Difficult GRE Reading Comprehension

Challenging Passages and In-Context Vocabulary

For those looking to learn vocabulary in context while dealing with sophisticated prose, reading the New York Times does not always provide GRE-caliber passages. Sure, there is the Sunday book review, which is always filled with challenging vocabulary and twisted syntax. But if you want a concentrated source of challenging passages, which will provide you plenty of reading in context, GRE-level vocabulary, and questions to test your reading skills, then I have the source for you.

Warning: the following advice is only for those who are looking to score in the top percentile, and who do not mind their reading on the dry side.

The answer: The LSAT guide.


LSAT Guides

There are many LSAT guides, which are comprised of official LSAT questions that have been put to pasture, so to speak. I’m not sure of the exact number, but there are well over 40 official LSAT tests. Each contains a reading comprehension section of 25 questions, and four passages. This translates to 1000 questions and 160 passages.

The passages are very much like what you’ll see if you receive the difficult section of the section-adaptive Revised GRE. (Again, if your reading skills are not completely honed to this degree you may want to consider GRE or GMAT guides. Simply put: LSAT questions and passages tend to be more difficult).

A quick flip through an LSAT reading passage as yielded up such vocabulary gems as promulgate, arcane, and ambivalent. So not only will you be exposed to GRE-level vocabulary, but it will be in the context of a reading passage. Meaning you brain will already be in the testing/learning mode (which isn’t always the case when you are reading the New York Times).


Pros and Cons

You will also have access to 50 Critical Reasoning questions per test (yes, the LSAT is big on Critical Reasoning).  Some of the question types are beyond the scope of the GRE, but if you really want to nail the Critical Reasoning component of the GRE Verbal section, then the LSAT questions will help you do so.

The downside is that none of the questions come with explanations. They do come with answers, which in some ways can be a positive. By forcing yourself to wrap your head around why a particular answer is correct can be a far more valuable learning experience than simply reading an explanation. That is, when you figure something out on your own you’ve learned it much better. Of course there will be some instances in which you will be stymied. But despair not: the test is more difficult than the GRE, so you’ll be ready for test day from a reading standpoint. And you’ll definitely pick up some choice vocab along the way.


Where to Find Them

Amazon.com has all of the LSAT guides you’ll ever want. You can even buy one test at a time (to try it out) vs. the other option: a book of 10 official tests. I’d say two 10 official guides will provide enough practice for even the most ambitious GRE student.


Most Popular Resources

68 Responses to Difficult GRE Reading Comprehension

  1. Jamiul Islam January 24, 2021 at 7:01 am #

    Dear Chris,
    Pls help me with the following passage:

    All of Dickens books might be called “Great Expectations.” But the only book to which he gave the name of “Great Expectations” was the only book in which the expectation was never realised. It was so with the whole of that splendid and uncon scious generation to which he be-longed. The whole glory of that old English middle class was that it was unconscious; its excellence was en tirely in that, that it was the culture of the nation, and that it did not know it.If Dickens had ever known that he was optimistic, he would have ceased to be happy.

    My problem is with the middle part: it was so with the splendid and unconscious generation to which he belonged. How does the old English middle class be similar to the book “Great Expectations”??

  2. Jamiul Islam August 18, 2018 at 6:28 am #

    Dear Chris,

    Can u pls help me with the following CR question? This appeared in the verbal Reasoning OG practice test 3.

    Geographers and historians have traditionally held
    the view that Antarctica was first sighted around
    1820, but some sixteenth-century European maps
    show a body that resembles the polar landmass,
    even though explorers of the period never saw it.
    Some scholars, therefore, argue that the continent
    must have been discovered and mapped by the
    ancients, whose maps are known to have served
    as models for the European cartographers.
    Which of the following, if true, is most damaging to
    the inference drawn by the scholars?
    (A) The question of who first sighted Antarctica in
    modern times is still much debated, and no
    one has been able to present conclusive
    , evidence.
    (B) Between 3,000 and 9,000 years ago, the world
    was warmer than it is now, and the polar
    landmass was presumably smaller.
    (C) There are only a few sixteenth-century global I
    maps that show a continental landmass at the
    South Pole.
    (D) Most attributions of surprising accomplishments
    to ancient civilizations or even
    extraterrestrials are eventually discredited or
    rejected as preposterous.
    (E) Ancient philosophers believed that there had to
    be a large landmass at the South Pole to
    balance the northern continents and make
    the world symmetrical.

