Chapter 2 Impact Factor Comprehension (UGC NTA NET JRF Teaching and Research Aptitude Book)
According to Wren and Martin, comprehension exercise can be defi ned as a passage, upon which questions are set to test the students’ ability to understand the content of the given text and to infer information and meanings from it. To put it in simple terms, reading comprehension is the act of understanding what you are reading.
It mainly requires two inputs from the reader, i.e., vocabulary knowledge and text comprehension.
In order to understand a text, the reader must be able to comprehend the vocabulary used in a piece of writing.
A comprehension test requires specific reading skills, the ability to grasp the main ideas from the passage, linking them, inferring and drawing conclusions based on the proper understanding of a passage.
Eventually, by gaining clear understandability, a candidate is supposed to answer the questions given at the end of the passage.
For candidates, even though they have ample choice among questions, reading comprehension (RC) is a must attempt as it does not require any specific study and some practice can help in answering the questions with confidence. Usually, each RC is followed by five to six questions in UGC Paper I Exam.
Here are some techniques that can be used to make comprehension easier:
1. Identification of key ideas: There are always certain key sentences that determine the flow of the ideas in a passage. To make comprehension simpler, these sentences are supposed to be identified during the first reading of the passage. The paragraph(s) should be read quickly to get a generalized idea. It should be read again, a little slowly, so as to know the details. The key ideas can also be underlined.
2. Summarize the paragraph: While reading the passage, develop a habit of mentally summarizing each paragraph and keep linking them as you proceed. This helps in understanding the overall idea of the passage and as a result, the candidate may find it easier to answer the questions. Some readers may prefer to study the questions again and turn to the relevant portions of the passage later.
3. Determine sentence links: Usually, the sentences within a passage are directly or subtly linked.
Here, practice helps a lot in identifying such links.
However, failing to practice will adhere to miss out the most important points.
4. Ask questions: Whenever in doubt, the reader should always ask questions to oneself. For example, the following questions are asked: Why has the author mentioned this example? What is the purpose of the second paragraph? This kind of reflection helps in developing a deeper perspective about the main ideas.
Main Question Categories
Comprehension passage questions can be classified into the following categories:
Main Theme or Central Idea
These type of questions are based on the passage as a whole and they are typical in nature as they reflect upon the author’s motive to write the passage. These questions will put someone to test by scrutinizing the ability of the reader in understanding the given paragraph.
Usually, the answers to such type of questions lie in the introductory or the concluding paragraphs. A quick reading of the first or last or both the paragraphs is helpful.
1. Which of the following alternatives best narrate the passage? 2. Which of the following sentences reflect upon the main idea of the passage? Paying attention to single words and phrases helps to understand the relationship between the ideas within a paragraph.
1. Cause and effect words—as a result, therefore 2. Time words—meanwhile, before 3. Contrast words—in contrast, conversely 4. Addition words—also, in addition 5. Emphasis words—more important, remember
Author’s Opinion and Attitude
Such questions are based on the author’s viewpoint and the answers are not explicitly mentioned. They have to be derived from the key sentences used by the author to express his thoughts and opinions. The questions are framed so as to test one’s ability to judge the author’s attitude or his knowledge on the subject by analysing the content, style and phraseology used in the passage. The candidate needs to be empathetic with the author while answering such questions. Such a set of questions examine the candidate on many fronts.
One can look for the writing style and the sentences that determine the tone used by the author, which serve as a clue to the answers. If a particular part of the passage is in question form, then try to understand the reasoning used by the author to explain that part.
Alternatively, the reader could focus on the adverbs and adjectives used by the author to describe something. These words are indicative of the mood and intensity of his thoughts.
1. What is the author’s tone in the second paragraph? 2. According to the author, what can be a logical solution to the issue at hand? 3. Which of the following ideas is most likely to agree with?
Explicit or Direct Information
These are direct questions based on the names, dates, figures, data, facts or opinions mentioned in the passage and are easily noticed during the first read itself. The answer options may also be direct sentences picked up from the passage. Scan the passage to spot the keywords for specific details.
