GRE Reading Comprehension – Questions & Explanations


GRE Reading comprehension questions assess your ability to comprehend a passage and answer questions based on what is stated and implied in it. You must first read the passage in order to identify the main idea and appreciate features such as the author’s tone and attitude, as well as the passage’s organization. As you answer each GRE question, scroll back to the relevant point in the text.

GRE Reading comprehension questions account for roughly half of the verbal reasoning section. One-fifth of the GRE reading comprehension material is designed to assess critical reasoning abilities. Each of our mini tests contains one or two such questions.

How many Reading Comprehension questions are on the GRE? The length of the GRE comprehension passages varies, ranging from one and a half minute extracts to three and a half minute extracts. After finishing the GRE reading, allow 1 minute to answer each question.

GRE passages typically have no more than four questions per passage. Our mini tests are made up of two passages, each with three or four questions and one or two critical GRE reasoning questions. Each mini-test should take 14 minutes to complete.



As you study for the GRE Verbal Reasoning section, you’ll be doing a lot of reading. Unlike the Text Completion or Sentence Equivalence questions, you can easily get a great score on GRE Reading Comprehension questions.

To most GRE test takers, reading passages seems to be tough, and they list out various reasons behind it. Do any of these reasons look familiar to you? A little strategy can go a long way on the GRE Verbal section, so use these GRE Reading Comprehension strategies to get one step closer to your dream score:

  • Passages are too wordy, or verbose
  • The choices of answers are confusing
  • Much of a passage is irrelevant
  • Questions are difficult to understand
  • Reading the passages is too time-consuming
  • Complex and dense information in the passages defies comprehension

It seems that there needs to be only the right strategy for addressing the challenges you face in GRE reading comprehension practice questions. Here, you should always bear in mind that you get points for getting an answer correctly, and not for understanding the passage.

All you need to do is to switch on your GPS. Doing so will help you easily triangulate a strategy to be a master in reading passages in the GRE Exam.


Map the Passage of GRE Reading Comprehension

Acing GRE Reading Comprehension is a matter of smart strategies, and you need to attend to what information you need to get from a passage. Here are some tips for that:

Interview the passage: A great way to get started with a GRE Reading is to interview it, with some prepared GRE questions. As you get the answers from the passage to the questions, note them down. Scan the paragraphs, look for relevant information that helps you map a particular passage.


Here are some GRE Questions for the Interview

  • What is this passage about?
  • Does this passage discuss a problem or change?
  • What does the author say about this problem or change?
  • Does the author offer a solution to the problem?
  • What is the impact of the change?


Watch Out for Signposts

Authors are very meticulous and pedantic when it comes to choosing words, and so are GRE-passage writers. You need to attentively read between the lines, attending to the transitions or signposts that an author uses to indicate the flow of ideas in a passage. Many questions are based on the transition of ideas in a passage.

Those transitions point out that the passage is going to continue in the same thread and repeat what has already been mentioned. They help you triangulate a whole passage for you, don’t need to attend to the details following them unless a question specifically asks for the details. Here is a list of some words and phrases that you need to attend to:

  • And
  • As well as
  • In addition
  • Also
  • Moreover
  • Likewise
  • Similarly
  • About to take a turn

Such transitions point out that passage is changing its direction, that what follows will be in contrast. What follows and what comes before these transitions should always be noted down, for many questions in the GRE are relevant to them. Here are some of the adverbs and connectors indicating such transitions:

  • But
  • However
  • In spite of
  • On the other hand
  • Nevertheless
  • Nonetheless
  • On the contrary
  • Time Transitions

The best material for GRE reading comprehension, comprises many transitions. They are all-time transitions, which are extremely important, as they indicate the main points of the changes being narrated in the GRE passage. Moreover, there will be many questions testing your understanding of these changes. Here is a list of some common time transitions in the GRE:

  • After
  • Currently
  • During
  • Earlier
  • Later
  • Meanwhile
  • Now
  • Until
  • Recently
  • Simultaneously
  • Subsequently


Example Related to Questions

According to the passage, what is suggested about historians in the third paragraph?

Simplify this by first checking if this question has the pronoun “what” or “why.” Having done it, you will have a clear idea as to what the question is asking. Doing that easily simplifies the question:

What does the third paragraph say about historians?

Let’s look at a more complicated question.

According to the passage, historical studies of affirmative action in early America that were done during the 1990s differed from the studies of that subject done prior to the 1980s in that the studies produced during the 1980s?

This question is actually asking, What is the difference between the two studies?

Change the GRE question to mean the same, without altering its meaning, by attaching a what or a why to it in the right direction.

Answer Choices

The choices of answers in the GRE are meant to confuse you; they are tactfully written. No other types of questions will trouble you as much as this does.

