5 types of incorrect GMAT reading comp answer choices

There are 5 common types of incorrect answer choices on the GMAT.  Many of them are used to trick test takers into selecting them.  Knowing what these answer choices are, however, will help you find an avoid them.

1) Opposite

One of the most common wrong answer choices for reading comprehension is something that is the exact opposite to the correct answer.  People who aren’t careful often select this answer choice, because it is so closely related to what they are looking for. Make sure you are always aware of exactly what the answer choices are saying.

2) Out of scope

This kind of wrong answer choice is something that is outside of the scope of the passage.   It isn’t necessarily untrue, but there is nothing in the passage to support it. On the more difficult questions, the GMAT test makers will even try to trick you by making it something that could be logical given your real world knowledge. However, it is essential to forget real world knowledge and just look at what is said in the passage as if it was some separate realm.

3) Muddle

Sometimes the answer choices muddle different information from different parts of the passage.   All of it has been said in the passage, but the statement as a whole isn’t true. For example, a passage might write about how Bob said that termites lose their wings, because they lose a certain protein enzyme and Sharon disagrees, saying that they shed their wings to grow stronger ones.   An example of a muddle answer would be:

Sharon says that the termites lose their wings due to a lack of a certain protein enzyme.

The test makers are trying to play on your memory and are counting on the fact that you will remember Sharon and that you will remember that reason for the wings falling off. This is why it is always essential to go back when doing specific reading comp questions.

4) One wrong word

Sometimes a question is almost exactly what you are looking for, there is just one word that makes it wrong. These words tend to be extreme words, such as all, only, most, best…etc. For example, you have assessed that the authors main point is that most environmental problems will not be solved in the next 20 years.   Then, you see an answer choice that states:

No environmental problem will be solved in the next 20 years.

This answer choice is wrong. Even though it is extremely appealing, because it is right on topic, you should not select it. The author said that most problems won’t be solve, not that no problems can be solved.

Unpracticed test takers tend to fall for this trick and pick it anyway. However, if one word is wrong, then the whole answer choice is wrong and should be eliminated no matter how tempting it is to select it. The correct answer choice, especially for higher-level problems, is not always the most appealing choice on the first read through. This is why it is often more accurate to try to find the four wrong answers rather than the one right answer.

5) Irrelevant

Another common incorrect answer choice is an answer choice that is true according to the passage, but is irrelevant, meaning that it doesn’t answer the question. Again, the GMAT test makers are playing on your memory, assuming that you will remember the statement. However, it is essential to always keep the question in mind and make sure that you are answering it.

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Eliza Chute

I was always just an average student, but with the right course prep I was able to score a 770 on my first try. I had to wade through a lot of material to find what was right for me, but luckily for you I've done all the research for you! See more on my GMAT courses page.

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