RC Question Types

This article covers the most common question types which the GMAT tests you on. Most students are not sure what is being asked. The irony is that even though the answer is certainly somewhere before your eyes, you don’t get it correctly. This problem stems from the fact that we are not aware of what is going to be asked and we end up taking more than needed time, ultimately panicking and re-reading and basically messing up the answers. I will discuss each question types and strategies to crack them. Enjoy!

Usual suspects

There are mainly six categories of questions that follow:

  1. Summary Questions
  2. Style and tone Questions
  3. Inference questions
  4. Logical structure questions
  5. Parallel reasoning
  6. Direct details questions

Summary questions

IF the questions ask you the Primary Purpose of the passage, then try to see “WHY” the author has written that passage, and not what or how he has written the passage. Primary purpose is exactly what it means…primary purpose. The answers will start with “To…” most of the times. And try identifying what kind of passage it is: explanatory, comparative or argumentative to know whether the author’s primary purpose is to “outline”, “evaluate”, “compare”, etc.

If the questions ask you the Main Idea of the passage, then eliminate all options which are relevant only to one paragraph in the passage. That can’t be the “MAIN” idea. The main idea is the one which covers all the ideas and aspects in the passage. So the trick here is: this option will probably be longer than the others (a superset of 2-3 options) because it should cover all aspects. So don’t tick the option which is true as per the passage, because it may just cover one aspect of the passage.

Style and Tone questions

You will have to focus on the “HOW?”. Style is How the author put forth his ideas : descriptive, analytical, critical, ambiguous, etc. Tone is How the author expresses his opinion.

I am giving you a small list I have compiled which gives you Tone words. I would recommend learning the meaning of all these words.

  • satiric
  • whimsical
  • dramatic
  • learned
  • informative
  • somber
  • urgent
  • confident
  • mock-heroic
  • objective
  • diffident
  • ironic
  • didactic
  • petty
  • factual
  • restrained
  • elegiac
  • disdainful
  • lugubrious
  • pedantic
  • indignant
  • bantering
  • flippant
  • condescending
  • patronizing
  • facetious
  • clinical
  • mock-serious
  • inflammatory
  • benevolent
  • burlesque
  • fanciful
  • detached
  • cynical
  • incisive
  • allusive
  • effusive
  • scornful
  • colloquial
  • compassionate
  • impartial
  • insipid
  • pretentious
  • vibrant
  • irreverent
  • sentimental
  • moralistic
  • complimentary
  • sympathetic
  • taunting
  • concerned
  • angry
  • turgid
  • sardonic
  • contentious
  • insolent
  • candid

Inference Questions

These questions ask you to identify indirect references, implications and suggestions in the passage. The ideas may not be explicitly laid out in the passage, but may be implied by the author. That is where your CR skills come into play.

Do not go outside the scope of the passage. Don’t use your general knowledge and don’t try to read the author’s mind. Any answer will follow logically from the information given in the passage.
Avoid marking any option which is very extreme in language or ideas.

Logical Structure Questions

These questions will test your understanding of How the passage has been constructed. So you should pay attention to the Ideas which the author includes/excludes and the order in which he put forth the ideas.

Prepare the flowchart for the passage by putting down the Primary ypurpose and Main Idea of each paragraph. This will clearly demonstrate the sequence and nature of the ideas presented in the passage.

Parallel Reasoning Questions

These questions will ask you to identify the line of reasoning used in the specified part/paragraph of the passage and draw the analogy to other scenarios.

The strategy to solve these questions is to simplify the scenario in the passage and rephrase in your own words. And then eliminate any answer option which deviate from the underlying logic.

Direct Detail Questions

There’s only one strategy, which is hardly a strategy, read CAREFULLY.

bread crumbs

Continue the Idea Words

  • Similarly
  • Moreover
  • Additionally
  • In the same way
  • Likewise

Conclusion Words

  • Thus
  • Therefore
  • Hence
  • So
  • In summary
  • In conclusion

Contradiction or Contrast Words

  • Neverthless
  • Nonetheless
  • However
  • But
  • Although
  • Though
  • Even though
  • Notwithstanding
  • Yet
  • Despite
  • In spite of
  • On the one hand…on the other hand
  • While
  • Unlike

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!!!

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  1. Hi,

    I am getting almost all my RC questions wrong .Can you guide me how to improve in tis section .Please can you provide me some books or websites so that i can practice RC .


  2. Hi Mukul

    Everything seems to written in 2011.

    Before I trust this info and follow as its mentioned, would like to get this confirmation from you. please !!!!!!!!!

    • Yeah Deepak! They are relevant. Theres been no change to the quant and verbal section. This is a pretty generic schedule. tried and tested.


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