15 Tactic Reading Comprehension Tips Solve Easily for competitive exams.
#1 First Read the Question, Then Read the Passage
In responding to reading comprehension passage on the Bank Exam's, you often will have to consider more material than can fit conveniently on a single screen. You will confront a split screen similar to the one below. On one-half of the
screen you will see the question you must answer; on the other you will see a segment of the passage under consideration. You will have to scroll through the passage in order to read the text in its entirety
Both societies are territorial: they occupy a particular home range, which they defend against intruders. Likewise, both are cooperative: members organized themselves into working groups that observe a clearly-defined division of labour. In addition, members of both groups can convey to each other a range of basic emotions and personal information: animosity, fright, hunger, rank within a particular caste, and ability to reproduce. Wilson readily concedes that, from a specialist's perspective, such a likeness may at first appear superficial, even unscientifically glib. Nonetheless, in this eminent scholar's judgement, "It is out of such deliberate oversimplification that the beginnings of a general theory are made. Which of the following statements best describes the organization of the author's discussion of the importance of the termite/macaque comparison in the development of a unified science of sociobiology?
(A) He provides an example of a comparison and then rejects its implications.
(B) He concedes that current data are insufficient and modifies his initial assertion of their importance.
(C) He acknowledges hypothetical objections to the comparison, but concludes by reaffirming its significance.
(D) He cites critical appraisals of the comparison, but refrains from making an appraisal of his own.
(E) He notes an ambiguity in the comparison, but finally concedes its validity.
Under these conditions, clearly only one tactic works: first read the question, then read the passage. It is particularly important to follow this tactic when you are dealing with the logical reasoning questions on the Bank Exam's. You must look at the question before you look at the argument. Rather than jumping in blindly and analyzing each and very aspect of the argument– assumptions, central point, evidence, further application, logical flaws – do no more work than necessary. Look at the question stem. Then examine the argument. Know what aspect of the argument you are to concentrate on, and focus on it. you will save time and effort.
The logical reasoning reading question in the example below consists of a short passage followed by the question, "Which of the following best serves as an assumption that would make the argument above logically correct?" If you read the question before you read the passage, you will know that, as presented, the argument is faulty. As a result, you will be looking for the flaw as you read the passage and may already realize what's wrong before reading through the five answer choices. If you read the passage first, you may not catch the subtle flaw, and you may find the conclusion perfectly reasonable. Then when you read the question, and learn that the argument was not logically correct, you will be forced to go back and reread the passage, wasting valuable time. EXAMPLE In order to save $500,000 in this year's budget, the city council voted to freeze the salaries of its school building inspectors. This short sighted decision is yet another example of the council's being penny wise and pound foolish.
The cursory inspections that will result from this action will cause many structural to go undetected, resulting in millions more dollars being spent on repairs in the future. In order for his argument to be logically correct, the author of the above argument used which of the following statements as an unstated underlying assumption?
(A) City inspectors are already overpaid and so the wage freeze is warranted.
(B) The city council cares less about the safety of the school children than it does about saving money.
(C) If they do not receive an increase in their wages, school inspectors will become lax in performing their jobs.
(D) The council does not feel that cursory inspections will necessarily result in defects going undetected.
(E) The council will not authorize repairs in the future, so it will never have to incur the extra costs.
The passage attempts to justify the conclusion that the city will eventually have to pay much more than it is how saving. Having first read the question, you were on the lookout for a flaw in the passage's logic (the passage's failure to state an underlying assumption). Therefore, you probably picked up the subtle shift from "freeze the salaries" in the first sentence to perform "cursory inspections" in the third sentence. If you did, you might have said to yourself, "The fact that the wages of the inspectors are not being raised does not necessarily mean that they will retaliate by rendering poorer service." This then is the gap in the passage's logic. To justify the conclusion presented, you need to assume the freezing salaries will result in cursory or slipshod inspections; and this is precisely what Choice C says.
In the preceding example, none of the other choices is an assumption upon which the argument depends. You can read and analyze each of the other choices before eliminating it, but that takes time. It is always better if you can anticipate the correct choice.
