One of the basic requirements in most entrance exams and courses nowadays is competence in English. For this purpose, a lot of entrance exams that students take have a passage or two of English Comprehension to assess their level of proficiency in the language as well as speed. If you are going to appear for such an exam that has comprehension passage in English, and you are not very sure about how to handle it, read on for some tips.

∗ Be prepared for the Exam

  • Reading comprehension passages are usually followed by a number of questions that will assess your ability to understand and critically analyze the information provided, your vocabulary and grammar and, in some cases, how well you write.
  • Since the level of difficulty of these passages differs for each entrance exam, you should look at sample question papers and past papers for the particular exam that you are preparing for.
  • This will give you an idea of the difficulty level as well as the types of passages asked and you can then proceed accordingly.

∗ Build up your vocabulary

  •  This is one of the most important aspects of preparing for comprehension passages.
  • A good vocabulary and grammar is a must if you want to ace these exams.
  • It goes without saying that until and unless you completely understand what the passage is saying, you will not be able to answer the questions following it.
  • And since some comprehension passages can be quite tough, you need good language skills to be able to understand it.
  • Also, a vast vocabulary will come in handy if the passage has antonym and synonym questions following it.
  • So start reading good books, newspapers and put down the new words you learn when you are preparing.

∗  Time Management

  •  A lot depends on how well you time yourself.
  • Make sure, while you prepare for the comprehension passages at home, to keep a watch close at hand and record how long it takes for you to
    • (a) read a passage carefully and
    • (b) complete all the questions that follow it.
  • If you spend too much time on the passage, you may run out of time while answering other questions.

∗  Set a method for preparation

  • In the time leading up to the exam, prepare for comprehension passages by reading a couple of them every day. See how much time it takes for you to go through each one and understand it fully.
  • You might have to read it twice or even thrice in order to understand and comprehend it.
  • Read the questions after that and look for relevant bits in the passage.
  • Alternatively, you could try the ‘bottoms up’ approach where you read the questions first and the passage later, which helps you look for the relevant portions of the text.
  • Either way, preparing beforehand will make you aware of the method that works best for you.

∗  How to tackle different subjects

  • Now the reading comprehension that you get could be related to any subject.
  • But the best part about all comprehension passages is that all the information that you need to answer questions will be contained in the passage itself.
  • All you have to do is read it carefully and glean the relevant bits from the irrelevant ones.
  • Very often, a lot of the content in these passages is information repeated over and over again.


∗ Types of questions

  • The questions that follow the passage can be fact based, or inference based.
  • It could also be vocabulary based or theme based.
  • The last two are the easiest and it is best to attempt these first to ensure marks in your kitty.
  • Then tackle fact based questions as these can directly be picked out of the passage itself.
  • Finally, go for the inference based questions as these will be a little tougher and will need you to apply your mind a little more.

∗ Focus

  • Lastly, it is of utmost importance that you give your fullest attention to the passage at hand.
  • Letting your mind wander while you read will only make it necessary for you to go back to the passage again and again, wasting time in the process.
  • Improving your reading speed and concentration will go a long way in ensuring that you are able to handle the reading comprehension with ease.


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