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Reading Comprehension at the Paragraph Level

  • iPad, iPhone
  • Paid
  • age 12+

About Reading Comprehension at the Paragraph Level

When it comes to Reading paragraphs, your approach to the texts is important. Certain Reading techniques can really help you get that target score. Read on to learn more about them.

Teacher Review

Skimming and Scanning: Your 2 Go-To Reading Techniques

Two of the most valuable approaches to an paragraph are skimming and scanning.

Skimming involves quickly looking through an entire paragraph from beginning to end. This Reading technique helps you get a general sense of the information in the paragraph. To skim a paragraph in reading, read the first sentence or two of each paragraph — this is where the main idea of each paragraph is. Then glance through the rest of each paragraph, looking for keywords that related to the opening sentences. Those keywords will give you an idea of the supporting details for each main idea. Check out our reading comprehension apps that focuses on reading strategies teachers work on every day. 

As a Reading technique, skimming gives you the broad context of the questions that follow the paragraph. However, once you get to the questions, you’ll still need to know specific details that you may not have found when you skimmed. This is where scanning comes in. To scan a reading paragraph, you look through the paragraph for specific information related to a question.

This valuable reading technique requires good knowledge of English vocabulary — you need to be able to quickly and easily recognize words that are related. If the question asks about, say, “conclusions made by scientists,” the related words in the text might be “results of the experiment.” As you scan, you need to understand the connection between word pairs like “scientists” and “experiment,” and “conclusions” and “results.”

To Read the paragraph First or not to Read the paragraph First? Two Possible Reading Techniques

You’ve probably heard some conflicting advice on whether you should look at the Reading paragraph first or go straight to the questions. So which is it?

This really depends a lot on your learning style. The “paragraph-first” technique works well for many test-takers, while plenty of other test-takers are more comfortable with “questions-first.”

In my own experience as a tutor, I’ve found most students do best with one of two techniques. You can skim the paragraph first and then scan for details as you go through the questions; this is basically the skim-scan approach I described above. Other students prefer to read the questions first and check the paragraph for each question; this technique is all scanning and no skimming.

I recommend trying both of those two techniques to see which one works best for you. The one Reading technique you should not use is fully reading the whole paragraph right away. This takes up a lot of time and is not really necessary. Not every single detail form the paragraph will appear in the questions.


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App Details


iPad, iPhone


Cognitive Development
Communication Skills
Academic Relevance


In-App Purchases - No


Learning Fundamentals, Inc.

Download Reading Comprehension at the Paragraph Level

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This app has 37 stories about adventures, activities, nature, and human interests. All require careful reading to comprehend and recall specific details in order to answer the comprehension questions that follow. The student is asked to determine the main idea of the story, answer some questions that rely on facts in the story, and make an inference that is supported by the story. At the end of each story, there is an open-ended question for discussion. The questions are multiple-choice and all questions have a written explanation as to why the correct answer is correct and the other answers are incorrect. The metacognitive skills acquired through this app will help the student learn from their mistakes and learn how to read for details and learn how to develop higher order thinking skills (HOTS).

This app is aimed at helping individuals who need extra practice with reading comprehension and learning how to recall specific details of stories. It is also appropriate for children and adults with traumatic brain injuries or stroke. Ideally, the student will work with a parent, teacher, or therapist while using the app. The mentor can guide the student’s reading strategies while using the app as a source of stories and questions.

You can read the stories in any order, but we have provided a default order based on complexity, vocabulary, and number of details.

As the students read the stories, they should focus on the details of the story. At the end of the story, they should pause and decide what the story was mostly about. The first question asks them to identify the main idea of the story. Then there are two questions about details in the story. These are often of the form, How Many, Who, Which, or Where. There are no trick questions in the app. However, there are answers that contain details from the story that are irrelevant to the question. These foils are intentionally placed to make sure the reader is reading for information and not just using recognition memory to answer the question.

Often the student gets a question wrong because they focus on a detail of the story. Sometimes they recognize words or numbers in the answers and choose an answer because the words are familiar. The popup explains why incorrect answers may appear to be correct. It also explains why the correct answer is, in fact, the right choice. After the student studies the explanation, they should read the question again and answer it using the knowledge gained from the explanation. If they want, the student can swipe back to the story and look for the answer in the story. An option lets the student choose to see the explanations after each answer is selected, rather than just after incorrect answers.

The last question requires that the student make inferences about the characters in the story. Based on the details and overall theme of the story, the student is asked to guess which of four statements is likely to be true. After the student answers, a popup explains why one answer is probably correct and the others are not as likely to be correct. Like the other questions, one answer is usually obviously incorrect. Two answers usually have have details from the story but are less likely to be true.

The app scores correct and incorrect answers and keeps track of the questions that were answered incorrectly. Results can be emailed or downloaded from iTunes.

Rationale: The paragraphs require multiple processing skills in attention, memory and comprehension. Some individuals may need to address comprehension at the word or sentence level, but the eventual goal is comprehension at the paragraph level. It requires visual discrimination, and reading comprehension. The developed higher level comprehension skills such as getting the main idea, inferring, predicting outcome, concluding consequences and evaluating the relevance of the material allow practice opportunities for improving reading comprehension and oral or written expressive language skills.

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