#2 READING COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES
1. Read the question carefully, so that you are sure you understand what it is asking. Decide whether it is asking about a specific, readily identifiable detail within the passage, or whether it is asking about the passage as a whole. Note any key words in the question that may help you spot where the answer may be found.
2. Next, turn to the passage. Read as rapidly as you can with understanding, but do not force yourself. Do not worry about the time element. If you worry about not finishing the test, you will begin to take shortcuts and miss the correct answer in your haste.
3. As you read the opening sentences, try to anticipate what the passage will be about. Whom or what is the author talking about? What, in other words, is the topic of this passage?
4. As you scroll through the passage, think about what kind of writing this is. What is the author trying to do?
Is the author trying to explain some aspect of the topic?
Is the author trying to describe some aspect of the topic?
Is the author trying to argue or debate some aspect of the topic?
What does the author feel about this topic? What audience is the author addressing here? Answering these questions will give you a sense of the passage as a whole.
5. Use your scratch paper intelligently. Take brief notes of important words or phrases in different paragraphs so that you can scroll back to them quickly when you want to verify an answer choice. You may also want to note key words in question stems (words like EXCEPT and LEAST, which the test-makers capitalize for emphasis, and that restrict your answer choice.)
6. Your first scrolling through the passage should give you a general impression of the scope of the passage and of the location of its major subdivisions. In order to answer the question properly, you must go back to the passage to verify your answer choice. Do not rely on your memory. Above all, do not rely on anything you may have learned from your reading or courses about the topic of this passage. Base your answer on what this passage says, not on what you know from other sources.
It helps to familiarize yourself with the major types of reading questions on the test. If you can recognize just what a given question is asking for, you will be better able to tell which reading tactic to apply.
Here are seven categories of reading question you are likely to face:
1. MAIN IDEA Questions that test your ability to find the central thought of a passage or to judge its significance often take one of the following forms:
The main point of the passage is to...
The passage is primarily concerned with...
The author's primary purpose in this passage is to...
The chief theme of the passage can best be described as...
Which of the following titles best states the central idea of the passage?
Which of the following statements best expresses the main idea of the passage?
2. FINDING SPECIFIC DETAILS Question that test your ability to understand what the author states explicitly are often worded:
According to the author,...
The author states all of the following EXCEPT...
According to the passage, which of the following is true of the...
The passage supplies information that would answer which of the following questions?
Which of the following statements is (are) best supported by the passage?
Which of the following is NOT cited in the passage as evidence of...?
3. DRAWING INFERENCES Questions that test your ability to go beyond the author's explicit statements and see
what these statements imply may be worded:
It can be inferred from the passage that...
The author implies that...
The passage suggests that...
Which of the following statements about...can be inferred from the passage?
4. APPLICATION TO OTHER SITUATIONS (These are logical reasoning questions.)
Questions that test your ability to recognize how the author's ideas might apply to other
situations often are worded:
With which of the following statements would the author of the passage be most likely to agree?
With which of the following aphorisms would the author be in strongest agreement?
The author's argument would be most weakened by the discovery of which of the following?
The author's contention would be most clearly strengthened if which of the following were found to be true?
Which of the following examples could best be substituted for the author's example of....?
Which of the following statements would be most likely to begin the paragraph immediately following the passage?
The author is most probably addressing which of the following audiences?
5. TONE/ATTITUDE Questions that test your ability to sense an author's emotional state often
take the form:
The author's attitude toward the problem can best be described as...
The author regards the idea that... with...
The author's tone in the passage is that of a person attempting to...
Which of the following best describes the author's tone in the passage?
6. TECHNIQUE Questions that test your ability to recognize a passage's method of organization
or technique often are worded:
Which of the following best describes the development of this passage?
In presenting the argument, the author does all of the following EXCEPT...
The relationship between the second paragraph and the first paragraph can best be described as....
In the passage, the author makes the central point primarily by...
