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How to improve verbal to 40+?

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How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 19:31
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Hi everyone,

I just took the GMAT last Saturday and I was not very pleased with my verbal score. I scored a 700 (50Q, 35V) so I cannot complain about my overall score. However, I was used to scoring in the 38-40 range for Verbal. I generally don't have a problem with CR, RC can hurt me sometimes, and SC seems to always drag me down.

This what I did to prepare for Verbal:
I went through all of the MGMAT Strategy books, including the foundations book (I went through the SC strategy book twice).

I plan on retaking the test in about 2 months (have not set a date yet, but this is flexible) and I am considering taking the Knewton prep course.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to improve my verbal score?
Was anyone in a similar situation as me, but was able to improve? If so, what did you do?
If I do take a course, what course do you think is the best one to improve verbal?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 19:42
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I have not been in a situation like yours, but do pretty well on Verbal. I know that here on GMAT Club, some admins recommend the GMAT Club Verbal Book: gmat-grammar-ultimate-by-gmat-club-102387.html. It's actually free as of yesterday.

My philosophy is a little different. Read. Read as much as you possibly can. Trying to learn all those technicalities is not going to work unless you are trying to get from 45 to 50. It's not very different from Quant in that regard. The "GMAT Fiction" is a good bet, plus it will make you more conversational. I read the Wall Street Journal every day. I promise you if you do that for two months, you will find that your SC skills have vastly improved without even having explicitly studied for it.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 20:07
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I think in order to breach 40V one has to focus more on HOW to think rather than WHAT one thinks.

Case in point, 700-level SC questions revolve around the following ideas:

1. Multiple-topics: from parallelism to s-v agreement to concision
2. Logic: you'll be able to notice that the best answer choice is the one that portrays what the "author" is really trying to say.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 20:18
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Try e-gmat course. I think it's specially targeted for people who are trying to improve verbal.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 20:45
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My advice would be to practice practice and practice. Also try maintaining a simple error log to see where you are making mistakes and go over your mistakes till you know those topics better than anything else. Also try reading reputed and well written publications such as ' The Economist' or 'The New York Times'.
You seem to have a really good score on Quant so you can focus for the next two months on Verbal.

Best of luck!
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 21:27
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Actually GMATsaga has got it spot on! You need to change your approach towards SC.

See for a large part you can get away by using basic grammar rules. However my personal opinion is on the GMAT at a higher range you start getting questions which test your understanding of meaning. Let me give you an example:

The former President of the United States of America, George Bush wielded enormous power over aid to third world countries.

(a) The former President of the United States of America,

(b) As the former President of the United States of America,

(c) As the President of the United States of America,

(d) He was President of the United States of America,

(e) Former President of the United States of America,

How would you approach this question? Also what "rules" of grammar do you need to solve it. The fact it is a modifier is known but that is not what is being tested here!

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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 11:38
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Yeah, I agree with arun. Context is far more important in the 700+ level questions that in the lower difficulty ranges. In fact, context is so important that it's often quicker to solve 700+ level questions than lower difficulty ranges because of obvious meaning changes.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 11:50
Wow I was not expecting so many helpful suggestions, thanks a lot!

Vandy – When I read the WSJ should I focus on articles that I am not interested in? Also, what do you recommend I can do to work on Arun’s and Saga’s advice?

GMATSAGA – Do you have suggestions to work on that? Several people agree with you, but I am a bit confused as to what I can do to improve on that.

Someone79 – Did you take e-gmat? Do you know how it compares to Knewton?

Rakp – I went through the OG and Supplemental problems already. I plan to buy the new editions and do those problems. Towards the end I started reading the explanations and forums for any problem that I had a doubt on, and that really helped. Do you know of any other source of problems that I should try?

Arun – I would say the answer is B. I eliminated D&E because they both sounded awkward and C changed the meaning. I was between A&B, but I thought B sounded better. What is the correct approach to this problem? Also, what do you suggest I can do to follow Saga’s advice?

Thanks again!!!
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 12:00
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In regards to reading the WSJ, you're asking the right question. Personally, I think it will be most beneficial to you if you read articles that are short and articles that seem interesting to you, at least at first. This is primarily because you'll be more motivated to do it. As you improve your skills, you can start to read some of the more technical articles that you might have found too boring earlier in your preparation. These are usually found in the Money & Investing section.

