GMAT Reading Comprehension is not everyone’s cup of tea and there are various reasons behind it. The foremost reason is that not many students, who are otherwise smart and intelligent, read anything other than their syllabus text or online articles. So, if you are one among the non-readers, then you may find that reading comprehension becomes difficult. Let’s look at what we are trying to achieve in RC passages. Firstly one must note that RC passages focus mainly on 3 things: understand what the author is trying to convey, understand the central theme of the passage and the purpose of the passage. Within the stipulated time, it is difficult to isolate these 3 pointers especially when you encounter three passages in the exam.
Generally when we read most of us are passive, we do not pay attention to the finer details of the passage. On the other hand, we must not dwell on the entire passage since we have limited time. All you need is information on answering the given questions. And that is why GMAT RC requires active and selective reading. This will help us to easily master the section. We will have to gather relevant information required to answer the questions. One must be well equipped to identify the correct answer since in some cases all answers seem equally appropriate. And that is why the answer option that sounds extremely critical is never the answer to the given question. In such cases it is safe to select the simplest option. Also always remember GMAT passages are never prejudiced or critical. This is also the reason why the most complicated answer is seldom the correct answer to the question.
It is prudent to know a few things before you start with the passage. Firstly you should be aware that, GMAT passages follow a similar pattern. That’s why you know that the primary purpose is almost always found in the first or last paragraph. GMAT passages are not extremely critical about anything at all. Seldom is the tone of the author critical and biased. If it’s a heavily biased passage, GMAT does not include it in its test series.
When you do not understand much about a passage, read just the first and last paragraph. After all, these are where you find the answers to your questions, most of the time. There are passages from topics that sound unfamiliar to you. That’s what it is like to most exam takers. Remember again that prior information on the topic is not a requisite to answer the questions that follow the passage. If an option presents itself to be true only if an external assumption has to be made, it is not the answer.
Next, whenever you read a passage, take a minute to tell yourself about what you have learned from the passage. This would help you articulate the subject in words you understand. Never skip this step.
Lastly, whenever you are completely clueless about a particular RC question, so much that all the answers look equally probable answers and at the same time, completely confusing, opt for the simplest answer option.
The art of deciphering the entire passage in Reading Comprehension and breaking down the content is not always easy. This is especially true when one is hard pressed for time. The principal reason behind this is that not many individuals; in spite of being a pro in their field; cultivate the habit of reading. In today’s fast paced and technologically advanced world the little reading people do is constrained to only online articles or webpages. This is why there may be difficult to successfully navigate in GMAT’s RC for many candidates. However this article should help in changing that perception.
There are certain strategies which can be adopted to ensure successful navigation in the RC for GMAT. Some of them are:
- To practice pacing oneself – allocate sufficient time according to the length of the passage, this ensures we do not waste much time on a single comprehension.
- Try to identify the multiple viewpoints the author is trying to convey.
- Taking notes is also a good practice which one can adopt for RC. This will also help as a guide when answering questions instead of referring to the passage once again. Also always make a note of abbreviations which is principally only to divert the reader from the flow of the passage.
- One must never Speed Read or Skim the passage as this often leads to us missing out on key words or phrases.
- Summarizing the entire passage mentally in your own words. This step is a very crucial one as it would assist us immensely when we are answering questions from the passage. Engaging ourselves in the passage is a smart way to keep us more involved in what we are reading. We are more keen to read something which we are interested in.
Finally when we are answering questions we should always remember to first and foremost answer the question being asked. We shouldn’t let ourselves deviate from the subject which will lead to us losing precious time. One should read all the answer choices given and try to use the process of elimination to arrive at the correct answer. This step though simple will prove to be most effective when we find the passage to be on a topic we are not familiar with.
To conclude, Reading Comprehension in GMAT is not a child’s play for everyone but with the right approach RC can be easily and successfully completed.
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