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Reading Comprehension is the ability to read the text, process it and understand its meaning. In addition, Reading Comprehension s are aimed at testing a candidate’s 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 a 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 Reading Comprehension is 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.
Approaches to Solve Reading Comprehension
Now let’s move towards the approach that one should follow while performing a Reading Comprehension in the exam.
The most common suggestion and approach is first to read the entire passage and then answer the question that follows. Firstly let’s discuss this approach in detail.
Try to make notes while solving/ reading Reading Comprehension (RC). 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:
- Subject of the passage –which/what is the precise thing the author is talking about.
- Main idea of the passage– what the author is saying about the subject.
- 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 enabling 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 a Reading Comprehension, below are some of the approaches that one must try.
1. Instead of reading the entire passage, read the first and last paragraph of the RC critically. 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, passage examines 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:
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:
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 Reading Comprehension (RC) questions in the Exam. Generally, there are two ways in which a Reading Comprehension can be attempted, which are given below:
P-Q 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 Para 3 & 4, scan the questions and see what you can answer, then read Para 5& 6!!
Q-P 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.
Some Examples (How to Solve)
1. Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to the question. Answer the question on the basis of what is stated or implied in this passage.
Experienced truck drivers often travel in a convoy–a group of trucks that are travelling to the same part of the country. Convoys can help truckers to stay alert.
The author implies that professional long-distance truck drivers may avoid travelling alone because:
- They might drive too fast.
- They want to arrive before anyone else.
- Accidents happen more frequently to lone truck drivers than to car drivers who travel alone.
- Long-distance travel can cause drowsiness.
2. Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to the question.
Huge beasts such as the dinosaur have never really become extinct. Mothra, a giant caterpillar who later becomes a moth, destroys Tokyo, and stars in the 1962 Japanese film named for him. Mothra is born, dies, and reborn regularly on classic movie channels. In Japan, Mothra is one of the most popular films ever made. Mothra has survived the creation of more current scary creatures such as giant apes, extraterrestrial beings, and swamp creatures. More than 30 years after his creation, Mothra still lives.
The main subject of the passage is:
- the reasons that fads do not endure
- the lasting appeal of Mothra
- the difficulty of marketing good horror movies
- old models for creatures are still used because making new monsters is expensive
3. Two underlined sentences are followed by a question or statement. Read the sentences and then choose the best answer to the question or the best completion of the statement.
Anxious to ensure that America would depart from European traditions regarding religion and royalty, the early U.S. could be described as a place that focused more on work than on the entertainment offered by spectacle and ceremony in the Old World.
However, national celebrations such as the lighting of the White House Christmas Tree and the ceremonies used to swear in new federal officials give the American people some experiences that are based upon national tradition.
What does the second sentence do?
- It cancels the meaning of the first.
- It provides an example of the first sentence.
- It adds more detail to the first sentence.
- It offers an exception to the information given in the first sentence.
4. Read the passage below and choose the best answer to the question.
The Earthʹs past climate–including temperature and elements in the atmosphere has recently been studied by analyzing ice samples from Greenland and Antarctica. The air bubbles in the ice have shown that, over the past 160,000 years, there has been a close correlation between temperature changes and level of natural greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. One recent analysis from Greenland showed that at the end of the last glacial period (when the great ice sheets began to retreat to their present position), temperatures in southern Greenland rose from 5 to 7 degrees in about 100 years.
Air bubbles are not the only method of determining characteristics of the Earthʹs ancient climate history. Analysis of dust layers from ancient volcanic activity is another such method, as is the study of ice cores, which interpret past solar activity that may have affected our climate.
This passage states that:
- the Greenhouse effect is destroying the planetʹs atmosphere.
- Temperatures in Greenland have been unusually stable over the past 100 years.
- There is more than one kind of information that scientists can use to determine the characteristics of the Earthʹs early climate.
- Solar energy is the wave of the future.
5. Two passages are followed by a question or statement. Read the passages, then choose the best answer to the question or the best completion of the statement.
