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Mastering GMAT Reading Comprehension: 3 Best Practices

Mastering GMAT Reading ComprehensionStaying still and reading 600 to 1000 word passages seem a daunting task for most. In regular reading, we skim the content, look for titles & subtitles, and try to pick the gist of the passage. This process cannot be followed in GMAT Reading Comprehension passages where answering the question require paying close attention to keywords, the tone of the author, and other details embedded in the passage.

1) Read the Message not the Word

Even though GMAT RC requires test takers to pay close attention, reading every word and forcing yourself through the passage is a sign of a poor reader. Instead, read the passage for the message and not the word. If the passage has a question specific to a passage or the “word” used in the passage, you can always go back to the text and figure it out. Most questions will be related to the Main Idea of the passage, tone of the author, Title, Inference, Organization of the passage, and assumptions.

To go beyond the words, and read the message, you have to develop a habit of reading a line. This can be tricky early on and need practice. Even though you feel that you have missed important information our brains are receptive and much more capable than we anticipate. Reading a line with a one-sweep eyeball movement can capture a lot more than reading each word. Start practicing speed-reading during practice, and after reading 5-10 passage, you will be comfortable with this practice, and the accuracy rate will improve considerably.

2) Set Targets

When you have targets before reading a passage, you are likely to read with purpose. We are not talking about the accuracy or timing targets. These are end results of settings qualitative goals. Some of the them include:

a) Writing down the main idea of the paragraph

b) Noting down keywords

Timing targets are important even for qualitative goals.

Qualitative Target Example: Read an 800-word 3-paragraph passage in 3 minutes with keywords, and the main idea of each paragraph noted down in your worksheet.

3) Look for Argument Flaws

It is strange that when we read to find fault with the author’s argument, we pay close attention to the sentence structure, words used, and the intent behind each paragraph. To meet qualitative targets like 3-minute reads, you don’t need a critical eye, but to meet accuracy goals, read with a critical view of the author’s argument. It will help you retain the essential part of the text that would be useful for answering questions related to the main idea or attitude of the author. GMAT test takers have a tendency to go back to the paragraph even for such questions. This is a bad practice, and you are losing precious seconds by following this habit. Unless the question quotes a paragraph or a line, the temptation to go back to the passage should be culled in practice itself.

When you read the passage for argument flaws, ask the following questions:

a) What biases does the Author have?

b) What assumptions is the Author making?

We are not suggesting to write down answers to these questions, but if you enter a reading comprehension exercise with these questions in mind, you are likely to retain the gist of the passage and the attitude of the author.

The Above post is an excerpt from Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide. Download it here.

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