.

Examples of Factual Questions:

  1. What did Tom do this past Christmas?
  2. Why did the US government announce a lockdown?

Sequencing Actions

This type of sequencing action question requires students to list down the actual order of events in the passage and not the order on how they appeared in the text. It is possible that the event that may have appeared first in the passage is not the first thing that happened in the situation the passage is showing.

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Example of Sequencing Actions:

__3__ Ali walked to school.

__2__ He brushes his teeth and ate his breakfast.

__1__ Ali wakes up on Monday morning.

Direct Answer

Direct answer questions or direct questions ask students to provide the actual facts from the passage and explain it correctly. You can practice these questions using free test papers found in our free test papers section.

Example of Direct Questions:

  • What is automation?
  • Who ate the pizza before Mary?
  • Does Bala work in a bookshop?

True / False

For this type of factual question, students need to determine if the sentence is completely true or it is false. You will know it is a true statement if it is paraphrased from the original line in the test passage. They must then give the evidence that will prove why the statement is accurate. If it is false, they must be able to pick the statements which are actually true.

Example of True/False Statements:

Statement # 1: Peter was able to buy his mother a new hairband.

True/False: False

Statement # 2: Peter was in the supermarket to line up for a steak sale.

True/False: True


Inference questions require more critical thinking because you need to look for the less obvious information to answer the question. Students must be able to find the “hidden” facts that are referred to in the passage but not directly mentioned. They must seek out the clues in the question to find out these “hidden” facts.

Examples of Inference Questions:

  1. Why did John agree to the decision?
  2. In your own words, explain why John agreed to the decision?

Use Your Own of Words/ Applied Vocabulary

For this type of inference question, students are asked to analyse the passage and use their own words to talk about the characters or situation being presented. To be good at this, students must be creative. You can increase creativity in your child with these techniques here.

Example of Applied Vocabulary Questions:

  1. How will you describe John based on the passage provided?

Cause & Effect

Cause and effect questions require students to determine what made a certain situation possible and the effects which happened because of the cause.

Example of Cause and Effect:

because… so…
Character Cause Effect
The judge ? He gave her an award for her effort.
The singer She sang a hard song which she admitted she can’t sing it at first. ?

If you consider the sentences, the answer will be:

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(because) A singer admitted she couldn’t sing a particular song at first before giving her rendition, (so) he gave her an award for her effort.

(because) The singer sang a hard song, (so) she did her best to sing it before the judges.

Vocabulary in Context

This type of inference question asks a student about how they can use a certain word or phrase in the passage provided. Here are ways to increase your child’s vocabulary. 

The questions could be like:

  • Find the words which have the opposite meaning to the following words…
  • Which adjectives in paragraph 5 describe John?
  • Which word supports the meaning to the word used in paragraph 1?

List of Practice Questions Parents can use with their kids

If you want to help your children practice for their PSLE English Comprehension Exam, here are some practice questions you can try asking them while giving them a sample passage to work with:

Questions Focusing on Facts

  1. What is the story all about?
  2. List the words in the passage that has opposite meaning
  3. Where and when does the situation take place?

Questions Focusing on their Comprehension

  1. Describe Character A and how did the character grow throughout the story.
  2. Explain the entire story’s plot in your own words.
  3. Identify the main points in the story and how do they relate to the overall plot?

Questions Focusing on Application

  1. Which events are not possible in real life?
  2. If you can talk to one of the characters in the story, who will it be and what will you ask them?
  3. Do you know anyone who is similar to Character A?

Questions Focusing on Analysis

  1. Which part of the story was the saddest to read and why?
  2. What did Character A felt when he discovered the reason behind Character B’s decision?
  3. Write your review of the story and indicate its main points.

Questions Focusing on Synthesis

  1. Device your own ending for the story.
  2. Which characters should have been given a deeper role in the story.

Questions on Evaluating the Story

  1. Which parts of the story did you like? Explain.
  2. Rate the story on a scale of 1-5 and why is this the rating you gave to the story.


Knowing the type of questions used in the exams will definitely go a long way if you want your child to succeed in their PSLE English Comprehension Exam. Take a look at these types of questions and see which ones your children need some help with.

Once you figure out which questions they need assistance with, provide them with practice questions so that they can identify them early on in the test and answer them correctly. If you’re still struggling with this, get an English tutor to help your child.

For other tips in scoring in your English exams, here are some:

Most Common Pronunciation Mistakes in English Oral Exams Made By Singapore Students
How To Write The Perfect PSLE English Composition

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.