Some members PMed me with a request to describe my study strategy for verbal in more detail, so here it goes:
As I stated in my original post, my preparation started with MGMAT on-line course. I highly recommend it for busy bees who can’t structure GMAT preparation on their own and/or need additional push to study. It’s a great course not only because it offers amazing study materials but also because the study curriculum is very intense and forces you to study every spare minute you get.
I followed the curriculum of MGMAT which assigns problems from the OG topic by topic. I think this strategy is great as it allows you to truly “get” the concepts and recognize the patterns that GMAT employs to trick you.
I also read Princeton Review’s Crack the GMAT verbal section but didn’t find it very useful for anyone aiming to score above 35 in verbal.
I bought Kaplan 800
book hoping to see some tough questions. It does have tough questions only I don’t think they are representative of the types of questions you’ll see on GMAT. RC was all right. I do not recommend doing CRs and SCs from that book.
Recommendation: participate in forums but don’t just answer questions by saying “it’s E” or “definitely D”. Instead, try to explain WHY you feel that the choice you are selecting is a correct one. Explanation of the answer choices makes you analyze the questions and understand the concepts much better. Trust me, you will improve rather quickly if you participate in discussions in a meaningful way.
Do verbal sets 21-30 in 75 minutes. They are great even though often times they don’t have correct answers. Wrong answers can be frustrating but sets are very representative of the types of questions you’ll see on the real test plus you can always search for the correct answers on the forums.
The only teaching guide that I found useful was a Manhattan GMAT
guide. I reread it at least three times and referred to it when I couldn’t explain why the right answer choice is in fact correct. MGMAT SC
guide = Bible for SC. For practice I did all of the OG11
guide and the OG verbal
workbook. Make sure you create an error log
of all the SCs you got wrong and come back to them in a month or so. I guarantee that you will make the same mistakes again. Make sure you understand the correct answer. If you still don’t know why a certain answer choice is right, search the forums or post your question. A lot of times you will learn a piece of information that you never knew before. Idioms are important. Learn as many as you can! I am attaching an example of the idioms file that I found on the net below.
Once you learned the concepts, focus on strategy, such as 2/3 splits, scanning the choices for an error tested, etc. I can’t emphasize enough that one should learn the concepts first and then learn the tricks. Knowing only the tricks will not get you far. GMAT questions are designed to fool you, so learn your basics first. Then practice, practice, and practice again! There is tons of material out there. Try 1000 SCs and the brutal SCs (see the attachement).
This one should be the easiest for the international test-takers like me. You don’t have to know the grammar or spelling here. It’s really ALL about the logic. I didn’t do much for CRs as CR was the strong category in verbal for me. I did buy the Powerscore’s CR Bible book based on the glowing reviews I saw about this book. I think I read about 30 pages and then decided that it wasn’t for me. I simply got bored. What I can say about this book is that it covers pretty much all types of CRs and provides good examples of each. Then it gives you a mini quiz so that you “get it”. Overall, it’s a good book for the students trying to master the CRs. Again, learn the concepts first, then practice.
I thought the timed tests in 1000 CR docs were superb. Do as many of those tests as you can.
Probably the toughest verbal part for me largely due to timing issues. I tried to follow the approach recommended by MGMAT (taking notes as you read) but that only put me in the deeper timing hole and distracted me quite a bit. What worked for me is the following approach: I read the first and last paragraphs of the passage very carefully, rephrasing each sentence in my head and making sure that I understand what it is that the author is trying to convey. I also read 1-2 sentences in other paragraphs to
Visualize the structure of the paragraph, e.g. OK, the 1st paragraph claims X, the 2nd says it’s not necessarily so, the 3rd says that in majority cases the X still holds true, and the final paragraph concludes that although X happens 99% of the time, it’s foolish to think that X is always bound to happen. Knowing the structure of the paragraph allows you to answer the general “tone of the author” and “the main idea” questions. So basically by using this strategy, you will be capable of answering the 50% of RC questions easily.
While reading the 1-2 sentences in the beginning of each paragraph, scan the rest of the text in between, looking out for the keywords such as names, dates, and other stand-out words. When you encounter an inference or a detailed question, you will know exactly where to go in the paragraph. You might ask why is this a time-saver if you have to go back and read the text again. Well, the truth is that even if you carefully read the text the first time around, GMAT’s inference/support questions are so detailed that most of the time you will have to go back to read the lines anyway. If you didn’t waste time on reading them the first time around, you will end up actually saving some time for yourself.
Another tip: don’t get intimidated by the technical terminology that you are not familiar with. Most native speakers would know nothing of a COX-3 inhibitor or some complex word you encounter in the text. Just try to rephrase the term into something you can understand or worst comes to worst, substitute the unfamiliar word for something you know, a.k.a. “turnip” = “tulip” and move on. GMAT is not ever going to ask you what turnip means. It might, however, ask you what it’s used for or where it was first found which you would know! How did I practice? OGs are the best sources for RCs. But I thought that 3000 RC document was “on the money” too. Do not take more than 2 minutes per question when you practice. What I mean by that is f you have a paragraph with 7 questions, do not take more than 14 minutes on reading and answering the questions. If you have 3 questions, do not take more than 6 minutes on the entire thing, etc…
To sum up, always learn the concepts first. Take as much time to learn them as you need. Buy all the books you have to buy but build a solid base first. Then practice, practice and practice in a timed setting. You will “feel” when you have to mark a choice and move on very soon and thus will have fewer issues with time management. You will find out that SCs are real time-savers. If you practice enough, you will be able to do most of the SCs in under 1 minute. It might sound crazy but it’s true. Create an error log
. After a while you will be able to see the pattern of the mistakes you make and the areas you make them in. The error log
will be your best teacher! Do participate in the forum discussions. You will “meet” a lot of smart people and learn from them.
OK! So these are my tips. Please don’t judge my writing too harshly as I didn’t double-check it for spelling or grammar issues (it’s getting late and I need to go to sleep to get up for work tomorrow). I hope you find my recommendations helpful and GOOD LUCK with your GMAT!