Reading Comprehension: The First Barrier in English

Good command over the English language is necessary to crack CLAT. When I say it is necessary, it does not simply mean scoring well in the English section of the paper. It also includes the understanding one needs to solve Legal Aptitude and Logical Reasoning sections.

There are talks and recommendations have been made to enable students into taking CLAT in their regional languages much like NEET. However, we do not see the change coming anytime soon. Until the day when this happens, English as a subject may carry 40 marks but the whole paper depends on the better understanding of English.

The most important part of mastering English with regards to this exam is reading. Everybody can read, right? Wrong. To be able to answer the questions in the paper while considering the time limit, speed reading is required.

The aspirants should be able to skim through a 500 word passage under a minute while retaining the message of the passage. It is not feasible to go back and forth for every question. Therefore, aspirants should read the questions very quickly first and then read the passage.

This will enable them to focus on the parts on which the questions are based.

To attempt the Reading Comprehension in the CLAT paper, keep these points in mind.

  • There may be more than one passage in the CLAT paper.
  • The passage can range anywhere between 500-2000 words.
  • There are several subjects from which the passage comes, viz: Politics, History, Science etc.
  • Most of the times, the English section passage does not come from law topics.
  • Speed reading is the key to this section.
  • Read questions first and then go through the passage.
  • Write a few words as gyst or short notes for each para that you read in the passage. (use the rough sheets which you get for maths).
  • Make short notes for every 3-4 lines in case you tend to forget what you read.
  • Work well on your vocabulary, no skill will help you if you cannot understand what the passage says.
  • Always make a few mental observations (or write it down on rough sheets) when you come across a passage.


Given below is a passage from a past year CLAT paper.

The words invention and Innovation are closely linked, but they are not interchangeable. The inventor is a genius who uses his intellect, imagination, time and resources to create something that does not exist. But this invention may or may not be of utility to the masses. It is the enterprising innovator who uses various resources, skills and time to make the invention available for use. The innovator might use the invention as it is, modify it or even blend two or more inventions to make one marketable product. A great example is that of the iPhone which is a combination of various inventions.
If an invention is the result of countless trials and errors, so can be the case with an innovation. Not every attempt to make an invention is successful. Not every innovation sees the light of the day. Benjamin Franklin had the belief that success doesn‘t come without challenge, mistake, and in a few cases failure.

One of the world‘s most famous innovators, Steve Jobs says, ―Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.‖
Thus, inventors and innovators have to be intrepid enough to take risks; consider failures as stepping stones and not stumbling blocks.
Some inventions are the result of a keen observation or a simple discovery. The inventor of Velcro, also called the zipless zipper, is the Swiss engineer George de Mestral. He was hiking in the woods when he found burrs clinging to his clothes and his dog‘s fur. Back at home, he studied the burrs. He discovered that each burr was a collection of tiny hooks which made it cling on to another object. A few years later, he made and patented the strips of fabric that came to us as Velcro.
The world of inventions and innovations is a competitive one. But the race does not end here; it is also prevalent in the case of getting intellectual property rights. There have been inventors who failed to get a single patent while there have been some who managed to amass numerous patents in their lifetime. Thomas Edison had 1,093 patents to his credit!
We relate the telephone with Alexander Graham Bell. It is believed that around the same time, Antonio Meucci had also designed the telephone, but due to lack of resources and various hardships, he could not proceed with the patent of his invention. It is also believed that Elisha Gray had made a design for the telephone and applied for the patent at the U.S. patent office on the same day as Graham Bell did. By sheer chance, Graham‘s lawyer‘s turn to file the papers came first. Hence, Graham was granted the first patent for the telephone.
It is not easy, and at times almost impossible, for an inventor to be an innovator too. There are very few like Thomas Edison who graduated from being an incredible inventor to a successful manufacturer and businessman with brilliant marketing skills.
While innovations that have helped to enhance the quality of life are laudable, equally laudable are the inventions that laid the foundation of these very innovations.


  • The passage contains approximately 500 words and therefore is a short one.
  • Innovation and Invention are the central themes of the passage.
  • The sub-themes are the stories of inventors and innovators.
  • The gist of the first para is the difference between innovation and invention.
  • The second para is an extension of the difference.
  • The third para is about velcro and its inventor.
  • The fourth para is about the inventors and the competition in getting patents.
  • The fifth para is about inventors who invented the same product but luck played a role in getting patents.


The text in the passage can be best termed as
(A) narrative (B) descriptive
(C) persuasive (D) expository


The question is simple and yet many of the aspirants would answer (A) or (B). The correct answer is (D). Basic reason behind many students getting it wrong is they are not clear with the meaning of expository. It means: intended to explain or describe something.

In order to score well in the reading comprehension section, you need to be good at the language, vocabulary and speed reading.


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