GMAT Verbal Section Strategy Tips – How to score 40 plus in GMAT Verbal

I have been reading several debriefs where slightly improper time management costs a lot of the eventual score on GMAT. So, I thought of sharing my strategy on verbal section on how I tried to manage my time. I call it “How to score 40 plus in GMAT Verbal” tips! I hope some of fellow test takers may find it useful. [Also check out my quant section strategy tips]

§ DO NOT BE AFRAID OF VERBAL SECTION. Instead, ENJOY IT!

§ Divide your verbal section in 3 phases

§ Phase 1 [30 minutes]: Take sufficient time for first 15 questions, approximately 2 minutes. You will get at least 1 RC in this but try to gain momentum because once you are in momentum you will be able to make up the extra time lost

§ Phase 2 [25 minutes]: Be quick between questions 16 and 31. Say approximately 1.5 minutes per question or 25 minutes overall.

§ Phase 3 [20 minutes]: Leave almost 2 minutes per question for last 10 questions as they will contain fewer experimental questions. Please click here why I recommend doing well on last few questions.

§ Numbered scratch pad: Use your time during the school selection screens to create numbered scratch pad with 5 choices. Use this scratch area to execute POE (point of elimination). Make sure you use POE method for majority of your verbal questions. It will help you narrow down the choices and quickly answer. [Please click here to see where you should have numbered scratch pad.]

Reading Comprehension (RC):

  • Almost all study guides will recommend you to do “active reading” by taking notes. BUT, do NOT write too much. Gaze through one paragraph at a time and just list a few words or sentences (say 1-2 sentences or 5-8 words.)
  • Note down point for first 2 RC and try to reduce your dependency on writing for active reading. You can remember 4 paragraphs if you read them carefully. Ideally you may not write more than a few words (or no words) for last RC. This will ensure that you will have enough time to answer last 5-7 questions which are typically SC or CR.
  • For last RC you may want to start your reading aiming to answer first question instead of getting overall understanding if you’re running out of time.
  • Try to follow 7 step strategy of Manhattan.
  • ALWAYS, read the first question before reading passage.
  • USE POE in RC. 3 out of 5 choices are irrelevant.

Critical Reasoning (CR):

  • Be quick to remove irrelevant choices. Any words which don’t appear in original passage may actually be irrelevant.
  • Try to find out words which match the words from passage. Choices with such words are more than likely to be correct choices.
  • Use your numbers scratch pad to remove irrelevant choice by POE. Please click here to see how to create such scratch pad.
  • Concentrate a little more on CR that follows RC. Usually you feel fatigued after reading a passage, questions and answer. Another small passage of CR can add to fatigue and a hazy reading may lead you to choose wrong choice. Just a little concentration not too much so that you run out of time afterwards J

Sentence Correction (SC):

  • Treat SC as if you’re doing math section. There are predefined grammar rules and if those rules are compromised, the sentence is wrong. This is as simple. Use Manhattan SC guide as bible.
  • Read the sentence and try to spot the error. As soon as you spot the mistake USE POE and remove those choices.
  • If an answer choice seems to make compromise with grammar rule(s) then cancel it even if that’s the only less wordy choice or probably the last one after you crossed off other 4 choices. It’s very likely that there is another choice that you misread at first attempt.
  • When you are left with 2 choices try to find out which one can be wrong. This strategy will help you correct answer.
  • Don’t ignore your strength in an attempt to do better on your weak points. SC was my strength so I concentrated on each SC question and tries to pick the right choice. Remember: Your strength will earn you more points than concentrating too much on weakness.
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GMAT Quant Section Strategy Tips

I have been reading several debriefs where slighltly improper time management costs a lot of the eventual score on GMAT. So, I thought of sharing my strategy on quant section on how I tried to manage my time. I hope some of fellow test takers may find it useful. [Also check out my Verbal Section Strategy tips]

Test taking strategy:

§ DO NOT TAKE IT EASY. Yes, although it’s relatively very easy to score high in this section, your little complacency can greatly kill your chances to get close to 50’s in Math section and your dream to see 7xx figure.

§ Try to get in to rhythm. Focus on first 15 questions a lot to answer all of them correctly. You can take up to 30-35 minutes to answer them.

§ You can be a little quick for next 12 questions. Try to answer them in around 20 minutes as it’s more likely to have experimental questions.

