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Chapter 01 : RC & Verbal Ability > Choosing
an appropriate title for the given passage
A common question seen in most entrance exams in the Reading Comprehension section is the choice of an appropriate title, from among the given options. How would you choose the best title?
Here are a few things that students should keep in mind:
Firstly, remember that you are asked to choose the ‘most appropriate’
title from among the given options, not the perfect title for
the passage. This means that you have to choose the best answer
from among the options-it may not be the best possible title,
but is better than the other options. What this also indicates
is that if you can eliminate the other options as inappropriate
for some reason or the other, then you can arrive at the correct
answer. So use the ‘elimination technique’, at least to narrow
down your options.
Next, remember that the title must ideally cover not only the core idea of the author, but also express his tone. For example, a title that says “The dismal state of Indian hockey”, you immediately not only realize that the passage will talk about the sport of hockey, but also what the author’s feelings or tone towards the current state of affairs in the sport, due to the usage of the term “dismal”.
Do not choose a title on the parameter that it appears catchy, interesting, funky or creative. One of the reasons why this must be avoided is that all these are somewhat subjective concepts. What you consider as catchy or funky might appear silly to others.
The title you mark as the correct option should be neither too broad (not really specific to the topic or issue that the author has written about), nor too narrow (such titles may focus on only 2-3 paragraphs of the passage, not the passage as a whole). Remember that a title is like a common theme that runs through the passage: i.e. it integrates the various ideas or issues discussed.
Do not mark a title just because it is the shortest one among the options. The focus should be rather on one that best expresses the author’s main idea and his tone/ feelings towards the subject. Brevity is one factor that could be considered, but not the deciding one while you choose among the various options.
One last crucial point: a title is not a conclusion. This is a mistake that students commonly make: the title is not meant to reflect the conclusion that could possibly be drawn by a reader on the basis of what the author has said. Rather, a title summaries the author’s ideas or points succinctly. What this means is that a title is not an inference/ does not extrapolate a judgement on the basis of what the author has written-instead, it must come from what is directly stated in the passage.
- - SIDHARTH BALAKRISHNA
Sidharth Balakrishna is an author and alumnus of IIM Calcutta. He is an MBA preparation expert and has been involved in MBA coaching for more than six years.
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