WHAT IS READING COMPREHENSION?
The entire process of Reading Comprehension could be divided into 7 simple steps. But here is a need for a reckoner. Though reading comprehension is what our brain practices all the time, yet we do not always perform very well when attempting a reading comprehension question, why?
Because what the brain does is at an ordinary simplistic level and we are unaware of even that. But what is required of an aspiring student is a conscious, skilful, determined effort to master the art of reading comprehension.
Let’s illustrate all the seven steps involved in Reading Compression describing what we ordinarily do and what are the special concepts a students should keep in mind while attempting the Reading Comprehension section with some useful tips.
STEP 1: Reading is the obvious important pre-requisite of the RC section. How well you read, in what manner you read a given passage, would determine the level of your comprehension and consequently the analysis of information. Reading in the right way is very important.
WHAT is the RIGHT way of READING?
As I have mentioned before that we are constantly engaged in the process of reading information from our surroundings. Only we do not do it skilfully in the right direction. This is what a student has to practice doing to read everything rightly. HOW? Even an apparently simple process of reading involves many factors that affect the output of reading. How intelligently can you mould these factors will, in turn, improve the quality of reading.
These factors are:
- Subject of data
- Interest areas of the reader
- Concentration span of the reader
- Reading speed
- Retaining capacity
- Reading aptitude
I. SUBJECT OF DATA
It is proven by research that our brains or brains of different people do not respond to different kinds of data in a similar manner or to a similar extent. Just like we all have our area of expertise, I might know a lot about space science while your knowledge of Automobile may be vast. On the other hand, my idea of latest cars, engines and their power may be meagre and you may find yourself fumbling if questioned about planetary movements, composition of stars etc. this is a reflection of reading habits. Ordinarily, we do selective reading, e.g.; while reading a newspaper many students are used to skipping the business news and jumping straight to sports page while many others simply refuse to look at the editorial page and drool all over the page 3 or entertainment section. Whereas reading has many advantages, it is neither feasible nor advisable for a student to read everything available on all topics under the sun. But it is important, nevertheless, for you to have some basic knowledge about most subjects.
(1) improve your general awareness,
(2) boost your confidence,
(3) sharpen your analytical skills because you would be able to use information from different sections and even do a comparative study, if needed, it will also.
(4) improve your thinking skills because as the quantity of facts will increase, you will be pushed to think about all of them. In this manner you will improve many of your skills, not just one. Also, one should not forget that as a manager one needs to know about not just one field but many. Marketing requires more than just the knowledge of specific sector.
So, to begin with a student should open oneself to reading about varied subjects and not just a selected few. Then it becomes important to decide how much to read and from where to read. The best and age-old golden option is Newspaper. A good student MUST develop a habit of reading a newspaper properly every day. You would say that you do already. In that case, answer the following questions and check yourself.
- What is the most influential political news of the last week?
- What important discovery or research has been made in the field of science, technology or medicine in the gone month?
- Which book was released by an Indian or American author in the gone week?
- Who is Chief Minister of Gujarat?
- When did Einstein die?
- What is article 377 of the Indian constitution?
- What was Rowlatt Act? Which year was it passed?
- Who is rated the best Badminton player in the world?
- Who is playing Danial Pearl’s wife in the Hollywood film being made on the Journalist’s life and murder by terrorists?
- Which film received the National Award this year?
Check your calibre as a reader now on the basis of the following result card.
0 – 3
4 – 7
8 – 10
Now, you know yourself and what your weaknesses are. You would have noticed for yourself while answering the questions.
That despite reading the newspaper every day you are not updated about the goings-on in every field. This is the first step towards becoming a good reader. You should choose wisely what newspaper or magazines you read. Most advisable would be The Hindu, Indian Express, and The Times of India. You can choose from the following magazines India Today, Frontline, Outlook, and The Economist. You should also read some books on History, Philosophy and literature as and when you have the time. Though reading must be done selectively so as not to waste time, don’t read all articles and reports in the newspaper but intelligently choose after having read all headlines.
Use this reading habit to improve your vocabulary. Each day list the new words you come across. Classify them under subjects, e.g. Science, Sports, Politics, and Literature. Learn their meanings and use them frequently. This will help you understand the jargon of different fields. Now, let us quickly recall all that we have stated and discussed in this section and list the following.
