How to approach and solve GRE reading comprehension questions

Tyler York
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We brought back Clay Daniel, founder of Clayborne Test Prep and Tutoring, to share his best practices for the GRE verbal section. In this podcast, Clay goes through a GRE reading comprehension problem set from the ETS practice PDF here. Follow along as Clay walks you through how to use the “journey” method to easily keep track of and solve different reading comprehension problem types involving the same passage.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive course to maximize your score on the GRE exam, try Achievable’s GRE course for free to see if our style is right for you.

Full How to approach and solve GRE reading comprehension questions video transcript:

Welcome to GRE snacks and a couple episodes about the GRE exam and graduate school admissions. I'm Tyler, founder of achievable are for $299, Jerry course, includes everything you need to issue GRE full textbook, tons of Jerry questions back by a memory science algorithm and full-length fact you can try it for free at And if you like it, decode podcast. Check out the future episode. Please contact me at Tyler at with the subject line podcast topic. Now, let's get started. So today we got someone very special on Clay, Daniel Clay's. You want to say hello, and maybe introduce yourself and share a little bit about how you're both your story of, like, how you got in the GRE tutoring and also bit about your firm. Yeah, it's great. It's great to be here today at love to talk about test prep, and I'm working with students and kind of, but I think of test prep has

It's really two puzzle. There's a puzzle of the test itself and there's the puzzle of the students mind is kind of funny how there's come together now, but this is something I've been doing actually started doing it way. Back in college in the 90s and I've done it in a, in a number of different formats in the classroom format, but through kind of a winding road, if some different different kind of vocational options in 2009, I felt inspired to kind of take that test prep knowledge. But, but start a firm that with Focus not really on on the classroom approach, but on at a highly personal relational flexible,

Really Consulting, where, or you might even say can a personal training for for the India's test. If you know that that's the analogy that we like to use, you go to the gym. You have a, you have a personal trainer and they going to Taylor. Exactly. I'm kind of what what the program looks like to to your goals. And then we like to think that them that we do that with with test like the the GRE and I'm we've been at it since 09 and are increasingly doing that online on my furnace is growing into into new areas and we have a, we have a team that has fun doing it.

Yeah, absolutely. And and the firm is, is Claiborne education for those Googling. It home, correct. So, let's jump into the first topic then, I mean, we might do a couple episodes here cuz you came in with such a great list. But this one, I love it. You call it the window concept for the GRE Quant section. Can you explain what that means?

It's the window concept is the idea that recognizes something relatively obvious. And that's that, when you're going over a question in practice for the GRE, you're never going to see exactly that question. So, you know, what is, what is 6s look like? It doesn't look like memorizing, the approach to some question and keep in mind, that's a very different from math. That's done in school with a high school or college, your typical, your Tata method and you get the assessment and you reproduced the method on the assessment. I mean, maybe the numbers change a little bit, but you're basically running through exactly what you've been taught, the whole nature of a standardized test. Like the GRE is that it's a it requires problem-solving and critical-thinking Beyond just what the problem is presenting to you. So so each the window concept is that each problem?

Is in a sense, like, a metaphorical window through which you look out onto the concepts that are going to be relevant for the test and the more challenging the problem, the more diverse are the higher number of Concepts, that that problem might be a composite until you almost need to not just to solve the problem. But look through the problem to the concepts that underlie it and feel like, you know, you can check all of those boxes. Take that Concept in applied in a different setting. So, in that sense, it's looking is doing more than just solving the problem in front of. Yeah. Yeah. It's basically you start with the diagnosis and then you got to operate.

Right, and up. And like you said, a diagnosis that involves the, the brain of the test taker, by everybody remembers different things. And the classic refrain of the GRE student is, I haven't done this in fill in the blank 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, you know, it's it's usually been a while since they've done what's on the GRE Quant section and so that's part of it as well. It's a window into what, what you're remembering, what you don't and helping your kind of reassemble that picture?

