Lesson: Reading Comprehension General Strategy

Comment on Reading Comprehension General Strategy

I need help with RC
greenlight-admin's picture

Can you explain the kinds of difficulties you're facing when answering RC questions?

I am unable to understand the sample RCs that I try from Barrons.
greenlight-admin's picture

I recommend that, for Verbal questions, be sure to stick with official questions.


I think it's really important to NOT read the answer choices of a question before reading the passage because it DEFINITELY will bias the way you read the passage. When I was initially doing the RC questions from the official guide I was doing this and ended up getting a lot of questions wrong. I modified my strategy and started only reading the question and then reading the passage and then finally reading the answer choices and it greatly helped to answer the question correctly.
greenlight-admin's picture

Good idea

Hi Brent,

How to deal with lengthier passages? Do you have some suggestions? I struggle a lot with longer ones.

greenlight-admin's picture

Yes, the lengthier passages can be quite difficult.

What is the main issue you face?

Many students start to lose focus when reading long passages. For this reason, I suggest trying to engage 100% in the passage. So, rather than approach a new passage with dread ("yeesh, this is going to be a killer!"), try feigning interest ("Excellent! This passage is about protozoa!!"). The greater your engagement, the better your results.

You'll find additional tips here: https://www.greenlighttestprep.com/module/gre-reading-comprehension/vide...

Hi Brent,

I face two issues. First, I end up spending too much time while engaging a long passage and answering the associated questions. Second, I just lose focus when I see a long passage after doing 3-4 shorter ones.

Hope you have some advice or suggestions regarding these issues.

greenlight-admin's picture

As you're reading a long passage, you should be summarizing paragraphs, identifying the main idea, etc.
If you find you're spending too much time taking these notes, you might want to aim for summaries with fewer than 10 words. Some students create "summaries" that are almost as long as the passage, which is somewhat futile. So, limiting your summaries to a small number of words might speed things up.

If long passages take you a long time to read, don't make the mistake of trying to read faster than you normally read. This will result in poor comprehension. Instead, when you take your next practice test, you might consider guessing on 1 or 2 RC passages that have just one question each. This will free up enough time to tackle long RC passages.

As for losing focus, please check out https://www.greenlighttestprep.com/module/gre-reading-comprehension/vide...

I hope that helps.

I agree that there are multiple strategies one can use on RC. Some people say that you should read the passage first, and THEN the question(s), while others say (like in this video) to read the question first. I prefer reading the question first. Why? Because it gives you a road sign for where to look in the passage for the answer to that particular question. After reading the first question, then read the passage to look for that answer. Along the way, (hopefully) you can glean more info about the passage than what just pertains to the first question.

For me, ideally, I like to read a passage once per question. So if there are 3 questions, I want to read the passage 3 times. The only problem with this could be the clock and running out of time, unfortunately. Still, I think this is the ideal method.

When I take the GRE on May 22 (at-home), my RC strategy will always be to read the question first, then read the passage while taking brief notes as I go along seeking to answer the first question. That way, my notes might help answer the other questions, or at the very least, give me a map from which to look for the answers.

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