02 Jun 2017

GMAT Basics : Reading Comprehension

As with almost all standardized testing the GMAT verbal section has quite a bit of RC (Reading Comprehension). In the previous blog, Lom gives some good tips on how to think about attacking the answer choices. In this article, I’ll talk about the basics of RC on the GMAT and a general tip on how to approach the passages.

Before I get into the strategy, here are the basics about the RC questions. On the GMAT Verbal section, you get 75 mins to do 41 questions in total. Of those, about a third are RC. You will get 4 passages, each with 3-4 questions. That is 12-14Questions. For timing purposes you should have finished one set of RC every 18 mins or so. Most likely you will have one long passage (300+ words) and 3 short ones (200+ words). If you are unlucky you may get hit with 2 long passages. The topics are pretty standard: natural or social sciences, humanities, and business. Most likely you’ll get one question that is a general main idea/purpose question. Other question types include: specific purpose, inference, analogy, tone, structure.

Besides the more specific issues most people have with question identification and answer choice elimination, a big issue many people have is just getting through the passage and questions in a timely manner. Here are my recommendations. You should only spend about 2 minutes to read a passage at most. This mostly means you don’t have time to read for detail initially. You want to scan for the topic, and tone by keeping track of transitions while skipping over the details. Take some short notes, one or two words a paragraph. And maybe one short sentence for the main idea. Your goal is to get a big picture idea so you can answer the general question and know what to read in more detail for the specific questions.

That being said, the first passage will be most important. Give yourself enough time to do well. For the later passages, you may have to adapt your reading style depending on how much time you have left and how good you are at reading comprehension. Always make sure you finish all the questions.

Reading this way takes a little practice to do comfortably well. Of course the Official Guide is the best resource. And as always feel free to ask me any questions at [email protected]