reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary Jim Rohn Hello, and welcome back to the Dominate test prep podcast. Or maybe welcome for the very first time. If this is the first show you have ever listened to, I'm excited that you're here. Thank you for listening. And I know you're gonna get great value from what we're gonna be talking about today. Reading comprehension. Oh, by the way, my name is Brett Ethridge, the show's host. Eso again. Welcome. Now it's gonna be a slightly different format, and here's what I mean. I was recently invited to deliver a webinar for the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine for its G R E applicants, I guess. Or they're applicants who are needing to take the G R E and specifically for their non native English speaking candidates. The school itself is located on the island of ST Kitts. Can you imagine a more beautiful place to go to school? And they actually get a lot of applicants from Puerto Rico, other Latin countries in South American countries and so again, they invited me on to deliver a webinar geared towards those students. And so I shared lots of tips and strategies to help people for whom English is not their first language, to be able to get right answers, which is ultimately the goal. And there's a lot you can do, especially on the reading comprehension front. And so when I got through with the weapon or I thought to myself, you know, this is information that really everybody could benefit, whether English is your first language or not. A lot of the strategies in the mind sets I talked about around reading comprehension are relevant for you, no matter what standardized test you're taking. Now, the webinar I did was specifically for the g r e. But reading comprehension is on the G, Matt the S a t the a c t the l sat. No matter what standardized test you are studying for, there is always a reading component. And the strategies I taught will help you with that reading component. And so that's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna let you in and let you listen to the reading comprehension portion of that webinar. Two quick things first before I play that for you. And the first is a reminder as I have already said that I was delivering the webinar for students taking the g r E. And so you will hear me reference the g r e. But as I have stated, regardless of what standardized tests you are studying for, what I am sharing is relevant and pertinent and will help you. And the second is there is a segment where I actually go through an illustration from a real passage, and the students and the women are could obviously see the words on the screen. I read the passage aloud, and I think I narrate it in such a way that it will still make sense to you listening in podcast format. But here's what I have done. I have taken those slides, the slides from this portion of the webinar that you are going to hear, and I have made them available for you. So consult the show notes below, and there will be a link where you can download a pdf of the actual slides and follow along. So if you want to wait until you're in front of a computer for that portion, or if you want to go back and revisit it, just to make sure that you are seeing what I am talking about. I think that will be helpful for you. But like I said, I think it will still make sense, even if you just listen and you will certainly understand the major point. I am trying to make on that portion as well as the other points I'm trying to make. So they're three strategies, and that's what you're about to hear. Three strategies that will help you with reading comprehension. Whether English is not your native language or even if it is, I think you're going to enjoy it. I know you're going to get great value from it, and it will help you get more right answers on reading comprehension. So without further ado three reading comprehension strategies from my Ross vet Webinar well, let's look at reading comprehension first. So we're gonna start with reading comprehension than turn our attention to the sentence completions, and I have a few strategies for you to help you with reading comprehension. And the first thing, my best advice to you right now right out of the gate is to increase the amount that you are reading between now and test day. So strategy number one, read, read and read some more. You want to start by reading real former GE Ari passages, and the best source of those passages is the official guide to the G. R E. You see it pictured here on the lower right here screen. If you don't already have that book, it's essential that you practice from that book for both verbal and quant, by the way, as you're preparing for the G r E. But you want to start with real former Jerry passages because those are the types of passages you will see on test and you want to get familiar with them. And so you want to definitely read those. Read a bunch of, um, practice those questions, But you also want to increase the amount that you're reading by at least 15 minutes per day, every day between now and test day off. Other material that would be labeled quote hard. In other words, the type of content, the type of reading material that the G R E takes its reading comprehension passages from now. Two things to say about this first, why 15 extra minutes per day and the reason is because there are a lot of studies that show that 15 minutes is sort of the magic threshold. The magic number where, uh, proficiency, reading, proficiency reading skill is accelerated. Now most people, sadly, they did a study. She's kind of looking at how much high school age kids in middle school age kids in the United States specifically, but how much they read. And most do not read for 15 minutes a day. In fact, most read for less than five minutes per day. But they find that if students can get their reading up to