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Interpretive Comprehension — Vocabulary Overview

Interpretive meaning is often hidden throughout the text and requires the use of inference and understanding the relationship between events and characters or causes and consequences. Readers need to link like information to fully understand the text. Sometimes these relationships can be stated and are often found near causal words such as because, so and therefore. Information may need to be linked from sentence to sentence, across paragraphs or chapters, and is often referred to as information that is given 'between the lines'.

Connecting Literal Information

To answer more complex questions, students may need to connect literal ideas in sentences by searching for information in text, illustrations or graphs. If no interpretation is required to locate the information, students are employing literal comprehension skills. Where students need to connect information that is directly stated in the text and there needs to be an understanding that particular information belongs together, this is classed as an interpretive question.

Identifying key words, skim reading and scanning will help students to locate and connect information efficiently.

Key words

Key words are the content words that carry the most meaning in a text. Students can underline or highlight the key words.


Skimming is reading quickly through a text to get the gist or main idea. Students can skim read by looking at headings and sub-headings, pictures, diagrams, captions, any italicised or bold words, and the first and last paragraphs of the text.


Scanning is reading to locate particular elements or specific details in a text, such as key concepts, names, dates or certain information in answer to a question. Students can scan by looking through the text to locate key words to find the specific information quickly.

Vocabulary Interpretive

Interpreting information often requires readers to understand the vocabulary in the text. They may need to link words that have similar meaning or ideas, understand words that link ideas and synthesise ideas using word meanings to assist analysis of texts. Information may need to be linked from sentence to sentence or across paragraphs and is often referred to as information that is given between the lines.