How to improve your ‘Reading Comprehension’ skills?

What is Reading Comprehesion?

Reading Comprehension is one of the most commonly used methods to judge people’s Verbal Ability. It’s a compulsory part of admission tests like CAT and GMAT and some job related tests. The Reading Comprehension part of the Verbal Ability section requires a good skill over the English language and comprehending. In order to improve on your Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability section you need to broaden your background knowledge by reading newspapers, magazines and books.

In general reading comprehension means how fast one can read a passage, assimilate the information given in the article and respond to questions asked based on the facts present in the article. Mind it its not the imaginative part of your brain been tested, its all about what you have read and the facts established from the information in the passage.

Strategies to master reading comprehension

Read, read & read – simply read a lot:

Reading is the key for this part of any verbal ability test. Reading helps as you get to know about a lot of topics and that increases your general knowledge as well. There are enormous amount of reading material around us like newspapers, magazines, books and online content.
Apart from reading a lot, what you should practice is Speed Reading. Speed Reading will help you to comprehend the passage faster and hence score better in the Reading Comprehension passages for your verbal ability test.

1. Look for keywords and focus on 3-4 main words in a sentence.
2. Identify main parts of the paragraph and go slow on them initially if it helps shaping the picture.
3. Mark important words, phrases and/or sentences to begin with but gradually try to identify these without marking them.
4. Improve your reading skills by timing your reading speed and try decrease the time you take to read gradually.
5. As you start picking keywords and important phrases to roll your eyes fast from left to right, focusing on main words.
6. After reading, write the essence/ summary of that without looking at the article. This will help you know how much you remember of that passage.

Improve speed to answer Reading Comprehension:

Reading comprehension requires enthusiasm, mental structures for holding ideas, concentration and good study techniques. Here are some suggestions to improve.

Keep material handy for free time
Write a quick summary of about 100 to 150 words every day on the editorial as it will help in building thought process. Make a note of the difficult words and find their meanings from a Standard English dictionary. Try and maintain notebook/prepare flash cards that you can go through in your free time.

Develop a broad background
Broaden your background knowledge by reading newspapers, magazines and books. Become interested in world events.

Know the structure of paragraphs
Good writers construct paragraphs that have a beginning, middle and end. Often, the first sentence will give an overview that helps provide a framework for adding details. Also, look for transitional words, phrases or paragraphs that change the topic.

Create motivation and interest
Preview material, ask questions, discuss ideas with classmates/ colleagues/ friends. The stronger your interest, the greater your comprehension.

Pay attention to supporting cues
Carefully study pictures, graphs and headings. Read the first and last paragraph in a chapter, or the first sentence in each section.

Highlight, summarize and review
Just reading a book once is not enough. To develop a deeper understanding, you have to highlight, summarize and review important ideas.

Build a good vocabulary
For most educated people, this is a lifetime project. The best way to improve your vocabulary is to use a dictionary regularly. You might carry around a pocket dictionary and use it to look up new words. Or, you can keep a list of words to look up at the end of the day. Concentrate on roots, prefixes and endings. Going through word-of-the-day of CAT4MBA will definitely help you in this regard.

Use a systematic reading technique like SQR3
Develop a systematic reading style, like the SQR3 method and make adjustments to it, depending on priorities and purpose. The SQR3 steps include Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.

Monitor effectiveness
Good readers monitor their attention, concentration and effectiveness. They quickly recognize if they’ve missed an idea and backup to reread it.

Tip of the day: “It has been generally found that reading quickly help in comprehending better, so probably quick reading say 325-350 words per minute will be quite good for good verbal ability”

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