Reading Comprehension: Fundamentals

Reading Comprehension


Dear Aspirant,

To tame this section is a herculean task especially for those who have had Hindi background. It proves to be difficult for all when

Ø  they fail to update themselves in matters of current affairs with data

Ø  they read less and grasp less

Ø  they read a lot but analyze less

Ø  they lack the tactics how they should read and how much speedily they should read the given passage

Ø  they lack proper guidance from time to time

Please, follow the following to develop the power of Comprehension:-

Ø  Don’t read the given passage word for word. Rather read it as a whole. If the passage is divided into paragraphs, just read each as a whole and make out the sense as a whole. In fact, read between the lines. In this way, keep going on.

Ø  While reading the passage, keep asking three dimensional questions ‘what, how, why’ (or the questions where necessary). Maintaining your speed, keep satisfying your questions with the answers.

 According to Edward Fry broadly speaking, there are, three reading speeds: study reading speed, average reading speed and skimming speed.

SpeedPoor ReaderGood Reader
Study reading90-125 WPM80-90 % comprehension200-300 WPM80-90 % comprehension
Average reading150-180 WPM70% comprehension250-500 WPM70% comprehension
SkimmingCannot skim800 + WPM50% comprehension


Be a good reader! Now, get ready to comprehend the following better to give the answers to the questions which follow the Passage within a limited time frame:

Globalization, liberalization and free market are some of the most significant modern trends in economy. Most economists in our country seem captivated by the spell of the free market. A price that is determined by the seller or, for that matter, established by anyone other than the aggregate of consumers seems pernicious. Accordingly, it requires a major act of will to think of price-fixing as both normal and having a valuable economic function. In fact, price fixing is normal in all industrialized societies because the industrial system itself provides as an effortless consequence of the own development, the price-fixing that it requires. Modern industrial planning requires and rewards great size. Hence a comparatively small number of large firms will be competing for the same group of consumers. That each large firm will act with consideration of its own needs and thus avoid selling its products for more than its competitors’ charge is commonly recognized by advocates of free-market economic theories. But each large firm will also act with full consideration of the needs that it has in common with the other large firms competing for the same customers. Each large firm will, thus, avoid significant price-cutting, because price-cutting will be prejudicial to the common interest in a stable demand for products. Most economists do not see price-fixing when it occurs because they expect it to be brought about by a number of explicit agreements among large firms; it is not.

Moreover, those economists who arguer that allowing the free-market to operate without interference is the most efficient method of establishing prices has not considered the economics of non-socialist countries. Most of these economies employ intentional price-fixing, usually in an overt fashion. Formal price-fixing by cartel and informal price-fixing by agreements covering the members of an industry are commonplace. Were there something peculiarly efficient about the free market and inefficient about price-fixing, the countries that have avoided the first and used the second would have suffered drastically in their economic development. There is no indication that they have.

Socialist industry also works within a framework of controlled prices. In the early 1970s the Soviet Union began to give firms and industries some flexibility in adjusting prices that a more informal evolution has accorded the capitalist system. Economists in the USA have hailed the change as a return to the free market. But the then Soviet firms were not in favour of the prices established by a free- market over which they exercise little influence; rather, Soviet firms acquired some power to fix prices.

1.       What is the primary objective of the author to write the passage?

2.       How is the information in the passage helpful?

3.       Considering the literal meaning and connotations of the words used in the passage, how can the author’s attitude towards ‘most economists’ be described?

4.       What was the result of the then Soviet Union’s change in its economic policy in the 1970s?

5.       Why does the author feel that price fixed by the seller seems pernicious?


Imagine that you are a super being from some distant star system, and that your spacecraft is approaching the earth. Even from beyond the orbit of Neptune, your scanners have made you aware that the earth is the only planet in the solar system that contains life. Its white clouds and its blue seas reflect an unusual amount of sunlight, and this enables you to see that it is also streaked with green and brown patches which indicate vegetation. So there is obviously life; the question is, of what kind? You have studied planets that are completely covered in water, and whose inhabitants live in gigantic cities in the depths of the sea. You have encountered a planet whose gravity is so immense that the only intelligent beings take the form of mountains, whose living flesh is harder than steel. You have even visited a planet made of attenuated gas, whose highly intelligent life forms appear to be gigantic probes inform you that the planet you are now approaching is too young for such advanced evolutionary products.