§ Save approximately 20 minutes for last 10 questions to ensure that you don’t have any incorrect answer. Please click here why I recommend doing well on last few questions.

§ Although it’s very important to have first 10-15 questions correct but if you encounter a new type of question which literally stumps you then don’t get bogged down and spend too much time. Guess and move ahead. Don’t let the disappointment of not getting it right bother you. You can get a score of 48 even at 10-12 mistakes. Try to get less than 5 mistakes, I believe it ensures that you have around 50 in quant.

§ Double check: Quant is not about knowing all the formula. It’s about answering what is asked. GMAT maths is tricky in its verbiage. Make sure you’re not doing the following.

o Selecting answer for percentage and not for number (specially in DS)

o Selecting answer for number where it asked for ratio (esp. DS).

o Selecting answer for x whereas the question asked for 4x or y

o Selecting answer for a reverse order (ascending or descending) than originally asked.

General Quant Tips:

§ Probability: If you are not master at it than don’t worry. It should not bother so that you make mistakes in your strong area. If you’re not comfortable than follow 800score techniques for PnC. Their way is really simple for many non engineering students!

§ Practice: Please commit yourself to do at least 50 maths questions every day in last month prior to your test. This will ensure that your calculation speed is well and you’re continuously in rhythm.

§ Do a timed practice: Doing 50 questions in 4 hours will not help. Get into a practice of doing 25 questions in 20 minutes so your speed is near to what is required.

Why you need to do well on last few questions on GMAT?

Following are my thoughts on why it’s equally important to do well on last few questions on the test. I am not sure how many of you may agree but this strategy has worked for me. If you follow this strategy it prepares you on how to do well on GMAT and how to find experimental questions on GMAT.

§ 33% questions of each section on GMAT are experimental questions. Your score is not affected if you get them wrong. SO, it’s really important that you do well on all non experimental questions.

§ Where are these experimental questions?: GMAT places these questions to gauge their relative difficulty level so test makers will place these questions around the areas where it’s more likely to receive average attention on the test – neither too much so not at the beginning nor at the end – so not at the end.

§ Here’s where most of the students may get it wrong. We try to take care of first 10 questions of each section because 95% chances are there that they will not contain experimental questions. However, because of improper time management students rush through last 5-10 questions. BUT, there are 95% chances that the last 5-8 questions are NOT experimental questions and if you get anyone of this wrong you will be penalized.

o Your score will be affected due to your bad show in last few questions.

o It will also ensure that you push yourself to quickly pass through some of the experimental questions that may waste your time OR pass some of the difficult questions that unnecessarily waste your time. These difficult questions, at times, bring your morale down or more importantly break your rhythm. Remember: 1 wrong answer will not affect your score that much if you didn’t spend more than 2 minutes on it because it will give you an easier question to make up lost ground.

o Psychologically you will feel that you never rushed through the section and hence it may not affect your spirit. (at least it worked for me!).

§ How did I come to this conclusion?: I know after doing many CR’s, most of you will want to deny this argument by finding some assumption J But do the following:

o Take old PowerPrep as a part of your practice.
o While taking test, make sure you number each question of both sections on your scratch pad.
o PowerPrep tells you that it omits all the experimental questions from review section. So, after the test, when you review the answers, please observe which questions are omitted. You will find that first 5-8 questions and last 5-8 questions of each section will stay there whereas the questions from middle will disappear. This observation strengthened my theory that last 5-8 questions hold high importance too.

§ GMAT notifies you that if you don’t answer all the questions then it penalizes you. Now if it wants to penalize you then it would not include experimental question in last few questions of each section, will it? I hope this make sense J

§ Maths: Avoid mistakes on first 7 questions and last 7 questions (31st to 37th)

§ Verbal: Avoid mistakes on first 8 questions and last 8 questions (34th to 41st)

GMAT Time Management Strategy: Tricks to Save Time on GMAT and How to maximize GMAT Score

GMAT Time Management Strategy: Tricks to Save Time on GMAT and How to maximize GMAT Score:

How to I have been getting several emails on how to use school selection screen time to save time or find extra time on GMAT. I used the time to select schools to send scores to verify I had good quality marker / scratch pad and to prepare numbered choices for VERBAL section. In addition to the typical GMAT Verbal and Quant strategies, this really helped in overall GMAT Time Management Strategy. Here’s my take on it: [Also check my blog post on how to do well on last few questions on GMAT]

  • All the sections on real GMAT are timed EXCEPT one. It’s the school selection section. You have technically infinite time to select schools. If GMAT is smart to put a time limit on everything it includes on test, you will need to be that little extra smart to utilize any extra time you get out of it. That’s what I called “smart” GMAT Time Management Tricks.

