This section covers the following topics:

  • What is Comprehension?
  • Types of Comprehension
  • Pitfalls of Comprehension
  • How to Comprehend?
  • Positive Words

What is Comprehension?

To excel in Placement Test Reading alone is not sufficient, we have to push through the material to know the intent or total meaning of the material.

Comprehension is a skill that senses the structure and organization of the writing- as a means of giving impact, convincingness, and solidity to the author’s basic message.

To ensure that we read for structure, remember to do the following:

  • Look for Keywords, the structural signals that authors use to indicate logical connections between sentences.
  • Don’t try to memorize details! Skim them until the questions demand them.
  • Look for topic sentences to help us to determine the function of each paragraph.
  • Be alert for comparisons and contrasts between, two thinkers or theories Different points in time and the author’s view and other views * What’s known and what’s unknown*

Conclusion: RC tests our understanding the passage and the author’s idea. So, do practice comprehending the words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs of the passage rigorously? Many times we forget to take the right path of comprehension.

Here, let us see the types of comprehension.

Types of Comprehension

Remember the error in RC answers arise because we tend to compromise on the comprehension of questions, passages, and options.

Comprehension of Questions

Give sufficient attention to the nature of the question. Reading the question is the obvious part. The not-so-obvious part is putting the question into our words. RE-Phrase method will help us not to get trapped at words in the passages that look important but aren’t. The more straightforward our interpretation of the question, the better navigation to choose the right answers.


Comprehension of Passage

First one should know the types of passages.

The passages are chosen from social studies and humanities, socio-economic and political writings, sciences, and other prose writings etc. and our target is not essay writing or knowledge of topic (an advantage to crack the meaning of the word) but understanding of passage.

Understand one thing that unfamiliar idea or subject matter would not pose a big problem if one is aggressive reader. Our target is not to memorize the detail of each topic.

Remember, passages usually do one of the following:

  • Argue a position
  • Discuss a specific subject
  • Explain new findings or research

And, if the passage presents dense and complex sentence structure, break the sentences into small units or phrases; also understand how these parts are directly related to the other paragraph or sentence.


Comprehension of Each Option

Incorrect options usually misguide the test takers. The incorrect options subtly sidetrack the questions, or generalize unnecessary facts, undervalue the facts, intensify the facts, contradict the fact, or make inferences that are not sustained in the passage. Apart from understanding the options clearly, we must determine the line of reasoning to apply with the correct answer.

Remember: To make a hypothesis about why the author is writing and where he or she is going with it.


Conclusion: Comprehension is not simple. It tests our ground work of reading and analyzing the question, passage, and options. Many times we find difficult to comprehend all these because of the pitfalls in comprehension.

Pitfalls of Comprehension

Typical wrong answers to look for on Reading Comprehension are:

  • The options sound very similar to the correct answer but directly contradict the passage.
  • Outside the Scope: Raises a topic that’s never mentioned in the passage
  • Distortion: Distorts or twists the facts or the main idea; sounds superficially plausible because it incorporates words or phrases from the passage, but actually confuses the author’s intended meaning
  • Faulty Use of Detail: Mentions true points not relevant to the question (often from the wrong paragraph)
  • Extreme: Sounds too positive or too negative; uses exaggerated-sounding language, e.g., only, never, or always
  • Half-Right, Half-Wrong: Present some information that is correct and some that is incorrect

How to Comprehend?

Here’s the best approach to avoid getting trapped by misleading answer choices in the Reading Comprehension section.

The RAMA method

Probably wondering, what does RAMA stand for? R (Re-phrase), A (Anticipate), M (Match), A (Awareness). Let’s take a closer look!

Re-phrase the question in own words then we must return to the passage and find the answer. Once we find the answer, try to phrase the answer in own words (Anticipate), return to the answer choices and match them up with the answer choice that we think is the closest. If none of the answers works, we can return to the passage and read it one more time to see if we’ve misinterpreted something. Or, we can eliminate answer choices by implementing the pitfalls of Comprehension

(Awareness) that is the phrase or option too extreme, Beyond the Scope of the Passage, Too Broad/Too Specific, True…But Doesn’t Answer the Question etc. to see if we are left with one answer choice.


Visual Pacer Method

Have you ever noticed that kids often underline each word with their finger as they read? Adults tell them not to, so they stop. But children are the fastest learners in the world, and it turns out they’re onto something.

Using a visual pacer is exactly that: underlining every single word with our finger or a clicker as we read it. Since our eyes are attracted to motion, a visual pacer helps to pull our attention through the information. It also reduces back skipping and helps us to focus. So not only do we read faster, but we gain better comprehension, retention, recall and enjoyment.

And there’s more! Our sense of sight and touch are as closely linked as our sense of taste and smell. So in fact, many people who use their fingers as a visual pacer will literally say they feel more ‘in touch’ with what they’re reading.


Skim and Scan Method

Skim through the entire passage. Skim through the questions and options. Read the passage and scan the answers.


Visual Literacy Method

An ability to decode, interpret, create, question, challenge and evaluate texts that communicate with visual images as well as, or rather than, words is Visual Literacy. Visually literate people can read, interpret the purpose and intended meaning, and evaluate the form, structure and features of the text. They also frame picture and word images in a creative and appropriate way to express meaning.


SQ3R Method

  1. Survey: Take five minutes to skim over the entire passage. Read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. Survey helps us to get connectivity with every paragraph of the passage.
  2. Question: Create questions for each paragraph write down in order. Write these questions down on a separate sheet of paper, leaving space between each question for the answers. See the actual questions and match it with similar or relevant question that we framed.
  3. Read: Now that we have formulated a question for each paragraph, begin to read for the answers.
  4. Recite: Having read the first section, look away from our notes and try to answer the first question. Use your own words, and cite an example. If you can’t answer the question, briefly look over the notes you took and try again. Once you are able to recite your answer, repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 for the rest of the paragraph.
  5. Review: When you have completed the passage, look over your notes to get a sense of the overall coherence of the passage. Try to recall the main points of the passage. Try to understand how the paragraphs relate to the topic we are studying, how it relates to the questions that we have read.

Why is SQ3R so Successful?

The system works because it forces us to pass over the information multiple times in one reading session. This activity helps move information from short term into long term memory. So although this system seems like a lot of extra work, it actually isn’t. It saves our time and frustration and gives us the confidence that we need to participate in RC.


General Method

Read all the questions. Identify what each question is asking. Read the entire passage, answering the questions as you go along.


All the above are correct methods. Set the time. Practice and decide on your method.

Positive Words

Father’s Eyes

Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion, shares a moving story about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart.

This story is about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart. Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had. But being half the size of the other boys, he got absolutely nowhere.
At all the games, this hopeful athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played. This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game.

This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn’t want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he’d get to play, when he became a senior.

All through high school he never missed a practice or a game but remained a bench-warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.

When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a walk-on. Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.

The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared the son’s excitement and received season tickets for all the college games.

This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in a game. It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, the coach met him with a telegram.

The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent.  Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, “My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today”? The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, “Take the rest of the week off, son.  And don’t even plan to come back to the game on Saturday.”

Saturday arrived, land the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, as silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear.

As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful team-mate back so soon. “Coach, please let me play. I’ve just got to play today,” said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally, feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in. “All right,” he said. “22, you can go in.”

Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked, and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied.

In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His team-mates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you never heard.

Finally, after the stands had emptied and team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that this young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, “Kid, I can’t believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me, what got into you? How did you do it?” The young man looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, “Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?”

The young man swallowed hard and forced as smile, “Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it.”