Primary English Tips | Comprehension: Do you use TAPS?

 There are a few steps to this but we will get there. Let's walk this through. Source:  robhodgson

There are a few steps to this but we will get there. Let's walk this through. Source: robhodgson

In my earlier post on doing comprehension questions presented in the table form, I talked about the necessity to ensure that there is no lifting and the answer is grammatically accurate. Today, I am going to introduce TAPS, a rather common method used for checking of answers to open-ended questions in comprehension. 

TAPS stands for:





How can TAPS be used to check the answers in comprehension?


First and foremost, the child should have already circled and identified the tense used in the question. (e.g. Where did Alice see the cat?) With awareness of the tense, look through the answer to see that all verbs are used in the correct tense. This is especially important when the answer from the passage had been in the form of a direct speech or when the answer is required pupils to give their own opinions on an incident.


There are two parts to checking the answer. 

1) Did you lift an answer?

An answer is considered to have been lifted if it was copied and pasted from the first word to the full stop with no change at all. Lifting is an immediate 0 mark unless the questions requires a sentence or phrase to be given.

2) Did you answer the question?

"Tom's mother made pizza that night. "

If this is the answer, what would the question have possibly been? "What did Tom's mother cook that night?" Actually, the original question was, "What did Tom had for dinner?" and the answer should be "Tom had pizza for dinner." The answer above is a classic example of how a child knows where the answer is but is not answering the question.

Pupils need to check whether they have crafted their answers such that they had answered the question. One way to do that is for pupils to cover the questions and based on their answers, come up with a question during checking. If the question they came up with match that given, then there is a good chance the child has answered the question. This is a skill that needs to be practised repeatedly under guidance and will aid pupils when they have acquired it.


You will be surprised to know that one of the most common punctuation errors is the omission of full stop at the end. Be cautious and put that full stop at the end of the sentence. It costs 1/2 mark each time and a few missing dots will come at a high price. Other punctuation errors include missing upper case and also commas for very long sentences.


This is an easy one to check and precisely because it is easy to check, children often assume they are right and do not put in the effort to refer to the passage for the words. Every effort pays off, please make it a point to spend that extra few minutes to check the spelling against the words in the passage!

Out of the four elements, I would think that only "answer" requires practice and skill to be accurate. The other three elements just require caution and the right attitude. Try out this systematic method of checking your work today by writing down TAPS beside your answer after checking each element.

Lily Chew

An English tutor on a mission to educate children; a blogger with a passion to share and grow the love of English with the world.