Expository texts contain rhetorical devices that help readers to connect text ideas (within a text and with prior knowledge) and to monitor reading. Rhetorical competence addresses readers' skill in detecting, understanding and using these devices. We examined the contribution of rhetorical competence to reading comprehension on two groups of 11- to 13-year-old students: low-level (Study 1) and high-level (Study 2) reading skills. The measures of rhetorical competence assessed students' knowledge about anaphors, organisational signals and refutations. In both studies, each measure of rhetorical competence contributed significantly to reading comprehension once prior knowledge, working memory and decoding skills were controlled for. This contribution was higher in Study 2. Furthermore, whereas in Study 1, each measure of rhetorical competence had a unique contribution to reading comprehension when controlling for the other measures of rhetorical competence, in Study 2, only the knowledge about organisational signals and refutations had this unique contribution.