Great. Well, I mean, our prep, we talked about this for the audience you've come prepared with some example questions but I think it's an awesome way to demonstrate this. And so what we're going to do, just for the audience's we're going to link to this. It's an ETS sample question, PDF. So comes from the makers of the GRE and its publicly available and we're going to link to it in the description of this episode. But yeah, why don't you get started and just talking us through the first problem? Sure, that I'd love to share with you and I think it was straight the window Concept in different ways to the first one is from section 5, number 3 of this. This PDF which of course, you know, this would be taking the the GRE on on paper for practice. Even though it's, of course, delivered by a computer said, number three is a quantitative comparison. Probably take both of them are quantitative, comparison problems. That's a little bit by accident, but I think these two problems best illustrate that

concept number three says that says that the kind of internal information or background is 4% of assets is equal to 3% of t

And it tells you that they're both greater than 0 and you're supposed to compare S&T. So what I mean by the window concept is

We don't want just want to do the second to read that put their heads down and immediately start writing an equation and equation might be the best way to solve this but good test prep. I'm takes into account as you kind of look through that window that there may be multiple ways to solve it and and multiple concept under underlying this. So we could write .04 * 1000 equals 2.03 * T and try to make those to interact but there's problem solving and the GRE another way to say that is that the GRE has a ton of reasoning or logic that you can bring to bear that we should be encouraging to a student who's been using their their reasoning even more recently. Let's say they are far more recently than maybe they've been using their math skills, right? So still look at that comparison. 4% of ass is 3% of tea, we like to come up with memorable ways to make it come.

Garrison or to execute a math problem. And the approach here, I would call the principal of help.

And we could all the street at this way. Let's so I'm, I'm 5 ft 9 on a good day, you know. If I go to the doctor's office, they probably I'm probably rounding up a little bit but let's hear a student is 5 ft 11. And if I would ask if we're both trying to get to 6 ft, we both need to step on let's say a small raised area to get the 60 which of us needs more help. I need more help with the principal of help means more needs to be added to me, in order for me to reach the equal place. Ready to think again about the problem 4% of ass is equal to 3% of tea. It almost sounds like tea has the smaller number because it has the smaller percent Until you realize. Wait a minute ass is getting more help. In this equation ass is getting X 4%. He's only getting but * 3% who's getting helped more.

That would be us. And that's that's analogous to to me in this picture, right? I'm the shorter. When I'm the one that needs the help to get to six feet and right in the colonies are just comparing. Smt there's there's actually no math. That's required. If you apply that reasoning to the problem realize as a smaller it needs more help, right? Yeah. Cuz I was immediately how I try to solve it was like, okay. Well, you know, even using like your goal concept is like, okay, let's say what number would each of the need to be to equal one yet, right? Take to get to one. Like you can tell that one of them is going to need 25 and the other will need 33, right? Ready for like 33.33 * itself. So that actually, yeah, that's a very cool way to Illustrated. Yeah. And it's intuitive right next to something more than just the math or the algebra that you could use.

R81, not to mention. The other thing too is that it takes very little time to solve. You don't have to solve anything, right? Yeah. Time is of the essence, it would be nice. You know what, I think students that are well-grounded and textbook approach has been struggling a lot with with the timing because you'll be nice to be able to do the textbook approach on every problem. But very few students can do that fast enough to finish the whole section, right?

yeah, I mean that's essentially like one the biggest things you just did is cut a minute off, somebody's

Like problem solving X break. So do you mind reading it off and then walking us through it and it's pretty easy to hear and and and visualize because if there's not much information there, the background is simply that X is greater than why does the number 6. By the way, in the same section X is greater than y, that's all we know. And, you know, the student should be kind of thinking, let's not make assumptions here. Let's leave that wide-open. We could be positive and negative zero both positive both - 0 0, The Columns are asking us to compare the absolute value of x + y, + the absolute value of x minus y, Elizabeth Thursday, to Collins

So a problem like this, I think is a window onto the entire concept of plugging in numbers on GRE and that you really want to thank him categories, we train our students to think in categories. And each category will have an example number that you would use. But a good number sense, means you're thinking these categories will probably behave the same way and those would be more positive integers, negative two whole numbers on the positive or negative side. I've been there zero of course, which often behaves in ways because it's so I like to talk about the weirdness of zero, you know, right? It's so different that it often helps, you get to answer ya, or at least eliminate an answer choice.