at least 15 minutes per day, that's where they see huge gains. That's where the proficiency is accelerated. And even if you currently Reid, I want you to increase it by 15 minutes per day. I have Ah did an interview on my podcast, and I'll mention my podcast again in a moment when we talk about sentence completion, because there's an episode that I'm gonna want you to listen to. But I interviewed a gentleman who took the G Matt, so I know you guys were preparing for the G r E. But he prepared for the G, Matt and he increased his score significantly, and I kind of interviewed him about that nest, Um, why and kind of like what he did and what worked and what didn't work. And one of the things he said that really, really helped him, especially on the verbal section of the G. Matt. But again, the G Matt has reading comprehension that's very similar to the reading comprehension you'll see on the G R E, he said. One thing that I started to do was first thing in the morning. As soon as I woke up, I read The New York Times Science section for 15 minutes everyday. Between the time he started studying for the G. Matt on the time he took the Guilmette 15 minutes per day, and in his case, he read The New York Times Science section. So that's what I'm talking about when I talk about reading something, quote unquote hard, the G R E polls. It's passages from a wide range of topic areas the sciences, the social sciences, political types of things, increasingly business. So as the G R E is now used for admission to business school as well, you'll see more and more business types of passages. So maybe you read the Wall Street Journal here. You see, I have listed National Geographic magazine, foreign affairs magazines, the types of things that may be about topics you're not very familiar with. And that's the other thing I would say is read stuff that you're not already familiar with because that's part of what makes g r e reading comprehension challenging right? It's easy to read something that you already know a lot about. It's harder if you get a passage that's about archaeology, or like black holes or something about astronomy that you have never. You don't know anything about that. It's using a bunch of words that you're not familiar with because it uses jargon related to archaeology or something like that. Or maybe you're not a big business person, and they're talking about supply curves and demand and all of these topics around business that you're not very familiar with. Now the good news is, and let me say this, and I always tell my students, This is well, you don't want to answer the questions on reading comprehension based on pre existing knowledge, so I don't want you to read this stuff to try to build up a knowledge base. You are not gonna answer questions on test Day based on your pre existing knowledge. You're answering questions based on information given in the passage itself, but that requires comprehension and understanding and learning what you're reading about a topic that you may be I'm not familiar with. And that's why it's important to seek out some periodical zor journals or texts that are in areas that you're not very familiar with. So I hope that makes sense. Reed Reed Reed increased by 15 minutes per day. Here's another website, another resource for you that that I find enjoyable. My students have found helpful. It called Read theory dot or GE. They just have a bunch of passages that that you can practice reading from different types of topics, and they have some questions about those passages. And what's cool about this is as you get more right answers in answering the questions, the passages get increasingly difficult. So when you first go to the website and you read the first passage, it will be a very easy passage, and for some of you, that's actually a good thing, because maybe you're reading comprehension level isn't very high. In fact, the first few passages may be at an elementary school level, and then you answer the questions and you get him right. And then the passages get increasingly difficult, and eventually you can get to where you're reading passages that are college level or even cry. Excuse me, even graduate level in difficulty, and I will say this. You know, not all. It's not G r E specific passages or even Jerry specific questions. So I'm not recommending this because I think that it's gonna be, you know, incredible practice for the actual questions you'll see on the Jerry. But they're still somewhat relevant in terms of, like, main idea and understanding the author's attitude and tone and the types of things that you will see on the G r E. But it's just another good source of passages to help you improve your reading proficiency. And here's a final tip on this before we go to the next strategy is, regardless of what you are reading when you get done reading it, whether it's an article from The New York Times or one of the passages and read theory I want you to ask yourself in your own words, what was the main idea of this passage? What was the author's main point? Because if the end of the day that's the main thing, you want to be able to answer in your own words before you start answering questions. Which leads me to strategy number to read for Big Picture. Most questions on reading comprehension on the G R E r big picture types of questions. Sometimes they are flat out. What is the author's main point? Where? What is the main idea of this passage, or what type of like, where might this passage have come from? Like a business textbook? Or they ask the questions, sometimes in weird ways. But they're still essentially asking what is the main idea? And so you want to be able to answer that and frame that in your own words before worrying about the questions themselves, because we can always go back to the passage for specific, detailed questions. We want to get our