What Are The Levels of Comprehension? | Iris Reading
What Are The Levels of Comprehension?

What Are The Levels of Comprehension?

What Are The Levels of Comprehension?

Comprehension is the process of understanding what is being read or heard. It involves decoding the text or audio and making sense of it. Comprehension can be difficult but can be improved on with practice.

Generally speaking, there are three primary levels of comprehension, and they include:

  1. Literal level comprehension
  2. Inference level comprehension
  3. Evaluative level comprehension

When we talk about comprehension, it goes beyond reading; it also includes listening to an audio, video, or being present in an event and comprehending the situation in that particular event. However, in this article, we will focus more on reading comprehension.

Comprehension is an essential skill that students and working professionals need to understand events or reading materials, etc. When a student or professional comprehends a text or a situation accurately, they can understand, identify the main points and provide answers to questions from a textbook or events.

Levels of comprehension vary from person-to-person depending on their level of education, experience, and the complexity of the subject.

Comprehending any subject requires an in-depth study of a topic or event.

Today’s post will discuss the three primary levels of comprehension, including some other sublevels not highlighted above.

Let’s begin!

Level One: Literal Comprehension

Literal comprehension means understanding a text, including facts, ideas, vocabulary, events, and stated information.

It involves getting specific answers to questions or information gathering for questions that start with “what, where, when, who,” etc.

For example:

  • Who took Sandra’s pen?
  • What did Sandra do when she realized that her pen was missing?
  • Where did Ariel go to live at the end of the story?

Literal comprehension requires direct and explicit answers to questions extracted from a text.

Literal comprehension is an essential ability because it serves as a building block to the more advanced levels of comprehension. 

The literal level of comprehension requires some abilities that are necessary for comprehending any text or statement in general, and they include:

  • The ability to understand what a sentence is saying without analyzing it.
  • The ability to understand the literal meaning of words.
  •  The ability to understand the literal meaning of sentences.

To develop the above-highlighted abilities and extract answers from any document seamlessly, as a student or working professional, you have to develop literal comprehension skills such as keywording, skim reading, and scanning. These skills will enable you to locate and use information more quickly.

At the literal level, you can recall the information explicitly stated in the material.

The ability to quickly skim and scan a large volume of materials and extract or recall essential information from the document is a vital productivity skill that literal comprehension offers.

At Iris Reading, we have speed reading courses that can help you acquire the ability to extract information and answers from a large volume of materials faster. Feel free to check it out here.

Level Two: Inference Comprehension

Inferential comprehension is the ability to make valid inferences from the facts and information received or found in a text. At this level, you must read between the lines to understand the texts in the reading material. It involves understanding the facts even if not explicitly stated in the reading material.

It explores answers to questions that begin with “Why and How” because such questions have to get their implied meaning answered or comprehended. 

There are several different types of inferences, categorized as generalizations, comparisons, conclusions, assumptions, predictions, inferences of cause and effect, etc.

For example:

  • Why did Mike want to be awarded the most productive worker of the year?
  • How did Mike react when he saw that the recognition of the most productive worker of the year was awarded to Thomas?

The answer to the first question highlighted above requires inferences based on assumptions on why Mike wants to be the most productive worker of the year. 

Now such inferences or conclusions may be based on facts or opinions.

The second question requires comparing how Mike acted when he thought he would be the year’s most productive worker and how he reacted when he lost the recognition to Thomas.

Level Three: Evaluative Comprehension

Evaluative comprehension requires a deeper understanding of the topic or event. It involves analyzing and weighing an event or an author’s intent, opinion, language, and style of presentation. 

It also includes evaluating the appropriateness of the author’s devices in achieving his aim and then making inferences based on the fact or idea implied in the event or reading material.

For example:

  • How did Mike feel about losing the recognition award to Thomas?
  • If you were Mike, how would you have reacted?

Evaluative comprehension can be applied to one’s performance at work or school, including others, in case you hold a supervisory role.

It involves making extrapolations or conclusions on material or events. The evaluation can be positive, negative, or neutral. 

Evaluative comprehension also involves understanding the implications of the evaluation. For example, Thomas was evaluated as the most productive worker of the year, so he might understand that the assessment is positive and take pride in it. 

However, if Thomas had been evaluated as unproductive, he might have realized that the review was negative and felt embarrassed.

By the way, you can sign up Personal Productivity course. It is a video-based training course that has helped working professionals and students in thousands and can help you with your productivity and comprehension strategies.

Level Four: Reorganization Comprehension

Reorganization comprehension is based on a literal understanding of reading material or event and then using information gained from various parts of the material or event and rearranging them into new patterns that integrate them into your idea for further understanding.

Reorganization comprehension requires some creativity and curiosity. It also requires an ability to analyze, digest, evaluate and come up with a unique view of a situation or event.

For example:

  • What could have been the consequence if Mike had been recognized as the year’s worker instead of Thomas?

Level Five: Appreciative  Comprehension

Comprehension goes beyond merely decoding the text or audio and making sense of it. It also involves giving reactions and thoughts about material or events based on a deeper understanding of the situation or text.

The appreciative level of comprehension fits here as it requires reading beyond the lines and involves recognizing the author’s philosophy and purpose of reading material. 

The philosophies are not stated explicitly but are implied in the text and involve having an emotional response and reflections on the material.

To get to the appreciative level of comprehension means that a reader fully understands the literal meaning of the reading material, has carefully evaluated the situation and can use the ideas gathered and apply them to real-life events or similar conditions.

For example:

  • How would you feel if you were in Mike’s shoes and had lost the recognition award to a colleague at your workplace?
  • Do you think awarding the recognition to Thomas instead of Mike was appropriate?

You can see that from the questions asked; the answers will require an appreciative level of comprehension as the answers are not found in the text or event but from the reader or observer.


As you can see from the levels of comprehension discussed above, comprehending a text or events, as the case may be, is a crucial skill a student or any working-class person should have. Also important is the ability to comprehend information fast.

Comprehension can be challenging, especially for people with learning disabilities. So they find it tasking to build up skills that take them beyond reading the text to reading between and beyond the text, which is a more advanced level of comprehension.

As mentioned earlier, comprehension is an essential skill that both students and professionals should have if they want to be productive. 

Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to improve your comprehension ability, one of them being to learn how to read fast

Learning comprehension skills or improving on them is not limited to people who have difficulty comprehending. Any proactive student or professional should always look for opportunities to enhance their comprehension levels.

At Iris, we have the Advanced Comprehension and Memory Course that can help you improve your comprehension level and build up the skills to read fast, understand quicker and remember longer. This course can help you just as it has helped thousands, including students and working professionals.

You can sign up for the Advanced Comprehension and Memory Course today.

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  • Shahrzad

    This devision of comprehension

  • Leo Fauma

    Thanks as it is very clear