If you have been studying for the GRE, you are familiar with Reading Comprehension questions. Reading Comprehension questions make up about a half of the questions on the Verbal section. Each question is based on a passage. While some questions get their own passage, this isn't always the case — each passage may be paired with up to six questions, giving about 10 passages in total on the test. Passages with fewer associated questions will be shorter, often one paragraph in length, while passages with more associated questions may be several paragraphs long.

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The questions themselves may be multiple choice questions with five answer choices where only one answer choice is correct, multiple choice questions with three answer choices where between one and three answer choices are correct, and select-in-passage questions where you can select one sentence from the passage that correctly answers the question.

Read the question first

A common piece of advice floating around is to read the question on the screen before reading the passage — that way you can look for the answer while you're reading. If you're on a passage with exactly one question associated with it, that's great advice! However, if we're on a passage with multiple questions, this is actually an actively detrimental strategy.

Why is this? When we read a passage looking for the answer to a specific question, we tend to disregard other key elements in the passage. This means that when the next question comes up, it's likely to be about one of the elements we didn't pay attention to, and we aren't ready for it. This forces us to read through the passage repeatedly for each question. This slows us down *and* disadvantages us on general questions, which require a broader understanding of the passage as a whole and aren't easy to derive quickly.

So for each passage, look for the little bar above the passage that says which questions are based on the passage. If the bar tells you that only one question is based on the passage, go ahead and read the question stem first — but not the answer choices. If the bar tells you that two or more questions are based on the passage, read the passage before looking at the first question.


But how do we read the passage? Well, if we have got a one-question passage, we can go ahead and read for the answer, varying how we read based on what the question is. But what about for a multiple-question passage, especially one with several paragraphs? For these passages, we want to skim.

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Check out the video for more details on how to approach answering questions effectively and the different RC question types.