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Reading Comprehension Concepts Must Read (part1)

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Reading Comprehension Concepts Must Read (part1)  [#permalink]

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New post 28 May 2015, 04:06

Reading comprehension includes the ability to identify main ideas, locate specific details, understand passage structure, and make inferences regarding a written work. A deep understanding of a passage requires the reader to understand not only the meanings of the individual words that comprise that text, but also the way that each sentence functions within the context of the whole piece. Aside from basic literacy, there are a number of logical reasoning competencies that aid in deeper comprehension, particularly with regard to making inferences and
understanding passage structure.

Typically, the Verbal Section on the GMAT includes 4 Reading Comprehension passages, with 3 to 4 questions per passage, for a total of 13 to 14 Reading Comprehension questions out of the 41 verbal questions. Passages will contain 3 or 4 questions and are about 200 to 400 words long. Each passage engages with a specialized topic or opinion in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, or Business, but no specific outside knowledge of the material is required; all questions refer to what is stated or implied in the text. The writing in these passages is serious and

The Challenge:

Think of the reading comprehension section as if it were a reality TV show where you are dropped in the middle of a jungle with no clues about where you are or how to proceed. On the GMAT, a reading passage will be dropped in front of you and you will have no background on it whatsoever. Imagine encountering an essay where:

1. You don't know what the title is.
2. You don't know who the author is.
3. You don't know when or where it was published.
4. You can't see the paragraphs before or after the essay.
5. You don't have enough time to fully read it.
6. The content is dense, boring, and academic, smeared with jargon, and covers a topic you have little knowledge about.
7. And your mastery of those 400 words will determine your future business school and career.

Moral: You're going to need a compass. That is, a planned strategy and a lot of preparation coupled with tons of

Distinguishing between Fact and Opinion

Often, your ability to answer a reading comprehension question correctly will depend upon your ability to distinguish between fact and opinion. You may need to determine whether an author thinks something is true or whether the author knows something to be true to determine the main idea or draw logical conclusions about the text. First, here is a quick review of definitions. A fact is something known for certain to have happened, to be true, or to exist. An opinion, on the other hand, is something believed to have happened, to be true, or to exist. The key difference between fact and opinion lies in the difference between believing and knowing. Opinions may be based on facts, but they are still what people think and believe, not what they know. Opinions are debatable; facts are not. Two different people would have a hard time debating a fact, but they could debate forever about which opinion is more valid. Note that people can also debate about how to interpret facts, but they would have to agree on the facts themselves. A good test for whether something is fact or opinion is to ask two questions:

1. Can this statement be debated?
2. Is this something known to be true?

If you can answer yes to the first question, it is probably an opinion. If you can answer yes to the second question, it is probably a fact.
In addition, consider the nature of the claim. If the statement is prescriptive—if it is describing what someone should or ought to do—then the statement is an opinion, as in the following examples:

1. You should try advertising on the radio.
2. We ought to offer a better severance package.
3. I had better confirm this appointment before I book a flight.

Words that show judgment or evaluation, like good, bad, interesting, and important, usually also signal an opinion.

Consider this example:
Employee benefits should include coverage for “alternative medicines” such as acupuncture and massage therapy. This statement is clearly debatable and could be argued either way. In an effective argument, this opinion would be supported by and based upon facts. For example, if you had chronic back pain that was not alleviated by traditional medical approaches but that disappeared after three weeks of acupuncture, you could use this fact to support your opinion. In addition, you could cite the fact that the alleviation of pain saved your insurance company hundreds to thousands of dollars in additional visits to back pain specialists and other medical practitioners. You might also cite statistics, such as a recent survey that showed more than 60% of patients with chronic back pain reported relief after one month of acupuncture. These facts, which are non-debatable, would support your opinion, making it more reasonable and therefore more valid. It is easy to see how this information is relevant to the critical-reasoning questions (which ask you to evaluate arguments) and the AWA questions (which ask you to write your own argument). It is also relevant to reading comprehension questions because knowing the author’s opinion and how the author supports that opinion can help you draw appropriate conclusions from the text. The finer aspects of the reading process: Comprehending a passage is an ebb and flow process. Analyzing a passage to understand how it is constructed can be compared to dismantling an engine to understand how it was built—you may stop occasionally and reassemble parts of it to review what you just did; then proceed again to dismantle more. Likewise, when reading a passage, you may first read and mentally annotate a paragraph (disassembling it) and then go back and skim to reassemble it. During this process, comprehension proceeds from the
global to the specific.

Conjecture (Main Idea)
General Understanding (author’s attitude, logical structure)
Specific Understanding (Logical Details)
Incorporation (What if?)

In the conjecture stage, we form a tentative main idea—one which we may have to modify or even reject as we read more deeply into the passage. In the general understanding stage, we develop a feel for the author’s tone and discover the schema that s/he uses to present her ideas. In the specific understanding stage, we fill in the minor gaps in our understanding. Finally, in the incorporation stage, we integrate the ideas presented in the passage into our own thought process. We now understand the ideas sufficiently to defend them, apply them to other situations, or
evaluate their validity in a hypothetical situation. Only with complete understanding of the passage can this be done.

Normally all RC passage will do one of the following:
• Describe
• Evaluate
• Persuade / Suggest

If you’re like most GMAT test-takers, you’ll experience at least one of the following problems as you tackle Reading Comprehension:
• Your concentration is poor—perhaps because of your lack of familiarity with or interest in the topic, or perhaps due to general test anxiety.
• Your reading pace is slow—so you have trouble finishing the Verbal section in time.
• To answer each question, you find yourself searching the passage again and again to find the information you need.
• You have trouble narrowing down the answer choices to one that’s clearly the best, especially between the last two.

Believe it or not, all of these problems are due to the same bad habit: passive reading, by which you simply read the passage from start to finish, giving equal time and attention to every sentence without thought as to what particular information might be key in answering the questions. You might call this approach the “osmosis strategy,” since you’re hoping to absorb what you need to know by simply allowing your eyes to glaze over the words. What’s the likely result of this osmosis strategy? You might remember some scattered facts and ideas, which will help
you respond correctly to some easier questions. But the passive mind set won’t take you very far when it comes to most of the questions, which measure your ability to understand the ideas in the passage rather than to simply recall information. Understanding a passage well enough to answer all the questions requires a highly active frame of mind—one in which you constantly interact with the text as you read.

Part 2 comming soon...:)
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Re: Reading Comprehension Concepts Must Read (part1)  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Nov 2019, 17:41
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: Reading Comprehension Concepts Must Read (part1)   [#permalink] 28 Nov 2019, 17:41
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