Some specific detail questions are negative and are singled by the words, such as not, except, most and least. If you cannot find the correct answer for negative- specific details, eliminate the choices given and choose the one that remains as the correct response. It also makes a lot of sense to read the questions first as it gives an idea of what to look for while reading the passage.
Questions based on explicit information should be verified by reading specific parts of the passage that contain the answer.
1. Which one of the following options is true according to the passage? 2. Which one of the following options is no longer a motivation for youth today?
The answers to these types of questions are not explicitly stated but are implied/inferred/deducted from the passage. These questions test both our comprehension skills and our ability to relate to author’s opinion.
Understanding the overall idea of the passage helps to answer these questions. While reading the passage, the candidate should try to understand the arguments presented by the author.
1. According to the passage, which of the following options can be inferred? 2. With which of the following arguments is the author most likely to agree?
Language Expression Questions
These questions are based on specific words or phrases mentioned in the passage. However, sometimes, there may be synonym or antonym-based questions, which test our understanding of a word in the context of the passage. The aim of the reader should be to understand the contextual meanings of the words with respect to the passage rather than sticking to their dictionary meanings. These questions test our ability to move simple, known words and their literal meanings to understand the language usage and the subject matter of the passage. They test our reasoning skills and the ability to relate to the author’s ideas while reading the passage.
A thorough second reading of that part of the passage from where the phrase has been picked up help us in correctly understanding the context of the passage.
1. In the context of paragraph, what does, as good as it gets, mean? 2. From the options, find the word closest in meaning to the given word as it has been used in the passage.
Organization of the Passage
These questions are based on the structure of the passage and the literary techniques used by the author in expressing his arguments. Questions dealing with strengthening and weakening arguments fall in this category. These questions test our ability to analyse the structure of the passage, identify sentences and paragraphs as assumptions, arguments, solutions, conclusions, etc.
A lot of reading can help a reader to acquire literary skills.
1. Which of these options best represent the structure of the passage? 2. What is the fundamental premise on which the author has based his analysis? 3. What is the assumption made by the author when he says democracy will never fall?
A candidate is required to choose the option that is similar or conforms to reasoning along the same lines as the arguments mentioned in the passage. This question tests our comprehension and our ability to illustrate the analysis formed in our mind based on our reading of the passage. It also tests our capacity to associate two separate illustrations that follow a single line of reasoning.
The key to answering such questions is understanding the base arguments before having a look at the options and then eliminating the options by comparing them with compactness of the line of reasoning provided in the question stem.
1. Which of the following illustrations best represent the arguments mentioned in the second paragraph? 2. The phrase, to err is human, is applicable in which one of the situations listed below?
Specimen Passage 1
The sugar maple is a hard maple tree. It can grow as tall as 100 feet and as wide as 4 feet. The sugar maple is commercially valued for its sap, which is used in making maple syrup. Two north-eastern states, Vermont and New York, rank as major producers of maple syrup. In Canada, Quebec’s annual syrup production surpasses 2.5 million gallons. To make pure maple syrup, holes are made in the trunk of the tree at the end of winter or in early spring. The water-like sap seeps through the holes and runs through a plastic spout that is put into the hole. Afterwards, the collected sap is transferred into tubes that are hooked up to a tank kept in the sugar house. Then, the sap goes through the boiling process.
Boiling enhances flavour and adds colour to the sap.
Once the sugar content of the sap is about 65–66%, the sap is ready to be strained and marketed. However, maple syrup found in supermarkets is usually not pure and has other additives. The colour of pure maple may range from golden honey to light brown. Between 35 to 50 gallons of sap is needed to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup. It is also popular for the strength and finish of its wood, the sugar maple tree has been put to use in furniture, interior woodwork, flooring and crates.
1. What is the main purpose of the passage? (a) To examine the economic viability of making maple syrup.
(b) To list a number of major producers of maple syrup.
(c) To provide information on preparation of maple syrup.
(d) To discuss the use of maple wood in furniture and other products. This is a general inference question. Most of the passage explains the technique used for making maple syrup. Hence, the correct answer is (c).
