Interpreting the Reading Comprehension section accurately is not an easy task and requires special skills on the part of the candidates. For an MBA entrance examination, the candidates should not expect simple and direct passages. The passages will be complex, with difficult vocabulary and will not have direct answers. So, the candidates will have to read between the lines to understand the actual meaning of the passage. This could prove a challenging task, as not many are trained to do this efficiently.
1. Skim through
The first step is to skim through the passage quickly, so that you get some idea as to what the obvious sense of the passage is. The theme of the passage will come through clearly, if you read the passage once. This step will also include registering the difficult words that are not part of your vocabulary and processing the information/ data given in the passage.
2. Contextual understanding
To be able to read between the lines, one has to understand the contextual meaning of the words and sentences. Often, what we read is not what the passage is all about. The real meaning of the passage lies in the context in which the words have been used. For instance, in the sentence,
‘The businessman had blue blood, he didn’t understand the problems of the masses’- the connotations of ‘blue blood’ is very different from its literal annotations. ‘Blue blood’ here stands for royalty, aristocracy. So what the sentence means is that the businessman belonged to aristocracy, hence, was detached from the world of the common public.
Understanding the contextual meaning is a challenge the candidates need to prepare for.
3. Use clues
The passage will provide enough clues for you find out the hidden meaning of the passage. These clues might come in the form of information, data, any remark about anyone and so on. You should keep an eye out for such clues while reading the passage, as they will help you to get inside the passage and also the mind of the author.
Also, it is not important that you may be able to understand the hidden thrust of the passage, by using only the information given in the passage. Sometimes, the process of comprehension also relies on external information such as of stereotypes, common tropes, myths, cultural influences, particular customs, regional differences and so on. They become as crucial to decoding the passage as the information given directly in the passage.
4. Annotations v/s Connotations
While comprehending a passage, there are two terms which you need to understand. The first term, annotations, refers to the literal meaning of the words used in the passage. The more number of words you have in your vocabulary bank, the more words you will be able to identify in the passage. Knowing the literal meaning of the words enable you to understand the passage without appreciating the subtleties in the passage. It is only when you understand the connotations of particular words, phrases and idioms used in the passage that your engagement with the passage is enriched and you begin to see meanings that are not so obvious.
Though time is a factor in the entrance exam, try to engage with a passage in RC more deeply. Once you start picking the meaning between the lines, you will be able to tackle the passage effectively.
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