GMAT test takers have a variety of ideas and suggestions about how to tackle the challenge of GMAT Reading Comprehension.  Some like to skim, or to speed read, or to read the first paragraph carefully and skim the rest.  Perhaps there are individual test takers for whom each of those is a valid approach.  For most people, though, I think there are three words that summarize the core of the RC strategy that will be the most successful for the widest variety of test takers.  At Magoosh, we recommend: read carefully once.

## Basics of GMAT Reading Comprehension

Just as a reminder.  Your GMAT Verbal section will have 41 questions, which will be split approximately equally into the three question types: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension —- about 13-14 of each.  The RC questions, obviously, will be “clumped” around passages.  A “short” passage (200-250 words) typically has 3 questions, and a “long” passage (300-350 words) typically has 4 questions.  On your GMAT section, you most likely will see three “short” RC passages and one “long” passage, although you could see two of each.

You goal is in reading is to follow the argument and understand it, but not to memorize.  Map, don’t memorize!  As you are learning, the practice of  note-taking can help you develop this absolutely crucial skill.  Students resist practicing with note-taking, thinking it will take more time, but in the long run, mastering the skill of  “map don’t memorize” through note-taking is one of the biggest time-savings on the entire GMAT.

What notes do you take?  Write down the main idea, preferably in ten words or fewer.  Feel free to use arrows, symbols, any shorthand code that makes sense to you.  Write down the main idea of the passage very briefly, and write down just as briefly what each paragraph is about.  This is your “map” of the passage.  Eventually, you will be able to dispense with the physical notes and do this entirely in your head.  This is  important to practice: DO NOT plan on doing on mapping a passage the first time on test day.  Practice note-taking every time you read a GMAT RC passage, until you can seamlessly create a mental map every single time.