Following are some of the commonly wrong GRE questions:

  • Recycled information from the passage–words and phrases that come directly from the passage
  • A strong language or opinions
  • Unnecessary comparisons of the passage
  • Information contrary to the passage
  • Out of the scope of the passage


Sample GRE Questions

Called by some the “island that time forgot,” Madagascar is home to a vast array of unique, exotic creatures. One such animal is the aye-aye. First described by western science in 1782, it was initially categorized as a member of the order Rodentia. Further research then revealed that it was more closely related to the lemur, a member of the primate order. Since the aye-aye is so different from its fellow primates, however, it was given its own family: Daubentoniidae. The aye-aye has been listed as an endangered species and, as a result, the government of Madagascar has designated an island off the northeastern coast of Madagascar as a protected reserve for aye-ayes and other wildlife.

Long before Western science became enthralled with this nocturnal denizen of Madagascar’s jungles, the aye-aye had its own reputation with the local people. The aye-aye is perhaps best known for its large, round eyes and long, extremely thin middle finger. These adaptations are quite sensible, allowing the aye-aye to see well at night and retrieve grubs, which are one of its primary food sources, from deep within hollow branches. However, the aye-aye’s striking appearance may end up causing its extinction. The people of Madagascar believe that the aye-aye is a type of spirit animal and that its appearance is an omen of death. Whenever one is sighted, it is immediately killed. When combined with the loss of large swaths of jungle habitat, this practice may result in the loss of a superb example of life’s variety.

1. Based on the information given in the passage, the intended audience would most likely be

(A) visitors to a natural science museum
(B) professors of evolutionary science
(C) a third-grade science class
(D) students of comparative religions
(E) attendees at a world cultural symposium

Answer: (A)

The passage contains a mixture of information about the aye-aye, both from a scientific and cultural background. it gives an overview of the animal without giving a lot of detail in any one area. Choice (B) is incorrect because the passage mentions evolution only briefly, at the end. This choice is too narrow. Choice (C) is incorrect because the style of the passage is too advanced for young students. Choice (D) is incorrect because the passage mentions religion only as it relates to the fate of the aye-aye. Choice (E) is incorrect because the information given is focused more on the aye-aye itself than on the culture of Madagascar.

2. Consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply. Which of the following statements can be logically inferred from the passage?

(A) Taxonomic classifications are not always absolute
(B) The traditional religion of Madagascar involves augury
(C) There are no longer enough resources on the main island to support the aye-aye population

Answer: (A) and (B)

Choices (A) and (B) can both be inferred from the passage. Choice (A) is supported by the first paragraph. The classification of the aye-aye changes, which demonstrates that such classifications are not absolute. Choice (B) is supported by the part of the passage dealing with the future of the aye-aye. It states that aye-aye is seen as an omen of death in the traditional religion of Madagascar. Augury refers to the use of omens, so this statement must be true. Choice (C), however, is not supported. Although the passage states that the aye-aye is in danger, it does not directly discuss whether this is due to limited resources on the main island.

We, at Manya-The Princeton Review, have time-tested GRE reading-comprehension strategies. They are all designed to ensure that test-takers focus more on getting correct answers in lieu of wasting time and getting stuck. Reading-comprehension in the GRE comprises nearly half the verbal-measure questions, so if you are looking to get a top GRE score, you need to have a comprehensive strategy that covers all the passages, questions and answer choices.

Walk into any one of our centers for demo classes on best GRE reading comprehension material, and get a lot more about the Manya-The Princeton Review strategies.


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What is the syllabus of GRE Verbal Reasoning?

The GRE Verbal section tests the student’s ability to analyze and summarize the passages, sentences, or phrases that appear on the test. This section also requires the student to recognize relationships between concepts and words representing them. This section comprises Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence questions.

What material is tested on the GRE?

There is no specific material being tested on the GRE.  Let us see what’s tested on each section of the test:
Analytical Writing: Two essays to ‘analyze an issue’ and ‘analyze an argument’ in which Reasoning, argumentative and writing skills are tested.
Verbal Reasoning: Comprehending and Vocabulary skills are tested in Reading comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence equivalence questions.
Quantitative Reasoning: Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Data Analysis.


Does preparing for verbal reasoning help me with the AWA?

Yes, the arguments section in the GRE will help in writing your AWA essays. The patterns, the techniques to find claims, evidences and assumptions are helpful in deconstructing the issue and argument essay questions.

How do I prepare for the GRE?

You can start the preparation for the GRE with a diagnostic test. This will give you a focus on where you currently stand and what the test is about. Set a target score based on your requirements. Join a prep course- either online or offline or use standardized books to prepare for the test. Learn the concepts and techniques to handle the questions on the GRE. Learn new words everyday to improve your vocabulary. Take regular tests and review them for mistakes.

How many questions are under GRE Verbal Reasoning?

There are two verbal sections on the GRE. Both these sections have 20 questions each to be completed in 30 minutes duration.

Is vocabulary a part of the GRE latest syllabus?

Vocabulary is an essential part of the GRE latest syllabus. The Text Completion and the Sentence Equivalence questions test the vocab skills of the test takers and these questions form fifty percent of the GRE verbal section.

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