The Pep Talk
So, let me get this straight. The GMAT test writers are going to give me somewhat obscure, very dense topics with very complicated ideas and sentence structures. I am going to have about three minutes to read this passage, and then I have to start answering questions about the material. That is a completely artificial setup; it would never happen in the real world!
Actually, yes it will. You are going to do lots of case studies in business school. You often will not be given enough time to read through every last detail carefully; instead, you will have to determine relative levels of importance and concentrate on the most crucial pieces, while putting together a framework for the main ideas and the big changes in direction or opinion.
At work, you often have to make decisions based on incomplete information. At times, you actually do have a ton of information—but not enough time to review it all before you have to take action. These situations are far from rare in the real world.
So when you find yourself a bit unmotivated because you know you have got to study boring Reading Comprehension (RC) today, remind yourself that RC will actually help you develop much-needed skills for business school and beyond!
First, this list includes only free resources, no paid ones. Second, this list is limited to my own articles simply because I am most familiar with my own material. There are a lot of good resources out there that cost some money and/or were not written by me—those resources are just not on this list!
How to Read
Before you dive into individual question types, you must know some overall processes for RC, starting with how to read! You already know how to read in general, of course, but do you know how to read RC?
You will notice that the first article, linked to in the previous paragraph, discusses not only what to read but also what not to read. When you have only a few minutes, you also need to know what you can skip or skim (and how to make that decision). For more, check out this lesson on what not to read.
If, after trying the suggestions from this article, you still find yourself really struggling with either reading speed or comprehension, here are some resources to help you improve your reading skills. This article is especially important for people who do not read regularly in English, either for work or for fun; this is particularly true if your native language is also not English and you did your undergraduate studies in another language.
Finally, one of our two main goals when first reading a passage is to find the main point. (The other main goal is to take some light notes on each paragraph to understand the organization of the information.)
When you have mastered those skills, you will be ready to learn how to tackle the questions. Check back next week to learn how!