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Reading Comprehension GMAT- Examples and Tips

Updated on 23 May, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

reading comprehension for gmat

Fretting over the reading comprehension in the GMAT exam? Know that with the right strategy, you can ace any exam. there are several GMAT reading comprehension tips, tricks, and strategies that you can use to master the question types ace the question types. However, we will delve into that later. First, you should know more about the section. 

The GMAT reading comprehension questions are a part of the Verbal Reasoning section. This section assesses candidates’ abilities in reading and understanding written texts, analyzing and evaluating arguments, expressing ideas in written English, and so on. There are 36 questions in the multiple-choice format. The entire section has to be completed in 65 minutes.

The Verbal Section has three question types- 

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Critical Reasoning
  3. Sentence Correction

For Reading Comprehension, you need to keep these pointers in mind: 

  1. These questions analyze the abilities of candidates to understand sentences, words, statements, and logical connections between major points, along with adhering to the quantitative aspects. The application, supporting of the idea, style, logical structure, and inference are the main reading skills to be tested. 
  2. Each passage has questions that ask people to understand and interpret written material, applying the same to another context and drawing inferences. 
  3. These passages have topics related to humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, or physical sciences. They are sometimes related to business aspects as well. 

GMAT Reading Comprehension Question Types

You will find many options for the free GMAT reading comprehension practice test questions.  Here are some pointers regarding the GMAT reading comprehension practice questions: 

  • Most passages fall in either of these categories- History, Business, and Science. 
  • Passages on business topics cover aspects like company and consumer behavior and tougher questions emphasising economic strategies, theories, and global trade. These passages often usher in varied opinions, research insights, and views regarding particular issues. Some crucial concepts here include free trade, tariffs, demand and supply, unemployment, economies of scale, inflation, and more.
  • Science-related passages almost always necessitate more focus on the whatwhen, and how of things. There are references to studies, research, and other discoveries at times. Some of these passages are best shown with tables. Various characteristics and features of natural or scientific phenomena are often topics of discussion. There will be perspectives that come into play across these passages, especially while validating or agreeing with/rejecting theories. You should note whenever the author adopts any position/stance instead of summarizing others’ views in a neutral manner. Biology is the most common sub-topic in this case along with social science or behavioral studies, physics, astrophysics, subatomic particles, and more. You should also focus on things like testing, sampling, and hypothesis, as they are given in the passages. 
  • History-related passages are quite similar to their scientific counterparts. They often talk about events and evolutionary happenings over a period of time. Complex passages will have opinions given by several historians and analyses of the merits and demerits of these theories, and how history should be generally perceived. Historical passages in GMAT often cover aspects like groups which are marginalized or others struggling for their political or economic rights. Some useful things, in this case, include biases due to their researchers’ assumptions, data sources and their issues, and methods in which a historian’s account may not be in sync with reality completely. You should learn how to differentiate between varying perspectives.

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The best way to prepare is to read as much as you can. Here are the question types in another paradigm: 

  1. Main Idea- These questions will ask for a summary of the entire passage, or an identification of the purpose of the author. 
  2. Supporting Ideas & Information- There will be questions regarding the identification of details, facts, sub-topics, descriptions, etc. 
  3. Inferences- These questions require identification of what the author is trying to imply without stating explicitly. 
  4. Out of Context- These will be questions regarding using information in the passage to answer questions in a whole new context. 
  5. Local Organization and Structure- These questions are function-based. You may have to analyze a passage and its construction or identify any underlying weaknesses, strengths, assumptions, etc. 
  6. Tone & Style- These will enquire about the ideas of the author and how they are expressed through choosing the right words and diction. 
  7. Direction- These questions will focus on the passage content. You will have to select the best possible answer to every question. 