    The Correct answer is E.

    Now, my trouble is with choice D, if most attributions of surprising accomplishments to ancients are thought to be unreasonable, then, this could weaken the scholars’ claim. However, even if most such accomplishments of ancients are treated as preposterous, then, at least few accomplishments could also be considered as valuable, which provides some scope for the ancients to have the credit for discovering the Antarctica. Whether the feat of discovering Antarctica can be or can not be attributed to the ancients, is not confirmed by choice D, so, it is not correct.

    Is my explanation OK? Or, there is another reason for this to be wrong? The OG explanation said, D is incorrect, since it ” comments upon the conclusion, but does not pertain to the argument itself”.

    Pls send me ur reply.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 21, 2018 at 8:01 am #

      Hi Jamiul,

      Your reasoning seems correct to me! I think that’s a good explanation for why (D) is incorrect. The OG explanations are notoriously subpar, so we always recommend that students search for these questions on forums and in other materials. For example, greprepclub has a thread about this question which can help you to understand the answers and check your reasoning.

      As you mentioned, (D) is incorrect because it does not actually say anything about this specific claim. Even if MOST ancient accomplishments are discredited, that doesn’t mean that THIS particular one is incorrect. It doesn’t actually attach the premises, assumptions or conclusion of the passage.

      • Jamiul Islam August 21, 2018 at 11:59 am #

        Dear Chris,
        Thanks a lot for reply. Indeed, GRE Prep Club views this choice D in the following way:

        In the passage itself, scholars argue in favor of ancients, and European Cartographers followed the maps of ancients as models later on. So, it can be assumed that both cartographers and scholars valued the accomplishments of ancients positively. Now, if D is correct, then, the scholars claim is weakened, but, at the same time, the information that cartographers followed the maps of ancients becomes also seemingly impossible, as, in that situation, like the scholars, the similar minded cartographers would also stop following the maps of ancients.
        One noticeable factor is that the line of the passage “whose (ancients’) maps are known to have served as models for the European cartographers”, contains an information, not an opinion or conclusion. As we know, an option can negate a conclusion, but not any info mentioned in the passage. So, thats how choice D does not pertain to the argument by negating its own info.

        I think this explanation is better than my own one, what do u think?

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 24, 2018 at 7:58 am #

          In all honesty, Jamiul, I like the ideas in your explanation of (D) and GRE Prep Club’s explanation of (D) equally. And I think your explanation and the forum explanation work well together. That’s one of the great things about searching for online discussions of GRE questions. Multiple discussions can be combined to make an even more helpful “big picture.”

          • Jamiul Islam August 25, 2018 at 3:42 am #

            Dear Chris,
            Thanks a lot for ur reply. Indeed, the more one thinks of the answer choices, the more insight he/ she will get a deeper, clearer understanding of GRE questions.

  3. Jamiul Islam June 24, 2018 at 11:00 am #

    Dear Chris,
    In the logical reasoning section of real LSAT questions, I can correct about 3 out of 4 questions. My performance in long RC section is almost the same. Will it be enough to score 160+ in verbal of real GRE? Or should I practice more?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 28, 2018 at 9:36 pm #

      Hi Jamiul. It’s hard to do an exact estimate of your GRE score, since GRE scoring is “weighted”– based a lot on how well you do int he first and second sections, and what mix of question difficulty you get.

      With that in mind, it does seem safe to say that getting a 160+ would be hard with only 75% accuracy in GRE Verbal. There are roughly 24 RC questions on the GRE. Missing 6 of them knocks 7.5 percentage points off of your score. And if we just look at raw score equivalents, 92.5% out of 100% is like a 157 our of 170. And that’s assuming you get a perfect score on everything in Quant, and everything in Verbal other than RC.

      So I’d say practice more– you’re on your way to your target score, but you’re not there just yet. 🙂

      • jamiul islam August 3, 2018 at 11:40 am #

        Dear Chris,

        Here is a little improvement in my preparation; after practicing a handful of LSAT RC questions, i am able to answer all the MEDIUM difficulty questions and 3 out of 4 questions of Hard Difficulty in Old GRE Big Book. Big Book small passages are bit trickier, dense.

