How to Improve GRE Reading Comprehension Score


Published Jun 27, 2012

While preparing for the GRE, most of the students in Pakistan, don’t pay enough attention on how to improve GRE reading comprehension score, as required. At a rough scale, reading comprehension makes 25% of the GRE verbal section. So guys, hold the fire on your social networking and other such stuff, and try to utilize that time in practicing firmly, for this section, in order to gain a good and presentable score. There is no single formula to improve GRE reading comprehension, but the following tips will certainly help you ameliorate your reading comprehension score to a great extent.

Improve reading speed

Firstly, in order to improve GRE reading comprehension score, you need to improve your reading speed! Try to read passages a bit faster than your reading speed. You will most probably, fail to understand the entire passage, at your first attempt. This is a sign that you need to practice a lot on increasing your reading speed and simultaneously, understanding it.

Careful reading (extracting the main idea)

To improve GRE reading comprehension score, always read the “whole” passage very carefully. Quit the skimming thing and try to absorb the main idea of the passage after reading it completely. Judge the author’s attitude, whether it’s going towards the positive or negative tone. If you don’t read the whole passage carefully, you won’t get a correct idea, as to what the author wants to say, and you’ll be turning back to the passage to answer the questions, which will take a lot of your time. There is a common misconception in students who plan to take GRE in Pakistan that in order to improve GRE reading comprehension score one must not waste time on reading the whole passage. However this technique does not work on the GRE.

Using scratch pads

Always make use of the scratch pads to make notes of what you read if you want to improve GRE reading comprehension score. Underline and Jot down the main points of the passage like the main idea- whether it’s based on real facts or describes the author’s opinion. Understand the passage in your own words and note down key words. This will help you a lot in answering the questions.

Join the links

After reading the passage, try to link the paragraphs of the passage to the main idea that you have concluded. Focus on how does the author discuss the topic and figure out whether he/she is against it, supports it or is neutral. Remember that you can always look up to the passage when you are confused, don’t rely on your gut feeling.

Selecting correct answer

After reading a question, try to find out the answer in your own words, rather than looking at the choices first. This is advised, as the choices to the questions are quite confusing and almost all seem correct. So once you make up an answer in your own words, just match it up with the choices given. Moreover, incorrect choices will provide you with the information that the author hasn’t discussed. Avoiding answer choices with extreme opinions is also another way of selecting the right option. This is an extremely useful technique to improve GRE reading comprehension score.

Attempting passages

There are a variety of subjects on which the passages are based like science, history, literature, etc. Attempt the easier ones first. As all the questions carry equal marks, don’t waste your time in doing one difficult passage with less questions when you can do more than one passages that are easier, in that duration.

Practice Intensively

If you want to crush the reading comprehension section and improve GRE reading comprehension score, take over it, all you need to do is practice rigorously and work very hard. You can practice by reading passages from Time, Newsweek, The Economist, and New Yorker. You can even subscribe the Wall Street Journal online. The journal’s articles are of the same level as that of the passages that come in the GRE. Time yourself as you read the passages and after you finish, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What was the main idea of the passage?
  2. What was the author’s tone (optimistic, academic, descriptive, etc?)
  3. What else could you infer from the passage?
  4. What assumptions does the author make?
  5. What is the structure of the passage you just read?

Do not use outside knowledge

The GRE does not require you to have any outside knowledge for the reading comprehension passages, so don’t use if you have any. Your own prejudice will negatively affect your answer choices, especially if it is an opinion or tone of the passage. This is a key point that all GRE test takers must remember to improve GRE reading comprehension score.

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