How to Tackle Reading Comprehension Questions on the GMAT

February 09, 2008

All about RC Questions on the GMAT

The first post on RC doesn't really tell you much about what to expect on the GMAT. This post will give detail you about all question types typically asked on the GMAT. I'll also talk about the various strategies to handle those questions.

All answers that present "extreme" viewpoints are, in all probability, incorrect unless they are comprehensively supported by information in the passage. GMAT will usually not have such passages. May be you will encounter a very few, if any, such questions in social science passages.

There are mainly five categories of questions that follow:

  1. Summary Questions
  2. Inference questions
  3. Logical structure questions
  4. Parallel reasoning
  5. Direct details questions
Summary questions:

IF the questions ask you the Primary Purpose of the passage, then try to see "WHY" the author has written that passage, and not what or how he has written the passage. Primary purpose is exactly what it means...primary purpose. The answers will start with "To..." most of the times. And try identifying what kind of passage it is: explanatory, comparative or argumentative to know whether the author's primary purpose is to "outline", "evaluate", "compare", etc.

If the questions ask you the Main Idea of the passage, then eliminate all options which are relevant only to one paragraph in the passage. That can't be the "MAIN" idea. The main idea is the one which covers all the ideas and aspects in the passage. So the trick here is: this option will probably be longer than the others (a superset of 2-3 options) because it should cover all aspects. So don't tick the option which is true as per the passage, because it may just cover one aspect of the passage.

For Style and Tone questions you will have to focus on the “HOW?”.
Style is How the author put forth his ideas : descriptive, analytical, critical, ambiguous, etc.
Tone is How the author expresses his opinion. I am giving you a small list I have compiled which gives you Tone words. I would recommend learning the meaning of all these words.

satiric

whimsical

dramatic

learned

informative

somber

urgent

confident

mock-heroic

objective

diffident

ironic

didactic

petty

factual

restrained

elegiac

disdainful

lugubrious

pedantic

indignant

bantering

flippant

condescending

patronizing

facetious

clinical

mock-serious

inflammatory

benevolent

burlesque

fanciful

detached

cynical

incisive

allusive

effusive

scornful

colloquial

compassionate

impartial

insipid

pretentious

vibrtant

irreverent

sentimental'

moralistic

complimentary

sympathetic

taunting

concerned

angry

turgid

sardonic

contentious

insolent

candid


Inference Questions :

These questions ask you to identify indirect references, implications and suggestions in the passage. The ideas may not be explicitly laid out in the passage, but may be implied by the author. That is where your CR skills come into play.
  • Do not go outside the scope of the passage. Don't use your general knowledge and don't try to read the author's mind. Any answer will follow logically from the information given in the passage.
  • Avoid marking any option which is very extreme in language or ideas.
Logical Structure Questions :

These questions will test your understanding of How the passage has been constructed. So you should pay attention to the Ideas which the author includes/excludes and the order in which he put forth the ideas.

Prepare the flowchart for the passage by putting down the Primary ypurpose and Main Idea of each paragraph. This will clearly demonstrate the sequence and nature of the ideas presented in the passage.

Parallel Reasoning Questions :

These questions will ask you to identify the line of reasoning used in the specified part/paragraph of the passage and draw the analogy to other scenarios.

The strategy to solve these questions is to simplify the scenario in the passage and rephrase in your own words. And then eliminate any answer option which deviate from the underlying logic.

Direct Detail Questions :

There's only one strategy, which is hardly a strategy, read CAREFULLY.

Suggested Books : Kaplan 800, Kaplan Verbal Workbook, Official Guide

Hope you enjoyed the post. Do comment!!

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5 comments

  1. Hi Mukul,

    Great sight and you mentioned points to the detail... good work buddy and it helps me a lot for prep

    /Praveen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous3:16 AM

    great schedule very meticulously written must say u r a very systematic person i am planning to

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous3:18 AM

    write GMAT in say june or so and will be writing CAT also very desperately want to do MBA and get away from this IT job which is very boring :( I have a work ex of 18 months lets see how i prepare for this ur inputs are welcome

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love your blog. It is not at all confucsing, good regime. In fact, I'm starting off today. I guess the plus for me is I'm still in final year B.E, planning to give in march next. So plenty of time, and boy, hell load of resources.
    Right now, i've the og, kaplan review and manhattan sentence correction. Will it suffice? Kaplan 800 e-book too:)
    I was wondering when you plan to apply?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Radha3:22 AM

    hi i would be grateful to you if you could let me know the link for kaplan 800 e-book :)

    ReplyDelete

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