The GMAT Reading Comprehension passages test your endurance and focus as much as your comprehension - they are dense, complicated and boring! And they come on the heels of the AWA and math sections, meaning you're probably more than a little exhausted when facing those passages. It's easy to find yourself zoning out and reading the same sentence over and over without actually comprehending any of it. It can be a huge time suck. Luckily, there are ways to ward off what Knewton tutors call glazed eyes syndrome.
Practice Active Reading
Taking brief notes will keep your brain on-task and help you navigate the passage. Jot down a quick summary for each paragraph and note the main ideas or theories mentioned in the passage. Don't be afraid that note-taking will waste time - it's far preferable to take a few extra seconds to write notes than to spend minutes gazing blankly at the screen. Also, your notes will be helpful references for when you are answering the broader reading comprehension questions.
Don't panic! Worrying about your lack of focus will only make focusing even harder. If the glazed eyes start attacking, give yourself a tiny break from looking at the passage. While this might sound counter-intuitive - why am I turning away from the thing I'm supposed to be reading? - look at it as triggering the reset button of your brain. Close your eyes or at least look away from the screen, take a few deep breaths, and then return to the passage. It's amazing how much these few seconds of clearing your mind and calming down will help you when you return to the passage.
Return to something interesting
After your break from the passage, don't immediately return to the same sentence that tripped you up last time. Backtrack a few sentences - or even a paragraph - and find the most recent idea that interested you. Your brain will be much more likely to reengage on an interesting thought than on one that was difficult to understand. Once you're back on track, you can use your note-taking skills and Active Reading to stay focused throughout the rest of the passage.
Start reading GMAT-like texts now
The reading comprehension passages definitely don't have the same entertainment value as Harry Potter. And that's for a reason - the GMAT likes to go out its way to make the passages boring on purpose, in order to make the test more complex. They particularly like to use natural science and social science topics with which potential business-school students may not be familiar. To prepare yourself, start reading real-world texts that mimic GMAT passage structures. The Economist, Scientific American, and The Wall Street Journal are good places to start, and magazines like Time and Newsweek feature editorial articles that can help you learn to recognize authorial arguments. If you get comfortable with this type of writing now, the passages on test day will seem far more accessible and manageable.