How to prepare for the GMAT: Tips & tricks to score high in GMAT Verbal

Have you encountered any difficulties in preparing for GMAT Verbal?

Many Taiwanese students may find it difficult to score high on the GMAT Verbal section than on the GMAT Quantitative section. This article will talk about the Verbal section along with some tips to help you score high on GMAT Verbal.

1. What is GMAT Verbal?

The GMAT Verbal is part of the GMAT exam.

Objective: To measure the ability to reason and evaluate arguments, correct written material to conform to standard written English, and read and comprehend written material.

Total number of questions: 36
Time: 65 minutes

There are three types of questions in GMAT Verbal: Sentence Correction (SC), Reading Comprehension (RC), and Critical Reasoning (CR). There are 12-13 questions in SC, 13-14 questions in RC, and 9-10 questions in CR. Questions are pretty random in order.

Sentence Correction (SC):

SC questions test grammar fundamentals, the correct usage of words and phrases, and structure of the sentence.

Reading Comprehension (RC):

RC questions ask the candidates to recognize specific detail, find the main idea or central thought, and evaluate the structural features of the passage.

Critical Reasoning (CR):

CR questions test the skill in making, analyzing, and evaluating logical arguments.

According to our past teaching experience, studying SC can be a nerve-racking experience for test-takers. students are often confused as to how to select the correct answer choice. Therefore, building a solid grammatical foundation is extremely crucial. You have put in time and effort.

2. How to prepare for GMAT Verbal?

(1) How to prepare for Sentence Correction (SC)

It is highly recommended to read Manhattan Sentence Correction strategy guide, which focuses on sentence structures such as parallel structure and the correct usages of verbs. For GMAT SC questions, you should recognize certain sentence structures that require strict parallel structure. When these structures appear, you will be able to eliminate multiple answer choices because they fail to maintain the necessary parallelism between the two portions on either side of the phrase. There is no denying that you will not get very far in GMAT SC if you don’t master grammar rules. However, students can’t rely on grammar as the sole determinant of which answer choices are correct and which are not. Sometimes, incorrect answers are perfectly grammatical, yet they convey nonsensical or illogical meanings. 

(2) How to prepare for Reading Comprehension (RC)

One of the biggest difficulties for students is the time limit. You need to read fast and pay attention to sentence structure as well. Most of the questions are similar to those in high school exams or TOEFL. You need to check the verb and understand what the theme is in each paragraph. You can also improve your skills by reading the Manhattan Sentence Correction strategy guide. Overall, it is a test that covers grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.

(3) How to prepare for Critical Reasoning (CR)

The approaches discussed in the GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible are useful when attacking Reading Comprehension questions. The CR section consists of different kinds of question types, such as inference and making an assumption. By understanding different types of questions in advance, you will be able to identify the requirements of each question more efficiently.

If you’re trying for a perfect GMAT score, complete as many sets of questions as you can to ensure that you’re ready for whatever the GMAT throws at you. CR questions test your ability to reason through an argument logically and make an objective decision. Pay attention to key words, such as “or” or “partially” to identify strengthening and weakening arguments.

3. What are GMAT shared questions? How to study them?

Test-takers who have taken the GMAT test share the questions they have seen on the internet. Since the GMAT test administrators only change their bank of questions once in a while, if you read the shared questions beforehand, there is a high likelihood that you will encounter known questions.

How to study GMAT shared questions? First of all, you need to have the right mindset. Do not assume that you can luckily encounter known questions. If you do, you are lucky; if you don’t, it’s perfectly normal.

Secondly, the section matters. Reading RC shared questions may benefit the most since test-takers may remember RC questions well. So, if you come across shared RC questions in the real test, you will have background knowledge to answer questions faster. CR is the next. As long as the question stem is changed, the answer is different. Reading SC shared questions benefits the least. SC questions are often complex in grammar structure, full of clauses and adverbs.

In recent years, GMAT question banks have been switched every one or two weeks. You can GMAT shared questions at the week before the test, but do not rely on them. Many test takers try to recall the shared questions during the exam and are not able to exert full potential.

4. Tips for GMAT Verbal exam

In the GMAT Verbal exam, here are the tips that can help you score higher. Please read the following step-by-step solution for solving SC, RC and CR questions.

How to solve a SC question


Recently physicians have determined that stomach ulcers are not caused by stress, alcohol, or rich foods, but a bacterium that dwells in the mucous lining of the stomach.

(A) not caused by stress, alcohol, or rich foods, but
(B) not caused by stress, alcohol, or rich foods, but are by
(C) caused not by stress, alcohol, or rich foods, but by
(D) caused not by stress, alcohol, and rich foods, but
(E) caused not by stress, alcohol, and rich foods, but are by

The GMAT emphasizes parallel structure. Parallelism requires that the elements that are parallel should have a similar part of speech (e.g., nouns, conjugated verbs, and adjectives) or structure (e.g., clauses, and modifying phrases). In this question, “not A but B” is a correct idiomatic usage. A and B must be parallel and comparable.

Option A – Incorrect

Incorrect because the conjunction “not” is followed by a past participle “caused by” and the conjunction “but” is followed by a noun “a bacterium.”

Option B – Incorrect

Incorrect because the conjunction “not” is followed by a past participle “caused by” and the conjunction “but” is followed by verb “are.” 

Option C – Correct

This answer choice correctly maintains parallelism between A (“by stress, alcohol, or rich foods”) and B (“by a bacterium”).

Option D – Incorrect

There’s no parallelism between “by stress” and “a bacterium.” The first sentence is a prepositional phrase while the second is a noun.