Top 5 Tips for GMAT Reading Comprehension 

Here are some reading comprehension GMAT tips that you should keep in mind: 

  1. Carefully read through the entire passage and keep making a mental summary of the crucial point made in every paragraph.
  2. Always identify the core idea, point of view, and inter-relationship between multiple points of view or concepts. 
  3. Pay more attention to transition words in the passage like because, thus, hence, as a result, similarly, however, furthermore, etc. These are crucial in maintaining text flow and showing relationship between phrases and paragraphs. They thus help you draw inferences and summaries.
  4. Use the ‘elimination’ process to answer questions. If you are confused over the right answer, focus on disproving each option, and then choose the response option that is most difficult to refute. In certain cases, finding the wrong answers is virtually easier than identifying the correct one.
  5. Read through the entire passage before attempting the questions.
  6. Always watch out for words and phrases like the following:
  • Because
  • Thus
  • Hence
  • As a result
  • Furthermore
  • Similarly
  • In addition 
  • In fact
  • For instance
  • Yet
  • However
  • Nevertheless 
  • On the other hand
  • In reality 
  • All in all 
  • In essence

These tips will help you crack the section without any difficulties. Remember that the more you practice, the better your chances of performing well on the day of the test.

Reading Comprehension GMAT Passage Example:

Archaeology as a profession faces two major problems. First, it is the poorest of the poor. Only paltry sums are available for excavating and even less is available for publishing the results and preserving the sites once excavated. Yet archaeologists deal with priceless objects every day. Second, there is the problem of illegal excavation, resulting in museum-quality pieces being sold to the highest bidder.

I would like to make an outrageous suggestion that would at one stroke provide funds for archaeology and reduce the amount of illegal digging. I would propose that scientific archeological expeditions and governmental authorities sell excavated artifacts on the open market. Such sales would provide substantial funds for the excavation and preservation of archaeological sites and the publication of results. At the same time, they would break the illegal excavator’s grip on the market, thereby decreasing the inducement to engage in illegal activities.

You might object that professionals excavate to acquire knowledge, not money. Moreover, ancient artifacts are part of our global cultural heritage, which should be available for all to appreciate, not sold to the highest bidder. I agree. Sell nothing that has unique artistic merit or scientific value. But, you might reply everything that comes out of the ground has scientific value. Here we part company. Theoretically, you may be correct in claiming that every artifact has potential scientific value. Practically, you are wrong.

I refer to the thousands of pottery vessels and ancient lamps that are essentially duplicates of one another. In one small excavation in Cyprus, archaeologists recently uncovered 2,000 virtually indistinguishable small jugs in a single courtyard. Even precious royal seal impressions known as l’melekh handles have been found in abundance—more than 4,000 examples so far.

The basements of museums are simply not large enough to store the artifacts that are likely to be discovered in the future. There is not enough money even to catalogue the finds; as a result, they cannot be found again and become as inaccessible as if they had never been discovered. Indeed, with the help of a computer, sold artifacts could be more accessible than are the pieces stored in bulging museum basements. Prior to sale, each could be photographed and the list of the purchasers could be maintained on the computer. A purchaser could even be required to agree to return the piece if it should become needed for scientific purposes.

It would be unrealistic to suggest that illegal digging would stop if artifacts were sold on the open market. But the demand for the clandestine product would be substantially reduced. Who would want an unmarked pot when another was available whose provenance was known, and that was dated stratigraphically by the professional archaeologist who excavated it?

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to propose

(A) an alternative to museum display of artifacts

(B) a way to curb illegal digging while benefiting the archaeological profession

(C) a way to distinguish artifacts with scientific value from those that have no such value

(D) the governmental regulation of archaeological sites

(E) a new system for cataloguing duplicate artifacts

2. The author implies that all of the following statements about duplicate artifacts are true EXCEPT:

(A) A market for such artifacts already exists.

(B) Such artifacts seldom have scientific value.

(C) There is likely to be a continuing supply of such artifacts.

(D) Museums are well supplied with examples of such artifacts.

(E) Such artifacts frequently exceed in quality those already catalogued in museum collections.

3. Which of the following is mentioned in the passage as a disadvantage of storing artifacts in museum basements?

(A) Museum officials rarely allow scholars access to such artifacts.

(B) Space that could be better used for display is taken up for storage.

(C) Artifacts discovered in one excavation often become separated from each other.

