how to prepare for the gmat verbal section
Posted on
29
Sep 2020

How to Prepare for the GMAT: The Verbal Section

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ivan Minchev
Date: 29th September 2020

How To GMAT: The Verbal Section

The business world is dominated by numbers, charts, and graphs. Thus, most business school hopefuls understandably focus on developing their analytical thinking and math skills when preparing for the GMAT exam. But it’s a mistake to neglect the verbal section. Effective test prep requires a balanced, well-rounded approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the GMAT verbal section. 

What is the verbal section and what does it test for?

The verbal section primarily evaluates the test taker’s overall command of standard written English, ability to analyze and evaluate arguments, and critical reading skills. As such, the verbal section is made up of three types of problems: critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension. 

The 3 sections have a total of 36 questions, with a time limit of 65 minutes. This leaves, on average, 1 minute and 49 seconds per question.

How Is it scored

The verbal section, like the quantitative section, is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 60. A 51 is considered a perfect score on both sections. 

The GMAT also ranks test takers by percentile. The percentile system uses GMAT scores from the previous three years to calculate how applicants performed compared to their peers. For example, if an applicant scores in the 80th percentile, it means he or she performed better than 80% of test takers over the last three years. 

Although the scaled scores don’t change over time, the percentiles do. Business schools assess both the scaled and percentile scores to get an adequate understanding of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Language on the Verbal Section

The language in the verbal section is more sophisticated and academic than intermediate, everyday English. If you aren’t accustomed to reading formal English, your verbal prep might require some extra time and energy. 

It will be easier to identify errors, main points, and bias statements once you’ve trained your ear to formal English. Practice reading formal texts efficiently and effectively, and avoid vernacular texts. Instead, choose sources that are known for using elevated writing styles, such as The New Yorker or The New York Times. 

Critical Reasoning

The critical reasoning subsection consists of a brief text outlining an argument (usually less than 100 words) and five answer choices. Critical reasoning questions measure the test taker’s ability to formulate and evaluate arguments. To answer correctly, consider the argument’s logical structure. Each answer choice might strengthen the argument, weaken the argument, or explain the argument’s flaws.   

Although the best tip for critical reasoning questions is to read carefully and watch out for tricky wording, it will help to keep the following questions in mind:

  1. How is the argument structured?
  2. What’s the conclusion?
  3. What evidence supports the conclusion?
  4. Which assumptions link the evidence to the conclusion?

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension evaluates not only the candidate’s understanding of words and statements, but more importantly, the underlying logic behind them. 

In this subsection, you’ll find passages of text followed by several questions about the text’s details and implications. Some passages draw from various disciplines, such as the physical, biological, or social sciences, while others  refer to business-related fields. 

Here are some tips to make the process less tedious and more efficient:

  1. Read the whole passage without taking too much time to memorize details
  2. Analyze the logical structure of the passage
  3. Ask yourself: 
    • What’s the main argument?
    • What does the author state explicitly?  What is implied?
    • How would you describe the author’s tone and attitude?

Keep an eye out for opinionated words–for example, “clearly,” “obviously,” or “apparently”–these words hint at the author’s attitudes, and they’ll help you suss out the main point. 

Sentence Correction

The sentence correction portion tests a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication isn’t just grammatically correct–it’s clear, direct, and concise. 

In this portion, you’ll find five different versions of the same sentence. The goal is to choose the version that’s grammatically correct and expresses the idea with precision and clarity. Choose wisely!

Conclusion

Taking the quantitative section into account, there are a number of score combinations that will lead to the same overall score, which leave plenty of room to maneuver. However, given the rise in quantitative scores in recent years, total scores and percentile rankings have shifted. This gives candidates an opportunity to boost their overall scores by mastering the verbal section. 

For additional tips related to the verbal section of the GMAT read: How to boost your verbal score next.

 

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how to boost your gmat verbal score
Posted on
08
Sep 2020

How to Boost Your GMAT Verbal Score

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Irena Georgieva
Date 8th September, 2020

The GMAT is notorious for its grueling quantitative section, but many test takers also struggle with the verbal section–especially non-native English speakers. A high verbal score will boost your overall score and enhance your critical thinking skills, bringing you one step closer to your dream job.

So how can you improve your score? Don’t worry. We’re here to help. 

1. Start with the basics

To avoid running into difficulties in the GMAT verbal section, familiarize yourself with English grammar and style. If you aren’t confident in your grammar skills, start by reviewing English grammar from the beginning to master the basics–and don’t forget to practice! Try solving a few grammar questions to see if you can apply the skills you learned. If you need more time, take it. Study diligently. This first step is paramount to verbal prep. 

2. Learn to distinguish between different writing styles

The verbal section isn’t just about grammar. To get a high score, you’ll also need to take writing style into account. Consider the sentences the woman ran here and she darted over. The meanings are similar, but elements such as context, tone, and word choice may be different. Think in terms of the most appropriate answer given the surrounding text. And be sure to read carefully!

3. Read, read, read. And did we mention read again?

In addition to the official GMAT guide, we advise clients to read on a daily basis to strengthen vocabulary and comprehension skills. Explore news sources like The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal–these publications often cover topics that you’re likely to encounter on the GMAT, and you can keep tabs on current events while you study. News sources provide good examples of the kind of writing style, vocabulary, and tone you’ll find on the GMAT, as well as unfamiliar idioms and phrasal verbs.

4. Make flashcards

Speaking of idioms and phrasal verbs, flashcards can be great tools for learning new vocabulary. GMAT flashcards are available for purchase, or you can make your own cards at home. Keep track of the words you’re struggling with and review them daily. With hard work and repetition, you’ll improve your verbal score and expand your vocabulary. 

5. Try private tutoring

If you’re still having trouble with the verbal section, consider hiring a private tutor. It’s OK to be picky–it’s important to work with an instructor who meets your needs. A good tutor will consider your history with the GMAT, address your concerns, and develop a personalized study plan to maximize your strengths and address your weaknesses. With effective test prep, your score will improve before you know it. 

We recommend 5 takeaways from a successful GMAT journey and GMAT scoring explained next. 

 

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