We often come across students who tell us that they are weak in Quant and thus want to leverage GMAT Verbal to score a 700+ on the GMAT. On the other hand, there are students like William who are great at Quant but want to strengthen their Verbal as well to guarantee success in GMAT.

Of course, Verbal makes a promising case when you are aiming a 700+ on GMAT, but you need to have the right methodology so you can solve even the hardest questions on GMAT Verbal.

There have also been cases where students feel they are good at GMAT Verbal, but their scores recite another story. Identifying your weaknesses in Verbal may not always be easy. Even if you believe you are good at Verbal, you might struggle to cross the V38-V39 barrier.

Some Common Concerns Students Face in Reaching a V40+ on GMAT Verbal are –

  • Getting stuck between 2 close choices – It is easy to eliminate a few wrong answers in a question, but you may often find yourself stuck between two options that both seem correct.
  • Struggling to Solve accurately within 2 mins – Many students claim that they are able to solve even the hard-level Verbal questions correctly when they are not dealing with a time constraint, but doing it in 2 mins is a struggle.
  • Scoring well on OG but mock scores are not good – A student came to us recently and said that in her past attempt she was getting a V37 on mocks, but in the actual exam she scored a V25. We will try to understand why this score fluctuation happens.
  • Studied everything but still not able to break the V30 barrier – We will dive into why even after preparing for months, students struggle to overcome a score plateau. 
  • Struggling with unfamiliar genres – GMAT Verbal includes questions from various genres like Economics, History, or Science. Many students struggle to understand the meaning of these passages and solve questions that follow.

In this article we will share the key skills that you will need to ace Verbal on GMAT and the important lessons our Verbal Whizzes teach to their students. Stay tuned!

What will we cover in this article?

  1. The Core Reason Why People Struggle with GMAT Verbal
  2. How to overcome GMAT Verbal Score plateau?
  3. Mastering the Methodology
  4. Study Strategy to Improve to V40
  5. The Right Sequence of Studying GMAT Verbal
  6. Summary

The Core Reason Why People Struggle to Improve Their Scores in GMAT Verbal

After mentoring thousands of students in their GMAT journeys and examining thousands of ESRs, our mentors narrowed down two major reasons why students struggle to score a V40+ on GMAT –

I.                 The Time Saving Irony

Students believe they need more time to solve the hard questions in Verbal. So, they try to cut corners from the very start and only get a rough understanding of what is stated in the question. This may help them eliminate 2-3 answer choices confidently but leave them stuck with 2 close choices. The students then re-read the question multiple times and due to a shortage of time, they randomly mark any one of the two answer choices.

What do you think went wrong here? The student took extra time to mark the right answer but is still not confident if she answered correctly because she read the question stem quickly.

II.                 The Best Choice Trap

As I mentioned above, in most GMAT Verbal questions, you will end up with two close choices – particularly in CR and RC. However, only one option conveys the intended meaning and is grammatically correct. So, if you use a wrong approach to solve the question, you might find yourself stuck between the two close choices.

How to overcome the GMAT Verbal score plateau?

The best way to overcome a score plateau in GMAT Verbal is to use a logical approach to solve the questions. For instance, understanding the intended meaning for sentence correction questions.

Now, students think using the meaning-based approach simply means to understand the meaning of the sentence as they read. But that is not how it works. Let us tell you with the following example how the right approach creates a major difference in the accuracy –

Case Study – Choosing the Right Approach for RC

Some of the popular approaches to solve a reading comprehension question are –

1 – Reading the 1st and the last line of every paragraph. Then reading each question. Read only the relevant paragraphs because there is no point in reading each paragraph and wasting time.

2 – Read the whole passage quickly in 2 mins and take a mental note of what lies where. Refer to passage for every question.

3 – Read questions first

None of these approaches work in GMAT. You will end up confused about the meaning of the passage and you will continue to refer to it and waste more time in return. So, what should the right approach be if the above approaches fail? Knowing what the question is actually testing helps.

What does GMAT RC tests?

85% of RC questions are inferential in nature and may test you on –

  • Inference
  • Main point
  • Function
  • Structure
  • Application

The answer to an RC question is not sitting in front of your eyes. Instead, they are designed to test your ability to read between the lines. GMAT is likely to trick you into thinking that it is a local inference question, however, 70% of RC questions will test you on global inference.