The real key to cracking the difficult RC questions IMO is cracking the structure of every passage. This approach also mitigates the risk that you'll lose interest in the passage and as a result, lose comprehension. Basically, the way to crack the structure of a passage is to take very structured notes. The awesome news is that the GMAT sets this up for you on every single passage (at least every passage that I've read). Let me give you an example: every paragraph has a topic sentence and then has a few supporting points, and usually has a transition sentence. Sometimes, this structure is tough to isolate or maybe it's camouflaged by complex technical information, but it's there. You don't want to just write down details about the passage or even things you think are important. Instead, you want your notes to visually depict the structure of that passage, i.e.,

I. topic
a. point 1 (not the whole sentence. shorten the sentence down to the one thing that it's saying.)
b. point 2
c. point 3 or maybe counter-point
II. next topic
etc

The reason that the WSJ is so great is that articles in there are usually not as well structured as GMAT passages. Forcing yourself to structure their points will make it incredibly easy to do the same thing on the GMAT, even with the most technical passages.

In regards to the other advice in this thread, it's all good. Saga, in particular, is very correct in noting that the 700+ level questions in RC and CR are about deeper meaning. The easiest way to uncover that meaning is to take notes on all the passages you read. For me personally, I usually don't even refer back to those notes. Just the process of taking the notes will ingrain that info. When a problem is very difficult, the notes almost always uncover the answer. Arun is also clearly correct. That is the easiest part though. Just read a lot and you'll get better at context.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 14:41
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Hi, I would be happy to chime in.

First of all, completely agree with GMATSaga. Kudos to you.

There are 3 key ways in which we differ from Knewton:

1. Focus on Non-Natives: The reason we exist is to help non-natives excel on GMAT Verbal. Since non-natives need to learn a lot more, our coverage of topics is a more in-depth than that of other test prep companies. That is why we offer 35+ hrs. of live sessions on verbal, whereas most other test prep companies devote less than 15 or fewer hrs. We also continue to refresh our content periodically; for example we recently launched 4 new concepts on As vs Like (about 1.5 hrs of content, 35 new questions). Knewton on the other hand does not offer live sessions any more.

2. Quality of content: All our content is extremely high quality. We make all the questions ourselves and we spend a lot of time doing so. Hence, these questions are not simply a re-wording of the official questions but really test your understanding. Check our our free trial to experience the same.

3. Verbal Score improvement Guarantee: E-GMAT is probably the only company to offer a 4 point Verbal Score Improvement Guarantee. Basically this means that if you don't score 39 or higher on your exam, you get your money back.

You can also check this page out for more details. We offer a very generous free trial.I would recommend that you take the free trial and see if the course makes sense for you.

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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 21:57
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mnuma87 wrote:
Arun – I would say the answer is B. I eliminated D&E because they both sounded awkward and C changed the meaning. I was between A&B, but I thought B sounded better. What is the correct approach to this problem? Also, what do you suggest I can do to follow Saga’s advice?


QED! Its the wrong answer! Remember there is no rule which says you cannot change the "intended meaning" of the original answer choice. If the OA is non-sensical then GMAT *expects* you to change it.

B incorrectly says "As the former president" i.e. by virtue of being the former president he wielded the power. Duh!

C correctly says "As the president" and goes onto add that "he wielded the power" - a clear indication that he no longer wields it!

Think about it - we would say:

"As a former President, Abdul Kalam enjoys Z+ category protection" means he STILL enjoys Z+ protection by virtue of being the former president. Also maybe that time he had Z++ protection and not necessarily Z+.

"As a President, Abdul Kalam enjoyed Z+ category protection", means he no longer enjoys the same privilege but did so only while he was the president.

This is GMAT 700+ for you! The right answer will not have you scurrying for the grammar books. The right answer will bring a smile to your face - at having understand the "logic" and not "grammar" :-D

Saga - is essentially saying the same point. The very fact you need to ask it from others means you are missing the main point :) The answer doesn't involve you to read more books (I really wouldn't waste time reading WSJ - its not going to do much at this point) but requires you apply yourself in the context that is presented.

HTH,

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Last edited by arun@crackverbal on 07 Jun 2012, 22:26, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 22:09
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vandygrad11 wrote:
Yeah, I agree with arun. Context is far more important in the 700+ level questions that in the lower difficulty ranges. In fact, context is so important that it's often quicker to solve 700+ level questions than lower difficulty ranges because of obvious meaning changes.


Spot on. I noticed that for 700-level questions POE becomes "rather" obsolete.

Once you accept this fact you will be able to tell yourself that the quantitative and verbal parts of the GMAT are tightly integrated.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 22:18
gmatsaga wrote:
vandygrad11 wrote:
Yeah, I agree with arun. Context is far more important in the 700+ level questions that in the lower difficulty ranges. In fact, context is so important that it's often quicker to solve 700+ level questions than lower difficulty ranges because of obvious meaning changes.


Spot on. I noticed that for 700-level questions POE becomes "rather" obsolete.

Once you accept this fact you will be able to tell yourself that the quantitative and verbal parts of the GMAT are tightly integrated.



