GRE: Introduction to Reading Comprehension

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Reading Comprehension questions are based on a passage ranging from approximately 150 to 400 words in length. Each passage is followed by two to four questions based on the passage. The shorter passages are usually followed by two questions.

Ability Tested

This question type tests your ability to understand, interpret, and analyze reading passages on a variety of topics. Passages are generally taken from the following categories:

  • Biological science: passages about botany, medicine, or zoology

  • Physical science: passages about chemistry, physics, or astronomy

  • Humanities: passages about art, literature, music, folklore, or philosophy

  • Social studies: passages about history, government, economics, or sociology

The questions will frequently ask you:

  • about the main idea, main point, or possible title of the passage

  • about information that is directly stated in the passage

  • about information that is implied, suggested, or can be inferred

  • to recognize applications of the author's opinions or ideas

  • to evaluate how the author develops and presents the passage

  • to recognize the style or tone of the passage

Basic Skills Necessary

Students who have read widely and know how to read, analyze, and interpret stated and implied information efficiently tend to do well on this section.

Directions

Each passage is followed by questions based on its content. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and choose the corresponding oval on the screen. Answer all questions about the passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage. You may refer back to the passage.

Analysis

  • Use only the information given or implied in a passage. Do not consider outside information, even if it seems more accurate than the given information.

  • You are looking for the best answer, so be sure to read all the choices.

  • If you don't know the answer, try to eliminate some choices and then take an educated guess.

  • Because you may refer to the passage, don't try to memorize everything in the passage. Read the passage focusing on the main point or purpose and the structure of the passage.

  • Because the complete passage may not fit on the screen, make sure that you are comfortable with the method of scrolling on the screen.

  • Each passage contains numbered lines for reference and to assist you in finding a particular spot.