Courtesy: http://sandhyanivasias.blogspot.in/




How You Can Score Easy Marks With Passages in Paper 2

Reading passages is always fun, although time consuming. But questions on passage reading hold one big advantage over other question types: they offer easy marks for everyone when compared to questions on Mental Ability, Decision Making, Data Interpretation and so on.
In fact, as stated in my 2012 Prelims Analysis, no less than 11 passages were asked in Paper 2 carrying 39 questions in all! Now for a moment let’s assume all questions in Paper 2 are of equal marks so one question is of 2.5 marks (200 marks/80 questions). Thus, 39 x 2.5 = 97.5 marks out of a total of 200 were based only on Comprehension-based passages! UPSC surely wants you to sail through Paper 2; question remains are you willing to put in the smart work required?
Passages also removes the advantage of Mental Ability based questions which some candidates solve quite easily, but many others find too difficult and time consuming to attempt. In such a scenario passages can give you a good boost in your overall score if attempted correctly and quickly.
Why quickly? Because if you devote too much time on searching for the answers in the passage you may end up spending a lot of time and will not be left with enough time for other questions. And if you have some experience of attempting the Prelims, you know that even 2 hours is not enough for attempting 80 questions in Paper 2.
The solution then lies in following a simple tried and tested approach to tackling passages in Paper 2 which I outline below with the help of a sample passage from the 2012 Prelims paper 2.

Rule 1: Always read the passage first before attempting the questions

This is a simple method but often overlooked by students. Many directly jump to the questions trying to save some time. But this isn’t your high school paper; remember? This paper has been set by UPSC and it follws then that there will be few, if any, direct answers. Rather questions will be and are based on your understanding of the issues raised in the passage or the central message of the passage. And you cannot grasp the message or the point of view of the passage author until you go through it once. Believe me, once you have read the passage in its entirety locating the answers becomes that much easier. Compared to directly jumping to the questions and answering after reading the passage the latter will actually save your time as you will get stuck if you try to attempt the questions directly and will waste time frantically searching for the right answers but getting none. You are then left with no choice but to go through the passage. Something that you should have done before attempting the questions.

Rule 2:Don’t try too hard to understand the passage, just get to the questions

Some passages like the one used in the example below are really boring and difficult to understand. In such a scenarios don’t waste too much time trying to figure out the meaning of every sentence and word. Just read the passage once and get to the questions. You can then re-read parts of the passage to get a better understanding before selecting the right option.

