GMAT Verbal Preparation Tricks for Non-Native English Speakers


The GMAT is conducted in more than 120 countries worldwide. As such, most students who take the GMAT are non-native English speakers, English being their second or third language. Although the GMAT states that a comprehensive vocabulary isn’t so important compared to reasoning expertise in the verbal lesson, you need to have a certain degree of knowledge of the English language to ensure a high score.

Luckily, there are various great resources to help increase your level of understanding the English language as you continue studying for the GMAT verbal section. The most vital thing you can do is be an active student, focused on improving your English skills.

You can improve your English in a variety of ways. Some of the easiest, but most effective strategies include:

  • Do as much practice as you can in the English language: Watch English documentaries and movies, listen to English broadcasts and more importantly, watch English-speaking shows. This will help you learn conversational English, not just the proper English taught in the classroom or prep materials.

  • Make sure you read English in a more active manner: Read magazines, journals, documents and newspapers that cover emerging issues and current events. Avoid reading complicated novels because they may not come handy for the GMAT.

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  • Read English in context, not just word-for-word: It is crucial for you to understand what is surrounding the word to derive its meaning. Words alone cannot make meaning but rather their meaning in a sentence is part of the context.

  • When preparing for the GMAT, use a comprehensive dictionary and come up with a list of new words and their meaning: Try to use some of these words especially if you regularly encounter them in GMAT materials. Create your own “vocabulary tests” and regularly quiz yourself to improve your overall vocabulary.

Immersing yourself in the English language is the best way to preparing for the GMAT verbal section when it isn’t your primary language. That means you talk, read, and even think in English as much as possible. Set realistic, daily goals for reading written English. Read short stories, news articles, and essays every day. Discuss what you have read with a friend or a classmate in English. This is the only way to study the structure, new vocabulary, argumentation, and idioms in context, rather than memorizing concepts from grammar book or study material.

Daily reading practice will greatly improve your understanding of the English language, which is important for doing well on the verbal sections of the GMAT.

Unsure of where to begin with your journey to a 99th-percentile GMAT score? Schedule a call with our expert student success team to determine the best next steps for you.

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