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 the last 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. It is crucial to figure out what the main idea is for the passage since this will help you to answer questions related to the same. The main idea of the passage helps you to comprehend the purpose of the passage and what the author is trying to convey.

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. You will have to pay close attention to all the sentences in the passage so that you are able to decipher the tone of the passage. It is certain to assist you in answering questions regarding the author’s opinions and views.

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. These are the easiest questions for you to answer since the questions point at a specific part of the passage. You can practice taking notes to help you answer these types of questions so that you don’t have to refer back to the passage each time. When you are accustomed to reading long passages you automatically tend to look out for elements of the passage which define the concept which the author is trying to convey. Ensure to not spend too much time on the same since you have limited duration which you can spend for each section in the exam.

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. Another technique you can employ is to read the questions prior to reading the passage. This will help you gain a better idea of exactly what you will be looking for in the passage. You will be able to read in an objective manner since you are now aware of the particular set of information which you will be asked in the exam.

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. Alternatively you could also visualize the passage in your mind. This has helped candidates to relate to the passage in a better manner than reading it as just theory. This method while it may seem uncommon is actually more helpful to recall the passage and the information mentioned in it. It aids you in deciphering the content of the paragraph in a simpler manner.

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. Pace yourself when you are reading the passage and practice this strategy to help you to allocate sufficient time to each RC passage. Time yourself on a regular basis so that you are aware of how long you usually take to attempt this section. You can accordingly work on it to improve your efficiency. Finally do remember that even if they have asked a question in the extended scope do not make the mistake of using data which is not present in the passage. Always stick to whatever information you have within the passage and infer details only from the same.

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