        Do u think i am on the right track? I have a feeling that if i miss only the RC questions with estimated P+ level (an indicator of difficulty) of below 30 %, and can answer all RC questions with p+ of above that, i have a good chance of hitting 160+.
        answering the questions with a p+ level below 30% is truly a daunting task.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 8, 2018 at 9:38 am #

          Hi Jamiul,

          It’s really difficult to give any definitive answer to this question; your performance depends not only on the percent correct, but also on your pacing strategy, stress levels, confidence, and environmental factors on the day of your test. The best way to get a sense of your performance is to take a full-length practice test under realistic test-like conditions. Keep up the good work!

  4. Jamiul Islam April 29, 2018 at 9:21 am #

    Dear Chris,

    Upon going through the GMAT & LSAT passages, I have identified some important differences btn GRE & other passages. Although difficulty level of GMAT & LSAT passages are same as that of GRE RCs, the answer options of GRE are very trickily worded, whereas answering the LSAT questions are easy if the dense contents of the passages are properly understood. I think only The Official GRE Questions can give one a proper idea about the tone of the GRE questions. However, LSAT & GMAT passages can be a good source of practice if one wants to build up their skills.

    Another thing: the science passages of GRE are always full of challenging inference questions. The LSAT is heavy on logistic contents, and GMAT passages chiefly deal with business and commerce. Is there any reliable source of tough science passages with challenging questions?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 30, 2018 at 6:41 am #

      In terms of science-related RC practice, you can find some science passages in GMAT prep materials, although as you mention, science is not as common a topic on the GMAT. And of course, you’re right that GMAT RC questions are not always comparable to GRE RC ones.

      If you’re looking for additional GRE RC science-related practice with actual questions, your best bet really is the official questions from ETS (OG, Popwerprep, the official book of Verbal questions). However, if you have completed all the ETS questions, the next best thing would be the science-related RC passages and questions that come with Magoosh GRE Premium, or the Manhattan RC questions for the GRE. (Such as the ones found in the 5 Lb. Book.)

      Neither Magoosh nor Manhattan will be “perfect” in the same way that real ETS questions are. But they are both pretty solid third-party GRE prep resources, and they both offer RC science passages.

  5. Jamiul Islam April 27, 2018 at 8:22 am #

    Dear Chris,

    Thanks a thousands for ur reply. It seems, I am gaining momentum!!

    Now, another important thing: do u think the questions from GMAT RC of 700+ difficulty level would be helpful for my practice? I have found them equally challenging compared to GRE hard questions. The only difference btn GRE & GMAT is the tricky wording of GRE’s question options.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 27, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

      Hi Jamiul,

      The GMAT RC questions are very similar to the GRE’s RC questions, so it is definitely good practice! Just remember that the best way to improve in reading comprehension (and all of verbal in general) is to read as much as possible 🙂

  6. Jamiul Islam April 25, 2018 at 8:48 am #

    Dear Chris,

    Thanks so much for the explanation. Now, Pls consider my performance:

    In solving the RC questions from Official GRE Guide (2nd edition, the link for which you have provided), I was able to solve ALL in the easy group, 8 out of 9 in the Medium Group, and 6 out of 8 in the Difficult group. My performance in Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence is very much like the aforementioned scenario. Will this be enough to cross 160 barrier in the verbal part of section adaptive GRE? Or should I practice a little bit more?

    I know the answer depends also my taking practice tests and speed of answering, yet, I am willing to know only about my level of accuracy. Waiting for ur reply.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 26, 2018 at 10:42 am #

      Hi Jamiul,

      That’s pretty good performance in the Verbal practice sets from the OG. Based on that performance alone, you’re a strong contender for a 160+ score in GRE Verbal. But as you yourself mentioned, you really want to take some additional practice tests under timed conditions to make sure you can perform that well consistently. And it may take you a little extra practice to get to 160+ on a regular, reliable basis. But you’ve certainly got a strong foundation of skills to help you reach your target score.

  7. Jamiul Islam April 23, 2018 at 12:02 pm #

    Dear Chris,
    Thanks again for ur suggestion. In fact, u will better understand my problem regarding select -all questions if u kindly go through the following ETS official questions. Pls go through the answer options, without analyzing the passage deeply, as it is already published in official guide.

