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Introduction: Reading Comprehension | General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering PDF Download

Reading Comprehension (RC) forms one of the most critical parts of the CAT question paper. 

Before moving on to start to learn this part; let's look at the analysis of CAT 2020 slot 1 & 2 analysis of VA - RC section:

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section in CAT 2022 question paper. Key highlights of the section are:

  • VARC section had 24 Questions
  • Total marks allotted for the section were 72.
  • Number of RC Passages: 4 with 4 questions each
  • Number of RC Based questions: 16 out of 24 (~67% questions)

Try previous year RC solved passages to get an idea about:

CAT PYQ 2021: Reading Comprehension 

CAT PYQ 2020: Reading Comprehension 

CAT PYQ 2019: Reading Comprehension - 1

CAT PYQ 2019: Reading Comprehension- 2

CAT 2018 Reading Comprehension Slot- 1

CAT 2018 Reading Comprehensions Slot- 2

Important Skills & Habits Needed

  • As seen, 70% of questions in the VA RC section are from Reading Comprehension. Hence, developing the appropriate level of skills for tackling the reading comprehension section is something that you cannot afford to ignore during the CAT exam preparation phase.
  • Needless to say, the correlation between good Reading Ability and good Reading Comprehension Ability is very high. Hence, to develop your ability to solve reading comprehension questions, your first focus should be to take your reading ability up from its current level (whatever that might be).

Checkout what topper's had to say about RC section's importance:

"As someone who isn’t very strong at vocabulary, I had decided to focus on other aspects of the VARC section. I began with the RC portion considering its huge weightage and focused on getting accuracy first by practicing without any time limit. To improve my reading speed, I decided to read random online articles about things that are not my direct area of interest like botany, psychology etc. I couldn’t get my accuracy high enough in the VA section and thus I decided to focus most of my exam time on the RCs."

-Yogesh Taneja, CAT 100%ile, IIM Calcutta

What is Reading Comprehension?

  • At its most basic, reading comprehension is the ability to understand what you are reading. 
  • However, reading comprehension is more than having a basic understanding of what you have read which is useful for reading directions, signs, and labels—but less valuable when reading denser work like books, articles, and emails. 
    Introduction: Reading Comprehension | General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering
  • Rather, reading comprehension is an in-depth understanding of what you have read, using text and subtext to fully understand the text's meaning and emotion as a whole.

Why is Reading Comprehension Important?

  • Reading is a basic and vital skill for success in most fields of human endeavour. Therefore, it is no wonder that tremendous emphasis is placed on developing this skill at the school level and later.
  • As a business management student, and later on as a manager, you will be required to read quite a lot, and you must possess this skill in good measure. 
  • One would be hard-pressed to find a successful business management professional who is not good at reading. It is for this reason that management entrance tests like CAT test you on this skill.

Things that Should be Avoided

These are the PROBLEMS you would FACE IN RCs & problems to be avoided:

Problem 1: Identifying Main Idea – Lack of focused reading

 Why is it so?

Today's generation is notorious for having a concise attention span. Members of the digital generation are very impatient. They want everything fast, and you might skip identifying the Main Idea.

EduRev's Tips

Keep watch over your thought as your thought diverts from reading, keep it back again and again for reading. After a period of time, it will become a habit.

Try looking at this example:

Example: Try finding the Main Idea of passage - 'They have a dismal track record when it comes to predicting economic growth, exchange rates or the direction of the stock market. So, you might have expected economists to despair at the thought of forecasting sports result. Not at all. Efforts to work out the numbers of medals which countries are likely to get in the Athens Olympics, which start on August 13th, are well underway'.

Main Idea: The topic is forecasting sports results and the last sentence is the idea sentence.

Problem 2: Being Uninterested in the Content of the Reading Material

 Why is it so?

Lack of motivation leads to poor reading skills. This will affect your overall understanding of passage because of your Lack of understanding the language.

EduRev's Tip

Keep motivating yourself to help you read the subject you would not be interested.

