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any tips on how to improve Reading Comp skills?

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any tips on how to improve Reading Comp skills? [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2002, 10:33
Hi all, great board. Just wondering if any of you who've aced the GMAT can shed some light on how to really polish up one's reading comprehension skills. I'm currently studying for my GMAT and I really have no problems with any particular section other than reading comp.. I just find it so incredibly boring, at times, that I tend to tune out and many times I'm forced to reread paragraphs to understand them (but this obviously wastes valuable time). Bottom line is this: I can understand that passages and answer the questions quite well if given all the time in the world, but if I'm rushing and pressed for time I tend to screw up quite badly on them. So any of you guys have any tips? Do you maybe take notes, or read the questions 1st then look for the answer?

PS: On the real GMAT how many reading comp. passages, and questions pertaining to them, are there (on average), and when do you usually begin to see them (ie. how far into the verbal section of the test?)

Thanks for your feedback.
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RC [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2002, 21:42
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Nick,

easy answer first: you will have 4 RC passages: one will be long, around 70+ and can be as long as 100 lines, usually, this one comes first or second. The second and third passages are medium length - 40-60 lines. The fourth passage is always a short one (at least people say so) which is around 30 lines. There are about 10-13 RC questions and they are spread out 3-4 with each passage.

As to improving your skills, that's a little harder. I don't know if it will help, but I can tell you what I did. (I am an international student and I got a 42 on the verbal). I have read books - as boring as I could tolerate but not as boring as to lose desire to read. I have built a little collection of fiction books I have read in the Books Review Section, if you are interested. It is not nearly what I want it to be, but it has a few good books.

I would try to stay concentrated while reading a passage. I would actually stop after each paragraph and ask myself what I read. Sort of paraphrasing the story. I also asked myself what it can mean - but I was not really concentrating on this thing. As you may have noticed, most of the RC passages are fairly predictible - 2 theories, 2 solutions, analysis of an issue, event, or some historical/political movement and its consequences. So, I would try to sort of predict in advance which one it could be. It does not matter if you guess or not - guessing is not the trick. Thinking about the passage and remembering the main points is the helpful part.
A very important and hard part is to stay concentrated and I think you have mentioned it. I sometimes would reread first sentences of a paragraph. Kaplan mentiones keywords to watch (which is easier than staying concentrated) but I watched only a few, and here is the list: (numbers such as two theories, three reasons, one major cause, etc) and reverses such as however, but, yet) i did not have enought brain power to watch for others.

If you asked me what of that pile above is the most important, I would say stopping after each paragraph and asking yourself what you have just read.

As to my score improvement. I used to miss 50% of the RC questions. I don't know what my level was on the GMAT, but I got a 96th percentile in Verbal.

Good luck, I hope this helps.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 15:00
thanks for your reply bb.

By the way, have any of you ever noticed the subjective nature of some of the GMAT questions in reading comp. and, especially in critical reasoning? It seems that for about 20% -25% of the critical reaoning questions there is more than one possible answer, logically speaking that is. Therefore, the correct answer in merely only the 'best' answer, but 'best' is a very subjective term. Unlike sentence correction or the math section, where its quite clear where you made a mistake, critical reasoning is very ambiguous. I many times completely disagree with the 'correct' answer even after reading the explanation. Any of you ever experience this? I personally think GMAT/ETS should assign part marks for some of those 'second best' answers in some of the subjective critical reasoning questions.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 17:41
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nick wrote:
thanks for your reply bb.

By the way, have any of you ever noticed the subjective nature of some of the GMAT questions in reading comp. and, especially in critical reasoning? It seems that for about 20% -25% of the critical reaoning questions there is more than one possible answer, logically speaking that is. Therefore, the correct answer in merely only the 'best' answer, but 'best' is a very subjective term. Unlike sentence correction or the math section, where its quite clear where you made a mistake, critical reasoning is very ambiguous. I many times completely disagree with the 'correct' answer even after reading the explanation. Any of you ever experience this? I personally think GMAT/ETS should assign part marks for some of those 'second best' answers in some of the subjective critical reasoning questions.


