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 teaches students how to beat the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for Kaplan Test Prep and is proud to have earned “elite instructor” status. Lucas writes extensively for Kaplan’s GMAT blog, and in addition to the GMAT and business school as primary subject matter, he regularly explores topics within higher education, economic systems, sustainability, and current events. Lucas spent his formative years in North Carolina and currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, though he has not yet found the part of the world wherein to bury his roots. He has an MBA with a dual concentration in entrepreneurship and finance from DePaul University in Chicago and is fortunate to have secured an adjunct teaching position there out of the department of management. Family, friends, and a seemingly endless stream of new hobbies keep Lucas busy and happy outside of the classroom. You can reach out any time by email ( or through the comments thread after his blog posts.

About Kaplan

We know test prep. We invented it. Through innovative technology and a personalized approach to learning we’ll equip you with the test insights and advice you need to achieve your personal best. Results, guaranteed*.

*Higher Score Guarantee: Conditions and restrictions apply. For complete guarantee eligibility requirements, visit