Problem 3: Finding the Reading Material to be too Tough & Meeting Unfamiliar Words

 Why is it so?

  • While reading a piece of text, we tend to move back, cross-check and re-read the things we have already read. 
  • Generally, this happens because of lack of interest, complex vocabulary, or poor reader retention. This is known as regression or skips back
  • The habit of regression has to be minimized if not eliminated. Regression is a big-time killer. It breaks the flow of thought and leads to poor concentration, which leads to more regressions, which further lowers down the reading speed.

EduRev's Tip

Try to connect the difficult word with an overall idea of passage (context). Over a period of time (3-4 months), your understanding of vocabulary will enhance even without using a dictionary.

Consider the following examples. See whether you can define the words in italics and underline in the following two sentences: 

Example: Consider the line 'Judge John Hass imposed a publication ban on Philip Sartre's testimony, former head of Amans and Mather, an advertising agency, as he is to stand trial on fraud charges.'

 Try to think of a word that nears the meaning of 'Testimony' in the context of the above line.

Sol: Here, the word testimony means statement.

Question for Introduction: Reading Comprehension
Try yourself:Consider the line - 'The charismatic leader's homecoming will further complicate Ecuador's already turbulent political scene.'

What could be nearest meaning to the word 'Charismatic' in the above line?

View Solution


Problem 4: Lacking understanding the overall structure and organization of the passage

 Why is it so?

  • Lack of mental organizational skills

Try this excerpt from a passage of CAT 2017 to understand this aspect better!

Example: "Progress is being made, albeit slowly. Democracy has brought increased (and better directed) social spending. Economic growth has returned after several years of stagnation. New political forces and the alternation of power are making politics more representative."

Explanation: The underlined part of the paragraph above has the author using three examples to explain the point of how progress is being made.

Here's one more!

Example: Setting up a business abroad has always been risky and not just financially. To create a colony of 90,000 white settlers that, in the late 17th century, earned enormous profits from growing tobacco in Virginia, required the immigration of around 116,000 people. The chaps who sailed for India a century later had to endure even worse. “The variety of means by which a man could be carried off was quite bewildering,” observes a recent book on the East India Company.” Malaria, typhoid or enteric fever, cholera, dysentery and smallpox were the most common diseases, and the bites of scorpions and mad dogs were frequently lethal.

Explanation: The underlined part of the paragraph above has the author using two examples to explain the point that setting up a business abroad has always been risky.

EduRev's Tip

Passage structure = General words → to specific words → to more depth. Try to tabulate or organize or quick imagination (create a rough image) of the passage keywords.

Problem 5: Difficulty to recall Facts, Information to draw opinions & inferences

Let us first understand what facts and opinions are. We often come across situations where a person gets emotional about an issue and starts to speak and give his/her opinions on the basis of emotions, wherein he/she is expected to speak objectively. Especially in informal situations, people want to hear facts rather than emotional opinions.

 Why is it so?

Lack of curiosity to understand the passage. As a reader, both facts and opinions are crucial for you. All good readers have the ability to differentiate between fact and opinion. Knowing the difference is important in evaluating what is read because most of what we come across as readers is a mixture of fact and opinion.

EduRev's Tip

A handy way to identify opinions is that normally, opinions contain a set of ‘value’ words—words which show judgment. You should keep looking for such 'value' words.

Example: Statement - 'Productivity growth is probably the single most important indicator of an economy’s health: it drives real income, inflation, interest rates, profits and share prices'.

Inference: There are several indicators of an economy’s health—out of which productivity growth is one of the most important.

Key phrase - 'probably the single most important indicator.'

Try this one as well!

