GRE short passages – How to solve fast

GRE reading passages

 Is it possible to get all the GRE short passages questions correct?

Yes, it is possible to get all of the questions correct in the GRE.


I have tutored students since 2008. Some of them get all the questions correct. They also get the questions correct in less than a minute.

So what strategy did they use?

Almost all of them practice diagramming.

I teach students to diagram math problems as well.

Diagramming helps students analyse the question better. Students can

  • break down a complex problem
  • identify the essential information
  • eliminate the unnecessary data

Lets try this question

You are asked to identify the assumption

Spend 1 minute reading the paragraph

Now what sort of diagram will you draw for this question???

I teach students to draw diagram like this

GMAT critical reasoning

 To identify the assumption, you have to focus on the conclusion and the reason why the scientist makes the conclusion.

 The conclusion – 

great apes have a capacity for self-awareness unique among nonhuman species.

So I will draw a circle and write capacity for self awareness..

Now whats the reason? Why did the scientist say this?


animals recognize the reflection as an image of self -mirror self-recognition (MSR)

This i will represent as another circle.

 In the middle I  will put a black box.. In that box.. you have to put each answer option and check if the answer option gives additional information which can lead to the conclusion..

In this question only Option B gives a valid reason

the scientist assumes that if animal doesn’t have capacity for MSR, then it doesn’t have the capacity for self awareness.  Only then we can say great apes have a capacity for self-awareness unique among nonhuman species. If we are given that they have capacity for self awareness, then conclusion fails.

 Other options don’t give a valid reason.

 You can use diagramming to break down any problem.

Happy learning.

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