Improve your speed in reading comprehension questions

  • Major problem faced by people while doing GMAT is that they are mentally frustrated.
  • Exam is a race that judges not only your capabilities, skills and strength, but also your time management skills.
  • In math section you have about two minute per question, and slightly less than that on the verbal part.
  • Since timing is a very important part of the exam, it's essential not to lose too much time on any specific question type on the exam.
  • It's completely normal to be more at ease with certain question types and thus process them faster than others, but you don't want to have entire categories of questions you're trying to avoid or at least, not too many of them.
  • Maintaining a balanced speed and avoiding unnecessary time on inapt questions are fundamental elements of a good GMAT score.
  • Specially, when tired near the end of the test, students often fear while coming across lengthy RC passages.
  • Reading Comprehension or RC for friends and family poses a unique challenge on the GMAT.
  • Every measurable question and every other type of verbal question is entirely self-reliant.
  • A question will ask you about something, and then the following problem will be a completely different question about a completely different topic.
  • Reading Comprehension questions ask you three, four or five questions regarding the same prompt and the prompts can be dozens of lines.
  • The first question on RC question expects you to read through the entire passage, creating a natural timing concern.
  • Surely, you can't be expected to read through the entire passage in just 2 minutes (You are expected to do so)?
  • Certainly, you can read through the passage in about two minutes, but you are doubtful to be able to both read the passage and answer the (first) question posed during that span.
  • For RC related questions, the outstanding tactic is to separate the passage from the questions.
  • If you read the question first, you risk twisting the analysis of the passage towards the question you have in your mind, so it's best to read the passage first without reading the question on the opposite side of the screen.
  • The final objective of this initial reading is to be able to find out the core idea of each paragraph and the major purpose of the passage as a whole.
  • You can read the passage in about 2 minutes and then spend about 1.5 minutes on each question, Hence a total of 8 minutes for 4 questions, roughly what you'd expect to spend reasonably.
  • Let's try this tactic on a GMAT RC related passage.
  • At the end of each paragraph, try to conclude the basic idea in just 3 − 5 words.
  • You can even write these words down if you want, but it should be appropriate to think about the ideas.
  • Biologists have explained two theories why schooling of fish occurs in so many fish species.
  • Schooling is widespread mostly among species of small fish.
  • Both the theories work on the hypothesis that schooling gives the advantage of some protection from hunters.
  • Followers of theory A clash the hypothesis that a school of thousands of fishes is highly visible.
  • Through experiments we got to know that any fish can be seen with a sphere of 200 m in diameter even in very clean water.
  • Spheres of visibility overlap when fishes are in close groups.
  • Thus the chances of hunter finding the school are slightly greater than the chances of hunter finding the single fish.
  • Schooling is beneficial to the specific fish because a hunter's chance of finding any specific fish swimming in the school is much lesser than its chance of finding at least one of the same groups of fish if the fish were detached throughout a wide area.
  • Critics of theory A tell us that there are some fish which form schools in the areas where the hunters are rich and there is only little possibility of escaping detected.
  • They argue saying school continues to be of value to its members even after the detection by hunters.
  • The theory B the “confusion effect” is being supported and being explained in two ways.
  • Sometimes the followers argue saying hunter cannot decide which fish to attack.
  • This uncertainty comes from a hunter's preference for striking a prey that is different from the rest of the school in appearance.
  • Most of the fishes are alike in appearance in many schools making it difficult for the hunter to predate one.
  • The second explanation for the “confusion affect” there is a sensory confusion caused by the movement of large group of fishes around the hunter.
  • While moving even if the hunter attacks a specific fish the movement of the other in the school will distract the hunter.
  • This case can be compared with a tennis player trying to hit the ball when two are approaching at the same time.

Understanding by an Example

As per explanation of the “confusion effect,” a fish that swims in a school will have great chances of survival if it

  1. Tends to be visible for not more than 500 meters.

  2. Stays close by, either the front or the rear of a school.

  3. Is part of a tiny school rather than a huge school?

  4. is very similar in appearance to the other fish in the campus.

  5. is medium-sized. This passage contains only two main paragraphs, one is mostly about theory why fish form schools.

    • We can say first paragraph was about the evasion theory.
    • The second paragraph was about the confusion theory.
    • On whole the passage is primarily relating to the various theories as to why fish tend to regroup in many contrasting situations.
    • Seeing the question, it is mostly related with the “confusion effect” which was theory B in the second paragraph.
    • Focusing our attention on the second paragraph to answer the question about survival.
    • Revising the passage, nothing was mentioned about the front or back of a school, as well as the size of the school, which removes answer choices B and C.
    • Answer choice E equally makes decisions based on the size of the fish, which is said only in terms of small fish.
    • We can quickly remove this choice as being a medium sized fish was never even mentioned.
    • Only answer choices A and D remain.
    • Answer choice A is mentioned in the general sense for all fish in schools and so would be a unsure choice as a great benefit since it relates to all fish in a given school.
    • This is alike to the saying that we should promote Bob because he breathes oxygen.
    • Answer choice D offers a practical choice, which is almost exact in the middle of the second paragraph “Most of the fishes are alike in appearance in many schools making it difficult for the hunter to predate one.”
    • This answer outlines the text and removes other 4 choices, making D the answer.

    Reading Comprehension based questions are somewhat less complicated than the other verbal sections (Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning).

    • This difference is because reading through passages takes time and naturally adds to the difficulty of the question.
    • The problem is not finding the right answer; it's about reading through 300 words without falling asleep then separating the important part to the answers given.
    • It's important to keep in mind while verbal section is not to waste too much time and get mentally drained in the former sections.
    • Time management strategy is a key for attaining the best result in your GMAT.