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Overview of GMAT Verbal Section: Reading Comprehension

Overview of GMAT Verbal Section: Reading Comprehension

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer-adaptive test conducted throughout the year as a pre-requisite for applying to Management courses across the world. The test duration is 3 hour and 30 mins. The GMAT is divided into 4 sections:

  1. Verbal Section
  2. Quantitative Section
  3. Integrated Reasoning section
  4. Analytical Writing Assessment section

The verbal sections is further divided into: Reading Comprehension (RC), Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning. The verbal section will have a total of 41 questions which must be answered in 75 minutes.

Reading comprehension questions are based on passages. There will be about 3-4 passages, each one having anywhere between 1-3 paragraphs. The passages will range from 200-350 words.  Each passage will have anywhere between 1-4 questions.

In total, you can expect to see about 12-14 RC questions. All are multiple choice questions with 5 answer choices.

The content of the topics are academic in nature. The subjects that the passages are based on include science, social science, history, and business. One does not need to have any outside information on any of these topics to approach RC questions. All the information that you need to answer RC questions are given in the passage itself. So be careful not to use outside information other than what has been presented in the passage to answer RC questions. And do not be anxious if you come across a topic that you have no prior knowledge on, as that is not required to answer RC questions.

The questions on RC can be general or specific. General questions will ask you about the primary purpose of the passage while specific questions will ask you for details from the passage. Below is a list of the different question types you can expect on the GMAT RC section:

1) Main Idea – The main message, Author’s central point

2) Details – Specific details from a passage, Ideas and facts that support the main idea

3) Structure – Ask you to examine the way in which a passage unfolds. (Function, Organization)

4) Inference – Use passage information to make logical (unstated) conclusions

5) Extrapolation – Ability to determine relationships between ideas in the passage and ideas outside the scope of the passage.

6) Passage Tone – Determine how the author feels about something mentioned in the passage.



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