How To Improve Reading Comprehension

“Reading” may not be one of your hobbies, but it is an important skill to grow. Therefore, even if you get scared or bored by looking at the long black text, somehow you have to develop a knack for effective reading. 

 The more you read and practise, the easier it will be for you to comprehend what you are reading. Here are the seven straightforward techniques to improve your comprehension abilities:

1. Increase vocabulary power

When you understand the meaning of the words you read, it can be easier for you to grasp the author’s perspective. You can improve your vocabulary by developing a habit of active reading. You can mark the difficult words and phrases that you come across while reading and search for their meaning in the dictionary. Once you understand the meaning of words, use it in your own language and try to use it in different contexts. This will aid in your long-term retention of those words.

2. Ask questions regarding the text you are reading

As you become more immersed in the text, asking questions about what you are reading can help you become a better reader. In order to gain a deeper understanding of what you are reading, consider themes, motifs, and other aspects of the text that you may have overlooked.

You can ask yourself the following questions as you read:

  • Why did the author choose to start the book that way?
  • What sort of bond do these two characters have?
  • What do we now know about the protagonist of the story?
  • Are there any recurring themes throughout the book? If so, what do they mean?

3. Make use of situational cues

Even if you are unfamiliar with all the words being used, using context clues can really help you grasp what you are reading. The words and sentences that precede and follow the unfamiliar word can provide context cues. By concentrating on the major words or concepts in a sentence, you can use context clues to infer the sentence or paragraph’s core theme. Additionally, you can search for neighboring terms that are either synonyms or antonyms of the unknown word.

4. Identify the core idea

You can evaluate the relevance of an article by finding the main idea in a paragraph. Understanding the significance of what you’re reading may help you better understand the author’s perspective. After reading every paragraph, stop reading and try to figure out what the major point is. Then, for even better understanding, try to rephrase the primary idea in your own words.

5. Summarize the information you read

Writing a summary is a foolproof method to learn more about what you have read. In order to summarize, you must first determine what is crucial in the text and then express it in your own terms. Summarizing enables you to assess your comprehension of the text and improves your long-term retention of what you have read.

Ace the SAT Reading with these websites

Most SAT passages are manageable; the language is modern and direct. However, we also have to tackle passages with pretty complex – at times downright convoluted – framing. In addition to this, most international students don’t have the same exposure to American history and literature that students from the USA have. Now, if you’re ambitious and determined, you may do the most logical thing: start reading content that will help you with such reading passages. But where should you begin? When you search for SAT reading sources, you get super long lists, which, frankly speaking, are overwhelming as well as unrealistic. You don’t have the time to read everything. In fact, many students simply give up on such passages due to frustration. But despair not, for there is another way. We’ve curated a list of the top five sources (topic-specific) for improving your reading for the SAT.

Science

Let’s start with the easiest. SAT passages based on science are the simplest to process. So, if you’re just starting out on your reading journey, begin here.

Easy-to-understand science articles

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine

https://www.scientificamerican.com/

Humanities

Passages based on psychology, economics, socio-cultural phenomena, etc., are simple enough to read but sometimes the ideas may be unfamiliar or complex. You can gain confidence regarding these themes by reading from the following sources.

https://www.aldaily.com/ This website gives you free access to thousands of articles. It’s a great resource to practice reading advanced language.

https://www.nytimes.com/ This is a great source for modern opinion pieces on a wide range of topics.

History

History passages are usually the most challenging as the context is unfamiliar and usually the language is difficult as some passages are extracts from texts written around 200 years ago. The easiest solution to this problem is to watch the Crash Course series on YouTube. Not only will this give you a great overview of history but it will also help you improve your language in general.

History explained in an engaging way with SAT vocabulary  

Crash Course US History

Crash Course World History

Watch this space for more tips!

Coming up…

Which historical incidents are a must-know for SAT?

Sources you should read for SAT Literature passages.

Cracking the Verbal Section 2: Turning Verbal Debility into Verbal Ability

Cracking the GRE Verbal Section

(Note: debility means weakness or disability; verbal debility here means a weakness or disability relating to the verbal section. Also, check out the other difficult words in this post. To get the meaning, just hover your mouse over them.)

 

How to Improve Vocabulary

1. Get those Vocab Lists, Look up those Dictionaries

As we said in our previous post, a good grasp of vocabulary is instrumental to achieving success in the Verbal Section. To improve your vocabulary, start by learning word meanings, synonyms, and antonyms. In order to do this you will need to find a good GRE list on the net – there are several available – and look up the synonyms and antonyms on a good online dictionary e.g.

On every handy piece of software to download and install on your laptop, phones, tablets, PCs etc is wordweb (http://wordweb.info/free/): it will give you words, meanings, sample sentences etc. for every word you hover your cursor over.

