What Did You Just Say!? Advanced GMAT Reading Comprehension

by Vault Education Editors | February 04, 2010

  • My Vault

"Highlevels of alpha-synuclein disrupt the flow of proteins from the endoplasmicreticulum, the site of protein production in the cell, to the Golgi apparatus,the component of the cell that modifies and sorts the proteins before sendingthem to their final destinations within the cell."  Are you serious?  Who talks like that?  Answer: The GMAT.  A high verbal score on the GMAT involvessuccessfully navigating the maze of words otherwise known as readingcomprehension.

Haveyou ever turned on the TV and heard some "expert" ramble on about asubject while throwing around technical buzzwords like confetti?  After a few minutes of unsuccessfully tryingto comprehend what was said, you walk away feeling less smart.  I know I certainly have.  Yes, we all can feel a little inadequate atthe mercy of long sentences and big words; however, there is a fundamental lawof life which states: The more words someone takes to say something and themore jargon the person uses, typically, the less they know about thatsubject.

Concision+ Simplicity = Comprehension

Thislaw is all around us in our jobs, politics, the stock market and, of course,that know-it-all friend of ours.  Thebottom line (and the key to GMAT Reading Comprehension) is that when you force yourselfto state something in simple terms without buzzwords, you force yourself tocomprehend it.  I tell my students topicture themselves talking to their kid brother or sister.  It's a great test--if you explain something toa child, you probably will keep it brief and simple, which forces you to get tothe core meaning.

Thistechnique is most useful at the paragraph level with GMAT readingcomprehension.   At the end of everyparagraph, pretend that your annoying little brother is tugging on your shirtand saying "What does that mean!?!" The more you practice distilling the jumbled, wordy mess of jargon intothe gold of simplicity and concision, the better at reading comprehension you'llbecome.

OK,I know it was painful the first time around, but let's try this technique onthe first sentence.  Take a minute andtry and put it in your own words.  Hereare three of my top 10 secrets for mastering this technique (more to come in aMGMAT classroom near you). 

  1. Don'ttry and swallow it all in one bite.  Breakit up.
  2. Yourpen is your friend.  Jot down anyrelevant notes as you split it up.  
  3. Simpleabbreviations should be used as substitutes for jargon.

Whilethere is certainly no right answer, a top-tier student of mine (with an actuallittle brother) came up with the following: "Lots of AS messes up the proteinstraveling from the ER to the Golgi.  Oh,and by the way, the AS is where protein is made.  And the Golgi is where they are changed alongtheir journey...Now go outside and play!"


Ifyou want to tackle the really tough GMAT Reading Comprehension passages, thistechnique will help you get there.  Thatsaid, just like mastering the rest of the GMAT, it's all about practice,practice, practice!  Oh, and thank youfor staying with me after reading what may be the most cumbersome introductorysentence ever written.

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