As you might be well aware, reading comprehension is an important section of all English tests. However, its significance is not just in terms of exams. Comprehension, as such, is a cognitive skill that would always be of use. Let us learn of gathering information from comprehension.
Now, reading comprehension has several levels depending on which grade you are in. Depending on the grade, the passages or texts get more difficult. Consequently, the questions get more complex. Hence, there are several strategies for cracking the reading comprehension section. Moreover, different questions require different strategies.
Reading comprehension has several kinds of questions. Broadly, these include factual questions, contextual vocabulary questions, topical questions, inference questions, and sequencing or fill-in-the-blanks questions. Factual questions are based on facts in the passage or text. Fill-in-the-blanks and sequencing questions come under the category of gathering information. You would need to gather information from the passage and solve the questions.
Inference questions will require you to understand the intent and logic and then answer the questions. You would be required to draw your inference based on the passage. For instance, you may have to suggest an appropriate title or explain what you think the writer’s intent is. At times, you may also be required to write an alternate conclusion or suggest a different line of thought.
In this article, we will look at gathering information. First, let’s understand why we need to gather information. When you read a passage, in most cases, you would get the drift of what the author wants to say. You would also be able to answer all the questions without any problems. However, in some cases, you might have to write a summary of a specific topic within the passage.
Alternatively, you might have to sequence a chain of events or fill in gaps in the passage. Although you may have understood the whole passage, sequencing or summary questions will require you to revisit the passage and hunt for information. When pressed for time, revisiting the passage may be difficult.
In such cases, you should first read the entire passage completely. You should then highlight the key points while reading the passage the first time around. You should also ensure that you take relevant notes or a write quick summary of a topic within the passage. Although this task may seem time-consuming, it will help you when you solve the questions later. By underlining or highlighting key points, you would easily be able to go back to the exact points when solving the related questions.
Solved Examples for You
Let us see an example. Given below is an excerpt from the classic “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne.
Let us now enumerate or summarize the key points in this passage. In the first paragraph, the most important point is that professional seamen, naval officers, ship owners, master mariners from Europe and America, and even governments were worried about a rare phenomenon. What makes this more phenomenon more significant is its acknowledgement from experienced professionals and masters of the trade and not the civilians or public.
In the second paragraph, the author goes on to explain what the phenomenon was—a long, spindle-shaped object that sometimes gave a phosphorescent glow. The object or creature was faster and bigger than a whale.
The third paragraph explains how all reports of the strange object agreed on its features—unprecedented speed, startling locomotive power, and unique vitality. An object that cannot exist unless.
The fourth paragraph sums up the fact that the features of this object exceeded the dimensions of any creature known to ichthyologists even after you ignore random exaggerated reports of its length. Next, let us look at some sample questions.
- Fill in the blanks:
The relevant data on this apparition agreed closely as to the structure of the object, its ____________ _________ of movement and its startling ________ __________.
Now if you refer to the summary of key points, you can easily fill in the blanks because the answer you need is already available (unprecedented speed, locomotive power). You do not have to waste time by reading the text again and hunt for the required words to fill the gaps.
- Summarize the passage in your own words.
As mentioned earlier, summary questions are quite common in reading comprehension. And this is where gathering information is very important. Now, since you have already listed down the key points of the passage, you can easily summarize it as follows:
The author describes how the year 1866 marked the occurrence of a rare phenomenon. The phenomenon was so remarkable that irrespective of civilian rumours, it had professionals like seamen, naval officers, ship owners, master mariners, and even governments dumbfounded.
Several ships had encountered a long, spindle-shaped object that sometimes gave a phosphorescent glow. Moreover, it was faster and larger than any whale. Most observations and records of this phenomenon agreed on its features— unprecedented speed, startling locomotive power, and unique vitality.
No professionals (naturalists, professors) would believe that such an object or creature would exist unless they saw it with their own eyes. Ignoring random exaggerated observations, the average report was that this phenomenal creature or object greatly exceeded the dimensions of any creature known to ichthyologists.