Strategy for Reading Comprehension in VerbalAnisha Mukhija
How to Crack Reading Comprehension for Verbal:
A lot of students find Verbal Ability difficult to crack. And if you ask them what makes Verbal Ability their weak area, a lot of fingers would be pointing towards Reading Comprehension (RC). This article attempts to make Reading Comprehension, a less-complex area for you, so read on to know about the real strategy for crack reading comprehension RC.
Strategy for Reading Comprehension: How to ensure maximum marks in RC:
While solving Reading Comprehension passages, it is essential to be alert. You should avoid simply reading the passage quickly and jumping to the questions. You will then be missing out on the ‘comprehension’ part of RC. In order to master your command over RC, you should know how to prepare for it. Given below are some points that will help you in your preparation:
1) Read, Read & Read:
Reading Comprehension, as the name suggests, tries to test your reading as well and comprehending ability. Both of these things are not God gifted. The only way you can master the art of solving RCs is to read! Make reading a habit, the more you read the better you will be at comprehending it. If you are not an avid reader, you need to start now. Take up any source that you find interesting, start reading with 2 -3 pages every day if you can’t do much. Eventually, keep increasing the pace and number of pages and you should be on your way to becoming better at reading. Try to read newspapers, editorials, magazines, and novels to get yourself used to different topics.
Newspapers are the easiest source of reading material, that helps you with great vocabulary, perfect grammar, and general knowledge (bonus!). Editorials are opinions of experts, which can help you with understanding the tone of passages. Is the editor being sarcastic? expressing anger? being critical? You will be able to understand all these over time, and it will help you with such questions in your RCs too.
Magazines like Fortune, Bloomberg, Economic Times, etc. have some great articles, you can refer to those as well. And what better than novels, you get your reading practice and a beautiful story along with it! It not only will help you with your RCs, but help to overall improve your English as well!
2) Reading Speed:
Pay attention to how you are reading the passages. If you are reading the passage word-by-word or vocalizing each word as you are reading, then you may have a low Words-per-minute rate. You will take up a lot of time to finish one RC. In exams like CAT, where you have 5 RCs to solve within 60 minutes, you need to increase your reading speed. But that doesn’t mean just glancing through and not retaining what you read. You should also be able to grasp what you read so that you don’t have to go back, again and again, to refer to the same sentence for answers.
Try taking in more words at a time while reading. This will help you to finish passages faster. The more you read, the more your eye can accommodate words at a time and the higher your Words-per-minute rate will be. As a result, you will be able to comprehend sentences and phrases better as your focus will include entire groups of words rather than individual words.
3) Reading vs Skimming:
How are reading and skimming different? Skimming is basically reading rapidly so that you are able to get an overview of the material that you are reading. You need to know this difference and learn the art of both skimming and reading. Usually, when you read and RC which is very long, you can read the introductory parts of the passage, that is introducing to a new idea or a concept; and then skim through the parts that are an extension of it.
This will mean that when you get a question based on that particular idea, you will know where it is located in the passage (because you read it thoroughly), you can now visit that para quickly and read the parts you skimmed through. This was you save a lot of time, and you are way more accurate in answering the questions!
This is a very useful strategy that you all must use. Glance through the questions first before attempting the passage. This will help you to pinpoint and remember key extracts while reading the passage. Here point 3 will also come into action. Now that you know what parts you are looking out for from the questions, you can read thoroughly only those parts, and skim through the rest. This will be a lifesaver trust me! You will ave a lot of time and will be able to cater to the questions quickly. However, do not spend too much time on the questions at the beginning.
5) Moving On:
Don’t get stuck on difficult words that appear in the passage. A lot of students get lost in the web of complex words that the RC shoots at you. Don’t let it perturb your attention. Keep continuing ahead and focus more on the idea being conveyed rather than specific words. Unless the question asks for the meaning of a specific word, you need not pay much attention to it. The gist of the passage will be conveyed to you even if you don’t understand a few words, so don’t waste time on it.
The more familiar you are with different words, the faster you will be able to read the matter. Increasing your vocabulary by learning new words and reading more often will naturally increase your reading speed.
When you read a sentence with 2 or more words that are new to you, you tend to read it twice or thrice. Now imagine you do this for the entire passage! Your time gets wasted unnecessarily on things like this. This is why, reading regularly is required, as you will learn new words and its usage, and hence will be able to comprehend the passage faster and with much ease.
Eliminating the options can be an amazing way to save time and narrow down to the right answers. What you can do is, before starting the RC read the questions, proceed to read and skimming the passage, and identify the para where the answer for one question is located. Now go back and read the options and you will be able to understand which options are irrelevant. Now eliminate these option and you will have greater accuracy of marking the rigth answers! Try to use this technique especially in questions involving inferences and central ideas.
8) Smart Reading:
Like we have mentioned in the previous point, your focus should be more on the ideas being conveyed in the passage. Most questions asked in exams like CAT, XAT, IIFT pertaining to RCs are based on how much you understand the idea and meaning behind the passage, rather than on what the passage says word to word. You don’t have to byheart the passage, you don’t even need to write down any answer pertaining to the passage, so why spend soo much time on just deeply reading every word? Most questions will be based on inference/author’s viewpoint-based, critical reasoning, tone of passage etc.
Sometimes the passages are soo long and difficult that it can take up over 15 minute to get through it entirely. However, they are planned in such a manner that you actually don’t even need to read the entire thing! Most answers can be found in just one or 2 paragraphs. In this manner, you have to work smartly! Read the questions first, know what answers are expected out of you, read the passage strategically, and answer accordingly. You should be able to hit the bulls in the eye.
9) Central Idea:
The central idea is just one idea that is stated directly or indirectly through the different parts of the passages. Most of the illustrations and examples in the passage will try to drive at the same point. So identifying this point is the key to getting the central idea right.
One mistake a lot of students make is to grab one sentence that explicitly says a point and make it the central idea. Sometimes, this is just to trick you to choose the closest answer, however, the real idea or tone can only be understood when you read the whole passage. So, be patient and carefully try to understand what the passage is trying to say and only then get to the central idea of the RC.
After following all the steps and strategies given above, you will be able to tackle RCs in a better manner, but remember that this would be possible only if you practice solving passages on a regular basis. Try to give mocks as much as possible, because solving in a timed environment can be very different from just solving passages randomly. Also remember, that while the steps we have provided above are effective for most RCs, the strategy to solve RCs for each MBA exam will also be different based on the questions they ask and the time limit given. So, the best way is to keep solving them, this way you will improve your speed, know how to get the central idea, and eliminate options effectively.Keep working on it using the mentioned strategy and tips, and soon RCs will become one of your strong areas.
All the best!