GMAT reading comprehension questions are meant to test your understanding of the implications, meanings, and structures presented in the passages. You can expect to see 2 to 4 passages of 200 to 400 words each, in the verbal section of the GMAT exam. Each passage will be followed by 4 questions. Because the GMAT is now a computer-adaptive test, you will only see 1 question at a time. The passage, however, will remain on your computer screen until you have answered all of the questions related to it.
The 3 Most Common Types of Reading Comprehension Passages
The passages you will encounter on the GMAT will most likely address one of the 3 topics described below. Each type of passage calls for a slightly different optimum test-taking strategy. Regardless of what topic you encounter, you can rest assured that everything you need to know will be included in the passage. GMAT test writers intentionally pick obscure topics for comprehension passages. They do this to minimize the chances of giving someone with previous exposure to a particular topic an unfair advantage over others taking the same version of the test.
1.) Science Passages. These passages deal with topics including biology, chemistry, and medicine. You should approach them by doing an initial speed reading/skimming of the text. Your goal in this first review is simply to understand how the passage is structured and to analyze its outline.
Although they are often quite boring (no joke!), science passages are also very factual and straightforward. Hence, they will likely provide the easiest reading comprehension questions you will encounter on the GMAT exam. You are not likely to see any inference questions drawing on a science passage. You are much more likely to see several factual questions that can be answered directly from the passage. Science passages will likely be the easiest reading comprehension questions you encounter!
2.) Social science passages. Typically, these passages deal with topics such as history, politics, and geography. They will probably be the most enjoyable reading comprehension passages you will read. This is fortunate, because you must read these passages slowly in order to answer the many inference questions they are sure to present.
3.) Business passages. Business passages involve very difficult structures, and present questions that require you to infer information and even to determine the authors' moods and opinions. They need to be read slowly and carefully.
Frequently, business passages also include compound words that few people have ever heard before, and that even fewer people use in ordinary conversation. Don't feel bad when you run into such terms. They are not very difficult to decipher if you break them down and examine each of their parts.