Overview of GMAT Reading Comprehension
The passages in the Reading Comprehension section of the GMAT can be difficult to understand: they appear to be overloaded with extraneous information, and sometimes it seems as though the test-makers have deliberately chosen arcane and obscure passages about topics that no human being could ever be interested in.
That's because they have.
Let's discuss what you'll see on the GMAT Reading Comp section, and briefly touch on some of the strategies that will maximize your score potential.
Overview of the GMAT Reading Comprehension section
There will usually be four RC passages on the GMAT, but you might see three or five on your test. Each passage will have three or four questions attached to it, which makes for an average of 16 questions that you'll have to answer. So, about one-third of the Verbal section of the GMAT will be RC.
Three of the passages will be short (around 200 words) and one will be long (around 300 words), but you could see two of each. The topics generally relate to the humanities, history or business.
The GMAT is a computer-administered test, and you will see the passage on one side of your screen and the question on the other. Important note: You will only see one question at a time, and there is no going back once you have clicked "Next." Remember that, on average, you have two minutes per question.
Strategies for GMAT Reading Comprehension
The good news is that most passages in the Reading Comprehension section are somewhat formulaic. Typically, the writer uses the first paragraph to establish the topic they’ll be discussing in the entire passage. The second paragraph is used to question someone else’s stance on that topic. Finally, the writer uses the third paragraph to establish his or her own stance on that topic.
Unfortunately, as you already know, there’s often a great deal of information you won’t need to answer the accompanying questions.
However, once you’ve read the entire passage, ask yourself a few questions when reading the passages. Firstly, determine what the issue at hand is. Now that you know the general structure of a passage on the GMAT, you should be able to narrow this down a little more quickly. Also consider which theories the author discusses within that issue, and whether or not he or she agrees with them. Many questions in the Reading Comprehension section ask whether or not the author agrees or disagrees with a statement. Nailing down how the author feels about the issues will help you answer these more quickly and accurately.
Also, don’t be tempted to read over a sentence that doesn’t click right away. Doing so multiple times will only take you out of the flow of reading and digesting the entire passage. Even worse, you’ll be inclined to stop asking yourself the questions we discussed above, which will make it even more difficult to answer the following questions. In this case, re-reading will only be a detriment to you.