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GMAT Tip: You’re right, the questions do get easier!


The Reading Comprehension section can be less tangible for test takers, because we don’t have the opportunity to practice the exact concept being tested in the same way as the quantitative section. The feedback we often hear is “fortunately, the passages were easy for me” or “I had no idea what they were even talking about, so I am sure I blew the questions.”

While you won’t necessarily have the chance to practice the exact passages you will be presented with on your actual exam, the GMAT is repetitive in the types of passages it presents to test takers. There tend to be passages that are business related; for example, analysis of trade relationships in the Indian Ocean or restrictions on banking practices within a central bank. Other passages may be something you’d see in the Sunday edition of a newspaper, such as the impact of opera in Eastern Europe, while other passages are difficult, jargon filled hard science passages covering the extinction of a species of fish in Lake Michigan or the impact of a new medication on short-term memory.

You won’t see passages written by Jane Austen or pulled from The Huffington Post – they will be dense and filled with difficult vocabulary and tons of details. The authors of these passages may have an opinion, offering a subjective viewpoint, or may be entirely objective and simply stating determinations made from new data. So, it is possible for you do enough practice passage sets to where you will feel like you’ve already come across the passages that show up on your actual exam.

We’ve covered before that the best way to approach these passages is to start by reading the passage efficiently yet effectively focusing on STOP – scope, tone, organization, and purpose. When we get to the questions, we should be anticipating what we feel the answer is, then going to the answer choices and using skilled process of elimination to get to the right answer. Depending on the question type, such as a roman numeral or “except for” question, we may need to take a more focused elimination-only approach.

That being said, a lot of test takers freak out when the last few questions seem “easier” than the first few questions. The computer-adaptive nature of the test drives uncertainty- if the questions are easier, are you not then making mistakes?

The answer is no, absolutely not. If you are reading the passage efficiently and effectively, approaching the questions by anticipating answers then, yes, those questions should seem to get easier because your familiarity and understanding of the passage increases. Actually, if the questions become more difficult to decipher, then you actually may have failed to read the passage properly. In that case, you may want to consider re-reading the passage to ensure that you’ve adequately understood the scope, tone, organization, and purpose.

The above GMAT Tip 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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Posted in: GMAT, GMAT Tips, MBA Feature

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