Option E – Incorrect

The sentence is not parallel because “by stress” is not parallel to “are by a bacterium” because the first sentence is a prepositional phrase while the second one starts with a verb.

How to solve a CR question


A study followed a group of teenagers who had never smoked and tracked whether they took up smoking and how their mental health changed. After one year, the incidence of depression among those who had taken up smoking was four times as high as it was among those who had not. Since nicotine in cigarettes changes brain chemistry, perhaps thereby affecting mood, it is likely that smoking contributes to depression in teenagers.

Which of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument?

(A) Participants who were depressed at the start of the study were no more likely to be smokers after one year than those who were not depressed.

(B) The study did not distinguish between participants who smoked only occasionally and those who were heavy smokers.

(C) Few, if any, of the participants in the study were friends or relatives of other participants.

(D) Some participants entered and emerged from a period of depression within the year of the study.

(E) The researchers did not track use of alcohol by the teenagers.

Summary: According to the research, people who smoke are more likely to get depressed.

Option A – Correct

Option A tells us that those who were depressed at the start of the study were no more likely to be smokers than those who were not depressed. It refutes the chances that depression leads to smoking. if there is correlation between smoking and depression and depression doesn’t leads to smoking then the argument is exactly what would strengthen the conclusion. Hence, (A) is the right answer.

Option B – Incorrect

Option B says that the study did not distinguish between participants who smoked only occasionally and those who were heavy smokers. It is irrelevant to depression.

Option C – Incorrect

Option C tells us that few, if any, of the participants in the study were friends or relatives of other participants. It is irrelevant to depression.

Option D – Incorrect

Option D tells us that depressed participants became cured from depression within the year of the study. This option does not mention the cause of depression.

Option E – Incorrect

Option E tells us that the researchers did not track use of alcohol by the teenagers. It is irrelevant to smoking and depression.

How to solve a RC question

On the GMAT Verbal section, you’re likely to see 4 Reading Comprehension (RC) passages. RC passages are classified as either “short” or “long.”  Long passages are around 350 words with 4 questions. Short passages are about 200 to 250 words with 3 questions. Normally, you will get two short and two long passages. The GMAT RC passages cover a wide range of topics. Anyone may encounter a topic that he or she not familiar with. However, you don’t need knowledge of the topic in a passage, or a complete understanding of every word used in the passage, in order to be able to correctly and efficiently answer all of the questions related to the passage. Remember, RC is not a subject test. RC questions test your ability to understand a passage and answer question on the basis of what is stated and implied in the passage under time pressure. Here are some important points.

Gain understanding of words

Reading Comprehension relies on being able to access word meanings efficiently and integrate them into the context of the passage. Some questions test your ability to identify the primary purpose of a passage. Some questions ask about the details of the passage. RC question also asks about an inference, it is not asking about something that is explicitly stated in the passage. Rather, it is asking about something implied. What GMAT RC really tests is whether you truly understand what you read.

Identify the Main Idea and structure

All sentences or paragraphs must be unified around a central point or main idea. Sometimes we can identify the central point quickly, but most of the time we need to read the whole passage. Most of the questions ask test-takers to find the main idea of the essay, identify the author’s overall purpose in writing the passage, and choose a title appropriate for the passage.

Understand additional meanings

Words convey more than exact, literal meanings, in which case they “connote” or suggest additional meanings and values. So, how to read the “extra-textual” meaning is also important. Among RC questions, some are based on author’s tone or attitude. Somequestions measure your ability to analyze and understand information. Memory serves the crucial role here.

You will gain familiar with GMAT RC by adopting these approaches.

If you want to see more examples, please read Cracking GMAT Verbal.

5. If the first GRE attempt didn’t go so well, how to strengthen the weaknesses?

If you are not satisfied with the result of the first attempt, please ask yourself whether it is because you play below par or you did not prepared well. If you play below par (the actual score is 3 points lower than the average of the mock exam), you need to calm your nerves before an exam. In other words, maybe you should do mock exams more. They give you a feel of what a real GMAT exam is like so that the real one is less intimidating.

Here are some tips to help you hit your maximum potential score on the test. First, you can create a realistic exam environment. For example, you can make it a strict rule not to drink water or go to the bathroom and put your cell phone in another room during the mock exam. Secondly, try to finish the mock exam in a shorter time. For example, you can restrict yourself to complete the mock exam within 90%-95% of the time. Thirdly, complete two mock exams in a row.

If there is not a significant difference between the score of the real GMAT test and that of the mock exam, you may have under prepared. Here are some suggestions to help you solve the problem.

(1) Request an Enhanced Score Report (ESR) from the test center at a price of USD 30. ESR presents you with post-exam diagnostic information. In simple words, it tells you how you performed while taking the GMAT and provides data-driven insights on how you can plan your preparation to reach your target GMAT score.

(2) Seek professional advice. You can find out the blind spot in just a short one-hour consultation. If you have been studying for three months, six months, a year or even longer, and still cannot get the desired score, it is likely that the study method is not working for you. A professional can point out the blind spot in an hour and set up the study plan.

6. Conclusion

GMAT Verbal consists of the three types of questions mentioned above. First of all, Sentence Correction. These questions test your ability to identify correct and effective English expression.

Secondly, Reading Comprehension. Skim through the questions first. Then, go back to the passage when asked about a specific word. You can save time by skipping information unrelated to the questions.

Thirdly, Critical Reasoning. These questions test your ability to sort relevant facts from irrelevant details and make inferences.

Knowing more about the types of questions on the GMAT Verbal section will help you achieve your goal score on test day. If you would like to learn more about our courses, please click the button below and leave a message to request a trial class.