Nick, usually Kaplan's reading gave me similar impression. I did not have the official guide when I was preparing so I can't really say much about ETS's passages much. I had the powerprep, but there were only a few texts.
I have worked with some Arco stuff but that was a bit screwed up.
One thing about me - I am very annoying, so I make sure I know why I messed up and I try to figure out why I made the mistake and I sort of make a mental note of it - it is not hard to clcassify them - I classify most of them as stupidity or lack of attention in the first paragraph mistakes or not understanding the topic sentece. You can use an excel spreadsheet if you want to be organized. I have published one online.
Also, if you have some questions you are unsure, give me a reference (such as Kaplan or Princeton, or whatever, Page 120, question 2) and I will try to figure out. I don't guarantee my answer will be correct, but I will be glad to do what I can to look into the answers. Because if you don't agree or understand, it may end up crucial. You can't fly a plane if you don't know how it works. (unless you are flying it just one time).

Actually, one of the best ways of learning is teaching - so you may want to try to explain RC stuff to somebody like your friend or whoever, and see how far you can go and what you still miss. You can try posting some stuff here in this thread and see if anybody agrees or has something to add. Just imagine that you are teaching everybody how to do RC... just an idea.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 18:21
Guess I'm just like you bb... I really get annoyed when I get a question wrong and I really try to understand why. I don't mind learning from my mistakes, but it annoys me when I get something wrong for no 'real' reason. I'll look into some of the practice tests and try to give you a couple examples of such questions. I'm currently using the Kaplan 2003 cd. I also used ACRO in the past. Its good to know that you too experienced these type of problems, when you used the same study material. I guess its okay and normal to disagree with the study guide's anwers sometimes. By the way, bb are you currently doing your MBA? if so... which school?
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 18:22
Guess I'm just like you bb... I really get annoyed when I get a question wrong and I really try to understand why. I don't mind learning from my mistakes, but it annoys me when I get something wrong for no 'real' reason. I'll look into some of the practice tests and try to give you a couple examples of such questions. I'm currently using the Kaplan 2003 cd. I also used ACRO in the past. Its good to know that you too experienced these type of problems, when you used the same study material. I guess its okay and normal to disagree with the study guide's anwers sometimes. By the way, bb are you currently doing your MBA? if so... which school?
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 18:35
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nick wrote:
Guess I'm just like you bb... I really get annoyed when I get a question wrong and I really try to understand why. I don't mind learning from my mistakes, but it annoys me when I get something wrong for no 'real' reason. I'll look into some of the practice tests and try to give you a couple examples of such questions. I'm currently using the Kaplan 2003 cd. I also used ACRO in the past. Its good to know that you too experienced these type of problems, when you used the same study material. I guess its okay and normal to disagree with the study guide's anwers sometimes. By the way, bb are you currently doing your MBA? if so... which school?


Nick,

I agree about the questions; I think Kaplan was a good book. There are sometimes stupid mistakes and you just have to move on. What's annoying though was when I would show a mistake to one of my friends who would be still in undergrad and they would tell me the correct answer and say that it was easy, yet I would be trying to persuade them that it is really not so and GMAT is hard....I just remembered the frustration.

I have just found this book, you may want to take a look at it:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=gmatclub-20&path=tg/detail/-/0028632494/qid%3D1040961819/sr%3D1-32 It is ARCO Reading Comprehension Workbook


I am a little cautious about giving away personal information on the inernet. I am not paranoid or a big fan of Conspiracy Theory, but I try not to publish a lot of details about myself - there all kinds of freaks out there. (This is a line from the Bowling for Columbine movie that one of the gun freaks whose brother bombed the Oklahoma City Building said). I hope you are not offended by my reluctance... anyway, I can tell you that I am in CA, if that helps :D
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 20:58
bb wrote:
nick wrote:
Guess I'm just like you bb... I really get annoyed when I get a question wrong and I really try to understand why. I don't mind learning from my mistakes, but it annoys me when I get something wrong for no 'real' reason. I'll look into some of the practice tests and try to give you a couple examples of such questions. I'm currently using the Kaplan 2003 cd. I also used ACRO in the past. Its good to know that you too experienced these type of problems, when you used the same study material. I guess its okay and normal to disagree with the study guide's anwers sometimes. By the way, bb are you currently doing your MBA? if so... which school?


Nick,

I agree about the questions; I think Kaplan was a good book. There are sometimes stupid mistakes and you just have to move on. What's annoying though was when I would show a mistake to one of my friends who would be still in undergrad and they would tell me the correct answer and say that it was easy, yet I would be trying to persuade them that it is really not so and GMAT is hard....I just remembered the frustration.

