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Best way to prep for the GMAT verbal section

The GMAT Verbal Section remains a tough nut to crack even for the most prepared and experienced individuals who are appearing for the examination. The GMAT exam is essentially broken up into four major sections- analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal.  Like the other sections, the verbal section comes with a fair share of confusing questions, complex synonyms and the like.

Here are some tried and tested methods to prepare for the GMAT verbal section:

The Section Specifics

The GMAT verbal section at first glance is made up of 41 questions that are to be completed in a time frame of 75 minutes. These are split across three sections that will assess the student on their ability to read and interpret passages, understand argumentative clauses and edify written materials to an English standard.

Students will first face the reading comprehension that tests the student’s ability to interpret passages and conversations between subjects. There are four reading passages. The first three short passages (200-250 words) have three questions each and the final longer passage (300-350 words) has four questions. Some editions of the GMAT have two short questions and two long questions.

The next sections look at the student’s ability to apply concepts in critical reasoning and sentence correction. The former has a prompt that introduces some argument that the test taker has to answer in a specific number of paragraphs. Candidates have to analyze the argument and write either in support of it or against it. Sentence correction segments, as the title suggests, has questions where the test taker has options that have edited versions of the same sentence.

Tips For Acing The Section

Time is of the essence in the Verbal Section. Most prep guides focus on the importance of knowing how much time a person spends on each section. Spend an optimum 1-2 months going through guides and online blogs for the Verbal Section. Spend around 20 to 30 percent of total preparation time for the GMAT by focusing on the Verbal Section.

Read as many papers and prep guides from the previous years. Keep a book of hot keywords and memorize them constantly. Subscribe to a number of blogs and newspapers to know the kind of language that is expected from test-takers. The importance is to adopt a more professional style of writing that centers on eloquence and brevity. Newspapers like The Washington Post, The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. A major strategy of the verbal section is to retain information as you read through the paragraphs rather than having to go through them multiple times to answer questions.

Developing reading as a habit can help in creating this buffer memory for passages and written content. Another important strategy is to never scatter focus across the sections and only advance to the next section once the previous is done. There are no extra points for speed reading in the reading comprehension sections. Invest an appropriate amount of time to know exactly the question and the passage. Instead of reading the question first, follow the SAT practice of memorizing the answers and arrive at the correct answer by the process of elimination. Allot two and a half minutes for each short passage and three and a half minutes at best for the long passages.

When arriving at the critical reason sections, have a predefined notion of answers in your mind before looking at the answers provided. A common route of losing points in this section is caused by reading the answers too quickly and being confused by the options that seem quite similar to each other. The sentence correction section should be dealt with as easily as possible. In it, focus on the subject-verb agreement issues and interpret early on how the answers differ from each other such that the odd one can be singled out.

Moving on to the concepts of synonyms and word structure, always remember that the test taker will be scrutinized on the vocabulary that he or she knows. Knowing the level of complex words and compound phrases can save many a soul from misinterpreting certain texts that are designed to be confusing. But be wary of memorizing every new word that you see. Instead, write down the words and learn to apply them in realistic settings.

The objective essentially should be to cultivate a need for knowing more than what’s there in the passages. Learn to read between the lines and even keep a list of novels to read beforehand. These novels can range from historical epics to classical literature pieces and even journals.

On a final note, remember that the general structure of questions and answers in the Verbal section is always the same and can be well studied based on previous editions.

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