GMAT tests you on your Reading Comprehension ability. Roughly 1/3rd of your verbal content is RC. There are at least 3 passages given in GMAT verbal section and these passages can be from any topic. You need to read the passage in order to understand the context, identify the main idea of the passage and appreciate features such as the author’s tone and attitude and the organization of the passage. With every question you encounter, you need to scroll back to the relevant point in the passage. It is not always easy to interpret the passage and what the author is trying to convey immediately after reading the paragraph. But at the same time, one should not spend too much time reading and re-reading the passages since you have a very short span of time to complete the section. You will have to master the process of active reading to become proficient at Reading Comprehension. Most of us are adept at passive reading (paying little to no attention to the idea of the passage, Skimming through and reading) due to our current lifestyle where the little reading we do is restricted to online articles and social media. However to truly grasp the concept of the passage you will have to practice and become an expert in active reading.
There are long passages that run to 5-6 paragraphs. There are passages that are mid-length, around 3-4 paragraphs long. And then, there are one paragraph passages that are in the short category. There is no relationship between the length of a passage and the difficulty level of the passage. Similarly, a long passage might have just 3 questions following it and a short one can have 5 questions. You will have to practice pacing yourself (i.e) allocate enough time according to the length of the passages and not spend too much time on a single RC. Whenever you are answering questions ensure to stick to what you can establish from the paragraph given and try not to bring in outside knowledge.
The shorter paragraphs take less than 2 minutes to peruse. Allow a minute in your time budgeting for each RC question. Here again, note that there will be questions that can take more or less than the budgeted time. GMAT passages are lifted from scholarly works and are then edited a little to suit a pre-framed format. You can try identifying the multiple viewpoints which the author is trying to convey when you read the passage. This is why you can be assured of finding the main purpose of the passage in certain places of the passage. There may or may not be a definite and explicit conclusion in each passage. Sometimes, the conclusion, along with other information can be inferred from the other information presented in the passage. Another good practice which you could follow is to take notes while reading as it could act as a guide for you when you are answering questions and you won’t have a necessity to refer the passage the entire time. You could also make note of abbreviations which are majorly utilized only to confuse or distract the reader from the main flow of the passage.
Answer the questions according to the information from the passage. Do not make use of real-world information you are aware of. Even if you are very aware of the topic discussed in the passage, stick with the views of the author and what he says about the topic rather than let your biases dictate the answering part. Let’s say you are a proponent of the string theory while the passage states otherwise. Forget everything about string theory when you read and answer the questions from the particular passage. 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.
In GMAT, 80 percent of the questions are from 20 percent of the passage: the first and last paragraphs of the passage. So, give emphasis on these two paragraphs the most when you read. You can just glance through the rest of the passage. A simple but effective strategy which you can use to answer questions in RC is the process of elimination which would help you to arrive at the correct answer. In most cases, the most simple and straightforward option is the correct answer as GMAT seldom uses complicated answers. It is also beneficial for you if you find a way to connect to the passage (i.e) become involved and interested in what you are reading. Studies have shown that you are more likely to understand the passage better provided you are engrossed by it.