MUST DOs FOR A GOOD READER
- Read about different fields, don’t restrict yourself to one.
- Do intelligent reading, don’t waste time reading junk information.
- Read only from good newspapers and magazines
- Utilise maximum time, read while travelling, waiting etc.
- Try to indulge in a discussion everyday about what you read that day
- Improve your vocabulary alongside reading
II. INTEREST OF READER
This factor is closely connected to the first factor. In fact, it is this factor that chiefly decides the subjects we choose to read about. Just like all fingers in a hand are not of the same size, our interest in every field cannot be of the same level. This is why we choose certain fields and eliminate others. E.g. while walking on the road, if there is a large poster of a bike newly launched in market, it is more likely that a teenage or a young boy would stop by to read the details about the bike rather than a girl who would probably stop by to read the details about the bike rather than a girl who would probably stop by to read information on Jewellery or garments ranges. This is just difference of interests. This is the difference that decides the store of one’s knowledge. Ordinarily, it is alright for a person to seek information about one feels drawn to the area of his/her interest. But a student should develop a habit of arousing an interest in different kind of fields equally.
Why is this important?
Let us suppose that you have interest in fields A, B, D and F but you do not find fields C and E appealing at all. In that case, if you get a passage for Reading Comprehension from areas A, C and E, then you would attempt the first comprehension well because it is an area of your interest, therefore, you will be eager to know more about it, you will, therefore, read it with more concentration and finish reading in less time. Since you have some previous knowledge about the subject, the matter will not be completely new to you and therefore, you will be able to deal with it better. But for the other two passages, because of lack of interest in the topic, your engagement with the data will be half hearted. Owing to this, the comprehension process will slow down and the analysis will not be of the same quality as the first. It is, therefore, clear that the interest of the student in given passage greatly affects his/her performance in attempting the exercise. This is why it becomes important for an aspiring student to develop some interest at least in various fields whether it be science, politics, history, medicine, space, diplomacy, technology, literature, business, economy or world affairs etc.
This is where the first factor also comes into play. If a student reads from different topics, expands his/her reading to various field, he/she will automatically develop some interest in all the fields and also attain some knowledge about each sector. Combining the two, the efficiency of a student in attempting the RC section will be greatly improved.
For maximum utility of time, you can depend on News Channels. You can select certain talk shows aired on some good English news channels like NDTV, CNN IBN or TIMES NOW and watch them regularly. This will improve your general awareness, give you an analytical perspective, keep you updated with news from different sectors, and also improve your English.
An Inquisitive mind is a gift for student. Always maintain a desire to know more, keep yourself curious about every subject. Do not hesitate in discussing your opinions, asking questions, expressing your views with friends, teachers or experts. This kind of interaction and communication will greatly increase your interest and knowledge and you will be drawn towards reading automatically. Always keep in mind that developing these habits will help you reap long term benefits.
III. CONCENTRATION SPAN OF READER
Not only in reading but any task to be executed requires concentration. But reading requires it more. So, most students from primary to senior level are heard complaining about lack of concentration as the reason for their poor performance. It has become popular belief that concentration is naturally endowed on people and so some students have great concentration while others remain restless and cannot concentrate properly. Contrary to the popular belief, the truth is that even concentration can be achieved through effort.
Scientifically a human brain is not tuned to keep itself associated with a particular object for long time and that is why many of us face concentration problems. But these problems are easy to handle also. From usual experience you would know that while reading data of your interest, your mind exhibits more concentration. Why can you sit through a movie with complete concentration but not your maths book or even a newspaper for that matter? Because, things that you find entertaining stimulate your brain in a manner which is positive and, hence, you achieve higher level of concentration. Here again we see the first two factors affecting the third. If you develop interest in many subjects, your concentration will automatically increase. But there is a hitch, you can improve concentration by increasing interest and you can increase interest by reading more. But if you have poor concentration then you cannot read more. It is, therefore, a vicious circle.
It, therefore becomes important to improve your concentration first, to be able to then work on other factors. There are certain tricks that a student may follow to improve his/her concentration.
