GRE Reading Passage

7 Tips & Tricks for GRE Reading Comprehension

GRE reading comprehension block usually consists of long and short passages that are followed by questions. Each passage normally comes with 4-6 questions. In order to effectively use your time, you should aim to spend about 3 minutes reading and 1 minute answering. The following are methods that will help you do well in the reading comprehension part.

Focus on reading and understanding the passages.

The only way you can come up with the right answer is by actually knowing it. In other words, you need to understand the passage thoroughly before going over the questions. It is best to focus on reading first, and then take note of the following parts:

  • Main paragraph topic
  • Paragraph transitions and whether they are contrary or complementary
  • Conclusions pointed by the author
  • Hints or clues in the passage

It is essential that you don’t worry about the time limit and rush. Also, do not rely on memorization. Focus on comprehending the meaning and essence of the passage and you will be able to come up with the answers from the knowledge you have gained.

Read the following questions carefully.

Take your time reading through the questions just like you did with the passage. Many test-takers fail because of misinterpreting the question. The best way to get what you are asked for is to rephrase the question in your own words. This will allow you to correlate it to your own knowledge and make comprehension easier.

Find out the type of question.

There are 5 basic types of questions in a GRE reading comprehension test revolving around the following topics:

  1. The main idea
  2. The information presented
  3. The inferences that can be drawn from the given information
  4. The application of the information in the passage
  5. The author’s reasoning or logic

Once you find out the type, you can go back to your notes to confirm your answers.

Anticipate the answer and check back as many times as you need.

This is very important. First, come up with your own answer and then go back to the passage to confirm its validity. You need to do the check even if you are 100% sure of the answer.

Some would prefer to go over the rest of the questions first before reviewing, but that is actually more time-consuming. It is better to ensure that the questions you know are answered thoroughly and correctly so that you can skip them later when you need to review but don’t have enough time.

Spot the wrong answers first.

While the passage meaning remains the same throughout the given questions, it can be tricky to find out that all questions relate to the passage one way or another. In order to weed out choices that are obviously wrong, watch out for statements that contain:

  • Exaggerated assumptions
  • Extreme thoughts
  • Rotten fruit
  • Beyond the scope or irrelevant ideas to the topic
  • Very specific information
  • Given facts that are illogical based on the question

Find the best match for your answers from the given choices.

Most of the questions are multiple-choice. This means that you may have to also take time comprehending the choices in order to select the best answer. Matching the solution you have to come up with a viable choice involving comparison of the main keywords.

It is also good to watch out for extreme answers. For example, words like never, too much, impossible, and too little convey extreme limits. Such type of statements are normally formulated as a variation of the actual answer to confuse the exam taker. Be capable of spotting such statements to rule them out during your selection.

Ensure that your answer is supported.

The only way to do this is to find parts of the passage that support your conclusion. Most of the time, passages are randomly chosen. This means you will be answering questions about an unfamiliar topic. In such cases, it can be difficult to comprehend, much less answer probing questions.

You need to find evidence within the passage that can back up your answer. This is true for all types of questions, including inference and application. If evidence is absent, there is a big chance that it is not the answer and has only been masking the right one. Take it as a hint and do another review to see if it is really correct. If you are sure, then calmly answer the entire section and hope for the best.

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