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Reading comprehension (RC) questions measure your ability to read with understanding, insight and discrimination.

This
type of question explores your ability to analyze a written passage from several perspectives. These include your ability to
recognize both explicitly stated elements in the passage and assumptions underlying statements or arguments in the passage
as well as the implications of those statements or arguments.

There will be around 10 passages throughout your exam. The topics will be varied. These questions may have one option or
more than one option correct. You will also be asked to highlight a particular line in the paragraph that explains the given
question.

Let’s understand what can hinder your performance and what can boost your performance in RC.

How to improve reading


To perform better in RC you have to read a lot and across various topics.

Reading speed is very important because the faster you read the less time you consume from the total exam time. It also
helps you to focus better and avoid distractions.
Note: Reading fast alone is not sufficient, you have to be an active and effective reader.

Factors influencing Reading Speed:


a. Eye span & fixation points
b. Vocalization & Sub vocalization
c. Mouse / Hand pointers
d. Regression

a. Eye span & fixations: Eye-span is referred to the amount of text someone takes in at one glance. The period of time
during which an eye rests on a word is called fixation.
A speed reader reads many words in one fixation and moves on very quickly to the next set of words.

Read the passage given below and realize the variation your reading speed.
As a child at the age of three, my sister and I had pictures taken together. My
sister and I are ten months and three weeks apart. In this special family picture we look
identical. Our big, dark blue and brown eyes and smile resemble two calm little girls,
enjoying the moment with peaceful smiles on our faces. In our long, dark red and blue dresses we sit straight up in front of
a warm red fireplace surrounded by green plants.
b. Vocalization & Sub vocalization: Reading the words aloud or moving your lips while reading is called vocalization.
You can observe the movement of your vocal cord whenever you are reading. This habit reduces your reading speed.

Sometimes you may not read aloud or you may not recognize the movement of the tongue, lips, jaw and vocal cords, but you
might be reading in your mind silently. This is sub vocalization.

c. Regression: Regression is the backward movement of the eyes to read the information that you have read already. It
slows down the pace of reading. However, to some speed readers, it helps in comprehension of read passages. It is the
opposite of progressive reading.

Progressive reader:
—> —> —> —> —> —> —> The car crashed into the tree at once.

Regressive reader:
The —> —> crashed —> —> at once
The regressive reader’s style slows his understanding and also slows down his speed rate thus making reading the sentence
slow and more difficult to understand. Speed and comprehension which are the fundamentals of effective reading are
entirely defeated by regression.

d. Mouse pointers: Moving a mouse on the screen or a finger on paper, we use a pointer to retain focus and avoid
regression. But note that the movement of the pointer will influence your reading speed.

Eclectic Reading: “Read a lot to improve marks in RC” this is a common advice. But “What should I read?” is the
question. We all read something or the other every day. But Is there any variety in what you are reading?
What is the level of the content that you are reading? Are you reading only those topics that you are comfortable with?
Ask yourself these questions whenever you are choosing a book to read.

Read editorials of the newspaper regularly. After that note down what is it about. Then read it again and list out if you
have missed out something. This will definitely help your reading and comprehending abilities. Also read different
topics, journals, books etc.

Pay attention to the following as you read:


 Make Connections - Try to relate among the various ideas in the passage. Identify the relationship of the author
to the topic or to the audience.
 Visualize - Imagine whatever is written. Associate the passage with some words or figures. This helps to establish
better connect with the passage.
 Infer - Read between the lines-Use text clues, prior knowledge, and questions to come up with inferences.
Understand the meanings of the words based on the context.
 Determine Importance - Identify the key words and important information in the passage. So you do not have to
remember entire passage.
 Synthesize -Take in a lot of different facts, think about them, and learn something new.
Be an active reader.

Strategies to crack the common reading comprehension questions:


1. Main idea question:
1. The opening and closing sentences
The main idea is the one thing that you can say about the passage. Avoid all details.
For example, if someone asks you “What did you do on Friday?”. You may answer that you went to watch IPL
match. That’s the main thing. describing every ball , over by over is going into details.
So when asked about the main idea, summarize the paragraph. The opening and closing sentences of the paragraph
are essential sentences. In a well written passage they can point out the main idea or central theme and function as the
summary sentence.

