The GMAT Verbal Section

  • Time: 75 minutes
  • Format: 41 questions
  • Tests: Reading, Grammar, Analytical Reasoning

The GMAT Verbal Section is designed to test your command of standard written English, your skills in analyzing arguments, and your ability to read critically. The section consists of 3 question types: Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, and Reading Comprehension.

What in the World is Critical Reasoning?

Critical Reasoning tests the skills involved in making and evaluating arguments, as well as formulating a plan of action. You will be presented with a short argument and a question relating to it. You will be expected to find the answer choice that strengthens or weakens the argument. You may also be asked to find an assumption the argument makes or to make an inference yourself.

Succeeding on Critical Reasoning questions requires 4 things:

  1. Understand the argument's structure.
  2. Identify the conclusion.
  3. Determine what evidence exists to support the conclusion.
  4. Determine what assumptions are made to jump from evidence to conclusion.

Most importantly, read carefully. Critical Reasoning questions are notorious for their tricky wording.

The Challenge of Sentence Correction

How are your written English skills? You'll find out with Sentence Correction questions. You will typically face very long and contorted sentences. A part—or all—of the sentence will be underlined; and you will be asked to find the best version of the underlined section out of the original or one of four alternatives.

Sentence Correction questions commonly contain 2 or more errors. Time is of the essence as sentences vary in length and complexity. You'll need to move considerably faster on the shorter questions to have time to tackle the more difficult ones.

Testing's Old Faithful: Reading Comprehension

You have probably become quite familiar with Reading Comprehension questions over your standardized testing career. These questions test your critical reading skills, more specifically, your ability to:

  • Summarize the main idea
  • Differentiate between ideas stated specifically and those implied by the author
  • Make inferences based on information in a text
  • Analyze the logical structure of a passage
  • Deduce the author's tone and attitude about a topic

You will be presented with a reading passage on the topics of business, social science, biological science or physical science and then asked 3-4 questions about that text. The tone is that of a scholarly journal.

When reading a passage, remember that you're not trying to memorize all the information. First, read through it quickly, trying to get an idea of the general topic, the author's purpose, his or her voice, and the scope of the passage. Most of all, don't obsess over details—you can always look them up in the passage.