Reading Comprehension

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Reading Comprehension

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 Reading Comprehension                                      Reading Comprehension

UNDERSTANDS BETTER                                                  READS FASTER

  Reading Comprehension                                    Reading Comprehension



Reading is in itself a good habit to inculcate. Besides increasing awareness and knowledge, a good reading habit will enhance your chances of cracking the MBA entrance exam, as you will be able to take the maximum advantage of the Reading Comprehension (RC) section as also be better equip to tackle the Verbal Ability (VA) section itself.  For those who have not developed a good reading habit yet, it's time they begin. This module will discuss the Reading Comprehension section in detail, will outline some of the techniques that can help you sail through this section and lastly, include enough practice questions, incorporating the various types of questions that could come in the exam.

Because MBA entrance exams are timed exams and each second is crucial, an MBA aspirant should be able to able to go through the passage quickly and process the information or issues presented in the passage quickly and precisely. 

The aspirant could adopt any of the following three strategies to deal with RC. It is to be noted that these strategies can be adopted at the convenience of the aspirant, who can pick what works best for him/ her. Also, inculcating these strategies as a habit (not just for the MBA entrance) will improve the overall reading abilities of the aspirant.

1. SQ3R

This strategy, developed by Francis Pleasant Robinson, comprises the following 5 steps:

a. Survey- The first step is survey or skim. This step requires you to become familiar with the organization and general content of the passage you are about to read. This may include skimming through the title, introduction, first sentence of each paragraph (also called topic sentences), conclusion and questions given. This will enable you to get a quick sense of the passage/chapter and help you read faster.

b. Question- Forming questions in your mind as you read the passage/chapter, gives a purpose to the whole exercise, improves your concentration and highlights the main ideas.

c. Read- Read the passage section by section quickly. Following the first two steps will make the reading easy and you will be able to comprehend the passage precisely.

An efficient reader is able to derive meaning from known vocabulary and known grammar, can infer, interpret and anticipate, can think selectively during the process of reading, can retrieve the main points. The fastest speed of reading silently is 150 words/minute. An average reader can read at the speed of 60 words/minute.

d. Recite-After finishing reading each section, see if you can answer the questions for the section.

e. Review-Though during CAT exam, you won't get much time to complete this process. However, in the process of becoming a good reader, this step is crucial. Reviewing and remembering the material that you read helps in retaining the main points for a long time.

2. S-RUN

This strategy, developed by Nancy Bailey, comprises the following 4 steps:

a. Survey-Survey the entire passage, as done for the previous strategy.

b. Read- You can divide the sections into paragraph. This will enable you to make connections easily.

c. Underline-After reading each section, underline the main points, as a way of remembering them when you begin to solve the questions.

d. Notes- This enables the person to capture and subordinate ideas.


This strategy, developed by Dorothy Watson, comprises the following 4 steps:

a. Estimate- This requires the reader to estimate how far they can read and still remember and also estimate their knowledge. 

b. Read- This essentially remains the same as in the previous two strategies.

c. Review- This remains the same as in SQ3R.

d. Question-This step ensures you keep the questions in your mind and search for the answers.

The aim of this strategy is to interact productively and actively and to get the reader to link what he/ she knows with new information.

The aspirant might face the following probable types of questions in the exam:

i. Inference- An inference can be defined as a statement that is based on some situations, observations, facts or specific details. These types of questions require you to grasp what is implied in the passage but not directly stated. The answers to these questions are hard to find as they are not as visible as the specific questions. Such questions are usually framed in the following manner:

-"Which of the following cannot be inferred from the passage?"

-“What does the author mean by _____?”

-What can be inferred when the author states _____?”

-The sentence, ‘______’, implies that _____”

-The passage suggests which of the following about _____"

The way to answer such questions is to link clues with prior knowledge. The correct answer to such questions is usually an obvious logical consequence of a sentence in the passage. The aspirant should search for the statement in the passage which acts as a premise for the conclusion to be laid on. 

ii. Central Idea-Such questions relate to the main idea highlighted in the passage. It may also reflect the main aim of the author in writing the passage. Such questions may come in the following form:

-"Which of the following most accurately states the main idea of the passage?"