2. If you are not able to summarize look for repetitive ideas


Example: A new hearing device uses a magnet to hold the detachable sound-processing portion in place. Like other
aids, it converts sound into vibrations. But it is unique in that it can transmit the vibrations directly to the magnet and
then to the inner ear. This produces a clearer sound. The new device will not help all hearing-impaired people - only
those with a hearing loss caused by infection or some other problem in the middle ear. It will probably help no more
than 20 percent of all people with hearing problems. Those people who have persistent ear infections, however,
should find relief and restored hearing with the new device.
The paragraph is continuously talking about the new hearing device so the main idea could be around that.

3. Implied Main Idea Example:


If you are not able to summarize then question yourself
 Who or What this passage is about?
 What aspect of the subject is the author talking about?
 What message does the author want to give?
Example: When you’re with your friends, it’s okay to be loud and to use slang. They’ll expect it and they aren’t grading
you on your grammar. When you’re standing in a boardroom or sitting for an interview, you should use your best English
possible, and keep your voice respectfully quiet. Try to gauge the personality of the interviewer and the setting of the
workplace before cracking jokes or speaking out of turn. If you’re ever in a position to speak publicly, always ask about
your audience, and modify your language, tone, pitch and topic based on what you think the audience’s preferences
would be. You’d never give a lecture about atoms to third-graders!
Here, there is no main idea written, so you have to ask yourself, “What is the author trying to tell me?”. It seems to
me that the author is giving us different situations (having an interview, hanging out with friends, speaking publicly)
and then telling us to speak differently in each setting (use slang with friends, be respectful and quiet in an interview,
etc.). So, a sentence like, “People should speak differently in different situations” would fit perfectly as the main idea
of that paragraph. We had to infer that because that sentence doesn’t appear anywhere in the paragraph. But it was
easy enough to do when you looked at the ideas as a whole.
Note: Your answer should neither be too specific nor too broad. The central theme must be specific to the passage and
include all the essential elements of the passage.

Read the following passage and answer the question that follows.
Scholars often fail to see that music played an important role in the preservation of African culture in the United States.
They correctly note that slavery stripped some cultural elements from Black people—their political and economic
systems—but they underestimate the significance of music in sustaining other African cultural values. African music,
unlike the music of some other cultures, was based on a total vision of life in which music was not an isolated social
domain. In African culture music was pervasive, serving not only religion, but all phases of life, including birth, death,
work, and play. The methods that a community devises to perpetuate itself come into being to preserve aspects of the
cultural legacy that that community perceives as essential. Music, like art in general, was so inextricably a part of
African culture that it became a crucial means of preserving the culture during and after the dislocations of slavery.

The primary purpose of the passage is to


A. analyze the impact that slavery had on African political and economic systems
B. review the attempt of recent scholarship to study the influence of African music on other music
C. correct the failure of some scholars to appreciate the significance of music in African culture
D. survey the ways by which people attempt to preserve their culture against the effects of oppression
E. compare the relative importance of music with that of other art forms in culture
Looking at the first line of the passage and repetitive discussion about African music gives the answer. Ans: correct the
failure of some scholars to appreciate the significance of music in African culture

2. Contextual Meaning question:


With reference to the above paragraph, answer the question below:
In line 5, the phrase “isolated social domain” refers to
A. African music in relation to contemporary culture as a whole
B. music as it may be perceived in non-African cultures
C. a feature of African music that aided in transmitting African cultural values
D. an aspect of the African cultural legacy
E. the influence of music on contemporary culture

Music in African culture is an integral part of the society, but in the other cultures it is not the same.
So the answer is Music as it is in Non African cultures.

3. Explicit questions:
Questions like “according to the author, which of the following statements is true?” fall in this category.
Direct questions are the easiest type of questions, check whether you have paid attention while reading. A question is
asked on some detail and the answer is clearly given in the passage. All you have to do is read with concentration and
spot the keywords in the paragraph and identify the particular topic in which it is mentioned.
With reference to the above paragraph answer the question below:
According to the passage, slavery stripped which of the following from the Black people ?
A. movies B. music systems C. political systems
D. relationships E. knowledge

4. Implicit questions:
Inference means the reasoning involved in drawing a conclusion or making a logical judgment on the basis of
circumstantial evidence and prior conclusions rather than on the basis of direct observation.