Before video cameras were widely used, home and business owners had to rely only on written reports and photos as a way to document their valuables for insurance purposes. This form of documentation was difficult for some insurance policyholders. They found it was easy to lose lists, forget to add new items they purchased, or delete items they no longer had. As a result, these insurance inventories were often inaccurate.
While videotaping is not an option for every home or business owner, this kind of insurance documentation is helpful for some.
How are these passages related?
- They repeat the same idea.
- They contradict one another.
- They compare two forms of written documentation.
- They present a problem and a solution.
6. Two underlined sentences are followed by a question or a statement. Read the sentences and then choose the best answer to the question or the best completion of the statement.
Public speaking is very different from everyday conversation.
First of all, speeches are much more structured than a typical informal discussion.
How are these sentences related?
- Sentence two offers support for the statement made in the first sentence.
- Sentence two contradicts the statement made in the first sentence.
- Sentence two shows an exception to the first sentence.
- Sentence two compares two kinds of speeches.
7. Answer the question on the basis of what is stated or implied in these passages.
French physicist Charles Fabry found ozone gas in the atmosphere in 1913. At room temperature, ozone is a colourless gas; it condenses to a dark blue liquid at -170 F. At temperatures above the boiling point of water, 212 F, it decomposes.
Ozone is all around us. After a thunderstorm, or around electrical equipment, ozone is often detected as a sharp odour. Ozone is used as a strong oxidizing agent, a bleaching agent, and to sterilize drinking water. This gas is also highly reactive. For example, rubber insulation around a carʹs spark plug wires will need to be replaced eventually, due to the small amounts of ozone produced when electricity flows from the engine to the plug.
These passages imply that:
- Ozone is the result of pollution.
- High ozone levels in the atmosphere will cause large numbers of people to buy new car batteries.
- Ozone has no practical uses.
- Ozone is a natural part of the Earthʹs atmosphere.
8. Read the passages below and then choose the best answer to the question. Answer the question on the basis of what is stated or implied in these passages.
Many people who have come close to death from drowning, cardiac arrest or other causes have described near-death experiences–profound, subjective events that sometimes result in dramatic changes in values, beliefs, behaviour, and attitudes toward life and death. These experiences often include a new clarity of thinking, a feeling of well being, a sense of being out of the body, and visions of bright light or mystical encounters. Such experiences have been reported by an estimated 30 to 40 per cent of hospital patients who were revived after coming close to death and about 5 per cent of adult Americans in a nationwide poll. Near-death experiences have been explained as a response to a perceived threat of death (a psychological theory); as a result of biological states that accompany the process of dying (a physiological theory); and as a foretaste of an actual state of bliss after death (a transcendental theory).
The primary purpose of this passage is to:
- express disbelief in the afterlife
9. Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to the question on the basis of what is stated or implied in these passages.
In most cases, little birds lay little eggs. The kiwi is an astonishing exception to this rule–it is a smallish bird that lays a big egg. The kiwi, a flightless bird found in New Zealand, weighs about four pounds, and its egg weighs, believe it or not, about one pound. That is one-fourth of the birdʹs body weight! If an ostrich laid an egg that was in the same
proportion to the ostrich as the kiwi egg is to the kiwi; an ostrich egg would weigh a whopping seventy-five pounds instead of the usual three pounds.
Which statement below best describes the organizational method used in this passage?
10. Jazz is a peculiarly American contribution to Western culture. It was born out of the unique experience of American Blacks. Although its history is not entirely clear, jazz obviously has roots in the rhythm patterns and melodic lines of Africa, the tradition of Christian spirituals as sung by slave communities, the music of the blues as developed in the Deep South, and ragtime.
According to this passage, one can conclude that:
- Jazz is the sole Black contribution to Western culture.
- There is some difficulty tracing the origin of jazz.
- Jazz is most closely related to spiritual music.
- Jazz is not a complex musical form.
11. Read the statements below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
Sometimes when we donʹt get enough sleep, we become very short-tempered. It is important to set a time to go to bed that is realistic.
How are these two sentences related?
