GMAT Verbal Reasoning Section: An English Language Skill Test

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Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Sep 23, 2021

Exams Know-how | 16 min read
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Grasping concepts, documenting ideas and communicating them are essential skills in an individual's life. Be it a student or a working professional, Verbal Reasoning skills add an edge to your personality. Honing the ability to critically understand, reason and articulate ideas helps you elevate your professional journey. Thus, GMAC has dedicated one section of the GMAT paper to examine your proficiency in standard English Language.

It is important to understand that a Verbal Reasoning test is a skill test more than a learned knowledge examination. Your competence to decipher text is crucial. GMAT Verbal Reasoning section examines: 

  • Your ability to understand and comprehend text

  • Evaluate and reason arguments

  • Your ability to correct phrases to make meaningful sentences

Decoding the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section:

1. No. of Verbal Reasoning questions in GMAT?

Ans. GMAT Verbal Reasoning section has 36 questions. 

2. How long do you get to solve the Verbal Reasoning section?

Ans. You have a time frame of 65 mins to solve 36 questions from the Verbal Reasoning section of GMAT 

3. How is the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section scored?

Ans. You are scored on a 6-51 score scale for Verbal Reasoning. 

REMEMBER: Verbal Reasoning is a computer adaptive test. The series of questions and their difficulty levels are based on your ability to answer the given questions.

What to expect in the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section?

The Verbal Reasoning section of GMAT constitutes a little more than half of your GMAT score. This being said, you cannot take a language skill lightly. 

In this section of the exam, you are expected to answer about 36 questions. You can expect to encounter three types of questions in this section:

  1. Reading Comprehension

  2. Critical Reasoning

  3. Sentence Correction

Let’s look at what do they mean and how you can answer each of them:

  1. Reading Comprehension:

As the name suggests, you are required to read the passages and comprehend. You can expect about 6 to 9 reading comprehension passages in the Verbal section. 

In the GMAT reading comprehension task, you are given lengthy passages from any field. Instances, stories or generic essays from the field of Business, Science, Arts etc are presented. Read and understand the given passages to answer the questions. 

To answer the passage reading questions: Speed reading is one habit you must inculcate in order to answer the GMAT reading comprehension questions. It is one of the most challenging things to do amidst the ongoing exam pressure. It is easier to get distracted or lost through the passages if not timed. Thus, this is one of the habits you should add to your list during your GMAT Verbal Reasoning preparation.

  1. Critical Reasoning:

In this sub-section of GMAT Verbal Reasoning, you will have 10 - 13 critical reasoning questions based on an argument. Understand and evaluate the given text. The aim is to be able to formulate a conclusion or derive a plan of action. 

The best way to answer this question is by consciously reading the argument and analysing it. By paying attention to details, you will be able to arrive at reasonable answers.

< style="text-align: justify; text-justify: inter-word;"p>There are various types of Critical Reasoning questions in the Verbal Reasoning section, some of which are discussed below: 

  1. Assumptions: There will be a premise and a conclusion. You are expected to fill the gap by finding the missing information. You will have to figure out what the assumption is so that you can link the premise and the conclusion.

  2. Evaluate: This might be one of the toughest question types in the GMAT Critical Reasoning. But to put it simply, you need to find the answer choice that affects the conclusion differently if you answer it with a “Yes” and a “No”.

  3. Inference: In this type of critical reasoning question, you cannot engage in guessing the answer to an Inference question. Understand the given evidence in the question to get the right answer.

  4. Bold Face: Bold Face questions require you to understand the role played by the bolded statements in an argument. That’s what will lead you to the right answer.

  5. Paradox: A Paradox question will have a statement that might not, at least in the first glance, make sense. In GMAT Critical Reasoning, the statements will mostly be from the real world or the world of science. Understand and interpret the sentence to land on the correct answer. 

  6. Strengthen and Weaken: Like the name suggests, in this question type, you will have to find a new piece of information that if added to the existing information, will make the conclusion less likely to be true.

  1. Sentence Correction:

These are slightly tricky questions you will encounter in the Verbal Reasoning section. The sentence correction consists of about 11-16 questions.

In this section, you’re presented with sentences of which one or more words are underlined. Your task is to determine if the underlined original word suits the sentence or should be replaced by a better word. Paying attention to the word choice, grammar and sentence structure will help you answer. The main goal is to have a meaningful well structured phrase.

