Reading Strategically on the GMAT:

by on August 29th, 2010

Business and BooksWhen preparing for the GMAT, students are often concerned about the amount of time it will take to go through the Reading Comprehension passages on the test.  Three to four passages can be a lot to read for many students, given the time constraints of the exam.  If this sounds like you, I want you to remember two words: read strategically.

The purpose of reading a GMAT passage

Most of the reading you currently do is likely for one of two reasons.  First, you may be reading for pleasure, in which case you probably want to absorb as much of the material as possible for your own enjoyment.  Second, you may be reading for school or work, so you need to make sure you understand the material thoroughly.

When reading for the GMAT, you are reading for an entirely new reason: to answer the questions correctly.  As we only see one question at a time on test day, this means we must read the whole passage before seeing all of questions.  However, we do not want to get bogged down in the passage, since the only reason we are even looking at it is to answer the given questions.

Your goals when reading a passage

The key, therefore, is to read strategically.  As you work your way through the passage, do not get stuck on the details.  Instead, focus on the big picture.  This means you should read the passage with two goals in mind.  Your first goal is to determine what the author is focused on and why the author has chosen to focus on this particular topic.  Your second goal is to determine the structure of the passage, so that when you do see a question about a specific detail you can quickly find where the answer is in the passage.

By following these steps, you will be well on your way to both answering almost all of your Reading Comprehension questions correctly, and also finishing your test on time.

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