Example: Astrologers habitually prone to goof-ups now have an excuse for why their predictions have been going haywire: the emergence of newer and newer planets that have caused their calculations to go awry. For the international team of astronomers who recently discovered eight new planets, the new arrivals are, however, a cause for excitement. Indeed, even as the rest of the world continues to be consumed by a morbid passion for shiny new war machines, deadly chemicals and sinister war tactics, astronomers have been doggedly searching the heavens for more heavenly bodies in the belief that the search will take us closer to a more exalted goal that of knowing the truth about us and the universe. “Reality is much bigger than it seems... the part we call the universe is the merest tip of the iceberg,” one scientist remarked. How true. In the beginning, sceptics wouldn’t accept that the earth actually moves, let alone that it revolves around the sun, because of an unshaken belief that the earth was the centre of the universe. We’ve come a long way. Today, scientists have spotted nearly 80 extra-solar planets using sophisticated instruments.

Inferences: Astrologers make their predictions based on their calculations of known planetary positions.

  • Newer Planets are always discovered.
  • The author is against war and spending on war.
  • The author has a positive disposition toward scientific discoveries in general.
  • The instruments used by astronomers today are much more sophisticated than what was used in the past. Astrologers’ have a little scientific basis for their predictions.

  As you can experience in the paragraph above, and indeed in full-length passages, being able to draw a series of correct inferences creates a kind of a ‘net of understanding’, which runs parallel to and below the explicit understanding of the passage. The denser this ‘net of understanding’, the better is your comprehension of the passage and the author’s intention.

 As you continue to read a passage, the creation of this parallel net of understanding helps you connect better to the author’s idea structure as well as to the probable future direction the author is likely to take in the remainder of the passage.

This brings you to the end of Reading Comprehension - Introductory document. In case if you've not checked out the Previous Year RCs, we highly recommend you to do that. 

The document Introduction: Reading Comprehension | General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering is a part of the Mechanical Engineering Course General Aptitude for GATE.
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FAQs on Introduction: Reading Comprehension - General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering

1. What is reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension refers to the ability to understand and make meaning from written texts. It involves various skills, such as understanding the main idea, identifying key details, making inferences, and drawing conclusions based on the information presented in the text.
2. Why is reading comprehension important?
Reading comprehension is essential for academic success and daily life. It allows individuals to gather information, learn new concepts, and engage with the world around them. Strong reading comprehension skills enable effective communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.
3. What are some important skills and habits needed for reading comprehension?
Some important skills and habits needed for reading comprehension include: - Vocabulary development: A strong vocabulary helps in understanding the meaning of words and phrases used in the text. - Active reading: Engaging actively with the text by highlighting key points, taking notes, and asking questions enhances comprehension. - Prior knowledge: Connecting new information to existing knowledge aids in understanding and making sense of the text. - Inferencing: Inferring information not explicitly stated in the text based on context clues and prior knowledge helps in understanding the deeper meaning. - Critical thinking: Analyzing the text, evaluating the author's arguments, and forming one's own opinions contribute to effective comprehension. - Time management: Allocating sufficient time for reading, avoiding distractions, and maintaining focus enhances comprehension.
4. What are some things that should be avoided for better reading comprehension?
To improve reading comprehension, it is important to avoid the following: - Reading too quickly: Skimming or rushing through the text can result in missing crucial information and hinder comprehension. - Distractions: Reading in a noisy or distracting environment can make it difficult to concentrate and understand the text. - Lack of engagement: Reading passively without actively interacting with the text can lead to reduced comprehension. - Skipping unfamiliar words: Ignoring unfamiliar words rather than looking them up can hinder understanding of the text. - Over-reliance on summaries: Depending solely on summaries or shortcuts to understand the text may lead to incomplete comprehension.
5. How can reading comprehension be improved?
To improve reading comprehension, consider the following strategies: - Practice active reading techniques, such as annotating, highlighting, and summarizing key points. - Develop a systematic approach to vocabulary building and regularly learn new words. - Set reading goals and allocate dedicated time for reading daily. - Engage in pre-reading activities like previewing the text, activating prior knowledge, and setting a purpose for reading. - Use graphic organizers, such as concept maps or mind maps, to visualize relationships and connections in the text. - Discuss the text with others to gain different perspectives and deepen understanding. - Gradually increase the complexity of the reading material to challenge and expand comprehension skills.
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