Articles tagged "Reading Comprehension"

GMATPrep® Reading Comprehension: Tackling a Tough GMAT Passage (part 1)

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - GMATPrep Reading Comprehension: Tackling a Tough Passage (Part 1)Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Halfway through a GMATPrep® free practice test, I hit the passage I’m going to discuss in this series—and I groaned aloud the second it appeared on the screen.

Why? Here’s what I saw (without really reading much of anything!): Read more

Here’s What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do on the GMAT

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blog-what-to-doYou’re staring at a GMAT problem that you just don’t understand. There’s a minute left on the clock. What do you do? Read more

Meteor Streams: Inference on GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 3)

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Blog-MeteorStreams-Part3We’re up to the very last question in the series on the Meteor Stream passage from the free set of practice questions that comes with the GMATPrep® software.

If you haven’t already, go read the first article (linked in the first paragraph); I’m not going to reproduce the full passage here
because it’s so long. When you’re done, keep that passage open in another window and come back here. (Note: you can try the other questions first if you like, or you can come straight back here. Your choice.)

Ready for the question? Give yourself about 1.5 minutes to answer. Read more

Everything you need to know about the New Official Guides, Part 4

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I’ve just finished trying all of the new verbal OG problems. (If you haven’t yet read my earlier installments, start here.) This installment includes my summary of All Things Verbal as well as lists of the new problems by book and question type.

Also, we’re hard at work writing new solutions to add to our GMAT Navigator program, so if you have access to Navigator, you can start to check for new solutions there in—best guess—July.

What’s new in Verbal?

Now that I’ve seen everything, I’ve been able to spot some trends across all of the added and dropped questions. For example, across both The Official Guide for GMAT® Review (aka the big book) and The Official Guide for GMAT® Verbal Review (aka verbal-only or the verbal supplement), 6 science passages were added (out of 11 new passages total), while only 3 were dropped. In addition, 3 social science passages were added (compared to 5 dropped) and 2 business passages were added (compared to 2 dropped).

So, in the books at least, there’s a slight shift towards science. It’s unclear whether this signals an actual change in emphasis on the test, though; these may just be the best retired passages that they wanted to use.

For Critical Reasoning, the same total number of questions were added and dropped. The differential (added minus dropped) for Strengthen questions was +8. Further, 6 of the 22 total new Strengthen questions are fill in the blank (FitB) format, and no new FiTB’s were introduced that were not Strengthen questions.

The differential for Weaken questions was -8 and for Inference questions, it was -4. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the drop in Weaken. I’ve been hearing from students that they’ve been seeing a lot of Strengthen / Weaken on the real test and not many (CR) Inference questions. The Strengthen jump and the small Inference drop seems to go along with that, but not the larger Weaken drop. (This is why I’m always skeptical about drawing broader conclusions based on changes in the books.)

As I mentioned in my first report on Sentence Correction (part 2 of this series), it is difficult to compare categories here because one SC can (and usually does) cross multiple topics. The trends I reported before still hold after my review of the Verbal supplement: meaning and sentence structure are increasingly important, and parallelism and comparisons are just as important as they’ve always been.

Ready for the problem lists?

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How to Infer on the GMAT

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2-11-ScienceWe’re going to kill two birds with one stone in this week’s article.

Inference questions pop up on both Critical Reasoning (CR) and Reading Comprehension (RC), so you definitely want to master these. Good news: the kind of thinking the test-writers want is the same for both question types. Learn how to do Inference questions on one type and you’ll know what you need to do for the other!

That’s actually only one bird. Here’s the second: both CR and RC can give you science-based text, and that science-y text can get pretty confusing. How can you avoid getting sucked into the technical detail, yet still be able to answer the question asked? Read on.

Try this GMATPrep® CR problem out (it’s from the free practice tests) and then we’ll talk about it. Give yourself about 2 minutes (though it’s okay to stretch to 2.5 minutes on a CR as long as you are making progress.)

“Increases in the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the human bloodstream lower bloodstream cholesterol levels by increasing the body’s capacity to rid itself of excess cholesterol. Levels of HDL in the bloodstream of some individuals are significantly increased by a program of regular exercise and weight reduction.

“Which of the following can be correctly inferred from the statements above?

“(A) Individuals who are underweight do not run any risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

“(B) Individuals who do not exercise regularly have a high risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream late in life.

“(C) Exercise and weight reduction are the most effective methods of lowering bloodstream cholesterol levels in humans.

“(D) A program of regular exercise and weight reduction lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of some individuals.

“(E) Only regular exercise is necessary to decrease cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of individuals of average weight.”

