By Wanda Owens,2014-06-29 14:53
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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 businessrelated 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.

Main idea

    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

    ? 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?

Supporting ideas

    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

    ? 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 authors 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?


Logical structure

    These questions require you to analyze and evaluate the organization and logic of a passage?They

    may ask you

    ? 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)

    ? the reason behind the author's use of any particular supporting detail)

    ? to identify assumptions that the author is making)

    ? to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the author's arguments)or

    ? to recognize appropriate counterarguments?

    These questions measure your ability not only to comprehend a passage but also to evaluate it critically?However, it is important for you to realize that logical structure questions do not rely on any kind of formal 10gic?nor do they require you to be familiar with specific terms of logic or argumentation?You can answer these questions using only the information in the passage and careful reasoning?

About the style and tone

    Style and tone questions ask about the expression of a passage and about the ideas in a passage that may be expressed through its diction--the author's choice of words?You may be asked to

    deduce the authors attitude to an idea?a fact?or a situation from the words that he or she uses to described it. You may also be asked to select a word that accurately describe the tone of a passagefor instance, critical,"questioning::objective?: or enthusiastic.

To answer this type of question?you will have to consider the language of the passage as a whole(

    It takes more than one pointed?critical word to make the tone of an entire passagecritical?

    Sometimes?style and tone questions ask what audience the passage was probably Intended for or what Woe of publication it probably appeared in?Style and tone questions may apply to one small

    part of the passage or to the passage as a whole?To answer them?you must ask yourself what

    meanings are contained in the words of a passage beyond the literal meanings?Did the author use

    certain words because of their emotional content?or because a particular audience would expect to

    hear them? Remember, these questions measure author through his or her choice of words?

3.2 Test-Taking Strategies for Reading Comprehension Questions

    1?Do not expect to be completely familiar with any of the material presented in reading comprehension passages?

    You may find some passages easier to understand than others, but all passages are designed to present a challenge?If you have some familiarity with the material presented in a passage?do not

    let this knowledge influence your choice of answers to the questions?Answer a11 questions on the

    basis of what is stated or implied in the passage itself.

    2?Analyze each passage carefully, because the questions require you to have a specific and


detailed understanding of the material?

    You may find it easier to do the analysis first?before moving to the questions?Or?you may find

    that you prefer to skim the passage the first time and read more carefully once you understand what a question asks?You may even want to read the question before reading the passageYou

    should choose the method most suitable for you

3?Focus on key words and phrases?and make every effort to avoid losing the sense of what

    is discussed in the passage?

    Keep the following in mind(

    ? Note how each fact relates to an idea or an argument?

    ? Note where the passage moves from one idea to the next?

    ? Separate main ideas from supporting ideas?

    ? Determine what conclusions are reached and why?

4?Read the questions carefully, making sure that you understand what is asked?

    An answer choice that accurately restates information in the passage may be incorrect if it does not answer the question?If you need to?refer back to the passage for clarification?

5?Read all the choices carefully?

    Never assume that you have selected the best answer without first reading all the choices?

    6?Select the choice that answers the question best in terms of the information given in the passage?

    Do not rely on outside knowledge of the material to help you answer the questions?

    7? Remember that comprehension--not speed--is the critical success factor when it comes to reading comprehension questions?

3?3 The Directions

    These are the directions that you will see for reading comprehension questions when you take the GMAT test?If you read them carefully and understand them clearly before going to sit for the exam?you will not need to spend too much time reviewing them once you are at the test center and the exam is under way?

    The questions in tiffs group are based on the content of a passage?After reading the passage?

    choose the best answer to each question?Answer all questions following the passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage?

3. 4 Reading Comprehension sample Questions

    The questions in this group are based on the content of a passage. After reading the passage, choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions following the passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.

