Complete Reading Comprehension Guide

Reading Comprehension or RC is certainly one of the most challenging yet exciting sections of the GRE. The challenging part stems from the fact that the passages are usually short to medium extracts from technical and complex pieces of writing. On the other hand, the exciting part is when you get to understand the tips and tricks to manoeuvre around those complicated passages. So, if you have just started preparing for the GRE or have been at it for a while, this article is sure to help you crack the RC section. 

First, let’s start off by understanding the various types of questions that are presented – 

  1. Multiple Choice (Choose one answer) – This is a fairly straight forward question type that everyone will be familiar with. You will be given five choices and will have to choose the correct answer. Easier said than done though. 

  2. Multiple Choice (Choose multiple answers) – This is an altered version of the previous kind of question where you will get three choices, however instead of one, there may be several answers. The thing to remember here is that there are no partial credits so you must get all the choices correct. 

  3. Select in passage – Now, this third type of question is unique to the GRE Exam. These questions are structured by referring to a particular sentence within the passage. You must then select the correct response in the passage by highlighting it. 

Now that you’ve understood the types of questions that will be presented, you must also understand the overall structuring of the RC section itself. You can expect a total of around 15-20 RC question on the day of the exam of various lengths (1-5 paragraphs) and subjects. The sources of the passages are for obvious reasons not revealed but they are selected from a variety of magazines, newspapers, books, biographies, journals and other works of literature. The topics of these essays are varied yet intriguing and can be chosen from fields such as commerce, science, social science, humanities, politics, arts etc.

Hopefully by now you have a brief overview of what to expect from the RC section but don’t know how to tackle it. So, following are the top five tips and tricks you need to master in order to really become an RC Ninja – 

  • Critical Reading – Though you might be reading every day, the kind of critical reading material needed for GRE practice is sometimes hard to get a hold of. That is why we have carefully selected a list of articles you must start reading today. You can find them here

  • Focus on the first and last paragraphs – If a passage is significantly longer, it will take up more of your time and effort. In such cases, you must ensure that you are focusing on the first and last paragraphs. 

  • Practice with time – A lot of us do tend to create an exam like environment while practicing but tend to ignore a very important aspect of the actual exam – time! You will certainly feel that the clock speeds up with taking the GRE Exam hence you must practice considering time a very important factor.  

  • Recognise important words – Though you must skim through passages to conserve time, you must also ensure not miss out on the most important parts of the passage. There are several ‘signalling words’ that you must watch out for such as firstly, therefore, on the other hand, thankfully etc. The list goes on and recognising these words can have a really impactful difference in your RC ability. 

  • Vocabulary – There are a lot of complicated words and jargons used deliberately in the RC section and in order to fully comprehend the passage you must understand these words at least vaguely. You can refer to our list of vocabulary practice section, here for a repository of various composite yet important words. 

This blog was written by PrepForGRE.