The GRE exam has three major sections. Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Ability. Among these three sections, Verbal Reasoning is considered the toughest mostly because of its high usage of difficult vocabulary, obscure reading passages, and confusing answer choices. The reading passages are a part of the Reading Comprehension question type which is one of the most significant question types in the GRE exam paper. Going by past year trends, Reading Comprehensions form almost 50% of the GRE Verbal Reasoning section. Scoring good marks in GRE RC will boost your performance in the GRE exam paper appreciably. So while doing your GRE prep, pay special attention to this question pattern.
However, before starting your GRE preparation, you should be aware of all the types of RC questions in the GRE Exam paper. This will help you in breaking down the big, confusing world that is Reading Comprehension and analyze your performance objectively.
How many RC Questions are there in the GRE Exam Paper?
In general, be sure to find at least 10 questions of Reading Comprehension in the GRE exam. The pattern of the questions are:
- 1 Long Passage- 4 questions
- 5-7 Short passages- 2,3 questions per passage
If your experimental section is Verbal Reasoning, then you’ll find more such questions. RC questions are time-consuming and it often becomes very difficult to derive meanings from the passages. So while doing your GRE preparation, give more and more timed GRE mocks and analyze the questions.
There is a specific way to analyze the RC questions. Many aspirants consider they are not doing well or are not good in Reading Comprehension. But rather than looking at it as one single question type, it is important to focus on the specifics and knowing which question of reading comprehension are you not doing good at? So next time you solve a GRE mock, just beside the RC question write which question type it is. After a week, go back to the questions and find out which type of question you are going most wrong in.
Also, start reading one article every day from the New York Times, The Economist, The Forbes, or Wall Street Journal. The language of articles in these newspapers is similar to what appears in the GRE exam. Paper setters pick up topics from these articles. So continue this habit all through, every day of your GRE prep. This also helps in learning vocabulary.
10 Important RC Question Types Common in the GRE Exam Paper
- Fact-Based Question
- Inference based question
- Contextual Meaning based question
- Paradoxical or Extrapolation Question
- Strengthening or weakening argument questions
- Except for Type Question
- The primary purpose of the passage
- The tone of the passage
- Fill in the blanks
- Structure of the passage
This is one of the most common and easy RC question types in your GRE exam paper. Read the passage thoroughly and attentively to answer such questions. The clue will be given in the question itself. You need to find the correct relation from the passage.
Examples of Fact-based RC Question:
- The passage states that
- From the third paragraph of the passage, it can be concluded that
- According to the passage which of the following statement is correct/incorrect
2. Inference Based Question
This is a slightly difficult question type. Many students face problems understanding what exactly they need to look for while solving such questions. Keep in mind that the context is beyond the scope of the passage. Even the answer choices will not have statements explicitly mentioned in the passage. So , read the passage well and understand it’s meaning completely. For the answers, you have to make an educated guess.
Examples of Inference-based RC Questions:
- It can be inferred from the passage that the author would agree with what statements?
- The sentence implies which of the following?
- What can be inferred when the author states..?
3. Contextual Meaning based question
Practice vocabulary well while doing your GRE prep for answering this RC Question type. However, keep in mind that it is not always necessary to know the meaning of all the words in the answer choices. Most questions focus on asking synonym/antonym of a given word from the passage. Some questions may ask the meaning of a phrase with respect to the passage. The context is very important in these scenarios. Read the passage well. Even if you are not aware of some words, try to understand the contextual meaning.
Examples of Contextual Questions:
- Which word meaning is closest to a word in the passage?
- In the context of the passage, what does this word mean?
4. Paradoxical or Extrapolation Question
This is one of the RC question types that is common in the GRE exam only. Like the inference based questions, Extrapolation questions will also require analysis beyond the context of the passage. A particular situation will be given in the passage. You will analyze that situation and find the analogous situation from the answer choices.
5.Strengthening or weakening argument questions
This question type is most common in the Logical RC questions in the GRE Exam paper. They appear confusing but is easily scorable if you do enough practice. The information will be given in a crisp manner. You won’t need any analysis beyond that information.
Examples of Strengthening/Weakening Questions:
- Which one of the following, if true, most undermines the argument?
- What strengthens/weakens this position?
- Which of the following most strongly supports the author’s claim?
- If X is true which of the following statement strengthens the above claim?
6. Except For Type Question
This is again a very common RC Question type. The question pattern is easy, however, the answer choices can be tricky. Read the passage and understand the context well for answering these questions.
Examples of Except For Type Questions:
- The passage implies all of this, except
- All the claims are true with respect to the passage, EXCEPT
7. The primary purpose of the passage
You have to understand the main idea of the passage for answering this question. Try to look at the bigger picture. The questions will be straight forward.
Examples of Primary Purpose Type Questions:
- What is the central idea of the passage?
- What is the main purpose/idea of the passage?
- Which of the options implies the gist of the passage
- Which of the options best summarizes the passage?
8. The Tone of the passage
The trick to answering this question type is understanding the meaning of the answer choices. There are only certain specific tones, so make sure you practice enough questions of this type to grow familiarity with the options. Like, the primary purpose questions, tone of the passage questions are also straight forward.
Examples of Tone of the Passage Type Questions:
- Identify the tone you believe the writer is using
- Which of the choices best mentions the established tone of the passage?
9. Fill in the blanks:
Also known as the conclusion kind of questions, they are generally in the form of fill in the blanks. These questions will again require you to think beyond the scope of the passage. Understand the tone of the passage and start eliminating answer options based on that. Next, focus on the central theme and choose the option most related.
Examples of the Fill in the Blanks Type Questions:
- What do you conclude from the second paragraph of the passage?
- The conclusion most suited to the given passage would be..?
10. Structure of the passage
This is the last question type. It tests your logical thinking and you are not required to analyze beyond the scope of the passage. The main purpose is to observe the logical flow or organization of the ideas in the passage.
Examples of the Structure of The Passage Type Questions:
- Choose an option that talks about the organization of the passage.
- The organization of the second paragraph/passage can be described as:
- The objective of the second paragraph :
- The function of the third paragraph is:
These are the 10 question types that are common in GRE Reading Comprehension. In fact, these are the only RC question types you will encounter while giving your GRE examination. So prepare well. Follow the technique of marking beside the question paper. Analyze which particular question type you are mostly going wrong in and improve that area.
All the best!