The Reading Comp passages are the toughest part of GMAT Verbal. Why? Because there’s no content to memorize. It’s ALL strategy. Here’s how to build your skills and conquer GMAT RC once and for all. To begin, here’s the mandatory books you’ll need to get:

  • GMAT Official Guide — 13th edition
  • GMAT Official Guide — Verbal review, 2nd edition

You’ll want to know the RC questions in this book backwards, forwards, and upside down, since they are provided by GMAC, the official test-makers! Other books with lots of passages to practice:

  • Veritas Prep — Reading Comprehension Guide
  • Manhattan GMAT — RC Strategy Guide
  • Artistotle Prep — RC Grail

Be sure to take advantage of free GMAT Reading passages onlineAs you read these sample passages, do the following:

  • Circle the topic
  • Underline any transition words
  • Write down the purpose of each paragraph
  • Write down the author’s point of view in your own words
  • Write down the Main Idea in your own words

Do all of this to build your RC skills — ALWAYS read with a pen in your hand, and always ask the million dollar question, “Why is the author saying this?”

Once you’ve got your Reading Comp skills up, you’re ready to start making a “Passage Map,” or a series of short notes that will allow you to find the answers to the GMAT RC questions AS YOU READ. Don’t try to understand everything in the passage or summarize the STATED information. You only have to extract enough information to be able to answer the GMAT questions — so read between the lines, and draw your own conclusions as you read based on what is IMPLIED.

Read though this sample passage posted on the Beat the GMAT forum, then scroll down for my example notes. You can see I write down the following as I read:

  • Topic
  • Scope
  • Function of each paragraph
  • Point of view
  • Purpose of the passage

None of these things (besides the Topic) are directly stated in the passage, so by filling in a “Passage Map” as you read, you’re forced to read actively and aggressively, digging out the info the questions will ask about later! Then you already have predictions written down for 80% of the questions you’ll see!

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