How to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills Among Students


Reading comprehension is an essential skill for students, as it enables them to understand and engage with the material they read. To read meaningfully, students must develop proficiency in three key levels of comprehension: literal, inferential, and evaluative. Each level requires different skills and cognitive processes, and together they form a comprehensive approach to understanding written texts.

How to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills

Literal Comprehension

Definition and Importance

Literal comprehension is the ability to understand and recall information and facts that are explicitly stated in the text. It is considered the most basic level of comprehension and forms the foundation upon which more advanced comprehension skills are built. This level of comprehension is crucial for ensuring that students can grasp the straightforward, surface-level meaning of what they read.

Skills Involved

To achieve literal comprehension, students need to develop several key skills:

  • Vocabulary Knowledge: Understanding the meaning of words used in the text.
  • Main Idea Identification: Recognizing the central theme or main idea of a passage.
  • Detail Recognition: Noting specific details such as names, dates, places, and events.
  • Sequence of Events: Understanding the order in which events occur.
  • Fact Recall: Remembering and recounting facts stated directly in the text.

Classroom Application

In many classrooms, literal comprehension is the primary focus. Textbooks and teachers often emphasize questions that test students' ability to recall facts and details. For example, after reading a passage about the water cycle, students might be asked, "What are the stages of the water cycle?" or "What happens during evaporation?" These questions require students to remember information explicitly stated in the text.

While this focus on literal comprehension ensures that students have a basic understanding of the material, it can also limit their engagement with the text. When students are only asked to recall facts, they may not be encouraged to think critically or connect the material to broader concepts.

Enhancing Literal Comprehension

To enhance literal comprehension, educators can use a variety of strategies:
  • Pre-Reading Activities: Introduce key vocabulary and concepts before reading.
  • Guided Reading: Provide structured reading sessions where teachers guide students through the text, highlighting important details.
  • Graphic Organizers: Use tools such as story maps or charts to help students organize and remember information.
  • Repeated Reading: Encourage students to read the text multiple times to reinforce their understanding and recall of facts.

Inferential Comprehension

Definition and Importance

Inferential comprehension involves understanding ideas and information that are not explicitly stated in the text. This level of comprehension requires students to read between the lines, making connections and drawing conclusions based on clues provided by the author. Inferential comprehension is critical for deeper engagement with the text, as it allows students to grasp underlying meanings and implications.

Skills Involved

To develop inferential comprehension, students must cultivate several skills:
  • Contextual Clues: Using context to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases.
  • Connecting Ideas: Linking different parts of the text to form a cohesive understanding.
  • Drawing Conclusions: Making logical inferences based on the information provided.
  • Predicting Outcomes: Anticipating what might happen next based on clues in the text.
  • Understanding Implied Meaning: Recognizing themes, emotions, and messages that are not directly stated.

Classroom Application

Teachers can support the development of inferential comprehension by asking questions that encourage students to think beyond the text. For example, after reading a story about a character facing a challenge, a teacher might ask, "Why do you think the character made that decision?" or "What can you infer about the character's feelings?" These questions prompt students to use evidence from the text to support their inferences.

Inferential comprehension questions often require more thought and reflection than literal comprehension questions. As a result, they help students develop critical thinking skills and a deeper understanding of the material.

Enhancing Inferential Comprehension

To enhance inferential comprehension, educators can employ various strategies:

  • Think-Alouds: Model the thought process of making inferences by thinking aloud while reading a text.
  • Questioning Techniques: Use open-ended questions that require students to explain their reasoning and support their inferences with evidence from the text.
  • Discussion Groups: Encourage students to discuss their interpretations and inferences with peers, fostering collaborative learning.
  • Role-Playing: Have students act out scenes or scenarios from the text, helping them to explore characters' motivations and emotions.

Evaluative Comprehension

Definition and Importance

Evaluative comprehension involves analyzing and critically evaluating the text. This level of comprehension requires students to assess the quality and validity of the information, form opinions, and make judgments based on their analysis. Evaluative comprehension is essential for developing critical thinking skills and the ability to engage thoughtfully with texts.

Skills Involved

To develop evaluative comprehension, students need to acquire several skills:
  • Critical Analysis: Examining the text for accuracy, bias, and logical consistency.
  • Forming Opinions: Developing personal opinions and interpretations based on the text.
  • Evaluating Arguments: Assessing the strength and validity of arguments presented in the text.
  • Comparing Texts: Comparing and contrasting different texts to evaluate their relative merits.
  • Reflecting on Content: Considering the broader implications and significance of the text.

Classroom Application

In many classrooms, evaluative comprehension is not commonly emphasized. Students are often expected to accept information from textbooks and other sources without question. However, encouraging evaluative comprehension can help students become more critical and discerning readers.

Teachers can foster evaluative comprehension by asking questions that challenge students to think critically about the text. For example, after reading a persuasive article, a teacher might ask, "Do you agree with the author's argument? Why or why not?" or "What evidence does the author use to support their claims? Is it convincing?" These questions encourage students to analyze the text and form their own opinions.

Enhancing Evaluative Comprehension

To enhance evaluative comprehension, educators can use several strategies:

  • Debates: Organize classroom debates on topics related to the text, encouraging students to present and defend their viewpoints.
  • Critical Writing Assignments: Assign essays or opinion pieces that require students to critically evaluate and respond to the text.
  • Peer Reviews: Have students review and critique each other's work, fostering a collaborative and critical learning environment.
  • Media Literacy: Teach students to critically analyze various media sources, helping them to develop evaluative skills that extend beyond written texts.

Importance of Story Narration

Building Oral Language and Comprehension

Story narration is an excellent method for developing oral language skills and supporting reading comprehension. When children retell stories in their own words, they practice organizing their thoughts, using vocabulary, and making connections between different parts of the story. This process helps to reinforce their understanding and engage more deeply with the text.

Encouraging Creative Expression

Encouraging children to narrate stories also fosters creativity and imagination. Rather than repeating a story word-for-word, children should be encouraged to use their own language and add their own interpretations. This practice helps to build confidence and oral fluency, as well as enhance their ability to use inferential and evaluative comprehension skills.


Developing strong reading comprehension skills is essential for students to become proficient readers and critical thinkers. By focusing on literal, inferential, and evaluative comprehension, educators can help students engage more deeply with texts and develop a comprehensive understanding of the material. Deliberate instruction and practice in these areas, combined with activities such as story narration, can support students in becoming more effective and thoughtful readers.
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