Why is the Verbal Section difficult on the GMAT?

The GMAT exam is composed of 4 different sections mainly : Quantitative, Verbal, Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning. While the former two contribute towards the major components of your GMAT score the latter two are also significant even if they make up only a smaller part of your overall GMAT score. However due to their considerable impact on the total GMAT score both the Quant and Verbal have always been given foremost priorities by all the individuals who are attempting the exam. The syllabus for the exam comprises of fundamental high school and middle school concepts in both the categories. However it is necessary to pay utmost attention and prepare in a diligent manner since you will be tested under a strict time limit. The difficulty levels of the exam depends directly on your performance in the exam. GMAT uses adaptive testing techniques and hence it is only your ability which decides the complexity levels in the later stages of the exam. If you have performed well in the previous sections then the difficulty level increases for the next section and similarly if you have not done well in the last section then your next section will be comparatively easier.

However it is true that some candidates find the verbal section of the GMAT exam more demanding in comparison to the Quant section. Although this may not always be the case. The reason for this may be due to the fact that many students lack the habit of reading regularly these days. In addition to the above point it should be noted that most of the individuals who attempt the exam are not native speakers of English. Thus making the task of preparing for the verbal section an even more challenging ordeal. The syllabus for the GMAT verbal, as explained earlier, is actually composed of basic grammar concepts from your middle school and high school curriculum. The following are the necessary grammatical topics which one needs to be well versed with for this section of the exam :

  1. Parts of Speech – Verbs, Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Conjunctions, Prepositions
  2. Subject Verb Agreement
  3. Pronouns Agreement
  4. Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
  5. Parallelism
  6. Modifiers
  7. Verb Tense
  8. The Sentence – Clause and Phrase

The Verbal topic is further subdivided into the following sections :

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Sentence Correction

Handling each of these sections effectively once again has to be planned by the candidates who are taking the exam beforehand. One of the strategies which they can adopt is to attempt mock tests on a regular basis so that they are aware of the question patterns which will be given in the exam. Practice tests also assist you to understand how much time has to be allocated to answer each section of the exam. The next step you can adopt is to begin reading as a habit. Invest time to read good quality publications like – The Guardian, The Times, The Wall street journal , The Daily Telegraph etc. You get accustomed to the writing styles of various authors and this will aid you to a great extent when you attempt the Reading Comprehension passages.

Deciphering the content of the RC can be an easy task once you have the correct strategies for the same. Many candidates feel that the RC is one of the most difficult sections due to the content which is usually present on the same. You will have to remember that the aim of the passage is to judge your ability to read the passage, grasp the main idea which the author is trying to convey and accordingly answer the questions that follow. Some of the approaches which you can follow are to practice active reading on a regular basis so that you are able to identify the relevant information which you may require at a later point to answer the questions. You could also read the questions first before reading the passage so that you are conscious about what information you have to obtain to answer them. RC has varying lengths and you will have to practice reading on a regular basis so that you are able to judge what time you need to allocate for each section.

The Sentence correction and the Critical reasoning sections mainly concentrate on judging your grammatical skills. It is essential for you to be proficient in all of the above mentioned grammar topics so that you have your task presented to you in an easy manner. Once you are well versed with the grammar concepts it becomes easier for you to solve the questions in the Sentence correction section. You will be able to identify the correct order in which the words have to appear in each sentence. This is a crucial aspect which will assist you in the Sentence correction exercises.You will be asked to identify the answer choice for the sentence which appears grammatically correct, concise and is logical. Simple grammar rules like the use of proper verb tense, using pronouns appropriately, Subject Verb agreement etc will be tested/evaluated in the exam. Finally with the Critical reasoning you will have to become familiar with all the question types like – Strengthen or Weaken the Argument, Find the assumption/flaw, Draw inference/conclusion, Complete the argument and Paradox/Discrepancy. Once you are able to recognize which type of question you have in the exam you will find it easier to come to a conclusion and choose the appropriate answer. Ensure to first think clearly on what is the question that is being asked. Next read the answer choices and use the process of elimination to avoid choosing extreme answer choices. Do not select answers which have information which are not directly mentioned in the passage. These are basic strategies which are bound to assist you to ease your preparation for the verbal section and help you score better marks.

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