3.0 Reading Comprehension
Reading comprehension questions appear in the Verbal section of the GMAT exam?The Verbal
section uses multiple-choice questions to measure your ability to read and comprehend written material?to reason and evaluate arguments?and to correct written material to conform to standard
written English?Because the Verbal section includes content from a variety of topics?you may be
generally familiar with some of the material)however, neither the passages nor the questions
assume knowledge of the topics discussed?Reading comprehension questions are intermingled
with critical reasoning and sentence correction questions throughout the Verbal section of the exam?
You will have 75 minutes to complete the Verbal section?or an average of about 1 3?4 minutes
to answer each question?Keep in mind?however, that you will need time to read the written
passages--and that time is not factored into the 1 3?4-minute average?You should therefore
plan to proceed more quickly through the reading comprehension questions to give yourself enough time to read the passages thoroughly?
Reading comprehension questions begin with written passages up to 350 words long?The
passages discuss topics from the social sciences?humanities?physical or biological sciences?and
such business—related fields as marketing?economics?and human resource management?The
passages are accompanied by questions that will ask you to interpret the passage?apply the
information you gather from the reading?and make inferences(or informed assumptions)based on
the reading?For these questions?you will see a split computer screen?The written passage will
remain visible on the left side as each question associated with that passage appears In turn on the right side?You will see only one question at a time?however?The number of questions associated
with each passage may vary?
As you move through the reading comprehension practice questions?try to determine a process
that works best for you?You might begin by reading a passage carefully and thoroughly, though some test takers prefer to skim the passages the first time through?or even to read the first
question before reading the passage?You may want to reread any sentences that present
complicated ideas or introduce terms that are new to you?Read each question and series of
answers carefully?Make sure you understand exactly what the question is asking and what the answer choices are?
If you need to, you may go back to the passage and read any parts that are relevant go answering the question. Specific portions of the passages may be highlighted in related questions. The following pages describe what reading comprehension questions are designed to measure , present the directions that will precede questions of this type, and describe the various question types This chapter also provides test-taking strategies, sample questions, and detailed explanations of all the questions. The explanations further illustrate how reading comprehension questions evaluate basic reading skills.
3.1 What is Measured
Reading comprehension questions measure your ability to understand?analyze?and apply
information and concepts presented in written form?All questions are to be answered on the basis of what is stated or implied in the reading material?and no specific prior knowledge of the
material is required?
The GMAT reading comprehension questions evaluate your ability to do the following(
? Understand words and statements?
Although the questions do not test your vocabulary(they will not ask you to define terms)?they do
test your ability?to interpret special meanings of terms as they are used in the passages?The
questions will also test your understanding of the English language. These questions may ask about the overall?meaning of a passage.
? Understand logical relationships between points and concepts
This type of question may ask you to determine the strong and weak points of an argument or evaluate the relative importance of arguments and ideas in a passage.
? Draw inferences from facts and statements?
The inference questions will ask you to consider factual statements or information. presented in a reading passage and?on the basis of that?information?reach conclusions.
? Understand and follow the development of quantitative concepts as they are presented in written material?
This may involve the interpretation of numerical data or the use of simple arithmetic to reach conclusions about material in a passage?
There are six kinds of reading comprehension questions?each of which tests a different skill. The
reading comprehension questions ask about the following areas.
Each passage is a unified who1e-that is?the individual sentences and paragraphs?support and
develop one main idea or central point?Sometimes you will be told the central point in the passage itself, and sometimes it will be necessary for you to determine the central point from the overall organization or development of the passage?You may be asked in this kind of question to一
? recognize a correct restatement?or paraphrasing?of the main idea of a passage)
? identify the author's primary purpose or objective in writing the passage)or
? assign a title that summarizes?briefly and pointedly, the main idea developed in the passage?
These questions measure your ability to comprehend the supporting ideas in a passage and differentiate them from the main idea?The questions also measure your ability to differentiate ideas that are explicitly stated in a passage from ideas that are implied by the author but that are
not explicitly stated?You may be asked about一
? facts cited in a passage)
? the specific content of arguments presented by the author in support of his or her views)or
? descriptive details used to support or elaborate on the main idea?
Whereas questions about the main idea ask you to determine the meaning of a passage as a whole?
questions about supporting ideas ask you to determine the meanings of individual sentences and paragraphs that contribute to the meaning of the passage as a whole?In other words?these
questions ask for the main point of one small part of the passage?
These questions ask about ideas that are not explicitly stated in a passage but are implied by the author?Unlike questions about supporting details?which ask about information that is directly
stated in a passage?inference questions ask about ideas or meanings that must be inferred from information that is directly stated?Authors can make their points in indirect ways?suggesting ideas
without actually stating them?Inference questions measure your ability to understand an author's intended meaning in Parts of a passage where the meaning is only?suggested. These questions do
not ask about meanings or implications that are remote from the passage)rather, they ask about
meanings that are developed indirectly to implications that are specifically suggested by the author?
To answer these questions?you may have to—
? logically take statements made by the author one step beyond their literal meanings)
? recognize an alternative interpretation of a statement made by the author)or
? identify the intended meaning of a word used figuratively in a passage?
If a passage explicitly states an effect?for example?you may be asked to infer its cause?If the
author compares two phenomena?you may be asked to infer the basis for the comparison?You
may be asked to infer the characteristics of an old policy from an explicit description of a new one?When you read a passage?therefore?you should concentrate not only on the explicit meaning of the author‟s words?but also on the more subtle meaning implied by those words?
Applying information to a context outside the passage itself
These questions measure your ability to discern the relationships between situations or ideas presented by the author and other situations or ideas that might parallel those in the passage?In
this kind of question?you may be asked to—
? identify a hypothetical situation that is comparable to a situation presented in the passage)
? select an example that is similar to an example provided in the passage)
? apply ideas given in the passage to a situation not mentioned by the author)or
? recognize ideas that the author would probably agree or disagree with on the basis of statements made in the passage?
Unlike inference questions?application questions use ideas or situations not taken from the passage?Ideas and situations given in a question are like those given in the passage?and they
parallel ideas and situations in the passage)therefore?to answer the question?you must do more
than recall what you read?You must recognize the essential attributes of ideas and situations presented in the passage when they appear in different words and in an entirely new context?
These questions require you to analyze and evaluate the organization and logic of a passage?They
may ask you一
? how a passage is constructed —for instance, does it define, compare or contrast, new idea, or refute an idea?
? how the author persuades readers to accept his or her assertions)