Comprehension means - essence of reading. We read to gain knowledge and information. Many students don't realize the importance of comprehension. Being able to fully comprehend what you read is essential to perform well on tests and ultimately succeed in your career. It enables your critical thinking and time management abilities. Nowadays graduates often face strong competition in search for good jobs. For a good career, a good presentation is essential. For application forms, resume writing and letters should, of course be filled in carefully and correctly, without grammatical or spelling errors. Reading comprehension passages helps a lot in developing your vocabulary, it helps to increase fluency with the code, alphabetical understanding and phonemic awareness and if you can master these, it not only gives a boost to your exam but lets you succeed to go far beyond. The comprehension test is almost like permitting you to refer the study aid materials to answer the questions.
How to read the passage:
All of us read one thing or other. Some may be voracious readers; some may be casual readers. When you read the comprehension passage your intention is to answer the questions. So when you read the passage read it for the five types of questions. This certainly requires a changed reading habit.
1. Key idea questions.
2. Side issue questions.
3. Logical questions.
4. Inferential questions.
5. Basic approach questions.
1. Key idea questions:
As is self-evident they seek the central idea of the passage. You can easily identify them by the way they are worded. "What is the central idea of the passage? The author is mainly concerned with... The main purpose of the passage is to .... Which of the following titles best describes the content?...."
2. Side issue questions:
These questions are based on information by the author while developing the key ideas, and are concerned with specific details about side issues. Usually they are phrased as follows. The author provides information that would answer the following questions.
The author speaks of which of the following.
3. Logical questions:
These questions ask about the way the author argues the case in the passage. Some of them may be on the general comprehension of the logical structure e.g. The author develop the passage by
Others may be related to specific details. For instance which of the following best explains why the author introduces...?
4. Inferential questions:
The answers to these questions are not explicitly stated in the passage but can be easily inferred from it. These questions are often worded as follows.
It can be inferred from the passage that...
which of the following can be inferred from the passage?
Some of these questions may go beyond to ask you to guess on the basis of the drift of the argument.
The passage is most probably taken from which of the following sources.
5. Basic approach questions:
These questions ask you about the author's attitude as to the issue discussed. They are phrased as follows.
which of the following best describes the author's attitude to...?
The tone of the passage can be best described as...
These are the different types of questions you get in the comprehension part. The correct understanding of the meaning of the passage is absolutely necessary for these types of questions. Clearly you should have good vocabulary and good power of understanding. You should be able to understand the passage in one reading; if you have to read it many times you will never be able to complete the paper. You should read the editorial of the newspaper very fast. Put the paper aside and recall. Such a practice will make your understanding better.
Techniques for attempting this type of question includes the following steps.
a) Read the questions before reading the passage. Rather bear these questions in mind while going through the passage.
b) Cull out the topic point of the passage. It is nothing but the main idea. See the arguments that bring us to that conclusion. Go through the passage and ask yourself "The passage is about what?" It may be about 'science' or 'democracy' or 'education' etc. Then ask "which aspect of science or education etc" has the writer taken up. That will give us the main idea of the passage. Also underline the arguments which bring us to the conclusion.
A note on "Close reading":
Close reading is a method of reading whereby the reader is required to read at tremendous speed and absorb details almost simultaneously. The mind must be trained to probe deep into the passage at first reading, for the questions are often very searching.
Candidates who are fond of reading fiction have often been seen to have an edge over others while answering comprehension questions. Underlining key words, expressions and sentences helps in minimising wastage of time. Once the passage is clearly understood in relation to the questions and alternatives, selecting the correct answer is no formidable task. One's skill of comprehension is not inborn, it can be perfected, and only practice will make it perfect.