Awesome! Best piece of 2-line advice I have seen! :)

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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 07 Jun 2012, 22:20
mnuma87 wrote:
Wow I was not expecting so many helpful suggestions, thanks a lot!

GMATSAGA – Do you have suggestions to work on that? Several people agree with you, but I am a bit confused as to what I can do to improve on that.

Thanks again!!!


Well I think everyone needs to first master the "formulaic" approach to sentence correction. The formulaic approach goes like:

I. What's the subject of the sentence?
II. Does it agree (in number) with the verb?
III. Are there any pronouns?
IV. Where are its/their antecedents?
V. Are there objects being compared?
VI. Are the elements being compared parallel?

In essence the modus operandi (method of operation) is:
I. SV Agreement
II. Pronouns
III. Parallelism (arguably the favorite topic of the folks in GMAC)
IV. on and on and on

See, this strategy will take you to stratosphere. But if you want to flap your arms in GMAT space you have to focus on the meaning. I think the poster above me gave a very good 700-level question. I solved it in less than 30 seconds, totally abandoning the modus operandi.

Always focus on the meaning. Always ask yourself, "What the hell are you trying to say?!"
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 08 Jun 2012, 09:54
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I never use POE.

Typically for CR, one should be able to answer the question before the selection is even given. Otherwise, everything becomes quite ambiguous afterwards. Same goes for SC.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2012, 13:46
Read the newspaper every day. It can result in a much greater improvement than you may expect.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2012, 15:44
Wow glad to find my "mirror-image". :) Let's shake hands.

Yeah, I used to focus a lot on pre-phrase (or called pre-thinking) in CR and SC, trying to predict the right answer. Many times I found the correct choice was like automatically jumping out, and in this way I saved precious time by not painstakingly going through the other choices. But Ron said that this was not a good way, because a lot of times it's impossible to predict the correct answer - I agree, sometimes I missed the correct answer simply because it was so unexpected that failed to catch my eye on a first glance.

So how can we do? It seems a trade-off between pre-thinking and being open-minded (getting ready for unexpected correct answers).

Nice discussion everyone. I'd be happy to hear your input.

heintzst wrote:
I never use POE.

Typically for CR, one should be able to answer the question before the selection is even given. Otherwise, everything becomes quite ambiguous afterwards. Same goes for SC.
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2012, 16:02
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Regarding the SC question that Arun brought up, I got a similar question in my Prep2 Practice Exam. The following link has the question and in-depth analysis from Stacey.
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2012/04/20/meaning-is-mean-a-gmatprep-sentence-correction-problem/

well, I agree that grab the meaning is important for anyone aiming at above-40 in verbal. But for us non-native speakers, it would be hard without extensive language exposure.
In my view, language is used by native speakers as a mean to express their thoughts, but by non-native speakers as a subject for study. This distinction matters a lot, when it comes down to approach a GMAT SC question. So, I agree that reading english (wsj/economist/nyt/...) on a daily basis is an essence for non-native speakers, because only by that mean can we INSTINCTIVELY (as our 2nd nature) grab the meaning of language .
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2012, 17:46
thulsy wrote:
Regarding the SC question that Arun brought up, I got a similar question in my Prep2 Practice Exam. The following link has the question and in-depth analysis from Stacey.
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2012/04/20/meaning-is-mean-a-gmatprep-sentence-correction-problem/

well, I agree that grab the meaning is important for anyone aiming at above-40 in verbal. But for us non-native speakers, it would be hard without extensive language exposure.
In my view, language is used by native speakers as a mean to express their thoughts, but by non-native speakers as a subject for study. This distinction matters a lot, when it comes down to approach a GMAT SC question. So, I agree that reading english (wsj/economist/nyt/...) on a daily basis is an essence for non-native speakers, because only by that mean can we INSTINCTIVELY (as our 2nd nature) grab the meaning of language .



This is indeed true. As a matter of fact, I am also a non-native speaker. I'm from the Philippines. However, all top universities here in the country use English as their medium of language. Actually, a lot of companies are setting up their back-office operations here in the country because of the country's stellar English literacy. :)
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Re: How to improve verbal to 40+? [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2012, 10:45
I took the last two weeks to give myself a break from the GMAT and plan to start studying again very soon. I started to read a lot more than I was before all of your suggestions, but I am still not sure how to prepare for the second set of suggestions. How do you suggest I can prepare for "meaning" questions? In the problem posted by Arun above how did you know you were looking at a problem that could be solved by just looking at the meaning of each sentence?

What did you do to improve on this 700+ skill? Also, besides reading how did everyone prepare for RC?

Thanks again!
Re: How to improve verbal to 40+?   [#permalink] 18 Jun 2012, 10:45
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