READING STRATEGIES FOR THE GRE
The GRE has two sections of Verbal and there could be a third – the experimental section! For most GRE test-takers this is not good news because it means more vocabulary to negotiate and more reading to do. Well honestly speaking, the vocabulary can be a Gordian knot- unrelenting and frustrating. For someone who does not have earlier exposure to vocabulary and has been meager with his reading the GRE vocabulary is a monster to say the least. But despite all the lack of reading experience and its concomitant lack of vocabulary, one can still negotiate the reading passages with strategies, some of which I have enumerated and explained below.
But before strategies can be used, one must be able to read. One never got anywhere without reading. So don’t become short with the reading tasks and don’t throw up your hands and declare in despair- “It’s so boring!” The moment you start the GRE prep, start practicing to spend time reading. The task may seem futile at first and the results may be frustrating, but nevertheless do not give up. Be patient and when you get down to the Questions, use the TWO strategies that I am glad to share here with you.
1. One of the most important things to learn is the difference between a Conclusion and an Inference. Unfortunately, the difference is great but treated with unpardonable nonchalance. A number of test-takers go through the whole prep program ignorant of how to deal with tasks that ask us to conclude and those that ask us to infer. Well, two quick tricks will help. Remember that the language of a conclusion has to be conclusive; it must state finality and hence the strong verbs (has, have, is. was, etc.) and the superlatives (none, all, only, most, etc.) are the preferred flavor. For an Inference on the other hand, one must avoid answers using such language and must instead select those whose language is more fluid (may be, can be, likely, probably, etc). Remember also that an answer picked as an Inference must not repeat content stated in the passage; what we infer is what lies between the lines and not in the lines. On the other hand, when we pick a conclusion, it can be tested for its efficacy as the right answer by checking for the stated facts that support this conclusion.
2. Another important strategy is understanding what can’t work as a Primary Purpose answer. It is almost a foregone conclusion that every passage on the GRE will have the Primary Purpose of the passage question. Much has been proffered in terms of where in the passage the answer to this question lurks – in the first and/or last paragraph. Admittedly this is true but not always. It is sensible to read the first and last paragraphs diligently to get an idea of ‘why’ the author is saying all this. But it works well to have another strategy up your sleeve. Work by elimination: remove all answer choices that are very narrow and focus on only an idea or content limited to an example, or a comparison intended to support a bigger idea. Remember the Primary Purpose is always an over arching idea that is held up on many pillars but these pillars are not the Primary Purpose. Almost always this strategy will help eliminate 2 answer choices. Eliminate also those choices that go beyond the scope of the discussion and speak of something not even mentioned in the passage. There you go- another answer knocked out! By the time you have 2 answers to pick from you have probably got it right.
Sounds easy and it is! Get started now and begin with a smile on your face and loads of cheer in your heart. The GRE is not such a monster after all! It is with this spirit that Option has year after year trained innumerable students for the GRE. We walk the test with you and each session is a step forward.