Always start with shorter, simpler pieces with subject of your interest and gradually move to heavier, more difficult passage. Through this you will first strengthen your confidence, build up your momentum and will be more prepared to deal with longer passages.
Always supervise your reading. Mark every time you get distraction or lose concentration. In this manner you will find out how many times you lost concentration in an hour, with every passing hour make a stronger effort to be more concentrated. You will find out that with each hour number of the marks will decrease.
IV. READING SPEED
From a competitive point of view, ‘Time is money,’ the faster you read, the more time you will have for comprehension and analysis. If you have followed the first three factors carefully then you will realise that your reading speed will improve greatly itself. But you must keep in mind certain points while trying to read fast. Often what students do is, in their attempt to read fast, they increase the speed of reading words without trying to either understand or retain the information. Remember-
Reading Comprehension = Reading + Comprehension. You must read at a fast speed but not at the cost of comprehension because in that case you’ll have to read the passage again and, therefore, the time you saved by reading fast will be consumed in re-reading.
Your Reading speed is the number of words you can read and understand per minute. Remember if you don’t understand because you’re reading very fast, it is of no use.
Calculate your reading speed. In this manner you will be able to supervise your improvement.
V. RETAINING CAPACITY
This is the most important part of Reading. If a student is able to read well, read with concentration, read fast and if not able to retain useful information of the data then all is lost. A good reader need not come back to the passage again and again to look for answers. The first reading of this passage should, therefore, be done with much care and attention so that the reader retains most of the matter.
You can follow some simple steps to improve your retaining capability. Every time you read a passage, make a mental note of the following:
(a) title of the passage
(b) basic theme of the passage
(c) the positions that the passage takes or the points that the passage makes
(d) conclusion of the passage.
VI. READIGNG APTITUDE
Reading Aptitude is different from reading skills. The points and factors discussed up till now, constitute reading skill and are regarding the manner you read. Reading Aptitude is what gives an upper edge to a student in the RC section or even otherwise if developed properly.
What is Reading Aptitude?
By reading aptitude, we mean the approach that you take while reading a passage or reading anything. The mind set with which you read it and what is your motive or expectation from the passage. Simply put, Reading aptitude is what you want from reading. If your approach is a reading piece only for the purpose of reading to collect facts to add to your existing store of knowledge or only as a practice to improve your reading speed or merely as an examination exercise you would not receive the same results as you will if you read the passage with a different attitude.
Consider every piece of written information as a prospective useful draft.
Begin with the rule of WIIFM – what’s in it for me. Once you have used your wisdom to decide if the passage is worth reading. Approach the passage as a mystery novel. There are hidden clues you must look for. From the beginning stay a careful, clever reader. Remember the first reading itself should give you all you may need to have from a passage.
If there are facts in the passage, quickly decide, as you read, which of these are important enough to be memorized and memorize them. If there is an argument in the passage, keep trail of how the argument proceeds and what are the different evidences offered.
In such a passage, as you read, involve your mind with the passage and form an opinion about the argument.
If a passage is about philosophy offering a philosophical perspective as you read, form a short summary of the philosophical theory in simple words.
If the essay describes a process or an event, then as you read on, form a chain of events in your mind.
Keeping these points in mind, will improve your reading and retaining efficiency greatly. What we have to target and achieve is not GOOD READING rather what we must try and attain is EFFECTIVE READING. A good reader may or may not be just as good at comprehension and analysis but an Effective Reader would definitely perform in comprehension and Analysis of data just as well. So, try and be an EFFECTIVE READER.
STEP 2: Comprehension follows reading and simply put means understanding the passage. But there are different categories of compositions and the time of comprehension for each would principally very. Nevertheless, there are some basic principles one must keep in mind while attempting to comprehend a passage.
- To make comprehension easy, follow the paragraph division of the passage.
- As you read each paragraph, mark the important points stated in the paragraph.
- When you have read the passage once, decide onto the basic theme of the passage.
- Quickly re-read the marked section of each paragraph and form a basic argument skeleton of the passage in your mind.
- Do not make reading a one way process rather treat it as a dialogue.
- Keep your brain actively involved in reading. Treat the passage as if its writer is talking to you. Make it more like a discussion, respond to what is being said in the passage. In this manner your comprehension level will increase greatly.
