Comprehension PassagesPractice Sets - English



Here are some Comprehension Passages that a candidate of any competitive exam must practice to crack an exam with good marks. They will be very useful for the competitive exams of the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) or Grade-II DASS Exam of the DSSSB, and other similar exams:

1. Combined Graduate Level (CGL) Exam Tier-I & Tier-II

2. Combined Higher Secondary (10+2) Exam (CHSL) Tier-I

3. SI in Delhi Police and CPO Exam Paper-I & Paper-II

4. Stenographers Exam

5. Grade-II DASS Exam conducted by Delhi Staff Subordinate Services (DSSSB)


Guidelines to remember before starting to solve a Comprehension Passage

1. Read the passage first; not the questions. If we’ll read the questions first our whole concentration then will divert on finding the answers of those questions, and thus we’ll be unable to understand the passage, which is so important. Without understanding the passage well we can’t answer the questions well.

Students normally think that reading the passage 2-3 times is a sheer wastage of time and won’t fetch them desired results. But in my experience – and when I say experience it comes from thousands of students and a decade of time that I have been in this profession – reading the passage first is the best strategy as it not only will save your time but also will help you get more and more marks.

When you are through with the passage and its contents you are ready to read the questions and answer them without ambiguity and with complete clarity of what the examiner is asking. That read between the lines concept works very well in comprehension while answering the questions, and that can only be developed by investing a couple of extra minutes by going through the same passage at-least 2 times.

2. Read the passage 2-3 times to grasp it well; only then you’ll be able to answer the question comfortably.

3. Read the questions one at a time and answer it immediately after. If you are not getting the answer, leave it to attempt it at a later stage, and go on the next question. As you have read the passage already you will get some idea of the location of material in the passage that answers the questions.

4. After doing all the questions of a particular passage read the left out questions carefully, they might be analytical in nature which requires the analysis of a certain part of the passage, and you might need to use your logical mind.



(Solution of all the Comprehension Passages is given at the end.)



Culture is the cultivation of a plant or garden, not the eradication of its roots, it is an understanding of the roots and seeds, their patient care and instructed nourishment. Culture is not knowledge, nor is it art, still less is its acquaintance with literature and art. By culture I mean first of all what the anthropologists mean; the way of life of a particular people living together in one place. That culture is made visible in their arts, in their social system, in their habits and customs, in their religion. It is an aggregate of customs, institutions, manners, standards, tastes, morals and beliefs. Now these are transmitted rather by the family than by the school, hence when family life fails to play its part, we must expect our culture to deteriorate.

It is a delusion to think that the maladies of the modern world can be put right by a system of instruction. On the contrary, universal education, by lowering standards, morals and tastes to a common denominator, and by sharpening the wits rather than disciplining character, tends to break down existing checks and balances. Education should be the drawing forth of potential values, it should not be the destruction of the safeguards that tradition places around young egos naturally inclined to willful and precarious flights.

1. The writer uses the term ‘culture’ to refer to
A) the cultivation of a plant or garden by a community
B) one’s acquisition of knowledge
C) the way of life of a particular people living together in one place
D) one’s acquaintance with literature and art

2. The passage suggests that universal education
A) is, in fact, aggravating the existing problems of the modern world
B) is the solution to the problems in the modern world
C) would prevent us from transmitting culture to the future generation
D) would help retain the cultural values

3. The culture of a community is said to deteriorate when
A) there is a fall in its educational standards
B) the family life fails to play its part
C) there is universal education
D) it adopts the modern system of instruction

4. The culture of a community is transmitted
A) more by school than the family
B) more by family than school
C) equally by both
D) by the peer group

5. According to the passage, education is
A) the sharpening of wits
B) tapping and encouraging the inherent values in man
C) the substitution of old traditions with new ones
D) the development of moral standards


There are some men who seem to be always on the lookout for trouble and, to tell the truth, they are seldom disappointed. Listening to such men one would think that this world is one of the stormiest and most disagreeable places. Yet after all it is not such a bad place and the difficulty is often in the man who is too thin-skinned. On the other hand, the man who goes out expecting people to be like himself, kind and brotherly, will be surprised at the kindness he meets even in the most unlikely quarters. A smile is apt to be met with a responsive smile while the sneer is just as apt to provoke a snarl. Men living in the same neighbourhood may live vastly different lives. But it is not the neighbourhood which is quarrelsome, but the man within us. And we have it in our power to change our neighbourhood into a pleasant one by simply changing our own ways.