   All living creatures are surrounded by their own vital aura, which is perceptible to other living creatures-particularly those who possess a high degree of intuition. As you approach the earth you tune in to its aura, and are impressed by its sheer vitality; the creatures on this planet are obviously driven by an immense and enthusiastic will to live. But as you approach more closely you become aware of a more, disturbing vibration-the cosmic equivalent of an unpleasant smell. It tells you that some of the most dominant creatures of this planet are also possessed of an immense will to power. The aura of the most dominant creatures of this planet reeks of tragedy. A week later you have completed your case study of the blue and white planet and you are in a somber mood. The beings on your home planet are rational, benevolent and highly motivated, so that life there is almost totally free of conflict. By comparison, this planet seems to exist in a state of perpetual crisis. Many of is creatures have achieved a high degree rationality, and this accounts for the technical achievements of their civilization. But even they have failed to carry their insights to their logical conclusion, and trust themselves entirely to reason. In the face of all common sense they continue to have a deep distrust of reason. It takes them an absurdly long time to learn from experience. Another complication is that these creatures are so short-lived their life span is less than a century, so that they are only fust beginning to achieve some kind of insight into the meaning of their lives when their faculties begin to decay.

     But what troubles you most, as most, as you study the historical record is their capacity for sheer cruelty. It is true that the majorities are well-meaning and good natured, but these tend to be lazy and passive, and to have little influence on history. The greatest single problem of this race is that those dominant individuals who are their natural leaders are often sadistic psychopaths. The result is that their history consists largely of wars, revolutions and massacre. And even at this fairly advanced stage in their civilization, large numbers of their dominant individuals feel no social obligation towards their, fellows, and spend their lives preying on them, you find it hard to imagine how a society with such a high level of antisocial behaviour can resist the forces of disintegration.

     How did it all come about? As good a theory as any was put forward in 1953 by the paleontologist Raymond Dard in a paper called The Predatory Transition form Ape to Man. What Dart suggested, briefly, is that man is the only member of the ape species who is the born killer. About fifty million years ago, an intelligent ape discovered that it could kill its prey by hitting it with a born club. This made it a far more efficient killer than its fellow. But if it was going to carry a club, it had to learn to walk upright two feet, so its hands were free to grasp. It was forced to learn to balance on its hind legs. Hitting an animal with its club or hurling a stone from a distance, meant a new king of co-ordination between the hand and the eye. So its brain began to develop. Within a few million years, this killer ape had become the most dominant species on the surface of the earth. But because its dominance had been gained

through violence, its deepest instinct was for killing. And even when it finally created a complex civilization, it was unable to shake off the old habit.

  1. What do you infer from the passage?
  2. Why is the planet in the perpetual state of crisis?
  3. In what way does the impression about earth’s creatures undergo a change?
  4. How will conclude the passage in your own words? 


Man has been defying the elements since he appeared on earth. Driven by the necessity of survival, by his love of adventure, and by an insatiable curiosity where the unknown is concerned, he has braved the oceans, the mountains, the deserts, the skies, and finally space.

For several centuries man has lifted himself into the air with balloons, but it was not until this, the twentieth century, that Orville Wright in 1903, made man’s first powered flight. His average speed for the trip was 31 miles an hour.

Both the speed and the altitude of man’s flights have increased since that time – slowly at first then by great leaps. The speed of sound (about 735 miles an hour) was exceeded in 1947. Present-day aircraft fly regularly at twice that speed. The X-15 has flown more than 41, 00 miles an hour.

