• Vanita Pal


Why a correct technique needed to read an English Comprehension Passage?

Well, there are a couple of reasons.

One is that most students answer questions wrongly and do not seem to understand that a proper technique is needed.

The second is that students who do have a technique will find it easier to understand what the passage is all about.

These are the 2 most important reasons. I could go into many more such as speed reading for easier answers and finding the main topic points but I want to make this clear and simple.

After all, the entire purpose of this blog is to make things simpler for you.

How exactly do you ‘read’ a comprehension passage? Isn’t it like reading a story book? You may ask.

Well, no.


That’s because you have to look out for nuances and stresses which the passage has. Every comprehension has these.

Ok, what are nuances and stresses?

Nuances are actually hidden meanings. You will have to read between the lines sometimes to discover what the passage is actually saying. Some passages deliver content in a very indirect way. And in other cases where the narrative passage is concerned, the character may purposely mislead you by doing something but you will have to guess what he really wants to do.

Ok. Why does it have to be so complicated?

It is not really that complicated if you read the passage properly.

First Technique

Proper reading means

i) look out for the main character

ii) look out for the main point in that paragraph eg what is the purpose of this paragraph?

Once you know what you have to look out for, it will be easier to read the passage. That’s because you now know what the main intention is.

When you start reading the paragraph, you will have to look out for the ‘character’ and the ‘main point’. Once you have determined what these are, you can proceed to the slightly more complex part of the passage.

What you need to do is to read the paragraph quickly and look out for these 2 factors. Then read it again, a little slower and underline what you think the main point may be. This will help you in your summary later.

Second Technique

This is not as easy as the first part. This is where you will have to look out for the nuances and stresses.

The hidden meanings in the paragraph only occur where the main/sub character is there. What are they trying to do?

What is their intention?

Are these the same? If they are different, find out the difference between the action and intention.

The difference between the 2 is the ‘hidden meaning.’

Stresses are usually the slight clues which the passage reveals. It could be in the narrative itself where the character hints at something or repeats something. This is done on purpose for a particular reason. That is the Stress. This will definitely appear in the questions later so if you read it carefully in this way, you will be able to manage it well.

Ok. Are all comprehension passages like this? Can I also use this if there is dialogue?

Of course.

In fact, dialogue is one of the ways where the character is revealing his/ her focus or intention. It is the best way to determine what their true feelings are. Questions such as “what is she trying to say..” are often based on such perceptions.

What about stresses? Are they in most comprehension passages?

Yes. In fact ‘stress’ really means emphasis. What is the emphasis of this paragraph? What is the whole point of this narrative? Eg. To show that the author is finally able to break free. Or To show that the author is happy to be home at last.

It could be something complex or simple but there is always some sort of stress. There could be another form of stress where the author keeps repeating something. This sort of stress may reveal the author’s problem or intention in carrying out a task.

The questions based on this sort of stress will focus of analysing this.

Therefore, when you read a passage, you will need to use both these techniques when you begin reading. Do not just read it through without looking out for the points mentioned in the First and Second Techniques.

They may seem simple, but trust me, it will make a world of difference when you attempt the questions. It will definitely reduce the time needed to flip back and forth between the questions and the passage.

Try them and see the difference! And good luck!