-"The primary purpose of the passage is to ______"

-"The passage is primarily concerned with which of the following?"

-"The main point made by the passage is that ______"

The aspirant must identify the crux of the author's argument or the basic premise on which the passage is built. Identifying the subordinate ideas can also help in identifying the main idea.

iii. Tone and style- Such questions asks you to identify the attitude or mood of the author or the passage or a specific part of the passage. Such questions are usually formed in the following manner:

- "The tone of the author is best described as______"    

-"The attitude of the author toward _____ is best described as _____"

-"Which of the following views does the author most likely favour"

Certain specific words used in the passage can reveal the tone and style of the author.  The author may be sarcastic, prescriptive, preaching and so on. 

iv. Logical Reasoning- Such questions require you to process a set of information and apply logic to find the correct answer. Such questions can come in the following form:

-"Which of the following, if true, best support _____ (a statement from the passage)?"

-"Which of the following, if true, will weaken the argument made by the author in paragraph 2?"

Such questions require you to understand the link between different section of the passage and also identify the main premise. 

vi. Vocabulary- The comprehension may include questions to test the vocabulary of the aspirant. Generally, such questions will be with reference to context and can be done by identifying the context in which the word or phrase has been spoken. Usually, such questions are framed in the following manner:

-"In the passage, the phrase _____ refers to _____"

-"In the statement _____, the word _____ means _____"

If the aspirant does not understand the meaning of the word or phrase in question, reading a couple of lines before and after the line in which, the word has been used, can give a considerable clue regarding the context of the word in most cases.

vii. Re-arrange- These questions require the aspirant to re-arrange the statements in a specified sequence. These are not very difficult to attempt. A carefully reading of the passage should be sufficient to answer such questions.

Test Yourself

To help the aspirant, few questions are provided below for practice with an answer key at the end.


The World Conservation Congress, a summit for governments and civil society, has got under way in Bangkok at a time when competitive pressures on natural resources are at a new high and biodiversity is under unprecedented threat. The conclave is held every four years by the IUCN-World Conservation Union (earlier known as the International Union for Conservation of Nature) to frame guidelines for sustainable development and protection of natural heritage. India, a member state of the world body, stands to benefit from the wealth of experience being presented by nearly 5000 delegates at the nine- day Congress. The assembly in Bangkok could not be held at a better time for India: it can provide critical inputs for the ongoing debate on the draft National Environment Policy (NEP). The NEP, to be debated by NGOs and other stakeholders in coming weeks, has been criticised for its controversial proposals that will enable speedy environmental clearances for projects and withdrawal of full protection for endangered flora and fauna citing public or national interest.

The pointers provided by the World Conservation Union (WCU) constitute a good framework for evaluation of India's approach to environmental issues in the 21st century, as outlined in the NEP. Sustainable development envisages that economic gains and the fruits of progress are equitably distributed in society. But experience has shown that these are invariably weighed against the environment and the poor who depend on it. The use of water would clearly top such a list of priorities in this country. The case for preserving mountain systems for water security cannot be overstressed: half of all humanity depends on hill ranges to access safe water to produce electricity, sustain industry and agriculture, and for drinking. Equally significantly, half the wetlands have disappeared over the last century, which should be sufficient reason for the NEP to adopt the expert recommendations on wetlands that were submitted to the Environment Ministry after considerable field research. The Bangkok Congress, the third such event held by the WCU, also draws attention to the loss or degradation of 80 per cent of global forest cover. Again, this assessment matches the NEP estimate that India's forest cover has dwindled to a worrying 23 per cent. The only way forward would, therefore, be to reverse the damage from exploitative mining, logging, and unsound agriculture in the remaining forests and afford them absolute protection.