mind around main idea questions first and so one of the very first things you want to do when you're reading a passage is try toe identify the thesis. Sentence passages on the G R E tend to be fairly short. They're shorter than they are on, say, the G Matt, which is good news for you taking the g r E and often times there is going to be one sentence that if you can find it right, the the thesis sentence is the sentence that you should be able to point to an underlying that itself summarizes the passage. It is the main idea. It is what the passage is about. And so one thing you want to do when you're practicing for the g r e when you're preparing and even when you're just reading on your own is to ask yourself, what is the thesis sentence? Could I underlined? Could I point to one sentence? That is the main idea. And here is a passage taken straight from the E. T s are the gr ease kind of Maine public website. So this is a public domain passage, and it's an example of a really kind of former g r E passage, and I'm actually gonna read it out loud just because sitting in silence for two minutes doesn't make for a good weapon are, but you guys can kind of come back to it if you get lost and feel like you need to revisit it. But I'm gonna read it out loud, and I want you to think, What is the thesis sentence of this passage? Which sentence represents the main idea of this passage so you can go ahead and type it in the questions area or the chat area. If you determine what you think it is on, then we'll talk about it. But the passage goes as follows, reviving the practice of using elements of popular music and classical composition on approach that had been in hibernation in the United States during the 19 sixties, composer Philip Glass embraced the ethos of popular music and his compositions Glass, based to symphonies on music by rock musicians David Bowie and Brian Eno. But the symphony's sound is distinctly hiss, a distinctively hiss. Popular elements do not appear out of place in glasses classical music, which from its early days had shared certain harmonies and rhythms with rock music. Yet this use of popular elements has not made glass composer of popular music. His music is not a version of popular music package to attract classical listeners. Instead, it is high art for listener steeped in rock rather than the classics. So there is the passage. What is the thesis sentence? What's the main idea? What's the main idea of this passage? If you were to try to summarize it in your own words, what is it about? It's about this guy, Philip Glass, right? That's composer Philip Glass, right? And one of the things I I kind of talked about my course and talking about main ideas. Sometimes sometimes there are answered choices that are too narrow there, too specific, like this passage is about, um, you know, um, David Bowie or or incorporating rock music from David Bowie and Bryant, You know? No, that's like that's talked about, but that's a little bit too narrow, a little bit too specific. You can also have answer choices that would be too broad. This this passages about classical music? Yeah, okay. I mean, it is about classical music. It's about Philip Glass, this composer, this classical composer, but that would be a little bit too broad for what's What's it really about? While the thesis sentence, I would say is the very first sentence, and oftentimes that is the case that, if you were to summarize with this passages about on even the first part of it, is unnecessary. Really. It could be summarized after the Kama composer Philip Glass embraced the ethos of popular music in his compositions by using elements of the very first part right by using elements of popular music in his classical compositions. That's it. That's the thesis. And then the rest of the passage fleshes that out a little bit, provides Maur information. For example. Here's how he did that. Here's how he has incorporated elements of popular music. He brought in some popular sounds from David Bowie and Brian E. No, but right and then it kind of pivots. Even though he has brought this in, he's not a popular rock musician. He is still a classical artist. His music is still last sentence after the colon or a semi colon hot quote, high art meaning like for the classics classical art, classical high art for listeners steeped in rock, right, so he hasn't become a popular musician. He is still focused on his classical music, but he has incorporated some popular elements into his music. That's the main idea, and that's the thesis. And so it's important that we read for big Picture because it sets us up to be able to answer the big picture questions, right? So we want to identify the thesis sentence, and the second part of the strategy is we want to ignore specific details on the initial reading. This is one of the things I hear from students where English is not. Their native language is that they get lost in the details. They get lost in the big words, especially the words they might not know or the jargon. And so jargon is a word fancy that basically means you know the words about a certain topic, right? All industries have their own jargon here. They're using words and jargon related to music, popular music, things like composition and classics and symphonies and all of these harmonies and rhythms. And and those are the types of things that students can get lost in, especially if English isn't your first language, and yet they are not essential to your big picture understanding. They distract you from the big picture, understanding that you need to be able to answer most of the questions you will encounter, so you need to learn to read for big picture, identify the thesis and get a big picture understanding and ignore the specific details and let me prove it to you. Let me show you. Watch what happens if I literally kind of block out and blackened