(Note to Dilip Oak’s Academy students: you already have VaiVocabulary – this gives you the word list along with synonyms, antonyms, easily confused words and a whole lot of revision features.)

2. Learn, Revise, Repeat

Developing an effective vocabulary also means consistent learning and revision so, start learning well before the exam – at least three months is recommended – and set up a learning and revision schedule. Make regular revision an integral part of your schedule: unless you revise regularly and repeatedly, you won’t remember any of that difficult vocabulary you are learning.

4. Target the Tough Ones

When you revise, mark out any words that you tend to forget: they need extra revision. The more you tend to forget them, the more they need to be revised; and the more you revise them, the better you will remember them!

5. Start Small

Doing all the learning and revision required can be an arduous task so, start with a good 500 high frequency GRE® word list. A short list like this will be a good stepping stone to the longer ones; and learning it will help you in overcoming the mental blocks associated with vocabulary learning.

6. Put it in Context

Keep in mind that simply memorizing words by rote is not enough, however; and developing a good vocabulary is not merely a matter of memorizing meanings of thousands of words. Often students notice that simply knowing the meaning of an obscure GRE word does not guarantee selecting the right answer in the exam. A proper understanding of exactly how to use vocabulary is necessary. It is this knowledge of usage that helps you to choose the right word for the given context. It is therefore advisable that, along with all your efforts to increase your vocabulary, you focus on getting a clear understanding of how to use these GRE words and which words fit in a particular context.

 

Developing Good Reading Habits

Apart from going through word lists, developing good reading habits is also crucial. One way in which this helps is getting an understanding of usage and context as we saw above. Secondly, though the GRE® is not a test of general knowledge, the reading comprehension passages in the verbal section cover a variety of topics and areas. Some background knowledge of the subjects being discussed in the passage you are reading is always useful since it is always easier to understand something that is at least somewhat familiar than something that is completely unfamiliar. For both these reasons it is imperative that you read a variety of articles from newspapers, magazines, and the web. Sites like the ones below give you access to an eclectic collection of very high quality writings.

http://thebrowser.com/ (easier but nevertheless intriguing reading – good to start with: it stimulates your interest and gets you reading without bogging you down with difficult words or convoluted sentences)

http://www.aldaily.com/ (more complex stuff, really long articles – get into this slowly)

Reading through this material at random can ensure both plenty of practice for comprehension and exposure to vocabulary in context.

(Note for Oak’s students: check out this link)

 

 

Cracking the GRE®: Verbal Reasoning 1 – the GRE exam’s Toughest Nut to Crack

Vocabulary tough nuts

First, here’s some basic orientation for GRE® rookies. The GRE exam incorporates 3 types of section:

  • Analytical Writing (the essay writing section which is scored on a scale of 0-6 with half point increments)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (which tests Maths skills)
  • Verbal Reasoning (which tests English skills – both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning are scored on a scale of 130-170 in 1-point increments)

Typically, cracking the GRE requires 4-12 weeks of preparation. A major chunk of this time will inevitably be invested in preparing for the Verbal section. Why is this so? Firstly, a lot of Indian students taking the GRE are engineers or others for whom the Quantitative Reasoning section is not a major problem. But Verbal reasoning includes questions on Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence which require good reading skills and an extensive vocabulary. However, most Indian students don’t tend to read much and, as a result, these are precisely the skills and knowledge that they lack. So, the Verbal Reasoning section is a tough nut to crack. What difficulties does it throw up?

Doing well in reading comprehension entails, among other things, an ability to read challenging unseen passages on unfamiliar topics, locate relevant information within the mass of details given in the passage, understand assumptions and implications and, get the main point. Choosing the right options from among several close alternatives requires insight, and discrimination, and the ability to recognize correct restatements and inferences.

 

In Sentence Equivalence or Text Completion questions, a proper understanding of the logic and reasoning of the sentences plays an important role: without it you won’t find the correct approach. Then, there are the vocabulary challenges. We all know that word meanings in the English language can be quite tricky. The GRE exam makes this problem even trickier by offering you close choices in Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions – ones which require you to understand the nuances of meaning and usage of words. Understanding usage and context therefore play a very important role in eliminating the wrong answers. Further, the wide variety of sub-question types and the high difficulty level of the questions is a challenge to most students.

Given the difficulties verbal questions pose, preparation for the Verbal section means developing a thorough mastery of vocabulary, reading skills and the strategies for tackle them successfully. Naturally, doing well in the Verbal section takes intensive preparation and practice for all students. You have to start well in advance, have the right resources and a good study plan. Our next blog will give you a few tips on how to move closer to attaining prowess in this difficult section.

