reading comprehension for gmat

Reading Comprehension GMAT- All You Need to Know

Updated on 04 October, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Fretting over the reading comprehension in the GMAT exam? It is not rocket science; there are several GMAT reading comprehension tips, tricks, and strategies that you can use to 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 terms of reading and understanding written texts, along with 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. 

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 also tougher questions that emphasize economic strategies, theories, and global trade. These passages often usher in varied opinions, research insights, and views regarding particular issues. There are some crucial concepts here including 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. 

Tips for the section 

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

  1. Carefully read through the entire passage. 
  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. 
  4. Create a summary mentally while you read. 
  5. 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 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.

Q. 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.

Q. 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.

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


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