Reading Comprehension explained

A common mistake is to avoid GRE reading comprehension during GRE preparation and to just suffer through reading passages on test day. However, the last thing you want to be when you’re applying to graduate school is common. RC questions make up roughly 25% of the GRE verbal section, so don’t take this part of the section lightly.

Practice Reading Comprehension Daily

Reading comprehension will seem difficult at first, but like most things in life, with practice, it’ll get easier–much easier. Practice reading GRE-level materials, like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, on a regular basis. Articles from The Journal and The Times are of the same caliber as the GRE, and since it’s daily, your reading source will be endless. Make sure you get the online version so you’ll get used to reading long articles from a computer screen (since the GRE is strictly a computer adaptive test except in a few select regions).

If The Journal isn’t for you, try Kaplan Verbal Workbook or ETS Practicing to Take the GRE.

Read Actively

While you’re reading, ask yourself, “What is the main theme? Is this the author’s opinion or is the article all facts?” This will better prepare you for the RC questions following a passage as the GRE usually asks questions that pertain to the main ideas of the article. Asking yourself these questions will also help you stay better focused on the passage. Don’t get caught asking yourself, “What did I just read?”

Read for the Main Idea

Remember, you can go back to the passage all you want. Don’t try to memorize every detail. Instead, try to figure the main idea of the passage and pay attention to how everything is set up. For instance, is the author for or against something? Does the author refer to a historical event and then look to the future or does he just look to the past? In other words, do your best to see the passage as a whole. You can look back at the parts when you’re answering questions.

Summing Up

Practice actively reading GRE-level material daily, and eventually, real GRE passages will seem easy. Also, don’t sweat the details. You can refer to the passage as much as you want.

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Sentence Completion strategies

GRE sentence completion questions involve a sentence with one or two blanks, and it’s up to you to fill in the blank(s) so that the sentence makes sense. You’re given five answer choices, but the key GRE strategy for sentence completions is to not look at those answer choices until you’ve come up with one of your own.

Step 1: Read the Sentence Carefully

When you are given a GRE sentence completion question, make sure you read the sentence carefully. Pay special attention to important words like but, however, or therefore. Words such as these will help you get a feel for what the sentence is trying to say. If you miss one of these important words, it’s likely you’re going to answer incorrectly.

Step 2: Fill in the Blank Yourself

After reading the question carefully, try to fill in the blank without looking at the answer choices. Think of your own word to complete the sentence. When you have a word in mind, find the answer choice that matches your guess the best. Mark the best-matching word and move on to the next question. No need to second guess yourself.

Why You Should Use this GRE Test-taking Strategy

If you predict a word before looking at the answer choices, it is more likely that you will get the right answer. Why? Instead of examining each choice to see if it makes more sense, you’ll just be looking for a word that matches your prediction. Your prediction doesn’t even have to be a “GRE word”. In fact, it’s better if you keep your predictions simple. This GRE strategy will also cut back on the time you would spend second guessing yourself if you were to examine each answer choice.