Solving English Reading Comprehension has become an inevitable part of almost every competitive examination. The question that linger in every aspirant’s mind is “How to improve Reading comprehension?”
Students are habituated to solve simple and direct passages in their school days, but when it comes to competitive exams, the task becomes difficult. Unable to understand the vocabulary (meaning of words) and concept of the passage, students become dull and uninterested in this section. I may give you some tips and strategies to achieve success in the examination, but the ultimate solution lies not in shortcut solutions, but long term preparation and hard work, obviously. you need to have the courage to prepare and adhere to a systematic plan. So, here are some Reading Comprehension strategies to follow, to get more marks in Reading Comprehension.
A complaint which I hear often is that, the students are unable to understand the given reading comprehension. If you belong to this category, you need to understand that you don’t need to understand each and every word of the comprehension. At the same time, you should find the gist (summary) of it. Both these points above may appear contradictory But the crucial thing is, you need to eliminate the words, phrases, sentences from the Reading Comprehension that are not useful and need to focus on keywords.
2. Find your strengths first.
To improve reading comprehension, first you need to find your strengths first.The conservative approach to solving a passage is, to read the passage first, and then go to the questions and solve them.But some students do not feel comfortable with this method. Probably they do not know which keywords to remember while going through the comprehension. Or, they may have to read the comprehension again, after reading the questions.This lead to the problem of Time Management.
Solution:you can choose the “bottom up” approach. That means, read the questions first, so that you have an idea what to look for, in the comprehension.But ultimately you are the better judge of which approach is the best. So, practice several reading comprehensions in two different approaches and find out which method suits you.
3. Time Management:
“I know all the answers, but I didn’t have enough time to solve” Have you ever heard these kinds of complaints? Competitive examinations not only test your knowledge and skills but your Time Management also. All the three aspects are important, Especially when there are Negative Marks for wrong answers
- Skills (writing, reading)
- Time Management
Solution: Divide the stipulated time of the examination, allot certain time to each section, based on your strengths and weaknesses. Practice numerous reading comprehension exercises with the help of a timer . After solving some, you definitely have an idea, about Time Management.
“Normally, students who believe themselves weak in Reading Comprehension, are unwilling to practice. Most of them try to avoid solving at home. They make a lot of excuses. But remember excuses don’t bring you success. Success won’t be available unless you confront your fears and weaknesses. Remember, No one asks you “why didn’t you succeed in life?” They only ask you “Did you succeed or not?”
5. Improve Your Vocabulary:
Why you need to improve your vocabulary? Vocabulary means knowledge of words (meaning of words). If you do not have a good vocabulary, you have to stop at every new word in the reading comprehension, and be puzzled what does it mean? So, when you don’t know the meaning of a word, it becomes very difficult to understand the gist of the Comprehension. Having a good vocabulary, makes you understand the reading Comprehension much easier.
- Start reading in English, anything……. Newspapers, stories, comics, text books….anything, that keeps you immersed in English. New words gradually sink into your subconscious mind and become familiar.
- Keep a notebook, Note down the new words you learned today and revise them periodically.
- Keep a target and a schedule to learn a certain number of new words every day. You are the better person to decide the number,… I am not. Do not deviate from the schedule at any cost.
6. Use a pen while reading:
Do not read the Reading Comprehension like a movie novel. While going through the passage, your three body organs should act in collaboration.
Make a habit of finding valuable keywords quickly and underline those keywords with a pen (If the rules permit, otherwise use a dark pencil).
if you want you can take the notes of keywords on a plain paper, if allowed by the authorities. So, if at all you have to read the Comprehension again you can go only through keywords, and not through all the junk.
7. Find out words that are useless: If you carefully examine any Reading Comprehension, you can easily find out that there are so many words, phrases in the comprehension that are useless. That means even if we delete those words, phrases, the meaning of the Comprehension remains the same. It is very tiresome and difficult, for me to make a list of those words and phrases and publish here. I just advise you to keep an eye on them and not to waste your precious time in analyzing them.
