Handy tips to attempt Reading Comprehension – Part 3

In the previous two articles, we have learned how to find the theme of the passage. We have also learned how to approach the RC –  by separating out the crucial information from the whole passage. The main question that arises is what information is crucial, that has to be retained and what is not. This art of differentiating relevant information from the irrelevant one can only be learnt by practice. There is no trick in the world which could help you out in this matter (although, there are a lot of websites which claim to provide you such things), only regular practice will help you out. So, till the Mains exam commences, i.e.4th June, you must attempt 2 RCs on daily basis. This is an added task for the preparation; reading newspaper must continue on its own without being affected. The more you read, the better your English is.

We have attained knowledge about the most crucial part of RC till now. I will be covering some  frequently asked questions which students pose about RC.

Click Here to read Handy tips for Reading Comprehension

1.Read passage, then questions OR Read questions, then passage??

Both the strategies are okay and depend from person to person. In the first case, you skim through the passage first – understand subject on which the passage is based, get to know the themes of different paragraph and how they are connected with each other- and then attempt questions. If unsure about the answer, you return to the particular paragraph where there is discussion related to the question.

  • This skimming of Paragraph is done in a minute or so. Some people even read the first and last paragraph, then go to questions and then move to passage again. Any of the strategies could be followed.
  • Since not many days are left, I advise you to go with tried and tested method – reading the passage first and then attempting questions. How much time to spend on reading the passage depends on how fast you read and comprehend the data. So, it will be different for everybody.

2.Is it bad if I start reading the Passage again after reading the question?

If you are talking in the sense of reading the whole passage again, it is obviously bad. Otherwise, there is no harm in coming back to the paragraph for finding the answer, provided that you know the exact paragraph where the discussion related to question was happening. But in any case, I would advise you not to read the paragraph more than twice.

3.Is good reading speed mandatory for cracking RCs?

It is analogous to hitting sixes in cricket – how physically strong you are matters, but technique and timing are the more important factors. Reading speed is obviously one of the factors that influence how quickly one goes through RC but not the main factor.

  • It is the comprehending ability that decides how better you understand the passage. A minimum amount of reading speed is still required to crack the RC in exams like SBI.
  • Whatever be your reading speed, I request you not to indulge in books or videos describing how to increase speed – you might end up wasting time only.
  • Read on daily basis and try to push yourself each time, your reading speed will automatically improve. One important thing though – do not move your lips, or say the words aloud while reading. This habit reduces the reading speed.

4.Without good vocab, is it possible to score good in RCs?

Good vocab helps in understanding the author’s intent. You may miss out on a few things if you don’t have good vocab, but with close reading you should be able to get the overall meaning of the passage.

Mr. XYZ was relegated to the post of Peon

If you don’t know ‘relegated’ you may end up without complete meaning but you will still be able to attach Mr. XYZ with the post of peon; and if it is given in the passage that Mr. XYZ did not perform well in his previous position, you will be able to even guess the meaning of Relegate – assign an inferior rank or position. Hence, good vocab obviously helps but still you can make do if you are good at comprehending the passage.

5.Should one attempt all the questions in the RC?

You may leave the question if you are not completely sure of the answer, but I would advise you to make a guess, provided you have understood the passage. Do not make more than two guesses in a set of 6 questions. Mathematically you attract a penalty of 0.5 marks if both are wrong. So, risk reward ratio is very less, which is favorable to us.

6.A : Dude, RCs from ‘Technology’ are coming in the exam.
B: Really!! I haven’t attempted RCs pertaining to ‘Technology’.

It is a complete myth. If one has command over RC, he/she would be able to crack it irrespective of it being related to Politics or Sports or Technology or Economy etc. A basic background is however required.

  • If you don’t know what ‘Credit Cards’ are, you wont be able to understand its negative effects. If you are not familiar with the concept of ‘NPAs’ you won’t be able to understand the passage – Creation of Bad Banks.
  • You don’t need any deep knowledge for such a background. Minimal knowledge will suffice, which I believe you must be having. To prepare better, I would advise you to keep in touch with National and International news, with primary focus on National Developments.

Few tips for improving reading –

  • Reduce regression (going back over material) by placing an index card at the top of the sentence, and moving it down the page as you read. This tip alone can help improve reading by about 200% for some people, while comprehension actually improves because you know you can’t go back.
  • If you are a person who moves their lips while reading, that habit has got to go. You are limiting yourself to the 150 words per minute that your lips like to move at. A simple tip here is to place your index finger over your mouth to try to break the habit.

I have holistically covered the RC portion in 3 parts. Before I end this series on RC, I will put down the strategy I followed for my CAT exam.

1.Scan through the passage quickly picking out only important phrases and words. This will give you an idea as to what the passage is about.
2. Read the question that is asked.
3. Because you have skimmed through the passage you roughly know which lines you would be able to find the required answer in.
4. Read the relevant lines again and decide upon the answer.

Remember that everybody devises his/her own strategy for attempting RC. Read a lot and practice a lot

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