I have just found this book, you may want to take a look at it:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=gmatclub-20&path=tg/detail/-/0028632494/qid%3D1040961819/sr%3D1-32 It is ARCO Reading Comprehension Workbook


I am a little cautious about giving away personal information on the inernet. I am not paranoid or a big fan of Conspiracy Theory, but I try not to publish a lot of details about myself - there all kinds of freaks out there. (This is a line from the Bowling for Columbine movie that one of the gun freaks whose brother bombed the Oklahoma City Building said). I hope you are not offended by my reluctance... anyway, I can tell you that I am in CA, if that helps :D




don't worry about it, no offence taken. Its just that I found out about your website through a B-School in California (which I guess I won't reveal), and so, I was wondering if you go there. Since you're also in Cali, odds are you're probably a student at that school, and thats why I asked
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 21:42
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As a matter of fact, I contacted 500 Bschools and I think a few sent out my little announcement. I know a few in California and Canada did, Navara did, and Arizona did, or at least they confirmed they did.... so I still feel safe 8) but I don't want to talk about it and reduce my chances... :D

So, what state are you from? CA?

By the way, if you register with the forum you can get notifications when messages are posted here (actually now the folks who registered after Dec 23 are automatically signed up with forum)
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2002, 22:22
bb wrote:
As a matter of fact, I contacted 500 Bschools and I think a few sent out my little announcement. I know a few in California and Canada did, Navara did, and Arizona did, or at least they confirmed they did.... so I still feel safe 8) but I don't want to talk about it and reduce my chances... :D

So, what state are you from? CA?

By the way, if you register with the forum you can get notifications when messages are posted here (actually now the folks who registered after Dec 23 are automatically signed up with forum)


Acutally I'm already signed up....just didn't login into the forum I guess. No I'm not from Cali, but I am considering of applying to two schools in that area.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2002, 06:42
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Anonymous wrote:
bb wrote:
As a matter of fact, I contacted 500 Bschools and I think a few sent out my little announcement. I know a few in California and Canada did, Navara did, and Arizona did, or at least they confirmed they did.... so I still feel safe 8) but I don't want to talk about it and reduce my chances... :D

So, what state are you from? CA?

By the way, if you register with the forum you can get notifications when messages are posted here (actually now the folks who registered after Dec 23 are automatically signed up with forum)


Acutally I'm already signed up....just didn't login into the forum I guess. No I'm not from Cali, but I am considering of applying to two schools in that area.


OK, then you may want to login into the forum so that you are recognized. When you come back, the forum tells you what's new since your last visit. I like the feature. Good luck with the academic persuit.
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hi nick - my reply [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2002, 14:30
I don't really think there is a trick to RC. The books try to teach us to map the passage, or categorize it or spend time doing something other than reading it. Isn't it funny how nicely packaged the RC passages in the book examples are? They just fit right into whatever "shortcut" they are trying to illustrate. Then you try it during a practice set, and no surprise, it doesn't fit any of the approaches...

My advice to you is to just read the passage. Learn to read faster, if you're worried about time (there are speed-reading techniques you can pick up very quickly). I don't try to read the question then look for an answer, or map the paragraph or passage organization/structure as many people suggest. To me, all that just detracts from the simple task of reading.

I read the passage as if I were interested. I can be interested in anything for 60 seconds. Then I answer the questions, which aren't so hard when you've actually read. That's all my advice. I can't remember what my Verbal score itself was, but I do remember it was in the 97th percentile.
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Reply to Oskikatt [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2002, 12:15
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I agree about the books - they tailor the passages to their strategies or at least choose the ones that work - and they have to do that to demonstrate the method. It would be quite surprizing if the book taught you how to, let's say, pay a lot of attention to thethis statement, but did not provide a thesis in the example.... Generally it makes sense to provide an example, but it does not mean it will really help on the test. So, the whole technique may be useless.

As to reading, my congratulations. I was not as blessed with my abilities to concentrate. Though reading passages took me around 3-4 mins to run through....

I am very thankful for your perspective on the matter, esp since you have already taken GMAT and it sounds like it has been quite a while ago. Are you still working on the GMAT ?
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 [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2003, 18:15
One thing that I try to do when reading the passages is to think, what is the author trying to say? I've noticed that all passages fall into similar "patterns" and if you can identify what the author's point of view is, it definitely helps.

Quite often I see questions which requires some "extrapolation" of the author's point of view, and if I'm already thinking in the back of my mind when I'm reading, it makes answering the questions a lot easier.
  [#permalink] 15 Jan 2003, 18:15
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