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Improve GRE Reading Comprehension Score

Updated on 16 June, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

reading comprehension gre

When planning for international studies, GRE preparation becomes quite important. Before learning about the GRE reading comprehension section in detail, you should get an overview of the examination. The GRE exam is a globally accepted examination for business and law school admission. The GRE scores are recognized by leading universities across the globe. The reading comprehension GRE is a part of the Verbal Reasoning section. The other sections include Analytical Writing and Quantitative Reasoning.

Reading Comprehension for GRE: Overview

As mentioned earlier, this portion is a part of the Verbal Reasoning section. The entire section aims at testing candidates for their abilities to understand and analyze text while assessing relationships between various words, ideas, concepts, and parts of sentences. You will have to create efficient GRE reading comprehension strategies since this section contains passages on various topics. They may have content from social sciences, biological sciences, physical sciences, humanities, arts, and daily aspects. 

As your GRE reading comprehension practice book will show you, the questions are all about analyzing your skills in reading passages critically and understanding complex concepts. However, the biggest thing to remember is that everything that you need to answer these questions is present in their respective passages. No specialized knowledge is required in this case. 

Question Types

You should closely evaluate the GRE reading comprehension practice questions at the outset. Here are some more details in this regard. The questions are designed to evaluate the various skills of candidates. These include the following: 

  1. Being able to understand the meaning of sentences and words. 
  2. Being able to grasp the meaning of bigger passages and paragraphs. 
  3. Being able to differentiate between key and minor points. 
  4. Being able to summarize passages and draw inferences/conclusions. 
  5. Being able to reason and identify missing information from incomplete material in passages. 
  6. Understanding of textual structures, relationships, assumptions, and authorial perspectives. 
  7. Being able to analyze tests and draw conclusions critically. 
  8. Finding the strengths and negatives in any argument. 
  9. Being able to create alternative opinions, explanations, or positions. 

Hence, the questions of the GRE reading comprehension practice passage should be understood and evaluated with care. Every question in this section has a written passage, ranging between one and multiple paragraphs. There are roughly ten such passages in the examination, most of which only have a paragraph or two. Some passages have multiple paragraphs as well. Passages come from various topics, as mentioned earlier. They are usually taken from periodicals, books, and other sources. 

The question count may vary between one and six for any specific passage. Questions may involve asking candidates to find meanings of specific words, analyzing proof for backing/dismantling arguments in the passages, and more. Some questions follow the multiple-choice format as well. You have to choose one correct solution for the same. Some require the selection of multiple correct answers. Some questions may also require the selection of any sentence in the passage as the correct answer.

GRE Reading Comprehension Practice Question Papers

Following is the sample question paper that will help you practice the reading comprehension questions under the Verbal Reasoning section. 

Section 1 Verbal Reasoning

Question 1 is based on the reading passage given below:

Many centuries earlier in Central America, the Maya created extensive and detailed

stone carvings that were deeply cut. These stone carvings would have necessitated

cutting tools crafted from metal or any hard stone. While Central America does have the

presence of extensive deposits of iron-ore, the Maya did not create or envision

technologies for using the same. The metals they used are known as gold and copper.

These would not have possessed the adequate hardness for this purpose. Hence, stone

tools must have been used by the Maya for creating these stone carvings.

Choose and indicate the best answer from amongst these five choices:

Which of the following, if true, weakens the argument most seriously?

A. In several parts across the globe, civilizations which were unable to use ore to make

iron, created tools from meteorite iron fragments.

B. All the Mayan artifacts that have been discovered by archaeologists are created with

metals which are overtly soft for stone carvings.

C. The stone used to make these carvings is comparatively harder than the stones that

were used by other people in Central America.

D. The extraction of iron from iron-ore deposits was not easily possible with the

application of the techniques used by the Maya for smelting gold and some other

types of metals.

E. Archaeologists do not agree on the usage of specific stone tools that have been found

amongst the ruins of the Mayan civilization.

Question 2 is based on the reading passage given below:

Electric washing machines first arrived in the United States around 1925. They

considerably lowered the time required for washing a certain amount of clothing,

although the average time required to wash clothes went up for households after 1925.

This increase in washing time may be explained by the fact that several households in

urban zones earlier dispatched clothes to laundries and other professional

establishments. Yet, the average time spent in washing clothing went up for households

in rural areas, without access to laundries and these professional services.

Choose and indicate the best answer from the choices given below:

Which of the following, if true, best helps in explaining why the time spent in washing clothes went up in rural areas?

A. People who had access to electric washing machines usually wore clothing lesser

times before washing the same, as compared to people without access to these


B. Households sending clothing to laundries prior to 1925 were likelier to purchase

washing machines when they arrived, in comparison to other households.

C. Those staying in urban homes had earlier dispatched clothes to laundries, and they

owned a higher number of clothes as compared to those staying in rural households.

D. The earliest electric washing machines needed a lot more time spent by the user as

compared to contemporary counterparts.

E. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the percentage of households with electricity in

rural areas was a lot smaller than the percentage of urban homes with electricity.

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GRE Reading Comprehension Tips

Here are some useful reading comprehension GRE tips and tricks that you can follow: 

  • You may come across passages with unfamiliar content. Do not panic in this case. You can answer all the questions with the material already given. Keep these passages for the end, and move on to those you can answer quickly. 
  • Read the passage thoroughly before attempting its questions. Always look out for useful clues which help you understand finer nuances. 
  • Try to separate core/main points from other supporting/accompanying points/concepts. 
  • Try to differentiate between ideas narrated/reported by the author and those advocated by him/her. 
  • Identify concepts shown as speculative or hypothetical by passage authors, and separate them from concepts that the author believes in. 

You should also follow the transitions across passages, identifying relationships between various points. Find supporting and contrasting elements in the passage while reading every question with care and patience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many reading comprehension questions are on the GRE?

There are approximately five passages for each section. These will come with one to five questions each. Hence, there will be 10 reading comprehension questions in the GRE. You can expect 10 passages with varying lengths and paragraphs.

How important is vocabulary for success on the GRE Reading Comprehension section?

Vocabulary is important for understanding the content of the passages, but it is not the only factor that contributes to success on this section of the GRE. Understanding the structure of the passage and practicing active reading are also critical skills for success.

What is the best way to improve my Reading Comprehension skills for the GRE?

The best way to improve your Reading Comprehension skills for the GRE is to practice regularly. Read a variety of texts, including academic articles, newspapers, and literature. Take notes as you read, and practice summarizing each paragraph in your own words.

What is the GRE Reading Comprehension test?

The GRE Reading Comprehension test is a section of the GRE exam that evaluates a candidate's ability to read, understand and analyze written material.

What types of texts are included in the GRE Reading Comprehension test?

The GRE Reading Comprehension test includes a variety of passages ranging from natural sciences to social sciences and humanities. These passages can be drawn from different sources, such as academic journals, literary works, or newspapers.

How can one prepare for the GRE Reading Comprehension test?

To prepare for the GRE Reading Comprehension test, one can practice reading different types of texts, such as academic journals, news articles, and literary works. It is also important to develop good reading habits, such as active reading, note-taking, and summarizing. GRE prep books and courses are also available to help candidates prepare for the test.

How to answer weak conclusion questions in reading comprehension of GRE?

To answer weak conclusion questions, understand and analyze the given options well. Select the one that best supports the conclusion from all the options provided.

Where to practice reading comprehension for GRE?

You can practice the reading comprehension section for GRE through the sample papers and mock test options. The GRE reading comprehension practice online free option is available on their official website.

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Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

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