Why Inefficiencies in Reading Might Kill You __________ r GMAT Score

Today’s headline on Yahoo Finance states that:

Fed’s latest easing could cost $1

Which is pretty surprising.  A dollar?  Sign us up – staplers and trash cans seem to cost the government hundreds a pop.  If we can do anything worthwhile for a dollar, just add it to my tax bill.  Even McDonald’s dollar menu costs more than a dollar when you add tax.  If the government is doing things for a dollar, well, what is Newt going to use as his platform now?  Chalk one up for efficiency.

Or…just scroll down a line to read the rest of that headline:

Trillion, Say Economists

Oh.  A trillion dollars.  Still not surprising since every news story throws around billions and trillions the way that Valley Girls throw around likes and LOLs.  But that’s a totally different story.  $1 and $1 trillion are, well, just about a trillion times different.  And what does this mean for your GMAT score?

We’re not saying that the GMAT does this intentionally…but it could.  If a question runs over multiple lines, it’s pretty easy for students to overlook the last word of one line or the first word of the next while reading quickly.  Line changes can break concentration or lead to hasty conclusions as you process information one line at a time. So beware your tendency to overlook words based on their placement on the screen.  Consider questions such as:

If a cookie baker has 36 ounces of dough and 15 ounces of chocolate, and plans to use all the dough, how many ounces of chocolate will he have

left over if he plans to make the cookies 20% chocolate?


When a star measuring above 1.2 solar masses reaches its terminal density point, it collapses



In the first case, if you miss that phrase “left over”, you may well answer the amount of chocolate the gets used, not that remains.  And in the second, if you’re quickly reading about the life cycles of stars and miss that last word “because” you might answer the effect of that collapse and not the cause of it. Students have even recently reported that they missed Reading Comprehension questions because they didn’t realize that they could scroll the screen down to reveal an entire last paragraph!

The lesson: read carefully and beware your tendency to gloss over words that begin or end a new line, which can happen when you’re reading and processing quickly.  Know that those areas can contain crucial pressure points, and make sure that you scroll passages down to their conclusion so that you don’t miss important information via haste.  The GMAT is a tricky test even when you’re working with all of the provided information; don’t leave information behind or you make it that much easier

for the test to beat you.