2. For which of the following words does the author provide a definition? (a) The sugar maple (b) A tank (c) Additives (d) Furniture This specific detailed question tests our understanding of a definition. Only sugar maple is defined in the first line of the passage. Other words have just been mentioned in the passage. Hence, the correct answer is (a).
3. According to the passage, which of the following periods is ideal for sapping? (a) End of winter or in early spring.
(b) Beginning of winter or in early spring.
(c) End of winter or late spring.
(d) Throughout the year. This is again a specific question. Based on the information in the passage, sapping takes place at the end of winter and in early spring. Hence, the correct answer is (a).
4. All of the following is true about boiling except which of the following? (a) It enhances the colour.
(b) It improves the flavour.
(c) It increases the sugar content.
(d) It reduces the shelf-life of the syrup. This specifically detailed question is negative and we can eliminate choices that are not applicable.
Hence, the correct answer is (d).
5. What can be inferred about the production of maple syrup? (a) It is simple, but time-consuming.
(b) It is labour-intensive.
(c) Its processing demands complex equipment.
(d) The higher the volume, the less predictable is the quality. This question tests our inference ability. The answer to the question is not directly stated in the passage.
Hence, the correct option is (a). The production technique is quite straightforward, but it takes time. The producers have to depend on the natural flow of sap.
6. The phrase, to be strained, could best be replaced by which of the following statement? (a) To be tried (b) To be purified (c) To be filtered (d) To be solidified This is a language/expression question. Hence, the correct option is (c).
Specimen Passage 2
Now, India’s children have to receive at least eight years of education. The gnawing question is whether it will remain on paper or it will become a reality. One hardly needs a reminder that this right is different from others enshrined in the constitution, that the beneficiary— a six-year-old child cannot demand it, nor can he or she fight a legal battle when the right is denied or violated.
In all cases, it is the adult society that must act on behalf of the child. In another peculiarity, where a child’s right to education (RTE) is denied, no compensation offered later can be adequate or relevant. This is so because childhood does not last long. If a legal battle fought on behalf of a child is eventually won, it may be of little use to a boy or girl because the opportunity missed at school during childhood cannot serve the same purpose later in life. This may be painfully true for girls because our society permits them only a short childhood, if at all. The RTE has become a crucial point of law in India’s history when the ghastly practice of female infanticide has resurfaced in the form of foeticide. This is ‘symptomatic of deeper turmoil’ in society, which is compounding the traditional obstacles to girls’ education. Tenacious prejudice against intellectual potential of girls runs across our cultural diversity and the system of education has not been able to address it.
1. With reference to the passage, consider the following statements.
(A) When children are denied education, adult society does not act on behalf of them.
(B) Right to education as a law cannot be enforced in the country.
Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect? (a) Only (A) (b) Both (A) and (B) (c) Only (B) (d) Either (A) or (B) Explanation
Statement (A) is incorrect. The enactment of RTE itself shows that adult society may act on behalf of children to ensure their education.
Statement (B) is incorrect as the passage does not indicate that the right cannot be enforced in the country but rather mentions the shortfalls and difficulties which may occur in the act of enforcing the law.
Both A and B are incorrect statements. Hence, (b) is the right answer.
2. According to the passage, what could be traditional obstacles to the education of girls? (A) Inability of the parents to fight a legal battle when the right to education is denied to their children.
(B) The traditional way of thinking about girls’ role in society.
(C) The prejudice against the intellectual potential of girls.
(D) Improper system of education.
Select the correct answer from the codes given below.
(a) Only (A) and (B) (b) Only (A), (C), and (D) (c) Only (B), (C), and (D) (d) (A), (B), (C), and (D) Explanation
Statement (A) is not mentioned in the passage anywhere. The statements (B), (C) and (D) are mentioned as traditional obstacles at the end of paragraph. Hence, (c) is the correct answer.
3. Where a child’s right to education is denied, no compensation offered later can be adequate or relevant is reflected through the fact that (a) Childhood is short.
(b) Opportunity to learn missed during specific childhood period may not be compensated later in life.
