Why Active Reading Matters When Studying for the GRE

Posted by Andrew Jungclaus on 11/7/18 6:43 PM

Active Reading GRE

We all read so much these days -- texts, lists, ads, articles, more ads, email.  But really what we’re doing here (for the most part) is skimming.  We’re looking for the information we want, not caring much about what falls by the wayside, and moving on.  

In this blog I want to teach you a tactic -- we call it “active reading” -- that will help start to turn off that impulse in your head that says “BORING -- time to skim.”

Now it’s time to take some of that reading work you’ve been doing every day and put it within the context of the actual GRE.  As I’ve said before, the only way you can truly improve your performance on the critical reading section is by training your brain to read in a way that might be completely foreign to you.  

Why should I care about active reading? 

I know that this might feel like the kind of thing that you’ll never use again, but I promise it’s going to make you a more efficient, detail-oriented worker, no matter what you plan to do in the next chapter of your life.  Whatever your next step is, there will be a time when you’re called on to read a dry report or make sense of a too-long proposal and whittle it down to bare bones, so honestly, this is a transferrable skill.  

Once you master active reading, you’ll know how to:

  1. Mine a passage for relevant information
  2. Find main ideas
  3. Discern an author’s perspective
  4. Discern their style of argumentation
  5. Pinpoint potential biases.  

How to start active reading right now:

  1. Get a paper copy of a passage - it can be from your GRE book, or an article from the newspaper or publication you’re reading. 
  2. Take a pen or pencil and make sure that it touches each and every word on the page as you’re reading.  This will really help to keep your eyes from skimming past potentially relevant information and will slow you down -- in a good way!  
  3. Press the pencil down to underline any group of words that strikes you as important information or a potential main idea -- this might not seem totally natural at first, but you’ll get the idea.  
  4. And finally, I want you to circle any word that either you don’t know (to add to your vocab list) or words that belie authorial tone (more on this in our next email).  
  5. After every paragraph, jot a little note to yourself, say, 4 or 5 words, that will help you to remember what that paragraph was about.  And it’s as easy as that. 

Need an example?  Here it is:

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 6.42.33 PM

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Tags: GRE