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Tips for Answering GRE Reading Comprehension Questions

Following is a list of GRE test-taking tips that apply specifically to the Reading Comprehension format — one of three basic question formats you'll encounter during each of the exam's Verbal Reasoning sections.

NOTE: Reading Comprehension questions account for nearly half of all questions on a typical Verbal Reasoning section, and they're generally presented in groups — each group based on a different reading passage.

  1. Read the first question before you begin reading the passage. By doing so, you can read more actively — with an eye out for the information you need.

  2. Read the entire passage straight through, with pencil in hand. As you read, jot down the passage's key points in the form of a bullet list or rough outline. Your notes can help you locate details as you tackle the questions. Your notes can also help you recall passage details without re-reading the passage.

  3. Think thesis. After reading the entire passage, take about 15 seconds to sum it up by formulating a thesis statement of sorts. With the passage's central idea firmly in mind you can confidently eliminate any answer choice that runs contrary to it, no matter the question type.

  4. Beware sucker-bait answer choices. Look out for answer choices that provide accurate passage information but don't answer the question at hand. Also look out for answer choices that introduce information or ideas beyond those stated or implied in the passage. Finally, if the passage's author expresses his or her own viewpoint on the topic but discusses other points of view as well, beware answer choices that attribute a viewpoint to the wrong source.

  5. Consider each and every answer choice. Never confirm your answer to a question until you've read all five choices. Keep in mind: the difference between the best response and the second-best response can be subtle, especially when it comes to challenging questions.

  6. Review all your answers before leaving a question set. GRE Reading Comprehension questions come in sets of 2-4 questions per passage. Once you attempt all of the questions in a set, you'll probably have a more complete understanding of the passage than when you started and may very well change your mind about one or two of your answers, especially for earlier questions.