Reading Comprehension Strategies

It’s Incomprehensible!!

Okay so you don’t understand what the heck does the passage means! Do not worry! The GMAT guys are well aware that we cannot be astronomers, doctors, environmentalists, engineers, drama critics all at the same time…right?? So it’s pretty lame to expect that we would understand every minor details out there in the passages they give us to read. So what does comprehension really mean here? It means how much you have “understood” what the author is trying to convey. Don’t expect questions which will ask details beyond the scope of the passage. For that matter you should infact keep your general knowledge in a box! So if you know that pluto is now not a planet anymore….please don’t use this bit of information if it’s not stated in the passage.


I am assuming that you have plenty of time to prepare and so you should get into the habit of reading. It can be, and preferably should be, random stuff, nut nevertheless from good sources. A good reading speed and a good vocabulary, especially with lots of jargon awareness is worth possessing, but not mandatory.

But obviously you don’t have much time and you are panicking already, becuase your accuracy leveles are not good. So try these:

  • Read between the Paragraphs.
  • Read for Author’s Main Idea and Primary Purpose.
  • Create a thought flowchart by writing down the Main Idea and Primary purpose after each paragraph.
  • The Main Idea of the passage is the repeated idea in each of the Main ideas (of the paragraphs)
  • The primary purpose is mostly the Primary purpose of the concluding paragraph.
  • Classify the passages as:
    1. Explanatory (Mostly Science passages, explain one theory/phenomenon in detail)
    2. Comparative (two or more point of views on a theory/topic. Doesn’t go in much detail)
    3. Argumentative (Subjective, opinionated. Mostly social science/business topics. Pros and cons of a topic with author’s views on them)
  • Paraphrase the text to simplify.
  • Don’t over read. Skip examples, dates, lengthy names, any details which can be referred in case something is asked explicitly. skip it!! Skim the passage.
  • Don’t go for choices which hold true only for one part of the author’s argument.
  • Don’t go for choices which exaggerate the author’s conclusion.
  • Don’t fill in the blanks yourself. Use only as much is there in the passage.
  • At the end of reading, ask yourself questions like : What was the passage about? What was author’s motive in writing all this?
  • Read quickly through soporific passages.
  • Don’t re’read until and unless you have to..,atleast don’t re-read the pasage because you feel you haven’t understood it!! NO!! Don’t do it!!
  • Read the first question before the Passage.
  • Use your Critical Reasoning techniques for reasoning/inference/strengthen/weaken questions.
  • Use the scratch paper to quickly write a very very very small summary of each passage. This can work wonders especially in specific details questions and help you locate the portion which can answer the particular question. But this needs practice.
  • Also Kaplan gives you a good technique. Roadmap….works like magic…basically you chart out the structure of the passage. Helps you spot the relevant info quickly and gives you command on the passage…you have bird’s view of the passage this way.

Practice a lot and work on the explanations. If time permits, try to take the LSAT stuff; it prepares you for the really tough questions.

Books I used for cracking Verbal

I recommend you getting the books right away. One good reason is motivation. New books help you stay motivated. I am not a big fan of xerox copies. They don’t smell good. The smell of a new book excites me and gives me another reason to start early with a zest. I get all my stuff from Amazon. (Yes it even ships books to India!) You get good deals and you can club your books to get in one shipment. Don’t think too much. I can vouch for the quality and effectiveness of the books I am recommending. Happy GMATing!!!

GMATing Top Picks!


  1. Hi Mukul,

    First of all congrats for making it to an Ivy league school.

    And thanks a ton for the great stuff that you have here. Your stories are
    truly inspirational. Please post some more stuff on quants.

    I am also planning to take GMAT in June last week and hope to score a decent score. My elder brother has done his MBA from SP Jain so I face immense pressure from my parents. I am an average guy but they expect the same from me also.

    And secondly I also belong to the regular IIM pool (Indian IT Male) which in itself is a very big disadvantage when going for the GMAT.

    I might be bothering you for the next 2 months 🙂


    • By all means bother me 🙂 Don’t be pressurised by anyone. You are the master of your destiny. Do what you want to, not what others want.

      No one is average. Believe in yourself. Tell me how can I help you?

      What topics you want in math? Any video requests? I will try to do my best.

      Send me a request and meanwhile promote the website. Help me help everyone. it’s for people like you.



  2. Thanks a lot Mukul for your prompt reply. I would definitely let you know my Achilles heel(weak areas).

    And I have some more friends of mine who are preparing for GMAT, so I would let them know about your wonderful website.


  3. M,

    Your blog is of great help. I have just started with the preparations and I can say that it is the most helpful of tools I refer to as present.

    Keep up the good work.


  4. Hi MUKUL,
    I am in 4th year Btech. (Mechanical).Its my last semester.I am placed in reputed MNC.Bt i want to go for further studies.I am confused between CAT and GMAT.At last,i m made up my mind to go for GMAT.So i am free for 2 months completely.After that my job will start.So recommend me from where to start….

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