This post is to guide students especially the secondary school ones on how to deal with problem relating to Comprehension. This post is essential or let me say a must-read for students that are ripe for WASSCE, GCE & NECO. Many students always tag comprehension with the ‘easy’ label but it’s still a pity that many students still fail comprehension in English Language.This aspect comes out every year and if you’ll follow this guide it would be profitable to you. Note that your comprehension carries 20 marks and that’s a lot of marks if you’ll ask me.
First of all, what is comprehension?
The word comprehension comes from the word ‘comprehend’. Checking your dictionary, comprehend means to understand a given passage. Therefore comprehension means reading a passage to get a perfect understanding about the text. Comprehension is used to check the level at which you understand a given text. In other word, it is used to determine how you’ve been able to interpret the text you have read.
While handling problems like this, first and foremost you’ll read the passage because all the answers to the questions is already in the text provided. Yours is to identify the answer from the text given. Though in higher studies the answer may not be provided to be copied and pasted on the answer sheet, there are some few common mistakes that I’ll like to show you.
Wrong use of tense
Wrong use of text is one of the major cause for failure in, not only in comprehension, but in Language generally. Most times, students should give their answer in past tense or in past participle. That is the tense you should use when answering questions relating to comprehension. You should note that this is not saying you should always give your answer in past tense or past participle. No, yours is to have a understanding about the use of tense.
Also you should know the topic ‘concord’. Concord is the agreement between the subject and the verb in a particular sentence. It is very important to always make sure your verb agrees with your subject otherwise. For examples using they is, we is, he are, she are etc in a sentence doesn’t make sense. From those examples above you’ll see the verb doesn’t agree with the subject and that make it to be senseless.
Wrong use of or not using punctuation marks
Another common mistakes people makes is wrong use of or not using punctuation marks while writing. Punctuation marks like full stop, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks, question marks and so on have their uses each and not using them at all or using them inappropriately might yield you rings of minus half in each case. Imagine somebody having twenty rings for wrong use of punctuation marks only.What will the outcome be?
Meaning of the underlined word
Another important aspect is when the examiner ask you the meaning of the underlined word from the passage. Some student who think they are smart would go ahead and copy dictionary meaning of those words. At times you might be lucky to get those meanings right but here the dictionary meaning wouldn’t work at all. What the examiner expect of you is to write the meaning that fit in to the context of the given passage. This meaning is called contextual meaning. For example, you are given a sentence like this: the pen is housed with a plastic case. Supposing ‘housed’ is underlined from the sentence and you are asked to give the meaning of the underlined word. Now writing dictionary meaning in this context will not fit, so you’ll find a word that will fit in to bring out what the writer means in the passage.
Knowing your grammatical class
In another case, you might be asked to find the grammatical class and functions of some underlined words in a sentence. Commonly they are always adverbial or adjectival phrase or clauses. You should have knowledge and be able to identify a phrase, clause, sentence before even knowing the grammatical class and functions. Grammatical class is asking you that is it adverbial, prepositional, adjectival phrase/clause etc and grammatical function is the function of the underlined word in the sentence. Generally we know adjective qualifies, adverb modifies – those are the things you’ll be asked to answer. You can refer to your text book for perfect understanding of this.
In addition, wrong spelling can also lead to failure. Generally in language they mark spelling errors therefore you must watch over your spellings so as to avoid errors.
In conclusion, some students like to use big grammars to impress the marker. That’s not a sin anyway but it’s important to note that the words you’ll use are the ones you know their meanings. It would rather pay you to write in a simple way than writing in an advance way and losing the whole thing. Best of luck in your next exam!