Comprehension for UPSC Prelim

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READING COMPREHENSION – TIPS, GUIDELINES, STUDY MATERIALS, PRACTICE

This article is to enable you to understand and solve the reading comprehension exercises in UPSC papers. Only practice can make you well versed with comprehension skills, and more and more practice exercise will help you clear the comprehension questions easily.

Simply put, reading comprehension is the act of understanding what you are reading

You are usually given passage to read from in the competitive exams like UPSC, Banks and answer the items related to the context, more importantly this tests the following of your skills

  • Whether you have understood what the information in the passage conveys
  • Whether you are able to eliminate the unnecessary ideas
  • Whether you are able to distinguish the essential ideas from the closely resembling ineessential ideas conveyed in the passage

Hence your ability to comprehend text is influenced by your skills and your ability to process information. Reading comprehension is the level of understanding of a text/message. This understanding comes from the interaction between the words that are written, and how they trigger knowledge outside the text/message.You will be required to

Make Inferences about the passage and central idea

Visualise the central idea and theme

Make connections and essentially systhesize useful information

However, some texts in philosophy, literature or scientific research, may appear more difficult to read because of the prior knowledge they assume, the tradition from which they come, or the tone, such as criticizing or parodizing. Repeated practice enables you to face the questions without fear and understand the critical and abstract references involved within the texts and passages.

Let us take some instance of UPSC Prelims exercises and try to solve the passages involved for somme real time and active learning and we’ll breakdown the concepts of question.

TIPS 

Read the passage once and get hold of the relevant theme

Now go through the answers and cut out the most inaccurate ones

With the the shortlisted answers at hand read through the passage again and correlate the degree of accuracy with the passages to identify the answers

When trying to spot the answers more importantly shed off your direct opinions and prejudices on the topic if any.

If you are in doubt, extend the given passage with the option you choose from; this way you can figure out which option adapts into the stary well

 PASSAGE 1

Global population was around 1.6 billion in 1990—today it is around 7.2 billion and growing. Recent estimates on population growth predict a global population of 9.6 billion in 2050 and 10.9 billion in 2100. Unlike Europe and North America, where only three to four per cent of population is engaged in agriculture, around 47 per cent of India’s population is dependent upon agriculture. Even if India continues to do well in the service sector and the manufacturing sector picks up, it is expected that around 2030 when India overtakes China as the world’s most populous country, nearly 42 per cent of India’s population will still be predominantly dependent on agriculture.

QUESTION 1 

Which of the following is the most logical and rational inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) Prosperity of agriculture sector is of critical importance to India.
(b) Indian economy greatly depends on its agriculture.
(c) India should take strict measures to control its rapid population growth.
(d) India’s farming communities should switch over to other occupations to improve their economic conditions.

ANSWER WITH EXPLANATION:

(d) India’s farming communities should switch over to other occupations to improve their economic conditions. because not evenimplied remotely

(c) India should take strict measures to control its rapid population growth.  Again this was never implied or intended

(a) Prosperity of agriculture sector is of critical importance to India. Even though some statements may appear to be true with regard to universal truth or based upon your opinions these ideas are not directly conveyed in the flow of ideas within th given paaragraph

(b) Indian economy greatly depends on its agriculture

 

PASSAGE 2
Many pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses are unknown. Food contamination can occur at any stage from farm to plate. Since most cases of food poisoning go unreported, the true extent of global foodborne illnesses is unknown. Improvements in international monitoring have led to greater public awareness, yet the rapid globalization of food production increases consumers’ vulnerability by making food harder to regulate and trace. “We have the world on our plates”, says an official of WHO.

QUESTION 2

Which of the following is the most logical corollary to the above passage?

(a) With more options for food come more risks.

(b) Food processing is the source of all food borne illnesses.

(c) We should depend on locally produced food only.

(d) Globalization of food production should be curtailed.

ANSWER WITH EXPLANATION

(c) We should depend on locally produced food only.

(d) Globalization of food production should be curtailed.

Unless otherwise assumed these answers cannot be true

(b) Food processing is the source of all food borne illnesses. Though this seems to be the implied meaning this cannot be true because it is just a crude assumption we  hardly constructed from the passage

(a) With more options for food come more risks.

This option can be the answer because wildly this is the implied meaning though explicitly unstated

PASSAGE 3

I am a scientist, privileged to be somebody who tries to understand nature using the tools of science. But it is also clear that there are some really important questions that science cannot really answer, such as : Why is there something instead of nothing? Why are we here? In those domains, I have found that faith provides a better path to answers. I find it oddly anachronistic that in today’s culture there seems to be a widespread presumption that scientific and spiritual views are incompatible.

QUESTION 3

Which of the following is the most logical and rational inference that can be made from the above passage?

(a) It is the faith and not science that can finally solve all the problems of mankind.

b) Science and faith can be mutually complementary if their proper domains are understood.

(c) There are some very fundamental questions which cannot be answered by either science or faith.

(d) In today’s culture, scientific views are given more importance than spiritual views.

ANSWER WITH EXPLANATION

Reading through the passage clearly throws the fact that the narrator believes both science and faith, are important in arriving at certain answers; hence the only option that proves this to be true is

b) Science and faith can be mutually complementary if their proper domains are understood.

Hence complementary, provided you have previous known what complementary means

PASSAGE 4

Though I have discarded much of past tradition and custom, and am anxious that India should rid herself of all shackles that bind and contain her and divide her people, and suppress vast numbers of them, and prevent the free development of the body and the spirit; though I seek all this, yet I do not wish to cut myself off from that past completely. I am proud of that great inheritance that has been and is, ours and I am conscious that I too, like all of us, am a link in that unbroken chain which goes back to the dawn of history in the immemorial past of India.

QUESTION 4

The author wants India to rid herself of certain past bonds because

(a) he is not able to see the relevance of the past

(b) there is not much to be proud of

(c) he is not interested in the history of India

(d) they obstruct her physical and spiritual growth

ANSWER 4

The passage directly answers the question provided, with a little synonymous terms like physical for body and Spiritual for spirit. Hence you can easily answer the question form the above passage

(d) they obstruct her physical and spiritual growth

That marks the end of our article and analysis of previous UPSC paper compehension materials, in case this has really interested you; feel free to request for part 2 (only upon request we write exclusive articles

Thanks

Reference UPSC prelims csat paper 2 general studies

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