Tips to Ace Reading Comprehension
Reading Comprehension is the ability to read the text, process it and understand its meaning. In addition, RCs are aimed at testing a candidates Knowledge of two elements i.e. Vocabulary and Text Comprehension.
And it is interesting to note that both these elements play a crucial role in the better understanding of the passage i.e. for understanding a text, one must have a better knowledge of Vocabulary. But what is more complex and varied out of the above two elements is Text Comprehension.
The current trend of questions that come in the RCs are an inference based i.e. the questions are not direct but one has to infer from the given passage. Also, there can be one or more conclusions given in the question which are true/false depending on what is asked in the question.
Now let’s move towards the Approach that one should follow while attempting RC in the exam.
The most common suggestion and approach is first read the entire passage and then answer the question that follows. Let’s discuss this approach in detail.
Try to make notes while solving/ reading RCs. It is crucial for locating the appropriate information and also acts as a mental bookmark, thus helping in a better understanding of the topic.
While making notes, one must look towards and identify the following things:
i) The subject of the passage – which/what is the precise thing the author, is talking about.
ii) The main idea of the passage – what the author is saying about the subject.
iii) The tone of the author of the passage - which is the manner the author has adopted in the passage.
As soon as one figure out the above three things and central point of the passage, one will be familiar with the gist [GI – general Idea + S – Structure + T- Tone] of the passage. This will also help you to build a thematic composition and logical sequence of the passage. Thus it enables you to answer questions from particular parts of the passage.
But this sole approach is beneficial for the ones who generally read very fast. Then what approach should one follow in an RC, below are some of the approaches that one must try.
1. Instead of reading the entire passage, read critically the first and last paragraph of the RC. Generally what the author is saying can be identified in the first few lines of the passage, which in case of longer passages becomes roughly 1/3rd of the passage. For the rest of the passage, examine hastily, what the author has said about the subject.
Also for longer passages, try to put down in 10-15 words, for each paragraph, what you feel are the central points of the passage.
2. The next thing in this approach is to identify the structural words that tell you the important Ideas or Transitions in a passage. These structural words play a specific role in a sentence and paragraph. The most common structural words are given below:
|Continuity Words||Contrast Words||Conclusion Words|
|In the same way||Although||In summary|
These three kinds of words describe three roles that words can play in a paragraph.
Continuity words: The author would support his point of view further.
Contrast words: The author would introduce a contrarian point of view.
Conclusion words: The author would sum up his argument so far.
3. Further, try to recognize the words that represent a positive and negative role in the passage. These words will let you decide whether the author is for or against the subject. A few examples of such words are given below:
|Positive Words||Negative Words|
Thus these words help you establish the motive of the author.
4. Whenever a question is asked on a phrase given in the passage, just read the three lines above and below that phrase to have an idea of what is implicit from that phrase.
5. There are around 4-6 questions based on Synonyms and Antonyms, these questions can be answered if you have a good vocabulary and if your vocabulary is not good, then read the sentence in which the word is used to get a rough idea of the meaning of the word.
Now let’s discuss how one should attempt the RC in the Exam. Generally, there are 2 ways in which an RC can be attempted which are given below:
1. PQ Approach (passage first, then the questions)
- Read the entire passage thoroughly first and then read the questions
- Skim & Scan through the passage and keep going back and forth with questions and passage
- Read the first 2 paragraphs, scan all the questions and see what you can answer, then read Paragraph 3 & 4, scan the questions and see what you can answer, then read Para 5& 6!!
2. QP approach (questions first, then the passage)
- Read all the questions with their answer options first and then the passage
- Read question 1 with all the options, then go through the entire passage to answer it. Then read question 2, go through the entire passage. Then question 3!
- Just read all the question stems, without reading the answer options. Then read the passage and try answering the questions by reading them with the options.
After practising all the above strategy and approach, here are some tips you must follow while attempting an RC.
1. Eliminate and not select: In most cases, elimination of choices work better than the selection of choices. Here is an approach to eliminate which is ‘BANE’. Eliminate choices that are too broad, too narrow, that are alien (Strange) and too extreme.
2. Never apply your own knowledge/assumption to the given passage. Confine your understanding to the given passage only.