How to improve your verbal score from V30 to V40
There are a lot of threads already about verbal study plans, but I planned to address a particular “getting plateaued” issue that a lot of students (myself included) faced during their preparation to ace the GMAT.
You are consistently achieving V30 or above.
You have almost finished 80% of the verbal syllabus (if you have planned any) that you intended to cover in the course of your GMAT preparation.
There might be a couple of reasons to why your score is always hovering around the V30 range (V28-V35). I would like to address almost all of them below. (Please post comments if you think of something else)
1. You have covered your verbal books such as MGMAT SC
/CR/CR, Powerscore, Veritas
books and the available question banks but often on a practice test you see a lot of questions, which seem to test something else.
2. You have not understood some of the concepts written in certain books (sometimes, as it happens, you think you have understood a certain concept such as pronoun ambiguity but it becomes harder to apply in certain questions as the concept is a little abstract in itself).
3. You have not timed yourself when you practiced from question banks.
4. Some of the absolute strategies that have been advised by the authors of the books you are referring to are not working for you. This is most common for Reading Comprehension.
5. You seem to answer the questions correctly when you review the practice CATs but somehow you answer them wrong while taking the test.
1. Books are as good as you make out of them. I, for instance, started my verbal preparation with MGMAT SC
and took a MGMAT CAT after I was finished with it. I scored a 680 with Q49 V34. I was pretty devastated as people who did well in their verbal prep said MGMAT books
are more than enough. Believe me they are. But as it happened, being a non native, I was pretty out of shape in my verbal skills and even though I “knew” all the concepts of grammar for the GMAT, I failed to apply all of them in the test.
For example, I knew that in case of a bilateral doubt in a sentence we use “whether” and not “if”. But I did not know whether it was supposed to be “whether” or “whether or not”. There, I also used a whether in the sentence
2. MGMAT SC
and Powerscore CR
contains almost everything there is to sentence correction and critical reasoning. For example participial phrases and ING phrases are very well explained but I often failed to comprehend what the statement “ING phrases modify the entire preceding clause” actually means. I seemed to have read the whole book. Twice. However, with fewer examples on specific concepts I did not master them.
3. Verbal timing is incredibly crucial in getting a good verbal score. Initially I would be looking at the clock every 5 questions and spend 10-15 seconds on mental calculation as to how many minutes per question I have left. This folly brings a variety of problems. If I am not doing that great I would be incredibly tensed if I realize that I have less than average minutes per question left. Even if I am doing well with my time, the useless mental calculation takes a relatively considerable amount of time itself.
4. In RC you skim. Well, if I am skimming and looking back all the time am I not wasting a lot of time anyway? Also, if I spend a lot of time reading every detail, most of which do not even appear in the question set of that RC, I am wasting considerable time as well. This is an inherent question in Reading Comprehension. Similar confusion appears in the much debated “pre thinking” concept in critical reasoning.
5. After writing an essay, trying to solve 12 excruciating “not so integrated” reasoning questions, your brain closely resembles that of a zombie (no offence zombies) during the last 10-15 questions in verbal. No matter how much of that disgusting red bull you have tried for the first time in the break, your brain just refuses to function at the near end of the verbal portion.
Approach for each problem
1. Make sure you buy and use extensively the official guide to supplement your GMAT preparation. Trust me when I say that the official guides are the most underrated books in the GMAT world. Sure, almost everyone buys them but you cannot deny that the relative importance the official guide gets compared to other “prep books” is quite on the lower side. The real blasphemy in the GMAT world is the statement “Official Guide is a question bank”. I could not stress more on the importance of the official guide, especially for your verbal preparation, for it is the only book which has all the information you need. You just need to learn to look for them. Don’t just answer the questions on the official guide. Review extensively as to what was particularly tested on that question. For example if you are studying modifiers and you are having a go at the modifiers questions in the official guide make sure you understand why exactly the other options are incorrect (awkward/wordy are NEVER good explanations). Refer to GMAT club resources on every single question and look at the expert replies and the discussions. I know it sounds very tedious but this is the most important step in boosting your verbal score. Lets look at an example from the gmat prep 2 to support my statements.
Joachim Raff and Giacomo Meyerbeer are examples of the kind of composer who receives popular acclaim while living, often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again.
(A) often goes into decline after death, and never regains popularity again
(B) whose reputation declines after death and never regains its status again
(C) but whose reputation declines after death and never regains its former status
(D) who declines in reputation after death and who never regained popularity again
(E) then has declined in reputation after death and never regained popularity.