 

GRE Prep: Verbal Study Plan Overview

Here from Dilip Oak’s Academy are the GRE Prep highlights. As the graphic above indicates the basic plan for verbal preparation for the GRE is as follows:

  • at least 3-5 months before your GRE, begin vocabulary preparation and preliminary reading practice
  • 2 months before your GRE, begin going through the practice material
  • 1 month before your GRE, begin your practice on the Computer-Based Tests (CBTS)

This is explained below: As you can see there are four aspects of preparation that you have to cover:

  1. Vocabulary Learning and Revision
  2. Preliminary Reading Practice
  3. Covering the Practice Material
  4. Practice on the Computer-Based Tests (CBTs)

Each of the sections below gives you a brief idea of how to handle one aspect of preparation. Each section also contains links (in red) which give you further important details about the aspect of preparation that it deals with. Before you read through the sections below read through the post on ‘some principles’ for GRE Preparation. This will give you important guidelines on how to work through the material described in each of the sections.

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GMAT Prep – Preliminary Reading and RC Practice

Image for RC

Preliminary Reading and RC

One of the most important aspects of preparing for reading comprehension in the GMAT is preliminary reading – that is, reading to be done before you start tackling GMAT RC passages in order to prepare you for the challenges that those passages will throw up.

One challenge that you will face on Reading Comprehension passages is that they tend to be about unfamiliar topics and concepts; and talk about unfamiliar terms and fields. They use difficult phrasing and vocabulary, and complicated sentence structure. The only way to get used to the level of complexity you will find in GMAT passages is to read widely.

Another challenge is the fact that reading passages on screen means that you may not be able to see the whole passage at a time, and may have to scroll up and down to read the rest of the passage. This is very different from reading on paper, where you can usually see the whole passage on screen at a glance. The fact that you can’t see the whole of the passage at once when you read long passages onscreen, makes comprehending the passage much more difficult.

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GRE Prep – Preliminary Reading

One of the most important aspects of preparing for reading comprehension in the GRE is preliminary reading – that is, reading to be done before you start tackling GRE RC passages in order to prepare you for the challenges that those passages will throw up.

One challenge that you will face on Reading Comprehension passages is that they tend to be about unfamiliar topics and concepts; and talk about unfamiliar terms and fields. They use difficult phrasing and vocabulary, and complicated sentence structure. The only way to get used to the level of complexity you will find in GRE passages is to read widely.

Another challenge is the fact that reading passages on screen means that you may not be able to see the whole passage at a time, and may have to scroll up and down to read the rest of the passage. This is very different from reading on paper, where you can usually see the whole passage on screen at a glance. The fact that, when reading longer passages onscreen, you will not be able to see the whole of the passage at once makes comprehending the passage much more difficult.

Reading widely both on paper and onscreen will help you build up the skills that you need to meet the challenges presented by reading comprehension passages in the GRE. The reading material suggested here is arranged, and should be read, in the following order:

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GRE Prep for Oak’s Students: Reading Comprehension Practice in the Last 2 Months

Practice for Reading Comprehension on the GRE

Once you have completed your preliminary reading, you should have gained several benefits:

  • exposure to fields outside your normal reading
  • knowledge of terms and concepts; personalities, processes, phenomena; and in general ideas and things in those unfamiliar fields
  • an ability to handle complex sentence structure and phrasing
  • an ability to understand the structure of passages and the modes of reasoning used and to understand the author’s main point.

Once you have attained some level of comfort on these fronts, you are ready to tackle the GRE reading comprehension passages in the practice material. The order in which you will do this final material is as follows.

  • Medium-level GRE Reading Comprehension
  • Hard GRE Reading Comprehension
  • ETS Material

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Cracking the GRE Test – Debanjana Nayak (GRE Score 330/340) – Tips for Quantitative,Verbal and Analytical Writing

Tips

Here’s the next part of Debanjana’s tips – this time with lots of specifics for each section of the test!

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Before starting with this set of tips specifically for the Quantitative, Verbal and AW sections, I must mention that I took classes from Dilip Oak’s Academy and I will be talking a lot about the Academy’s classes and materials because I found them extremely useful in preparing for these sections. In giving these tips, I am also assuming that you too are a student of Dilip Oak’s Academy. Of course, you will have your own experience and perspective, but here’s what I would suggest.

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Cracking the GRE: Tips from Tanmay – GRE Score 335

 

Here are some more hot tips from one of our students who is a star performer on the GRE. This time it’s Tanmay Gurjar. As you can see, his performance has won him another of our ‘gold medals’! First here is a brief ‘bio’.

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Name: Tanmay Gurjar
Stream/College: Bachelor’s, Mechanical Engineering, COEP (currently in final year)
GRE Score: 335
Break up – Quant – 169, Verbal – 166

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