1. The passage is about
A) our disagreeable and hostile world
B) a kindly and pleasant world
C) our indifferent and unresponsive world
D) the world and what one makes of it

2. ‘…….they are seldom disappointed’. The statement denotes that such men
A) welcome difficulties as a morale booster
B) do not have to face any trouble
C) manage to keep unruffled in the face of discomforts
D) generally do not fail to come across troubles

3. The author’s own view of the world is that it is
A) one of the loveliest and quietest places
B) an unpleasant and troublesome place
C) one’s own excessive sensitivity that makes it a bad place
D) a sordid place for those who suffer in life

4. Which of the following is opposite in meaning to the excessive ‘thin-skinned’ as used in the passage?
A) insensitive
B) intelligent
C) awkward
D) obstinate

5. ‘On the other hand …….. unlikely quarters’. The statement shows that people’s reaction to our attitude is
A) generally indifferent
B) surprisingly responsive
C) often adverse
D) mainly favourable


An earthquake comes like a thief in the night, without warning. It was necessary, therefore, to invent instruments that neither slumbered nor slept. Some devices were quite simple. One, for instance, consisted of rods of various lengths and thicknesses which would stand up on end like ninepins. When a shock came it shook the rigid table upon which these stood. If it were gentle, only the more unstable rods fell. If it were severe, they all fell. Thus the rods by falling and by the direction in which they fell, recorded for the slumbering scientist, the strength of a shock that was too weak to waken him and the direction from which it came.

But, instruments far more delicate than that were needed if any really serious advance was to be made. The idea to be aimed at was to devise an instrument that could record with a pen on paper, the movements of the ground or of the table, as the quake passed by. While I write my pen moves but the paper keeps still. With practice, no doubt, I could, in time, learn to write by holding the pen still while the paper moved. That sounds a silly suggestion, but that was precisely the idea adopted in some of the early instruments (seismometers) for recording earthquake waves. But when table, pen-holder and paper are all moving how is it possible to write legibly? The key to a solution of that problem lay in an everyday observation. Why does a person standing in a bus or train tend to fall when a sudden start is made? It is because his feet move on, but his head stays still.

1. The passage says that early instruments for measuring earthquakes were
A) faulty in design
B) expensive
C) not sturdy
D) not sensitive enough

2. Why was it necessary to invent instruments to observe an earthquake?
A) Because an earthquake comes like a thief in the night
B) To make people alert about earthquakes during their conscious as well as unconscious hours
C) To prove that we are technically advanced
D) To experiment with the control of man over nature

3. A simple device which consisted of rods that stood up on end like ninepins was replaced by a more sophisticated one because it failed
A) to measure a gentle earthquake
B) to measure a severe earthquake
C) to record the direction of the earthquake
D) to record the facts with a pen on paper

4. The everyday observation referred to in the passage relates to
A) a moving bus or train
B) the sudden start of a bus
C) the tendency of a standing person to fall when a bus or train moves suddenly
D) people standing in a bus or train

5. The early seismometers adopted the idea that in order to record the earthquake, it is
A) the pen that should move just as it moves when we write on paper
B) the pen that should stay still and the paper should move
C) both pen and paper that should move
D) neither pen nor paper that should move


The simplest method of welding two pieces of metal together is known as pressure welding. The ends of metal are heated to a white heat – for iron the welding temperature should be about 1300°C – in a flame. At this temperature the metal becomes plastic. The ends are then pressed or hammered together, and the joint is smoothed off. Care must be taken to ensure that the surfaces are thoroughly clean first, for dirt will weaken the weld. Moreover, the heating of iron or steel to a high temperature cause oxidation, and a film of oxide is formed on the heated surfaces. For this reason, a flux is applied to the heated metal. At welding heat, the flux melts, and the oxide particles are dissolved in it together with any other impurities which may be present. The metal surfaces are pressed together, and the flux is squeezed out from the centre of the weld. A number of different types of weld may be used, but for fairly thick bars of metals, a vee-shaped weld should normally be employed. It is rather stronger than the ordinary butt weld.

1. The simplest way of welding two pieces of metal together is
A) heating the metal
B) holding it in a flame
C) coating the metal with plastic
D) hammering heated pieces

2. Unless the surfaces are cleaned first
A) the metal will not take white heat
B) the resulting weld will be weak
C) the joint will be rough
D) the metal will be less plastic

3. When iron is heated to about 1300 degree centigrade
A) flames turn from white to blue
B) chemical reaction starts
C) oxide film is found on its surfaces
D) it turns into steel

4. The flux is used to
A) make the metal plastic
B) cool the heated metal
C) cover up any dirt
D) dissolve oxide and other impurities

5. For fairly thick bars of metals
A) a vee-shaped weld should be used
B) ordinary butt weld should be used
C) a number of different types of weld may be used
D) a pressure weld may be used


Edmunde Burke called the press the Fourth Estate of the realm. I think he did not use this title for the Press thoughtlessly as social ruling group or class. The three Estates or Realms in England Lords Spiritual (i.e., the Bishops in the House of Lords), the temporal, (i.e. other Lords) and Commons, i. e., the common people). The Press has been rightly called the Fourth Estate as it also constitutes a ruling group or class like the Lords and Commons. It cannot be denied in a free country that the Press exercises good deal of influence in shaping public opinion and pointing out the weaknesses or defects of society or of Government, and in general bringing to light all those good or bad things in society which would have otherwise remained unnoticed. The power is not limited or put under any check. The Press, instead of, being controlled by anyone controls life and thought of a nation. Hence the Press constitutes an Estate by itself.