- If you do not understand a word, do not panic, you can make out the meaning of the word by fitting it into the larger sense of the sentence, similarly, if you don’t understand a phrase, try to fit it into the argument of the paragraph to ascertain its meaning.
- In case the subject of the paragraph is completely new to you, you must proceed with more care and cleverness. Approach the passage with confidence and an open mind. Do not get taken aback by field-specific jargon, these big and difficult sounding words would not affect your understanding of the composition much.
The different types of compositions that one can come across while attempting RC exercise are:
Let us now consider each type of passage and how should one deal with it.
- Narrative Passage:
A narrative passage usually tells a story which means a sequence of events. Thus, a narrative passage gives an orderly account of a series of related events or the successive particulars of an event. A narrative passage could be of various kinds. (1) biographic (2) History (3) Fiction (4) Execution of a process. The following is a paragraph from a narrative passage. Recently I spent several hours sitting under a tree in my garden with the social anthropologist William Ury, a Harvard University professor who specializes in the art of negotiation and wrote the bestselling book, Getting to Yes. He captivated me with his theory that tribalism protects people from their fear of rapid change. He explained that the pillars of tribalism that humans rely on for security would always counter any significant cultural or social change. In this way, he said, change is never allowed to happen too fast. Technology, for example, is a pillar of society. Ury believes that every time technology moves in a new or radical direction, another pillar such as religion or nationalism will grow stronger – in effect, the traditional and familiar will assume greater importance to compensate for the new and untested. In this manner, human tribes avoid rapid change that leaves people insecure and frightened. In a narrative passage, the questions asked are chiefly about the main ideas discussed in the narrative, some opinions of the narrator or about the general factual information provided through the passage and student must, therefore, concentrate on the main points of the narrative and select them as important. You can follow this simple procedure for attempting the comprehension of a Narrative passage.
If it is a biography, choose the important events of the life of the person, his/her most important works, Principles and ideas that govern the person’s life.
If it is a historical narrative, keep in mind the important stages of the event, the cause and the consequences, important people involved in the happenings of the event and their views. Also, it is always important to give weightage to the opinion of the author if expressed in the narrative.
If it is narrative about a process or an incident hen find out the following:-
- Theme of narration
- Basic exposition, i.e. the chief idea being narrated
- Statements that the narrator supports
- Idea or statements author does not agree with
- Certain factual descriptions in the passage
- Train of thought as the narrative moves
- Reflective Passage:
(a) Expository Passage: An expository passage is the most rigid and restricted form of composition. It is also the most common kind of writing. Exposition means to set forth a subject. So, an exposition composition would mean an orderly setting forth of facts and ideas. Its purpose is to explain its language is clear and direct. Its appeal is to the intellect. What you would mostly come across in an exposition essay will be definition, comparisons and contradictions. Exposition is defined in the dictionary as Explanation. Thus a student can expect a straight statement like tone in the passages are easier to deal with and can be mastered with practice and relatively less effort.
The following is a paragraph from an expository passage.
The painter is now free to paint anything he chooses. There are scarcely any forbidden subjects, and today everybody is prepared to admit that a painting of some fruit can be as important as a painting of a hero dying. The impressionists did as much as anybody to win this previously unheard-of freedom for the artist. Yet, by the next generation, painters began to abandon the subject altogether, and began to paint abstract pictures. Today the majority pictures painted are abstract.
Thus, for a painting to succeed it is essential that the painter and his public agree about what is significant. The subject may have a personal meaning for the painter or individual spectator; but there must also be the possibility of their agreement on its general meaning. It is at this point that the culture of the society and period in question proceeds the artist and his art. Renaissance art would have meant nothing to the Aztecs-and vice versa. If, to some extent, a few intellectuals can appreciate them both today it is because their culture is an historical one: its inspirations is history and therefore it can include within itself, in principle if not in every particular, all known developments to date.
As you can read yourself an expository essay in itself gives you a serial line of thought. What you have to do, in this case, is understand critically the exposition being made. Pay attention to the following when attempting an exposition essay.
