GRE Reading Comprehension

GRE Reading Comprehension Guidelines

The Reading Comprehension questions in the GRE are designed to test a broad range of reading skills that would enable students to get the most out of reading material in graduate school. These skills include: drawing conclusions from written material; analyzing authors' conclusions; distinguishing between major and minor points; recognizing strengths and weaknesses in an argument; identifying missing information; considering possible alternatives to an argument; evaluating the structure of a passage; assessing the significance of individual paragraphs; and understanding vocabulary in individual sentences.

The GRE Verbal Reasoning section contains approximately 10 reading passages, though most of them are only one paragraph long. Only one or two are multiple paragraphs long.

There are three types of questions that might follow a Reading Comprehension passage. Two of the questions types are multiple choice, but GRE test takers have to be careful because some multiple choice questions will ask for one answer and others will ask for all answers that apply. The third question type will ask test takers to choose one sentence in the paragraph. To answer the question, the test taker will click on a sentence and the sentence will become highlighted. For long passages, this type of question usually only asks the test taker to choose a sentence from a particular paragraph identified by an arrow.

Be sure to read the passage and the questions carefully. The passages can be based on a variety of subjects that could range from hard sciences to fine art and might be academic or non-academic. Outside knowledge of the topic is not necessary to be able to complete the types of questions that will be asked. For test takers who do have outside knowledge of the subject, be sure to base answer only on the information presented in the passages and questions.

Now that the Verbal Reasoning section is section-adaptive rather than adaptive question-by-question, test takers can leave questions blank and go back to them later. If one passage is particularly confusing or dense and time is tight, it is ok to skip the passage and questions related to it and return to them when the rest of the section is completed.