GMAT Troubleshooting: High Math, Low Verbal
Every student has strengths and weaknesses.
Some students sail through the math section but have far more difficulty when it comes to the verbal section. It’s disheartening to see a score report that places you in the 90th percentile for quant and the 40th percentile for verbal. This problem is especially common for non-native English speakers, many of whom are well-versed when it comes to answering questions on parallel lines but struggle when it comes to maintaining parallelism.
If you’re one of these students, it makes sense to spend the majority of your prep time focused on verbal. Here are a few tips on how to pull up your verbal score for a better overall score.
1. Take Advantage of Flashcards and Other Memory Aids
Though the GMAT covers a breadth of grammatical concepts, there are certain concepts that tend to come up again and again. Drill yourself on frequently tested concepts like subject-verb agreement and parallelism. The more you understand common grammatical concepts, the easier it is to spot common errors. And the faster you recognize the concepts tested in a question, the faster you can find the correct answer.
When creating your flashcards or memory aids, make sure you include a few examples of correct usage for each concept. You can create your own cards, or check out the hundreds of flashcards on Ready4GMAT.
2. Go Beyond GMAT Prep
Often students who excel in verbal won’t be able to explain why they chose one answer over another. Instead, they’ll say “it just sounded right.” If you struggle on verbal questions or are not a native English speaker, your ear for English might not be as refined. To improve your ear, go beyond GMAT prep materials and read other materials like long-form newspaper articles. Not only will this help you develop an “ear” for English grammar, but it will also help improve your reading comprehension.
3. Work on your Stamina
On the GMAT, it’s common for students who have a hard time with the verbal section to “burn out” towards the end. If you’re a non-native speaker, translating everything back and forth is mentally taxing. However, by attempting longer practice sets and practice tests, you can build up your mental stamina, which will allow you to get through a larger number of questions without losing focus.
4. Manage the Clock
Students frequently say that they do much better on verbal questions when un-timed. But unfortunately on the GMAT, you can only spare a few minutes on each question in order to have enough time to answer all the questions in the verbal section. Knowing how best to approach each question type and how to manage the your time are necessary skills if you’re to improve. Check out some these posts on process of elimination and time management for tips on improving your pace.
5. Don’t Forget about Math
Don’t ignore quant in your rush to cram as much GMAT verbal into your prep as possible. Often those who struggle with verbal also struggle with text-heavy math questions or questions with very precise wording. Familiarizing yourself with the common terms used in quant questions and understanding how to quickly pluck information from a word problem can help give you an edge in math as well.
The Ready4 Team