- Main subject of the exposition
- Illustrations made about its different aspects
- Analysis done by the writer on the various definitions & statements
- Agreements or disagreements made by the writer with some views.
Let’s take the following questions as an example-
Which of the following is not necessarily among the attributes needed for a painter to succeed?
(1) The painter and his public agree on what is significant
(2) The painter is able to communicate and justify the significance of its subject selection.
(3) The subject has a personal meaning for the painter
(4) The painting of subject is inspired by historical developments.
The first option is clearly stated as a reason for the success of a painter and, thus, can be eliminated. The second option, if one thinks intelligently, is linked to the first. If only the painter is able to communicate or justify the significance of its subject selection, can there be any agreement between the painter and the public? This too, thus, gets eliminated. The third and the fourth options offer an ambiguity because both appear in the passage. A close study of the language of the statement and the question is required here. The question asks for a reason which is not necessarily required for the success of a painting, which means it may cause the success of a painting but not necessarily. The third option appears with a ‘may’ in the passage and can, therefore, be a possible answer. The fourth option is not the answer because the passage states that a painting can earn the appreciation of intellectuals if its inspiration is history and there is no ‘may’ or chance involved here. Thus, the fourth option can also be eliminated and we have our correct answer as option (3).
(b) Argumentative Passage: An argumentative passage incudes an argument and an argument is possible only about a subject that invites argument, conflicting opinions. Such an essay admits difference of opinions and, therefore, the purpose of an argumentative essay is to persuade the readers to adopt a certain idea, attitude or course of action and if possible to resolve the conflict implicit in the subject.
The following is an example of an argumentative passage:
The detective story, the adult analogue of juvenile adventure tale has at times been described as a glorification of intellectualized conflict. However, a great deal of the interest in the plots of these stories is sustained by withholding the unravelling of a solution to a problem. The effort of solving the problem is in itself not a conflict if the adversary (the unknown criminal) remains passive, like Nature whose secrets the scientist supposedly unravels by deduction. If the adversary actively puts obstacles in the detective’s path towards the solution, there is genuine conflict. But the conflict is psychologically interesting only to the extent that it contains irrational components such as a tactical error on the criminal’s part or the detectives’ insight into some psychological quirk of the criminal or something of the Art. Conflict conducted in a perfectly rational manner is psychologically no more interesting than western standard e.g. Tic-tac-toe, played perfectly by both players, is completely devoid of psychological interest. Chess may be psychologically interesting but only to the extent that it is played not quite rationally. Played completely rationally, chess would be no different from tic-tac-toe.
Internal conflicts are always psychologically interesting what we vaguely call “interesting” psychology is in very great measure the psychology of inner conflict. Inner conflict is also held to be an important component of serious literature as distinguished from less serious genres. The classical tragedy, as well as the serious novel, reveals the inner conflict of central figures. The superficial adventure story, on the other hand, depicts only external conflict; that is, the threats to the person with whom the reader (or viewer) identifies stem in these stories exclusively from external obstacles and from the adversaries who create them. On the most primitive level this sort of external conflict is psychologically empty. In the fisticuffs between the protagonists of good and evil, no psychological problems are involved or, at any rate, none are depicted in juvenile representations of conflict.
While dealing with an argumentative passage the reader should follow the following method to deal any question.
Narrow down the argument to its basis
Track the history of the question/conflict in the passage
Take a stand yourself or be clear as to what is author’s stand
Analyse the necessary idea expressed in the passage
Keep track of the evidence or examples offered by the author in support of his/her argument
Make note of the counter argument
Following this method the students should find out the right answer to the above mentioned question from the following option:
(a) Internal conflicts, rather than external conflicts, form an important component of serious literature as distinguished from less serious genres.
(b) Only juveniles or very few adults actually experience external conflict while internal conflict is more widely prevalent in society
(c) In situations of internal conflict, individuals experience a dilemma in solving their own preferences for different outcomes
(d) There are no threats to the reader in case of external conflicts.
Examples of Analytical and Philosophical passages are given below.
A student should follow the same method as for the expository passage and keep similar factors in mind.
