GRE Test Reading Comprehension

What You Must Know About GRE Reading Comprehension Questions

The ability to critically analyze the information given is an essential ability, which you need to have in order to pursue a college career. However, this detail is not reflected in your SOP, but in turn it is in your GRE scores. The ETS has devised an extensive reading comprehension section to test this particular ability of yours. This sub-section is nearly fifty percent of the Verbal reasoning section of the GRE. Hence, understanding the nuances of the question of the particular sub-section is important.Understanding the Comprehension Questions of GREIf you study the comprehension questions of the various college entrance examinations, you will see that the questions asked in the GRE are diametrically different. The questions are highly complex. You will not only be required to understand the information given, but also apply it accordingly, in order to answer the questions. The typical features of the questions are as follows:

  • The comprehension passages usually consist of one paragraph. However, some passages may comprise several paragraphs.
  • The topics that are usually covered in the passages are as follows:
    • Social issues
    • Economic concerns
    • Biological sciences
    • Current affairs
    • Physical science
    • National and international affairs
    • Arts and humanities
  • The passages are usually taken from books, newspapers and magazines. However, no prior knowledge of the main text, from which the excerpt has been taken, is required.
  • The questions are multiple choice ones, i.e., you will have to Select One correct answer from a set of 5 answers.
  • You will have to understand the main theme of the passage in order to answer the reading comprehension questions. However, some questions may also be based on the secondary theme of the passage.
  • Some of the questions may require you to understand the idea that the author is trying to portray through the passage. In such questions, you will have to understand the apparent theme or inference that the author is trying to draw.

There are different types of Reading Comprehension Questions in GRE.

To help you understand the answering process for reading comprehension questions, a sample question along with the answering strategy has been discussed below.Sample QuestionPassageChinua Achebe’s masterpiece Things Fall Apart was borne out of Achebe’s frustration at the manner in which African nations, had up until then been portrayed in European novels. The book tells of Christian missionaries to Nigeria who disrupt the traditional Igbo life, thereby driving the protagonist, Okonkwo, a village elder, to suicide.Achebe’s book gained him instant recognition. Critics rightly praised the book’s vivid accounts of tribal beliefs and culture, and commended Achebe’s inclusion of Igbo proverbs. He was recognized not only as a historian, but also as a novelist whose work could be likened to that of a Greek tragedy.QuestionThe primary purpose of the passage is toAnswersA. Explain the source of Achebe’s desire to write his novelB. Present an overview of the critical context in which Achebe’s work has been viewed.C. Prove that Achebe’s work is of critical acclaimD. Analyze the historical background in which Achebe writes.E. Explain how Achebe’s novel fits within the context of Igbo literatureCorrect Answer: BAnswering StrategyOption (A) is incorrect, because it provides the reason as to why Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart. However, the question is about the primary purpose of the passage. Hence, option (A) does not answer the question, making it an incorrect option.Option (B) is correct, because the author’s reason for writing the passage is portrayed through the following statement, ‘Critics rightly praised the….inclusion of Igbo proverbs.’ The purpose of the passage is to help the reader understand the context in which Things Fall Apart was penned. Hence, option (B) is the correct answer.Option (C) is incorrect. This statement is meaningless, because right at the beginning of the passage the author says that the novel is a ‘masterpiece’. Hence, it will naturally be a critically acclaimed novel and it does not portray the primary theme of the passage. Thus, it is a wrong answer.Option (D) is incorrect. The primary objective of the passage is to help the reader understand the critical context of the novel. This notion is not expressed in statement (D) and hence, it is a wrong answer option.Option (E) is incorrect. The passage does not mention anything about Igbo literature. Hence, it is beyond the scope of the passage, making it a wrong answer option.A Link for Practicing Comprehension QuestionsThe above mentioned sample question outlines the process for approaching these questions. If you want access to more such questions then click on the following link: Go through these questions available on the official website. These will give you an idea of the types of questions asked in the GRE. Understanding and then solving the reading comprehension questions may be an exhaustive process, but there is no shortcut to success! So work hard and prepare well for the test.