Rudiments of Reading Comprehension



Well, it’s called a reading comprehension for a reason. If you are not used to reading long passages, then please start practicing now. And no, this is not long enough. Go read this for practice. Hehe, I was just kidding. Passages are going to be far more convoluted than that. They’re going to require you to think beyond the obvious written word. What’s more, options for questions are, in all probability, going to sound rather similar on first reading. So, you’re basically going to have to read carefully and analyse (and comprehend) not just the passage itself, but also the questions and the options that follow.

CLAT 2011 promises to challenge you on the spot. RCs (given that it’s the English section, for further reference – this is an acronym) have always sought to do that. This year, the Committee spells out what you’re to be tested on; namely: central themes, broad understanding and contextual meanings. For contextual meanings, it will be essential that you have some sort of inkling as to the base meaning of the word. Sometimes you can guess without the slightest idea of the basic meaning, but where one mark makes a lot of difference, I don’t see you wanting to take that chance. So, while vocabulary (in the traditional sense of the term) is out, I’d suggest you continue brushing it up anyway.

Your understanding of the passage is intrinsically linked with what you believe to be the central theme. There is no set format to gauging this, it comes solely from instinct and practice. What you can do is look for clues – stress words, repeated ideas, etc.

What you should be doing regularly is this:

1. Practise reading. If you read slowly, then it’s useful (I’m told) to run your pencil along each line faster than you usually read. If you coerce yourself to move with the pencil tip, you read faster than usual.

2. Practise sensibly. Don’t read with gay abandon. Please attempt to summarise in your head the key points in the paragraph and what you think may be subjects for questions. If you do this, your concentration span will automatically increase.

3. Whenever you read something you don’t understand – look it up. Don’t say that your dictionary is too far away or the internet connection is too slow to load BAD excuses, those.

4. When you come across answers in practice questions that don’t match with your understanding, question. This is the subject of another rant somewhere on CG, don’t bother reading it.

5. Enjoy it. If you’re bored reading comprehension passages, then you’re automatically going to slip off and lose track of what you were reading. No matter how mundane the passage, please try to enjoy it. Try. I’m not saying you’ll always succeed, but try. As Aymen added, you’ve got to enjoy it, else you’ll hate law school.

That’s that. I really don’t have any more gyan to give right now. We’ll upload one RC questionnaire (3 RCs) per week for your practice. At the end of which, if you have any problems, we can always discuss. I suppose that would make more sense. Till next week, keep reading. Anything. Or, rather, everything.


Next in the series: ‘Solving Reading Comprehensions


  1. Hey! =)
    Anirudh, The exact break-up of marks is unknown, but it’s safe to hazard a guess at about 10-15 marks.
    Abhinav, we’ll do a piece on parajumbles soon. Anjali, who has worked extensively on them, will be the ideal person to help. =D

    • There is no specific book on RC (unless you consider the ‘theme-detection’ or the CR questions to be RC). LSAT papers are a good bet.
      CG would answer this better of course.

  2. Hey.
    To be rather honest, I’d prefer it if you simply read as much as possible. I haven’t really ever referred to a RC book per se, so I can’t tell you the name of one right off. I shall, however, get back to you in a couple of days after going through some, ok?

  3. nice one ..thnks a lot . well , how can we start with our vocabulary . lyk i am very new to this CLAT thingy , i am a 2013 aspirant . I wish u cld help me out 🙂 

  4. Hey!!
    As CLAT 2012 approaches, How much time should be devoted to English alone?? Given that My reading speed is pretty good. and what are the chances that there is gonna be a repeat of CLAT 2011 in Eng, which had 4 MIGHTY Comprehension Passages??

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