Spare a moment to take stock of what’s been happening e past few months. Let’s start with the oil price, which has rocketed to more than $65 a barrel, more than double its level 18 months ago. The accepted wisdom is that we shouldn’t worry our little heads about that, because the incentives are there for business to build new production and refining capacity, which will effortlessly bring demand and supply back into balance and bring crude prices back to $25 a barrel. As Tommy Cooper used to say, ‘just like that’.
Then there is the result of the French referendum on the European constitution, seen as thick-headed luddites railing vainly against the modem world. What the French needed to realise, the argument went, was that there was no alternative to the reforms that would make the country more flexible, more competitive, more dynamic. Just the sort of reforms that allowed Gate Gourmet to sack hundreds of its staff at Heathrow after the sort of ultimatum that used to be handed out by Victorian mill owners. An alternative way of looking at the French “non” is that our neighbours translate “flexibility” s “you’re fired.”
Finally, take a squint at the United States. Just like Britain a century ago, a period of unquestioned superiority is drawing to a close. China is still a long way from matching America’s wealth, but it is growing at a stupendous rate and economic strength brings geopolitical clout. Already, there is evidence of a new scramble for Africa as Washington and Beijing compete for oil stocks.
(c) Philosophical passage: In response to logo centrism, deconstruction posits the idea that the mechanism by which this process of marginalization and the ordering of truth occurs is through establishing systems of binary opposition. Oppositional linguistic dualisms, such as rational/irrational, culture/nature and good/bad are not, however, construed as equal partners as they are in, say, the semiological structuralism of Saussure. Rather, they exist, for Derrida, in a series of hierarchical relationships with the first term normally occupying a superior position. Derrida defines the relationship between such oppositional terms using the neologism difference. This refers to the realization that in any statement, oppositional terms differ from each other (for instance, the difference between rationality and irrationality is constructed through oppositional usage), and at the same time, a hierarchical relationship is maintained by the deference of one term to the other (in the positing of rationality over irrationality, for instance). It is this later point which is perhaps the key to understanding Derrida’s approach to deconstruction.
STEP 3: Data Analysis is the most important step of Reading Comprehension. It is the stage where you analyse the read and comprehended data to find the answers for questions asked in the exercise to Reading Comprehension.
STEP 4: By Data Selection we means choosing the important sections of a given passage. As you read a draft, you realise that not every word of it is just as useful. You have to, therefore, choose and retain only those part of the passage that are useful to you. The fillers (information added to fill the gaps in the themes – examples, illustrations etc.) can be ignored. A similar process is done while attempting comprehension when the students were advised to mark the important sections of the passage while reading so that the student can revisit the passage without wasting any time.
Also, in future, or while reading anything, you should always select the useful information and store it in your memory so that you can use it later on whenever the need arises.
I. THE MAIN IDEA OR THEME BASED QUESTIONS
In this type of questions the passage will be followed by a question with certain statements which may or may not be the central idea of the given passage, you have to choose the statement that will best qualify as the central idea discussed in the passage.
The question can also ask for the most suitable title for the passage which will also correspond to the central theme in the passage. Another form in which this type of question can be asked is ‘which of the following statements is best supported by the passage’. In this question, you may be given statements more than one of which can be inferred from the passage but only one statement will be best supported by the passage, which will be the central theme of the passage.
HOW TO DEAL THE THEME BASED QUESTIONS:
As would be clear from the example the theme based questions test your understanding of the most important idea or conception of the passage. You can call it the essence of the passage.
- When reading a passage always keep in mind the questions – what is the passage trying to do? It is only making a statement? Is it making a criticism? Is it doing an analysis? Is it supporting a particular belief?
In this manner you will be able to find the MOTIVE of the passage. This step will help you answer questions like ‘what is the primary purpose of the passage ‘OR’ what is the main objective of the passage. Consider Passage IV as an example. The passage makes a statement in the beginning “It is interesting to study the mind of an advertiser” and throughout the passage tries to study the mind of advertiser by citing several examples of advertisements – what fears of human minds are they targeted at, what do advertisers do to make advantage of these fears. Thus, the objective of the passage remains to study the mind of an advertiser.
- As you read the passage, select the most important paragraph which generally contains the theme of the passage. You can then in mind the central idea of the passage. This will help you attempt equations of the form, ‘what is the main concern of the passage? In questions such as these, the options given in the question are sometimes true statements but not the central idea. You can compare the theme with the options and eliminate the wrong options. For example in Passage I.