    ?Coral reefs are one of the most fragile?biologically complex?and diverse marine


ecosystems on Earth. This ecosystem is one of the fascinating paradoxes of the biosphere(how do

    clear, and thus nutrient-poor, waters support such prolific and productive communities? Part of the answer lies within the tissues of the corals themselves?Symbiotic cells of algae known as

    zooxanthellae carry out photosynthesis using the metabolic wastes of the corals?thereby

    producing food for themselves?for their coral hosts?and even for other members of the reef

    community?This symbiotic process allows organisms in the reef community to use sparse nutrient resources efficiently?

     Unfortunately for coral reefs?however, a variety of human activities are causing worldwide degradation of shallow marine habitats by adding nutrients to the water?Agriculture?

    slash-and-burn land clearing?sewage disposal?and manufacturing that creates waste by-prod all

    increase nutrient loads in these waters?Typical symptoms of reef decline are destabilized

    herbivore populations and an increasing abundance of algae and filter-feeding animals?Declines in

    reef communities are consistent with observations that nutrient input is increasing in direct proportion to growing human populations?thereby threatening reef communities sensitive to

    subtle changes in nutrient input to their waters

Questions 1-5 refer to the passage above

    1.The passage is primarily concerned with

    (A) describing the effects of human activities on algae in coral reefs (B) explaining how human activities are posing a threat to coral reef communities (C) discussing the process by which coral reefs deteriorate in nutrient-poor waters (D) explaining how coral reefs produce food for themselves

    (E) describing the abundance of algae and filter-feeding animals in coral reef areas

    2.The passage suggests which of the following about coral reef communities? (A) Coral reef communities may actually be more likely to thrive in waters that are relatively low in nutrients?

    (B) The nutrients on which coral reef communities thrive are only found in shallow waters?

    (C) Human population growth has led to changing ocean temperatures?which threatens coral

    reef communities?

    (D) The growth of coral reef communities tends to destabilize underwater herbivore populations.

    (E) Coral reef communities are more complex an diverse than most ecosystems located on dry land.

3.The author refers tofilter-feeding animals(1ines24-25)in order to

    (A) provide an example of a characteristic sign of reef deterioration (B) explain how reef communities acquire sustenance for survival

    (C) identify a factor that helps herbivore populations thrive

    (D) indicate a cause of decreasing nutrient input in waters that reefs inhabit (E) identify members of coral reef communities that rely on coral reefs for nutrients

    4. According to the passage l which of the following is a factor that is threatening the survival of coral reef communities?


(A) The waters they inhabit contain few nutrient resources?

    (B) A decline in nutrient input is disrupting their symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae?

    (C) The degraded waters of their marine habitats have reduced their ability to carry out photosynthesis?

    (D) They are too biologically complex to survive in habitats with minimal nutrient input?

    (E) Waste by-products result in an increase in nutrient input to reef communities?

    5. It can be inferred from the passage that the author describes coral reef communities as paradoxical most likely for which of the following reasons?

    (A) They are thriving even though human activities have depleted the nutrients in their environment?

    (B) They are able to survive in spite of an overabundance of algae inhabiting their waters?

    (C) They are able to survive in an environment with limited food resources?

    (D) Their metabolic wastes contribute to the degradation of the waters that they inhabit?

    (E) They are declining even when the water surrounding them remains clear?

    Although genetic mutations in bacteria and viruses ca n lead to epidemics?some epidemics

    are caused by bacteria and viruses that have undergone no significant genetic change?In analyzing

    the latter, scientists have discovered the importance of social and ecological factors to epidemics?Poliomyelitis?for example?emerged as an epidemic in the United States in the

    twentieth century by then?modern sanitation was able to delay exposure to polio Until

    adolescence or adulthood?at which time polio infection produced paralysis? Previously, infection

    had occurred during infancy, when it typically 9rovided lifelong immunity without paralysis?Thus?the hygiene that helped prevent typhoid epidemics indirectly fostered a paralytic polio epidemic. Another example is lyme disease? which is caused by bacteria that are

    transmitted by deer ticks?It occurred only sporadically during the late nineteenth century but has recently become prevalent in parts of the United States?largely due to an increase in the deer

    population that occurred simultaneously with the growth of the suburbs and increased outdoor recreational activities in the deer's habitat?Similarly, an outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever

    became an epidemic in Asia in the 1950's because of ecological changes that caused Aedes aegypti?the mosquito that transmits the dengue virus?to proliferateThe stage is now set in the

