Comprehension passages, Questions, Tips and Video

hension is the act of understanding. The word 'comprehend' means 'to understand'. No matter how slowly or quickly a person reads it is of little value if they don’t comprehend and retain what they have read. How many times have you read a sentence and realized that your mind was blank so you had to read the same sentence over again. Worse, how many times have you paid attention to what you were reading and yet you still didn’t feel like you were grasping what was being said?

Now Comprehension is an important part of every competitive exam like IBPS, UGC, UPSC, SSC CTET etc., you are required to go through the given passage very carefully, understand the meaning, notice the context meaning of various expressions and then answer the questions based on it. It tests your vocabulary, sense of language, ability to locate meanings, and your intelligence to assess the real spirit of the passage and infer conclusions from the given context. The majority of the questions will be directly related to the passage; a few questions will test your ability to find the context meaning of words and a few other questions will test your ability to find suitable antonyms to the words used in a particular context in the passage.


Tips to Solve Comprehension Questions

First, read the passage carefully and understand what is stated or implied in the passage. Even when you do not agree with what the author of the passage is saying, do not let your opinions or knowledge influence your judgement of what the author is saying.

  • It is more time saving to read the questions first, retain them in memory and then go through the passage. This would help you pick up the answers instantly even when you read the passage quickly.
  • Before finalizing your answer, go through the other alternatives as well. This is because a few of the given options will be partially true answers and the other will be a fully true answer. Only if you check all the options, you can choose the fully true option.
  • Certain words and expressions will be given in bold type in the passage. Glance though them carefully and understand their context meaning. This is because you may have to find the synonyms and antonyms for those words.
  • The nature, style and tone of the passage should be noted as well. There will be questions based on them. The passage can be argumentative, descriptive, explanatory or narrative. The tone of the passage may be humorous, serious, sympathetic, sarcastic, critical, defensive and so on.
  • Questions can also be asked about the most suitable title for the passage as well. The title should be based on the central idea of the passage.

Applying the IEI formula (Information, Elimination and Inference) will help you crack the passage easily.

  • Information- Every passage offers you some 'information.' Some questions are straightforward and they may be answered from the information within the passage itself.
  • Elimination- The process of 'elimination' is striking down the alternatives on justifiable grounds until you have a positive answer. Usually, it helps in answering questions of the 'true or false' category.
  • Inference- It means to arrive at a logical conclusion. A question, which cannot be answered by information or elimination, requires the process of inference.


Example and Explanation to Solve Comprehension Questions

The strength of the electronic industry in Japan is the Japanese ability to organize production and marketing, rather than their achievement in original research. The British are generally recognized as a far more inventive collection of individuals, but they never seem able to exploit what they invent.

Question 1: The strength of the electronic industry in Japan is:
(a) The production and marketing capabilities.
(b) Original research.
(c) Power of inventions.
(d) That the electronic industry is not strong in Japan.
(e) None of these.

Answer: (a) The production and marketing capabilities.

Explanation: In the passage the answer to this question is given very clearly and even if a candidate reads it casually, he will never miss the answer. Most of the questions for your exam will be of this type. Here the 'information' part of the IEI formula has been worked out

Question 2: Which of the following statements is NOT TRUE according to the above passage:
(a) The British failed to market their inventories.
(b) The British are far more inventive than the Japanese
(c) Production and marketing abilities and original research work are important for the development of the industry.
(d) The Japanese electronic industry has posed a threat to the British.
(e) All statements are true.

Answer: (d) The Japanese electronic industry has posed a threat to the British.

Explanation: It is not mentioned in the passage that the Japanese electronic industry has
posed any threat to the British. All other statements are true. What is important is that all
these statements are based on the 'inference' (IEI formula), we have drawn from the
passage. Therefore, you have to analyse the given information carefully and draw
conclusion from it.

Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are TRUE as per passage?
(a) Japanese electronic industry is not strong.
(b) British seem to be able to exploit what they invent.
(c) Japanese ability to organize production and marketing is the strength of their electronic industry.
(d) The strength of Japanese electronic industry depends on achievement in original research.
(e) All of the above.

Answer: (c) Japanese ability to organize production and marketing is the strength of their electronic industry.

Explanation: As per the passage, all the options except (c) are wrong and hence can be eliminated. The elimination part of the IEI formula has been applied here to eliminate the wrong alternative and come to the positive answer.


How to Practice Comprehension

Read with the Intent to Teach What You Have Learned

It has been said that you really don’t understand something unless you can teach it to someone else. If a person is reading material that they know they will need to teach to someone else, their focus greatly increases along with their comprehension and retention. Conversely, when people read without the belief that they will be called upon to share what they are reading with others, they often have a low interest level which results in low comprehension. For this reason, one of the most effective methods of meaningful reading is to plan on teaching what you are reading to someone else.

Speed Reading Improves Comprehension

Interestingly, people seem to have better comprehension when they speed read. This is because speed reading requires you to read in chunks instead of focusing on individual words. When you read in chunks it is easier to get a more complete and accurate picture of what is being said. Hence, comprehension is improved.

Creating Good Mental Images

Another secret to improving reading skills is to learn to create mental images based on what you read. Studies indicate that the better readers make a wide range of visual, auditory and other sensory images when they read. This enables them to become more emotionally involved when they read and the images, along with the information, is retained along with a greater comprehension of what they read.

Asking Questions along the Way

Good readers tend to ask questions about what they are reading before, during and after the reading. This makes them much more engaged and involved in what they are reading. By being more engaged, they increase in comprehension and retention.

Practice These Secret to Increase Comprehension and Retention

Good readers should actively be increasing their vocabularies. Reading with real intent and learning to read words in chunks instead of individual words can make a huge difference in how well you understand what you have read. By increasing vocabulary, creating mental images while you read, asking questions about the storyline and identifying the main points of what is being written, your understanding of what you have read and your ability to remember it will skyrocket.


Comprehension Questions from Previous Year Exams

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Comprehension Video Lecture



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