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GMAT Reading vs. Everyday Reading: What Makes GMAT Passages Tricky?

Posted in Test Prep on March 17, 2011 by

If you’ve started studying for the GMAT, you know that reading passages on the GMAT is very different from reading “normal” things–novels, newspaper articles, magazines, blogs. Check out our first GMAT Reading vs. Everyday Reading blog post for more.

If you’re looking to enhance your GMAT Reading Comprehension skills, the best things you can do for yourself are:

  • Understand what exactly makes GMAT passages tricky
  • Develop strategies for processing complex information, so that you can attack the questions efficiently

So, what can you expect on the GMAT? How are GMAT passages structured differently from normal prose?

On the GMAT, you shouldn’t necessarily expect arguments to be concise or neatly summarized. In fact, the test-makers will often intentionally try to confuse you by providing passages that ramble or contain insignificant details.

Let’s take a look at how this works in a GMAT passage. Here’s an example (pay close attention to how each bit of information is related to the passage as a whole):

The passage above begins with a main point and some supporting information. Then, there’s a digression — the  “support of the support” — before the passage returns to the main idea.

Keeping this structure in mind, how can we adjust our reading on the GMAT?

Being able to distinguish between the main idea of the passage and the supporting details will help you increase accuracy and save time on Reading Comprehension.

Practice finding the main idea in different types of GMAT passages. That way, on test day, you won’t waste time with superfluous details!

To review:

In short, it’s natural to feel like you’re “fighting an uphill battle” with GMAT reading comprehension passages. The key is to keep your calm and employ the reading strategies described above.

Good luck on the test!