As I sit here writing this, I am a mere week and half away from the MCAT that I have been preparing for for nearly seven months. I feel as though my brain is completely consumed with formulas and facts and most of all, loathing for reading comprehension. Whether it’s the GRE, the GMAT, the LSAT, or the MCAT, we here at the writing center feel your pain and can help you with your reading comprehension woes.
The first thing to remember during a reading comprehension test is to take your time… but not too much time. Learning how to read quickly is key, but you also need to learn how to read actively. This was difficult for me at first as I’m a slow reader and would often times find myself thinking about my beach vacation last summer. This is where you need to find the best strategy for you. I’ve found that actively highlighting key words has kept me engaged in the passage so I think about the beach less and get more answers right. Try highlighting, try writing a few words down after each paragraph, try just reading—just find whatever helps you read fast, but actively.
Once you’ve read the passage, you have to do the hard part: answering the questions. This can be hard, but there are a few tricks that can help on test day. Extreme answers involving the words only, absolutely, all, etc. are almost always wrong. Being able to strike out these answers can help narrow down the answer choices immensely. We all hate Roman numeral questions where I and II or only II or I, II, and III could be right, but there’s a trick to them too. Almost always the Roman numeral that is used the most often will be included in the correct answer. This may not get you narrowed down to one answer, but it will help.
Over time you’ll start to find more little patterns and tricks that make reading comprehension bearable. The best advice I can give is practice, practice, practice! That way you’ll be ready for anything on test day and you can sail right into graduate or professional school. Good luck!