    For hot desert locations with access to seawater, a new greenhouse design generates
    freshwater and cool air. Oriented to the prevailing wind, the front wall of perforated
    cardboard, moistened and cooled by a trickle of seawater pumped in, cools and moistens
    hot air blowing in. This cool, humidified air accelerates plant growth; little water
    evaporates from leaves. Though greenhouses normally capture the heat of sunlight,
    a double-layered roof, the inner layer coated to reflect infrared light outward, allows
    visible sunlight in but traps solar heat between the two layers. This heated air, drawn
    down from the roof, then mixes with the greenhouse air as it reaches a second
    seawater-moistened cardboard wall at the back of the greenhouse. There the air
    absorbs more moisture, which then condenses on a metal wall cooled by seawater, and thus distilled water for irrigating the plants collects.

    It can be inferred that the process described in the passage makes use of which of
    the following?
    A The tendency of hot air to rise
    B The directional movement of wind
    C The temperature differential between the sea and the desert

    As u know, the correct ans is B and C. However, I have a slight objection about C: The proper expression should be ” the temperature differential between sea water and the desert air”, as mentioned in the passage. Obviously, the passage is not concerned about hot desert and cool sea, rather the use of cool ,pumped sea-water and hot desert air for Green house. Probably, the logic behind this option is, as sea-water comes from sea, and hot air comes from desert, so the temp difference btn sea water and desert air can be treated as a temperature differential btn sea and desert (which, i think , is not accurate).

    Lets have a look at another example, that gave me trouble.

    Astronomers found a large body orbiting close to the star Upsilon Andromedae. The
    standard theory of planet formation holds that no planet that large could be formed so
    close to a star, leading to the suggestion that the body is a companion star. A subsequent
    discovery puts that suggestion in doubt: two other large bodies were found orbiting
    close to Upsilon Andromedae, and the standard theory of companion stars allows
    for at most one companion star.

    20. Which of the following, if true, most helps to resolve the status of the orbiting
    body without casting doubt on the two standard theories mentioned?
    A The smaller a planet orbiting a star is, and the farther away it is from the
    star, the less likely it is to be discovered.
    B If a planet’s orbit is disturbed, the planet can be drawn by gravity toward
    the star it is orbiting.
    C The largest of the bodies orbiting Upsilon Andromedae is the farthest
    away from the star, and the smallest is the nearest.
    D It is likely that there are many stars, in addition to Upsilon Andromedae
    and the Sun, that are orbited by more than one smaller body.
    E In most cases of companion stars, the smaller companion is much fainter
    than the larger star.

    The proper ans is B.

    Now, again, the wording of option B is troublesome for me. The explanation says that, it asserts, it is possible for a planet to be formed relatively
    far from a star and later move closer to it, But I think, the proper expression would be like: If a planet’s orbit is disturbed, the planet and its orbit can be drawn by gravity toward
    the star. Notice that if only planet is drawn towards the star
    (as mentioned in the option B), then it may also mean that the planet , after being displaced from its previous orbit, is attracted towards the star, and ultimately, may also be absorbed by it as is the case with black hole.

    The wording of option C is not quite clear also. Although the passage says that all 3 bodies are close to Upsilon, the expression in the passage “close to Upsilon ” may not mean “exactly at a same distance with respect to Upsilon”. Three orbiting bodies may have relative distance with respect to Upsilon, and yet they each may be close to Upsilon star.

    These sort of wording gave me the deepest trouble in properly understanding their meaning, and eventually, forcing me to make mistakes. It is mentionable that neither the old GRE Big Book, nor the actual LSAT test ( nor even the Magoosh questions, i think!) contain this sort of confusing wording. Pls tell me a way to circumvent this problem.

  8. Jamiul Islam April 22, 2018 at 12:04 pm #

    Dear Chris,
    Thanks a lot for ur reply about my questions. It seems that practicing LSAT questions is really helpful. Now, one thing:

    LSAT passages do not contain the selct-all-that apply questions, but in real GRE, there are many questions of this type. In the official GRE book, one can find some tough select all that apply questions. Can u tell me from where can I practice the difficult select all that apply question types? I am searching for a reliable source for the aforementioned type of questions.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 23, 2018 at 10:42 am #

      For hard questions that give an all-of-the-above option, your best bet is to use GRE materials rather than prep for another test. In that case, what you want to do is get a good, wide selection of GRE RC practice questions from a reputable resource, such as ETS or Magoosh GRE. For ETS, I recommend getting Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions. In that book, look for, circle, and “cherry pick” passages that include a “select all” question for your practice sessions. For Magoosh GRE Premium (if you choose to subscribe), I recommend simply setting the difficulty level to “hard” or “very hard” in custom practice, then skipping questions so that you just dot he questions that allow for a “select all that apply.”