The organization of the passage can best be described as...
7. DETERMINING MEANING OF WORDS FROM THEIR CONTEXT Questions that test your ability to work
out the meaning of unfamiliar words from their context often are worded:
As it is used in the passage, the term...can best be described as...
The phrase...is used in the passage to mean that...
As used by the author, the term...refers to...
The author uses the phrase...to describe...
#3 When Asked to Find the Main Idea, Be sure to Check the Opening and Summary Sentences of Each Paragraph
The opening and closing sentences of a paragraph are key sentences for you to read. They can serve as guideposts, pointing out the author's main idea.
When you are asked to determine a passage's main idea, always check the opening and summary sentences of each paragraph. Authors typically provide readers with a sentence that expresses a paragraph's main idea succinctly. Although such topic sentences may appear anywhere in the paragraph, readers customarily look for them in the opening or closing sentences.
If you cannot find topic sentence, ask yourself these questions:
1. Who or what is this passage about?
(The subject of the passage can be a person, place, or thing. It can be something abstract, such as an idea. It can
even be a process, or something in motion, for which no single-word synonym exists.)
2. What aspect of this subject is the author talking about?
3. What is the author trying to get across about this aspect of the subject?
(Decide the most important thing that is being said about the subject. Either the subject must be doing something, or
something is being done to it.)
#4 When Asked to Choose a Title, Watch Out For Choices That Ate Too Specific or Too Broad
A paragraph has been defined as a group of sentences revolving around a central theme. An appropriate title for a paragraph, therefore, must express this central theme that each of the sentences in the paragraph develops. It should be neither too broad nor too narrow in scope; it should be specific and yet comprehensive enough to include all the essential ideas presented by the sentences. A good title for a passage of two or more paragraphs should express the thoughts of ALL the paragraphs.
When you are trying to select the best title for a passage, watch out for words that come straight out of the passage. They may not always be your best choice.
This second question on the socio-biology passage is a title question. Note how it resembles questions on the passage's purpose or main idea.
#5 When Asked to Determine Questions of Attitude, Mood, or Tone, Look for Words That Convey Emotion, Express Values or Paint Pictures
In determining the attitude, mood, or tone of an author, examine the specific diction used. Is the author using adjectives to describe the subject? If so, are they words like fragrant, tranquil, magnanimous – words with positive connotations? Or are they words like fetid, ruffled, stingy – words with negative connotations?
When we speak, our tone of voice conveys our mood – frustrated, cheerful, critical, gloomy, angry. When we write, our images and descriptive phrases get feelings across.
The next modes question on the Wilson passage in an attitude question. Note the range of feelings in the answer choices.
#6When Asked About Specific Details in the Passage, Spot key Words in the Question and Scan the Passage to Find Them (or Their Synonyms)
In developing the main idea of a passage, a writer will make statements to support his or her point. To answer questions about such supporting details you must find a word or group of words in the passage supporting your choice of answer. The words "according to the passage" or "according to the author" should focus your attention on what the passage explicitly states. Do not be misled into choosing an answer (even one that makes good sense) if you cannot find
it supported by the text.
Detail questions often ask about a particular phrase or line. In such cases, use the following technique:
1. Look for key words (noun or verbs) in the answer choices.
2. Scroll through the passage, looking for those key words or their synonyms. (This is scanning. It is what you do when you look up someone's number in the phone directory.)
3. When you find a key word or its synonym in a sentence, reread that sentence to make sure the test-markers haven't used the original wording to mislead you.
Read the following brief passage and apply this tactic.
What is involved in the process of visual recognition? First, like computer data, visual memories of an object must be stored; then, a mechanism must exist for them to be retrieved. But how does this process work? The eye triggers the nerves into action. This neural activity constructs a picture in the brain's memory system, an internal image of the object observed. When the eye once again confronts that object, the object is compared with its internal image; if the two images match, recognition taken place.
