Friday, 11 March 2016



Reading Comprehension is generally considered as the most difficult section in the tests. What really becomes important in this context is the approach that one should take towards this section. This section consists of passages from different backgrounds and questions based on them. There are no fixed topics for the passages. These passages are usually extracted from standard newspapers, magazines and general literature. Questions can be of several types requiring a clear understanding of the written word. The best way to go about developing RC skills is to increase one’s reading speed. To develop your reading speed, the best and perhaps the only way is a regular reading habit. You must regularly read at least one standard English newspaper and several English magazines. In order to improve performance in this section diverse reading is very important as the tests generally contain passages from fields as diverse as history and life sciences. If one is totally new to the subject it becomes difficult to grasp the meaning of the passage. Therefore, attempting the RC becomes a time taxing process. You should try to keep track of topics in use as generally one of the passages focuses on them. Going through good magazines and books helps to a great extent. Reading of editorial section of the newspaper, preferably national and economic dailies, is a must.

To begin with, you should realise your strengths and weaknesses and choose passages accordingly. It is quite natural that an individual is comfortable with certain themes or with some particular types of passages (i.e. descriptive, narrative, reflective, abstract, data-driven, analytical or a short story). You must keep your strengths in mind while choosing a passage. This manner of choosing and demarcating the passage / passages to leave out will be helpful especially if the RC is a weak section. 
So the first aspect that needs to be analysed is the selection of the passages and the order in which the passages are to be attempted.

As far as RC goes, it is a section where time allocation is of paramount importance. It is essential to keep track of the total time allocated to the section. You must also have a rough idea about the time that was allocated to each of the passages. You need to keep a check on whether you are devoting disproportionate amount of time to a particular passage or allowing a particular speed breaker question to fix you.

Secondly, one needs to analyse the type of question. Questions could be those which fairly direct or which need a certain level of thinking or reading between the lines. Some such questions would ask you to comment on the tone, theme, author etc. Keep a check on your accuracy level for the particular type of question.

Thirdly, one needs to stress that while reading a passage the emphasis should not be on memory but on understanding. It is very important to underline or mark some specific points and details using parentheses, other distinguishable marks and shorthand symbols. So obviously, a part of the analysis of this section would depend on the fact that you have correctly identified and segregated the relevant information. It may be useful to skim over the questions before one actually gets down to reading the passage.

Fourthly, observe if you are able to understand what the author is saying and are comfortable with the material. Try to understand the central idea of each paragraph.

Fifthly, the most common problem is of faltering concentration. It is therefore essential to understand your own concentration curve and why the concentration falters during a test. In most of the cases, concentration falters while approaching the end of passage.

So if you could understand as to why you are making mistakes, then you would be able to find a way to minimize the errors you were making.

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