The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test commonly used for graduate school admissions in the United States and other countries. One of the most challenging sections of the GRE is the Verbal Reasoning section, and within it, the Reading Comprehension questions often pose a significant hurdle for test-takers. To excel in this section, it’s crucial to develop effective strategies that can help you navigate through complex passages and answer questions accurately. In this article, we will explore comprehensive strategies to ace GRE Reading Comprehension.
Understanding the GRE Reading Comprehension Section
The GRE Reading Comprehension section consists of multiple-choice questions based on passages provided in the test booklet. These passages are typically drawn from various academic disciplines and are designed to evaluate your ability to understand, interpret, and analyze written material. Each passage is followed by a set of questions that assess your comprehension of the text, including your ability to identify main ideas, draw inferences, and make logical connections.
Here are some key features of the GRE Reading Comprehension section:
Passage Variety: GRE passages can cover a wide range of topics, from natural sciences to humanities, social sciences, and more. Expect to encounter texts that may not be within your academic background.
Passage Length: Passages can vary in length, from one paragraph to several pages. Longer passages tend to have more associated questions.
Question Types: The questions can be classified into several types, including main idea questions, inference questions, vocabulary-in-context questions, and detail-oriented questions.
Time Constraint: Time management is crucial in the GRE Verbal Reasoning section. You’ll have around 35 minutes to answer 20 questions, which means you should aim to spend approximately 1.75 minutes per question.
Effective Strategies for GRE Reading Comprehension
To tackle the GRE Reading Comprehension section successfully, consider implementing the following strategies:
Preview the Questions : Before delving into the passage, quickly skim through the questions associated with it. This will give you a sense of what to look for while reading the passage. You can then focus on gathering relevant information.
Active Reading : As you read the passage, engage actively with the text. Highlight or underline key information, such as the main idea, supporting details, and any relationships or comparisons between ideas.
Understand the Passage Structure : Pay attention to the structure of the passage. Identify the introduction, main body, and conclusion. Understanding how the author organizes their ideas can aid in comprehending the overall message.
Main Idea Identification : Most GRE passages have a central idea or main point. Try to identify this main idea as you read. Understanding the author’s primary argument or perspective is crucial for answering main idea questions accurately.
Take Notes : If the passage is complex or lengthy, consider jotting down brief notes as you read. These notes can help you keep track of important details and relationships between ideas.
Answer Questions in Context : When answering questions, always refer back to the passage for context. Avoid making assumptions or relying solely on your prior knowledge.
Elimination Technique : Use the process of elimination for multiple-choice questions. Start by eliminating options that are clearly incorrect, and then weigh the remaining choices based on the information in the passage.
Inference Questions : For inference questions, try to identify the information explicitly stated in the passage. If the passage doesn’t provide a direct answer, make educated guesses based on the information presented.
Vocabulary-in-Context : When encountering unfamiliar words, use the context of the sentence to infer their meanings. The author often provides clues that can help you decipher the word’s significance.
Time Management : Keep an eye on the time and allocate it wisely. If a particular question is taking too long, move on and return to it later if needed. Remember that not all questions are of equal difficulty.
Practice Regularly : Regular practice is key to improving your GRE Reading Comprehension skills. Work on passages from various topics and difficulty levels to become comfortable with the format.
Review Incorrect Answers : After completing a practice test or practice session, thoroughly review the questions you answered incorrectly. Understand why you made those mistakes and learn from them.
Sample GRE Reading Comprehension Strategy
Let’s apply these strategies to a sample passage and associated questions:
Sample Passage : (Excerpt from a hypothetical social sciences text)
[Passage text here]
Sample Question : What is the main point the author is trying to convey in the passage?
Strategy c: Begin by previewing the question. Then, actively read the passage, noting the main ideas and supporting details. Pay attention to any keywords or phrases that indicate the author’s main point. Take notes if necessary. After reading the passage, answer the question by selecting the option that best summarizes the main point you identified in the passage.
Mastering GRE Reading Comprehension is essential for achieving a high score in the Verbal Reasoning section. By adopting effective strategies such as active reading, question previewing, and careful time management, you can improve your performance in this challenging section. Regular practice, combined with a solid understanding of passage structures and question types, will enable you to approach the GRE Reading Comprehension section with confidence. Remember that success on the GRE is not only about knowledge but also about your ability to strategically engage with the test content. So, practice diligently, refine your strategies, and maximize your chances of excelling in the GRE Verbal Reasoning section.