  9. Jamiul Islam April 21, 2018 at 10:00 am #

    Dear Chris,

    I have found the two questions in one LSAT Test. Pls tell me whether they will meet the ETS standard of “hard” questions.

    Q 1. When individual students are all treated equally in that they have identical exposure to curriculum material, the rate, quality, and quantity will vary from student to student. If all students are to master a given curriculum, some of them need different types of help than others, as any experienced teacher knows.

    Which of the following can be inferred from above?

    (a) Unequal treatment, in a sense , of individual students is needed in order to ensure equality with respect to educational tasks they master.

    (b) The rate and quality of learning, with learning understood as acquiring of the ability to solve problems within a given curriculum, depend on the quantity of teaching a student receives in any given curriculum.

    (c) The more experienced the teacher, the more the student will learn.

    (d) all students should have identical exposure to learn the material being taught in any curriculum.

    (e) Teachers should help each of their students to learn as much as possible.

    The correct ans. is A.

    Q2. In 1974, the speed limit on highways in US was reduced to 55 mph to save fuel. In the first 12 months after the change, the rate of highway fatalities dropped 15 %, the sharpest 1 year drop in the history. Over the next ten years, the fatality rate declined by another 25 %. Surely, the 1974 reduction in speed limit saved many lives.

    Which of the following most seriuosly strengthens the argument?

    (a) the 1974 fuel shortage cut driving sharply for more than a year.

    (b) there was no decline in the rate of highway fatalities during the 12th year following the reduction in speed limit.

    (c) since 1974 car makers have been required by law to install lifesaving equipment, such as seat belts in new cars.

    (d) The fatality rate in highway accidents involving motorists driving faster than 55 mph is much higher than in highway accidents that do not involve motorists driving at such speed.

    (e) Motorists are more likely to avoid accidents by matching their speed to that of surrounding highway traffic than by driving car at faster or slower speed.

    The correct ans is D.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 21, 2018 at 1:17 pm #

      The first question is definitely hard by GRE paragraph argument standards. I’d say the second question might be high intermediate rather than full-on advanced/hard, though. There really are instances where LSAT content and GRE content closely overlap!

  10. Jamiul Islam April 15, 2018 at 10:12 am #

    Dear Chris,

    I am a beginer in GRE prepaparation. I can complete almost all the medium or easy RC questions (including the logical reasoning ones), but am struggling with the difficult ones.

    From the suggestions above, I have managed many LSAT actual test papers, and have already found them really challenging. However, some logical reasoning questions are boyond the scope of GRE. I think I should avoid them .

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm #

      Hi Jamiul.

      Thanks for reaching out to Magoosh! You’re right that the LSAT logical reasoning questions are harder than anything you’ll see on the GRE. We recommend that students use them as part of their preparation in order to stretch their limits and challenge their abilities. It makes sense that you would have trouble solving the questions, but I encourage you to think of the LSAT questions as helpful practice. Instead of avoiding them, I encourage you to use this these questions to gain a deeper understanding of logical reasoning questions and how they work. You may not want to only study from LSAT sources, but adding a few questions here and there can be really helpful! When you answer a question, take the time to really study the answer and understand the argument. This will be immensely helpful when you solve easier GRE-level questions 🙂

  11. Ikjot Singh March 17, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    chris! can you please recommend me best book for gre reading comprehensions.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 18, 2016 at 6:41 am #

      Hi Ikjot 🙂

      If you’re looking for recommended reading sources, I’d suggest checking out Chris’s suggestions for fiction and non-fiction books on this blog post. And in terms of prep books, I’d recommend our GRE eBook for general strategies and practice questions, as well as the Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions for additional practice. So that you know, the two resources cover all of the aspects of the verbal section, not just reading comprehension 🙂

      I hope this helps!

      Happy reading!

  12. Ritika August 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Official GMAT verbal guide contents critical reasoning section. Is this section same as argument section found in the GRE verbal section?

  13. jialing August 15, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    Hi Chris!
    My GRE test is in only 20 days. Obviously I will not have much time for LAST reading comprehension. I did two sections of LAST several days ago and got 60% correct. I really want verbal 160+ on my coming GRE test. Could you please give me some advice on difficult reading comprehension? Thank you!
    PS: My last score of verbal test is 154.