Obviously. thus power which the Press in an country wields depends upon the number of newspaper readers. The opinions. and comments of newspapers can influence the life of a nation only when they are read, by people. Reading in turn, requires that the general mass of people should be educated. Thus, the spread of education determines the extent of the newspapers. Where readers are few; newspapers must necessarily be few. Their influence, in that case can extend only to a small minority of population. In a country like India, the percentage of literacy is very low and the standard of journalism is not very high. So Press has to play the role of a teacher here.

1. Edmunde Burke called the Press
A) Instrument of Public Opinion
B) Distributor of News
C) The Fourth Estate
D) Lord Temporal

2. The term Fourth Estate stands for
A) An area of land
B) Landed property
C) Social ruling group or class
D) Instrument of power

3. Out of the following the one which is not included in the Three Estates is
A) Lords Spiritual
B) Justices of Peace
C) Lord Temporal
D) Commons

4. The Free Press does not perform the function of
A) Shaping public opinion
B) Supporting at all times the official policy
C) Criticizing government
D) Exposing social abuses

5. How much power does a Free Press possess?
A) Only that much power which is allowed by the government of the country
B) Unlimited power without any check
C) Unlimited power subject to the maintenance of law and order and public morality
D) No power at all

6. The secret of the Press is
A) the money which the newspaper owners can wield
B) The number of newspaper readers
C) the extent to which it supports official policy
D) The patronage enjoyed by it of the government

7. The number of newspaper readers is determined by
A) The low price of newspapers
B) The patronage extended to it by the moneyed people
C) Education of the general mass of people
D) The availability of newsprint

8. The Press exercises power by
A) Enlisting the support of the people
B) Keeping watch over the acts of the government
C) Controlling life and thought of a nation
D) Because it is a great moneyed concern

9. The state of journalism in India
A) is up to the mark
B) is rather low
C) is in its infancy
D) is not very high

10. The Press has the greatest chances of flourishing in a
A) Monarchy
B) Aristocracy
C) Democracy
D) Limited Dictatorship


As soon as he arrived in the vicinity of the tea shop, the youngsters sitting in the shop would bestir themselves in the expectation of the ensuing fun and teasing remarks which would hover in the air. Ghulamu Chacha would flare up. He would call someone to hell; he would send someone’s father to the funeral pyre and someone else’s mother to no one knew where. Gradually, the intensity of the shock faded away and Chacha got inured to the jest. When people teased him, he would abuse them and move on. By now he had become quite old.

He walked with a stoop and all his front teeth had come off. His patients never paid up, which led to the stopping of his medical practice and the pension papers could not be made ready yet. The household articles got older and older still. Chacha’s life had no other charm except the teasing of the people in ever-inventive ways and his equally forceful and lively riposte. It had become almost a routine affair. As soon as he came on the road, his black coat and dirty pyjama on, vainly trying to straighten his bent waist, the youngsters of the ‘mohalla’ busy in their household chores would immediately guess that Chacha had set out on his daily odyssey on the road.

1. What made the youngsters so excited?
A) the old man’s sudden appearance
B) a likelihood of exchange of fun and curses
C) the old man’s ugly face
D) None of these

2. How did Chacha react to the teasing remarks?
A) by tearing off his clothes
B) by cursing himself
C) by abusing them
D) by retiring from the scene

3. What was the ultimate result of the cracking of jokes?
A) He got used to them.
B) He lost his peace of mind.
C) His medical practice suffered.
D) His pension papers were not ready yet.

4. What was the charm of Chacha’s life?
A) sticking to household articles
B) constant cursing by youngsters
C) teasing of the people
D) his ready wit

5. Where would the encounter take place?
A) in the tea stall
B) in the doctor’s dispensary
C) near the bus-stop
D) on the road

6. What made the people have fun at his cost?
A) his old dress
B) deformities of his age
C) his strange looks
D) his whimsical behaviour

7. His status in life was that of a
A) pensioner
B) widower
C) bachelor
D) social worker

8. Ordinarily, what kept the people busy?
A) cheap gossips
B) ever-inventive jokes
C) household jobs
D) irritating the old man

9. Choose the word which is most nearly the same in meaning to FLARE UP according to the passage.
A) get nervous
B) become angry
C) walk slowly
D) None of these

10. Choose the word which is the most opposite in meaning to GRADUALLY according to the passage.
A) hastily
B) suddenly
C) thoughtlessly
D) angrily




Answer Key

1. C 2. A 3. B 4. B 5. D

Solution with explanation

1. Option ‘C’ (the way of life of a particular people living together in one place). The answer lies in the third sentence of the passage.

