GMAT Verbal: Some Big Ideas, pt.1

November 26, 2013
Lucas Weingarten

VIn my experience as a Kaplan GMAT instructor, I find that most GMAT challengers are primarily concerned with the Quantitative section of the exam. If a test taker is a native English speaker, then it is extremely rare for such an individual to imagine spending equal time, effort, and attention on the Verbal section. That is, at least at the outset of a study program. After all, we continue to speak and read in our everyday lives, but math is something immediately shifted to technology after—and often during—our school years. Yet, what invariably occurs is that all who study for the GMAT come to appreciate just how challenging the Verbal section is. In fact, exactly like the Quant section of the GMAT, the Verbal section is adaptive at the question level and will get as hard as we can make it.

Further, naive test preppers often struggle to fully appreciate the impact of the Verbal section on the total 200-800 point Total Score. Take a look at an example one of my colleagues uses to get this point across to students. He received the following breakdown from an ex-student after she took the official GMAT:

Verbal                   45 / 99%
Quantitative       43 / 61%
Total                      710 / 92%
Man, I can’t thank you enough for getting on us about not sleeping on verbal. I felt I was maxing out on quant, and without your advice to not sleep on verbal, I never would have broken into 700-territory. Thank you big-time!!

The thing is, there’s simply no way you can hit a big Verbal score without thorough, arduous preparation. In other words, relying on your ability to read will not get you points on GMAT Reading Comprehension. Rather, you need to learn and train intensely on the type of reading the GMAT will reward. Then, you must learn about each RC question type including how to identify them, what each focuses on, what the characteristics of right answers are, and the characteristics of wrong answers. Same goes for GMAT Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction questions, too.

This is the first in a series of posts on the Verbal section of the GMAT. In future posts, I will dissect each of the three question formats as well as tackle other “big ideas” for Verbal section success. For example, an upcoming post will focus on the single most important key to Verbal victory: predictions.

In the mean time, share some of your thoughts about the Verbal section. You never know, your comment might lead to a full-blown post! As always, thanks for reading.

Lucas Weingarten Lucas Weingarten is a full-time instructor for Kaplan Test Prep and he loves preparing GRE students for Test Day. The classroom is Lucas’ arena. When he cannot be found in one of Kaplan’s cage matches of learning, he is very likely dancing around DePaul University’s College of Commerce/Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago professing various courses offered by the Department of Management, up to and including monikers such as: “Managing for Effective and Ethical Organizational Behavior,” “Entrepreneurship Strategy,” “Strategic Managements and Analysis,” “Human Resource Management,” “Recruitment and Selection,” and “Foundations of Business Thought and Theory.” (Although that last one was cancelled just before the quarter started and he’s still not gotten over it.) Lucas spent most of his formative years in North Carolina, but hit the long road as soon as he was able. A world traveler with a currently expired passport, he has lived on and wandered around three continents with the expressed intention of finishing the job. He holds a BFA with a concentration in sculpture as well as an MBA with dual concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance. When not challenging standardized tests to a duel or wondering how to corrupt the business students of America, Lucas can be found brewing delicious beers, riding-then-fixing-then-riding his motorcycle, hanging out with dogs, pretending he’s a good cook, and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world to have such a fantastic wife and endlessly amazing young son. He’s in Milwaukee now, but is in Chicago often. Email him anytime about anything at:

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