  14. Pearl July 22, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    I have a Kaplan LSAT book. Is that any good? If not, then which LSAT should I purchase?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele July 22, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      Hi Pearl,

      With any test, it’s always best to get the material published by the test writers themselves. If you are going to go the LSAT route, I’d recommend the 10 Actual Tests from LSAC.

      Hope that helps!

  15. Cheenu May 30, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I am very comfortable with easy-medium RC passages and I want to spend my time working on difficult passages and questions since I aim to score high in RCs.

    I have worked my way through the MGRE and ETS guide’s RC passages …I am in urgent need of resources where I could find difficult ones.Please recommend.

    Thank you and Regards,

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele May 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      Try the big book for the old GRE, if you can get your hands on it.

      We have some tough passages in the Magoosh GRE product.

      Finally, those LSAT official passages are excellent for the tough questions/passages.

      Hope that helps!

  16. reza May 10, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks a lot for your help. I have a question: I am studying the passages of LSAT and Big book. I reply to nearly all questions of LSAT right, but I have 3 or 4 wrong answers for every section of Big book(nearly 7-8 wrong answers for 22 questions of every test). I n fact I believe that the passages of Big book are more dense and have many tricks in answer choices, while the questions of LSAT are straightforward. Do you agree with me? Actually, I have 54 Tests of ETS(old versions include Big book) and 65 Tests of LSAT. Do you think I should more concentrate on ETS passages or LSAT? I mean which one is more resemble to real GRE test and investing on it has more profit.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele May 12, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Hi Reza,

      Interesting point! Some of the LSAT passages seem denser, but the questions are a little more straightforward: if you understand the passage and nowhere to find the information, you’ll likely get the question right. The thing is the LSAT time constraints are so aggressive that doing so is not easy.

      Some passages in the big book are dense and the answer choices can be a little bit tricky (more “big picture” vs. specific-line reference). I believe that the big book questions are a little more similar to the actual GRE; yet, using the LSAT should also help. You might also want to try questions from the current Official GRE guide and the PowerPrep tests. You might find these more easy than the big book. Or not. I’d be curious, since I have yet to meet somebody who felt the LSAT was significantly easier than the big book. This may have something to do with how you approach the passage.

      I admire your tenacity on going through all these, and want to help you nail the RC test day. So take a PowerPrep test and let me know how it goes.

  17. reza April 15, 2014 at 7:11 am #

    Hi Chris,Thanks a lot.
    I have a question that I need your advice.When I answer to questions of long passages(such as big book and LSAT) I can answer to nearly all questions correctly, but nearly all my answer choices that I pick up from short passages of big book are wrong. How can I overcome to this problem?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 15, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Hi Reza,

      That’s an interesting question–and one I don’t think I’ve gotten before. It’s true that the short passages can be misleading, or at least different from the long passages. On the first go through, are you overly skimming? I think many fall into this trap when reading short passages, thinking that the passages seem so short why not just get to the questions as soon as possible.

      Next, try to understand why you are getting the wrong answers. Do the choices you select tend to have similar wording as found in the passage, but use those words to say something that isn’t supported in the passage? I’m guessing you’ll find a pattern in your answers, one that you can exploit by anticipating similar mistakes in the future.

      Hope that helps!

  18. reza March 20, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I want to know the priority of below sources:
    2.Big book
    4. Manhattan 5lb
    I think I sort the references based on priority because in one hand, the two first sources are nor as relevant as the third and fourth sources for revised GRE and in the other hand, those references are very difficult even more than revised GRE . So we can strong our ability with those and set up our time with Magoosh and Manhattan. After that we take mock tests. Do you agree with my reasoning?

  19. judy January 5, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I have a quick question on RC materials.
    I’ve finished all the verbal questions on Magoosh, manhattan 5lbs, 8 series and Official Guide. I know that you recommend re-doing the RC questions since it is unlikely that we will remember all the passages, but I also want to solve some more of new RC questions besides reviewing the ones that I already solved.
    I just took GRE and I scored 153 on Verbal:( but I am aiming for upper 150s on the next try.
    So I don’t think LSAT isl appropriate for me since you mentioned it is more difficult.
    Do you recommend GMAT RC materials for my level?
    I only need RC questions and since I already solved majority of the practice books that was recommended my Magoosh, I am not sure which one to go for next.
    Could you please give me an advice on this?
    I would greatly appreciate it
    Thank you

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele January 6, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      Hi Judy,

      Those are good questions! Finding new material won’t be that tough. Here’s the breakdown:

      1) GMAT materials

      The reading passages are more on par with the medium-level RC questions. So pick up an official guide if you need to.

