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Points to Remember
  1. The order of the passage questions roughly corresponds to the order in which the issues are presented in the passage.
  2. The six questions are:
    • Main Idea
    • Description
    • Writing Technique
    • Extension
    • Application
    • Tone
  3. The main idea of a passage is usually stated in the last, sometimes the first, sentence of the first paragraph. If it’s not there, it will probably be the last sentence of the entire passage.
  4. If after the first reading, you don’t have a feel for the main idea, review the first and last sentence of each paragraph.
  5. The answer to a description question must refer directly to a statement in the passage, not to something implied by it. However, the correct answer will paraphrase a passage statement, not quote it exactly. In fact, exact quotes are used with these questions to bait wrong answers.
  6. When answering a description question, you must find the point in the passage from which the question is drawn.
  7. If a description question refers to line 20, the information needed to answer it can occur anywhere from line 15 to 25.
  8. Some writing techniques commonly used in the GMAT passages are
    1. Compare and contrast two positions.
    2. Show cause and effect.
    3. State a position; then give supporting evidence.
  9. For extension questions, any answer-choice that refers explicitly to or repeats a statement in the passage will probably be wrong.
  10. Application questions differ from extension questions only in degree. Extension questions ask you to apply what you have learned from the passage to derive new information about the same subject, whereas application questions go one step further, asking you to apply what you have learned from the passage to a different or hypothetical situation.
  11. To answer an application question, take the perspective of the author. Ask yourself: what am I arguing for? what might make my argument stronger? what might make it weaker?
  12. Because application questions go well beyond the passage, they tend to be the most difficult.
  13. For tone questions, decide whether the writer’s tone is positive, negative, or neutral before you look at the answer-choices.
  14. If you do not have a feel for the writer’s attitude after the first reading, check the adjectives that she chooses.
  15. Beware of answer-choices that contain extreme emotions. If an author’s tone is negative, it may be disapproving—not snide. Or if her tone is positive, it may be approving—not ecstatic.
  16. The answers must be indisputable. A correct answer will never be controversial or grammatically questionable.
  17. Description, extension, and application questions make up about 80% of the reading comprehension questions, main idea questions about 10%, and tone and writing technique questions about 5% each.

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