Tricks for Short GMAT Reading Comprehension Passages

by on July 22nd, 2017

readingWhen you start your preparation for GMAT Reading Comprehension (RC), you may feel somewhat intimidated by the long RC passages and may naturally prefer the short passages. If you concentrate your preparation on the long passages and become quite adept at handling them, don’t forget to spend time preparing for those short passages, especially if you’re having an issue similar to what my GMAT student recently shared with me:

“It’s strange: After our GMAT lesson last Friday I find it easier to read “long” texts because the questions tend to be some “specific & detailed” questions I more or less easily can find in the passage, because the passages are structured. But when the texts are short ones, I realize I have problems because the questions are more “comprehension questions” of the entire passage. In addition, I have the impression that in short passages the content is not clearly divided into sections. My problem: I had to reread the texts several times and I never find out in which part of the passage I find the solution. Do you have any tricks for me?”

1. Do an initial reading and take notes

Short passages are structured into either one or two paragraphs. If they are one paragraph, you can often divide the passage by searching for structural words. First, do an initial reading to map the text out. The idea in a one-paragraph text is to read the first couple of sentences and take notes.

2. Look for structural words and other text markers

Next, you should start skimming through the rest and paying attention to text markers, such as the structural words. For example, a structural word used could be “however, or “yet.” Focusing on such words will help you to understand the overall structure. In addition, you should also pay attention to the very end, as it may provide a summary, information about the author’s opinion, or a conclusion.

3. A final tip for two-paragraph short passages

The same procedure should be used with a two-paragraph text. In addition to what you have done with the first paragraph, look closely at the first two sentences of the second paragraph. You should extend this to the third sentence as well if there is an opposition conjunction. Of course, pay close attention to the end of the second paragraph, as well.

This concept of active reading is very important in all RC passages. Think about the structure of the text. But don’t forget to do so when handling the short passages as well.

This post appeared first on the Economist GMAT Tutor blog.

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