8. Comeback Later:
When we don’t find an answer to a particular question, we usually tell ourselves “Okay, I will come back to it later”. This may be a good strategy to save time While leaving the difficult questions and solving the easier ones. But before going to another question just do one thing. Take your pencil and make a circle on your choice, which you feel correct at the present moment.
most of the instances when you come back to the question, you would have forgotten the Comprehension itself. So you have to read it again from the beginning. If the time permits, it’s won’t be a problem,…but if you don’t have enough time you can choose the earlier marked answer.
9. Do a mental math quickly:
Often students feel they are not efficient in solving Reading Comprehension, because of these three factors.
- Vocabulary in the comprehension.
- Difficulty in understanding the meaning of the questions.
- Time factor.
So, if there are 40 questions in the English part, Do not try to attempt all the questions (If there is negative marking).
Just try to think how many marks you need in English, by calculating how many you are getting in other sections of the exam (Arithmetic, Reasoning Etc.). Based on that you can choose how many questions you have to solve in English.
This doesn’t take much time if you make a quick mental math.
10. Most Reading Comprehensions are complex:
Usually, Reading Comprehensions are taken from scientific essays or well known fiction. Often the sentences are complex to understand. If you are not aware of this fact, you might be puzzled by those questions.
- Improve your Vocabulary
- Read and solve comprehensions, as many as possible
- Solve passages from different fields of knowledge, like Science, Arts, Literature, Politics, Economics etc.
It is not unusual for any person to wander somewhere while reading something uninteresting.
So, when you find the Comprehension dull, difficult and uninteresting, your eyes run through the sentences, but your mind wanders somewhere else.
The result….you complete reading, but you grasp nothing.
Focus on the content. Don’t let your mind go away from there.
If it starts daydreaming….bring it back into reality. Tell yourself that you have plenty of time to dream after the exam.
12. Improve reading Speed:
Do not move your lips while reading, it slows you down.
Go back to point 6 and practice the technique mentioned there.
Here are two articles to give you more interesting information.
I highly recommend this system for improving your reading speed very quickly.
13. Practice Online Reading Comprehension :
Here are some links for you to practice Reading Comprehension online free.
14. While solving Reading Comprehension at home, don’t try to find the meaning of each and every word you find there, with the dictionary.
Of course, Looking for meanings in a dictionary and taking notes is a good habit, but for each and every word……No..
Sometimes you need to make a wild guess about a new word, taking into account of the context (situation). By this, you will be able to understand the meaning of new words. If you feel necessary, you may check the meaning after reading the Comprehension.
15. Solve previous papers:
By solving the previous papers you can understand and identify what kind of questions are appearing in the examination, so that you will be mentally prepared for those kind of questions.
- Some questions are Simple
- Some Draw Inferences
- Some of the RC questions will ask you about a specific word from a paragraph
- some are Parallel Reasoning Questions
16. Don’t draw on outside knowledge.
Don’t make conclusions which are not in the comprehension. Though you are well aware of the topic mentioned in the Passage, You should not bring your own knowledge into the answers. Just stick to the Information given in the comprehension.
17. Overcome panic :
While focusing on the passage, if you stare at the letters for a long time, your eyes feel uncomfortable. So, often close your eyes for a while, take a deep breath and start again.
Don’t get panicked by the difficulty of the questions. Be prepared for them.
18. Recommended books on Reading Comprehension:
- SAT Reading Comprehension Workbook
- Reading Comprehension: Adrian J Williams
- improve your reading comprehension skills
- PowerScore LSAT Reading Comprehension Bible
- GMAT Reading Comprehension Grail
19. Never lose confidence:
By looking at the Comprehension, don’t let any thought of discouragement enter into your mind. Don’t feel depressed.
Always follow some tactics to motivate yourself
20. Learn what works best for you:
Whatever strategies mentioned here are not hard and fast rules. They are flexible. If you feel they don’t work for you, then you can alter them to suit your needs. You are the judge.
21. All the best: Following the above mentioned Reading Comprehension tips certainly brings you good marks in your academic tests.
If you like this article you may like my other article too. Here it is…