How to Ace The GMAT Verbal Reasoning Section

By: ApexGMAT
Contributor: Ruzanna Mirzoyan
Date: September 14, 2021

     If you are planning to apply for an MBA program, you probably got the chance to familiarize yourself with the GMAT exam and its overall format. Today, we are going to focus on the GMAT verbal reasoning section specifically. It includes categories such as sentence correction, reading comprehension, and critical reasoning. And each requires a careful analysis and sophisticated approach.

The verbal section can be a formidable struggle as there are some tiny nuances that you must draw your attention to. The verbal reasoning part of the GMAT is designed to assess your ability to read and comprehend written information, reason and evaluate arguments, and edit writing for clarity in standard written English. 

Besides learning all the skills and tools you need to ace the verbal section, we will also provide you with an overview and with the basic knowledge that you should be aware of before starting the preliminary preparation.

Overview

      To begin with, there are 36 questions and you will be given only 65 minutes. This gives you approximately 2 minutes for each question. After the GMAT verbal preface, you might be scared to learn that you will have only 2 minutes. But once you master the techniques and relevant features, the “only 2 minutes” concern is not a concern anymore. If you have taken the TOEFL exam, you might know that there is additional reading or listening and you have no clue which one is counted towards your score. The same principle applies to the GMAT verbal part as well. There are six experimental questions, and there is no way to determine which ones are scorable and which are not. Consequently, you should account for each question equally significant during the test.

3 Types of Questions

Another thing that you should be informed about is that each question is adaptive, meaning that it is designed based on your difficulty level and whether you did well on the previous question. As it is mentioned above, there are three question types on the GMAT verbal reasoning section which are reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. During the first two, you will be given a passage and asked some questions regarding the information on the passage. Those will be very similar to what you have already learned from probably the SAT, TOEFL, or other standardized tests.

Reading Comprehension

There are mainly three categories on the reading comprehension question types. Such as asking you about the main idea of the passage, some details, differentiation between ideas, analyzing, inferring, and some logical shaping questions.

Critical Reasoning

The critical reasoning section will also be much alike, but it will be presented in an argument format. You will be boiling down the information by finding points that either weaken or strengthen the given argument. Finally, you will draw a conclusion based on the argument by detecting the flaws, assumptions, and any discrepancies that might be discernible.

Sentence Correction

The last part is sentence correction type of questions. Here all your knowledge of English grammar and overall written English will be tested. You should actually expect 11-16 sentence correction questions, each containing from 0 to 2 errors. You will be given multiple choice answers below to select the best fitting answer. There can be idioms, comparisons, parallelisms, subject-line agreement, etc. Even for native English speakers with a good understanding of syntax, these sentences are typically fairly long with a lot of extra description, which can be perplexing.

As a result, if you haven’t practiced these questions in advance, they may appear to be challenging. Hence, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with the overall structure and start elaborating tools and plans for acing this section and overcoming the fear of verbal English.

GMAT Verbal Reasoning Section – Tips

     Now that you have some basic understanding of the GMAT verbal section and what it consists of, it is time to gain some tips and tricks that will definitely aid you during the GMAT prep and the exam as well.

Try to nail your thoughts in English

First, we start by mentioning that you should let your brain read and grasp the English language. Try to nail your thoughts in English. When reading a passage try to understand what the writer is trying to convey and focus on the main idea, try to find out whether the author is presenting a point, arguing, telling, or criticizing someone. Even though the GMAT verbal section is not something that you can encounter every day, as it is academic and rough to digest, your brain will become stronger and stronger on absorbing such worldly-wise information.

The beginning phase can be mentally draining however you will get used to it after mastering the main important details. As previously mentioned, it is worldly-wise, meaning academically sophisticated. And what is the best approach for this? It is surrounding yourself with a lot of different words. Even when you have some leisure time, immerse yourself in English literature. Those can include fiction, magazines, or just stories. You can start with easy ones to train your brain on acquiring those types of context, then enrich it.

You might think that the process can be overwhelming as consuming that information continuously will not bring the most desired outcome. Indeed, mastering the language comes naturally rather than learning words and idioms by heart, but remember that you are not learning the language from scratch, you are adapting to the format and academic English. Before preparing for the GMAT you should already know the language. 

Work on your Memorization Skills

     Besides, being a good reader and being able to absorb information, work on the words and your memorization skills. Navigate through the words quickly and effectively. Even if you do not understand a certain word or a phrase, being able to navigate through it will strengthen your abilities to feel the language and grasp the overall meaning of a certain word or sentence.

When you first start studying, concentrate on one idea at a time. You’ll be able to make significant progress in one area this way. For example, first, focus on your vocabulary and reading, then on the grammar and sentence correction. For sentence correction, you can begin with your basic high school materials and some simple rules. If English is not the language you frequently use, then take some time to practice GMAT-related questions. Stick to one thing for a few days until you are moderately comfortable with that then move to another type of question.

And REVIEW, REVIEW, and REVIEW! No matter what you are planning to study at this point make sure to get back to it and review. Be realistic to the time you are setting aside to study, but never forget to return and fill in the gaps again time after time. 

Learn how to skim

Rapid eye movement during the GMAT verbal reasoning section preparation is vital. Skimming will help you detect the crucial keywords, get an idea of the overview and find some specific facts. Sometimes you even need to be able to forecast the answer choices from the answer choices. Looking at the answer choices and skimming through the passage or sentence will help you identify the correct definition of the passage or find out what phrase or word fits in a certain sentence in the sentence correction part. In the beginning, go at your own pace, then start skimming because of time constraints. With this technique, the overall experience will be more easily adaptable and accessible for you. 

Explain Something in your own Words

     The last piece of advice that we are going to give for your GMAT verbal preparation, is to try to explain something in your own words. If there is a passage or question that you cannot get through just try to put things in your own words and figure out what the answer is in your words and then transform it into an academic language. You are maybe in a word labyrinth, but there is always a way out, right?

GMAT verbal section is designed to be baffling with convoluted questions. However, if you can rephrase everything according to your own convenience then you can get out of the labyrinth easily. The same principle applies to the elimination strategy. For the answer choices not to come out tricky for you, come up with an answer using your own words. By doing this, you will be able to eliminate some of the answer choices and be left with a few that you can even guess with your gut feeling. 

Conclusion

In this article, we tried to cover all the basics of the GMAT verbal reasoning section – its question types, timing, difficulty level, and some tips. Be sure to develop a study regimen with a timeline of approximately 30 hours of verbal prep only, and if you are a non-native speaker we recommend twice the amount, meaning something like 60 hours. We know that it might seem a lot but you need to put in the effort to pull through. 

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