Here’s the best approach to avoid getting trapped by misleading answer choices in the GRE’s Reading Comprehension section.
The RAMA method is one I’ve refined over the years, while tutoring for the GMAT, SAT, and GRE. While there are differences between each test in terms of approach, and what to look out for, the tests are overall very similar. Below is the RAMA I’ve adapted for the New GRE.
So, you’re probably wondering, what does RAMA stand for? R (Re-phrase), A (Anticipate), M (Match), A (Awareness). Let’s take a closer look!
1. Re-phrase question in your own words
Reading the question is the obvious part. The not-so-obvious part is putting the question into your own words. What often happens is you will read the question, and then go back to the passage without understanding what the question was asking in the first place. At this point, you are likely to grasp at words in the passages that look important. Then, you may go back to the passage and simply look for those words in the answer choices. The test writers know this, and will, therefore, make sure that even the wrong answer choices include words from the passage.
Instead of falling into this trap, it is best to rephrase the question in your own words. The more straightforward your interpretation of the question, the better you will be able to navigate through the passage when looking for the answer.
2. Anticipate the answer
Now that’s you’ve re-phrased the question in your own words, you must return to the passage and find the answer. Once you think you’ve found the answer, try to phrase the answer in your own words. If you are noticing a common theme, i.e. putting everything in your own words, that is because doing so is the single most effective away to avoid getting trapped by the answer choices. On other hand, if you immediately begin scanning the answer choices without anticipating the answer, you’ll likely get trapped. This is especially true on primary purpose/main idea questions.
3. Match Answer
Once you have come up with your own answer, you want to return to the answer choices and match them up with the answer choice that you think is the closest. If none of the answers works, you can return to the passage and read it one more time to see if you’ve misinterpreted something. Or, you can eliminate answer choices to see if you are left with one answer. To effectively eliminate wrong answer choices you need an…
4. Awareness of Wrong Answers Choices
When the test writers are creating a multiple-choice question, they create wrong answer choices that fall into several categories. Knowing these categories can help you correctly identify and eliminate wrong answers.
- Too Extreme
- Assumes Too Much
- Rotten Fruit
- Beyond the Scope of the Passage
- Too Broad/Too Specific
- True…But Doesn’t Answer the Question
This may all seem rather complicated, and it can be. But don’t worry – by doing a few reading comprehension passages and applying the RAMA technique, you will start to get a sense of how all of the above comes together.
Blog posts about Reading Comprehension:
- Technical Passages on the GRE: Difficult Practice Questions
- GRE Reading Comprehension Passage Outlines
- Pacing on GRE Reading Comprehension (RC)
- GRE Article: Utopian For Beginners
- Should I Take Notes on GRE Reading Passages?
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- How to Improve on GRE Reading Comprehension
- GRE Verbal Sections: Question Type Breakdown
- Changes to the GRE Reading Comprehension Section
- GRE Reading Comprehension Technique
- Snippets of GRE-type Prose on the Internet
- Difficult GRE Reading Comprehension
- GRE Short Reading Passages
- Pacing on the GRE Verbal Sections
- Critical Reasoning on the GRE: Practice Questions and Explanations
- GRE Reading Comprehension Passage Patterns
- GRE Critical Reasoning Question: The Logic of "Except"
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- FAQ: How do I improve on the Reading Comprehension?