English Grammar: The Art of Comprehension

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It is one's cognitive ability to draw meaning out of written texts


The comprehension part of the syllabus entails one reading passage of about 200 words taken from any published material and at the end of the passage a series of questions about the contents of the passages. The reading passages are drawn from several areas like science, polity, humanities and other types of prose writings.

The questions on the comprehension passage generally are: to test your ability to understand directly stated information in the passage; to test your ability to understand implications and draw inferences; to test your ability to identify the author’s purpose, evaluate the author’s style, or analyse the author’s arguments; to test your ability to recognise the main idea or the central idea presented by the author and to apply his viewpoint; and to test your vocabulary by giving questions on synonyms, antonyms, meaning of phrases, idiots, etc.

In short, the questions are meant to test your ability to read a passage and comprehend its meaning, showing that ability by selecting the correct answer from among the answer choices supplied under each question.

Tips for Tackling the Comprehension Passages

For tackling comprehensions passage, you have to train your eyes and mind to function simultaneously. As your mind begins to look for ideas rather than words, your eyes will begin to obey your mind. In the process, you should be afraid of coming across difficult words in the passage. Your task is to look for ideas or what the author wants to convey. To deal with the comprehension passage, follow the process that is given below:

  1. Galnce thorough the questions quickly: Instead of reading the passage first, it is better to skim over the questions that are given at the end of the passage. This will help you determine what you have to look for while reading the passage. As stated earlier, your mind will begin to search for ideas. But do not spend too much time on it. The purpose of Step-I is to give you some ideas of what you should be looking for in the passage.
  2. Read the passage as fast as you can: At this point the reading to the passage is to be done without worrying about full comprehension. Read the passage, keeping to mind the question that you have read in Step I, and if you come across some material that seems relevant to any of the questions, underline that portion with a pencil. The purpose of this step is to give you an overview of the passage and to familiarise you with the relative position, in the passage of key words, key ideas, etc. You can also mark the question number in the margin of the passage alongside the relevant part.
  3. Read the question again for the proper comprehension: Now carefully read the question one question at a time. If you are able to recollect its location in the passage, mark the answer in you answer book. If you fail to recollect the location of the relevant material in the passage, go on to the next question. This step will help you answer the easy question before concentrating on more taxing question during the next step.
  4. Re-read the passage at your best rate for comprehension: Now re-read the passage at a comfortable pace for comprehension. While reading, keep the unanswered questions in your mind following the same process as in Step II. If you find relevant material to correctly answer the question, mark the question number in the margin of the passage and encircle the provisional answer choice as you did in Step II.
  5. Re-read those questions that are still unanswered: These questions may be more taxing. Go back to the passage once again very quickly and find the relevant material from the passage after concentrating only on that particular information that is required to answer the question.


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