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Embarking on the GMAT journey is like navigating uncharted waters. Moreover, in order to excel in the GMAT Verbal section, it is crucial to understand the nuances of GMAT Reading Comprehension. The reading skills demanded for GMAT Reading Comprehension passages differ significantly from your everyday reading habits. Yes! At times GMAT Reading Comprehension passages can be intricate but the real hurdle? Time. You’ll find yourself in a race against the clock, attempting to absorb the essence of passages swiftly. So, buckle up as we delve into the unique terrain of GMAT Reading Comprehension, where time is of the essence, and every second counts toward your overall GMAT score.

  1. Outline
  2. GMAT Reading Comprehension: Key Features
  3. GMAT Reading Comprehension: Common Challenges
  4. Key Strategy 1 to Master GMAT Reading Comprehension: Passage Analysis Techniques
  5. Key Strategy 2 to Master GMAT Reading Comprehension: Tackling Different Question Types
  6. Key Strategy 3 to Master GMAT Reading Comprehension: Eliminating Trap Answers
  7. Master GMAT Reading Comprehension: Conclusion

2. GMAT Reading Comprehension: Key Features

Here, we will explore various aspects of GMAT Reading Comprehension, including passage types, question presentation, and question quantity.

2.1 Types of Passages

Long and Short. Long passages typically consist of 300+ words and are divided into 3-5 paragraphs. On the other hand, short passages contain around 200-250 words, comprising 2-3 paragraphs. While the order in which these passages appear is not fixed, familiarizing oneself with both types is essential for efficient reading comprehension and analysis.

2.2 Presentation of Questions

GMAT Reading Comprehension questions are presented in a sequential manner, with one question at a time appearing on the right side of the screen. The corresponding reading passage is displayed on the left. When the passage first appears on the screen, only the first question is visible.

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2.3 Number of Questions

The number of questions per GMAT Reading Comprehension passage is not explicitly specified. Generally, short passages are associated with three related questions, while longer passages have approximately four questions. Understanding the distribution of questions enables test-takers to manage their time effectively and navigate through the passage strategically.

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3. GMAT Reading Comprehension: Common Challenges

3.1 Challenge 1: Specialized Topics

Designed to assess a candidate’s ability to understand written passages, GMAT Reading Comprehension passages cover specific and sometimes unfamiliar subjects in physical and biological sciences, social sciences, history, and business. Adapted from field journals, they target smart readers who are not necessarily experts in the subject.

3.2 Challenge 2: On-Screen Reading

GMAT verbal section requires you to read on a computer screen and requires scrolling, making it more taxing on the eyes than reading on paper. The content is presented digitally, and navigating through lengthy passages can be challenging. To mitigate these challenges, it is wise to practice GMAT reading comprehension passages on screen.

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3.3 Challenge 3: Limited Navigation

In the GMAT Verbal section, once you’ve tackled the 23 questions, you’re granted the chance to revisit your bookmarked questions and modify answers to a maximum of 3 questions. Choosing wisely is essential, as each response is a strategic commitment.

3.4 Challenge 4: Time Constraints

GMAT Verbal section is known for its time constraints. Over-analysing passages doesn’t yield extra points, emphasizing the need for efficient reading strategies to succeed in this high-stakes test. Therefore, test-takers are advised to develop efficient reading strategies that can balance the GMAT Reading Comprehension with speed.

4. Key Strategy 1: Passage Analysis Techniques

Mastering effective reading is crucial for GMAT Verbal success, as it allows test-takers to extract key information swiftly. Developing a targeted approach to a GMAT reading comprehension passage will ultimately lead to higher scores.

4.1 Strategic Reading Techniques

While some students skip reading the passage initially or read the passage too quickly to go straight to the questions, this can be risky as they can easily fall for trap answers. On the other hand, reading too slowly can make you miss the main idea and get caught up in minor details. A smart strategy is to focus on the main point, like ‘solving a problem’ or ‘explaining a new idea’, and avoid getting caught up in unnecessary details.

4.2 Skimming and Scanning for Keywords

It’s beneficial to concentrate on keywords, especially conjunctions that signal various relationships within the text. Recognizing terms like “compared to,” “however,” “advantageous,” “drawback,” “surprisingly,” and “resulting in” helps pinpoint comparisons, contrasts, advantages, disadvantages, surprises, and results.

Consider the two sentences below,

  1. Similar to the previous method, this fresh approach omitted individuals from diverse backgrounds.

In the sentence, “similar to” serves to establish a comparison between the old approach and the new approach. It indicates that there is a likeness between the two approaches, particularly in terms of their exclusionary nature.

  1. Yet, technological advancements persist, and innovators consistently assert that their motives are driven by scientific progress.

