GMAT  >  Introduction to GMAT Reading Comprehension

# Introduction to GMAT Reading Comprehension - Notes | Study Verbal for GMAT - GMAT

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According to GMAT, each RC passage is a unified whole – that is, the individual sentences and paragraphs support and develop one main idea or central point which the student must identify.

• You must first read the first sentence carefully, maybe twice, because that is the Summary or the Topic of the RC.
• Write the heading of the RC on your scratchpad so that you are in sync with what is happening in the passage.

• When reading understand the source of the passage. Since it is a GMAT passage, the source is generally a very reliable magazine, book, or article.
• Knowing that the passage will never be biased, and instead would try to take a neutral stance on the subject.
• If any of the answer choices state a very extreme or eccentric idea, you know that it wouldn't be right, except especially for the questions that come with an "except".
• Also, when there is a reference to the author in the answer choices, never choose an answer that condemns the author.
• Another thing that you need to keep in mind is the tone of the passage. The tone can either be positive - the author likes the idea, negative - the author does not support the ideas, or descriptive - the author is merely trying to describe some events.
• For every paragraph make a symbol on your scratchpad to mark the tone of the passage.

Positive >  +

Negative >  -

Descriptive > ~ or =

Note: There could be more than one tone in a paragraph, and you need to mark both tones while noting the tones.

• After marking the tone, write down what the author majorly talked about in the paragraph, it could be two words, such as, describing partition, or more than two words, but whatever you choose to write, you should be able to remember what the author talked about in the paragraph.
• An added advice, wherever there is a list, draw a list near the tone and passage gist. This will help you get back to the list when a question arises.
Taking notes in GMAT Reading Comprehension passages

Since the GMAT is a computer-based event with time restrictions that can trip up even the most seasoned test-takers, it probably sounds absurd to think that adding work could actually help you get through a section faster. However, passages in the reading comprehension section of the GMAT can be particularly tricky, especially considering that at an average of 350 words, they’re fairly short. We’ve discussed previously the general points you should look to extract from any passage on the GMAT, but before we go any further on taking notes, let’s review those points:

• What is the author’s point-of-view/overall argument in the passage?
• What are the supporting examples he or she uses to support the argument?
• What is the structure of the argument (e.g. two opposing sides vs. one-sided, informational vs. author's opinion)?

While this may seem simple enough, test-takers often find themselves referring back to a passage, only to find they need to re-read the entire text again. To make life much easier on test day, here are a few things to keep in mind while taking notes during the reading comprehension section of the GMAT.

Resist the temptation to try and rewrite the entire passage.

Rewriting a statement often works well in other facets of GMAT Verbal – particularly in sentence correction – but is counterproductive when tackling a reading comprehension question. No question in the reading comprehension section will ask you to rewrite or correct any part of a passage; you’ll only be required to respond to questions based on the passage, so don’t add any unnecessary work for yourself.

Before you begin a passage on the GMAT, start by creating a quick outline, using the three points we discussed in the previous section. As you read through the passage, jot down anything you find addresses any one of the points we discussed above. With the right amount of practice, you’ll train yourself to spot and take note of the details you’ll need to answer the corresponding questions. More importantly, you’ll be able to refer back to a solid set of notes instead of having to rely on only the passage itself.

Review the questions before you read the passage

Although passages on the GMAT are consistent in the way they are formatted, they’re packed with lots of information that you won’t need to remember to respond to the corresponding questions. The easiest way to find out exactly what you will need to remember? Take a peek at the questions before you dive into your reading.

While your outline should address the three points we discussed in the previous section, knowing what lies ahead in the questions will help you hone in even further on the most relevant information. You’ll also read through passages more quickly (without sacrificing accuracy) because you’ll be focused on finding only the details you’ll need to respond to the questions.

Once you’ve read through a passage, refer back to your notes to answer each question in your own words before looking at the answer choices. While this won’t work quite as well when there isn’t a clear question (i.e. “the author would agree with which of the following statements?), this strategy will help you avoid answer choices that could be correct and rely on what you know to select the answer choice that is correct.

Solved Questions on GMAT Reading Comprehension

Q.1. Directions: These GMAT reading comprehension practice questions are based on the content of a passage. Read the passage carefully and choose the best answer to each of the questions on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.

Questions #1-6 refer to the following passage:

The study of cetacean intelligence has added to our understanding of dolphin behavior. Even though cetaceans, which are marine animals including dolphins, whales, and porpoises, are widely considered intelligent species, conclusions about the type and extent of dolphin intelligence have not yet been reached. However, there are several things that we do know about the ways in which dolphins communicate and behave in groups.