Got an answer? (If not, pick one anyway. Pretend it’s the real test and just make a guess.) Before we dive into the solution, let’s talk a little bit about what Inference questions are asking us to do.

Inference questions are sometimes also called Draw a Conclusion questions. I don’t like that title, though, because it can be misleading. Think about a typical CR argument: they usually include a conclusion that is…well…not a solid conclusion. There are holes in the argument, and then they ask you to Strengthen it or Weaken it or something like that.
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The Newest Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides Have Arrived!

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booksThe newest GMAT Strategy Guides have hit the shelves! We’ve been working all year on updating our materials to give you the best and most up-to-date study materials possible.

What’s so great about the new books?

So many things, I don’t know where to start! Okay, let’s talk about quant first.

Every quant book contains between 1 and 3 entirely new chapters. These chapters are devoted to strategies that will help you solve quant problems more efficiently and more effectively. These strategies are a crucial reason why all of our teachers score in the 99th percentile on the GMAT (I certainly wouldn’t consider taking the test without using them). We’ve always taught them in class and now we’re putting them in our books for the first time.

These strategies include:

Choosing Smart Numbers: you can turn certain algebra problems into arithmetic problems by substituting in your own numbers for the variables. We’re all better at arithmetic than we are at algebra, so you’ll definitely make your life easier (and be able to answer harder questions) by choosing smart numbers.

Testing Cases: On many data sufficiency problems (and even some problem solving problems), you’ll want to test cases in order to determine whether a statement is sufficient (or to eliminate wrong answers on PS). These problems are “theory” problems: the question may ask “Is n odd?” and then provide information that doesn’t allow you to determine a specific value for n, just whether specific characteristics are true of n.

Working Backwards: Sometimes, the problem is pretty annoying to set up and solve but the answers are all “nice” numbers: relatively small integers. In this case, you may be able to work backwards from the answers: pick one and try it in the problem to see whether it’s correct. The beauty of this technique: if you get good at it, on many problems you won’t have to try more than two answers in order to get to the correct one. I tested three answers on the solution in the article linked here, but I only really needed to test the first two; see if you can figure out why.

Estimation: Sometimes, the problem would be really irritating to solve exactly, but the answers are all decently spread apart. When this is the case, you can just estimate to solve! There are also a bunch of strategies for jumping between fractions, decimals, and percents to solve more quickly.

Combos: The GMAT likes to ask us to solve for a combination of variables, such as x + y. Sure, it’s possible that you may have to find x and y individually and then add them up, but it’s actually more likely that you’ll want to solve directly for that combo (x + y), especially on Data Sufficiency. Learn how to do this and also how to avoid DS traps in which the statement is not sufficient to solve for the individual variables but is sufficient to solve for the Combo.

Draw It Out: You can often solve the extra-annoying story problems, such as rates & work, via a “back of the envelope” approach: you sketch out a picture of the scenario and just “step” through it. For instance, you’d draw a timeline and map out exactly where those two trains are after 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours. It’s a little bit shocking how often this kind of strategy will get you all the way down to a single answer.

What is the best way to use the books?

I’ll leave you with a few tips about studying for quant. First, here’s the order that we use in our own classes:

  1. Fractions, Decimals, & Percents
  2. Algebra
  3. Word Problems
  4. Geometry
  5. Number Properties

I actually think Number Properties is a more important topic than Geometry, but geo requires you to memorize a bunch of formulas; that takes some time, so we do it in class first. If you feel okay with that type of memorization, then do the Number Properties book first. (By the way, the Geometry Guide now contains a 1-page sheet with all of the important rules and formulas to memorize! Tear it right out and keep it handy for studying or use it to make flash cards for yourself.)

Next, I’d recommend starting with a few problems from the problem set at the end of the chapter—that’s right, before you even read the chapter! This creates curiosity, which really wakes your brain up and primes it to learn. Don’t do a bunch and don’t do the hardest ones (unless you think you’re really good at that topic). Just do about 2 or 3 problems and then dive into the chapter. (This will also help you to know how much time you’re likely going to want to spend on the chapter; if the problems are really a struggle, you may even want to review the equivalent chapter in our Foundations of Math Guide, if you have that book too.)

When you get to the end of the main chapters of that book, do the OG Mixed Questions Quiz that we’ve devised for you. (Certain longer books also have mid-way quizzes.) You can find these quizzes on our web site, where our Official Guide Problem Set study lists live. You’ll receive access to these problem sets and quizzes, along with other bonus materials, when you register your books on our site.

We moved the OG problem sets online because GMAC is going to start publishing new versions of their Official Guide books every year (in July, we’ve heard), so by moving the problem sets online, we’ve ensured that you’ll always be able to go and get the sets for the specific OG editions that you own.

