A 11 minute read

How to prepare for GMAT Verbal?

So, you’ve decided to do an MBA to catapult yourself into the big league, but you’re staring at this daunting obstacle in your path: the GMAT! You have absolutely no idea as to “How to prepare for GMAT Verbal?”, “Which resources to refer to?”, “What study strategies to follow?”, or, in fact, “How to start GMAT Verbal Preparation?”. You’re aware that a 740 is the new 700, and you also know that a 740+ score is not likely without a V40 or higher. Many students consider Verbal to be their Achilles heel. Others, by virtue of their fluency in the English language, consider Verbal to be their strong suit. Whatever the case, you can’t help but contemplate:

1. How to prepare for the Verbal Reasoning Section of the GMAT?

  1. What skills to build in order to ace the GMAT Verbal section? 
  2. How to plan your preparation – the most efficient path to V40+ for YOU?
  3. Dos and Don’ts: Common Pitfalls to avoid in the GMAT Verbal?
  4. Where can I find a comprehensive list of free resources?
  5. How to get started?
how to prepare for GMAT Verbal

In this article, we will be answering each of the above to arrive at the right strategy to prepare for Verbal. So, sit up and take notice!

2. Why should you care about these GMAT Verbal Prep strategies? 

You must be wondering why you should trust us.  Well, for starters, this strategy is what has helped thousands of e-GMATers succeed – despite the differences in their starting abilities. For example, Arnav, who was devastated by verbal, improved from a V23 to a V40; whereas Astitva, someone confident of his Verbal and Logical skills, went from a V32 to a V44, a whopping 98th percentile in GMAT Verbal.

GMAT 710 V23-to-V40 Arnav
GMAT 770 V32-to-V44 Astitva

It is this strategy that is behind the largest share of V40+ scores reported on GMAT Club and most of these with a minimum 10-point score improvement in Verbal. In fact, this strategy accounts for the largest share of 740+ scores reported in GMAT Club history.

GMAT 700+ scores reported on GMATClub

So, let’s get down to brass tacks!  

3. What does GMAT Verbal Reasoning test?

MBA.com states that…

“the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to read and understand written material, to reason and evaluate arguments, and to correct written material to express ideas effectively in standard written English.”  

mba.com

The above may seem like a complex statement so let us translate it. What it is saying is that the GMAT verbal section is designed to test you on key skills that a manager needs, and it has specialized sections to evaluate each skill. For example, the Reading comprehension subsection on GMAT Verbal tests your ability to “read and understand written material” whereas the Critical Reasoning subsection tests your ability “to reason and evaluate arguments”. Lastly, the Sentence Correction subsection tests your ability to “correct written material to express ideas effectively in standard written English”. To summarize, GMAT Verbal contains three subsections, each with its own objective. Hence, it is no surprise that each subsection requires you to master different skills.

What does GMAT Verbal test?.png

Let us learn about these skills below. 

how to prepare for GMAT Verbal

How to prepare for GMAT Verbal

3.1 GMAT Sentence Correction: 

Sentence Correction (SC) measures two fundamental aspects of writing proficiency: Standard Written English and Effective Communication. Since the 20th century, Standard English has become the most influential form of English worldwide. It is the de facto common language of government, education, and commerce in the United States and in countries in which English is an official language. What differentiates Standard English from Formal English is that, on the one hand, it does away with the idiosyncratic, outmoded, or stiltedly formal rules of Formal English, while, on the other, it preserves precision in meaning. Effective Communication involves using these conventions of standard written English to express an idea clearly and concisely.

Easy vs. Hard SC Questions

Then what differentiates an easy SC question from a difficult one? Harder SC questions are not designed to test your knowledge of rules or facts that are harder to learn or that require more technical training. Think of SC as detective work. The tasks are puzzles of sorts that require you to identify logical flaws that a writer commits by losing track of a sentence’s structure or by accidentally moving a piece of text to an unsuitable position. The standard grammatical rules once learned merely remain a constant. This is why students who remain narrowly focused on grammar often struggle to score well in SC, while those who focus on careful meaning analysis and understanding the content of each question and answer choice end up scoring much higher despite having very basic knowledge of the technicalities of grammar.

Prepare for GMAT Verbal - Sentence Correction

How to prepare for GMAT Verbal

3.1.1 Format of SC Questions:

What does an SC question look like? Every SC question presents us with a sentence that may be partially or fully underlined. This original sentence is followed by five answer choices. Answer choice A presents the underlined portion as is. And choices B to E present four different versions of the underlined portion. 

We are expected to analyze whether the underlined portion contains any grammatical or communication errors. If it doesn’t, we need to select choice A, else we need to find the best substitute of choice A from the given answer choices. Sometimes you may be able to come up with a better wording than any of the choices presented. However, your task is to select the best of the choices offered.

3.1.2 Types of Errors tested in GMAT Sentence Correction:

The errors tested in GMAT Sentence Correction can be simplified and clubbed under the following eight error groups:

  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
  • Modifier Errors
  • Tense Errors
  • Parallelism
  • Idiomatic Errors
  • Sentence Structure
  • Meaning

These are the targeted skills you need to develop to crack SC. Here is a solution to an Official SC Question to help you experience SC firsthand. You could even attend our regular webinars or watch the recording to see how we apply our meaning-based approach to solving SC.

