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suggestions for analytical writing and reading comprehension


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Hi guys, I'm new in this forum, hope some of you will help! I'm preparing my GRE test for admittance to a PHD program in USA? As italian speaking native language GRE for me is going to be very hard, especially on reading comprehension test. Who of you has any suggestion to better improve scores on both reading and analytical writings? thanx guys!

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Hi there, Vector.  Improving the Reading Comprehension and Essay scores are the most difficult, even for native speakers, but here are a few suggestions off the cuff:


1.  If possible, give yourself at least 3 months of focused study, and don't expect to see immediate results - esp. on Reading Comp.  Honestly, I have a great deal of difficulty with these, too, and I'm a writer!  My personal strategy now is to make up for my weak Reading Comp with excellent vocabulary.  This is the only thing keeping my Verbal score above the 80th percentile right now.  Although I do still hope to pull the Reading Comp up, I am not counting on it, as I've been actively studying for over 3 months and am taking the test in 3 weeks.  I recommend www.vocabulary.com for boning up on vocab - it has helped me a lot and makes learning a bit more fun. 


2.  Reading Comp:  I've experimented with different strategies, including saving all the R.C. questions for last, reading thoroughly and taking notes, outlining the passage as I read, skimming instead of reading, looking for answers in the passage instead of reading the whole thing, etc.  You may want to experiment to see what works best for you.

  -    Process of Elimination is the most helpful.  You can eliminate the obviously wrong answers this way.  Ultimately, though, you 

       are likely to come down to 2 answers that seem equally correct, but at least this gives you a 50/50 chance. 

  -    This may seem obvious, but find the words used in the question in the passage.  Then read two sentences before and after

       it to understand the context. 

  -    Watch out for answers that are only partially correct - make sure answers are completely correct before you choose them. 

  -    As a general test-taking strategy, if you find yourself spending too much time on one question, click on your best guess, hit

       the "Mark" button, and move on.  Go back to it if you have time at the end.  If you run out of time and can't go back, then at

       least you made a guess - you might get lucky and get it right. 


3.  Essay questions:  First and foremost, evaluate the strength of your essay-writing abilities in your own language.  How well did you score on essays when you had to write them in school?  What are your writing strengths and weaknesses, from an instructor's point of view?  If you've been out of school for a while like I have, I suggest practicing (in your native tongue) with some of the ETS prompts listed here: 

http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/analytical_writing/issue/pool.  Then have someone evaluate them using ETS's guidelines (same link).  Once you feel confident about your ability to write a well-structured essay in Italian, then practice doing this in English.  Use clear, simple examples to illustrate your points.  This way, if you use a word incorrectly, you can still explain what you mean without detracting from the reader's overall understanding.  Also, I highly recommend using an example from your own life and mention that you are a native Italian when doing this, if you can.  This way, you are more likely to arouse the reader's compassion and understanding for the fact that you are writing in a second language.  Who knows, you might even gain some bonus points, as long as you effectively relate your personal experience to the topic you are writing about.  If you can, have a native English speaker, or at least a fluent speaker, evaluate your practice essays.  That's really the only way to determine where your English needs improvement. 
Hope this helps!  Best of luck on your GRE :)
Edited by iojove
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