(c) Both (a) and (b) (d) None of the above Explanation
Explicitly mentioned in the passage. Both (a) and (b) apply. Hence, the correct option is (c).
4. The expression, symptomatic of deeper turmoil reflects (a) Lack of proper girl’s education in society.
(b) Enactment of right to education.
(c) Prevailing political environment in the country.
(d) None of the above Explanation
There is a mention of girl’s education in the second part of the sentence. Hence, the correct option is (a).
5. Which one of the following statement conveys the key message of the passage? (a) India has declared that education is compulsory for its children.
(b) Adult society is not keen on implementing the right to education.
(c) The right to education, particularly for a girl child, needs to be safeguarded.
(d) None of the above Explanation
Option (a) is incorrect as there is no mention of education being made compulsory. Option (b) is also incorrect, as there is no mention of adults not being keen in implementing the right to education and it simply mentions that it is the adult society which must act on behalf of the child. The author is specifically concerned about girl child’s education.
Hence, the correct option is (c).
6. Which one of the following statements convey the inference of the passage? (a) The society has a tenacious prejudice against the intellectual potential of girls.
(b) Adults cannot be relied upon to fight on behalf of children for their right to education.
(c) The legal fight to get education for children is protracted and prohibitive.
(d) There is no sufficient substitute for education received in childhood.
The option (a) is directly mentioned in the passage and hence, it is not an inference. Option (c) has the word ‘prohibitive’ that cannot be inferred from the passage.
Option (d) is supported by ‘if a legal battle … if at all’ which points out the opportunity cost of a missed childhood, particularly for girls.
Hence, the correct option is (d).
Specimen Passage 3
The concept of creative society refers to the phase of development of a society in which a large number of potential contradictions become articulate and active. This is most evident when oppressed social groups get politically mobilized and demand their rights. The upsurge of peasants and tribes, the movements for regional autonomy and self-determination, the environmental movements and the women’s movements in the developing countries are signs of emergence of creative society in contemporary times. The forms of social movements and their intensity may vary from country to country and place to place within a country, but the very presence of movements for social transformations in various spheres of a society indicates the emergence of a creative society in a country.
1. What does the author imply by creative society? (A) A society where diverse art forms and literary writings seek incentive.
(B) A society where social inequalities are accepted as a norm.
(C) A society where a large number of contradictions are articulate.
(D) A society where the exploited and the oppressed groups grow conscious of their human rights and upliftment.
Select the correct answer using the codes given below: (a) (A), (B), and (C) (b) Only (D) (c) Only (C) and (D) (d) Only (B) and (D) Explanation
Statement (A) takes the literal meaning of creative society, which is not appropriate in the given context of the paragraph. Statement (B) contradicts the passage as there is talk of oppressed social groups get politically mobilized and … rights. Statement (C) is mentioned in the first sentence where potential contradictions become ‘articulate’.
Statement (D) is mentioned in ‘this is most evident … creative society in temporary times’. Hence, the correct option is (c).
2. According to the passage, what are the manifestations of social movements? (A) Being aggressive (B) Involvement of the whole society.
(C) Quest for social equality and individual freedom.
(D) None of the above Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
(a) Only (A) and (B) (b) Only (C) (c) Only (B) and (C) (d) (A), (B) and (C) Explanation
Social movements do not need to be aggressive.
Hence, (A) is in incorrect. Statement (B) contradicts the passage since social groups get politically mobilized and demand their rights internally and not externally. The entire passage supports statement (C). Hence, the correct option is (b).
3. With reference to the passage, consider the following statements.
(A) To be a creative society, it is essential to have a variety of social movements.
(B) To be a creative society, it is imperative to have potential contradictions and conflicts.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (a) Only (A) (b) Only (B) (c) Both (A) and (B) (d) Neither (A) nor (B) Explanation
Statements (A) and (B) invert the argument in the passage. The paragraph does not mention having a variety of social movements as a necessary condition to be creative in the entire paragraph, so statement (A) is incorrect. For statement (B), just the presence of potential contradictions and conflicts is itself not a necessary condition for social movement, but their ‘articulation and (being) active’ is also required. So statement (B) is also incorrect. So the answer should be neither (A) nor (B). Hence, the correct option is (d).