I also have a ton of updates to share on the Verbal side as well, which are detailed in Part II. Also, a plea: if you get the new books, tell me what you think down in the comments. (Compliments or criticisms—I do want both.)

Visit our store and be the first to own the full set of our brand new Strategy Guides. Happy studying!

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The Master Resource List for Reading Comprehension

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gmat reading comprehensionDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


They manage to pick such interesting topics for Reading Comprehension, don’t they? It’s always the kind of thing you’d choose to read at home in your free time!

Wait. No, that’s not quite right. But the topics are relevant to business school…well, occasionally. Hmm. Read more

How to Read Tough Science Passages

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gmat reading comprehensionIn the past, we’ve done some one-off review of parts of RC passages, but this time I’ve got a full one for you. In this article, we’ll look at how to get through this thing (and what to avoid). Next week, we’ll do a question or two.

I chose this passage from the free set of questions that comes with GMATPrep (that is, it doesn’t actually show up in the practice CAT itself). It’s a longer passage, so give yourself approximately three minutes total to get through.

The Passage

A meteor stream is composed of dust particles that have been ejected from a parent comet at a variety of velocities. These particles follow the same orbit as the parent comet, but due to their differing velocities they slowly gain or fall behind the disintegrating comet until a shroud of dust surrounds the entire cometary orbit. Astronomers have hypothesized that a meteor stream should broaden with time as the dust particles’ individual orbits are perturbed by planetary gravitational fields. A recent computer-modeling experiment tested this hypothesis by tracking the influence of planetary gravitation over a projected 5,000-year period on the positions of a group of hypothetical dust particles. In the model, the particles were randomly distributed throughout a computer simulation of the orbit of an actual meteor stream, the Geminid. The reseNavigator found, as expected, that the computer-model stream broadened with time. Conventional theories, however, predicted that the distribution of particles would be increasingly dense toward the center of a meteor stream. Surprisingly, the computer-model meteor stream gradually came to resemble a thick-walled, hollow pipe.

Whenever the Earth passes through a meteor stream, a meteor shower occurs. Moving at a little over 1,500,000 miles per day around its orbit, the Earth would take, on average, just over a day to cross the hollow, computer-model Geminid stream if the stream were 5,000 years old. Two brief periods of peak meteor activity during the shower would be observed, one as the Earth entered the thick-walled pipe and one as it exited. There is no reason why the Earth should always pass through the stream’s exact center, so the time interval between the two bursts of activity would vary from one year to the next.

Has the predicted twin-peaked activity been observed for the actual yearly Geminid meteor shower? The Geminid data between 1970 and 1979 show just such a bifurcation, a secondary burst of meteor activity being clearly visible at an average of 19 hours (1,200,000 miles) after the first burst. The time intervals between the bursts suggest the actual Geminid stream is about 3,000 years old.

Here’s how to read

When you’re reading an RC passage, think about:

(1) What words or parts of the sentence are so complex that I’m going to ignore them for now?

(2) When can I stop reading and start skimming?

(3) When do I have to start paying close attention again?

Below, I go through each paragraph, noting various things. Normal text means: I did read this but didn’t pay extra attention to it. Boldface text really stood out for me: my brain perked up and paid attention.

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What NOT to read on Reading Comprehension passages

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gmat reading compIt’s kind of ironic that, in order to do a great job on RC, we actually have to learn what NOT to read. You may already have read an earlier article of mine on this same topic; I want to revisit the issue not only because so many people struggle with it but also because we used an MGMAT example last time. This time, we’re going to use an example from OG13 “ that is, the real thing.

Required Preparation

You need to do a little prep before you can get the most out of this article. 🙂 First, read the introduction entitled How To Read A Reading Comp Passage. (Hint: take some notes! You’re going to be trying this out on a real passage in a few minutes!)

Next, you are going to need OG13 in order to do this exercise “ I can’t reproduce the entire passage here for copyright reasons. We’re looking for the second-to-last passage; it’s on page 414 and begins All the cells in a particular plant

Here’s what to do: set a timer for 3 minutes, read, and take whatever notes you like. If the timer buzzers before you’re done, take note. You can then go ahead and finish the passage “ I just want you to notice how much extra time you need. Then come back here.

Okay, are you ready? Let’s do this!

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How To Find The Point in an RC Passage

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Reading ComprehensionLast week, a student asked me to write an article on finding The Point in a reading comprehension passage “ specifically, what is The Point and how do we find it? I thought it was a great idea; a lot of people struggle with this.

Note: this article doesn’t address how to answer reading comprehension questions; it focuses on the initial read-through in order to understand the main point of the passage. If you do that well, though, then that should help you answer any kind of question.

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