(D) Such artifacts are often damaged by variations in temperature and humidity.

(E) Such artifacts’ often remain uncatalogued and thus cannot be located once they are put in storage.

4. The author mentions the excavation in Cyprus (lines 31-34) to emphasize which of the following points?

(A) Ancient lamps and pottery vessels are less valuable, although more rare, than royal seal impressions.

(B) Artifacts that are very similar to each other present cataloguing difficulties to archaeologists.

(C) Artifacts that are not uniquely valuable, and therefore could be sold, are available in large quantities.

(D) Cyprus is the most important location for unearthing large quantities of salable artifacts.

(E) Illegal sales of duplicate artifacts are wide-spread, particularly on the island of Cyprus.

5. The author’s argument concerning the effect of the official sale of duplicate artifacts on illegal excavation is based on which of the following assumptions?

(A) Prospective purchasers would prefer to buy authenticated artifacts.

(B) The price of illegally excavated artifacts would rise.

(C) Computers could be used to trace sold artifacts.

(D) Illegal excavators would be forced to sell only duplicate artifacts.

(E) Money gained from selling authenticated artifacts could be used to investigate and prosecute illegal excavators.

6. The author anticipates which of the following initial objections to the adoption of his proposal?

(A) Museum officials will become unwilling to store artifacts.

(B) An oversupply of salable artifacts will result and the demand for them will fall.

(C) Artifacts that would have been displayed in public places will be sold to private collectors.

(D) Illegal excavators will have an even larger supply of artifacts for resale.

(E) Counterfeiting of artifacts will become more commonplace.

7. The author implies that which of the following would occur if duplicate artifacts were sold on the open market?

I. Illegal excavation would eventually cease completely.

II. Cyprus would become the primary source of marketable duplicate artifacts.

III. Archaeologists would be able to publish the results of their excavations more frequently than they currently do.

(A) I only

(B) III only

(C) I and II only

(D) II and III only

(E) I, II, and III

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many reading comprehension questions are on the GMAT?

There are 36 questions for the entire GMAT Verbal portion. There will be approximately 3-4 passages in the reading comprehension category. You can expect around 3-4 multiple-choice questions for each of these passages.

How to improve reading comprehension on GMAT?

You should practice as much as you can before the test. Read the passage carefully and always identify the objective/purpose of the same if possible. Try and identify the main points and concepts while you read. Do not get lost in details. If you have read the passage thoroughly for the first time, you can easily answer the questions without returning to it.

Suggest some good GMAT reading comprehension books?

There are many good books that you can follow in this regard. Some of them include The GMAT Official Guide Verbal Review 2018GMAT Official Guide 2018, The PowerScore GMAT Reading Comprehension Bible, The Manhattan Prep RC Strategy Guide, and The Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank.

How can I improve my reading comprehension for GMAT?

The best way to improve reading comprehension for GMAT is to practice reading and taking mock tests. Try reading about topics that are frequently asked in the exam. Practicing mock tests will help you understand your progress every day.

How to practice RC for GMAT?

The Verbal section gives you 65 minutes for 36 questions. This comes down to a little under two minutes per question. It is thus crucial to time yourself while attempting mock passages. Develop speed of reading and understanding the comprehension.

How to answer GMAT reading comprehension questions?

To correctly answer GMAT reading comprehension questions, you first need to clearly understand the type of questions asked and the approach to answering each. The 6 most type of questions asked are on the main concept of the passage, i.e., being able to summarize it, details, structure, inference, outside the box and tone. With practice, you will be able to identify these questions and answer them.

Important Resources For PTE/SAT/ACT Exam

PTE Examination Eligibility Criteria

There are no specific PTE exam eligibility criteria set by Pearson VUE – the organizers of the test.

PTE Eligibility

PTE Academic Syllabus

PTE syllabus includes various sections such as Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening.

PTE Syllabus

PTE Exam Pattern

The PTE exam pattern is designed to test whether candidates can study at international institutions that have English as the main language for instructions.

PTE Exam Pattern

Mrinal Mandal

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.