4. Which of the following are examples of different social movements? (A) Upsurge of peasants and tribes.
(B) The movements for regional autonomy and self-determination.
(C) The environmental movements (D) The women’s movements Codes:
(a) (A), (B) and (C) (b) (B), (C) and (D) (c) (A), (B) and (D) (d) All the above Explanation
It is explicitly mentioned in the third line of the passage. Hence, the correct option is (d).
5. Which of following can be described as the most appropriate aim(s) for various social movements? (A) To achieve the status of a creative society (B) To achieve rights (C) Social transformation Codes:
(a) (A) and (B) (b) (B) and (C) (c) (A) and (C) (d) Only (C) Explanation
Statement (A) is not the explicit aim of any movement.
Statement (B) is mentioned in the second line of the paragraph. Social transformation has been mentioned in the last line of the paragraph.
Hence, the correct option is (b).
6. Which of following can be considered as the most suitable title for the passage? (a) Creative society and social movements.
(b) Social movement as the prerequisite of a creative society.
(c) Social movements (d) None of the above Explanation
Option (a) seems to be the most appropriate option. Option (b) is not the answer; it is nowhere mentioned in the paragraph that social movement is the prerequisite of a creative society. Yes, social movements indicate the emergence of creative society. Option (c) is also not the answer as the paragraph is mainly about creative society.
Specimen Passage 4
A country under foreign domination seeks escape from the present in dreams of a vanished age and finds consolation in visions about the greatness of past generations. That is a foolish and dangerous pastime in which many of us indulge.
An equally questionable practice for us in India is to imagine that we are still spiritually great though we have come down in the world in other respects.
Spiritual or any other such greatness cannot be found on lack of freedom and opportunity or on starvation and misery. Many western writers have encouraged the notion that Indians are other–worldly. I suppose that the poor and unfortunate in every country become other-worldly to some extent, unless they become revolutionaries, for this world is evidently not meant for them. So also the subject people.
As a man grows to maturity, he is not entirely engrossed in or satisfied with the external objective world. He also seeks some inner meaning and some psychological and physical satisfaction. Therefore, along with people and civilizations, they mature and grow as adult. Every civilization and every person exhibits these parallel streams of external and internal lives. Where they meet or keep close to each other, there is an equilibrium and stability, when they diverge, conflicts and crisis arise that torture the mind and the spirit.
1. The passage mentions that ‘this world is evidently not meant for them’. It refers to people who (a) Seek freedom from foreign domination.
(b) Live in starvation and misery.
(c) Become revolutionaries (d) All the above Explanation
The pronoun, them, refers to the poor and unfortunate in every country. Hence, the correct option is (b).
2. Which of the following can be taken as the most valid assumption of the paragraph? (a) A country under foreign domination cannot indulge in spiritual pursuit.
(b) Poverty is an impediment in suitable pursuit.
(c) Both (a) and (b) (d) None of the above Explanation
Statement (a) is contradictory to the passage.
Statement (b) is an assumption implied from ‘Spiritual or any other … starvation and misery’.
Hence the correct option is (b).
3. Which of the following can be considered as the main theme of the paragraph? (a) The state of mind of oppressed people.
(b) Starvation and misery.
(c) The growth of civilization.
(d) Body, mind and spirit of people in general.
Statements (b), (c), and (d) are just references in the passage. Hence, the correct option is (a).
4. According to the passage, the torture of the mind and spirit is caused (a) By the ruthlessness of foreign domination.
(b) By the desire to escape from foreign domination and find consolation in visions of past greatness.
(c) By the desire to become either other-worldly or revolutionary.
(d) Due to lack of equilibrium between an external life and an internal life.
Statement (d) is the correct option. It is mentioned in the last line of the third paragraph—‘this has been rephrased in the specimen passage. Needs to be rephrased here also. Where they meet or keep … and crises arise that torture the mind and spirit’.
5. As a person grows in maturity, she/he seeks satisfaction in (a) Psychological satisfaction only.
(b) Physical satisfaction only.
