GMAT Reading Comprehension Tips

Main Idea

Almost every passage in the GMAT has this question. The main idea is generally present in the in the opening or ending line of the first paragraph of the passage. Else, it’s found in the opening lines of the last paragraph. Rarely is the main idea present elsewhere. And on other rare occasions, the main idea is left to be inferred by the reader.

Tone

The author’s attitude towards 19th century feminist literature can be described as…? Now, this is a question on tone. Where do you find the answer to this? It needs a handle on the entire passage. If the author mentions two opposing views and does not state that one is what he prefers, he is unbiased. If he mentions a theory proposed by someone else and lists his apprehensions about it, he is skeptical about the validity of the theory. Remember that the answer is rarely extreme terms like dismissive or vengeful.

Specific data

These are questions like ‘According to the passage, the author finds the movement to be…’. Match phrases from the question to the location in the passage where it occurs. Read a couple of lines above and a couple of lines below the data match to get the picture. That’s where your answer lies. This is the easiest kind of question in the greater scheme of GMAT Reading Comprehension passages and questions.

Inference

What do you infer from the passage? What is implied in the passage? What does the author suggest? These questions are all inference based questions where you need to make use of information in the passage to arrive at a conclusion yourself. So, eliminate options that repeat what is explicitly stated what is mentioned in the passage.

Structure

Which of the following best describes the structure of the passage? What would be the ideal title for this passage? To answer these questions, look at the logical flow of the passage. Words like Moreover, Although and Ironically help you understand the structure of the passage.

Extended Scope

These questions expect you to extrapolate ideas and data given in the passage to instances outside the passage and make a comparison. These require a logical understanding of the context of the passage. In this case, pick an option that resonates with the author’s conclusion. The option has to mirror the idea presented in the passage.

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