Unseen passages are texts given to students straight in the exam without any prior information regarding the information they contain. A student has to read thoroughly and answer the questions asked. There are four types of unseen passages: factual, descriptive, discursive, and persuasive. All of them are different from each other in their writing styles and convey information in different ways. However, they don’t belong to a specific field or niche as the content could be from any field. The content is usually limited to specific words and should be as long as 2-3 paragraphs.
Types of Unseen Passages
Case-Based Factual passage
These provide information in a straightforward way regarding a specific topic. Generally, the style of writing and language is very simple and clear. These can contain information such as a report of an event or a new finding or descriptions or may contain instructions.
The content is a collection of facts put together sequentially. A factual description enables the person to have a complete view of the topic by creating a picture of a person, place, object, or specific event in mind. It includes a complete and detailed description of the topic, allowing readers to easily compare and contrast facts, data, or other information. It has been referred to as a detailed description of physical attributes on any given subject. It deals with various topics, and its range is highly diverse.
A descriptive paragraph conveys information in a very detailed manner. It contains every short piece of information to make the passage more meaningful and readable. This way of writing gives readers a complete sense of what they are reading. The content of descriptive passages can pull all the five senses to engage the reader.
In exams, this is often about a biographical sketch of eminent personalities straight from their birth to the present or till their death, highlighting significant events and achievements of the concerned person. It contains a person’s characteristics, lifestyle, and related events that have impacted. These are also used while writing about a historical event.
In simple terms, a passage that discusses in detail an issue or recent incidents and problems is known as a discursive passage. This type of passage deals with different subjects at random and gives an overview of the topic without giving any vivid details. It usually expresses an opinion on some particular topic. The content could be argumentative, i.e. it may have reasons, explanations, details, or explore causes of a particular topic.
These are analytical and well-reasoned. While attempting such a passage, it is necessary to read it thoroughly. One should carefully go through the details, and then answer the questions based on the text.
These types of paragraphs are aimed to convince the reader of the information provided by the writer. It is written to show an argument or persuade the reader to see the world as per the writer’s viewpoint. It mostly derives data taken from research and facts.
What procedure should you follow while attempting unseen passages?
- Go through the passage very carefully
- Reading a paragraph twice is sometimes helpful too as it gives a better understanding
- Read the title first; it will give you an idea of what the passage contains
- While reading, ensure that you underline difficult words, as these can be asked later in the short questions
- Give more emphasis to the beginning and end of the passage as they contain the most amount of important information
- When you write the answer, ensure that you have clearly understood what is asked in the question and if your answer is relevant
- Frame the answers as per your language and not the one provided in the passage
- In case you are stuck with a tricky word, read the sentence again & again, and it will give you a sense of what the writer wants to say
- You can also try reading the questions first; it will give you a rough idea of the content, making it easier to search for the answer
- Try to be specific and relevant when you write down your answer and not vague
Unseen passages are quite common exercises of comprehension. It is used to test the reading and comprehensive ability of a learner. There are four types of passages that can come as unseen passages. It generally involves 2-3 paragraphs. It can be descriptive, discursive, persuasive and case-based factual passages. Sometimes, the passage has an argumentative tone, other times, it may have a persuasive or descriptive tone. One should be mindful to read the passage carefully and understand the message given through the text.