In the sentence, the term “yet” functions as a contrasting conjunction. It introduces a contrast to the preceding context. In this case, it suggests that despite some potential expectation that technological advancements might cease or face challenges, they are indeed ongoing.
GMAT - RC Passage

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4.3 Assessing Tone and Purpose of the Passage

When navigating a passage on the GMAT, it’s essential to follow the author’s logical progression of ideas. Keep a keen eye out for the presentation of theories, hypotheses, evaluations, and opinions as they form the backbone of the author’s argument.

Consider the sentence given below.

If the emphasis on renewable energy, advocating for sustainability, could be reconciled with the economic considerations of traditional industries, a more effective model for contemporary environmental policies could emerge.

The author’s tone in the sentence above appears to be analytical and objective. The sentence is presented in a neutral manner, focusing on blending different viewpoints. The use of terms like “if” and “could be” suggests a tone of speculation (possibility), allowing room for different possibilities.

4.4 Sentence Simplification

Make hard sentences easier by splitting them into simpler ones. This helps understand complex passages better.

Look at one such instance of breaking down complex sentences below:-


“Considering that traditional education models are frequently linked with standardized testing and rigid curricula—a model that emphasizes uniformity and conformity—educational researchers have been understandably perplexed by the emergence of alternative educational approaches advocating for personalized learning and individualized student experiences.”


  • Traditional education models are frequently linked with standardized testing and rigid curricula.
  • Traditional model emphasizes uniformity and conformity.
  • Educational researchers have been understandably perplexed by the traditional model.
  • They are puzzled by the emergence of alternative educational approaches.
  • The new approaches advocate for personalized learning and individualized student experiences

4.5 Passage Mapping Techniques – Note-Taking

Utilize the provided scratch paper and pen in the GMAT Verbal section to capture essential information. Identify the main idea within the first one or two sentences of each paragraph, and take notes on key points, author’s observations, and any twists.

4.6 Honing your Reading Skills

Apply the above reading principles to reading in daily life. Engaging with major journals and newspapers like The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times refines these skills and boosts overall reading proficiency.

5. Key Strategy 2: Tackling Different Question Types

Understanding different question types in GMAT reading comprehension is crucial for effective performance, as it enables test-takers to address specific demands and ensure greater accuracy.

5.1 General Questions

When facing general questions in GMAT Reading Comprehension, your notes are like your superhero sidekick here. Notes should empower you to tackle general questions without the need to revisit the entire passage. However, be careful, as an incorrect answer might be tied to a specific detail within a paragraph and not the passage as a whole.

Examples of general questions:-

  • The primary purpose of the passage is to
  • Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

5.2 Specific Questions

Specific questions demand a more focused approach since they have keyword/s. It’s like a treasure hunt. Before diving into answer choices, pinpoint the keyword and the magic sentences in the passage that hold the answer in the passage. Look for one or two proof sentences that solidify the correct answer, ensuring a well-defended response.

Examples of specific questions:-

  1. According to the passage, the surge in air pollution during the 1970s resulted from which of the following factors?
  2. It can be inferred from the passage that the rise in water scarcity in certain regions can be attributed to which of the following factors?
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6. Key Strategy 3: Eliminating Trap Answers

6.1 Justification Rule

Always justify every word in an answer choice using information from the passage. Look for one or two proof sentences that solidify the correct answer, ensuring a well-defended response. Eliminate choices that lack full justification.

6.2 Avoid Extremes

Steer clear of extreme words like “all” and “never” unless solidly supported by the passage. GMAT Reading Comprehension questions favour moderate language as extreme choices often oversimplify or exaggerate information, leading to appealing but incorrect responses.

6.3 Limit Inferences

Try to limit making guesses in the GMAT Verbal section. Stick to the information directly mentioned in the passage, and if you do make inferences, make sure they are clear and easily supported by the provided information.

6.4 Decode the Question

Not simplifying questions in the GMAT verbal section can lead to confusion. It’s crucial to grasp the question’s requirements to address the specific requirement of the question. For instance, find out if the question is asking for the main idea, details, tone, and so on.
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4 Elimination tips

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7. Master GMAT Reading Comprehension: Conclusion

In summary, mastering GMAT Reading Comprehension requires you to go beyond everyday reading and apply smart strategies to swiftly understand the gist of the passage as well as use effective elimination tools to avoid falling for trap answers. To gain a familiarity with GMAT Verbal, you can use official GMAT material such as the Official Guide for GMAT Review®.
At Jamboree, our expert faculty is committed to train you with the most up-to-date strategies to crack the test. You can explore our flexible study options (tailored to various budgets and lifestyles), our expansive question bank containing 3000+ practice questions and tests. What’s more! Our Smart Analytics tool can help you in identifying patterns within mistakes, allowing you to refine your approach strategically. You can join our live webinars led by expert faculty to absorb fundamental and advanced strategies, and gain exclusive access to information sessions and webinars with esteemed universities. With Jamboree, your GMAT journey is not just a preparation, but a transformation towards excellence.

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