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GMAT Tip: The Importance of Reading

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Do you remember the first book you ever read? Maybe it rhymed and had to do with pork products dyed a crazy shade of green? Or a captain’s pursuit of a massive white whale. Every kid’s different, so judgment free zone on literary choices! How about the last book you read for fun? If it was a good one, you were probably turning (or virtually swiping) pages and never glancing at a clock. If it was truly great, maybe you slowed down towards the end for fear that it was about to end.

Tackling reading comprehension passages is probably more reminiscent of late high school or college nights reading and re-reading passages for class. Forget trying to recap a main point or purpose. Just making it to the end was a moral victory until you realized you had no recollection of what you had just read. So why doesn’t Reading Comprehension flow quite so quickly and easily? Let’s take a look at a few strategies to make Reading Comp a little more palatable.

Know your question types.

The upside to GMAT Reading Comp is you don’t have multiple questions to preview and potentially distract you. The downside to GMAT Reading Comp is you don’t have multiple questions to preview and you don’t have a roadmap. Overall, there are four types of RC questions you’re going to see on the GMAT: inference, specific, function and universal. The better you familiarize yourself with how these questions are structured and some general strategies, the better equipped you’ll be to actively read and know where to look in the passage for concrete evidence.

Brace yourself for Blah Blah Blah.

Let’s face it, if all RC passages read like Fifty Shades of Gray, chances are test takers might not have the same comprehension challenges that they do with passages on antigens and antibodies (though one might argue you’d be hard pressed to identify scope and purpose in Fifty Shades). How can you prepare yourself for passages that would make you choose to watch paint dry? Start by forcing yourself to read articles on topics that aren’t necessarily of interest. Not a sports fan? Try essays on the “moneyball” trend of using statistics in baseball. Not an economics fan? Pick up The Economist and learn about other global economies, trends and challenges.

Read like you’re reading your Twitter feed, not directions from IKEA.

Granted, not every passage is going to be able to be summarized in fewer than 140 characters, but it’s important to do an initial read that allows you to recognize transitions, recognize scope, tone and purpose. If speed reading isn’t a strength, practice as you’re reading less-than-scintillating passages (per Tip #2 above). It’s not your end goal to be an expert on the future growth potential of Philippines, but knowing that the country’s GDP has steadily grown in recent years, it’s the world’s largest producer of coconuts and pineapples and one of the United Kingdom’s largest trading partners might all be strong evidence that could come in handy.

Unlike many other questions types (such as data sufficiency) which are difficult to “practice for” through regular activities, strengthening your speed and critical reading skills is something you can actively commit to doing in your daily life. And who knows, some of that new knowledge might make you a more valuable Trivial Pursuit or Pub Quiz teammate.

The above article comes from Veritas Prep. Since its founding in 2002, Veritas Prep has helped more than 100,000 students prepare for the GMAT and offers the most highly rated GMAT Prep course in the industry.

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