GMAT Verbal preparation

3.2 GMAT Critical Reasoning

With respect to the GMAT exam, any instance of a statement given as logical support for another is considered an example of Reasoning. Many critical reasoning (CR) passages contain reasoning, while some contain no reasoning and present only information. However, every CR question will require you to reason. For instance, you may be asked to:

  • analyze an argument
  • construct an argument
  • evaluate or critique an argument
  • construct or critique a plan of action.

So, it is obvious that the GMAT expects you to know the difference between a premise, a conclusion, and an assumption, but it does not expect you to have specialized knowledge. CR questions are framed on text taken from various sources; however, you are not expected to be familiar with the subject matter discussed in the question. The GMAC states that it only tests what is “generally known”.

GMAT Verbal Preparation - Critical Reasoning
GMAT Verbal Prep - Critical Reasoning

3.2.1 Format of CR Questions:

A CR Question typically contains three parts:

  • the Stimulus
  • the Stem, and
  • the Answer Choices

The question starts with the stimulus. It contains the text on which the question has been framed and that needs to be analyzed. The stimulus is followed by the question stem. This is the part of the question that asks us to perform a logical operation on the stimulus. Then come the five answer choices. A typical CR passage is a short one, less than 100 words in length. And unlike RC passages, a CR passage is associated with only one question.   

3.2.2 Types of CR Questions:

There are 10 types of CR questions in total:

  1. Inference/Conclusion/Must-be-true questions
  2. Assumption Questions
  3. Strengthen Questions
  4. Weaken Questions
  5. Evaluate Questions
  6. Flaw based Questions
  7. Resolve the Paradox Questions
  8. Complete the Paragraph Questions
  9. Plan-Goal Questions
  10. Boldface Questions

Each of the above, in one way or another, tests our ability to analyze and classify statements, visualize, build logical structure, and, above all, Pre-think! Here is our solution to an official CR question. If you wish to dive deeper into CR and learn its nuances, make sure to attend our webinars in which we discuss our Three-Step-Approach to solving the toughest CR questions through Pre-thinking!

How to prepare for GMAT Verbal

3.3 GMAT Reading Comprehension

Every SC, CR, and word-based Quantitative question tests your reading comprehension (RC) indirectly and only to the degree necessary to test those respective targeted skills. The RC section, however, focusses directly on the main aspects of Reading Comprehension. These reading skills can be categorized into two basic categories: Identifying Stated Ideas and Identifying Inferred Ideas.

Identifying stated ideas involves understanding every word, sentence, and paragraph and how they come together to complete the author’s main idea. The questions that test this skill, although direct, can at times be harder than ‘inferred idea’ questions. You require a sharp eye, a strong memory, and excellent visualization skills in order to crack these.

GMAT Verbal Preparation - Reading Comprehension

Identifying inferred ideas involves understanding logical relationships between stated ideas and using the information given in the passage to infer additional information, critique views presented in the passage, apply the information to new contexts, and evaluate the logical structure of the passage.

GMAT Verbal Preparation - Reading Comprehension

3.3.1 Format of RC Questions:

GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are generally 200 to 350 words long. They discuss the natural sciences, economics, finance, business, humanities, and social sciences. When facing an RC question, the computer screen splits into two. On the left, we see the passage inside a scrollable window, and on the right, we see a question posed on that passage. The number of questions per passage vary; however, you will only be able to see one question at a time.

Each question has two parts: the question stem and the answer choices. The question stem poses the question, and you’re expected to select the best of five answer choices.

3.3.2 Types of RC Questions:

There are 6 types of RC questions:

  1. Main Idea
  2. Supporting Idea
  3. Inference
  4. Application
  5. Function
  6. Style and Tone

Each of these questions tests how skillful we are at building paragraph summaries and assimilating them to arrive at the main idea. They also test our ability to create outlines by interconnecting the parts of the passage. All in all, it’s about adopting the right reading strategies to be able to tackle these questions.

GMAT Verbal Preparation

4. How to start GMAT Verbal preparation?

Here’s the answer to one of the most commonly asked questions by GMAT aspirants – “How to start GMAT Verbal Prep”:
1. Understand your Strengths and Weaknesses
2. Build your Study Plan
3. Master one sub-section at a time

If, by now, you’re cracking your knuckles waiting to begin, then this article is all set to serve its purpose.

4.1 Understand your Strengths and Weaknesses

In order to accomplish any goal, we need to begin with a thorough analysis of ourselves. Only then will we be truly able to assess the “gap” or distance we need to traverse. In the context of GMAT prep, this translates into diagnosing our strengths and weaknesses w.r.t the skills described above. The best way to do this is to write a full-length mock. Relax! I know that sounds scary and maybe even unfair. But the only way to know how fast you can run, is to run! This free Sigma-X mock will give you the track to run on and is fully equipped with state-of-the-art metrics to measure your performance at the granular level. Our xPERT AI will then compare your data with those of thousands of e-GMATers to give us a near-realistic picture of your current abilities.

how to Prepare for GMAT Verbal - Step 1

4.2 Build your Study Plan

Now that you have a detailed and reliable assessment of your current strengths and weaknesses, you need to draw out a detailed Study Plan by taking the following into consideration:

  1. Your target GMAT score
  2. Your test deadline

Your target GMAT overall score and subsection scores will help you identify your precise skill gap, and your test deadline will tell you how much time you have to cover that gap.

