Reading Comprehension

Every Reading Comprehension question is designed to measure one of two basic skills.

  • Your ability to remember what you read
  • Your ability to understand or comprehend what you read

The second skill is a higher one in that it requires independent thinking on your part. More important, you will find that the majority of the questions are comprehension questions, not memory questions; and it's this fact that should drive your approach in reading the passages. In order to comprehend a passage, you must be able to identify the main idea and the author's primary purpose to follow the author's line of reasoning from paragraph to paragraph.

Some Common Reading Comprehension Problems

You are slower reader, so cannot finish in time.

Focus on main ideas and overall structure instead of details.

You cannot concentrate because you feel that ideas are scattered and terminologies used in the passage are unfamiliar to you. You waste lot of the time in searching the passage for information needed to respond to question.

Ask yourself "Why writer has written this passage?" Dialogue with the writer for each idea given in the passage.

You feel difficulties in narrowing your answer choices down to one clear best answer

Keep in mind the overall theme of the passage and think like test maker.

Types of Questions

There are two types of questions normally asked on the test:

  • Detail and Contextual Questions: The questions based on a part of the passage.
  • Main Idea Questions: The inferential questions based on main idea of the passage.

Detail question type is easy to deal. It involves your scanning of the passage text. Pick a question from the set and find the information regarding the question through scanning of the passage.

However, Main idea question type is some what based on your reading and comprehending skills. You can find the answer of the main idea question if you have completely understood the overall theme of the passage

The Styles of Reading

The Straight style:

This style based on a straight reading of entire passage. It involves 3 steps:

  • Read the passage carefully from beginning to end. Underline what clicks you as being an important point.
  • Respond to the questions in the order given in the passage. Go back to the passage as required if you have trouble answering a question or remembering the relevant portion of the passage.
  • Mark next to any questions you are uncertain about, hoping you will have time to reconsider the question at the end.

Practically this style is unsuccessful, because of

  • Poor time management
  • Incomplete Comprehension

Very often, the test takers adopting this style make mistakes in main idea question.

The Interactive Style:

In this style, the test taker works back and forth between passage and questions. This style is more effective and involves 3 steps:

  • Begin reading the passage immediately. Divide the whole passage into logical parts describing single idea.
  • After reading the 1st part, scan the question from the question set. The first part will most certainly provide enough information for you to respond the 1st question of the set.
  • Return to the passage and read the next part. Scan the question and answer the next question. Work on in a similar fashion and complete all paragraphs.

Some Common Reading Comprehension Problems
Types of Questions
Styles of Reading
Solved Examples