Reading Comprehension Questions of GMAT Verbal Section
The Verbal Reasoning section of the GMAT 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 find these passages dry, so it is important to build your stamina for scholarly writing about a variety of topics. On the GMAT, the topics most frequently covered are history, science, humanities, or business.
The nature of the computer adaptive tests makes it so that you will be able to see the 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 GMAT:
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 can be 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 his or her own conclusions. If you have skimmed too quickly, you may remember some key words you saw, but can't succinctly summarize the main idea of the passage. On the other hand, you do not want to continue to reread a sentence or passage that is tripping you up. Perhaps try to read a sentence that confuses you a second time. 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 are ideally very quick and mostly skimming. First, 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, when the topic is changing or shifting, and what the author deems as important 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.
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, it is probably wrong. Remember that no one needs specialized information on the topics in RC questions – the point is to assess whether you understand and synthesize a provided text.