Having appeared three standardized test and scored fairly well in each of them, here is my short take on challenges one faces at reading comprehension questions on computer based tests.
- The content of the passage you have been asked to read and comprehend holds the key. Thanks to our education system & undergraduate majors, we end up reading a particular type of literature, and we are accustomed to them, specific subject matter that leaves us crippled in face of variety of subjects tested on GMAT. Biology, history, geography, geology, business, economics, social science… there is a huge diversity. From my experience, one doesn’t need to be familiar with every subject as the levels of content tested do not expect you to be an expert on that particular subject. However, familiarity with basics of different subjects up school level and random readings will be enough. Even though, the idea expressed is simple, you will come across materials that are difficult to comprehend only because of their complex writing.
- Do not panic. Remember panic is as inherent & as human as to err… only your chances to err increases when you panic. You need to read quickly as test is timed and you have to attend to other sections too, but never compromise level of comprehension with reading speed. Do not stress on time allocation to each question, be flexible. Remain on passage even you think it is exceeding time limit, till you are getting it. Over the course of entire verbal section, there are more chances than not, that there too exists question which will require less time and they will fairly balanced.
- Try to get the clear picture of the passage on a single read. Avoid re-reads as it eats into your time along with your faltering. As only one question will be visible, you won’t have any idea of the nature of other questions, so it is good thing to comprehend the passage in its entirety than with reference to a single question.
- Train yourself for the test environment. Reading printed matter is not same as reading on screen. Again, reading on your laptop in comfy of you couch is different from the formal test environment. It won’t be a problem if you are used to onscreen reading, else train, although it takes a little time, but you need to be as good as possible for test.
In short, accustom yourself with diverse reading material; maintain a balance between comprehension and reading speed, don’t stuck yourself, don’t attempt in haste.