Reading Capacity Enhancement (for CAT, GMAT, GRE, SAT, CSAT etc)

Reading Comprehension questions are inevitable in CAT/GMAT/GRE/CSAT and they consume nearly half of the language based questions. And these questions belong the set of the determinant questions. This means that if one does not attempt reading comprehension questions correctly, he/she does not get a good score in language section. Getting all questions right leads a candidate to get a good score and hence a call from better B-schools.

Let us see first what is reading. Reading is an active search for answers. According to Webster’s Dictionary, reading is “to receive or take in the sense of (as letters or symbols) by scanning; to understand the meaning of written or printed matter; to learn from what one has seen or found in writing or printing.”

Need for reading, comprehension and communication has increased over the period of time. The need is great to strengthen certain skills like, ability to read variety of materials, to understand and remember what you read and to effectively communicate what you have learned from reading.

Then a reasonable question to ask is: how do we acquire reading? My experience over the last so many years of reading and teaching reading to students of various ages has clearly identified one thing related to reading that is motivation is necessary. People have various but deep rooted motivational goals related to reading. Some people read to learn the content. Some people have commitment to subject matter that is why they engage themselves in reading. others have a motivation to share what they have learnt. The motivational goals are various but PERSONAL.

Whilst, the comprehension is “capacity for understanding fully; the act or action of grasping with intellect”-Webster’s Dictionary. According to this definition, comprehension is not merely an automatic process which is like natural outcome of reading. In comprehension, one has to apply intellect. He/she has to build on present knowledge by confirming the knowledge, or modifying it or completely change it. Comprehension is capacity to understand the thoughts and ideas. One has developed a complete understanding when words understood and pages transcend to become ideas and thoughts.

Comprehension requires a pre-planned process. As an effective reader you:
  • Set goals based on your purpose for reading
  • Preview the text to make predictions
  • Self-question
  • Scan
  • Relate new information to old

With this, one has to understand that purpose or interest of reading is affected by characteristics of texts and characteristics of reader. Topic, text size, pictures-illustrations, style of writing, presentation etc define the characteristics of texts. Vocabulary, interest, background knowledge, attitude etc. define the characteristics of reader.

Good readers posses following skills.
  • Finding main ideas and supporting details/evidence
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • Recognizing a text’s patterns of organisation
  • Perceiving conceptual relationships
  • Testing your knowledge and understanding of the material through application

It is not always that every time we meet success. At time comprehension fails. If it fails, try following:
  • Using structural analysis and contextual clues to identify unknown vocabulary words. If this fails, keep a dictionary close by and look up words you don’t understand.
  • Reading more critically-asking questions while you read.
  • Summarizing or outlining main points and supporting details.
  • Re-reading the material
  • Do a “think aloud” and/or try to explain what you have read to someone else.