Among psychologists, the question as to whether visual recognition is parallel, single-step operation or a sequential, step-by-step one is the subject of much debate. Gestalt psychologists contend that objects are perceived as wholes in a parallel operation: the internal image is matched with the retinal impression in one single step. Psychologists of other schools, however, suggest the opposite, maintaining that the individual features of an object are matched serially with the feathers of its internal image. Some experiments have demonstrated that the more well- known an object is, the more holistic its internal image becomes, and the more parallel the process of recognition tends to be. Nonetheless, the bulk of the evidence appears to uphold the serial hypothesis, at least for simple objects that relatively unfamiliar to the viewer.
Now look at the following question on a specific detail in the passage.
#7 When Asked to Make Inferences, Base Your Answers on What the Passage Implied, Not What It States Directly
In language in Thought and Action, S. I. Hayakawa defines an inference as "a statement about the unknown made on the basis of the known." Inference question require you to use your judgement. You must not take anything directly stated by the author as an inference. Instead, you must look for clues in the passage that you can use in deriving you own conclusion. You should choose as your answer a statement that is a logical development of the information the author has provided. Try this relatively easy inference question, based on the previous passage about visual recognition.
#8 When Asked to Apply Ideas from the Passage to a New Situation, Put yourself in the Author’s Place
1. REASON – If X is true, then Y must also be true.
2. PERCEIVE FEELINGS – If the author feels this way about subject A, he probably feels a certain way about subject B.
3. SENSE A LARGER STRUCTURE – This passage is part of an argument for a proposal, or part of a description
of a process, or part of a critique of a hypothesis. Like inference question, application question require you to go beyond what the author explicitly states. Application questions, however, ask you to go well beyond a simple inference, using clues in the passage to interpret possible reasons for actions and possible outcomes of events. Your concern is to comprehend how the author's ideas might apply to other situations, or be affected by them. To do so, you have to put yourself in the author's place. Imagine you are the author. What are you arguing for? Given what you have just stated in the passage, what would you want to say next? What might hurt your argument? What might make it stronger? What kind of audience would appreciate what you have to say? Whom are you trying to convince? If you involve yourself personally with the passage, you will be better able to grasp it in its entirety and see its significance. Answer the following application question based on the previous passage discussing Wilson's Socio-biology
#9 When Asked to Give the Meaning of an Unfamiliar Word, Look for nearby Context Clues
When a question in the reading comprehension part of an examination asked for the meaning of a word, that meaning can usually be deduced from the word's context. The purpose of this kind of question is to determine how well you can extract meaning from text, not how extensive your general vocabulary is. Sometimes the unknown word is a common word used in one of its special or technical meanings. For example: He threw the pot in an hour. The wheel turned busily and the shape grew quickly as his fingers worked the wet, spinning clay. (Throw here means to shape on a potter's wheel.) At others times, the unknown word may bear a deceptive resemblance to a known word. He fell senseless to the ground. (He was unconscious. He did not fall foolishly or nonsensically to the ground.) Just because you know one meaning of a word, do not assume that you know its meaning as it is used in a particular passage. You must look within the passage for clues. Often authors will use an unfamiliar word and then immediately define it within the same sentence. The two words or groups of words are juxtaposed – set beside one another – to make their relationship clear. Commas, hyphens, and parentheses may signal this relationship.
1. The rebec, a medieval stringed instrument played with a bow, has only three strings.
2. Palaeontologists – students of fossil remains – explore the earth's history.
3. Most mammals are quadrupeds (four-footed animals).
Often an unfamiliar word in one clause of a sentence will be defined or clarified in the sentence's other clause.
1. The early morning dew had frozen, and everything was covered with a thin coat of rime.
2. Cowards, we use euphemisms when we cannot bear the truth. calling our dead "the dear departed," as if they have just left the room.
Refer once more of the passage on visual recognition to answer the following question.
#10 Familiarize Yourself with the Technical Terms Used to Describe a Passage’s Organization
Another aspect of understanding the author's point is understanding how the author organizes what he has to say. You have to understand how the author makes his point, figure out whether he begins with his thesis or main idea or works up to it gradually. Often this means observing how the opening sentence or paragraph relates to the passage as a whole.