A few types of the Sentence Correction questions asked in GMAT are discussed below. Understand the kind of tasks you can expect from the following: 

  1. Pronoun: Exercises with pronouns are one of the expected question types. Pronouns always refer to a noun. But, also remember, pronouns have one exemption with possessive pronouns. GMAT Sentence Correction includes this as one of the vital questions.

  2. Subject-Verb Agreement: A sentence should contain a subject and a verb. If it does not, it is considered an incorrect sentence. Moreover, the verb should be in agreement with the subject of the sentence. For instance, the subject cannot be plural with a singular verb.

  3. Modifiers: Modifiers, as the name suggests, are words or groups of words that describe other entities in a sentence. They can act as adjectives, adverbs or even pronouns.

  4. Idioms: Idioms are unique combinations of words. In these questions, you will have to identify the incorrect usage of an idiom in the given sentence and then identify the right idiom from the answer options.

  5. Parallelism: Parallelism depends not only on grammar but also logic. If you are to correct parallelism, you need to make sure that two phrases or clauses match in their grammatical form and serve the same logical role in the sentence.

  6. Comparison: Identify the comparison factors in a sentence to get the answer to Comparison questions.

  7. Verb Tenses: Official GMAT questions do not test you on all verb tenses. You need to choose the answer option that has the right verb tense if it replaces the underlined part of the sentence.

How is the Verbal Reasoning section of GMAT scored?

The GMAT Verbal section is computer adaptive. That means, the difficulty of each question depends on your previously answered question. Your scoring too depends on the same. A higher score can be achieved by solving questions of a greater difficulty level, which in turn, depends on how you answered the previous question.

  • You’re scored on a 6-51 score range, with a 1-point interval for the GMAT Verbal test

  • Scores above 44 are rare; anywhere in the 45 to 51 range puts you in the top 1% of test-takers. A score of 40 or above puts you in the top 10%. A score of 36 puts you in the top 20%. A score of 28 or above puts you in the top 50% 

  • To score about 36 or above would be a “good Verbal Reasoning score” 

  • This score adds up to your total score of 200-800 along with your Quantitative Reasoning score 

  • The GMAT Verbal Reasoning score is vital to land on a good score in GMAT

Strategies To Champion GMAT Verbal Reasoning:

To achieve a good score, you need to apply out of the box strategies to improve your GMAT Verbal Reasoning preparation and ace the paper: 

  1. Practice speed reading: To improve your GMAT Verbal Reasoning score, speed reading the passage is the key. Master the art of swift reading and easy grasping of concepts. This will help you keep up with time.  

  2. Use Flashcards: Engage in activities throughout your day to expand your vocabulary. Build a good personal exam-ready vocabulary by using Yocket Flashcards.

  3. Channel your focus: Holding onto your focus is one of the things you need to master before appearing for GMAT. It’s easier to lose your focus among the lengthy passages, the tricky questions and the good reads. Thus, channel your focus by eliminating distractions to be able to rightly read and answer.   

  4. Make mind maps: Making quick mind maps while you’re reading essays help you remember the straight forward details. Visualise the passages to save yourself from repeated digging into the text to find answers.  

  5. Take quick notes: Making quick notes is a must. The trick here is to first glance at the questions that are asked in the reading comprehension section. Later, read the passages. By doing this, you can quickly make notes of the direct questions as well as the information required to answer. 

  6. Read correctly, write perfectly: Do not engage in creating assumptions while reading. It is important that you read, interpret and pen the given information based on the given passages. Don’t let your knowledge about the given subject influence you.

 

Five Most Common Mistakes You Must Avoid In The GMAT Verbal Reasoning Section:

Candidates who have taken the GMAT share some of the mistakes most test takers have made while attending the test. Make an effort to tackle these errors and avoid them: 

  1. Not reading the questions in RC: Always read the question of the RC section before diving into the passage. Doing so, you will avoid re-reading the passage multiple times. You will also have a brief idea about the pointers you need to pay attention to. 

  2. <pstyle="text-align: justify; text-justify: inter-word;" dir="ltr" role="presentation">‘Eliminating answers’ is not the way to go: Avoid confusing yourself with the almost-right answer choices. Eliminating each answer choice to find the correct answer will only make you lose time and further confuse you. 
  3. Underestimating GMAT Verbal Reasoning: Prepare yourself well. Don’t underestimate the Verbal section just because it is a language test. 