    United States for a dengue epidemic because of the inadvertent introduction and wide dissemination of another mosquito?Aedes albopictus?

Questions6-11 refer to the passage above.

    6. The passage suggests that a lack of modern sanitation would make which of the following most likely to occur?

    (A) An outbreak of Lyme disease

    (B) An outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever

    (C) An epidemic of typhoid

    (D) An epidemic of paralytic polio among infants

    (E) An epidemic of paralytic polio among adolescents and adults


7. According to the passage?the outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever in the 1950s occurred for

    which of the following reasons?

    (A) The mosquito Aedes aegypti was newly introduced into Asia?

    (B) The mosquito Aedes aegypti became more numerous?

    (C) The mosquito Aedes albopictus became infected with the dengue virus?

    (D) Individuals who would normally acquire immunity to the dengue virus as infants were not infected until later in life?

    (E) More people began to visit and inhabit areas in which mosquitoes live and breed?

    8. It can be inferred from the passage that Lyme disease has become prevalent in parts of the United States because of which of the following?

    (A) The inadvertent introduction of Lyme disease bacteria to the United States (B) The inability of modern sanitation methods to eradicate Lyme disease bacteria (C) A genetic mutation in Lyme disease bacteria that makes them more virulent (D) The spread of Lyme disease bacteria from infected humans to noninfected humans (E) An increase in the number of humans who encounter deer ticks

    9. Which of the following can most reasonably be concluded about the mosquito Aedes albopictus on the basis of information given in the passage?

    (A) It is native to the United States?

    (B) It can proliferate only in Asia?

    (C) It transmits the dengue Virus.

    (D) It caused an epidemic of dengue hemorrhagic fever in the 1950's?

    (E) It replaced Aedes aegypti in Asia when ecological changes altered Aedes aegypti's habitat?

    10? Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage? (A) A paradox is stated?discussed?and left unresolved?

    (B) Two opposing explanations a re presented?argued?and reconciled.

    (C) A theory is proposed and is then followed by descriptions of three experiments that support the theory?

    (D) A generalization is stated and is then followed by three instances that support the generalization?

    (E) An argument is described and is then followed by three counterexamples that refute the argument?

    11? Which of the following l if true?would most strengthen the author's assertion about the cause of the Lyme disease outbreak in the United States?

    (A) The deer population was smaller in the late nineteenth century than in the mid twentieth century?

    (B) Interest in outdoor recreation began to grow in the late nineteenth century?

    (C) In recent years the suburbs have stopped growing

    (D) Outdoor recreation enthusiasts routinely take measures to protect themselves against Lyme disease?

    (E) Scientists have not yet developed a vaccine that can Prevent Lyme disease


     Homeostasis?an animal's maintenance of certain internal variables within an acceptable range?

    particularly in extreme physical environments?has long interested biologists?The desert rat and

    the camel in the most water-deprived environments?and marine vertebrates in an all-water

    environment?encounter the same regulatory problem(maintaining adequate Internal fluid


     For desert rats and camels?the problem is conservation of water in an environment where standing water is nonexistent?temperature is high, and humidity is low?Despite these handicaps,

    desert rats are able to maintain the osmotic pressure of their blood?as well as their total body

    water content?at approximately the same levels as other rats?one countermeasure is behavioral(

    these rats stay in burrows during „the hot part of the day, thus avoiding loss of fluid through

    panting or sweating?which are regulatory mechanisms for maintaining internal body temperature by evaporative cooling. Also?desert rats kidneys can excrete a urine having twice as high a salt content as sea water?