2. Option ‘A’ (is, in fact, aggravating the existing problems of the modern world). The answer is implied by the second sentence of the second paragraph.

3. Option ‘B’(the family life fails to play its part). Read last two sentences of the first paragraph to get the answer.

5. Option ‘D’ (the development of moral standards). Extract of the last sentence of the passage — Education should be the drawing forth of potential values – he means that real education is development of moral standards. POTENTIAL = We use potential to say that someone or something is capable of developing into the particular kind of person or thing mentioned. VALUES = the principles that help you to decide what is right and wrong, and how to act in various situations


Answer Key

1. D 2. D 3. A 4. A 5. B

Solution with explanation

4. Option ‘A'(insensitive). THIN-SKINNED = easily hurt by criticism or easily made unhappy; sensitive
5. Option ‘B’ (surprisingly responsive). RESPONSIVE = making a positive and quick reaction to something or someone; e.g. The disease has proved responsive to the new treatment.


Answer Key

1. D 2. A 3. D 4. C 5. B

Solution with explanation

1. Option ‘D’ (not sensitive enough). Sensitive equipment is able to record small changes; e.g. The patient’s responses are recorded on a sensitive piece of equipment which gives extremely accurate readings.

2. Option ‘A’ (Because an earthquake comes like a thief in the night). The first two sentences of the passage are good enough to know the answer. SLUMBER = to go in an inactive state.

3. Option ‘D’ (to record the facts with a pen on paper). The answer lies in the first two lines of the second paragraph.

5. Option ‘B’ (the pen that should stay still and the paper should move). The answer lies in the extract taken from the second paragraph — With practice, no doubt, I could, in time, learn to write by holding the pen still while the paper moved. That sounds a silly suggestion, but that was precisely the idea adopted in some of the early instruments (seismometers) for recording earthquake waves.


Answer Key

1. A 2. B 3. C 4. D 5. A

Solution with explanation

1. Option ‘A’ (heating the metal). The answer lies in the first two sentences.

3. Option ‘C’ (oxide film is found on its surfaces). The answer lies in this sentence — Moreover, the heating of iron or steel to a high temperature cause oxidation, and a film of oxide is formed on the heated surfaces.


Answer Key

1. C 2. C 3. B 4. B 5. B 6. B 7. C 8. C 9. D 10. C

Solution with explanation

2. Option ‘C’. First two sentences of the passage are clear to understand that our correct option should be ‘C’.

3. Option ‘B’. Read the third sentence of the passage, you’ll know.

4. Option ‘B’. Fifth sentence of the passage is telling us which functions the free press perform; they are:

i) shaping public opinion (in shaping public opinion) – Option ‘A)
ii) criticizing government (pointing out the weaknesses or defects of society or of government) – Option ‘C’
iii) exposing social abuses (all those good or bad things in society) – Option ‘D’

5. Option ‘B’. Third last sentence of the first paragraph one of the passage is clear to understand.

6. Option ‘B’. First sentence of paragraph two is clear on this point.

8. Option ‘C’. Second last sentence of paragraph first is clear to understand it.

10. Option ‘C’. The fourth sentence of the paragraph one is clear to understand that DEMOCRACY should be our answer.


Answer Key

1. B 2. C 3. A 4. C 5. D 6. D 7. A 8. C 9. B 10. B

Solution with explanation

1. Option ‘B’. Sentence one of the passage making the answer clear. BESTIR YOURSELF = to become active after a period of rest; e.g. I’d better bestir myself – there’s work to be done. ENSUING = happening after something and because of it; e.g.

An argument broke out and in the ensuing fight, a gun went off.

2. Option ‘C’. Read the second last sentence of paragraph one.

3. Option ‘A’. INURE SB TO STH = If you become inured to something unpleasant, you become familiar with it and able to accept and bear it; After spending some time on the island they became inured to the hardships. JEST = something that is said or done in order to be funny; His proposal was no jest – he was completely sincere.

Thus, third last sentence of paragraph one is making the answer clear.

5. Option ‘D’. Last sentence of the passage is giving the answer. ODYSSEY = a long, exciting journey; e.g. The film follows one man’s odyssey to find the mother from whom he was separated at birth.

6. Option ‘D’. WHIMSICAL = unusual and strange in a way that might be funny or annoying

8. Option ‘C’. Extract of the last sentence of the passage – the youngsters of the ‘mohalla’ busy in their household chores would immediately guess that Chacha had set out on his daily odyssey on the road. – is giving the answer.


For practice of more Comprehension Passages buy the following book authored by me.


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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)

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