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Veritas Prep GMAT Tips: Reading Comprehension The Michael Bloomberg Way

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Brian Galvin is the Director of Academic Programs at Veritas Prep, where he oversees all of the company’s GMAT preparation courses.

If it’s true of New York City that “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere”, Michael Bloomberg is qualified to be mayor of the universe.  He reached partner at a top Wall Street bank, Salomon Brothers, then took his severance package to fund an upstart business, Bloomberg, that would ultimately service the entire financial industry.  After conquering the private sector, he ran for and became New York City mayor, achieving enough popular support to reverse the two-term limit and earn a third term.

A successful MBA applicant in his day – Bloomberg earned an MBA from Harvard Business School – he exemplifies nearly all that business schools want in an applicant.  Leadership, innovation, teamwork…he’s demonstrated all of the relevant skills and qualities for business success several times over.  What’s more, Bloomberg would absolutely shred the GMAT verbal section because of the way he thinks and conducts himself.

Despite the fame and fortune, Bloomberg still rides the New York City subway to work from his uptown apartment, eschewing the mayor’s mansion and the typical (if that’s even an appropriate adjective to describe the upcoming noun) billionaire’s transportation for the reliable methods that have worked for him for years.  For Bloomberg, the method and routine are more important than are the details, which he has never let redefine him and the way he conducts himself.  These traits are crucial for successful Reading Comprehension performance; after all, Reading Comprehension questions represent approximately 1/6 of your GMAT score, a number which seeks to separate the Michael Bloombergs from the field.

On GMAT reading comprehension questions, the details are much less important than is the structural framework of the passage; if, like Bloomberg, you continue to use the methodology that works for you regardless of the little details, you’ll continue to put yourself in a position to succeed.  While the details of each RC passage – be it about botany, astronomy, poetry, colonial architecture, magnets… - will be different from passage to passage, the structure of each passage will be common enough to allow you to build mastery and set yourself up for the questions that follow.  If you can determine paragraph-by-paragraph what the author is trying to convey, you’ll come away from your initial read of the passage with a strong understanding of any entire-passage questions (the author’s main point, the author’s tone, the author’s intent, etc.) and also have a good idea of where to look for specific-detail questions as they come (the cell-mediated response theory?  That was the second theory…the one the author described in the last paragraph after proposing the first theory then showing its flaws).

With Reading Comprehension, is important to read each passage at the same level, avoiding the temptation to become: intimidated if the passage is about an unfamiliar subject; engaged in the smallest details if the topic pertains to a hobby or interest; distracted if the passage is about a subject that doesn’t hold your interest; etc.  Reading for the author’s intent and the passage’s structure is a standardized way to efficiently and effectively read each passage.  Whether the passage is scientific, literary, interesting, or boring, to paraphrase Bloomberg’s predecessor as de facto king of New York, Frank Sinatra, if you can read this passage here, you can read any passage anywhere.

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