3 Tips to Secure More Marks in Visual Text Comprehension (VTC)!




What do you think the purpose of this poster is? When must you register by? Is it true if I say that you must email in to register for a space at the workshop?

Hello, everyone! The workshop for making steamed glutinous rice with chicken is not real, but you might receive similar posters like that for visual text comprehension (VTC)!

In addition, the questions above are equally relevant to VTC.

Students should aim to score full marks for VTC. This is because this section tends to be more straightforward as the answers can all be found in the visual text.

However, if you find that you are still losing at least 3 marks in this section, then you should read on to find out how you can secure more marks!


1. Read and eliminate!

“Which of the following statements is true/ false?”

There is usually at least one of such questions in VTC. Always remember that for one option to be correct, the other options will all be wrong. In order to tackle them accurately, you should do the following:

  1. Read the question carefully to see if the question is asking for a true or false statement.

  2. Read each option carefully. Often, the small details in an option make it true or false. Underline the detail that does not add up.

  3. Practise elimination by checking each option against the poster. Instead of placing ticks and crosses, Label “T” or “F” after checking each option to avoid confusing yourself.

Let’s take a look at an example question, based on the steamed glutinous rice workshop poster above!


For this question above, we should read and eliminate. Let’s practise the 3 steps!

First, I will read the question carefully. By doing so, I notice that the question is asking for a true statement.

Next, I will look at the options. Instead of looking at all 4 together, I will read each option closely. 

For Option 1, the detail ‘register for the event by 22 October 2018’ does not match the poster. Hence, I will underline these details and label ‘F’ to indicate that the statement is false.

For Option 2, ‘Ms. Tan Kah Kee will teach participants’ is wrong because the poster mentions that it is Chef Low who taught participants. Hence, I will underline these details in the option and label ‘F’.

For Option 3, ‘Mr Chua C.K’ is wrong because the poster mentions that it is ‘Mr Phua C.K’. This small detail has made the statement false!

As for Option 4, it matches the poster as the poster states that the workshop is only held on 23 October 2018, making it a one-day event. Label this statement as ’T’ to indicate that it is true.


2. Know the meanings of common time expressions

Questions may ask you how often an event occurs, or when the deadline to register for an event is. In such cases, you will need to understand the meaning of certain time expressions in order to be accurate. Let’s take a look at some confusing ones!

1. biennial / biannual / annual 

Do these words look the same to you? Well, they all involve years but in different ways!

Biennial = happening once every two years

E.g. This is a biennial event. Since it was last held in 2017, the next time will be in 2019.

Biannual = happening twice a year (Bi = twice; annual = a year)

E.g. The festival is held biannually, once in January and once in December.

Annual = once a year

E.g. The workshop is conducted annually. Since you missed it this year, you will have to wait till next year.

In order to remember the difference between biennial and biannual, just remember:

Bi = twice; annual = a year

Hence, biannual means ‘twice a year’. So, ’biennial’ cannot have the same meaning! 

To learn more about the essential vocabulary for visual text, check here.

2. by / before

“Please register for the event by 18 October 2018.”

“Please register for the event before 18 October 2018.”

In the above sentences, one different word has caused the deadline for registration to differ!

‘By’ is an inclusive term: the deadline would include the date behind ‘by’.

Before’ is an exclusive term: the deadline is one day before the date behind ‘before’.

“Please register for the event by 18 October 2018.” —> You can still register on 18 October 2018.

“Please register for the event before 18 October 2018.” —> The last day of registration is 17 October 2018.

3. Look for the MAIN PURPOSE OF THE POSTER (not a specific event mentioned in the poster) in the right place

“The main aim of this flyer is to…”

Questions on the main purpose of the poster or advertisement are very common. However, students still tend to answer such questions wrongly because they might focus on the wrong section of the poster in order to answer them.

How do we answer questions on the purpose accurately? Well, here are 2 ways!

A. Read the title of the poster



For every poster or advertisement, the title is in the largest font on the page. This is done in order to grab the reader’s attention and provide an idea of what the poster is about. Hence, reading the title of the poster will let you know what the overall purpose of the poster is. 

In the example above, the title ‘The House of Cards’ is the name of a store. By knowing this, it is likely that the purpose of the poster is related to getting people to visit the store.

However, do not jump to conclusions based on the title alone! You should also look for textual clues and details that point to the purpose of the poster. What are these clues? Continue reading below!

B. Look for verbs that get you to carry out some action after reading the poster

Frequently, the purpose of a poster is to get you to carry out some action. This means that the purpose can be stated in the form of a verb.


In this example above, the verb ‘visit’ tells us that the poster aims to get readers to visit the store. Other than visiting a place, common calls-to-action in posters include:

  1. Attending/ Participating in an event (Possible action words: Come and join us; Sign up now)

  2. Learning a new skill (Possible action words: Learn how to…; Pick up a new skill)

  3. Doing one’s part in a meaningful activity (Possible action words: Do your part; Be a volunteer)

Do take note that there will be many verbs being used in just one poster. So, which verbs would help point us to the purpose of the entire poster? 

Well, the verb must be used in the context of the whole poster, not just one section of it. In addition, such verbs will usually be used near the top or at the end of the poster in order to leave a lasting message to the readers.

Do remember to check that the title and the textual clues match in terms of pointing to the overall purpose of a poster before deciding on your answer!

With that, we have come to the end of this post. All the best for your SA2! I hope that these clues will be helpful when you are attempting VTC in the examinations!


Ms. Quek

Ms. Quek is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. She is dedicated to helping her students do well in the language through a focus on the learning process. As an educator, she believes in creating a nurturing and stimulating environment for students to learn.

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