Candidates have a number of questions on Comprehension Test. How do I answer questions on Comprehension? How do I read the passage effectively? Do I look at the questions before reading the passage? Do I underline parts of the passage? Do I have to memorise details and dates? How do I get interested and involved in the passage? We have tried to seek answer to these questions in the following discussion.
A number of tips are given below to tackle this section effectively.
1. The most important way to really understand what you are reading is to “get involved” with the passage.
2. You should underline important parts of passage. The underlining will help you to answer questions. Practically a question will ask you to detect — the main idea or the information that is specifically mentioned in the passage or information that is implied (not directly) stated in the passage or the tone/mood of the passage.
3. While reading the passage you should translate the information contained in each para into your own language, by analysing the elements of the passage, recognising the relationship between these elements, seeking cause-effect relationships, implications etc.
4. Encircle transitional and key words while reading the passage. The transitional words are “bridge” words that will help you to discover logical connections in the given passage. Encircling these transitional words will help you to get a better understanding of the passage.
5. Derive the meaning of “tough or unfamiliar” words by using the context method. Suppose, you don’t know the meaning of a certain word in a passage, try to determine the meaning of that word from the context, i.e., from the words that are close in position to that word whose meaning you do not know. Often an author uses an unfamiliar word and then immediately defines it within the same sentence. Look at the words in the immediate vicinity of the word or phrase which appears to be tough or unfamiliar.
English Comprehension Examples
Passage – 1
Scientists at Los Alamos laboratory in Mexico have come up with an ingenious method of accurately determining what’s in a sealed container without opening it, they point a gun at it. (SFAI) officially known as the Swept Frequency Acoustic Interferometer the gun transmits sound waves and established what is in a container by precisely measuring the way the sound waves behave as they pass through.
Comparing the information with a database of known materials allows a match to be found. Dipen Sinha, team leader for the SFAI project says, knowing just three simple parameter of sound P speed, absorption and frequency dependence P allows us to identify a wide range of chemicals, despite being of chemicals. Despite being developed for the US military, the device has lot of civilian applications. It is so sensitive; it can detect containing in drinking water and even tell you if the milk in your fridge has gone off.
(i) What have the scientists at Los Alamos come out with?
(ii) How does the method works in detecting?
(iii) Name the parameters on which this system works?
(iv) What are the possible uses of the ingenious method discussed in the passage?
(i) Scientists at Los Alamos have come out with an effective technique to determine what is inside a sealed container without opening it.
(ii) The method consists in pointing a gun at the sealed container. The gun is known as Swept Frequency Acoustic Interferometer. The gun transmits sound waves and establishes what is in a container by precisely measuring the way the sound waves behave as they pass through.
(iii) This system works on three parameters of sound P speed, absorption and frequency,
(iv) The possible uses of this method as discussed in the passage are identification of dangerous chemicals, detection of contaminants in drinking water. It can even tell you if the milk in your fridge has gone off.
Passage – 2
“We shan’t get much here”, whispered a lady to her companions as Mr. James blew out one of the two candles by whose light he had been writing when they asked him to contribute to some benevolent object. He listened to their story and paid twenty pounds. “Mr. James, I am very agreeably surprised,” said the lady, “I did not expect to get a farthing from you “The old man asked the reason for their opinion and, when told, said, “That, ladies, is just the reason I am able to let you have the twenty pounds. It is by practising economy that I save up money with which to do charitable action. One candle is enough to talk by”.
(i) Who went to see Mr. James and why?
(ii) What made the ladies despair of getting anything?
(iii) What did Mr. James do?
(iv) What secret of his charity did Mr. James tell the ladies?
(i) A lady and her companions went to see Mr. James to get his contribution towards benevolent object.
(ii) The ladies were despaired of getting anything because they guessed Mr. James was a miser who blew out one of the two candles by whose light he had been writing.
(iii) Mr. James listened to their story and paid twenty pounds.
(iv) Mr. James revealed that he practised economy so as to contribute for the charitable purposes. This was the secret of his charity.
Passage – 3
The appointed day has come-the day appointed by destiny and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measures and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.
(i) What is meant by ‘the appointed day’ here?
