How To Answer: GMAT Reading Comprehension Attitude Question

One GMAT Reading Comprehension question type that you will rarely encounter is the style or tone/attitude question. By style, the test creators are not asking you to compare the style of the prose to the works of some of the renowned authors. It’s another term used to describe the tone/attitude of the author.

GMAC selects passages that are respectful to communities, nations, leaders, even tyrants of notorious records. One reason for this is the source material. They are research papers and not op-eds.

Therefore, the chance that the bias of the author is translated to extreme qualifiers in passages is rare.

The clues are in the nature in which the author builds the case, and the selectivity with which she presents her evidence and counter-evidences to support the argument. It helps to know about the subject matter, but understanding how the author subtly uses qualifiers to describe a situation or a person, will allow GMAT test takers to spot the feeling of the author. They might be disguised as objective observation, but biases/feeling cannot be hidden behind facts. It will come out.

The question will be phrased as:

Which of the following best describes the tone of the passage?

The author’s attitude towards capitalism can be best described as:

With the quotes on statistics about “welfare capitalism” in lines 23-25, what can be concluded about the author’s attitude towards capitalism?

Steps to answer GMAT Style/Tone/Attitude reading comprehension Questions

1) Emotions or feelings no matter how diverse can be categorized into three buckets: positive, negative or neutral. Look for descriptive words, adjective or adverbs used by the author and categorize them under each bucket.

2) Label the emotions inside the bucket

Positive: Sympathy (3), Appreciation (2)
Negative: Anger (2)
Neutral: Objectivity (2)

3) In case of a tie, read the concluding paragraph. Most authors conclude strongly with a clear opinion. If the emotions labelled in the final paragraph favor one of the tied buckets, pick the positive, negative, or neutral emotion emphasized in the paragraph as the winner.

Let’s use our approach to solve a passage about Stock Buyback.

<Start of Passage>

As cited by the Economist Thomas Piketty - In 2007, before the Financial meltdown, the richest 0.1% of the household earned 12.3% of all U.S Incomes, even exceeding the 11.5% in 1928, during the biggest bubble preceding the great depression. With the meltdown of 2008, the income share fell rapidly only to recover four years later to 11.3%. When the majority of the top executives fall within the richest 0.1%, the incentive to make decisions that benefit the shareholders collectively


<End of Passage>

The author's attitude toward share buyback can be best described as:

A. Mild Hope
B. Mild Skepticism
C. Objective Criticism
D. Cautious optimism
E. Strong Skepticism

Included in F1GMAT's Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide: Complete Passage and Steps to answer the Attitude of the Author GMAT RC Question

Download Essential GMAT RC Guide

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