Time management is a crucial part of doing well on the Verbal Reasoning section of the GMAT, and most test takers will agree that it is also one of the most difficult aspects of the exam.
And, the one area where managing time becomes troublesome is Reading Comprehension. The copious amount of reading coupled with the tricky questions that follow can send you into a tizzy, making you realize that you have gone way overboard on the time.
To help you avoid just such a situation, we discuss, in this blog, a few strategies that will help you manage time effectively when solving GMAT Reading Comprehension.
IN THIS BLOG:
Read the passage actively and effectively
The best way to save time on the Reading Comprehension is reading the passage effectively and quickly the first time, without having to read it multiple times. How do you do this?
There are definitely a few pointers to bear in mind when reading a passage. Keep reading to know more.
Firstly, each passage will certainly have a main idea or a central theme – the author will want to convey a central idea to his audience. This main idea must be clear to you after you have read the passage. It generally, but not always, is located in either the introduction or the conclusion of the passage. So, it is imperative that you read these locations very well.
Secondly, you must focus on the manner in which the author has structured the content of the passage. So, if there are multiple paragraphs, understand their purpose – why has the author felt the need to divide the content into multiple paragraphs? Are there changes in ideas that occur with the change in paragraphs? Is a new idea discussed in each paragraph? What is the correlation between the different paragraphs? Are they complementing or contradicting each other? In short, focus on the purpose of each paragraph and the correlation between the various paragraphs.
Thirdly, you must understand the difference between facts mentioned by the author and his opinions. If the author does state his opinion, it is very likely that you’d be asked questions on it. And how can you identify the opinions of the author? Most often, opinions are stated in the conclusion of the passage.
Finally, focus on transition words that have been used in the passage. These are words that help connect various ideas in a passage. Words such as but, consequently, however, in contrast to, moreover, yet, therefore, and thus are just a few examples. Transition words are important because they help you understand the major changes in the passage. But, there is one more reason why they are so important – there is a very high likelihood of a question being asked from locations where transition words are used.
Let us summarize these points for you.
- Read the introduction and the conclusion of the passage meticulously.
- Understand the structure of the passage, which includes the purpose of paragraphs and the correlation between paragraphs.
- Identify the difference between facts and opinions of the author.
- Focus on the transition words, specially in the introduction and the conclusion.
Once you train yourself to read in this manner, you will realize that you are able to manage time more effectively because you don’t have to read the passage multiple times.
Now, I am not saying that you need to have a thorough understanding of the passage. However, you must have a fair idea of the content so that you know where to look out for the right answers.
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Read every option thoroughly and use elimination
Contrary to the opinion that eliminating options takes much time, you’d realise that elimination is a boon – it is quick and helps increase accuracy to a great extent.
And remember, this is not merely for reading comprehension questions – this is a no-fail strategy for EVERY SINGLE verbal question on the GMAT. Wanting to pick up the right answer first is a hugely challenging task, simply because you have to ensure that every word in the correct answer is correct. In sharp contrast, if you are eliminating, just one incorrect word is sufficient to help you eliminate. Isn’t this easier and time saving?
Be aware of the grounds to eliminate options
Students understand that the best approach to solving an RC question is to eliminate. However, many are not aware of how to do so.
There are a few typical reasons for which answer options can be eliminated. Here they are:
Option not supported by the passage
This is one of the easiest ways in which options can be eliminated. Either the information in the answer option is just not mentioned in the passage or is false.
Option too specific or narrow
This is, perhaps, the most common manner of eliminating options when solving primary purpose types of questions. Any answer option that is too narrow or specific might not be the best answer to describe the main idea of the passage.
Option too extreme
On the GMAT RC, answer options that use very strong words might not be correct, unless the passage itself gives such a hint. This is for the simple reason that strongly worded options are opinions, and opinions do not make for very good answers, do they?
Sometimes, you would notice that the information mentioned in the answer option is stated in the passage but is irrelevant to the question. Many times, this information would be picked up from an incorrect location.
Partially true-partially false
These are the most tricky options to eliminate. Many times, the options will have information that is not completely true. Some information will either be missing or exaggerated. Reading the answer options carefully and matching them with the information in the passage will help you eliminate such ambiguous answers.
Know when to make an educated guess
A tough but practical advice to manage time better on GMAT RCs is to know when to let go of a question or to make an educated guess about the answer. While the ideal thing would be to answer every single question correctly, in reality, this might hardly ever happen. You are bound to come across questions that are taking way too much time to answer and are hindering you from solving questions that you could.
The wise thing to do in such cases is to move away, without jeopardizing your ability to solve the questions that follow.
All those who score well on the GMAT have only one secret sauce – they have practiced. A lot. There is no replacement for more practice – this is the only factor that can make you perfect, really.
With more practice, you would realize that most RCs on the GMAT are formulaic – there is a pattern to the manner in which passages are written. To make things easier, the questions also have a pattern – primary purpose, fact-based, inference, and purpose questions are a few of often tested question types.
I often tell my students that time management becomes a problem when you do not know what to do when solving a question. That’s when you spend time thinking about what to do or are unsure about how to eliminate options. But, once you master the strategies for reading RCs and solving question types, you are bound to get better with time management on the RC.
Try these five pointers when you solve the next set of Reading Comprehension questions and let us know how well they worked for you. For 28+ years we have been helping students crack the GMAT and get admission to their dream university. If you have doubts or need any help with GMAT preparation or MBA admissions, all you need to do is to call us and book a 15 minute FREE online consultation session.
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