(ii) How does India stands forth again?
(iii) In what measures does the past cling on to us?
(iv) What is past and what begins a new and for whom?
(i) The appointed day’ here refers to the independence day of India £.e., 15th August, 1947.
(ii) India stands forth awake, vital, free and independent after a long sleep and struggle under foreign rule.
(iii) The past clings on to us in some measures. And we have to do much before we fulfil our pledges which we have often made to our people.
(iv) The turning point in the history of our country is past. The history of our country begins anew for us—the Indians.
Passage – 4
In one of his lectures just after Independence Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the Indians— We have hard work ahead. There is no reading for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be. We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belongs, are equally the children of India with rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.
To the nations and people of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy
(i) Why does Pt. Nehru say that people of India have hard work ahead?
(ii) “We have to live up t” that high standard”— What is this high standard?
(iii) Why is there no resting for us?
(iv) What do we pledge ourselves to?
(i) The people of India have hard work ahead. They have to fight and end poverty, disease and ignorance in order to make India rich, prosperous and progressive. They have to end communalism and narrow mindedness,
(ii) The high standard, according to Pt. Nehru is character and hard work. We, the people of India have to raise our nation in the eyes of the world and we should not act or behave in any mean or cheap way.
(iii) There is no resting for us because we have to fulfil our pledge in full till we make all the people of India what fate intended them to be.
(iv) We pledge ourselves to cooperate with the people of the world in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.
Passage – 5
According to Dr. Bernard— “If we succeed it would be more than the grafting of a heart. It would be the conjoining of many disciplines of medicine and science. It would also be the crowning effort of a team of men and women who would bring to bear upon that moment the training of a lifetime, structured with the inherited technique and skill of a millennium. All of it would be used with one objective-to replace a dying heart with a new one, to save one life.
(i) Who is the speaker and what work has he undertaken to perform?
(ii) In what sense will their success be the crowning effort of a team?
(iii) What does the author mean by ‘the inherited technique’ and ‘skill of a millennium’?
(iv) What is the author’s objective you find in the passage?
(i) Dr. Barnard is the speaker and he has undertaken the work of replacing a young heart for the dying heart.
(ii) Their success will be ‘the crowning effort of a team’ if they could successfully transplant the young heart replacing the dying heart. It would be an open heart operation, the first in the history of the world.
(iii) By “the inherited technique” and “skill of a millennium” means the skill and techniques developed over the last one thousand years and inherited by the team headed by Dr. Barnard.
(iv) The author’s objective is to get the overwhelming response and acquire fame on his experimentation in replacing a dying heart with a new one to save one life and get out of his test with flying colours.
Passage – 6
It lay in the heart of King and Popes and shoemakers, forced to quit before their time. It was sewn into the pattern of life itself, for no one was bom with the belief that be came into the world to quit it. He came to stay, with the hope that the leaving of life would never be a simple mechanical failure, but rather the arrival at a time when he could say that he had completed the circle, he had done his best, he had lived his promise and made it or had failed it. Above all, he should not be forced to withdraw because the central pump of his existence had failed him.
(i) What does ‘simple mechanical failures’ mean?
(ii) What does the word ‘it’ refers to in the first line?
(iii) With what belief does man live in this world?
(iv) Explain the meaning of the last sentence of the passage?
(i) A simple mechanical failure’ means ‘heart failure’, which is like the failure of pumping machine (of blood) in human body.
(ii) The word ‘it’ in the first line refers to a dream of living a complete life— a brief as old as the heart of man.
(iii) Man lives in this world with the belief that he will live his full life only after fulfilling his mission he will quit the world.
(iv) Man should not be compelled to go only because of the failure of his heart due to the mechanical failure of the central pump of his heart which is so vital for his survival.
Passage – 7
This made Mrs. Joe unhappy. She could not help me with my lessons. She did not believe in the things they taught at the English school and was distressed that there was no teaching about God and the scriptures. One day I announced that we were being given music lessons. Mrs. Joe was very disturbed to her, music had lewd associations. It was the monopoly of harlots and beggars and not meant for gentle folk. She said nothing but her silence meant disapproval. She rarely talked to me after that.