     Camels?on the other hand?rely more on simple endurance?They cannot store water, and their

    reliance on an entirely unexceptional kidney results in a rate of water loss through renal function significantly higher than that of desert rats?As a result?camels must tolerate losses In Body water

    of up to thirty percent of their body weight?Nevertheless?camels do rely on a special mechanism

    to keep water loss within a tolerable range(by sweating and panting only when their body

    temperature exceeds that which would kill a human?they conserve internal water?

     Marine vertebrates experience difficulty with their water balance because though there is no shortage of seawater to drink, they must drink a lot of it to maintain their internal fluid balance?But the excess salts from the seawater must be discharged somehow?and the kidneys of

    most marine vertebrates are unable to excrete a urine in which the salts are more concentrated than in seawater?Most of these animals have special salt-secreting organs outside the kidney that enable them to eliminate excess salt.

Questions 12-15 refer to the passage above.

    12? Which of the following most accurately states the purpose of the passage? (A) To compare two different approaches to the study of homeostasis (B) To summarize the findings of several studies regarding organisms maintenance of internal variables in extreme environments

    (C) To argue for a particular hypothesis regarding various organisms conservation of water in desert environments

    (D) To cite examples of how homeostasis is achieved by various organisms (E) To defend a new theory regarding the maintenance of adequate fluid balance

    13? According to the passage?the camel maintains internal fluid balance in which of the following ways?

    I? By behavioral avoidance of exposure to conditions that lead to fluid loss II? By an ability to tolerate high body temperatures

    III? By reliance on stored internal fluid supplies

    (A) I only


(B) II only

    (C) I and II only

    (D) II and III only

    (E) I,II , and Ill

    14?It can be inferred from the passage that some mechanisms that regulate internal body temperature t like sweating and panting, can lead to which of the following? (A) A rise in the external body temperature

    (B) A drop in the body's internal fluid level

    (C) A decrease i n the osmotic pressure of the blood

    (D) A decrease in the amount of renal water loss

    (E) A decrease in the urine's salt content

15?It can be inferred from the passage that the author characterizes the camel's kidney as

    entirely unexceptional(1ine 27)primarily to emphasize that it

    (A) functions much as the kidney of a rat functions

    (B) does not aid the camel in coping with the exceptional water loss resulting from the extreme conditions of its environment

    (C) does not enable the camel to excrete as much salt as do the kidneys of marine vertebrates (D) is similar in structure to the kidneys of most mammals living in water-deprived environments

    (E) requires the help of other organs in eliminating excess salt

     The new school of political history that emerged in the 1960's and 1970s sought to go

    beyond the traditional focus of political historians on leaders and government institutions by examining directly the political practices of ordinary citizens?Like the old approach?however, this

    new approach excluded women. The very techniques these historians used to uncover mass political behavior in the nineteenth century United Statesquantitative analyses of election

    returns?for example--were useless in analyzing the political activities of women?who were denied

    the vote until 1920?

     By redefining political activity,historian Paula Baker has developed a political history that includes women?She concludes that among ordinary citizens?political activism by women in

    the nineteenth century prefigured trends in twentieth century politics. Definingpoliticsas

    any action taken to affect the course of behavior government or of the community, Baker

    concludes that?while voting and holding office were restricted to men?women in the nineteenth

    century organized themselves into societies committed to social issues such as temperance and poverty. In other words?Baker contends?women activists were early practitioners of nonpartisan?

    issue oriented politics and thus were more interested in enlisting lawmakers?regardless of their

    party affiliation?on behalf of certain issues than in ensuring that one party another won an election?In the twentieth century, more men drew closer to women's ideas about politics and took up modes of issue oriented politics that Baker sees women as having pioneered?

Questions 16-2l refer to the passage above


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