Beat GMAT Verbal by Making Predictions

December 19, 2013
Lucas Weingarten

GMAT verbal wrong answerIn Part II of my series on the Verbal section of the GMAT, we are going to cover the necessity of predicting correct answers to Verbal questions before evaluating the answer choices available. Predicting is a skill one must learn and practice over time. Start now, do it consistently, and you will make a breakthrough.

Let’s first take a moment to appreciate a simple GMAT truism: for every question on the exam, there is always one right and four rotten answers. Always. All answer choices that are not the correct one are definitively incorrect.

Understand that the GMAT is written by human beings. Just like the questions, answer choices are deliberately composed. In every list of five GMAT answer choices, the test makers thoughtfully construct the four wrong answers. Each of these wrong answers will, in some way, address a possible misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the original stimulus or question. Every word, every sentence on the GMAT is created by people, and wrong answers will ALWAYS have distinct you-can-point-to-it reasons that make them wrong.

With that as our premise, let’s now compare a list of GMAT answer choices to a pit full of writhing, hungry, dangerous snakes. If I walked up to you and demanded that you go into that pit of snakes and “Get that thing,” your first response would be, “No way!” I’d then insist and you would almost immediately and incredulously inquire, “Get what?”

You see, that’s the thing— there is no chance you would ever wade into a snake pit if you had no idea what was you were supposed to retrieve, right? Of course not. [Let’s just set aside that you likely would never do such a thing anyway, but stick with me here…]

So I then capitulate: “Go get the lump of gold the size of my fist.” Now, armed with the knowledge of what you want, you bravely step into the snake pit and dare not pause for anything but that big chunk of gold.

The correct answer is the gold. The incorrect answers are the snakes. If you do not know what you are looking for, then you will probably stop to pet a snake. Then, unsurprisingly, you will get bit. By learning how to predict correct answers, that is, tell yourself what to go get, you will ensure a large pile of gold on Test Day.

In the next segment on GMAT Verbal, I will explore Critical Reasoning questions and walk you through making and using a prediction on a tough CR Q. In the mean time, write me and let me know what other aspects of GMAT Verbal might be on your mind. Oh, and watch out for those snakes!

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.

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