Improving Your GRE Reading Comprehension as a Non-English Speaker


Reading comprehension means understanding what is written. If you are a non-native English speaker, you might find reading English books or novels too complicated or simply frustrating. If English isn’t your mother tongue, then it’s not your fault, of course. However, since English is becoming the world’s official language, weak reading comprehension skills can be a big disadvantage for you. This is especially true for International, non-native students who are looking to take standardized tests like the GRE. If you want to go to grad school, improving your reading comprehension skills as part of your GRE test prep will help you obtain good scores in GRE Verbal Reasoning section.

If you also find reading comprehension troublesome, the following tips may help you improve your skills and gain confidence to read English words aloud in front of others:

Surround Yourself With English

If you truly want to improve your reading comprehension skills, simply immerse yourself in English. For example, read books, novels, newspapers, watch movies and TV shows in English. Try to converse with the people around you in English and if possible, try to maintain a daily diary too in English. Your constant exposure to this language will improve your interest and you’ll become more fluent.

Take Notes

Every time you read a book or watch a TV show, consider taking notes of new words, phrases, jargons or dialects you come across. This will help you understand how the language is used day to day and what’s the meaning of certain expressions. Refer a dictionary wherever required to learn the meanings of words you are unfamiliar with.

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Don’t Hesitate

Your actual English comprehension skills are assessed when you are in a real environment interacting with native English speakers. Step out of your comfort zone and start engaging with people as much as you can. Many people won’t bother the way you are speaking English, but rather they’ll appreciate you for your courage. You will make many mistakes initially, but that would be just because of your lack of confidence. So, try to get over your fear first.

Take Practice Tests

Taking practice tests is one of the surefire ways to improve your reading comprehension skills. If you are working on GRE online test prep, becoming familiar with the types of questions asked will help you focus on the areas you need to work on most. Search for the reliable online sources to test your English language skills. Learn from your mistakes and then prepare strategies to improve them. Alternatively, you can also opt for online English courses if you need external assistance from an expert.

Improving reading comprehension needs both patience and hard work. You can’t master the English language overnight. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that demands your dedication, effort, and will-power. Once you’ll be able to overcome your fear of the English language, you will become more confident with your reading comprehension skills.

Need more help improving your reading comprehension in preparation for the GRE? Consider our online test prep courses.


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