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How to Acquire Mastery Over Reading Comprehension?


Knowing the weightage given to RC in the verbal section across the range of B-school entrance tests, a student is hardly left with any choice but to attempt at least a few passages.

In order to master the RC section, there are facts that a test-taker needs to know, prior to taking a test. These include:

  1. Does speed matter?
    Looking at the pattern of last few CAT papers in its online format, average length of a passage has hovered around 700–800 words per passage including questions. Assuming that a student solves all 3 passages in 25 minutes time, this leads to going through 2400 words (on an average) in 25 minutes & 96 words per minute.
    However, if a student goes through only two passages, then s/he will be going through only 1600 words in 25 minutes & 64 words per minute. This is sufficient to get a good percentile if you attempt similar number of questions in LR and other English Usage questions.
    Having said this, I strongly suggest pushing the limits and increasing the comprehension speed as much as possible, however not at the cost of accuracy.
  2. Its more about comprehension than reading
    There are two types of reading—reading with the eyes and reading with the brain.
    Reading for RC is different from general reading where we read either to get some specific piece of information or we read at ease to relax or unwind ourselves after a long tiring day, and it may just be reading with the eyes …… But for the competitive examinations we need to read with our brain because the purpose is different. And there comes the comprehension part. We read to find out the main idea of the passage and be accurate in answering the question, which even drains the physical energy. We read with sole objective to maximize our score, within a limited framework of time.
    A practical suggestion can be given as to develop the habit of reading books of different genre, and developing a taste for intellectual debate and exploration. This can go a long way to develop the complete personality of the reader besides increasing the level of comfort in the RC section.
    So, now what we focus upon is not reading speed but Comprehension speed.
  3. Practice is the key
    Solving RC practice exercises regularly helps develop confidence and gives an exposure to the nuances of RC.
    An aspirant is suggested to find out the main-idea of the articles in the editorial section of the news-papers, so that identifying the main-idea comes naturally to a student as it is integral to answering questions in CAT especially inferential ones.
  4. And finally, analyse the exercises done
    The work does not finish after solving the exercise. Analysing a test after solving is more important than students generally may think it to be. Analysis not only tells us where we went wrong and why we went wrong but also how those mistakes are to be avoided thence.

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