#11 An Answering Logical Reasoning Questions, Read Each Argument Very Carefully
Some students, who find that they can answer many reading comprehension questions correctly by skimming the passage without reading every word, attack logical reasoning questions in the same way. This is a very poor strategy.
First of all, the temptation to skim logical argument passages should be less, since these passages are much shorter than the usual run of reading comprehension passages, and skimming them will save less time. More important, in logical reasoning passages, it is not enough to have a general idea about the argument; you must be able to analyze the argument very closely.
A cursory reading is not sufficient to pick up a subtle flaw in logic or to ascertain what unstated premise the author is assuming to be true.
#12 In Tackling Logical Reasoning Questions, Always Identify the Conclusion of the Argument
It is imperative that you are absolutely clear about what conclusion the author of the argument claims to have reached. The three most common situations are as follows:
The conclusion is the last sentence of the passage, often introduced by a word such as therefore, so, thus, hence, or consequently. Here is a simple example of this type of argument:
Joan Smith has those qualities that we seek in our congressional leaders. She is honest, hardworking, intelligent, and dedicated. Having served for ten years in the House of representatives, she has the requisite experience to be an effective United States Senator. Therefore, you should enthusiastically vote for Ms. Smith in this year's election.
The conclusion is the first sentence of the passages, followed by the supporting evidence. In such a case, there is no word such as therefore signalling the conclusion, but it is still very easy to spot. For example, the preceding argument could have been presented as follows:
Joan Smith deserves your vote for United States Senator. She has those qualities that we seek in our congressional leaders. She is honest, hardworking, intelligent, and dedicated. In addition, having served for ten years in the House of Representatives, she has the requisite congressional experience to be an effective United States Senator.
The conclusion is not in the passage. In such cases, the question usually asked you to identify the conclusion that is implicit in the argument. For example, if in the two preceding arguments the last of first sentence, respectively, had been omitted, you would have had no difficulty determining that the author of the passage wanted you to vote for Joan Smith. The question might have asked, "Which of the following five statements can most reasonably be inferred from the statements in the given passage?"
#13 In Tackling Logical Reasoning Questions, Pay Particular Attention to Signal Words in the Question (and in the Argument As Well)
In answering logical reasoning questions, you must read closely both the argument and the question or questions based on it.
When you do so, be on the lookout for certain signal words that can clarify the situation. In particular, be alert for:
CAUSE AND EFFECT SIGNAL WORDS
The following words often signal the conclusion of an argument:
|for this reason||thus|
CONTRAST SIGNAL WORDS
The following words often suggest a reversal of thought within an argument or question stem:
|even though||on the contrary|
|except||on the other hand|
Notice that in the following logical reasoning problem several of these words are present: the argument contains the words despite, not, and consequently, and the question stem has the word except. Each of these words plays a role in your reasoning
#14 Always Use the Process of Elimination To Reject Incorrect Choices
From Tactic 1, you know that in logical reasoning reading questions, an in all computer based reading questions, you should always read the question first. This, of course, does not guarantee that you will know the correct answer before you read the answer choices; in fact, more often than not, you won't. What you do then? Use the process of elimination. In the best-case scenario, using the process of elimination will allow you to zoom in on the correct answer; at worst, it will eliminate some obvious wrong choices and allow you to make an educated guess and move on. See how the process of elimination works on the next logical reasoning reading question.
#15 In Questions About Weakening or Strengthening an Argument, Examine the Argument for Any Unstated Assumptions It Makes
An argument is based upon certain assumptions made by its author. If an argument's basic premises are sound, the argument is strengthened. If the argument's basic premises are flawed, the argument is weakened. Pinpoint what the argument assumes. Then compare that assumption with the answer choices. If the question asks you to choose an answer that most strengthens the argument, look for the answer choice that is most in keeping with the argument's basic assumption. If the question asks you to choose an answer that most weakens the argument, look for the answer choice that casts the most doubt on that assumption.
All The Best