Rule 3: Use your common sense while eliminating options

This might seem controversial but it’s true. Some options seem plain stupid to be correct and if short on time or when options contain multiple choices you can usually safely eliminate those that contain extreme views or impossible inferences. The example below will make this point clear to you.
So with these guidelines, let’s look at a passage from 2012 Prelims paper 2:
Chemical pesticides lose their role in sustainable agriculture if the pests evolve resistance. The evolution of the pesticide resistance is simply natural selection in action. It is almost certain to occur when vast numbers of a genetically variable population are killed. One or a few individuals may be unusually resistant (perhaps because they possess an enzyme that can detoxify the pesticide). If the pesticide is applied repeatedly, each successive generation of the pest will contain a larger proportion of resistant individuals. Pests typically have a high intrinsic rate of reproduction, and so a few individuals in one generation may give rise to hundreds or thousands in the next, and resistance spreads very rapidly in a population.
This problem was often ignored in the past, even though the first case of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) resistance was reported as early as 1946. There is an exponential increase in the numbers of invertebrates that have evolved resistance and in the number pesticides against which resistance has evolved. Resistance has been recorded in every family of arthropod pests (including dipterans such as mosquitoes and house flies, as well as beetles, moths, wasps, fleas, lice and mites) as well as in weeds and plant pathogens. Take the Alabama leaf worm, a moth pest of cotton, as an example. It has developed resistance in one or more regions of the world to aldrin, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, lindane and toxaphene.
If chemical pesticides brought nothing but problems, – if their use was intrinsically and acutely unsustainable – then they would already have fallen out of widespread use. This has not happened. Instead, their rate of production has increased rapidly. The ratio of cost to benefit for the individual agricultural producer has remained in favour of pesticide use. In the USA, insecticides have been estimated to benefit the agricultural products to the tune of around $5 for every $1 spent.
Moreover, in many poorer countries, the prospect of imminent mass starvation, or of an epidemic disease, are so frightening that the social and health costs of using pesticides have to be ignored. In general the use of pesticides is justified by objective measures such as ‘lives saved’, ‘economic efficiency of food production’ and ‘total food produced’. In these very fundamental senses, their use may be described as sustainable. In practice, sustainability depends on continually developing new pesticides that keep at least one step ahead of the pests – pesticides that are less persistent, biodegradable and more accurately targeted at the pests.
 These questions followed the passage:
 1. “The evolution of pesticide resistance is natural selection in action.” What does it actually imply?
a) It is very natural for many organisms to have pesticide resistance.
b) Pesticide resistance among organisms is a universal phenomenon.
c) Some individuals in any given population show resistance after the application of pesticides
d) None of the statements a), b) and c) given above is correct.
2. With reference to the passage, consider the following statements:
  1. Use of chemical pesticides has become imperative in all the poor countries of the world.
  2. Chemical pesticides should not have any role in sustainable agriculture
  3. One pest can develop resistance to many pesticides
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 3 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
3. Though the problems associated with the use of chemical pesticides is known for a long time, their widespread use has not waned. Why?
a) Alternatives to chemical pesticides do not exist at all.
b) New pesticides are not invented at all.
c) Pesticides are biodegradable.
d) None of the statements a), b) and c) given above is correct.
4. How do pesticides act as agents for the selection of resistant individuals in any pest population?
  1. It is possible that in a pest population the individuals will behave differently due to their genetic makeup.
  2. Pests do possess the ability to detoxify the pesticides.
  3. Evolution of pesticide resistance is equally distributed in pest population.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
5. Why is the use of chemical pesticides generally justified by giving the examples of poor and developing countries?
  1. Developed countries can afford to do away with use of pesticides by adapting to organic farming, but it is imperative for poor and developing countries to use chemical pesticides.
  2. In poor and developing countries, the pesticide addresses the problem of epidemic diseases of crops and eases the food problem.
  3. The social and health costs of pesticide use are generally ignored in poor and developing countries.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 2 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
6. What does the passage imply?
a) Alternative options to chemical pesticides should be promoted.
b) Too much use of chemicals is not good for the ecosystem.
c) There is no scope for the improvement of pesticides and making their use sustainable
d) Both the statements a) and b) above are correct.

Notice the type of questions asked and the accompanying options. Some are factual and can be easily answered after going through the passage once or twice. But if you get the message or the idea this passage is trying to convey you can then identify the common link in the questions. Notice that questions 2 and 5 have a choice stating that it is “imperative” for developing countries to use chemical pesticides. If you go through the passage calmly you will realise that the author does not say that it is imperative to use chemical pesticides rather he/she points out an alternative to chemical pesticides in the last paragraph- “pesticides that are less persistent, biodegradable and more acutely targeted at pests.”
At the same time he is not ruling out the role of chemical pesticides in sustainable agriculture- “if their use was intrinsically and acutely unsustainable – then they would already have fallen out of widespread use. This has not happened.” When you combine these two parts you know that only option b in question no 2 is correct.
Question no 1 is also based on understanding of the passage and cannot be answered if you jump directly to the questions. Notice that all the three options in this question seem similar but, actually, have different meanings. The sentence “one or a few individuals may be unusually resistant“ decides in favour of option c. But you will need to make sure that options a and b are not correct and this can be done only after going through the entire first para and then comparing the message with the options listed.
If we jump to question 6, we are confronted with a question on the central idea or theme of the passage. This is what I highlighted in Rule 1 above. Unless you read the passage entirely you will not comprehend the author’s viewpoint and consequently face difficulty in answering this question. Rule 3 is also tested here; the stupidity test. Notice that option c talks of “no scope for the improvement of pesticides and making their use sustainable”. Such extreme choices are usually incorrect and if you are running short of time and just want to fill the right circle on the answer sheet then you can gamble on eliminating such extreme options without thinking much. You will, more often then not, be right.
Rule 3 of elimination can also be applied easily in question no 3. Notice that options a, b and c have extreme inferences not stated by the author which makes it easier to tick option d as the correct answer.
I hope this small guide will be useful to you in tackling passages in Prelims and turn it into an advantage. I recommend the TMH CSAT Manual for comprehension based passages and also Paper 2 in general. Read my review of the TMH CSAT Manual for more details.

civil service exam prelims, CSAT : How to prepare for reading comprehension for CSAT paper II