out all of the non essential information. All of the distracter details. So you see it on your screen where I have literally blocked out non essential words. And I'm going to read the passage again with all of that text missing and show you that you still can understand big picture. In fact, what I have left are the essential elements of the passage. The main idea. Understanding elements of the passage. Right? If I had just read this to you, I want you to ask yourself, Would you understand what the passage is saying? If it only said this composer Philip Glass and I should have actually deleted, born in 1937 that's also non essential information. We don't care when he was born, we can go back and find out if the question asks about it, but that's modifying information. Non essential information. Composer Philip Glass embraced the ethos of popular music and his compositions. Now the popular elements do not appear out of place in glasses classical music. Yet this use of popular elements has not made Glass. A composer of popular music. His is still high art for listeners steeped in rock rather than the classics that still makes sense. In fact, it might make more sense to you once I have literally filtered out all of that non essential information. I call this the bracketing technique, and it's really more of a filtering thing. It is this idea of saying, Okay, I'm gonna kind of mentally block out the stuff that is distracting me from big picture understanding, and that's a skill that you can develop. And it will speed up your reading comprehension if one of the issues you are having trouble with is speed, meaning it takes you too long to read the passages, it may be because you are focused too much or getting lost in the details. I always remind my students that the G R E is an open book test when you get to the reading comprehension reading comprehension, passage in the questions. If you are asked about a specific detail, the passages right there for you, it never goes away. It doesn't disappear. You can always go back and find the necessary information, but you can ignore it on the initial read through. I hope this makes sense, and I hope this is liberating for some of you who are struggling with re reading comprehension. Just read for big picture. All right, so you want to identify the thesis sentence. You want to ignore some of the specific details on the initial reading because you can go back to that if necessary. And instead you want to focus on these elements of kind of big picture. Because if you take a look at the types of questions that are asked about reading comprehension passages, most of them are big picture questions. What is the author's main idea? Our main point. What is the purpose of the passage? What is the author think about such and such? That's like an attitude or a tone question of feeling question questions about the structure, the logical flow, what could you infer, inference questions or big picture understanding questions? Right? All of those questions you can answer if you understand big picture. Every once in a while you get a specific detail question in Line 19 the author says. Such and such in order to blah, blah, blah, right, Even that's a little bit big picture like in the grand scheme of things. Why does the author mention that specific detail? But when they do ask you those questions, you could go back and find the answer instead. Main idea. We just found the main idea by identifying the thesis sentence, attitude or tone. Is the author in support of an idea or against a NY idea? Right Big picture. You should be ableto you should be able to figure that out when you read the passage. I like to think about attitude and tone on a spectrum from negative deposit of a lot of times that answer choices are also arranged. That way. The author likes it doesn't like it is in favor of it is not in favor of it, right. So if you can understand big picture, the general idea or attitude the author has, you can answer those types of questions. What's the author's main purpose and then structure How does the passage flow? So those are some things that you want to focus on with reading comprehension. And here's another shortcut for you. Andi. Have another cool strategy for you that'll transition to hear in a moment. But when thinking about reading for the big picture, I mentioned that a lot of times reading comprehension passages on the Jerry are fairly short, but every once a while you will see longer passages that might be two or even three paragraphs long. And if you struggle with those because again you're reading, speed is not very fast or again. You're getting lost in the details, and it's taking you too long. The beautiful thing about the way people tend to write is they tend to follow the texts on the reading comprehension. Passages on the G R E are usually professional text right there taken from professional sources. And how do people write professionally, while usually there's a thesis sentence and then information supporting that thesis and then some sort of a conclusion and then a transition, maybe another kind of mini thesis sentence and the next paragraph, some or supporting information, and then a conclusion, right? And so if we're going to ignore a lot of the details anyway, it's amazing how much you can understand if you just read the first and last sentences of each paragraph. So that may sound totally weird to you. Like, Are you serious? I'm supposed to literally not read every word. Well, if it's taking you too long to read every word and your goal is to get right answers, skip some of the middle stuff. Just try reading the first and last sentences and see how it goes. And so this is something for you to experiment with practice with a little bit. But I know I've had a lot of my students who have recommended this to come back to me and say that they have found