The most important thing about RC is understanding what you read. Being able to read fast is also important, but remember that speed is always secondary to understanding. Below are some tips for exam-preparation as well as for general improvement.
It is a known fact that people who have a regular reading habit do much better in RC tests than those who don't. Regular reading improves not just your reading speed, but also the depth of your understanding of an unfamiliar passage. The most important thing is to cultivate a regular reading habit that you follow with discipline. Here are some things you can do:
Experts describe Reading Comprehension as; ‘Reading comprehension (RC) is the ability to read and understand unfamiliar materials and to answer questions about them. You will be presented with passages drawn from a variety of subject areas, including humanities, the sciences, latest happenings in society etc. The questions will ask you to analyze what is stated in the passage and to identify underlying assumptions and implications.’
Among the various passages, you need to select those passages which will be easier for you to answer. Experts suggest factors which you should keep in mind while choosing the RC passages. ‘The topic of the passage, whether it is to your liking or not; question patterns, whether they are direct or twisted are some of the important factors. The ratio of the length of the passages and the number of questions is another important factor. A long passage with few questions will pay little dividend in relation to the time one puts in.’
Most of you face the question: How to answer the questions of long RC passages in a short span of time. If it is a long passage, everyone else will take time. What you need to do is to comprehend it fast, rather than reading it fast. ‘Your focus while reading should be NOT to READ fast but to COMPREHEND fast. ’.
According to another expert, in order to tackle long RC passages, practice is the key. ‘Try to get more practice in reading, particularly in reading dense materials fast. Learn to look at each question in the exam from first principles,’ he says. He also suggests timing your reading of the passages.
‘When you are starting out with your RC preparation, cut out passages, which have a similar style and are more or less of equal length. Determine your reading speed on day one. Let’s say it is 150 words per minute. Read at that speed for sometime, say a week or something and after that, stretch yourself by increasing time constraints, say 150 words per 45 seconds,’ he explains.
Since last year, exams like CAT, NMAT and MAT have become computer based. Those who are concerned about dealing the RCs from the screen instead of paper, experts suggest them ways to handle it. Experts suggest that if you practice reading more articles and news on your computer and take notes in your rough paper (to be provided in the online CAT exam) while reading it, you will be better equipped.
‘Focus on comprehending the passage and not on speed reading. You may make a note of important points as you read on the rough paper provided. This will help you answer the questions faster and minimize the time required to browse through a passage every time you answer a question. You have to make full use of the highlight option which is provided in the computer based CAT exam.’