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 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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