i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Comprehension Skills

Own Your Learning

What are your strongest and weakest school subjects? What if I narrowed the question down to your strengths and weaknesses in English? Can you specify a skill to improve to get a higher grade in reading comprehension exams?

Not many people can. Many students depend on teachers to tell them what they need to learn and help them pinpoint exactly where to improve. Very rarely do I come across a student who is able to accurately assess their own language strengths and weaknesses. And yet, having the ability to think about and analyse one’s own learning (also known as ‘metacognition’) is what ultimately separates average learners from excellent ones. It is only when you can assess your learning and make conscious efforts to improve that you really own your learning.

Learning Process of Metacognitive Learners:

Assess learning (pinpoint weakness) → Develop strategy → Apply strategy → Evaluate strategy → Make adjustments if needed

So how do you develop your metacognitive skills? Let’s use reading comprehension as an example.

Keep the wheels in your head turning while you’re reading. Do you understand what you’re reading? What is the main idea of the passage? If you aren’t sure, figure out the reason why. Be an active reader.

Make associations. Even if what you’re reading isn’t interesting, try to find ways to connect it to your life. It could be a funny meme you just scrolled past on Instagram or a memorable scene from your favourite  drama. If you enjoy what you read or find it personally relevant, you’ll make a greater effort to understand it.

Get yourself a mistakes book. Go through completed reading comprehension exercises and study the questions you got wrong. Is there a pattern? Do those questions test a specific reading skill? Mark them down in your book and tackle them one by one.

Developing this skill may seem cumbersome at first, but with more practice, it will become second nature. Start today!