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Read on to comprehend...

Here are some of the basics to understanding the GMAT Reading Comprehension section

education Updated: Aug 04, 2010 09:45 IST

Strategies of reading comprehension
Let me take you through some approaches which ingrain into my students:

Be a predator
You must approach the GMAT reading comprehension passages like a predator. If you have observed good readers or hunters: they seldom attack a piece of dissertation or prey, respectively, at the first go. Never regard the initial reading as your final. You must read a passage twice.

Be a parchment
You should filter out information. Never let the question guide you into the passage. A predator never acts on impulse; it reads the prey well. Leave the tendency to solve the passage and move on. One detailed reading is better than regression. Skim out the main crux of the story that the passage comes up with. Treat the passage as a story. You will retain a lot in your RAM.

Be a life reader:
In most cases, you will be able to relate information to what you already know. Words that make sentences are always linked to our experience and ideas that cram our memories. Life has taught us that unpredictable and good stories always have a twist to keep up with the interest of the reader. Expect that from GMAT passages.

Pride and Prejudice
Do you know that Jane Austen had thought about another title to her novel? It was what she called First Impressions. Do not have the passage impress upon you any guiding idea. You must be indifferent to what the passage tries to impress. Have a scholarly approach and think into the passage.

Break it to make it
Work on the method of breaking a scholarly sentence into simple sentences. Your job is to comprehend the meaning of the sentences and not to write a critical analysis. Do not pay too much importance to difficult sentences or be overawed by it. GMAT wants to create the awe factor and that is how they bank on their success over you. I always say: “It’s just English, written in English.” It is just another passage constructed somewhere by just another person who, under all possibilities, has the same amount of intellectual capability, give or take a bit more.

Follow S-V-O
That is a simple sentence; one subject and one verb that may carry an object. GMAT will weave many ideas into one sentence, probably making them complex with additional information, or several subordinate clauses. Put thought into one simple sentence and deconstruct the passage.

Five-line method
I don’t want to use linguistic methods to help you break passages. It is quite a different approach and GMAT knows for certain that almost all candidates are unaware of this method. It is complex and advanced. Yet, I will unfurl one for you. The English language has a natural prosodic nature where after every five lines of expressing one idea is looks for another. The language exhausts itself expressing one idea and it will certainly look for a link. Follow the five-line method. You will see by the beginning of the 5th or the 6th line, the passage will change course with the help of words like; however, further, so, moreover. These are idea connectors and they always bring about a change into the flow of the passage and the information it rolls.

You should build your own library of transitional phrases because they are the building blocks of English language. Transitional phrases speed up your reading and inculcate a natural tendency to deconstruct complex sentences and ideas into simple ideas. Simplicity is the key to score well in GMAT verbal

The author of this article is Rohit Majumdar, who works with CPLC in the Verbal Faculty