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Posted on May 20 2020

Ways to tackle the reading comprehension section of the GRE

By  Editor
Updated April 03 2023
GRE reading

For an average test taker, the reading comprehension (RC) section in the GRE test is a nightmare due to poor reading habits and a lack of vocabulary. Therefore, this section, typically included in both language ability tests and standard reasoning tests, is a stressful one.

Factors that contribute to poor scores

Poor knowledge of vocabulary: In order to understand the text, the reader must know the meanings of words and connect them with the context of the passage. Poor vocabulary makes it difficult to understand the context of the sentences.

Working memory: Reading includes recalling information about what has already been read while trying to decipher future ideas and combining this new information with what has already happened. Reading comprehension can be difficult if there is a working memory problem.

Working with text: The ability to draw a conclusion and thus connect knowledge pieces together in a text is crucial to the good interpretation of the reading. Not only does one have to integrate the information in a piece of text but also must use one’s knowledge for comprehension.

Adopt active reading

Read the GRE passages: Read some passages of the reading comprehension section in the GRE, you will notice that they all follow a similar pattern.

A field of study is often mentioned early in the text. Then there will be the talk of theory from this area. Evidence that would typically support this theory will follow. The author might criticize the theory in longer passages or contrast it with some other theory.

If these structures are familiar and planned, you can find it easier to categorize the details in the passage.

Observe the structure words: You will notice that the passage has certain words that hold it together. They will also help you realize how the sentences are logically connected.

Look away from the screen: When reading the passage slows down for a second and look away from the screen. Ponder on what the paragraph is saying and try to make connections in the paragraph while summing up the key points in your mind.

This will help you get a good understanding of the paragraph once you reach the end. This understanding will make it easy to answer especially if the choice of answers sounds similar or are confusing.

Pay attention to the end of the paragraphs: You don't have to understand every detail.  The end of paragraphs seems to be especially dense with data. When this information is relevant to a question it is better to read only that part. Reading the text, a second time, will make it easier to comprehend the context of a question and find the answer.

Reading speed: Do not concentrate on improving your reading speed, instead, it is better if you rework on the ways you approach a passage. If you try to recall the ideas of the passage in your first round of reading, then it will be easier to go through it for a second time when you are answering the questions.

Take notes: Taking brief notes as you read will help you greatly when answering the questions. If you can observe the relationship between sentences and their meaning when reading the passage, it will be easier to answer the questions at the end.

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