Can economic progress and environmental conservation find an acceptable median? The discussions at the WCU Congress are centred on the universal value that people's welfare should guide all environmental policies. It follows that protection of incomparable natural resources is a prerequisite for such well being. The familiar example is that of the rivers and seas: if they are polluted, fish stocks decline and water security is also lost. As the WCU has emphasised, the priorities must, therefore, be protection of biodiversity and endangered species, pollution control, efficient management of renewable resources, and promotion of organic agriculture. There is considerable interest among consumers and governments in some countries in products manufactured through sustainable methods. Given the intricacies of global trade agreements today, new standards to identify such goods and services may be necessary. Such green certification methods can be built into international treaties and agreements to facilitate positive action by importing countries without risk of litigation under trade laws. The withdrawal of import restrictions on timber by some European countries owing to trade obligations is an example of the distortions that are created by such pacts, which could be used to interpret environmental safeguards as unfair barriers.

1. According to the passage, the norms of sustainable development favour that

a. the poor should be given special treatment

b. the poor should be special beneficiaries of economic  development

c. environment should be valued more than social development

d. benefits of development should reach to all equally

e. none of the above

2. In the light of the passage, NEP is in controversy for which of the following reason(s)?

a. it has given national development a precedence over environment

b. it proposes summary environmental viability study of the projects

c. only (a) and (b)

d. in it the norms of environmental safeguard is half- measured

e. all the above

3. According to the passage, forest conservation cannot be promoted by preventing

a. wanton felling of trees

b. excessive mineral digging

c. wrong cultivation practices

d. water harvesting

e. none of the above

4. In trade and commerce, environmental norms could be made effective by which of the following methods?

a. strengthening punitive measures in the event of violations

b. identifying environmentally viable modes of production

c. framing new methods of measurement of environment friendly methods

d. inclusion of these methods into trade pacts

i. all of the above  ii. only c. and d.
iii. only a. , c. , d.  Iv. only b. , c. , d.
v. only a. , b.  

5. Find the word that is the most appropriate synonym of the word as used in the passage

a. median
i. mean
ii. mode
iii. middle path
iv. balance
v. paradigm

b. dwindle
i. diminish
ii. mitigate
iii. worn
iv. wane
v. deteriorate


The Working Group on Minorities at its Geneva session in May 2002 highlighted that constructive resolution of tensions involving minorities is by way of "integrating diversity". This means that persons belonging to minorities acting alone or in community should be given adequate opportunity to maintain and develop their distinct identities while at the same time participating in and making a contribution to the wider society and respecting the territorial integrity of the State.

Integrating diversity goes hand in hand with governance which is firmly grounded in international human rights law. This requires that States protect the rights of all those residing within their jurisdiction without distinction of any kind. It is immaterial whether these persons are recognised by the State as a national minority.

The Human Rights Committee functioning under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 has expressed the view that to secure State protection, members of the minority community need not be citizens of the country nor its permanent residents. The protection extends to migrant workers who constitute a minority.

In order to accord this protection, States should take special measures to ensure the existence of conditions for minorities to maintain and develop their own distinct cultural identities. More specifically, what is required is: (A) sensitivity to the needs, especially linguistic and educational, of persons belonging to minorities so as to enable each individual to develop his/ her identity; (B) allowing minorities the opportunity to participate effectively in public life, including the political decision- making process; and (C) providing minorities with access to a fair share of public goods, including economic opportunity.

Such measures do not constitute preferential treatment. Their aim is to achieve equal and meaningful enjoyment of above rights in order to ensure de facto equality.

1. What is the meaning of the term "integrating diversity" as used in the passage?

a. abandoning the minorities

b. achieving the objectives of Human Rights Committee

c. giving linguistic and educational independence to backward communities by making them empowered and bringing them into the national mainstream

d. giving minorities sufficient chances to maintain and develop their distinct identities

e. none of the above

2. With which of the following does "integrating diversity" go well?

a. proper distribution of wealth

b. secularism as a political creed

c. observance of political and social morality

d. providing educational opportunities to all

e. none of the above

3. Choose the word which is most opposite in meaning of the word "accord" as used in the passage.

a. constitute

b. withdraw

c. precipitate

d. suppress

e. abandon

4. Which of the following statements is/are true in the context of the passage?

a. the Working Group on Minorities had met at Geneva in May 2002

b. integrating diversity means national solidarity and secularism

c. integrating diversity and good governance are the two sides of the same coin

i. only a.
ii. only b. and c.
iii. only a. and b.
iv. only a. and c.
v. all a. , b. and c

