Finding GRE-level reading materials
GRE reading comprehension questions seek to assess critical reading skills by using texts that exhibit a level of complexity comparable to that encountered in graduate school. Passages exhibiting this kind of graduate-level prose are adapted from material found in books and periodicals, both academic and nonacademic.
To gain more exposure to GRE-level reading material, the most fruitful approach would be to become familiar with the kinds of graduate-level prose, logical reasoning and rhetorical patterns typically found in GRE reading passages. The best way to do this is to read a wide variety of texts with similar features on a regular basis or at least for a sustained period of time before your test.
Where can you find these texts? The good news is that the graduate-level prose sampled by GRE passages is not just in highly specialized academic journals. There are many excellent sites for developing the habit of reading challenging prose, many of which are readily accessible. Some of these include:
- feature articles in newspapers such as The New York Times, The Guardian or The Wall Street Journal
- periodicals such as The Economist, Scientific American and London Review of Books
- trade books by experts and journalists for general audiences
If you’re interested in sampling academic prose in more specialized journals, online services for journal content (e.g., IOPscience2 and The Royal Society) provide links to interesting articles, some of which are open access.
You should also cultivate the habit of reading closely and critically. Focus on paragraphs that seem particularly dense in meaning and engage actively with the text:
- How would you sum up the author's larger point?
- What does a phrase used by the author mean in this specific context?
- What is not said but implied?
- Why does the author highlight this particular detail?
- Where is the argument most vulnerable to criticism?
Ultimately, to succeed at GRE reading comprehension, how you read is just as important as what you read.