Comprehension of Sources

Stele of Minnakht. (c. 1321 BC)
"Stele of Minnakht" by Clio20. Used under CC BY-SA 3.0. Source:

Comprehension is the easiest of the critical thinking skills. It simply requires you to read a source and find what is explicit (plainly obvious) regarding what the source is saying. This works best with written documents. To ascertain easily what a source says, it is useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is this source trying to prove (e.g. what argument is it making)?

  2. What is a direct quote that shows this?

  3. What are the main points the source makes in order to make the argument? (Paraphrase the points as an indirect quote).

Demonstrating comprehension in your writing:


Smith says that “Akhenaten used artistic representations to influence the perceptions of the Egyptian populace” (1981, 31).


According to Smith, Akhenaten relied upon changes in Egyptian art to influence the Egyptian people (1981, 31).