EA Verbal Reasoning – Reading Comprehension Questions

EA Reading Comprehension Questions

The Verbal Reasoning section of the Executive Assessment (EA) is comprised of three different types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. Reading Comprehension (RC) assesses your ability to read a passage and understand logical relationships between ideas, main ideas being communicated, and quantitative concepts incorporated into the text. To make this assessment, RC questions begin with a passage, generally 200-300 words and written with an academic or neutral tone, followed by 3 to 4 questions about the passage. Many test takers find these passages dry, which can make it difficult to pay attention, but this is intentional…it is far easier to pay attention to interesting topics or when exciting events are taking place on the page and much more difficult to maintain focus when you're reading about something that is presented in a matter-of-fact way. This makes it critical to build your stamina and strengthen your ability to focus when reading about scholarly (non-exciting) topics. On the EA, the topics most frequently covered in RC questions are history, science, humanities, or business. 

The EA is a computer-adaptive test, and because of this, you will see the reading passage and one question at a time. You cannot go back and change an answer on a question you have answered previously. You will always have access to the passage while you are answering questions about it. There are a few things you should keep in mind as you approach RC questions in the Verbal Reasoning section of the EA: 

Read with Purpose

You will need to read the passage or part of the passage multiple times, so approach the text with a strategy. The first read through should be slow enough that you get the main points, but not so slow that you run out of time. This is often easier said than done. You should be able to paraphrase the text before answering any questions about it. As you read, identify the main idea of the text and what theories, if any, are discussed. Pay attention for whether the author draws any of their own conclusions. If you have skimmed too quickly, you may remember some key words you saw, but you won't be able to succinctly summarize the main idea of the passage. On the other hand, you do not want to continue to reread a sentence or passage for too long. Perhaps try to read a sentence that confuses you a second time, but if you still don't quite understand the point being made, move on for now. You can always revisit it if it is important to a question. 

Any re-readings after the first pass are ideally very quick and mostly skimming in search of specific information. After you read the passage through at least once, you will want to read the question so that you know what you are looking for. Try to think of an answer to the question before looking at the options. Then read the options and choose the one which best answers the question at hand. At this point, you may have to go back to the text, but because you have a specific word or subject within the passage to look for, it will be a much faster read than your first one. 

Take Cues from the Passage

The passage you are reading will include signalers of important details, such as when the topic is changing or shifting or what the author deems to be notable information. Watch closely for linking and transition words to grasp a full understanding of the structure of the text. Words like 'firstly,' 'secondly,' and 'in conclusion' help you to see the structure, while 'in addition' could mean the author is adding extra supporting evidence of a claim or more details on the main idea. Also keep an eye out for 'yet,' 'but,' 'however,' 'on the other hand,' and 'in contrast,' which signal to you that the author is presenting a difference of some kind, either in an argument being made or in a text comparing and contrasting two groups or ideas. 

Check Your Answer for Supporting Details

Every correct answer in RC questions will have text evidence to support it. Pacing is important, so there is no need to systematically check for evidence for each provided answer. However, it is worth your time to double-check that the answer you choose can be supported by the provided passage. This is also a great way to narrow down two answers that both seem right, as there will always be a “best” answer to the question being asked even if more than one answer could technically be considered correct. 

To look for evidence, simply ask yourself "Why is this answer right? Where can I find support in the text?" The support is not always a direct quote from the text—sometimes you are making inferences from other information in the passage. As long as you can answer "Why?" with information in the text, you are using supporting details. If your answer comes from your own intuition or other information you personally know about the topic, but there is nothing in the passage to support your idea, then your answer is most likely wrong in this specific context. Remember that no one needs specialized information on the topics covered in RC questions, as the point is to assess your ability to understand and synthesize a provided text.

While Reading Comprehension questions can seem relatively easy, it is worth practicing reading-related skills such as summarizing, paraphrasing, identifying the main idea of a passage, identifying supporting evidence, and noting information that strengthens or weakens an argument. As we have mentioned before, the first part of doing well on the EA is knowing when and how to utilize the skills that will allow you to arrive at the correct answer…the second part of doing well on this exam is arriving at correct answers in a timely manner. The best way to improve your stamina and maintain focus for an extended period of time is to practice and familiarize yourself with the necessary pacing to complete each of the EA's three sections.