Reading Comprehension is one of the most mysterious sections of the exam for the students. If they can comprehend the passage well, they can score good marks. However, if they cannot comprehend it, then they lose a significant number of marks.
The preparation for reading comprehension does not have a step by step procedure like other subjects such as mathematics and science. However, if a certain number of tips and tricks are followed, then the students can definitely ace any kind of reading comprehension in the competitive exams.
Given below are some useful tips and tricks for reading comprehension in competitive exams:
Types of approaches:
The reading comprehension passage could be approached in two ways. Different students perform better with different types of approaches. Experiment with both the approaches that are given below to find out the most suitable one that saves time.
Question-Passage (QP) Approach:
- Read the question first and then read the entire passage
- Read the passage carefully to find out answers to at least a few questions
- Skim through the passage and questions back and forth to find out answers to the remaining questions
- Repeat the skimming process till all the answers are found
Passage-Question (PQ) Approach:
- Read the entire passage first and then read the questions
- Skim through the first two passages to find out which questions could be answered
- Then skim through the next two passage to find answers to the remaining questions
- Repeat the process till all the answers are found
Experimenting with different kinds of approaches is perhaps one of the best reading comprehension tips and tricks that can be used by the students.
Grasp the concept of the passage:
Every reading comprehension passage in the exam has a particular message or concept given by the author. If a student can grasp the main concept of the passage, then the rest comes pretty easily. It is one of the most useful tips and tricks for reading comprehension in competitive exams.
Benefits of focusing on the main concept:
- Students will get the basic idea of the message that the author is trying to convey
- Students could understand the questions more easily
- It enables students to search for the answer at a faster pace
If students have knowledge of a wide range of vocabulary in the English language, then their ability to understand a particular point of passage increases. It, in turn, increases the overall understanding of the passage, which is the main goal of the student.
Tips to improve vocabulary:
- Write down the learned words in a separate notepad
- Read example sentences while revising the meaning of the vocabulary
- Try to create new sentences using the vocabulary words
- Use flashcards to make the revision process simple and effective
- Read random articles every day
- Use a thesaurus to find out synonymous of the learned words
Improve reading speed:
Reading speed is crucial in every competitive exam as the candidates are given only a limited amount of time. The reading speed of a normal individual is known to be 200 to 250 words per minute. If the candidate has a reading speed lower than the average, then it is important to start improving the reading speed. Improving reading speed is one of the best reading comprehension tips and tricks that saves time.
Tips to improve reading speed:
- Practice reading multiple words at once
- Don't think of other stuff while reading
- Don't try to re-read a sentence
- Use a timer to measure progress
- Practice reading with peripheral vision
- Cover the sentences that were already read to avoid re-reading
- Use a pen or finger as a guide in order to avoid confusion about which line is being read.
Read the passage carefully for one time:
It is important for the candidates to read the passage thoroughly at least once. It enables them to grasp the concept and gives a clear idea of the overall structure of the passage. It also allows them to get a rough idea of what kind of message is given through each paragraph. Therefore reading the passage carefully is one of the important tips and tricks for reading comprehension in competitive exams.
Benefits of reading the passage carefully:
- It helps the reader to understand the concept of the passage
- It saves time while finding answers to the questions
- It removes the need to re-read the passage
- It saves the overall time spent on the reading comprehension
Learn how to skim and skip:
Once the student reads the entire passage carefully and grasps the concept, then there is no need to re-read it. The student should find the answers through skimming and skipping. Skimming and skipping are essential techniques used by frequent readers. It allows them to gather the necessary information in the shortest time possible. It also helps them to eliminate jargon and focus on the key points. Skimming and skipping are one of the most used reading comprehension tips and tricks.
Skimming- It is the technique of reading quickly to note only the important points
Skipping- It is the technique of omitting the parts that are unnecessary while reading
The above methods of skimming and skipping are the most useful strategies for answering reading comprehension questions.
Focus more on opening and closing paragraphs:
The opening paragraph always helps in the introduction of the main idea while the closing paragraph helps to wrap all the key points. Therefore, these two parts of a passage must always be given special attention when compared to the other paragraphs. It is one of the most beneficial strategies for answering reading comprehension questions.
Benefits of focusing on opening and closing paragraphs:
- It helps the students to comprehend the main points of the passage easily
- A few of the questions are always taken from the points given in the first and the last paragraphs
- It helps the students to save time
Focus is the key skill that helps the candidates to finish reading comprehension quickly. A focussed candidate can grasp the main concept and also understand the key ideas presented in each paragraph. It helps him to identify the answers quickly from the paragraph. As a result, the overall time spent on reading comprehension is reduced, leaving more time for the other sections.
Tips to improve focus:
- Use a finger as a guide while reading
- Read regularly to make it a habit
- Shut the internal monologue while reading the passage
- Read using the mind instead of the mouth
Notice the tone of the passage:
Every author has a particular tone in their writing. It can be noticed in their writing style. Understanding the tone of the author helps the reader to comprehend the seriousness of the author with respect to the main topic. It also helps the reader to understand the nature and character of the author in general. Therefore, noticing and understanding the tone of the passage is highly helpful in comprehending the overall concept in the passage. It is perhaps the most useful tips and tricks for reading comprehension in competitive exams.
