Reading Comprehension I: Introduction II: The Challenge III: The Five Steps IV: Question Types V: Tips VI: Sample Essays
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I: Introduction

This chapter will show you how to read passages efficiently while effectively comprehending what the author has written.

First, we present an overview of GMAT Reading Comprehension. Then we teach you the 800score techniques for reading the passages (“The Five Steps”), followed by an explanation of how to answer the different question types and provide you with some helpful tips. Finally, we present 14 different passages broken out by level of difficulty, and for each passage we will show you how to use 800score techniques to answer the questions.

A typical GMAT verbal test will include four to five reading comprehension passages, with three to four questions per passage. So, of the 41 Verbal questions on the GMAT, you can expect that 12 to 15 will be reading comprehension questions.

For reading comprehension, the directions on the GMAT will look like this:

Directions: Each passage is followed by questions about its content. After reading a passage, select the best answer to each question from the five choices. Answer all questions following a passage based on what the passage states or implies.

A passage and a corresponding question looks like this:

The passage is on the left of the screen and each question is on the right. Make sure you scroll down to read the entire passage. You will only see one question at a time. The passage will remain on your computer screen until you have answered all of the questions related to it. You are unable to go back to previous questions.

The GMAT is a CAT (computer-adaptive test) so the questions will begin at an intermediate difficulty level and adapt to your performance by changing in difficulty. Average test takers will answer about 50% of the questions correctly. Higher scorering test takers will get longer and more challenging essays and questions, essentially getting a completely different test than lower scorers. This chapter has a section specifically designed to help higher scorers with the more difficult passages.

 How the CAT impacts verbal difficulty If you are extremely adept at one type of verbal question (Reading Comprehension, Sentence Correction or Critical Reasoning), but weak in the other two types....guess what? Your skill in that one area will mean you get very difficult questions in the other two . The moral of the story is that you need to be skilled at all three question types.

Pacing

Keep in mind that Reading Comprehension questions make up less than a third of the Verbal questions. Students often get bogged down and spend too much time reading and re-reading these passages. The general guideline for Reading Comprehension pacing is:

Take two to four minutes to read each passage and 30 to 60 seconds to answer each question.

Using the Test Pacer in the Reading Comprehension Section

It is normal to slide two to three questions behind your optimal pace after reading a passage. Fortunately, the Reading Comprehension questions themselves are quicker than other questions, so don't worry if this happens to you. For more information on the pacer, click here.

 Key Points You can't skip questions or go back to questions you had trouble with, but you do have constant access to the passage.  Plan 2 to 4 minutes to read the passage and 30 to 60 seconds per question.
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