Researchers study the level of communication among dolphins because communication systems can offer insight into an animal’s intelligence. Dolphins produce two primary types of vocalizations called clicks and whistles. Dolphins generally use clicks for the purposes of echolocation and whistles for communication. Dolphins emit clicks as rapid broadband bursts that are sent out into their environment and then echo back, giving them information about their surroundings. Whistles differ from clicks by being sent out as narrow-band frequency modulated signals, which are for communications such as contact calls. Strong evidence supports the idea that dolphins use signature whistles to identify and call to each other.

One hypothesis called the “acoustic flashlight” hypothesis maintains that dolphins may be able to learn passively about their surroundings by listening in on the echolocative inspections of other dolphins. Scientists are researching this idea by looking at how dolphins participate in postural pointing, an activity that humans perform when they point a finger to direct another person towards an object or location.

Communication is also an important part of how dolphins behave in groups, which can range in size from a pair of dolphins to a pod of hundreds of individuals. Researchers have noticed that large packs rely on a highly organized method of communication when responding to predators, such as sharks. When a group of dolphins reacts to an unexpected disturbance, it will quickly move in near-unison to avoid the threat. In this way, dolphins rely on visual and auditory cues to communicate their location and to interpret the locations of others in the pod.

Q.1. It can be inferred from the passage that a dolphin would use clicks instead of whistles to:

a) call to another member of the same pod

b) locate a possible route through an underwater obstacle

c) communicate a perceived threat to other dolphins

d) contact other dolphins when separated from a group

e) identify itself to another calling dolphin

Explanation: Paragraph 2 discusses how dolphins use clicks and whistles. Notice that the passage states that dolphins "generally use clicks for the purposes of echolocation and whistles for communication." Since we are being asked to infer when a dolphin would use clicks, we're looking for an answer choice that offers an example of when a dolphin would want to locate something and eliminate examples of when a dolphin would want to communicate.

Q.2. According to the passage, rapid communication enables dolphins to:

a) work in unison to locate food sources

b) move quickly as a group to escape a perceived threat

c) establish relationships quickly with their peers

d) have more highly organized hunting patterns

e) establish their territories when other cetaceans are present

Explanation: The phrase "according to the passage" provides a clue to look directly to the passage for the answer. Notice that paragraph 4 discusses an example when dolphins move "quickly in near-unison to avoid a threat." This example explains how dolphins use rapid communication to move as a group to escape.

Q.3. It can be inferred from the passage that if another animal does not have a communication system as highly advanced as that of a dolphin, then:

a) the other animal will be less likely to survive a shark attack

b) the other animal is probably a whale or porpoise

c) the other animal probably does not travel in a group with others of its kind

d) the other animal does not engage in postural pointing

e) the other animal is likely considered less intelligent than the dolphin

Explanation: This question is testing our ability to make a general inference about dolphin communication and dolphin intelligence. Notice that the first sentence in paragraph 2 states that "researchers study the level of communication among dolphins because communication systems can offer insight into an animal’s intelligence." It can be inferred from this statement that dolphins are considered highly intelligent because they have a highly organized communication system. Therefore, if an animal does not have a communication system as highly advanced as a dolphin's, then the other animal is likely considered less intelligent than the dolphin.

Q.4. Which of the following is the function of the first paragraph?

a) to contrast the communication styles of dolphins with those of other cetaceans

b) to define an abstract idea in order to simplify the discussion that follows

c) to introduce the passage’s focus on how the dolphins communicate and behave in groups

d) to explain the cause of an event that the following paragraphs discuss in detail

e) to show the consequences of a mistake made in earlier research

Explanation: This question is testing your ability to determine how one part of the passage relates to the whole. In general, the first paragraph of most essays will introduce the main idea. The first paragraph introduces the topic of the passage, namely that "there are several things that we do know about the ways in which dolphins communicate and behave in groups." The remainder of the passage discusses dolphin communication and behavior.

Q.5. The author of this passage is primarily concerned with:

a) contrasting dolphin communications with those of other cetaceans

b) defining the term “cetacean intelligence” by offering an example of dolphin communication

c) offering an example of how dolphins used highly-developed communication patterns to escape predators

d) explaining how dolphins communicate and behave in groups

e) providing an in-depth analysis of a disputed claim

Explanation: Notice that each of the passage's paragraphs discuss some aspect of dolphin communication and behavior. The final paragraph explains how dolphins communicate in groups. The final sentence of the first paragraph establishes this focus, saying: "...there are several things that we do know about the ways in which dolphins communicate and behave in groups."

The document Introduction to GMAT Reading Comprehension - Notes | Study Verbal for GMAT - GMAT is a part of the GMAT Course Verbal for GMAT.
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