  • How do you find this “extra” time? Check your gmat scratch pad and the erasable marker. The pen is almost like a thick edged sketch pen. What you need to check is that when you write on gmat scratch pad, the ink is not spreading or at least you’re able to write at one go. Sometimes the pen doesn’t work on first time so you have to write the same thing again. This eats up your time. If the pen is not proper, raise your hand and ask for a replacement.
  • Important tip: To avoid a replacement during the exam, don’t keep the pen cap open for too long if you’re not using it. Keeping it open for too long will dry the ink and you may face difficulty in writing on gmat scratch pad.
  • GMAT gives you a 10 pager scratch pad. Gmat scratch pad pages are like graph papers but tied from top instead by side (so not like general foolscap books).

  • Take page 1 of your scratch pad and reserve it for VERBAL section. During the school selection screens write down question 01 to 41 with 5 answer choices (A,B,C,D,E) against each one. This will ensure you don’t waste time in even writing ABCDE for each question in verbal section yet take advantage of beautiful POE method.

  • Like page 1, page 10 should be reserved for taking notes on RC passages. If you open a scratch pad (tied from top) you will notice that page 10 and page 1 can be kept open simultaneously. So, when you are reading passage take notes on page 10 and use those notes (plus your memory!!) to remove irrelevant choices using POE on page 1. If you run out of space on page 10 (that also means that you’re taking way too many notes on RC!!) then use the reserved page 9.

  • Use Page # 2 to 8 for your quant section.

As descrived above using GMAT scratch pad creatively allows your manage your time on GMAT as well as thoughts while solving problems. Like they say – small things make big differences! I say – small adjustment on how you use GMAT scratch pad can earn you additional 10-30 points! (isn’t it a big difference?!)

GMAT AWA Issue Template

Again, not the best of the templates but something that I followed to ease my AWA nervousness. [Also check out GMAT AWA Argument template]

The author’s issue that… is an interesting one and has been a topic of debate. The author states that… (Rephrase the statement). There are many circumstances in which the statement holds true (this one will be the statement for the side that you take). For example, [give an example in single sentence] On the other hand there are many circumstances in which the statement does not hold true (the opposite side). For example, [again only in single sentence] However, after a careful consideration, in my opinion, take your side. I shall present # of points to support my point of view.

Let me begin with example of [two words to represent the first example to support your point].

Another example,

In addition, 3rd example (optional)

However, the situation can be harmful in some scenarios or [any other opening sentence]. Now show your consideration for opposite side.

In a nutshell, after a scrupulous deliberation and as shown in previous paragraphs, I believe that [you can write a short version of the side you support]. While opposite view can be helpful in short term, your view can be really beneficial in long run. Statement…

GMAT AWA Argument Template

I have received several emails requesting AWA template. Here’s my AWA argument template. [Also check out GMAT AWA Issue template]

Author’s argument that … is weak; it rests on many assumptions and fails to substantiate sustainable evidences. The argument assumes that – point 1 of paragraph 1 –. The argument doesn’t justify that (weak evidence)… In the following paragraphs, I shall present these assumptions and weak evidences that weaken the argument along with the additional premises which can strengthen the argument.

First, the argument… present your first point. Follow it by example. DO NOT REPEAT THE ARGUMENT STATEMENT.

In addition, present your second point. Again, don’t repeat the argument statement.

Furthermore, the statement implies that… third point (a weak evidence).

However, author’s argument can be strengthened if it’s shown that… Present at least 2 additional premises that can help to bolster its claim. You can use points like (1), (2). This shows that you are more organized.[You can write the following paragraph without even thinking what the argument is about!]

To sum up, as cited in aforementioned paragraphs, the argument lacks solid evidences and depends upon weak assumptions. Unless its claims are strengthened by additional premises, such as the ones mentioned in previous paragraph, it does not appear credible. Therefore, the argument is weak for serious consideration.

I am sure this is not the best of the templates but I believe that following this structure shows that you are organized and will keep you away from any AWA fears.