Using The Right Approach – Involved & Evolved Reading for RC

In GMAT RC, you need to follow a step-by-step approach and think like the author to understand his/her point of view. Here are the steps to practice involved and evolved reading for RC –

  1. Break sentences into small chunks – Derive the meaning of each chunk
  2. In case of subsequent sentences – Continue to relate to previous sentence to understand what the author is trying to tell you
  3. Focus on the transition words and conjunctions as it will help you to relate to the meaning
  4. Summarize each paragraph

The Key to Ace RC – Try to understand why something is written instead of what is written.

What do GMAT 720+ scorers do?

A 720+ scorer on GMAT follows these steps while solving a Verbal question on GMAT –

  • He first reads the question properly. Time devoted: 4-5 mins
  • Gains crystal clear understanding of what the author has to say
  • Eliminates choices confidently – 40 seconds/question

Time per passage – 7-8 minutes

This is exactly what Ritwik did to score a WHOPPING V41 in his first GMAT Attempt. Learn how he did it –

GMAT Verbal - Right Method to Solve GMAT Verbal Questions - 700 level GMAT Questions

Mastering the Right Approach to Solve

Once you are done learning the concepts, most students resort to practicing questions and then take mock tests. However, this will not help you improve.

You improve from correctly solving the question – irrespective of the difficulty level. So, the first step in mastering the approach to solve any question is – Learning the right method. Once you master the right approach, you will automatically be closer to your goal.

Let us understand with the help of an example. Consider the three ESRs given in the image below –

GMAT Verbal mistakes score comparison

Student 1 made 7 mistakes and got V41.

Student 2 made 8 mistakes and got V30

Student 3 made 9 mistakes and got V21

In all 3 ESRs, there is only one point difference in the number of questions each student got right. But the difference in their final Verbal scores is huge.

Clearly, on GMAT, accuracy does not matter as much as your consistent performance on high difficulty level questions.

So, you need to analyse all your questions. Most students only analyse the questions they get wrong. But to master the right approach, you must focus on why one option is right and why every other option is wrong. Below I am sharing some key tips to master the right approach to solve a question are –

  1. Review questions that use a consistent and logical method to solve each question from that topic
  2. Verify each question – whether you get it right or wrong.
  3. Spend at least 80% of your time reviewing the sentence/argument/passage analysis
  4. Note down the variances in your approach so you can master the correct approach

If Shreyash Can, You can too!

I happened to come across one of the GMATWhiz videos on How to improve from V30s to V40+. The systematic way of solving questions taught by the GMATWhiz mentor in that video was exactly what I needed. The approach I had been following was wrong altogether. I tried solving a few questions with the approach I learned in the video and automatically felt confident.

After watching the GMATWhiz webinar video, I scheduled a consultation call and got several insights into my ESR. I signed up for GMATWhiz Verbal & towards the end, I also signed up for the Quant module.”

Read Shreyash’s Full Debrief

Strategy to score V40+ | How to create the right action plan to ace GMAT Verbal?

Before we tell you how to build your Verbal prep strategy, here are some of the factors you must consider before devising an action plan to reach a V40+ on GMAT if you are already scoring 670 or more on GMAT –

  1. Time available to prepare
  2. Your target score
  3. The resources you have already utilized – the courses you prepared from, OG, mock tests, etc
  4. Your strengths & weaknesses
  5. The methods you have already used – which ones worked & which did not
  6. Your learning style
  7. Your pace of learning

Only when these factors are considered can we build you a perfect strategy that helps you reach your goal.

Need help with the right strategy for your GMAT retake? Schedule a FREE one-on-one call with Piyush – GMAT Strategy Consultant to discuss your case.

The Right Sequence of Studying GMAT Verbal

The simplest way to understand the right sequence of learning is to check which skills GMAT is testing. There are 3 main skills you need to ace verbal –

Comprehension Skills – SC tests you on this skill

Analytical Reasoning – CR tests on both these skills

Focus on Main Point – RC tests you on all 3 skills

So, clearly, the logical sequence to study for GMAT Verbal is -> SC – CR – RC

But what if you have already prepared for the test? If that is the case with you, we suggest you take a module wise test. The areas where you score more than 70% are your strengths and the areas where your accuracy is less than 30% are your weaknesses. Take up the latter first and then you can move your way up to your strengths. If you are a beginner, you can simply follow the above sequence.

Conclusion: How to learn the right approach in 3 simple steps?

  1. Understand the method/approach – To learn the right methodology to solve SC, CR, and RC questions in detail, visit our webinar playlist
  2. Solve 15 questions from each topic. Remember not to time yourself at this stage and focus only on mastering the approach.
  3. Review explanations – At GMATWhiz, we provide a methodical solution for every question. Our tutors spend twice the time on writing detailed 3-step solutions to each question than we spend on creating the question.

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