Preparation for civil service prelims/CSAT reading comprehension 
This is very important!! Do not neglect this part. There are lots of online material for reading comprehension. You can also find lots of online tests. You can also take some good books related to reading comprehension. The difficulty level of reading comprehension should be that of CSAT, because lots of books available in the market are not of the same standard. 
In CSAT paper II question paper, comprehension passage topics include environment, ecology, economy, development, governance, philosophy etc. To make reading and understanding of these topics easy, it would be good if you read similar topics beforehand. Like “how to master environmental issues” can really provide good foundation for you to solve environmental topics, in fact two comprehension passages are taken from these articles. Even though wording are not same but you will get the grasp of paragraph very easily. Similarly reading news paper daily (which has some of these topics) can help you in this regard.
Some of the popular books for reading comprehension
1. Proficiency in Reading Comprehension Simplifying the ‘Passage’ for your 1st Edition
Proficiency in Reading Comprehension
The advantages of this book are
a. The passages are divided into areas. Following are the topics that are covered Personality, Incidents, Sociology, Political science, Environment, Religion, Psychology, Philosophy, Management, Economics, Law, Miscellaneous
b. Before each topic, the author gives you a vocabulary of words related to those topics which makes reading comprehension very easy. 
c. Apart from the above topical passages author also covers small and large passages.
2. Trishna’s CSAT: Supercourse in English Language Comprehension and Reading Comprehension 1st Edition (Paperback)
Trishna’s CSAT
a. This book is specifically written for CSAT.
b. T. I. M. E is one of the reputed institution.
Reading Comprehension Success in 20 Minutes a Day
Above books do not give you any techniques for reading comprehension but here is a book that gives you techniques for the same. This is a very good book. But the cost of this book is a little bit more. If you could afford you should definitely go for it.
Here is the table of content of this book. I have also given one of the comprehension passage illustration.(see last slide of below slide show). The underlining and explanatory comments are made by the author himself (Those are not my markings). I have included just to show you the depth it covers. 
Click here to see table of content
Again some techniques for solving reading comprehension are given in this book. But again this book is costly.
Building vocabulary and grammar
1. You can buy some books to build vocabulary. I am a big fan of “Word Power Made Easy” 1st Edition by D. S. Paul (Paperback)
Word Power Made Easy 1st Edition
2. There are online Barrons GRE word list available.
3. For grammar, HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH GRAMMER & COMPOSITION by WREN, MARTIN and also answer book for the same
High School English Grammar 
Key To High School English Grammar 
Note: Building vocabulary and grammar is optional but do not take reading comprehension easy. More than 100 marks are dedicated to reading comprehension.

How to prepare for CSAT passage comprehension section

 Looking for help to improve reading comprehension? Performing well in passage comprehension section in CSAT Paper 2 is very essential because it contains five passages with twenty questions. So here are some tips and tricks to crack comprehension passage section so that you score well in CSAT Prelim Exams.

Comprehension passage section in CSAT examination is a very important section in which you will get approximately five Passages. So candidate should enrich his/her reading habits. Candidate, apart from reading a lot should practice speed reading. This will help candidate to perform well and score good in CSAT exam. Reading comprehension passage and answering the questions will test the ability of the candidate to understand the passage fast and answer the questions accordingly. Sometimes candidate don't read passage fully and start answering the question, by this there are chances of wrong answers. Candidate need to understand the mood and attitude of the author to successfully answer the questions. 

How to improve reading skills on comprehension passage section

Following are some points to enrich your reading skills and some easy ways to answer the questions asked in a passage section of Comprehension.

  • Candidate need to identify main parts of the passage.

  • Always focus on the main words in a sentence and underline or write somewhere.

  • You should practice in home and check how much time you take and try to reduce day by day.

  • Practice the passages as many as you can and as a CSAT Candidate you should able to answer the question without even marking it.

  • While reading, move from left to right fast and focus on main words on the passage.

  • At home, while practicing comprehension passage write the summary of that passage to know how much you remember about that passage.

  • Try to improve your vocabulary by reading national newspaper or by completing articles.

  • Candidate need to be attentive while reading a passage in comprehension to avoid taking double time to read it again.

  • Do not give fluke or ambiguous answer to any question. The answers will be given in the passage itself, you just need to present them in right way.

If any candidate scornfully follow the above questions, than candidate can solve the question in the way as it is needed. In CSAT passage comprehension are of different length some take two minutes to read and some take five minutes to read. So candidates be aware of this fact and maintain the speed accordingly. You don't have any short cut for this section, so the only way to increase speed is through practice and practice only. There are some books for passage comprehension for CSAT by which students can follow to do practice in home, such as: General Studies by TMH, General Studies by Pearson and Objective general English by R.S Agarwal.

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.