3 Steps for GMAT Reading Comprehension New Situation Questions

Sometimes RC questions will ask you to take part of the passage and analogize it to a completely different situation. These questions are somewhat similar to Application questions. Improve your test scores in RC by following these three easy steps for this question type!

  • Read above & below.

    Don’t expect the quoted line numbers to give you enough information to solve. Tricky answer choices will mimic the subject of the specific line number provided, but won’t accurately reflect the full situation.

  • Make a prediction and write it down.

    Once you understand the full situation as stated in the passage, write it down. Make sure you understand the process involved. It may help to use arrows or other symbols. Your ultimate goal will be to consider what is it “like” so make sure you understand the original situation well.

  • Eliminate the 3 choices that are the furthest from your prediction.

    When you’ve got it down to two choices, re-read your prediction. Ask yourself: which of these best fits the tone and the process of the passage?

Practice Question

Let’s look at an example question:

Of the following, which is the best example of a situation comparable to the challenge faced by the paleontologist mentioned in line 35?

We can tell this is a “New Situation” question because of the phrase “a situation comparable.” The key phrase “challenge faced by the paleontologist” tells us what we need to looks for in the passage. What is it he faces? The question cites line 35, but we will read about 5 lines above and below for context.

(30) Denison increasingly found himself called to task by irate students
and film buffs. At first, his response was to write testy letters
to critics, complaining bitterly that he did the best he could
with what he had at the time
, and stating (in one oft-quoted
passage from a letter to New Yorker critic Pauline Kael), “I’m
(35)  like a paleontologist
who has to construct an entire dinosaur
from a femur, a couple of ribs, and part of a skull…
cut me
some slack
, please?” But then, spurred on by the critics and
faced with the prospect of his book going out of print,
Denison hit upon the idea of creating a foundation that
(40)  would exist solely to update his book.

As we re-read, we want to “mentally highlight” the phrases that describe the “challenge” faced by the paleontologist. We can see that Denison is trying to exonerate his reputation, using the argument that he “did the best he could” with “what he had at the time” referring to a lack of technology that made his job more difficult.
Prediction: Difficult job → limited by past
Now we can examine the answer choices to look for three to eliminate.

A. a doctor trying to x-ray a bone with an x-ray machine
B. an actor with a wealth of material prepared for an audition
C. overview of a director for whom only two films, out of 50, have survived
D. a student documenting the publishing history of a famous English literature professor from a respected university
E. a bird building a nest in a tree

(A) is the same subject matter as a paleontologist but does not deal with the limits of the past and an attempt to clear a reputation of past work. (B) and (E) also do not clearly relate to the past.
Now that we have narrowed it down to two, we can rephrase them to see more clearly.
C            Director’s reputation is small, films did not make it
D            Student documents he output of a professor
Only C refers to a lack of something, like the implied limits of the past on Denison. Thus, C is correct.