But here’s where it gets a little tricky. How does one know how much time it will take to cover skill gaps of any measure? This is where technologically advanced online courses are so helpful because they have every learning activity measured down to the millisecond. This helps test takers predict, with high accuracy, the precise date on which they will be ready to take the test. And for working professionals and active students, this information can be crucial in deciding when to take that sabbatical in order to meet the test deadline. Below is a screenshot of e-GMAT’s Personalized Study Plan. Click here to read more about how to make your own PSP.

how to Prepare for GMAT Verbal - Step 2 - Create your GMAT Study Plan

4.3 Master one sub-section at a time

Once you’ve created your Personalized Study Plan, it’s time to start studying. And the immediate question that pops into your mind is “which section should I prepare for first”? We, at e-GMAT, recommend starting with your stronger suit. Let’s say you’re much more confident of your Verbal skills than Quantitative abilities. Start with Verbal. This way, once you finish cementing your Verbal skills, you’ll need minimum practice to maintain that sharpness while you work on your weaker suit. By starting with your weaker section, you risk squandering all the hard work you put into your weakness because we more easily forget things we’ve learned recently for the first time if we suddenly discontinue practicing them.

Furthermore, within each section, make sure you master one sub-section at a time. For example, if you’ve started with Verbal, then master SC before going to CR, and master CR before going to RC. Divide your prep into three stages of learning:

  • Stage 1: Learning Concepts and Methodologies
    • This is the phase wherein we learn all the concepts in a sub-section and learn the process of solving the questions in that sub-section.
  • Stage 2: Cementing
    • In this phase, we cement our learnings by first solving medium difficulty questions and then hard questions. We start with relaxed timing and then progress to standard timing. Standard timing is the speed at which you’ll be expected to take the actual GMAT.
  • Stage 3: Test Readiness
    • This is the final phase of your prep. This is where you write full-length mocks to determine whether you’re ready for the GMAT or need to work on cementing your individual skills further.

Mastering one sub-section at a time entails completing the first two stages for a particular sub-section before moving to the next.

How to prepare for GMAT Verbal

5. Best Practices – Get started with GMAT Verbal Prep

In every endeavour, there are risks. And that’s where experience comes handy. Here is a list of a few dos and don’ts!

5.1 Build Core Skills | Don’t blindly practice questions

5.2 Estimate your starting abilities

5.3 Focus on One subsection at a time

5.4 Build an Error Log

5.5 Be Consistent!

Click here to read about these practices in detail!

6. Which Free Resources can help me take the immediate next steps and start with GMAT Verbal prep?

GMAT Verbal Preparation - Free resources

In order to help you get started with your prep, we at e-GMAT provide a Free Trial of our course. And in this Free Trial, we have included specifically those chapters that’ll help you learn the widely praised e-GMAT methodologies for solving Verbal and Quant questions. In this package, we offer you access to lessons that teach you

  • the Meaning-based Approach to solving Sentence Correction,
  • Pre-thinking in Critical Reasoning,
  • Reading Strategy and Main Point Identification in RC, and
  • the Six Processes of Solving Quantitative Questions.

All you have to do is enter your email address and start off!

Additionally, we offer

  • One Mock Test with an Enhanced Score Report (ESR)
  • 200+ Free Practice Questions
  • Weekend Live Webinars

So, what are you waiting for? Come experience the pinnacle of GMAT Test Prep.

Happy Learning.

How to prepare for GMAT Verbal

How to start GMAT Verbal preparation?

Here’s the answer to one of the most commonly asked question by GMAT aspirants “How to start GMAT Verbal Prep”:
1. Understand your Strengths and Weaknesses
2. Build your Study Plan
3. Master one sub-section at a time using the following methodology:
Stage 1: Learning Concepts and Methodologies
This is the phase wherein we learn all the concepts in a sub-section and learn the process of solving the questions in that sub-section.

Stage 2: Cementing:
In this phase, we cement our learnings by first solving medium difficulty questions and then hard questions. We start with relaxed timing and then progress to standard timing. Standard timing is the speed at which you’ll be expected to take the actual GMAT.

Stage 3: Test Readiness
This is the final phase of your prep. This is where you write full-length mocks to determine whether you’re ready for the GMAT or need to work on cementing your individual skills further.

Mastering one sub-section at a time entails completing the first two stages for a particular sub-section before moving to the next.

What are the Best Practices for GMAT Verbal Prep?

In every endeavor, there are risks. And that’s where experience comes in handy. Here is a list of a few dos and don’ts!
1. Build Core Skills | Don’t blindly practice questions
2. Estimate your starting abilities
3. Focus on One subsection at a time
4. Build an Error Log
5. Be Consistent!

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Payal Tandon
Co-founder, e-GMAT
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