  4. Refusing to guess/Missing out on questions: GMAT has a high penalty for unanswered questions. The best way to get a high score in GMAT is by correctly answering the questions you know. And guessing the answers for the ones you don’t. 

  5. Missing out on making pointers: Not making quick side notes is a huge mistake. Don’t do it!

 

To achieve a high score in the Verbal Reasoning section you must engage in the play-way method of learning. Engaging in activities that teach you while you enjoy your learning process is the key to bag this section. Brushing up on your basic grammar, expanding your vocabulary, engaging in practice tests etc are some of the must do things to champion the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section.

In the big picture, to be the crème de la crème, focusing all your efforts to prepare only for the Verbal Reasoning section will be a dead loss. Invest time in understanding the overall syllabus and pattern of the exam as well. It is also equally important for you to gauge the other GMAT sections, namely, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment. A tight study plan and preparation for GMAT will lead you to be the brightest of the batch!

Sample Questions:

As we’ve now discussed each aspect of the Verbal Reasoning section. Refer to a few sample pieces to get a practical view of the GMAT Verbal section:

 

Sample Question 1:

Directions -

The questions in this group are based on the content of a passage. After reading the passage, choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions following the passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.

Question -

Schools expect textbooks to be a valuable source of information for students. My research suggests, however, that textbooks that address the place of Native Americans within the history of the United States distort history to suit a particular cultural value system. In some textbooks, for example, settlers are pictured as more humane, complex, skillful, and wise than Native Americans. In essence, textbooks stereotype and depreciate the numerous Native American cultures while reinforcing the attitude that the European conquest of the New World denotes the superiority of European cultures. Although textbooks evaluate Native American architecture, political systems, and homemaking, I contend that they do it from an ethnocentric, European perspective without recognizing that other perspectives are possible.

One argument against my contention asserts that, by nature, textbooks are culturally biased and that I am simply underestimating children's ability to see through these biases. Some researchers even claim that by the time students are in high school, they know they cannot take textbooks literally. Yet substantial evidence exists to the contrary. Two researchers, for example, have conducted studies that suggest that children's attitudes about particular cultures are strongly influenced by the textbooks used in schools. Given this, an ongoing, careful review of how school textbooks depict Native Americans is certainly warranted.

Which of the following would most logically be the topic of the paragraph immediately following the passage?

(A) Specific ways to evaluate the biases of United States history textbooks

(B) The centrality of the teacher's role in United States history courses

(C) Nontraditional methods of teaching United States history

(D) The contributions of European immigrants to the development of the United States

(E) Ways in which parents influence children's political attitudes 

Answer: (A)


Sample Question 2:

Editorial in Krenlandian Newspaper:

Krenland’s steelmakers are losing domestic sales because of lower-priced imports, in many cases because foreign governments subsidize their steel industries in ways that are banned by international treaties. But whatever the cause, the cost is ultimately going to be jobs in Krenland’s steel industry. Therefore, it would protect not only steel companies but also industrial employment in Krenland if our government took measures to reduce cheap steel imports.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the editorial’s argument?

  1. Because steel from Krenland is rarely competitive in international markets, only a very small portion of Krenlandian steelmakers’ revenue comes from exports.

  2. The international treaties that some governments are violating by giving subsidies to steelmakers do not specify any penalties for such violations.

  3. For many Krenlandian manufacturers who face severe international competition in both domestic and export markets, steel constitutes a significant part of their raw material costs.

  4. Because of advances in order-taking, shipping, and inventory systems, the cost of shipping steel from foreign producers to Krenland has fallen considerably in recent years.

  5. Wages paid to workers in the steel industry in Krenland differ significantly from wages paid to workers in many of the countries that export steel to Krenland.

Answer: (C)


Sample Question 3:

The growth of the railroads led to the abolition of local times, which was determined by when the sun reached the observer’s meridian and differing from city to city, and to the establishment of regional times.

  1. which was determined by when the sun reached the observer’s meridian and differing

  2. which was determined by when the sun reached the observer’s meridian and which differed

  3. which were determined by when the sun reached the observer’s meridian and differing

  4. determined by when the sun reached the observer’s meridian and differed

  5. determined by when the sun reached the observer’s meridian and differing

Answer: (E)