GMAT Reading Comprehension Strategies: Answering “Why”

In another post on GMAT reading comprehension strategies, today we’re going to talk about how to answer “Why” questions. The “Why” question might come in any number of forms: Why does the author use a particular word? Why is paragraph four included in this passage? Why is this person mentioned? These “Why” questions are also called function questions, and a helpful post at Beat The GMAT has many answers regarding this.

One of the more important GMAT reading comprehension strategies to learn is how to figure a way around these types of questions.

“The most important thing you can do when faced with a “Function” question is to go back to the passage and look for clues. Clues within the paragraph are any keywords, sentence structure, or punctuation that give insight into the author’s intention. Do not be afraid to go back and re-read.”

This is probably not an entirely new piece of advice: remember our elementary and high school teachers telling us to “go back and find the answer,” possibly yelling at us for not opening our book to first look back for help? This is one of those skills that will quickly become one of the crucial GMAT reading comprehension strategies to redevelop.

Look at this function question:

Why does the author mention Caesar in the second paragraph?

The question gives us several clues. The first, and most obvious one is the “Why” stuck there at the beginning of the question. The other good thing about a question like this is the fact that it points us somewhere–in this case, the second paragraph.

You immediately want to go back to that second paragraph, looking for critical details, which are there only to reinforce the main idea of the paragraph. As you learn to differentiate answers that merely regurgitate words from the passage from those that actually engage the author’s intention, you will develop additional GMAT reading comprehension strategies as you apply to business schools in Virginia.












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