it incredibly helpful that it seems weird and beginning that it seems a little bit unnatural, like they feel like they're missing something. But again, think back to the passage. When I blocked out all of the unnecessary words, I could still understand what the passage was about. It's amazing how often you can understand what the passengers about with just the first and last sentences. Here's strategy number three and this is what I call the first word cheat codes. So here's a really cool strategy for you to help you get right answers. If you're struggling with reading comprehension. Ah, lot of times questions will essentially be a complete the sentence kind of set up, right? So you see a sample question here about the passage we just read that reads. The primary purpose of this passage is to like dot, dot, dot right and answer choices Essentially complete that sentence. So the primary purpose of this passage is too well to do what right and often times the first word. And the answer choice is all you need to be able to answer the question so often we get lost in all of the wording of the answer choices, and I am instructing you to narrow your focus on these types of questions Where this is the question set up. Just look at the first word notice. I haven't given you the rest of the answer choice. I haven't given you the rest of the wording, but just based on this passage, which answer choices do you think we could eliminate generally the author's primary purpose on the G R E is gonna be one of three things to simply illuminate to give you some information to educate you about something, right? Isn't trying to convince you of anything Doesn't have a strong position. Either way is just trying to illuminate some information. A little bit more in depth is to evaluate to a look at pros and cons and compare and contrast, and to go deeper and maybe try toe, see whether or not a hypothesis is valid. Those air evaluative types of purposes and then on the other end of the spectrum would be actually trying to advocate for something taking a strong position. I am in favor of this or I am against this. I am opposed to this, and here is why right? So with that in mind, how might we complete the sentence? Which answer choices do not make sense? Is the author trying to compare anything, yes or no? Were describing something or questioning something, calling something in the question, exploring something extolling that means to prop up the virtues of something. So Paulo, you're saying comparing is something that they are not doing? That's right, they're not comparing anything. The author is not comparing. Now the author is talking about classical music in this case incorporating elements of popular music. But the passage is not actually comparing them or comparing and contrasting them or talking about how one is better than the other. Good so we can eliminate Answer choice A. For that reason, right, we could also eliminate answer choice. See, it is not questioning anything. There's not anything that the author is trying to call into question or doubting anything. It's not advocating for anything. It's not extolling anything, which is a big, fancy word that basically would mean, too talked about the virtues or the positive aspects of something. None of that is happening. This is just a kn illuminate ih ve type of passage. The purpose is just to describe in this case how Philip Glass has incorporated popular music into his classical compositions, you know, without imitating them. But by maintaining his own voice basically right, that that's the main idea. We already talked about that. So, yes, it could be describing something it could be exploring, exploring how Philip Glass incorporates popular music while maintaining his own unique voice. Right, so I haven't given you the rest of the answer explanations. That's not the point here. The point here is to help you narrow your focus, and it's and hey, even if you didn't understand, like the rest of the ah, the purpose if you miss that at the very worst, you have increased your guessing odds to 50% 50 50. We've got rid of a C and E, and at worst, you're now choosing between answer, choice, B and D. And then, obviously, hopefully the rest of the answer answer choice description would make clear which is the correct answer. But anyway, I love this. I call it a cheat code because you're gonna feel like you're cheating Now that I've kind of shown this to you. It's a really cool strategy, so practice it and pay attention to it the next time you're doing a block of practice. Questions on this works really well on attitude or tone questions as well, for the same reason I talked about earlier. If you can kind of arranged answer choices, and often the first word is all you need about an attitude or tone kind of on a spectrum from negative to positive, you usually have a pretty good idea. Hayes Does the author feel negatively about something or positively about something that can usually help you eliminate at least two or three answer choices right out of the gate. So just kind of pay attention to that. It's a really cool strategy for you. This'll weeks from the mailbag question comes from Francesca. Francesca e mailed me with the following concern and tell me if this sounds familiar, she says. Quote. I noticed that I am still experiencing the same issues, freezing, forgetting all the tools I've been learning, losing significant amount of time, just interpreting what I'm looking for or how to solve something. Time evaporates. So Francesca, I can feel your pain. I think what you're experiencing is common for a lot of students, and I have a little bit of tough love in my answer for you and that is this. The reason you're still experiencing these issues is because you haven't mastered the content and strategies well enough yet you haven't honed in on your pattern recognition. As