One question that constantly plagues every student's mind is - How to improve in reading comprehensions? You have to admit, Reading Comprehension questions are a tricky ball game. RC passages can be time consuming, energy sapping and information intensive. On the other hand, the rewards they offer are fascinating: if you grasp a passage well, you should be able to get most questions in a single passage correct, and this means you gain quite a few marks by solving one set of questions. At the best of times, you are likely to find a passage that you have never read previously. One of the most significant factors for solving reading comprehensions and being accurate in this area actually revolves around the approach you adopt for this topic. How do you cope with such a challenge actually becomes a central aspect of how you perform in reading comprehensions.
While ensuring that you strike a fine balance for this area, it is important that you keep a number of things in your mind and ensure you do not fall into the common pitfalls. With regards to the approach you should adopt for reading comprehensions, keep the following points in mind:
1. Do not over-emphasize trivialities
Details are important but don't be obsessed with examples, illustrations and so on. You just need to get a hang of the main point and not the examples. Comprehending the overall flow and structure will help you analyze and answer the questions.
2. Do not memorize
You do not need to memorize every word present in the passage. Understanding the flow, structure and the main points in the passage should be your priority. For factual or specific point questions, you can always re-read the passage.
3. Do not read the passage first
Always go through the questions first and then the passage. This will prepare you to focus on the things you need to look in the passage. Focus only on the questions, and not on a particular answer option. A quick overview of the questions is sufficient.
4. Do not over-emphasize on vocabulary skills for RCs
Having a strong vocabulary is great however having Shakespearean vocabulary will not prevent you from understanding the passage. So do not put yourself under stress in this area, and while reading the passage, make sure that you understand the gist of the passage and do not get stuck on particular words.
5. Do not spend time on RCs that you cannot comprehend at first
At times we come across a passage that we are not able to comprehend. If you are struggling with one such passage in the exam, make sure you have the patience to avoid such a passage. Focus on the ones that you can manage easily. Go back to the tricky passage in case of absolute necessity.
6. Do not think the correct option would come from outside the passage
Any of the options that is out of scope is never the correct answer. The right answer is always based on the information given within the passage. Do not focus on any of the options that distract you from the passage.
7. Do not rely on 'trigger words'
You might get trapped in the web of 'trigger words' if you don’t read attentively through the passage. A passage may focus on one point for quite a bit of sentences and then change it towards the end with trigger words like 'but' or 'however'. This will usually confuse readers who skim through the passage or rush through it in haste.
RC: Concepts & Strategies
8. Make Notes
While reading obscure /abstract text, make sure you make some quick notes for ready reference. You can write the general flow, structure, paragraph-wise flow and important points. Remember that you do not have make really long notes, just make a quick note of the important markers/points in the passage.
9. Try to preempt questions
This is a really difficult skill but if you can master this, you will surely by the 'King of Reading Comprehensions'. While reading the passage, try to identify the possible questions that could be asked, and which parts of the passage seem the most likely candidates for question-setting.
10. Opening and Closing paragraphs require extra focus
Questions such as the main idea question are based on the overall subject of the passage, and majority of the times the answer for this question type lies in the first and last paragraph of the passage. Ensure you derive the maximum possible information from these paragraphs.
11. Constantly question yourself while reading the passage
In order to maintain your concentration while reading, make sure that some basic questions keep playing at the back of your mind: What is the author's main point? Why is the author writing this? How has the author chosen to convey his main point? How has the author organized his material?
Finally, don't expect to be stimulated. In fact expect the opposite! Majority of the times you would be bored by RC topics and you should not allow this to drain your energy. Maintain an impartial attitude towards the passage, and do not get mentally hassled by obscure content.
The above form some of the basic points that should be kept in mind while approaching reading comprehensions. These would improve your focus, increase your grasp of the subject matter and deliver greater understanding. If you achieve these, your task is more or less done.
Verbal Preparation Series