What can you infer from the example below?


“No, Honey, I don’t want you to spend a lot of money on my birthday present. Just having you for a husband is the only
gift I need. In fact, I’ll just drive my old rusty bucket of bolts down to the mall and buy myself a little present. And if the
poor old car doesn’t break down, I’ll be back soon.”

Any husband can infer that she needs a new car as a birthday gift. However if you are worried about budget, you would
act as if she is happy with a small gift.
With reference to the paragraph in previous page, answer the question below:
Which of the following statements concerning the function of African music can be inferred from the
passage?
A. It preserved cultural values because it was thoroughly integrated into the lives of the people.
B. It was more important in the development of African religious life than in other areas of culture.
C. It was developed in response to the loss of political and economic systems.
D. Its pervasiveness in African culture hindered its effectiveness in minimizing the impact of slavery.
E. Its isolation from the economic domains of life enabled it to survive the destructive impact of slavery.

It can be inferred that music was an integral part of African culture. Ans: It preserved cultural values because it was
thoroughly integrated into the lives of the people

Fact and opinions/Half truths: Understand what facts, opinions and half truths mean.
A fact is a concept whose truth can be verified or proved. Prior knowledge of events or logic is used to determine if
the statement is verifiable. Opinions are a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty.

Look for clue words such as feel, believe, always, never, none, most, least, best, and worst.
Distinguish between fact and opinion to interpret the following message accurately:
The house was painted recently on November 18, 1999, so it looks as good as new.

Fact: The house was painted recently on November 18, 1999


Opinion: It looks as good as new

Read the following statements and identify facts and opinions:


• Today is Saturday and Mark always sleeps in on Saturdays, so that is why he is late for the game.
  • There was no way for me to go to school because my son had a temperature of one hundred and two degrees
this morning.

Half truths: Do you remember the television advertisement of Gulab Jamoon (Indian Sweet).
The ad goes like this: When a father walks into the kitchen he notices that Gulab Jamoon was served to his son. When
asked what’s the reason for the sweet dish. Mom proudly answers. “Our son came second in the race”. The father was
proud after munching his share of the dessert he asks his son “How many were there in the race?”. The young boy
answers “Only two”.
He did not say anything false but he deliberately omitted important information.
Do not get a false impression from half-truths. Beware.

5. Application to the other situation questions:


Questions like “With which of the following statements would the author most likely agree/disagree with?”.
“The authors contention would be strong/weak if which of the following is true?”
Put yourself in authors place and answer the questions.

Read the following passage and answer the question that follows.
The common belief of some linguists that each language is a perfect vehicle for the thoughts of the nation speaking
it is in some ways the exact counterpart of the conviction of the Manchester school of economics that supply and
demand will regulate everything for the best. Just as economists were blind to the numerous cases in which the law
of supply and demand left actual wants unsatisfied, so also many linguists are deaf to those instances in which the
very nature of a language calls forth misunderstandings in everyday conversation, and in which, consequently, a word
has to be modified or defined in order to present the idea intended by the speaker: “He took his stick—no, not John’s,
but his own.” No language is perfect, and if we admit this truth, we must also admit that it is not unreasonable to
investigate the relative merits of different languages or of different details in languages.

The misunderstanding presented by the author is similar to which of the following?


(Note more than one option can be correct)
A. X uses the word “you” to refer to a group, but Y thinks that X is referring to one person only.
B. X mistakenly uses the word “anomaly” to refer to a typical example, but Y knows that “anomaly” means
“exception.”
C. X uses the word “bachelor” to mean “unmarried man,” but Y mistakenly thinks that bachelor m e a n s
“unmarried woman.”

Ans: B & C

6. Tone of the author questions:


Often authors tone is expressed by adjectives:
luckily, unfortunately, surprisingly, pity, regrettably, desirable, cynical, depressed, positive, sarcastic, cheerful, vindictive,
outraged, certain, obviously, often, never, rarely hardly etc.