Now, in space, man has achieved altitudes measured in hundreds of miles and speeds measured in thousands of miles per hour.

As far as the rigid requirements of space travel are concerned, man is not the most efficient mechanism. He requires and environment very closely resembling that in which he lives on earth. In order to survive, he needs adequate oxygen, barometric pressure, temperature control, and the elimination of toxic agents. He is a relatively heavy object and the equipment required to protect him in space flight of even short duration weighs hundreds of pounds.

In space, man must cope with isolation and confinement, even radiation which menaces his life. His efficiency and reliability are variable. As a power source he is slow and frequently inaccurate. He requires rest, food, and relaxation, an unlike a machine, he is not expendable.

Notwithstanding all this, there has never been any doubt that man would challenge the dangers of space as he has challenged every other unknown. For, in spite of his shortcomings, man rings to space exploration certain attributes which no one has ever succeeded in building into a machine. He brings intelligence, judgement, determination, courage and creativity. He can use all of these attributes in case of the unforeseen. By simply adding man and his capabilities to a machine its chances of success in a space mission are enormously increased.

Give answers to the following:-

1.       Why has man been defying nature?

2.       What prompted him to make an attempt to travel in space?

3.       What are the requirements of space travel?

4.       Why is man not an efficient mechanism to travel in space?

5.       What skills and qualities should a person possess for travelling in space?


Despite its extraordinary name ‘ergonomics’ is not just something which has been dreamed up by bowfins to confuse busy businessmen. It is a practical science which can make and is making a valuable contribution to industry. Research being carried out in this field can increase efficiency, improve product design, and make employees more contented.

Broadly, ergonomics is the study of the relationship between man and his working environment. It involves designing or redesigning machines and equipment so that due regard is given to the capabilities and limitations –physical and psychological of the human beings who have to or operate them. In contrast to the more common, traditional policy of ‘fitting the man to the machine’ by selecting and training the best man for each particular, the ergonomist endeavours to fit the machine to the man-any man.

He accepts people, in fact, as he finds them with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies and tries to establish their capabilities as machine operators. He then attempts to allocate to the human operator the functions each can perform best. His object is to enable a person of ordinary abilities to carry out his tasks safely and efficiently, with a minimum of instruction.

The ergonomist himself needs knowledge of a number of sciences and techniques in order to carry out his work. These include psychology, the study of human behavior; physiology, the study of how the human body works; and anatomy, the study of the structure of human body. In addition, to course, he must know so something about engineering and work-study techniques.

Although the word ‘ergonomics’ was born as recently as 1949, and the concentrated study of the new science dates back scarcely fifteen years, its origin can really be attributed to early nineteenth century astronomers. They started the ball rolling when they discovered that, contrary to general belief, human reactions were not instantaneous. Observers engaged in measuring the speed of star movements across the lenses of the telescopes did not agree in the times they reported. So a new factor had to be taken into consideration, the time taken by the human mind to react to a message from the eyes.

During the course of the nineteenth century physiologists developed various techniques for measuring human reaction time. Research was then taken over by the new science of experimental psychology and knowledge was steadily but slowly accumulated up to the start of World War II.

It was then that ergonomics received its greatest impetus. Scientists were forced to leave the academic seclusion of their laboratories to tackle urgent practical problems. They were called in because designers had created machinery and equipment which surpassed in terms of accuracy and speed, the capabilities of human operators. Engineering progress has reached the stage where man, and not the machine, was the weaker link in the man-machine system.

Give answers to the following:

1.       What led to the origin of ergonomics?

2.       What factors were responsible for the growth of ergonomics?

3.       Why do all human being not take the same amount of time to react to a message?

4.       What measures should be taken to develop more fruitful relationship between man and machine?

5.       Suggest improvements in the design of machines and equipment in use in your organization, keeping in view the principles of ergonomics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.