Beginners Guide to GMAT Reading Comprehension

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gmat reading comprehension

The GMAT exam is a standardised test which you need to take to apply for MBA courses. The GMAT (2023) Focus Edition, the latest iteration of the traditional GMAT comprises three primary sections, namely Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Data Insights. Many GMAT aspirants struggle with the reading comprehension part of the verbal section since it often includes long passages from unexplored topics. Reading Comprehension questions are designed to assess an individual’s aptitude and ability to comprehend words and statements, analyse logical relationships between significant points, draw inferences, and follow the development of quantitative concepts. If you are also apprehensive about the GMAT reading comprehension, take a look at this blog to know what to expect in the exam, as well as some tips to ace it! 

Name of the Exam  GMAT Focus Edition
Duration  2 Hours 15 Minutes 
Sections  3
Score Range  205-805
Questions  64
Exam Cost  $275

GMAT 2023 Exam Pattern

Since November 2023, there have been a few changes implemented in the traditional exam pattern of the GMAT. That being said, the overall duration of the GMAT is now reduced to 2 Hours and 15 Minutes. Due to the shorter duration of the exam, test-takers will now get a more convenient and efficient experience. The GMAT Focus Edition Test only has three sections, i.e., Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning and Data insights. The new GMAT does not have integrated reasoning, sentence correction and geometry. Test-takers can expect around 64 questions in the new GMAT exam. The total scoring range of the GMAT has changed to 205-805.  Refer to the table given below to get an overview of the section wise format  of the GMAT 2023 exam.  

Section  Questions  Duration
Quantitative Reasoning Section  21 45 Minutes 
Verbal Reasoning  23 45 Minutes
Data Insights  20 45 Minutes 

GMAT Reading Comprehension: An Overview

The GMAT verbal section consists of 3 parts – Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Among these, the number of questions in the reading section form around fifty percent of the total number of questions in the verbal section, which makes it essential to prepare well for this part. The GMAT reading comprehension part consists of usually 3 shorter and one longer passage which may be from social sciences, humanities, business, physical or biological sciences. You have to read the passages thoroughly to understand what is being discussed before attempting the given questions. Generally, there are 3 to 4 questions for each passage.

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GMAT Reading Comprehension Format 

For all those who are looking forward to appearing for the GMAT exam, the ideal way to begin for this topic would be to first understand its format and then begin with the practice. The passage would be around 150-300 words and would be of mediocre difficulty. It will have around 3-4 questions that will be MCQ in nature with 4-5 options.

Different Types of Questions in GMAT Reading Comprehension

The questions in GMAT reading comprehension aims to assess your ability and skills in – summarizing the main idea of the passage, differentiating between ideas that are stated and those implied by the author, making inferences based on the information provided in the passage, analysing the logical structure of the passage and identifying the author’s tone and attitude in the passage. There are usually six different types of questions that you need to answer in the GMAT reading comprehension. These include:

Main Idea Questions

These questions will require you to summarise the passage or recognise the main purpose of the author behind the passage. These questions may be asked in different formats like what is the central idea of the passage or what was the main concern of the author in the passage. These questions may have answer choices in a format different from the passage to see whether you are able to grasp the main idea of the passage or not.

Detail Questions

Detail questions will require you to identify any fact or detail from the passage. These are some of the easiest questions since you would find the exact information within the passage. Generally beginning with something like ‘according to the passage’, these questions aim to assess your attentiveness while reading the passage.

Inference Questions

These questions access your ability to identify information that is not explicitly stated in the passage but is nonetheless implied by the author. You need to understand the different viewpoints given within the passage to answer these questions correctly.

Out-of-context Questions

Out of context questions require you to take information from the passage and apply it in a different context. For example, you may be asked to identify which of the situations given in the answer choices are similar to the situation mentioned in the given passage. To come up with the correct answer, you need to pay close attention to the arguments or ideas of the passage.

Logical Structure Questions

These questions test your ability to analyse the structure of the passage in order to identify the role of the different parts in relation to the whole. You may be asked to identify how the author constructs the argument, or recognise the strengths or weaknesses in the passage. 

Style and Tone Questions

These questions asked in the GMAT Reading Comprehension assesses your ability to identify the attitude of the author through his choice of words in the passage. You may be also asked about the tone of the passage, whether it is critical, enthusiastic, questioning etc.

Tips and Tricks to Prepare for GMAT Reading Comprehension

Now that you are familiar with the different types of questions asked in the GMAT Reading Comprehension, you can start preparing accordingly to ace this part of the exam. Here are some tips to help with your preparation:

  • Make reading a daily habit
  • Read extensively on a variety of topics – this can give you a comparative advantage in the test if the passage is on a familiar topic
  • Note down any new words in a diary or journal and go through them regularly
  • Try to summarise what you read in a few sentences
  • Practice with mock tests before your exam

Also Read: How to Crack GMAT in 3 Months?

Tips to Improve GMAT Reading Comprehension Score

Some of the main points highlighted under this section are presented below.

  • You must shift your focus on keywords in the passages(s).
  • Try to take notes as you read the passages and make sense of it all by interconnecting the dots
  • To save time, try to skim through the passage without focusing too much about retention
  • Further, it’s advisable to pause and reflect and predict on the text you’re reading than reading the entire comprehension non-stop.
  • Understand the questions carefully and take your time to actually understand the intent of the question.

GMAT Reading Comprehension Sample Passage

Here is a sample passage for you-

GMAT Reading Comprehension Books

  • The GMAT Official Guide
  • The GMAT Official Guide Verbal Review
  • GMATPrep Exam Packs 1 and 2 and GMATPrep Question Pack 1
  • Aristotle Prep Reading Comprehension Grail
  • Manhattan Prep GMAT Reading Comprehension Strategy Guide
  • PowerScore GMAT Reading Comprehension Bible
  • Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank
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GMAT Syllabus 2022: Section Wise Exam Pattern Details Top Universities Accepting GMAT Scores 2023 GMAT Registration: Step-By-Step Guide


Does GMAT have reading comprehension?

Yes, GMAT has reading comprehension and it’s one of the most important sections of the exam.

How can I improve my GMAT reading speed?

Practice reading at your normal speed for atleast half an hour everyday and watch the speed increase with time.

How many reading passages are on GMAT?

There are 4 reading comprehension passages on GMAT.

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