What NOT to Read on GMAT Reading Comprehension Passages

With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Ironically, to do a great job on Reading Comprehension (RC) on the GMAT, we actually have to learn what NOT to read. So many people struggle with what and how to read, but a big part of the battle is knowing what you can skim or skip!

I am going to give you a quick overview of what I mean by “what NOT to read,” and then I am going to point you to some resources containing full examples of the technique.

Learn the Process

First, read the introduction entitled How to Read a Reading Comp Passage. (Hint: Take some notes! You are going to be trying this out on a real passage in a few minutes.)

Next, you are going to try a couple of examples; one contains a Manhattan Prep passage, and one contains an Official Guide (OG) passage.

When you do the exercises, keep a few things in mind:

(1) Look for language clues that help distinguish between “high level” and “detail.” You want to read the “high level” information and skim or skip the “detail.” The “detail” clues tend to be more obvious: for example, for instanceone type of something, and so on.

(2) The bigger the words get, the more likely we will want to skim. They are going to use technical language, but that language will almost certainly be described in easier words at some other point—ignore the technical stuff and go look for that easier description.

(3) Despite #2, we are still expected to have a decent vocabulary. If you run across an unknown-to-you word that is not otherwise defined, then you are forewarned: learn this vocabulary word before you take the GMAT.

Test It Out!

All right, let us try some examples. I am going to have you do the Manhattan Prep example first. Once you think you have mastered that, then try the OG example.

Also, if you have access to Manhattan Prep’s OG Archer study tool, I have posted a video discussion of the passage used in the article to which I linked. Try it yourself first (using the article), but you then might want to reinforce the lesson by watching the video.

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