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How to Improve on GRE Reading Comprehension

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How to Improve on GRE Reading Comprehension [#permalink] New post 31 May 2014, 11:33
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Reading Comprehension is probably the most difficult section to improve on. Even when improvements occur, they occur slowly. Many become discouraged—and rightly so. After all, there are few sections in which you can still feel flustered and perplexed even after reading the explanation. Perhaps my number one piece of advice on this matter: don’t give up.

There are of course more specific pieces of information that can help you improve on Reading Comprehension. This advice is aimed not at somebody who is just starting off (though it is relevant as well), but for those who feel they’ve hit a plateau.

You may have even applied my other advice: read widely from publications noted for their high-quality prose. Doing this will help you strengthen your reading brain. But to get over the hump, you will want to apply the strategies below.

Practice,Practice,Practice using official material



Content-wise nothing beats practicing with actual GRE questions. The style and tone of the passage, the why questions and answer choices are worded, and the subtlety between the correct answer and the incorrect answers can only be found in actual questions. RC questions from other resources are not that as good as Official material except Manhattan GRE, Magoosh etc.

Understand why the wrong answers are wrong



The wrong answers are the soul of the Reading Comprehension question. That may sound odd, like I’m trying to channel Shakespeare, but let me elaborate. Oftentimes, you may know the general answer to a question. That is not what the GRE is really testing. It is testing whether you can tell the difference between an answer choice that is almost right and one that is clearly right. Indeed, while sifting through the verbiage of the answer choices, you are truly employing your critical thinking skills.

Only by having a strong sense of why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answer incorrect will you truly have mastered a question.

Re-read passages



Many times students balk at doing the same reading passages: ‘I’ve done that one before.’ Unless you have the photographic memory of an autistic savant, you’ll probably have forgotten most, if not all, of a passage you read six weeks ago.

Secondly, it is not about getting questions right. It is about knowing why the correct answer is correct and the wrong answer wrong (as I just noted above). The chances that you remember the nuances between answer choices are slight to none. Thus each time you go through the answer is a fresh opportunity to exercise your analytical muscles.


Be aware of your propensities for mistakes



Often there is a pattern to your mistakes. It could be inference questions in which you infer too much. It can be missing a single word in the passage that makes all the difference. It could be misinterpreting answer choices. Anticipating these mistakes can help you greatly.
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Re: How to Improve on GRE Reading Comprehension [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2018, 01:46
You do not go about the "Reading comprehension" paragraphs like you read a novel or a text book. You will typically have a "strategy". Pick your approach and practice it.

When I did my GMAT, I did the reading comprehension in two steps - I quickly skimmed through the passage. To get an idea of what it is. Then I went over the questions. And then I read the passage (with questions at the back of my mind). This time, I read it 'properly'. But, some how, those questions at the back of my mind helped me focus on what to read and what to skip.

Since I knew before my exam that I was going to do this "two pass" approach, I practiced accordingly. I timed and practiced the skimming part separately and the thorough reading with questions in mind separately.

Also, It is important that you practice your comprehension on subjects that you are not familiar with. More over, not all exercises should come from the same book. Perhaps borrow an introductory text in a non-related field. Say, if you are an engineer, pick an introductory anthropology text and try and read a couple of chapters. Or travelogues. Or biographies of people you never heard of.
Hope it helps.

Just to help you start right away,

1. Why did the author use the phrase "two pass" in describing his strategy?

It is the way some compilers work
He passed gmat twice.
The author was making a pass at some one in the centre
None of the above.

2. Why did the author read the questions before he read the passage properly?
He like questions in anthropology
It makes him feel like he is on Quora
It helps him focus on a possibly unknown topic
None of the above
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Re: How to Improve on GRE Reading Comprehension [#permalink] New post 21 Sep 2018, 05:57
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Very informative post.

Adding in my two cents, to score well in Reading Comprehension, your ability to understand the logic of what you are reading is very important. All Reading Comprehension passages involve arguments, so you must strive to understand what the point of each argument is. You also should understand that the main parts of the argument in the multi-paragraph passages are the different paragraphs, while the main parts of the argument in the single-paragraph passages are the sentences. Understanding how the different parts fit together, in each instance, is one of your more important tasks. Furthermore, as you practice Reading Comprehension, it’s important to focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. Analyze your incorrect answers and try to understand why the answer you picked was wrong.

To correctly answer single-paragraph passages, as mentioned above, you need to be able to analyze the relationship between sentences. Furthermore, you need to ensure that you fully understand the essence of the various single-paragraph question types. Do you know the importance of an assumption within an argument? Can you easily spot a conclusion? Do you know how to resolve a paradox? Do you know how to properly evaluate cause and effect? Do you know how to properly weaken or strengthen an argument? These are just a few examples; you really need to take a deep dive into the individual topics to develop the necessary skills to properly attack these types of Reading Comprehension questions.

Finally, keep in mind that GRE Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read, so to better prepare yourself to tackle such passages, read magazines with similar challenging content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.
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Re: How to Improve on GRE Reading Comprehension   [#permalink] 21 Sep 2018, 05:57
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