Reading Comprehension, or the RC parts in the Verbal Ability section is a dreaded lot. On one hand RC passages are unpredictable, and on the other, they hold a lot of weightage in the paper, specially since 2015. One cannot simply skip these questions, and they hold the key to make or break your score in the verbal section. So love them or hate them, they are around, and we have to look for ways to ace them.
- The biggest advantage, which one could get when dealing with RCs, is through a consistent reading habit. This does not come in a day or two, but is built over time. If you are habituated to reading books, newspapers or even articles on the internet, you would find it easier to grasp the idea being conveyed in the RC passage and retain the information to be analysed and applied to the following questions.
- While this is certainly an ‘unfair’ advantage that consistent readers have, one does not have to feel left behind just because one is not a bookworm. Multiple practice passages over the months of preparation would have acquainted you to RC passages. In fact, consistent practice over the months and days leading up to the exam is the best strategy possible.
- Speed is the key in CAT. Hence, begin the passage by skimming through it first. Glance over the paragraph, and try to understand the gist of it, skipping the minute details. You may get an idea of the major theme, the tone of the writing, any contradictory points, any direct fact, etc. Afterwards, go through the questions based on that particular RC. This minute- long exercise can help you solve all the questions related to that passage, in quick time too.
- Then try and judge if the RC and the questions derived from it, are fact-based or opinion-based. It is always advisable to go for the fact-based RCs first. The answers to the questions would usually be hard facts either directly given, or based on the passage.
- A good approach towards RCs is to approach the passage question-wise. There might be too much information in the paragraph, some of which might not even be required in answering. You make take a look at the question, and then minutely read the relevant lines in the paragraph. You retention capacity may be put to good use here, if you can correctly recall which part of the passage relates to the given question. However, this might not work for all the questions, as some of them are derived from the whole idea conveyed in the passage.
Do keep in mind that this approach might not work for everyone. Some of you might want to read the entire passage thoroughly right at the start, and then move to the questions one by one. Please believe in what works the best for you, as you may have deduced from your mock tests.
- Reading comprehension, as the name goes, tests how well do you understand the concept given to you in a limited timeframe. Focus is very essential while going through the passage. Try and forget about how bad your previous section was, or how desperately you need to clear this exam, etc. Things that are beyond your control would only mar your performance. Your task, for the give moment, is to understand that passage and answer the questions based on it. Try and focus all your attention on to the screen.
- Remember, the questions are all based only on the information and idea given in the passage. You are not supposed to apply pre-conceived notions or knowledge while answering. The passage might convey a very simple idea, which you are thoroughly acquainted with, but you cannot apply any information which is not mentioned in the given write-up.
- Questions based on inference, such as,
Summary of the passage
A statement the author might agree/disagree with
Are best approached through the options. Some of the options might be outright rejected. At the same time, some options might trick you by giving you ideas which are beyond the scope of the given passage. Look out for these Trojan horses. Again, practice becomes the key.
- Try and read the passage with interest. It might be difficult to develop interest while under the exam situation, but this actually helps. You may want to agree or disagree with the author or form a picture of the story in your mind. This helps in grasping a general idea of the passage and retaining information.
- It is helpful to choose which passage to attempt first, and which one to come back to later. This can be gauged from the skim-reading (mentioned earlier). You might waste a lot of time on a ‘difficult’ passage, and lose confidence in the way. Attempting a passage which you find easier, would give you much-needed boost and ‘flow’ during the exam. You would notice that once you get into the ‘flow’ of reading passages and answering questions, the ‘tougher’ passage would become easier to handle. Again, this is a trick which is extremely personal and comes only from practice.
So there you go! With these tips in mind, the question to comprehend or not to comprehend, would ultimately be best answered by you.