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.