      2) Old GRE materials

      The old GRE official guide, which you can still get on Amazon, offers six tests and a bunch of tricky passages (two or three passages in the current guide are actually from this guide).

      3) LSAT materials

      I’d still use the LSAT. If you are aiming for the upper-150’s, you might end up getting the harder GRE section, which will have LSAT-level difficulty passages. You don’t want to do very poorly on this section.

      Hope that helps!

      • Judy January 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

        Thanks for the reply! I greatly appreciate it.
        I just looked up GMAT Official Guide by ETS but couldn’t find it at amazon. Do you know if the official guide is published by ETS?

        For LSAT materials, could you please recommend one material? Do you recommend the Manhattan RC book or should I get this official guide?

        I only need RC so I am not sure if getting the whole official guide is a good idea. Could you please recommend one for me?
        thank you very much! 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele January 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

          Hi Judy,

          So the Official Guide for the GMAT is not by ETS (it’s by GMAC). Yeah, it is quite a big investment if you are only going to use it for the one section (though there are plenty of problem solving math questions and Critical Reasoning questions). The book by ETS is the old GRE guide. That one also has lots of Sentence Completions and the vocabulary exercises will allow you to practice your vocabulary.

          For LSAT definitely get the official guide. I wouldn’t recommend the Manhattan guides for the RC part of the test.

          Good luck!

    • Fizza January 14, 2014 at 4:27 am #

      Hey Chris.
      Which book of LSAT did you recommend ?


      Hey Judy . Which Book of LSAT did you buy ?

      • Chris Lele
        Chris Lele January 15, 2014 at 10:44 am #

        Hi Fizza,

        The one you linked to is perfect :).

        • Fizza January 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #

          thank you 🙂

  20. Reza December 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Chris.
    I spend half of my time for taking practices (Magoosh, Manhattan,
    kaplan,…) but for another section do you think it is better that
    1) I read articles from aldaily, New Your Times,… or
    2) Practice passages of LSAT?
    In the first option I can study a lot papers during 5 hours and learn
    many words but there is not questions and in the second option I can
    just practice 4 passages because of many questions.
    Which one better. I mean take more practice is more important or
    reading for learning?
    I am waiting for your answer.
    All the best.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 13, 2013 at 11:44 am #

      Hi Reza,

      It’s not an either/or thing. You have to find the balance between in-context reading and doing practice questions that will prepare you most for test day. If you feel you are spending too much time reading nytimes.com or aldaily.com articles and are not sensing that you are improving much, then spend more time doing practice questions. My advice: mix reading and doing exercises more often. Don’t think you have to do 4 hours of reading and only then do practice problems. When you are taking a break from practice problems thread some more reading sessions in there.

      Hope that helps!

  21. Nitish August 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Could you point out the major differences and similarities between LSAT and GRE RCs ?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 21, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      That’s a great question :).

      The LSAT passages are all medium to medium long (50-90 lines). GRE passages are anywhere from 15 lines to 70 lines. Secondly, the LSAT ones tend mostly to be dense and academic. Most tend to deal with an ongoing academic debate, describing multiple viewpoints on the subject, often injecting their own respective viewpoints.

      While you do get this type of passage on the GRE, many GRE passages are informative. A few are apparently straightforward, but oftentimes the wording in the answer choices can make the questions relatively difficult.

      Hope that helps!

  22. Rahul August 20, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    I tried all the reading comprehensions (Section 4) in Prep Test 56 (December 2008) LSAT. They all seemed pretty easy – I answered almost all of them correctly – compared to the RC’s in your Data Bank.

    Am I missing something?

    • Nitish August 21, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      From what I have observed until now the LSAT RCs seem to be quite lengthy.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 21, 2012 at 11:43 am #

      Hmmm…are you comparing these passages to the ones in the Magoosh question bank? Typically, the LSAT ones are very difficult, and I think you are one of the first to say they are pretty easy :). I’d recommend trying a few more sections from the LSAT. If you continue to get them right, you are simply doing really well. At least on the long passage on the GRE, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

      Good luck!

