GMAT Reading Comprehension – Cut the Fluff

Did you take practice tests scoring well but then do horribly on the actual exam?

You might be suffering from panic anxiety on the real exam. This is actually quite common but a lot of people just don’t know why things changed when they take the actual exam.

The issue is that taking the actual exam under test conditions is a lot different from answering questions while leisurely studying. Your brain will have already spent a good 20-30minutes writing 2 essays for the Writing Section. It’s only after your brain has written two essays from scratch that you begin answering GMAT questions that actually count.

So what happens is you PAY EVEN MORE ATTENTION. You stay more ALERT, try to be more FOCUSED. This actually works against you, especially for the reading comprehension section.

By paying more attention, you start reading every sentence in the passage and will start to overanalyze every word – this is going to slow you down. Worse, it’s going to make you so bogged down into the details of the passage you don’t even remember where it started off at. Only your short term memory works and the only thing you remember is the last sentence you read…not the idea of the passage.

How to CRITICALLY THINK in Reading Comprehension Passages

If you’ve been reading through RC passages without much critical thinking, you are going to do horribly on the actual test. You can’t JUST read the passage, you have to think critically as you go through it. A lot of RC guides out there will say not to read the whole passage – just read the first sentence of each paragraph and skip around. That’s the general gist, but it’s not JUST reading the first sentence. It’s combination of dissecting those first sentences in search of author’s opinion, then focusing on key transitive phrases that cue us into the direction the author is heading, then ignoring the rest of the sentences/paragraphs entirely to move onto the author’s next point. Painting this picture and how it evolves is key and the starting point is dissecting that first sentence.

The first best strategy after this general pattern of connecting the dots (ie connecting the author’s purpose from the first sentence of each paragraph), is to dissect those sentences by CUTTING THE FLUFF. Just like the same strategy we recommended in our well-received Sentence Correction Pill, cutting the fluff is going to help us focus more on SENTENCE STRUCTURE rather than DETAILS of the topic sentences in each paragraph.

Again, let me repeat that. In reading comprehension, we are focusing more on SENTENCE STRUCTURE than on the DETAILS of the topic sentences.

When you adrenaline is running high on the exam, tell your brain to focus on CUTTING THE FLUFF – not reading the passage. Focus on sentence structure. Remove extraneous, descriptive, colorful phrases from convoluted, complex, and meaninglessly long sentences to get a simplified version that looks like this:

“Remove phrases from sentences to get a simplified version” [after cutting the fluff]

The best way to show you is through some examples. Watch the link below where I show you my Critical Reading skills as I think out loud through these passages. Don’t let your brain wander during the real exam. Channel your adrenaline into these areas that I focus on:

Practice Reading Comprehension “Caffeine”
Practice Reading Comprehension “Genetic Mutations”

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