Reading Comprehension is an area that has existed since the time aptitude tests have existed. There is hardly any major standardized aptitude test, national or international, that does not test Reading Comprehension. In the aptitude test conducted by most of the companies, verbal section does consist of Reading Comprehension.
Reading Comprehension question constitute an integral part of the Verbal Ability section of most aptitude tests. The questions usually begin with passages of varying lengths. Tests that are computer-based tend to have shorter passages, between 350 – 600 words, while tests that are paper-based tend to have passages between 500 – 1000 words (in some cases even more). The content of the passages usually cover a wide variety of topics in areas ranging from current affairs, history, literature, sociology, and anthropology to philosophy.
What is measured?
Reading comprehension question evaluate your ability to do the following:
Understand statements and words
The question will test your understanding of the English language by asking you to evaluate the passages as a whole. The question range from identifying the central idea or primary purpose of the passage to suggesting a title for the passage. Though all tests might not test vocabulary directly, some test the meaning of words phrases as they are used in the passage.
Understand the logical flow of ideas
This type of question will ask you to evaluate the strength and weakness of the arguments presented and the role played by certain arguments in the context of the passage.
Draw inferences from the information given
These question will ask you to evaluate the facts and arguments made in the passage and draw logical inferences from the same. Given the content of the passage and the skills that are evaluated it follows that the most important competency required to correctly answer reading comprehension question is the ability to clearly comprehend and analyze content belonging to diverse topics written in standard written English.
So, apart from learning the reading techniques to understand passages, strategies to answer different question types and solving practice exercises you would need to develop, a comfort level with reading and analyzing content in written English by extensively reading content in standard written English from reputable national and international newspapers and magazines as well as fiction and non-fiction books.
A vocabulary required to understand content in written English, which is quite extensive when compared to spoken English, by using books like Word Power Made Easy and All About Words.
Grammar, is an area of relatively low importance when compared Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning. But the number of concepts from which the few Grammar question are asked is very high.
While knowledge of Grammar might not be crucial, given its relatively low weightage, in clearing the first round, its significance has been increasing in the GD-PI round since many prominent institutes have switched from Essay Writing to Group Discussions. So, keeping that in mind, it is advisable that you ensure that you are familiar with the rules that govern Standard Written English. Also, if you are thorough with the rules, the questions that are tested in Grammar can be solved with greater speed and accuracy when compared to Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning.
Verbal Reasoning, is the most important area in the Verbal Ability section after Reading Comprehension. It is an area that uses wide variety of question types that vary from test to test and from Companies to companies.
Vocabulary & Usage
Vocabulary & Usage, is an area of relatively lower importance when compared to Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning. But, the number of words whose meanings and usage can be tested is extremely large.
While knowledge of extensive vocabulary might not be crucial its significance cannot be overemphasized. Understanding Reading Comprehension passages hinges a lot on the width of your vocabulary. Also, reasoning question-types like Analogies, are built around words. So, while the number of vocabulary and usage-based question might not be high it is still an important component of the VERBAL ABILITY section. And it goes without saying that question based on Vocabulary & Usage are answered the fastest; you either know the word/usage or you don’t!
Each test varies from the others with respect to the question types tested. For example, while some companies might test you on a considerable number of question on Analogies, other might exclude the question type altogether.
Number of Questions
he number of questions in a section will give you an indication whether the test is a speed test or a skill test. The fewer the question the more you have to focus on developing conceptual clarity.