A Complete Guide to Reading Comprehension

Dear Aspirants,

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We have been getting a lot of requests to provide more topic-wise detailed articles on the English Language section. Hence, we will be publishing detailed articles on each of the popular topics under the English Language section, starting with the Reading Comprehension.

What is Reading Comprehension (RC)?

Reading Comprehension is one of the most scoring topics under the English Language sections of Banking and Government exams. RC is very crucial if you want to clear your sectional cut off marks. It tests your ability to read text, analyze it and understand it’s meaning.

RCs basically test these two aspects: Vocabulary and Text Comprehension. These two aspects play a very significant role in understanding a passage.

In Reading Comprehension, candidates are given a passage with 4-5 (or more) paragraphs. The passage is followed by questions related to the passage. Each question has around 4 options and the candidate is supposed to answer it by choosing the correct option.

How to approach Reading Comprehension

There are several approaches to solve Reading Comprehension. However, we are providing a basic approach which you can use as a guideline to formulate your own approach:

Skim through the passage:

The first and foremost thing you should do is go through the entire passage. While reading the passage, it is very important that you make a mental note of the Main idea, Implied idea, Tone of the author, Sequence used in the passage and the Keywords (vocabulary).

Main/Central idea:

Main idea is the subject the author is talking about or the main message that the author is trying to convey through the passage. The passage can also contain supporting ideas (facts, examples, reasons, etc.). The supporting ideas give evidences to support the main/central idea or theme of the passage.

Implied idea:

Sometimes, an idea is not directly stated. An idea that is indirectly stated is an implied idea. To find this, club together difference sentences, try to read between the lines, make inferences of what is not directly said and use the reasoning to reach to conclusions.

Author’s tone:

Another important thing to make note of while reading the passage is the tone of the author. Try and identify the tone of the author; Is it formal or informal? Analyze the tone to determine whether the given passage is narrative/supportive/analytical/critical, etc.

The author’s tone will also help you determine if the given passage is persuasive or informative. While an informative passage contains information, a persuasive passage contains facts and opinions of the author, weaved together in a convincing way.


Every passage has a logical sequence to it, viz, the beginning, middle and the end (conclusion). Usually the first and the last paragraphs contain the gist or main idea of the article. However, there are questions related to words (vocabulary) that can be present anywhere in the given passage.


Words play a very significant role in RC passages. Words help you establish the motive of the author, connect the different ideas in a passage and highlight the important ideas or transitions in a passage. Below are a few common structural word types that you can expect in an RC passage:

Continuity: Words that are used by the author to support his point of view further. These words are also used to connect ideas.

Examples: Lastly, However, Moreover, Further, After, Soon, Next, Immediately, etc.

Opinionated: Opinions are the beliefs that the author has based on facts. These words contain adjectives like Big, Small, Concrete, etc.

Contrasting: Words used by the author when he is introducing an idea that is contrasting.

Examples: Nonetheless, Though, But, However, Regardless, Although, Despite, etc.

Conclusive: Conclusive words are used by the author when concluding something or summing up his/her argument in the passage.

Examples: Therefore, Thus, in conclusion, thus we conclude, Hence, in summary, to summarize, etc.

Positive words: Words used by the author when he/she supports the idea of the passage.

Examples: Good, Bright, Passionate, Effective, Fruitful, Productive, etc.

Negative words: Words used by the author when he/she is against the main idea of the passage.

Examples: Alarming, Tiring, Unproductive, etc.

The passages also contain questions on Synonyms, Antonyms, etc. which will require you to know the meaning of the words. However, if your vocabulary isn’t very good, you can always read the sentences before and after the word in case, to get a rough idea and guess the meaning of the word based on the context.

Questions and options:

Once you’re done reading the passage and making a mental note of the above aspects, go through the questions and try to identify the right answer from the given options. The questions are broadly Vocabulary based, inference based, or conclusion based.

If you cannot answer a particular question, don’t waste your time on it and do not guess the answer. Simply skip the question and answer the next one. Another approach that you can follow if you’re running out of time, is to read the questions and options first and then look for the right answers in the given passage.


Use the elimination technique to eliminate the wrong answers and arrive at the right one. If you cannot eliminate all three wrong options, then at least try and eliminate the ones that you’re sure are wrong (obvious ones, too broad ones, extreme or strange ones) so you’re left with less options to compare.

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If you’re running out of time

Follow this technique if you’re running out of time:


Selection of passage:

Select a passage which is small (has less number of words) and is based on a topic you’re familiar with (related to your field of interest).

Skim through the passage:

Skim quickly through the passage in 30-40 seconds. Read the first and last paragraphs (or first and last few lines) to get an idea of what the author is trying to convey (the gist). Try and identify the tone of the author: Formal/informal.