- The first sentence explains the meaning of the second.
- The second sentence explains why a lack of sleep affects us.
- The second sentence proposes a solution.
- The second sentence contradicts the first.
12. Read the statements below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
Most people collect Star Wars toys for sentimental reasons. Some people collect them strictly to make money.
What is the relationship between the two sentences?
- cause and effect
- statement & example
13. Answer the question based on what is stated or implied.
There are two kinds of jewellery that I do. There is commercial jewellery–class rings, necklaces, the kinds of things most people wear. I sell these items to meet my expenses for raw materials, supplies, and to make my living. The other, more creative work I do makes me feel that I am developing as a craftsperson.
The author of this passage implies that:
- Artists are poor.
- There is no market for creative work.
- Commercial and creative work fulfils different needs for the artist.
- Rings and necklaces can not be creative.
14. Some actors and rock stars are paid almost 100 times as much per year as school teachers. Not to downgrade the role of entertainment in our lives, but these people are not a valuable social resource that educators are. As another example, professional athletes earn vastly more than the nation’s firefighters. Again, there is little doubt that the lower-paid group contributes a more vital function to communities. Finally, dress designers, who can make up to $50,000 for a gown, far out-earn police officers, whose very presence makes our cities and towns livable.
Based on this passage, the earning power in our society:
- is subject to staggering inflation.
- Does not relate to one’s usefulness in society.
- Is the highest among those whose achievements are the greatest.
- Should be highest among actors and rock.
15. Read the statements below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
Jenny does not like cake. She does not like to bake it, to ice it, or to eat it.
What does the second sentence do?
- It states the cause of the first
- It compares the three things Jenny does not like about cake.
- It draws a conclusion about Jenny.
- It emphasizes what is stated in the first.
16. Read the sentences below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
When we write a check that we know is going to ʺbounceʺ, we are in fact performing a criminal act. It is a crime to knowingly write a ʺhotʺ check, one we know we donʹt have sufficient funds to cover.
What does the second statement do?
- It provides supporting evidence for the first statement.
- It restates the central idea of the first sentence.
- It draws a conclusion from the first sentence.
- It provides a contradictory point of view.
17. Read the statements below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
The new Dance Tunes CD has proved to be very popular. It has sold 80,000 copies over the last year.
How are these two sentences related?
- The first sentence explains the meaning of the second.
- The second sentence provides evidence of the first.
- The second sentence explains why the CD is popular.
- The first sentence contradicts the second.
18. Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
Before the invention of automobiles and aeroplanes, travel was a slow process. When travelling long distances, families would be out of communication until the travellers reached their destination. Sometimes people lost touch with each other permanently.
The author would most likely continue the passage with which of the following sentences?
- Aeroplanes make travel more fun.
- Driving a car helps families stay in touch.
- Cars can be used to travel comfortably.
- Advances in communication have helped travellers stay in communication.
19. Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
Scuba diving is the most exhilarating experience I have ever had. The first time I went, the dark mirror of the water beckoned me to drop from the side of the boat. I jumped feet first and entered a brightly coloured world populated with fish, plants, and objects I had never dreamed of.
Which of the following best describes the mood of the author after having this experience?
20. Read the passage below and then choose the best answer to the question from the list of lettered choices that follow.
Did you know that a half-gallon milk container holds about $50.00 in pennies? While all investment counsellors realize that we must accumulate money in order to save, most recommend different kinds of investments for people who are in different stages of life. Older investors, those with limited funds to invest, or people with greater financial and family commitments, should take fewer risks. Younger, wealthier, and unmarried investors can afford to venture into the unknown.
Which of the following best describes the main idea of this passage?
- A penny saved is a penny earned
- Old people have the most money.
- Our ages and stage of life are part of what determines the investments that are best for us.
- Young people should concentrate on collecting pennies.
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To get efficiency in solving the questions related to Reading Comprehension, you must practice on a regular basis. Practice makes you efficient in solving the questions within the time frame. You can use books related to general English for competition, especially for Reading Comprehension.