Tips for understanding the tone of the passage:
- Read in your mind
- Read frequently to get used to different types of tones
- Try to notice the instances where the author uses sarcasm, humour, seriousness, delight, and any other forms of emotions
- Notice the manner in which the author tries to introduce and conclude the passage
Practice multiple reading comprehension exercises:
Practicing is the key to ace every type of competitive exam. A candidate must practice each and every section irrespective of the level of difficulty of those sections. It helps the candidate to increase the overall speed during the exam.
Therefore, every candidate should also practice the reading comprehension section regularly. It increases not only grasping power but also reading speed. As a result, the candidate's overall performance in reading comprehension also increases. Therefore, practicing exercises is one of the most effective tips and tricks for reading comprehension in competitive exams.
Benefits of practicing exercises:
- The speed of answering the questions increases with regular practice
- Students learn how to use skimming and skipping techniques
- Regular practice helps in improving focus and concentration
- It increases the confidence of the students
- Students can create their own tricks and methods to increase their overall speed
Give extra attention to inference based questions:
Inference based questions are the latest trend followed in many competitive exams. It increases the difficulty of the questions as both the question and answer are indirectly related to the passage. For these types of questions, the practice of focusing on the main points of the passage comes handy.
If a student can understand the main points conveyed by the author, then it would be easier for the student to answer the question correctly. Mastering how to solve inference based questions is among the most important tips and tricks for reading comprehension in competitive exams.
Tips for inference based questions:
- Focus on the main ideas conveyed in the passage
- Focus on the tone used by the author
- Understand and comprehend the deeper meaning of the main concepts
- Read the inference based questions and answers properly to avoid any form of confusion
Don't give too much attention to the small details:
The small and trivial details like examples do not hold much weight in explaining the main idea of the passage. Therefore, it is a waste of time to focus too much on those unnecessary details. Unless a question is asked about such details, they should be left ignored in order to save time and energy. It is one of the most common strategies for answering reading comprehension questions.
Benefits of ignoring the small details:
- Students save the overall time spent on reading comprehension
- Students learn to identify useful and useless information through the practice
- It improves their technique of skipping through the jargon
- Students learn to focus on the main idea of the passage
Don't draw conclusions from outside knowledge:
If the passage is related to something that the candidate is familiar with, then they should avoid drawing conclusions from their own knowledge. If the passage represents a fact or information differently than the other source, then the candidate should not answer the question based on his knowledge from the other source. It's one of the most important tips for reading comprehension tests.
The main focus of reading comprehension is to test the student's understanding of the overall concept. It does not test the candidate's knowledge about the facts related to the passage.
Disadvantages of drawing conclusions from the outside sources:
- It increases the chance of answering the question wrong
- If the answer is wrong, then the students can get negative marks in the competitive examination
- Students tend to waste too much time thinking about the possible correct answer
- It increases confusion and decreases confidence
Do not memorize:
Memorization is useless while preparing for reading comprehension. The possibility of a passage being repeated in the exam is exactly zero. Moreover, the answers to the questions are always found in the passages. Therefore, the use of memorization techniques makes no sense for passages. Memorization is among the most useless tips for reading comprehension tests.
Even if the students want to learn vocabulary through memorization, they won't benefit much from the method. Vocabulary can only be learned through repeated usage and application. Therefore, students should avoid relying on their memorization skills to answer reading comprehension.
Disadvantages of memorizing
- It wastes a lot of time
- Students tend to focus on unnecessary details
- Students cannot use the skimming and skipping techniques while memorizing
- It wastes the energy of the candidate
- Students may end up diverting from understanding the main concept
Do not waste time on passages that are difficult to comprehend:
Even after repeated practice and efforts, students may find a passage in the exam that is too difficult to comprehend. In such cases, it is better to leave the passage and work on it after finishing the remaining questions in the exam. It helps the candidates to save precious time while securing scores by answering the questions that they understand.
Benefits of leaving the difficult passages for the end:
- Students can utilize the same time to answer more number of questions
- Students score better
- It decreases the chances of increasing the negative score due to wrong answers
- Students will be relaxed and stress-free if they approach the difficult passage at the end of the exam
- Students have better chances of understanding the passage under stress-free conditions
Approach the passage in a calm manner:
Attaching different kinds of feelings like nervousness, excitement, etc. to the reading comprehension can hinder the speed and understanding capacity of the students. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid any form of extreme emotions and approach the passage in a calm and neutral manner. If the passage is easy, then it can be easily solved. However, if the passage is difficult to comprehend, then do not let it build any feelings of regret. The best choice would be to leave the passage for the end of the exam. Being calm is among the most useful tips for reading comprehension tests.
Benefits of a calm approach:
- It saves time as students wouldn't have any unnecessary emotions
- It helps the students to reach a rational and logical conclusion
- It increases the comprehension capacity of the students
- The students' mind will be free of any unnecessary thoughts
- It will help the students to focus
Solve the reading comprehension test with answers:
A student should solve reading comprehension passages with questions and answers. However, they should not check the real answers before they solve the questions themselves. It would help them to check and correct their mistakes. In this way, students would not repeat the same mistakes again and again. It increases their overall score in the real exam.
Rules for answering reading comprehension questions:
Every exam gives a different set of instructions and rules for answering reading comprehension questions. It is important for the students to read those instructions carefully before answering the questions. The rules for a particular exam always remain the same for every year. Therefore, checking out the previous year's question paper can give the students a good idea about the rules for answering reading comprehension questions.
All of the above tips, tricks, and strategies will definitely help the students to solve reading comprehension questions easily in the exams. Therefore, it would be highly beneficial for them to follow these tips and tricks for reading comprehension.