Let’s analyze the question in detail.
Concept tested: Redundancy, preposition, parallelism, modifiers.
Illustration: Carefully examine the following sentence
My sister, who is a teenager, and whose street play was appreciated by all, won the local talent award yesterday.
This is a perfectly correct sentence as “who is a teenager” and “whose street play was appreciated by all” both modifier the subject “My sister”.
Now let’s look at the options.
A is wrong because the composer does not go into decline after his or her death, but his or her reputation does.
B is incorrect because it uses redundant construction “regains its status again”.
D and E are wrong for the same reason we eliminated A i.e. the composer himself does not go into decline after death.
C is correct (option C breaks the FANBOYS rule, which a lot of prep companies advocate to eliminate answer choices. Please see below for clarification.).
A lot of prep companies adopt the rule of FANBOYS which says
Independent clause, independent clause is a run on sentence.
o to make it correct we use the construction:
Independent clause, FANBOYS independent clause; FANBOYS stands for “For, And, Not, But, Or, Yet, So”.
However, the converse is not necessarily true. Two clauses separated by comma and FANBOYS do not necessarily mean they need to be independent clauses.
E.g My brother loves to drive so fast that his co passengers often fear being headlined in the newspapers the following day, and hates to wear seat-belts.
The sentence without the punctuation would become haywire.
Also, the punctuation rules are not tested on the GMAT.
This question tests meaning/prepositions/clarity. Unless you analyze every single question in this way, you will never get the bang for the bucks you spent in buying all the official guides.
2. Face it, the ING words are messy. So are pronouns in grammar and paradoxes in critical reasoning. That is exactly why we created the GMATClub verbal advantage. Remember to use Thursdays with Ron as it is one of the best resource out there for verbal and quant.gmat-club-verbal-advantage-133953.html
3. Timing yourself while attempting the questions is crucial in the later part of your preparation. You can always use the gmatclub forum timer when you answer questions in the forum. Remember to use a stopwatch when you revisit the official guides or any question bank you are working on (the gmat toolkit comes with a built in OG Tracker with timer for the iphone)
4. Your strategies should not be iron clad. Figure out what exactly works for you. If you like like skimming http://vimeo.com/18632588
this is for you. However, if you think reading through the passage for every detail is a better idea follow the strategy from here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmWAyIk37do&feature=plcp
. Remember that the main point questions will probably be on your test for more than one time with a 90% chance. So, make sure you have that concept and strategy internalized.
5. Make sure you take a break in the practice tests after the quant portion. Also, sentence correction is your weapon when your brain starts to wear. Sentence correction mostly does not involve a lot of brainwork and often acts as a refresher after a heavy RC. So make sure you work hard on SC strategies and practice (including getting a 90%+ accuracy in official questions) so that you take less time in solving sentence corrections and dedicate the balance to offset for the reduced functioning of the zombie brain.
1. Sentence correction is ideal to guarantee a steep improvement in a relatively short period of time (you have to review the official questions in excruciating details).
2. Critical Reasoning can be a little more difficult to improve upon, but certain strategies do come in handy. I have my own views about prethinking. For strengthen and weaken, prethinking can be a great idea as strengthen and weaken questions test logic that is already there in your brain. For example when your dad used to say “you must have been the one who broke the glass windowpane while playing cricket”, you instantly used to reply “It was not me but the kid from the next block.” You were, in fact, weakening your dad’s conclusion. But, trying to find out assumptions in convoluted arguments can be extremely tedious and you should be careful in not wasting a lot of time. For inference/bold face questions let your common senses take the back seat and rely solely on the premises and facts in the argument.
3. You can review official CR questions in the same way as you did for SC questions. For every strengthen/weaken questions try to figure out an alternate answer choice which would be just as good. This might not be entirely possible for every single question but it will definitely set the right direction for you in such questions.
4. Reading Comprehension is a bit crucial when it comes to improvement, for if you do not comprehend a passage well you will end up making repeated mistakes, which we all know can be pretty detrimental with that Verbal score of yours. Make sure you follow a strategy that works for you and then go on a mission to solve official questions. Simplify the question set into specific sets such as main point/inference/detail and work on them. It is up to you whether you want to make notes, but make sure they are as brief as possible. Main point/primary purpose questions are the most important one to crack on RC so make sure you get them internalized.
All the best with the 75 minutes after quant
Hope this Helps
I was about to give up on SC and go on to other topics, after an intense 10 days' vain effort trying to improve in this area...but after I saw your post.. I feel re-motivated (not sure if this is a word) to continue..thanks!