Secondary 1 English Singapore: Exclusive Tips To Build Your Fictional Comprehension Passage Skills

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Most Secondary 1 English students do not know the full extent of the comprehension paper.

For those who are in the Secondary 1 year, please take note that the fiction comprehension or narrative passage can be a new challenge.


Firstly, the narrative passages in Secondary 1 English are longer with more content.

But that is not all.

Secondly, that content has undertones in the narrative. This really means that there are hidden meanings in the words and you will have to read between the lines.

And that brings me to the third point.

Thirdly, the author’s state of mind or intention is the basis for many of the questions.

These are popular Secondary 1 English questions which means that you will always have to know what the author is intending to say, not so much as saying.

And this is something you would not have done before.

Quite a task isn’t it? I mean focusing on all these 3 perspectives in Secondary 1 English comprehension passages can take up quite a bit of time.

But that is not all.

Yes, really.

Fourthly, you will have to look into implication or suggestion questions.

You must be thinking that these are similar to inference questions which you may have done before. Probably but not quite.

These ‘suggestion’ questions ask you to compare different points of view and give your opinion on them. And these questions appear in all passages without fail.

Ok, you must be thinking by now that these ‘fictional comprehension’ passages are straight out of hell.

Erm, I wouldn’t quite put it that way but there are ways of dealing with such ‘fictional passages’ so that you can manage the questions with relative ease.

Let me tell you why most Secondary 1 English students find these passages a great challenge.

The simple reason is that they are usually extracts from novels. Yes, novels or story books.

That is how exam setters choose these passages.

Why Do Exam Setters Love To Set These Types Of Questions In Secondary 1 English Paper?

These passages are chosen based on their content in terms of juxtaposition of the protagonist with a situation which is ripe for action or where there are several red flags signalling that all is not well.

Ok, so exactly what is so special about them?

Such extracts from novels allow for such questions where ‘suggestion’ questions, ‘what the author is thinking’ questions and vocabulary questions based on how these intentions or descriptions of the situation are relayed.

Fictional passages such as these pave the way for several questions meant to assess your understanding in these areas:

I) Intuitive skills in understanding the train of events

II) Ability to understand words and phrases used

III) Ability to understand hidden meanings

These are important tools needed in the appraisal of any narrative passage. 

It means that the successful completion of such Secondary 1 English questions will place the student in that realm of being really articulate in the English language. 

And that is what you will be preparing for in Secondary 1 English till you reach Secondary 4, the O level year.

All O level papers focus on these skills and students need to start learning them from Secondary 1.

All right, you may say. But is the secondary 1 English paper entirely different from secondary 4? After all, Secondary 1 should be easier.

No and Yes.

No. You will not be doing a paper which is entirely different. 

The basic structure of the paper is still there. Comprehension passages with several questions assessing the skills mentioned above will be there. It will not be that different from the skills needed for the O level paper.

Yes. It should be easier. The level of Secondary 1 English difficulty will not be the same as in the O level year of course.

Ok, so you can breathe a little now.

That is the good news.

How To Tackle The ‘Fictional Comprehension’ Passages?

This is the most important part of my blog. The ‘how’ question.

Other than practising as much as you can, there are certain steps which you can take on your own.


Get acquainted with as many phrases which imply a more diverse way of thinking. You can find these phrases in the newspapers, novels and even news channels such as CNN and CNA.


When you read something, do not just scan the words but really read it. Toss the ideas in your mind and ask yourself what the author is trying to say. If you are not sure, ask your tutor or look up Google (though I am not sure that can be a help always).


After acquainting yourself with the phrases as mentioned in step 1 and pondering the ideas as mentioned in step 2, you really need to USE them.

You will need to use those words and ideas in your daily writing or even in your verbal communications. You may choose to write a message in Facebook in one of your posts or in Instagram where you may reply to someone.

Social Media gives us a wonderful opportunity to communicate. 

Use these words to communicate and it can be a newly discovered tool of yours to exclaim to the world that you exist.

Come on now, give it a try and make sure that you do it today! Time and tide waits for no man or woman.

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