Reading the Economist = Better GMAT Reading Comprehension

GMAT Reading Comprehension requires some solid reading skills.  Practice your reading with The Economist!

So you want to improve your GMAT Reading Comprehension?  You have come to the right place!  Let’s assume that you are already covering the GMAT Reading Comprehension basics. You have a general reading strategy and are familiar with each GMAT Reading Comprehension question type. You are methodically working through the official GMAT verbal materials, you are supplementing your GMAT verbal prep with LSAT materials, and you are keeping a GMAT verbal error log so that you can learn from your mistakes.  Great! Good job. You are on your way to becoming a GMAT reading comprehension expert and to achieving a stellar GMAT verbal score.

But let’s agree on something:  GMAT Reading Comprehension is based on the accuracy and efficiency of your reading. Some of my students read very quickly but retain very little information and thus have a hard time articulating the main idea of passages. Other students read so slowly that they have timing issues. The bottom line is that if your reading is weak you will have a tough time on GMAT Reading Comprehension regardless of how much test prep practice you do. So what can you do to practice your reading?  Well, you guessed it:  READ!

But what you may ask? Anything challenging will probably help your GMAT verbal reading. To my students I suggest the Economist as the level of reading, the grammar structures, and the density of the texts are similar to those in the GMAT Reading Comprehension.  Also, the topics in the Economist are varied so that you can get comfortable with a variety of subjects. And, a certain number of Economist articles are free! With all GMAT studying consistency is key so I would recommend reading one article per day. Over 3 months of studying this Economist GMAT reading practice will really add up and provide a boost to your GMAT Reading Comprehension and to your overall GMAT verbal performance.

 A few things that will help your Economist GMAT Verbal preparation:

1. Read for 100% comprehension. Read at a pace that allows you to understand everything.  Re-read sentences and paragraphs that you find confusing. Digest as you read (chew your food). Think. Pause. Think again. Use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words.  This may be very slow at first but you need to learn to walk before you can run. In your GMAT verbal preparation it is critical to find that balance of speed and accuracy that works for you.

2. Consider how the author structures his/her arguments. What is the main idea? How is it supported?  What are the facts? What are the opinions? What are the assumptions? This reading can also help you improve your GMAT critical reasoning.

3. Pay attention to grammar structures. If you see a list take a look at the parallelism. If you see a pronoun match it to the noun that it is replacing. Confirm verb agreement. Analyze comparisons. Practice removing structurally unnecessary modifiers so that you reveal the bare bones of the sentence. Consider why the present/past perfect is used. This sentence structure analysis can help, yep, you guessed it: Sentence Correction.


Be an active reader. In the internet age of the 24 hours news cycle most people have gotten used to skimming snippets of information. For the GMAT verbal section we have to train ourselves for a more focused analysis of text.


To top it all off!  How about a little quiz on the articles to make sure that you understood what you were reading? You got it! I have been creating Economist GMAT reading comprehension questions for my students. This process has really helped them improve their GMAT verbal scores. You can find the questions and links to the articles here:

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #1

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #2

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #3

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #4

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #5

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #6

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #7

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #8

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #9

GMAT Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge #10


GMAT verbal improvement takes time.  One of the biggest challenges is being patient.  I know that it is really tough to motivate yourself to keep up with GMAT verbal studying when you are not seeing the positive results in your GMAT scores. Realize that the results can take weeks (and even months to materialize).  The only way to see the results is to keep going:)

Happy studies!

4 Responses to Reading the Economist = Better GMAT Reading Comprehension


    Hi Andrew,

    Great article and I could not agree more. With that being said, I do find difficulty retaining and processing the information from the GMAT questions as well as the articles you posted. I believe the complexity of the words, lack of vocabulary, low volume of personal reading I do, lack of interest in the subject being presented, easily distracted, etc. all play a role into this problem. However, it is hard to convince myself that all these problems will be resolved by simply reading these difficult passages day after day seeing that it is hard for me to retain and process even the slightest bit. Are these problems fixable or should I change my studying methods? Guess I am very frustrated through this whole study process because I've come to realize my lack of reading the past few years is finally catching up to me.

    Please let me know your advice.


    • Hi there,

      Reading skills take a while to improve and it can be a real struggle working on them so I can relate to the frustration. Yes I do think that the reading will help but it could take 6 months or more before you start to feel comfortable. If you really feel that you're putting in the effort but not getting any traction it could be worth hiring a reading tutor. I'm sure you could find someone much cheaper than a GMAT tutor who could assist in this work. All that said you're comment/thought process seem well organized so I've got faith that you'll get this figured out. Follow up with any questions - good luck!


  2. Hi Andrew,

    Outside of economist, what are your suggestions for books I can read that will help me achieve the same outcome as reading articles from the economist?


    • Hi Taneka,

      Thanks for the question. Glad you're considering some reading! It's key to improvement on the GMAT verbal section and helpful overall, even on the quant. The economist is great because of the depth of the articles and the variety of topics from business to science. Any reason why you're avoiding it? Really any weekly, quarterly... will do. I'd just avoid dailies because the articles tend to be a bit thinner and don't stretch you in the same way a GMAT reading comprehension passage would. I don't know of any magazines that fit the bill quite as well as the economist. For novels there's a big world out there. I'd go for something entertaining but meaty. I'm a fan of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Any of their books would be great but there are thousands of novels that would make for excellent supplemental reading to help boost your GMAT verbal. Follow up with any questions! Good luck on your GMAT.

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