Tone is an attitude not action. “Come here Lily” The same statement can be said in different tones. Tone is not
explained directly. You must read between the lines to identify the tone.
Do not get confused between tone and mood. Tone is the author’s attitude towards the subject. Mood is the emotion
that the author wanted the reader to feel when reading.
• Look at the word choice and connotations. Analyze the phrase. Is the author sarcastic? Do they use many
metaphors, or lay out facts without opinion?
• How do you feel when you are reading it? What emotions come naturally to you? Do you get angry, sad or
joyous? Do you feel that the author’s trying to persuade you?
• Ask yourself how the information is presented. What order do you receive information in? How is the author
trying to persuade you, if they are?

A team has won the match and the following are different responses. Identify their tones
A. “Wow! I can’t believe it! This is the best thing that could have happened in this city!”
B. “The team’s manager and coach have had a lot of influence throughout the season. They deserve a lot of
credit for this victory”.
C. “What? They won! And they started off so poorly this season. I just can’t believe it!”
The tones of above sentences are excited, serious & sarcastic respectively

Read the following passage and answer the question that follows.
Quantum mechanics is a highly successful theory: it supplies methods for accurately calculating the results of diverse
experiments, especially with minute particles. The predictions of quantum mechanics, however, give only the probability
of an event, not a deterministic statement of whether or not the event will occur. Because of this probabilistic nature,
Einstein remained strongly dissatisfied with the theory throughout his life, though he did not maintain that quantum
mechanics is wrong. Rather, he held that it is incomplete: in quantum mechanics the motion of a particle must be
described in terms of probabilities, he argued, only because some parameters that determine the motion have not been
specified. If these hypothetical “hidden parameters” were known, a fully deterministic trajectory could be defined.
Significantly, this hidden-parameter quantum theory leads to experimental predictions different from those of traditional
quantum mechanics. Einstein’s ideas have been tested by experiments performed since his death, and as most of these
experiments support traditional quantum mechanics, Einstein’s approach is almost certainly erroneous.
The author regards the idea that traditional quantum mechanics is incomplete with
A. approval B. surprise C. indifference
D. apprehension E. skepticism

The author regards it with skepticism. Most of the experiments support traditional quantum mechanics, Einstein’s
approach is erroneous.

7. Organization of the passage questions:


The 1960’s witnessed two profound social movements: the civil rights movement and the movement protesting the
war in Vietnam. Although they overlapped in time, they were largely distinct. For a brief moment in 1967, however, it
appeared that the two movements might unite under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr.King’s role in the antiwar
movement appears to require little explanation, since he was the foremost advocate of nonviolence of his time. But
King’s stance on the Vietnam War cannot be explained in terms of pacifism alone. After all, he was something of a
latecomer to the antiwar movement, even though by 1965 he was convinced that the role of the United States in the
war was indefensible. Why then the two years that passed before he translated his private misgivings into public
dissent? Perhaps he believed that he could not criticize American foreign policy without endangering the support for
civil rights that he had won from the federal government.
Which of the following best describes the passage?
A. It discusses an apparent inconsistency and suggests a reason for it.
B. It outlines a sequence of historical events.
C. It shows why a commonly held view is inaccurate.
D. It evaluates an explanation and finally accepts that explanation.
E. It contrasts two views of an issue.

Ans: A

Finally here are some approaches that may help you in answering reading comprehension questions.
 Reading passages are drawn from many different disciplines and sources. So, you may not be familiar with
the material in every passage. Questions are to be answered only on the basis of the information provided in
the passage, and you are not expected to rely on outside knowledge of a particular topic.
 Analyze each passage carefully before answering the accompanying questions. As with any kind of close and
thoughtful reading, look for clues that will help you understand less explicit aspects of the passage. Try to
separate main ideas from supporting ideas or evidence. Try also to separate the author’s own ideas or attitudes
from information he or she is presenting.
 Whenever you are reading a paragraph understand what is the Message in the method, What is the mood or
tone of the passage, What method (examples, chronological order) is used to organize the paragraph.
 Note transitions from one idea to the next, and examine the relationships among the different ideas or parts
of the passage. For example, are they contrasting? are they complementary? Consider the points the author
makes, the conclusions drawn, and how and why those points are made or conclusions are drawn.
 Read each question carefully and be certain that you understand exactly what is being asked. Always read all
the answer choices before selecting the best answer. Be careful also not to be misled by answer choices that
are only partially true or only partially satisfy the problem posed in the question.