  23. Pemdas@BTG July 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Hi Chris, by analyzing my progress with RC passages I realized that the only way I can improve my comprehension of advanced type questions like inference, idea application and synthesis/analysis is trying to make sense of separate paras and then connecting these paras together with leading para (usually the first para). In your experience of exam taker or tutor how sensible is this? Am I on the right track? The thing is that with some convoluted passages it was difficult for me to even link some long paras (like in ones from LSAT set RC passages) and catch the general idea (by contrasting the gen. idea to all paras naturally). After applying “read-understand-reflect on” each para methodology 🙂 I indeed started hitting 80% and plus accuracy rate with convoluted RC passages on constant basis. Does this make any sense to you?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 21, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Hi Pemdas,

      You are definitely on the right track! Indeed many of the most difficult passages have paragraphs that do not relate in obvious ways. Developing the skill of linking paragraphs is an indispensable one to have for cracking tough passages :). So continue using the “read-understand-reflect” method.

      Good luck!

      • Ankita August 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

        Hi Chris,
        What is this, “read-understand-reflect” method that you’re referring to? Can you pls brief me about it or give me the link? I have just started with RCs and I have my exam in a month’s time. The thing is, I don’t find the passages very tough, kinda get ’em. Though it takes time. But when it comes to question-answers, I get baffled!! If only the read-understand-reflect technique can help. 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele August 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

          I think what PEMDAS was referring to–or at least what I thought he was referring to–was similar to active reading. In other words, make connections as you read, instead of just plowing through the text.

          Perhaps, since you are struggling with the questions, that you “get” what the passage is about, but the answer choices are throwing you off. I’d recommend trying to answer the questions in your own words (once you’ve gone back to the relevant part of the passage), instead of trying to parse the meaning of some of the confusingly-worded answer choices.

          Let me know if that helps :)!

  24. Pemdas@BTG July 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    hi Chris, could you please also check the content and comprehensiveness of passages at http://www.codecoax.com/grerc/. I am using one-two passages on a daily basis for adjusting my eyes and brain to the type of GRE RC.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      Here’s the thing on that: I can’t endorse it. Basically, it contains passages from actual GMATs, LSATs, and GREs. I don’t think the person received permission (I’m pretty sure this constitutes major copyright violation). Just my two cents :).

  25. Emily July 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I recently discovered Edge.org, and I’d recommend it to others looking to supplement their reading, GRE-driven or not. While the advantage of test questions and ‘testing’ mode are missing, there’s a lot of higher-level reading material and vocab for the verbal section and some great ideas that can help with the AWA. You should check it out, Chris, and let us know what you think.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Wow, this looks cool so far :). I’m going to spend some serious time on the site to get a better sense of just how one can thread it into the gre prep. Thanks for the link! Also, if I forget to follow up on this, just give me a little nudge :).

      • Santoshkalyan August 17, 2012 at 3:27 am #


        A little Nudge on Review of Edge.org, that you asked..

        Expecting a post soon from you..

  26. Quark_guy July 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Chris ,

    Thanks . LSat RCs right away.
    I have signed up for the magoosh 1 week trial. n its superb my friend.
    I am gonna gt the complete version to galvanize the prep…

    P.s: i have my GRE on Oct 17

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Great! Welcome on board :).

  27. James Brown July 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Chris! I got a 1330 on my GRE! (V 160, Q 156), thank you so much for all the help!!! This was a huge improvement over my first score of 1000. Magoosh seriously changed my life, I feel like y’all gave me the weapons I needed to vanquish a monster that was a fusion of Einstein’s ghost and T.S. Elliot. You guys are amazing!!!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Awesome James Brown :).

      And I’ve never heard of such a description, but I’ve loving it (I can see Einstein and Eliot hunched over concocting diabolical quant and verbal questions respectively :).

      Great job and your score and I am happy we helped :).

  28. vaisnavi July 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Any idea about the LSAT reading comprehension bible?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 23, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Yes, it’s by PowerScore, which has a strong reputation for its “Bible” series. I have not yet looked into the LSAT guide. I’d say it may be a good idea if you are looking for a near perfect verbal score, otherwise probably wouldn’t be worth one’s time.

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