And then, of course, what we haven't talked about is the non integers. Two fractions, both on the positive and negative side.

A but we might we specially like to narrow that down from the range between from 0 to 1 and 0 2 - 10 because numbers behaved oddly there between 0 and 1 opposite world you know because usually you multiply by something and it gets larger that's that's intuitively. What we think, the word X means to make something big right or more numerous but if you multiply by a number between 0 and 1, you're making it smaller, * 1/2 *, 1/3 * 1/4, and then you put that on the negative side. 0 2 - 1

And there's a couple of weird things happening. It's it's becoming smaller and absolute value terms, right? It's actually becoming larger cuz it's getting closer to 0 or typically spend more time, covering this grounds and making sure that like all of the categories, the behavior of the number in those categories would be, you know, it would be well-dressed by the student but its application to this problem is just to say, keep in mind that there are all these different behaviors of numbers.

And so you don't want to make assumptions based on say just plugging into positive numbers or two negatives. In this case, we're going to want to keep going until we realize as this problem teaches us that there actually multiple relationships between A and B column A and column B. We could we can make them equal by making y equal to 0, right to the x + y. + x minus y will be the same thing even with the absolute value bars around. Write the next 40, doesn't change anything and that's actually the best outcome to get because now all we need to do is show that we could have a different relationship between the quantities. And we immediately know the answer is D and we can indeed be any number of

You don't really need to go beyond integers and zero on this one. You don't need to use the fractions but they're definitely other cases where you'd say look in the drawers are getting the quantity. A keeps being bigger, when I'm using integers, but let's not assume yet. They call that a is the answer. Let's try fractions, because they might behave differently, and that we've looked through the window. Very cool. Yes. And that's, that's basically five categories that it's positive integers, negative integers, positive, fractions between 0 and 1 negative fractions between 0 1. And then of course, zero which is a great number for screwing. Allow these problems up in a way that helps you trying to use the square on Tetris, you know, the square is the worst block to get cuz it's hard to fit in there, but

If you want, that kind of thing on a standardized test because she can make something not fit, maybe you can eliminate it, right? Exactly. Very cool, will fantastic. Thank you, play. This is all fun and I think that was a really good lesson, amazing else, you wanted to say before we you give us a little spill that what you guys do and then we log off.

I know, I think that's that. That's great. I think that sums it up well. Alright cool. Then yet tell us a little bit about Claiborne before we head off here soon as I mentioned Claiborne at is it focuses on? I'm kind of this personal training relationship with the client. We are we are at consultancy hard way that we show that is just an initial a diagnostic and consultation process for which we don't charge the client. We're not interested in writing students into my classroom, we're just kind of increasing the bottom line. In that sense I'll program it is. Right. Right for some and we think it's the best out there because you know, I guess we wouldn't be worth much if we if we didn't think that. But it's about the client and whether it's a fit for him or her how many hours make sense what the goal is. So

I would really say it didn't send invitation to to start a conversation and then figure out if, if this makes sense. That makes us us feel like we're doing this with Integrity, right? You know, if you, we can, we can have that conversation and go forward when it makes sense. And, and when we do it, you know, hopefully this gives you a taste of how we approach things and a lot of students and found that it kind of unlocks the test for them and in ways that bring results, but it starts with a conversation.

Fantastic. Thank you clay. Really appreciate that. And yeah, we Claiborne education. You can Google it. Or I will also provide a link in the description to that as well. I'm so this is Ben, Jerry snacks hosted by Tyler, from achievable. You can check out our GRE course for free at and you zip code podcast at checkout to get 10% off. Thanks very much for listening and we'll see you next time.
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