Read the questions and locate the answers:

Read questions before reading the entire passage and try to locate the answers in the passage. Try to find the answers in the first and the last paragraphs (or first and last few lines). If you cannot find the answers in first/last paragraphs move on to the other paragraphs.

Prioritize questions:

You don’t have to answer the questions in the order they appear. Identify and answer the easy questions first and then move on to answer difficult ones. It’s a good idea to start answering with the vocabulary based questions, then move on to fact based and main-idea based questions.

Tips to improve in Reading Comprehension
  • Read a variety of text; Newspapers, novels, magazines, etc. and read them online so your eyes get acquainted to the exam environment. Underline stuff that you think are important and look up difficult words on the dictionary to improve your vocabulary.
  • It’s a good idea to use a pointer while reading to regulate your reading speed. Move the pointer quickly to read faster and move it slowly to read slow.

Tips to improve reading speed

  • Always confine your understanding to the given passage only. Do not apply your knowledge to it. The questions given are purely based on the passage.
  • Solve previous year exams’ Reading Comprehension questions to familiarize yourself with the pattern/type of questions asked.
  • RC’s can be based on any topic. A lot of RCs are based on Economy, Banking and Business. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with specific banking, economy and business terminology.

Below is a sample Reading Comprehension passage. Try and apply the above approach to solve it. (Find solutions at the end of the article)

Read the passage carefully and choose the best answer to each question out of the four alternatives.

Nobody can argue that the acquisition of knowledge is more fun and easier with computers. The mere activity of touching and exploring this device constitutes an enjoyable task for a child. This, accompanied by the relaxing attitude and software interactivity, usually contributes to a better grasping of new knowledge. At a higher educational level the availability of digital books, simulators and other academic materials provide the student with an ever-accessible source of information, that otherwise would not be at hand. But, besides the increasing complexity and behavior of intelligent software, which is usually embedded in the academic digital material, the need for human interaction in the learning process will always be present, at least in the foreseeable future. There is the necessity for a human being to be able to determine what the specific needs of each individual are. A computer, no matter how sophisticated its software is, can hardly mimic the expertise of a teacher in how to explain and adapt complex concepts of different individuals.


1. According to the author, human intervention will always be required in order to

a. Update old software

b. Built bigger machines

c. Determine the specific needs of the individual

d. Repair broken down machines


2. What other factors related to Computers contribute to a deeper acquisition of knowledge?

a. Relaxing attitude and software interactivity

b. Prompt response and accuracy

c. Convenience of usage and design

d. User friendliness and easy accessibility


3. According to this essay, what new developments in the world of computers have helped students gain more access to information?

a. Availability of general knowledge software

b. Availability of printing facilities

c. Availability of word processing applications

d. Availability of digital books


4. In what way are computers inadequate even in spite of their sophistication?

a. They keep breaking down after much use

b. They can hardly imitate a teacher’s ability to explain the most difficult concepts

c. They still need humans to turn them on and off

d. They require humans to update them periodically


5. That computers make learning easier is a fact-

a. Accepted by all

b. Rejected by some

c. Welcomed by all

d. Contested by a few


Solution to question 1: C

The answer to this specific question is almost at the end of the passage. (If you’re running out of time, you can read the questions first and then try to find the answers in the first and the last paragraphs or the first and last few lines)

Solution to question 2: A

The second answer is present at the beginning of the passage. The keyword ‘Contribute’ used in the question can be found in the passage.

Solution to question 3: D

The question contains the keywords: ‘students’ and ‘access’ and the answer contains: ‘availability’ and ‘digital books’. If you closely notice, the 4th and 5th lines contain these keywords. Hence making a mental note of keywords goes a long way in helping you answer the questions.

Solution to question 4: B

Again, this question contains the keywords: ‘sophisticated’ and the option contains: ‘difficult concepts’ and ‘teacher’. Notice that ‘complex concepts’ has been changed to ‘difficult concepts’ in the option. Hence, it’s important that you know synonyms of words.

This question can also be answered if you’re running out of time and read only the beginning and end of the passage.

Solution to question 5: A

Again, the answer to this one is in the very first line. (Implied idea)

The first line ‘Nobody can argue that computers make learning easier’ means that it is a fact accepted by all. (Sometimes, an idea is not directly stated. An idea that is indirectly stated is an implied idea. To find this, club together difference sentences, try to read between the lines, make inferences of what is not directly said and use the reasoning to reach to conclusions).

We hope the above article helps you in getting better at solving Reading Comprehension.

We wish you all the very best.

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1 thought on “A Complete Guide to Reading Comprehension”

  1. This is very useful for me, keep posting like this passage for begginners like me, now i have a confident, i will clear the rc in exams


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