(i) What made Mrs. Joe unhappy?
(ii) What was the thing she did not believe in? Why?
(iii) What did the author announce one day?
(iv) Why did Mrs. Joe dislike music lessons?
(i) Western science and learning etc., given at the English school made Mrs. Joe unhappy.
(ii) Mrs. Joe did not believe in the western education given at the English school because there was no teaching about God and the scriptures.
(iii) The author announced one day that they were being given music lessons at the English school
(iv) Mrs. Joe disliked music lessons because she was of the opinion that it had lewd connection with prostitutes and beggars and it was not meant for gentle folk.
Passage – 8
The Sun was setting and had lit her room and verandah with a blaze of golden light. We stopped half-way in the courtyard. All over the verandah and in her room right up to where he lay died and stiff wrapped in the red shroud, thousands of sparrows sat scattered on the floor. There was no chirping. We felt worry for the birds and my mother fetched some bread for them. She broke it into little crumbs, the way my grandmother used to, and threw into there. The sparrows took no notice of the bread, when we carried my grandmother’s corpse off, they flew away quietly.
(i) Why did they feel sorry for the sparrows?
(ii) What did they see when they entered the room of the dead body?
(iii) Why did the author’s mother fetch bread for the birds?
(iv) How did the sparrows show that they had not come for bread?
(i) They felt sorry for the sparrows because the old lady was lying dead who used to feed them regularly. The birds had come to mourn her death so they did not touch any crumb of bread.
(ii) Entering the room where the corpse of the author’s grandmother lay, they saw thousands of sparrows sitting on the floor, on the verandah and right up to where her dead body lay.
(iii) The author’s mother brought bread for the birds thinking that the birds had come to eat the little crumbs of bread as usual. So she wished to feed them in the manner the old lady (grandmother) used to feed them.
(iv) The sparrows showed that they had not come for the bread as they took no notice of the crumbs thrown to them by the author’s mother. They flew away as soon as the grandmother’s body was taken to be cremated.
Passage – 9
Most people who have thought for themselves have been told that it was wicked to think differently from other people. Usually there have been priests who have told them that if they thought this or that the gods would punish them. And people believed the priests and were afraid of the gods, and thought what they were told to think. But Newton and Watt did that was the point. Falling apples and boiling kettles caused them to think new thoughts, and because they thought new thoughts men came to understand more about the world and to invent things. Now, although I am not sure about the things we actually invent, I do think that this business of thinking new thought, whether they lead to inventions or not, is a sign of being civilized.
(i) What have those people been told who have thought for themselves?
(ii) How have priests dissuade people from thinking for themselves.?
(iii) What did Newton and Watt does and what things gave them new thought?
(iv) How was their new thinking useful for the people?
(i) Those who have thought for themselves have been told that it was immoral to think in a different and new way.
(ii) The priests have dissolved people from thinking for themselves by giving them stem warning if they did so God would be angry and punish them.
(iii) Both Newton and Watt thought new thoughts and they invented new things. Falling apples and boiling kettles gave them new thought.
(iv) Their new thinking helped the people to understand more about the world and to invent new things.
Passage – 10
“You are the top class, the operative word is top”. That means you must set the standard in all things for the rest of the school, for whether you wish it or not, the younger ones will ape everything you do or say. They will try to walk like you and use the words you use, and so, far, as long as you are here, much of their conduct will be your responsibility. As the top class you must be top in cleanliness, deportment, courtesy and work. “I shall help you in every way I can, both by example and encouragement. I believe that you have it in you to be a fine class; it depends on you. Now, any questions?”
(i) What does the author mean to point out by emphasising ‘You are the top class’?
(ii) What will the younger students do?
(iii) What is their duty as the top class?
(iv) Who will help and how?
(i) By “You are the top class,” the author wants to emphasize that they were the senior most students of the school and so they must set the top standard in all things.
(ii) The younger students will follow suit. They will copy the senior students of the school in everything they say or do.
(iii) It is their duty to set exemplary standard in all the things they say or do.
(iv) The teacher will help his students in maintaining high standards. He will help them in every way he can, both by example and encouragement.
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