Since I went through a painful process while preparing for GMAT Verbal, I thought of sharing my strategies with everybody. These strategies helped me, if these strategies help others also, it would be great.
Remember: My Verbal was not so bad earlier and it is not perfect now. What made a difference were my test taking strategies. These strategies worked for me and made a huge difference in my verbal score.
This analysis is for a mid level student like me, who is a non-native speaker, and who needed practice in verbal section. English is not my mother-tongue and I had to struggle hard to improve my verbal score. This analysis is not for people of the level of Honghu, Pelihu, NCprasad, kevinkan etcâ€¦â€¦.who are in a different plane and who may find my strategies- a very basic stuff. I have learnt a lot from Honghuâ€™s and above mentioned peopleâ€™s postings.
I did a through and through analysis why I did poorly on verbal section in my last exam on 12/21/2006 despite putting a lot of hard work and preparing very well. You can find my analysis- in this same thread in a post dated --.
Again all these below mentioned things happened with me. It may not happen to everybody and may not be useful to everybody.
As many people have suggested always use grid while practicing verbal questions and use it while taking practice tests and the real test. This grid becomes very useful while using POE. Read each answer choice and cross out the one which you think is not right, leaving blank the contenders. Most of the time we will eliminate 3 answer choices. Now we need to just focus on remaining 2. Compare them word by word. These answers will have one or two critical words, which will make the difference between the right and the wrong answer choice.
You may think this is so simple, we all do this. But let me tell you that this grid becomes very helpful especially in the HARD questions. We tend to eliminate the wrong answer choices MENTALLY. Sometimes we read all 5 answer choices and then find no one seems right. Then, if we havenâ€™t eliminated the so-called wrong answer choices on paper, we will again read all the answer choices and thus waste our precious time. Even if we spend 30 seconds- 1 minute again, the cumulative effect will cost us too much.
So try to use the grid, even when you solve just 1-2 questions use this grid. After some time it will be your habit and after a few days you will automatically start using this.
We tend to perform better when we solve 1 or 2 questions or say 5 questions even in the timed conditions. Usually we take a question from the verbal forum
, turn the timer on, solve it, and then stop the timer. Check our answer choice. Wow, I got it correct. Time 1:40 minutes. I am within the limits of 2 minutes. Good, I am on right track. Sometimes we get the correct answer choice after a little more than 2 minutes- say 2:25 minutes. We think that ok, I am just a little bit over time limit. May be I will compensate this on some other questions. This trend continues and we never try to reduce our speed limit or increase our speed. This happens mostly in CR and RC questions.
Now how to test this- take 25 questions at a time, 12-13 CRs and 12-13 RCs from 1000 CR and 1000RC series. Try to solve all these questions in 48 minutes. You will feel you have a little tough time maintaining the speed. Now check your performance. It will be really different from when you were solving each question individually. You will see your right/wrong ratio is changedâ€” (At least it happened with me) It is due to the speed, which you need to maintain. I took 48 minutes, not 50 minutes, as keeping time somewhat shorter will help us increase our speed.
I took GMATPREP many times and saw that the pattern of Verbal questions is mostly
1-2 questions here or there.
So practice 25 (CR +RC) questions at a time in one sitting. This will show you your exact performance, how you do in timed and stressful conditions. This will remove any complacency you have while solving each question individually or each RC passage individually.
Why we have different performance when we solve 25 questions at a time. What happens that we get stuck in 1-2 or 3 very tough questions. We as a human being canâ€™t keep our eyes on the timer always, and get too engrossed with these tough questions that we spend 3-4 mintues on each of these tough questions. This takes time out from other simpler questions. But the shorter time available makes these easier questions harder and we screw them. So try to put special attention on this part and always practice with a set of 20-25 questions.
This is another area we should look into. PR, Kaplan
, MANHATTAN tests are great that they show that how much time you spent on each question.
Calculate your time on each section
I found that I was spending 22-24 minutes on first 10 questions due to - Give too much focus on first 10 questions concept (MYTH or REALITY?). Then another 21-22 minutes on next 10 questions. So on an average I used to spend 44-45 minutes on first 20 question, this was leaving me with 35 minutes -- 21 questions scenario. So look at this, you are already 7 minutes behind the schedule, and now imagine you face a couple of tough CRs or a 75 lines RC-in 21-30 section. You will again cross your time limit of 2 minutes for each question. It is so easy to go beyond 2 minutes per question, just read the question stem once again and re-read all the answer choice, ponder over them- you will be near 3 minutes. So this trend always led me to a situation when I faced last 11 questions in 10-11 minutes. Now in a hurry to finish the test, I used to get max wrongs in my practice tests in last 12-15 questions.
