Solve GRE Reading Comprehension Questions Using Context and Keywords
Reading Comprehension questions can be the most time-consuming part of the Verbal section of the GRE. Two effective strategies for effectively and efficiently arriving at the correct answers (and avoiding incorrect answers) are to look at context and keywords in the text.
Using context to interpret a reading passage
For a science or humanities passage, read the passage lightly and create a mental grid that gives you a general idea of where the key information is and what is going on in the passage. This helps you figure out where to find the information as you begin to answer questions.
Don’t sweat the details (yet). After reading a question, you can quickly revisit the passage to locate the details for answering the question correctly.
Usually, the first paragraph is an introduction, telling you what the passage is about (the main idea). Subsequent paragraphs (the body of the passage) provide details to support or develop the topic stated in the first paragraph. As you read each body paragraph, ask yourself what its purpose is and how it supports the main idea. Asking these questions gives you a clearer idea of what the related details are and where they’re located in the passage.
Don’t use the road-map strategy for social sciences questions, which tend to be based less on facts and more on what can be determined from the facts. You want to read these passages more carefully so you have the information needed to draw correct inferences.
Sometimes the entire passage is one giant paragraph. Don’t let that deter you from using this strategy. Look for where one idea ends and another begins and treat that as where the paragraphs should be separated. This can help you map the details as you would for a passage that is actually in separate paragraphs.
Using keywords to interpret a reading passage
Reading Comprehension passages and questions often contain keywords that act as valuable clues in identifying correct answers and eliminating wrong ones. For example, say a particular passage is all about successful international adoption; you’re asked to choose the best title for the passage from the following choices:
(A) Trends in International Adoption
(B) Children at Risk
(C) Analyzing the Child Psyche
(D) Overcoming the Challenges of International Adoptions
(E) What Makes a Good Parent
In this case, both Choices (A) and (D) mention international adoption, but of these two answers, only Choice (D) suggests a title leading to a successful adoption.