To Read or Not To Read…


[Written by Tanisha Pande of Batch of 2017 (NALSAR), this article is the first of the ‘CLATGyan Reading Comprehension’ series. A link to the second article of this series has been provided at the bottom.]

Reading Comprehension. Two simple words, right? Wrong! These two words carry a lot of weight in your CLAT paper and since CLAT is what you’re aiming for, you should probably perfect yourself at the art of going about the comprehensions, which form a crucial part of the English section.

Well, what does an RC entail? Quite simple, an RC can be thought to be a couple of paragraphs of boring and often pointless rambling, designed to confuse you. If you’re lucky you might learn something from it. (an RC once taught me that Polar bears are left handed, I feel solidarity with them now) And if not, ah well, it’s called life.

Now, the first thing you have to do is to NOT panic. Reading comprehensions are usually long and you may get more than one in the English section. If you’re one of those who’ve decided that you’ll attempt the English section at the very end and appoint the least time to it, you might be in some trouble. Trust me, I was. When you’re running out of time, your brain decides to panic as some sort of warped and self-defence mechanism. At such a point, attempting to understand a long paragraph with some high-brow words is probably not the wisest decision you can make. So, what you need to do is to devote adequate time to the reading comprehensions, keep calm and breathe.

Then you pick up your pencil and start reading. It’s crucial that you know the meaning of the word ‘carefully’, if not then go check it out NOW because this word happens to be the cornerstone of your preparation. You need to read the paragraphs carefully. Please do not confuse it with ‘slowly’ because that will just be, for lack of a better word, sad! Please ensure that your brain is registering everything you read and you have a fairly clear idea of what the RC was all about.

You need to make sure that while you are reading the paragraph your brain has not zoned out to another dimension. It’s happened to me once, I read an entire paragraph while I was dreaming of mozzarella cheese sticks and as a result the RC made as much sense to me as ‘Baby, baby, baby oh’ would have to Keats.

So you read the comprehension carefully. If you think that you can briefly skim over the RC in a few seconds and then attempt the questions, you are wrong. As my senior eloquently put it, “it’s called a reading comprehension for a reason”. Make sure you are adjusting to the author’s flow. If it’s an argument then you focus on the reasons the author gives and whether he’s for or against a particular motion. If it’s a narrative then pay attention to the adjectives the author uses to describe places/events and if he’s stressing on something in particular. You also need to keep in mind WHAT the paragraph is talking about. Let’s say you have a line:

‘She sells sea shells by the sea shore’.

Here, the author is probably talking about her career and not about her love of the sea. So it’s important that you keep track of what the author is saying and the reasons he’s giving for saying so.

The only way to perfect yourself at the art of putting yourself in the author’s shoes is to read. Read all you can. If you don’t have time to read books or don’t like doing so, start by reading the newspaper. This will help you in your GK section as well and effectively kill two birds with one stone (PETA is going to hate the person who coined that phrase).

Next in this series : Rudiments of Reading Comprehensions


  1. “dreaming of cheese sticks”-i can relate with that and “baby,baby to Keats”- funny:)
    anyway, the article was really useful.

  2. First para, “Reading Comprehension. Two simple words, right? Wrong!”

    Second para, “Well, what does an RC entail? Quite simple”

  3. i agree to whatever said we have to have focus and which i think is the most important one. Thank you. ! It really helped us to keep up with the focus.

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