a lot of you may know, I'm big into CrossFit. I love CrossFit and I follow some of the big crossfit athletes and the competitions they do around the world. And there's a guy who just won a big competition over and do by his name is Brent Fake Kowski. Maybe I like him because his name kind of sounds like mine, or he's one of the taller CrossFit athletes, so it gives me hope as a tall guy doing the sport. But anyway, he won, and one of the things he said afterwards really resonated with me. And it's something that I've talked about before and I want to pass along and share with you, he said. You don't rise to meet the level of your goals. You always fall to your level of preparation. So for him, he talked about how even if he wants to win, even if you aspire to win a competition like that, once you are out there on the competition floor, you're lifting weights. You're running, you're doing Burpees. You're doing whatever it is. No matter what your goal is, you can only perform as well as your preparation has prepared you to perform. And it's the same way here back to the idea of pattern recognition. You must not yet be familiar enough with the different question types and have the ability to immediately identify the question type you are looking at. And not only that, then saying OK is this type of question. I immediately know what strategy to employ and so pattern recognition is where you want to get back to, and I have referenced it before in this podcast. But I'll bring it up here again. The idea of kind of g Matt Roulette or GR re roulette or whatever examiners studying for. And the idea is to get out the official guide or a big source of practice problems and just randomly flipped through kind of close your eyes, almost blindfold yourself, point to a random question and just play the pattern recognition game, the diagnosis game, where you literally just look at the question say, Oh, you know, that is a It's a problem. It's a word problem where the answer choices are all numbers. Okay, I'm gonna work backwards, Boom! Okay, flip to the next page Boom! That is a That's a traditional sets problem. It's a two sets problem. Okay, so I'm just gonna use the classic two sets formula. Okay, Boom. Now you flip to the next page and kind of blindfold. Okay, that and so forth and so on. And you would just want to train that you want to be. Drill that and do that over and over and over again until you increase that and then you can go back and actually work the problems. And then you obviously want to know how to do those problems, and and then when you're in the weeds, you're actually solving the questions. But if part of your issue is you are freezing up, you get confused about how to even begin. You haven't learned the content well enough. Maybe you don't fully. You haven't fully mastered the different strategies for each of the major question types. And so you just have to go back to the drawing board and keep working practice problems. I'm sure it's not exactly what you want to hear, but you need. You just need more practice. You need to be exposed to more types of questions, and once you've seen everything, then there's nothing that test makers can throw at you on testing that you haven't seen before. And, of course, if you're having trouble actually applying the strategies where if there are questions when you're playing G Matt roulette or G R E roulette where you point to him, you say I'm not. I'm not actually sure about this question type. I haven't seen this pattern before or I'm not sure of this strategy or that strategy is best for this question. That's where you need coaching. And that's where you need support. And Francesca, I know that you are one of my students. So you have my support for anybody else listening to this. If you don't have a coach, if you haven't signed up for a course, if you don't have a tutor or somebody to help you, you really should think about getting one. Ah, but But I think that will help you, Francesca. So again, you always default to the level of your training, your preparation. And so we just need to do a little bit more prep, and I'm confident you will get there. We find ourselves again at the end of another episode of the Dominate Test prep podcast, and it is time for your action item. Now I kind of feel like I'm cheating because I think I'm gonna give you the same action item I have given you before, and that's because it's such a good action item, and it is totally relevant to this episode, and your action item is to increase your reading by 15 minutes per day. So go find something. And starting today, tonight before you go to bed before you put your head on your pillow to night, pick something and read it for at least 15 minutes and then do it again tomorrow and then do it again the next day because it will help you with your reading comprehension, and I'll help you with your vocabulary. It'll help you with all aspects of doing well on your standardized test. So there you go. Ah, fairly easy action item. And yet, as one of my business mentors, Brian Tracy always says, the easiest things to do are also the easiest things not to do. So. It's very easy just to read for 15 minutes a day, but it's also very easy to not read for 15 minutes a day, right? It's just a Z Z to flip on the television instead or go to bed and say, Oh, I'm too tired. I'll do it tomorrow so don't make excuses. Actually do it. And I know it will serve you well. All right, So it is time to say our goodbyes. I always get a little sad at the end of each episode, but I know there's another one right around the corner. So tune in next time. In fact, click that subscribe button. So you're alerted the next time we drop a new episode and we will come to you with more actionable valuable information to help you dominate your standardized test here on the Dominate test Prep podcast. Take care, everyone.