(c) Both psychological and physical satisfaction.
(d) Neither (a) or (b).
It is mentioned explicitly in the last paragraph.
6. Many western writers have encouraged the notion that Indians are other-worldly. What can be the possible meaning of ‘other-worldly’ in the context of entire passage? (a) They are still basking in past greatness and are not in touch with the realities of the presentday world.
(b) Poor, unfortunate and subject people.
(c) Both (a) and (b) (d) Neither (a) nor (b) Explanation
The term ‘other-worldly’ has been explicitly used in the second paragraph for poor people. In common parlance, it means that poor people are cut off from main stream society. Hence, the correct option is (b).
Specimen Passage 5
Ecosystems provide people with a variety of goods and services, food, clean water, clean air, flood control, soil stabilization, pollination, climate regulation, spiritual fulfilment and aesthetic enjoyment, to name just a few.
Most of these benefits are either irreplaceable or the technology necessary to replace them is prohibitively expensive. For example, potable freshwater can be provided by desalinating sea water, but only at great cost. The rapidly expanding human population has greatly modified the earth’s ecosystem to meet their increased requirements of some of the goods and services, particularly food, freshwater, timber, fibre and fuel. These modifications have contributed substantially to human well-being and economic development. The benefits have not been equally distributed. Some people have actually been harmed by these changes.
Moreover, short- term increases in some ecosystems’ goods and services have come at the cost of long-term degradation of others. For example, efforts to increase the production of food and fibre have decreased the ability of some ecosystems to provide clean water, regulate flooding and support biodiversity.
1. Expanding human population has an adverse effect on (A) Spiritual fulfilment (B) Availability of potable freshwater (C) Employment (D) Biodiversity Which of the statements given above are correct? (a) (A), (B) and (C) (b) (B), (C) and (D) (c) (B) and (D) (d) All the above Explanation
The last sentence indicates an adverse effect on the availability of clean water and biodiversity. Hence, the correct option is (c).
2. The passage mentions that ‘some people have actually been harmed by these changes’. It indicates towards (a) Inequitable distribution of benefits.
(b) Decrease in the ability of some ecosystems to provide clean water, regulate flooding and support biodiversity.
(c) Both (a) and (b) (d) Neither (a) nor (b) Explanation
Both (a) and (b) indicate inequitable distribution of benefits and resources. Hence, the correct option is (c).
3. Which of the following is correct in the context of the passage? (a) The rapid expansion of population has adversely affected some people.
(b) Sufficient efforts have not been made to increase the production of food and fibre.
(c) In short term, some people may be harmed, but in long term, everyone will benefit from modifications in earth’s ecosystem.
(d) None of the above Explanation
Only statement (a) is implied, (b) is irrelevant and the discussion in the passage does not support (c).
Hence, the correct option is (a).
4. With reference to the passage, consider the following statements: (A) It is imperative to modify the earth’s ecosystem for the well-being of mankind.
(B) Technology can never replace all the goods and services provided by ecosystems.
Which of the following statements given above is/ are correct? (a) Only (A) (b) Only (B) (c) Both (A) and (B) (d) Neither (A) nor (B) Explanation
Statement (A) is incorrect since the passage is almost about positive and negative aspects of the modification of our ecosystem. Statement (B) is mentioned clearly in the passage. Hence, the correct option is (b).
5. According to the passage, which of the following can be taken as the main reason for modification of earth’s ecosystem? (a) Technology (b) Increasing population (c) Lack of an integrated approach (d) All the above Explanation
Though both technology and lack of integrated approach may be applicable, both are long drawn inferences. Among the available choices, increasing population is clearly mentioned. Hence, the correct option is (b).
6. Which of the following can be considered as the most suitable title for the passage? (a) Modification of our ecosystem.
(b) Our natural resources.
(c) Harmful effect of increase in human population.
(d) Human interference in our ecosystem.
Clearly, options (b), (c), and (d) may be relevant to the discussion in the passage, but it is mainly about the causes and effect of changes in our ecosystem.
Hence, the correct option is (a).