The reading comprehension sections of the GRE often lead students to a common perplexity. In short, this section seems to be extremely subjective. In many cases—though not all—it seems likely that the test taker could be convinced that any of the options could be correct. Even if this is not the case, it often happens that three options all seem equally correct—a frustrating experience indeed! Whether you need GRE tutoring in Atlanta, GRE tutoring in Houston, or GRE tutoring in San Francisco, working one-on-one with an expert may be just the boost your studies need.
This is one of the strange aspects of taking the GRE, particularly for those who are much more at home with discrete answers, whether in the quantitative sections or in the other verbal sections. Indeed, this is one of the reasons that the reading comprehension sections can cause the most stress for students during the test itself. In addition to the fact that these sections take the most time to complete, they cause a lot of frustration.
Therefore, it is critical to your approach to the test, and this should be written above the doors of every testing center, that “these questions must be approached as though you were looking for the least bad answer.”
For each question in this section, the test makers do tie the inquiry to the passage. In some cases, you will be lucky enough to be able to point at the exact sentence that corresponds to the question; however, it is only in rare cases that this sentence will represent a given answer in an exact manner. Instead, you will almost always have to interpret that sentence. When performing such interpretation, you should look at each of your possible answers and ask yourself, “Does this answer follow from that sentence?” If the question asks for an inference, you must ask, “Can I actually infer this answer or is this conjecture?” You will have to read both the sentence and the potential answer very carefully.
As expected, matters become much more difficult when you need to search the whole passage for your answer. This will require you to ask questions like, “Can I really find the basis for this inference anywhere in the passage?” The really is quite emphasized, for many sentences will be tantalizing treats, appearing to give you exactly what is presented in the answer. You must scrutinize and be as strict as possible in your interpretation.
Of course, much of this likely does not come as a surprise to many readers. You have likely been taught by someone or some book, “Always do a process of elimination.” Still, in all of the other problem types, you are potentially able to “zero-in” on a certain, unquestioned answer. This is not the case in the reading comprehension. You must think quite a bit—and you must be careful not to think yourself into the wrong answer. Instead, think yourself “away from” all of the wrong answers. This might also be expressed in those aforementioned august words: “These questions must be approached as though you were looking for the least bad answer.” If these words are too lengthy for the doorways of the test centers, at least burn them into your memory. They will serve you well. Varsity Tutors offers resources like free GRE Verbal flashcards to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider a GRE Verbal tutor.
Want to practice looking for the least bad answer on some GRE Verbal Reading Comprehension problems? Varsity Tutors’ free GRE Verbal Practice Test questions are organized by concept, so you can focus just on this type of problem until you completely familiarize yourself with its idiosyncrasies and the strategies you should use when answering problems of this type. Each GRE Verbal Practice Tests problem includes a complete explanation that explains how the correct answer was determined, so if you get stuck on or miss a few problems, make sure to read the explanations, as they can help you fine-tune your Reading Comprehension problem strategies. In addition to the GRE Verbal help section and GRE Verbal tutoring, you may also want to consider taking some of our GRE Verbal diagnostic tests. By not only learning new strategies such as “look for the least bad answer” but also putting them into practice when answering GRE Verbal problems, you can ensure that you’re ready for test day in no time!