So I decided to come out of this trend. I made sure that when I reach 21 questions, I have 38 minutes left and have 20 minutes left when I reach 31st question.
This helped me a lot and my verbal score shot up in my practice tests.
Again whatever I wrote, all this happened with me. You may not face all this. You may be lucky and get easier questions towards the end of the exam.
Again, donâ€™t think that if you spend too much time on some of the questions, you can cover up that time in other questions. Every question needs some basic minimum time to be spent. Every question has at least 1-2 lines and 5 answer choices, which you need to read. This will take at least 30 seconds, no way you can solve this in 15 seconds- special attention NON-NATIVE Speakers. So donâ€™t set unrealistic targets to cover up the time on last few questions.
Avoid Getting Continuous Wrongs
Though I read this in many posts that getting continuous wrong answers matters, I realized this in one of my PR Online test. In one exam, I got all the 4 questions wrong in one of the RCs, and one wrong CR after the passage. Even though I got same number of wrong answers-12 as my previous test, my score went down drastically. I counted my number of wrongs- it was same as 12. I was surprised what happened to my verbal score. In the previous test with 12 wrong I got 38 and in this exam I got 27. Then I realized that in the previous test, my wrong answers were evenly distributed.
I did experiment this trend with GMATPREP also. I deliberately answered all the RC questions wrong on 1 RC and my verbal score plummeted drastically.
I know this situation is out of our control, but donâ€™t SKIP all the questions of one RC.
When we run out of time towards the end, and hit one tough-80 line RC, we try to skip this RC by guessing all of its questions. I did this thing during my last exams, thinking that 3rd RC might be an experimental one. I think it cost me too much. This time I didnâ€™t skip any RC. I think this helped me getting good verbal score. I DECIDED that if run into a situation when I start running out of my time, I will guess 1 question after 7-8 questions and not 3-4 questions continuously. Fortunately I didnâ€™t run into this situation during my test on 02/23.
Improve your performance in RC.
This is especially for non-native speakers. You must improve your performance in this section. Donâ€™t take it lightly. Read all the posts on this topic and adopt whatever strategy you like or suits you. Skimming didnâ€™t suit me. RC was a nightmare for me. My poor verbal score was mostly due to poor hit rate in RC. I analyzed my mistakes and reached to the conclusion that I fared poorly in those RCs, which I didnâ€™t understand completely.
In one of the post I read one recommendation, suggesting to read RC slowly-NOT QUICKLY and try to understand the passage- to some extent -before jumping to questions. This technique gave me good results, especially in short passages. Try to do at least 4-5 RCs everyday. When stuck between 2 answer choices, compare them word by word. You will notice a minute difference, which will help eliminate wrong answer choice.
We can improve our performance in SCs, no doubt about it. This is the most comfortable area for non- natives. But there is one catch here We all aim to finish SCs in less than 1 minute, but it may not happen in the real test. So be prepared to adjust your timing accordingly. This happened with me during the last exam. I aimed to finish SCs in a minute and devote extra time to RC-CRs. This strategy didnâ€™t work out during my last test. I got 3 hard SCs as my first 3 questions. I had to spend 9 minutes on them, I still spent extra time to solve CRs and RCs, thinking that I will get easier SCs later on, but it didnâ€™t happen. Most of the SCs I got were very tough. In this exam on 02/23, again I had to spend 5 minutes on my first 2 SCs, but I was better prepared for the time management this time.
Practice â€“ Practice- Practice. 1000CR is the best source. You must practice LSAT questions. Initially you will feel that they are tough but after sometime you wonâ€™t feel so.
Take as many CATs as possible with various sources. PR gives 4 online test, Kaplan
-4 and Mgmat-6 tests. Take these tests very seriously, in exactly the same conditions as you may face in the real test. I didnâ€™t take many test during my previous attempts, took just 4-5 tests. GMATPREP was diluted for me as I had already seen most of the questions on the GMATCLUB forum. This time I took all these CATs, one CAT every alternate day.
I scored 640-690 in Cambridge 1-5
600 in PRII ---This was an eye opener for me in fact for verbal score.
720+ in all Mgmat CATs.
I didnâ€™t like Kaplans due to its poor scoring algorithm â€“ scored 610 in one of tests.
So this was a story of a 36+ year old, who has a dream of going to MBA school in the US. I am happy that I was able to improve my verbal score with my analysis after my previous test. It is a great achievement for me at least
Due to my 13+ yrs work exp and my age, I am targeting for Executive MBA programs only. Hope my dream come true.
Thanks again for reading this post and hope this helps you.
Wow..This is good....What a perseverance you have !!! Congrats and thanks again for the write up