is about how speedily you are able to understand a written
piece. Most people stress on reading word per minute.
However, even if you are reading very speedily but cant understand
a thing, speed wont help you. And so comprehension or understanding
per minute is the right kind of speed that one needs to maintain.
Try to understand
speedily and not just read.
Whenever you see a
passage, do have a feel of it by reading the first few lines. See
if that is the kind of subject that interests you. I have seen
people choosing passages on the basis of their length. That is both
good and bad. The bad part is that most short passages have indirect
questions and they are generally more difficult to comprehend. So
choose on the basis of your comfort level with the subject and not
only on the basis of its length.
After choosing a passage, you need to get what they call its ‘central
idea’. Draw a circle on a piece of paper and make a dot in the middle.
This circle is the passage and that dot is the central idea. In
other words, every passage will revolve around a central idea. This
central idea is not the theme on which the passage is based or the
gist of the passage. It is the purpose for which the author has
written the passage. If you are able to get the central idea of
the passage, you would be able to comprehend it better and answer
the questions better.
A very good way of cracking the comprehension
of a long passage is to divide the whole passage into small packets
of information. For example
you read the first few paras, and underline the important points
and try to keep them in mind. You can also enlist the important
points on a rough piece of paper and read on the further paras,
jot down the points again and so on. Though jotting down points
may not be advisable every time as you may not have time, you can
always keep the chunks of information in your mind while reading.
This is important
because often after reading the entire passage, people think
they have forgotten what they read in the beginning of it. This
could be a scary thing to happen to you if you have wasted, lets
say, full five minutes, on reading a passage. So just to save you
reading the passage all over again, you must try and keep chunks
of information in your mind while reading. You can also keep underlining
anything that you think is important.
Broadly, the questions can be divided into two categories:
direct and indirect. Lets first deal with the direct
Direction questions are obviously related to explicit facts
given in the passage. For ex- What were the scientists researching?
Or What was the name of the thesis? Etc.
way to choose a passage from the options is also to glance
at the questions. If most of the questions are direct in nature,
you have a better chance of scoring. So you can pick up a
passage that has more direct questions.
The indirect questions
are asked to directly gauge your comprehension skills. They are
the real test of your understanding and comprehension. First of
all, try and avoid as much as possible, passages that have more
number of indirect questions. Still if you have to pick a passage
that has such questions, here’s a way to deal with them.
Indirect questions would be about the tone of the passage, writing
style of the author or questions such as: What does the author mean
when he says, “I think I would make friends with my enemy’s enemy?”
or what does the presence of ‘packets of lies’ implies in the passage?
It is clear that you will not get to the answers
of such questions easily. But still you have to find the answers
from the passage only. The tones of the authors could be descriptive,
analytical, critical etc.
A descriptive tone
is generally like the articles published on the Edit page of
A narrative tone
would sound like a story---points flowing in one by one-like
a news report. A critical tone is something you can easily distinguish.
So if there is any question on the type of tone, you will need to
be observative about the passage right from the start.
As for other kind
of questions, trying to figure out the central idea and diving the
information into chunks of information are the only two ways of
getting to the right answers. The
best way to practice comprehension is editorials of newspapers like
The Hindustan Times and The Hindu and also the articles published
on the Edit pages.
the right passage:
As stated before, you can choose the passage on the basis of the
following (if there is a choice ie.):
* Comfort level with
the subject or topic of the passage
* Length of the passage
* Type of questions of the passage and the number of direct questions
Masih has been a
reporter with The Times of India, The Free Press Journal. Has worked
as senior sub-editor with The Maharashtra Herald (now Sakaal Times)
in Pune. Has a four-year work experience of writing, editing and
blogging & has a great flair for firstname.lastname@example.org