On reading the passage, we can easily make out that the central idea is ‘Life and different way it can be lived in”
Now consider the different options:
(a) Bismarck’s opinion about nations – This is an idea in the passage but not our theme.
(b) Definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – This is also an idea in the passage but not the theme.
(c) Musings on how life should be lived – This corresponds to the theme idea and is therefore the answer.
(d) What the realists have to say – This is an idea in the passage but not the central idea.
Even for choosing a title an in Passage, one must compare all the given options with the theme and the option that corresponds best with the theme can be chosen as the title.
This way we reach the MT – method i.e. the motive, theme method.
II. The second type of questions are the View of the Author type of questions regarding the main point discussed in the passage.
In this type of questions, the questions will test your understanding of the author’s view and opinion stated in passage about the central and even subordinate issue. The question may be about a specific point that author makes or a general stand that author takes. It can question you about writer’s attitude towards the central idea whether or not he agrees with it, the question can also be about more than one opinion of the author. The following are the examples of this type of questions.
HOW TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT AUTHOR’S VIEWS
To answer questions about author’s opinions, one should follow the inference technique.
By inference one means understanding the passage and deriving a logical conclusion from it. The questions can be about opinions of author mentioned directly in the passage or views that are indirectly expressed in the passage.
For the views directly mentioned in the passage the reader should locate the relevant part of the passage and choose the right answer.
For example in the passage
(a) a quote said by Plato and not by the author
(b) what is said by the author in the very first sentence
(c) what is not meant by in the passage at all
(d) what is not suggested by the passage directly or clearly.
Therefore, one can locate the sentence directly mentioned by the author and choose the right answer.
On the other hand in some questions the opinion of the author may not be directly displayed in the passage and will have to be inferred from some sentences in the passage. Consider passage III.
These types of questions usually focus on a specific paragraph and their meaning as a contribution to the whole passage.
The question may ask you about facts mentioned in the passage or ideas stated or implied in the passage. It may even demand you to draw conclusion from a specific passage.
HOW TO DEAL WITH SUPPORTING IDEA QUESTIONS
Since supporting idea questions mostly focus on a particular paragraph or a specific section of the passage, the first step of the answering should be locating the relevant section in the passage. Following this, the answer could either be supplied by the passage directly or will have to be picked up through inference.
Now consider passage I as example, Question I can be answered by pinning down the relevant sentence in the passage which is “Now they face a foreign exchange crisis and an Unemployment crisis the first indicating their inability to function in an international economy”. From this line, it can be inferred that a foreign exchange crisis is being faced by underdeveloped countries because they failed to function in an international economy.
So for Question II, the relevant line of the passage is the last line which states clearly that the national middle classes take advantage of the rivalry between American and non-American Oligopolists.
V. INFERENCE BASED QUESTION
By inference, it is meant reaching a logical conclusion after analysis. In question such as these, the answer would not be available directly in the passage.
VI. STYLE AND TONE QUESTIONS
These questions are about the language of the passage and mostly aimed at testing your language skills. The different types of style and tone questions are-
A. Synonym and Antonym questions
In these you may be given a word from the passage and asked for a synonym or antonym of the given world.
B. Meanings of words and phrases
In this type of question, you can be given a word or phrase from the passage and asked to replace them with most suitable word.
C. Tone of the passage
This type of question asks about the tone of the passage, i.e. what is the style of writing of the passage. The following can be some examples of different tones and style of writing a passage.
- Descriptive – When the passage is only describing a situation or process.
- Illustrative – When the passage gives several examples to explain a particular idea it is describing.
- Argumentative – When the passage is in form of an argument giving more than one point of view which may differ.
- Analytical – when the passage, besides giving information or idea, also studies the effects and causes of the idea it is explaining.
- Pleading – When the language of the passage is that of request.
- Prescribing – If the passage is trying to give an advice to the reader.
- Dogmatic – When the passage takes a strong stand and preaches to the reader that, it is the right stand.
- Consoling – When the passage tries to give explanations for, and pacify the result if an event or proceed or idea that caused some harm or grief.