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How to prepare for comprehension?

Gearing up for your Comprehension Tests: What to do and How to go about doing them!


Read widely!

  1. As the name of the section suggest, comprehension is about comprehension. In other words, it means comprehending (i.e. understanding) what you are reading, which means, making sense of what you have just read,
    which in turn then means that, you are able to flesh out the key ideas or points regarding the passage you have just read as and when asked. When people demand to know your understanding of a subject matter, they often expect you to be able to repeat the ideas of the discussed topic(s) in your own words!

    How to prepare for comprehension?

    How to prepare for comprehension?

  2. If you are able to furnish your personal informed opinions, you will win more ‘brownie points’! (This however, only comes in officially when you are doing your Application Question for General Paper. But there’s really no harm in practicing early!)
  3. By reading widely, you will gradually learn to comprehend (difficult) articles within a shorter and shorter time, and this will increase your efficiency in tackling not just your exams now, but also future encounters with difficult readings. Keep challenging yourself to read widely and read articles with increasing difficulty!

Don’t just read; understand!

  1. Most students, upon ‘commands’ from their teachers/subject tutors to read, will really just stop at reading. They fail to understand that reading (just like copying answers) without understanding, will get them nowhere. Besides, the paper does not stop at testing your reading skills, but your reading ability i.e. whether you truly are able to understand what you have just read. Hence, be sure to read an article or a part of the article repeatedly until the message or essence has become fully known to you.
  2. It might seem difficult at first, especially if it were a difficult article, which requires you to constantly look up specific terms or important historical events etc. in the dictionary or on Wikipedia. But the process will get much easier as your horizon widens J

Keep working on comprehension practices

  1. This sounds like a no-brainer but believe it or not, most students don’t bother following this no-brainer. Most students are under the impression that unlike mathematics and science subjects, language subjects do not need consistent practice to improve. Many also are under the impression that they just have to read more because that seems to be just about the only advice a lot of teachers these days dispense.
  2. However, moving beyond that, (although there is truly nothing wrong with reading widely) students who are perfectly serious about not just scoring well for their comprehension segments but also improve in the language as a whole, will be willing to take time out to do timed comprehension practices in a disciplined manner.
  3. One of the main gripe of students after a comprehension test/paper is that there was not enough time for them to attempt all the questions and there were certain questions, due to the lack of time, they had to sacrifice by either leaving them blank, or by not giving them enough thought while formulating the answers. While the root problem is indeed a lack of understanding of both the passages and the questions, another contributing cause to the problem is that they are not trained to do the comprehension test enough.
  4. Just as an athlete training for the competition has to keep running the same distance, if not more, to build his stamina and also to improve his timing for the same distance, a student, in the race to comprehend and establish his understanding of the comprehension passage, has to practice ahead of time as well.
  5. By committing to practice his comprehension skills at least once a week, time-management (whose root cause is the student’s inability to understand a passage and its accompanying questions fast enough) will no longer pose as a problem!

Increase expectations, increase level of difficulty:

  1. It always helps to work on something that is slightly beyond your level, and then get accustomed to it, such that when you work on something that’s actually more suited for your peers and your level, you will ace it like nobody’s business. This would explain why certain schools (no prizes for guessing which ones!) are more interested in an accelerated syllabus as opposed to the traditional one that is more suited for the whole cohort on a national level.
  2. With the same line of thinking, this is also why athletes choose to run a longer distance despite competing in a race that required them to complete a shorter distance, or athletes choosing to run at a higher altitude (where the air is thinner and it’s harder for them to breathe), so that their bodies will be trained to run longer and faster. These preparation methods will train them to surpass their personal best timing at the eventual event.
  3. Learn from these athletes and students who are learning at an accelerated pace! You will definitely benefit from it. However, as with most lessons in life, learn to pace yourself and find a learning style that you think is best suited for you

Read about the 2nd part in our comprehension series on how to tackle the comprehension test on the actual day!

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