5. Which of the following statements is not true in the context of the passage?

a. linguistic and educational needs of minorities should be recognized

b. minorities should be allowed to participate effectively in public life

c. minorities should be involved in political decision making process

d. minorities should be allowed to maintain their own distinct political identities

e. minorities should be given preferential treatment


Radically changing monsoon patterns, reduction in the winter rice harvest and a quantum increase in respiratory diseases- all part of the environmental doomsday scenario which is reportedly playing out in the South Asia. According to United Nations Environment Programme report, a deadly three-km deep blanket of pollution comprising a fearsome cocktail of ash, acids, aerosols and other particles has enveloped this region. For India, already struggling to cope with a drought, the implications of this are devastating and further crop failure will amount to life and death question for many Indians.  The increase in premature deaths will have adverse social and economic consequences and a rise in morbidities will place an unbearable burden on our crumbling health system. And there is no one to blame but ourselves. Both official and corporate India has always been allergic to any mention of clean technology. Most mechanical two wheelers roll off the assembly line without proper pollution control systems. Little effort is made for R & D on simple technologies, which could make a vital difference to people's lives and the environment.

However, while there is no denying that South Asia must clean up its act, skeptics might question the timing of the haze report. The Johannesburg meet on Rio+10 is just two weeks away and the stage is set for the usual battle between the developing world and the West, particularly the U.S. President, Mr. Bush has adamantly refused to sign any protocol, which would mean a change in American consumption. U.N. environment report is likely to find a place in the U.S. arsenal as it points an accusing finger on countries like India and China. Yet the U.S. can hardly deny its own dubious role in the matter of erasing trading quotas. Richer countries can simply buy up excess credits from poorer countries and continue to pollute. Rather than try to get the better of developing countries, who undoubtedly have taken up environmental shortcuts in their bid to catch up with the West, the U.S. should take a look at the environment profligacy, which is going on within. From opening up  virgin territories for oil exploration to relaxing the standards for drinking water, Mr. Bush's policies are not exactly beneficial- not even to Americans. We realize that we are in this together and that pollution anywhere should be a global concern. Otherwise, there will only be more tunnels at the end of the tunnel.

1. Both official and corporate India is allergic to

a. failure of monsoon

b. poverty and inequality

c. slowdown in industrial pact

d. mention of monsoon technology

e. crop failure

2. Which, according to the passage, is a life and death question to many Indians?

a. increase in respiratory diseases

b. use of clean technology

c. thick blanket of pollution over the region

d. failure in crops

e. dwindling agricultural yield

3. Choose the word which is similar in meaning to the word 'profligacy' as used in the passage.

a. wastefulness

b. conservation

c. upliftment

d. criticalness

e. denouncement

4. What we must realize, according to the passage?

a. no country should show superiority over other countries

b. U.N. is putting in hard efforts in the direction of pollution control

c. all countries must join hands in fighting pollution

d. nobody should travel through tunnel to avoid health hazards

e. we must strive hard to increase agricultural production

5. Choose the word which is most opposite in meaning to the word 'morbidity' as used in the passage.

a. powerfulness

b. softness

c. healthiness

d. acuteness

e. purposefulness

Answer Key


d. benefits of development should reach to all equally

a. it has given national development a precedence over environment

d. water harvesting

i. all of the above

a. iv. balance
b. i. Diminish


d. giving minorities sufficient chances to maintain and develop their distinct identities

b. secularism as a political creed

b. withdraw

v. a., b., c.

e. minorities should be given preferential treatment


d. mention of monsoon technology

d. failure in crops

a. wastefulness

c. all countries should join hands in fighting pollution

c. healthiness

 Top 5 Reading Comprehension Passages with Q & A

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