Comprehension Passages

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To solve comprehension passages are an important part of understanding any language. It is the art of reading, understanding, and remembering what you read in any given piece of writing. Once you have understood the passage, you will be able to reproduce the same passage in your own words. Reading comprehension builds the foundation for high-level thinking in different subject areas. Comprehension writing is the other part of this practice.


Passage Reading Meaning 

To comprehend means to understand. In any academic curriculum, reading English comprehension passages is an important topic. As a part of reading comprehension passages, you need to very carefully go through a given passage, understand its meaning, notice the meaning of various contexts in which the sentences appear. You will then have to answer different questions that are based on the passage you read. If you are wondering how to understand comprehension passages, then here are some points.

  • Comprehension tests your vocabulary, so building a good vocabulary is important to understand passages.

  • You also need to have a good sense of the language in which the comprehension is written.

  • You need to develop the ability to identify meanings of phrases or words by reading the passage multiple times.

Reading comprehension passages assesses your intelligence in grasping the gist of the written text and infer your conclusions based on the context. Most of the questions in comprehension are directly related to the passage. A few of them will need you to find the contextual meaning of different words, and some of them will test your ability to find suitable antonyms of given words. 


How to answer questions of a Comprehension?

While answering comprehension passages, the most important part is to read the passage carefully. To answer a comprehension question properly one needs to do the following.

  • Decipher what you just read.

  • Try to make a stable connection between what you read and what knowledge you already have.

  • Think in-depth on what the comprehension passage says.

Some of the important strategies for solving comprehension passages are:

  • Upgrade your Vocabulary - For attending competitive exams, it is very important to develop your vocabulary. A comprehension question will appear difficult if you do not understand the meaning of a few of the words used in it. The many ways by which one can improve English vocabulary are:

    • Reading newspaper articles.

    • Reading various vocabulary books and newspapers.

    • Writing down new words that you come across in your daily life, for example, while watching a movie or while reading a book. You could then find the meaning of those words in a dictionary.

  • Utilize your Strengths - While answering a comprehension question, try to utilize your strong points. For example, some students like to read the passage completely to get an idea of the whole thing while others may find it confusing so they can approach the topic with a “down to top” approach. In this approach, students first read the given questions and then read the paragraph to get the required answers. Any of these methods can be used based on your preference and acumen.

  • Try to get the gist of the Passage - Many students start getting into the details of a passage like trying to understand all the words and sentences in it. Yet, understanding the passage in its entirety is not always required. It is too time-consuming if you start getting into each example, illustrations, etc. The best way is to understand the summary of the passage or its main intent. If you comprehend the overall flow and structure, you will be good at answering the questions in the given time frame.

  • Managing Time - Time is the most common concern that students have during comprehension writing. Exams test not only your basic knowledge but also your ability to manage time well. A good way to manage time while reading comprehension passages is not to spend time on tricky parts of the passage. If you find that a certain section of the passage is complex and you are having difficulty understanding it, then it is better to skip that part. Once you are done reading the passage and the questions, you can decide if you need to go back to the complicated piece of the passage or not.

  • Do Not Rely on Outside Knowledge - Do not try to answer a comprehension based on your assumptions or knowledge of the subject outside the given passage. You must use whatever information is provided in the passage to answer the questions. If you include your own version of any topic, they can be marked as wrong by the evaluator.

Answering a comprehension passage can be summed up as shown in the image below.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1 - What are the qualities of a Good Reader?

Ans 1 - Some of the critical skills required to read a passage correctly and efficiently are:

  • Ability to draw on background knowledge which one acquires in schools or otherwise.

  • Logical thinking and reasoning skills to draw inferences. 

  • Skills to recognize words so that you can remember their meaning accurately.

  • A good vocabulary and oral language skills help you to understand the meaning of words.

  • Pay attention to the details of the passage.

  • Adjust your reading skills and self-monitor to tally the difficulty level of the passage.

  • Form images of things you read in your mind. This makes it easier to understand and remember.

  • Try to summarize and retell a story. Summarizing will help you determine important points and retelling allows you to put your summary in writing. Summarizing requires:

    • Find out the key points in the passage.

    • Connect the main idea through these points.

    • Remove unnecessary information.

Q2 - Give a few tips for solving a comprehension Passage.

Ans 2 - After reading the passage carefully, there are few tips you can follow to save time and answer comprehension questions accurately.

  • Reading the questions first saves time. It is best to go through the questions before you begin reading the passage. This would help in picking answers instantly.

  • Go through the alternatives as well before finalizing your answer. At times there are some partially correct and some fully correct answers. So only when you check all the options, you would know which is the correct one.

  • If there are bold words in a passage, pay attention to them and understand their context. You might have to answer synonym and antonym type questions for those words later.

  • Mark the keywords by underlining them. It helps you to discover logical connections in the passage.

  • Note the nature, tone, and style of the passage. Find out if it is argumentative, sympathetic, humorous, descriptive, critical, serious, sarcastic, or defensive. There will be questions based on this.

  • Avoid short forms and abbreviations in your answer. Always give answers in complete sentences.

  • If you come across any unfamiliar word, then try to read the whole sentence to get the context of it.

Q3 - What are the different types of reading Questions?

Q3 - What are the different types of reading Questions?

Ans 3 - There are 6 types of reading questions discussed below.

  1. Comprehension - This kind of question means mentally grasping the meaning of something. You can answer comprehension questions by finding them in the given passage.

  2. Detail Question - They specify smaller chunks of information as compared to comprehension. The answer to such questions is very specific, like a date, number, name, etc.

  3. Following Direction Questions - This is a type of comprehension in which it is specified how one should answer a question. You are not supposed to write long answers here. Some examples are: underline the verb, put parentheses around the prepositional phrase, etc.

  4. Main Idea Questions - Questions like who, what, where, when, are part of main idea questions. The main idea question includes a topic and something specific about the topic. For example, the main idea could be “civil war”, and the specific topic could be “the two most important causes of the civil war were disagreements in slavery and state rights.”

  5. Inference - This involves the reader to come to decisions or conclusions by inferring the meaning of the passage rather than direct facts and figures. The information is present in the passage as a hint and not stated directly. Some of the questions can be “The writer suggests that…”, “The author seems to expect…”.

  6. Sequence - These questions are based on the chronological order of an event. You need to answer questions like what happened first, second, etc.