Imagine if you can’t make out any words in the language nor understand the context of it, how will you ever be able to contribute effectively to a conversation in either written or spoken English? You’ll struggle to understand questions in the descriptive paper during your Bank Mains or SSC CGL exams. You’ll find it challenging to follow the passage because you can’t interpret the meaning of the comprehension. How can you master reading comprehension skills to score well in the descriptive paper?
How to Master Reading Comprehension Skills
Some of us are auditory learners, which means we listen and learn a language. I’m an auditory learner. I pick up languages by just observing other people speak. Some of us are visual learners. Which means they see images and reading images helps them learn a language. And the rest learn when they read.
Though reading sounds boring to some of us, we must accept the fact that reading is essential to boost comprehension skills. It’s not just understanding what is being written but what is implied as well and that takes practice. Identifying the main idea of the passage and appreciating the features such as the author’s tone and attitude as well as the organisation of the passage is key.
So, I will address 4 strategies that will help you master Reading Comprehension skills.
Strategy 1: Learn To Skim To Understand Overall Message Or Identify The Main Theme
Skimming meaning giving the comprehension a quick read. When you read a passage, figure out what the main theme of that passage is. Try and create a suitable title for it. This helps in understanding the context as a whole.
Strategy 2: Scan The Passage For Specific Details
Is there a problem that is being addressed? Are the reasons for the problem mentioned? Are any solutions provided for the problem? Who are the key players? Does it contain any follow-up actions that need to be taken?
Create a one-word or one-line summary for each paragraph. This helps in condensing essential information to answer questions appropriately.
Strategy 3: Analyse Positive Or Negative Detail
Questions that require you to read between the lines are the hardest to answer.
For example, “According to the passage, what is true or what is not true”. Analyse to understand what the end game of the passage is. Whether it is in the positive light or not.
Strategy 4: Expand Your Vocabulary
Knowledge of certain words and their meanings go a long way in helping your reading fluency and comprehension skills. Questions pertaining to synonyms and antonyms will no longer pose a challenge.
To summarise, the 4 strategies to master reading comprehension skills are:
- Skim: Skim to summarise a passage
- Scan: Scan to distinguish between minor and major points and reason from incomplete data to infer missing information
- Analyse positive or negative detail: Identify the key points to draw conclusions from the information provided
- Expand vocabulary: Expand your vocabulary to understand the meaning of individual words and sentences which will thereby help in understanding the meaning of paragraphs and larger bodies of text
There is no real shortcut to improve your critical reading ability. Reading and understanding a passage requires far more than a passive understanding of the words and sentences that it contains. It requires active engagement with the text, asking questions, formulating and evaluating hypotheses and reflecting on the relationship of the particular text to other texts and information.
A famous quote that comes to my mind is “A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.” I don’t know about you but I’d like to take matters into my own hands and not rely on someone else to improve my reading skills.