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"Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT

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GMAT Study Plan for Verbal

Suggest study time:
1.5-2 months for 2-3 hrs 5 days a week
Expected Verbal Score: V35+
Level of commitment: high (slightly above girlfriend/boyfriend)
Synopsis: Combine 3 things:
1. Methodically cover each area without jumping around
2. Review previous day's lesson & your mistakes
3. Read 1,000-2,000 pages of good quality fiction books

Success Factors

Have you ever created a report or a presentation that you were truly proud of? Maybe it was in the 7th grade or in college. Something that you felt you could impress someone with or perhaps a project that had an amazing level of attention to detail? It did not have to be appreciated or recognized but if anyone looked at it, they saw that a lot of work, effort, time, and love was put into it. Think of that - now you must do the same for the verbal section of the GMAT if you are serious about getting a solid verbal score.

Without commitment/obsession/love for the GMAT, it will be hard to achieve a serious improvement. Even before we get started with this plan, there are certain success factors (study habits) that must followed for all of these recommendations to work. Your success will be greatly determined by how much you are willing to follow these:
• Do not rush
• Spend the good hours of the day to study for the GMAT - if you study at night, on the train, or between TV shows, your learning will be sloppy and results will be inconsistent
• You must be methodical - if you read about the sequence of tenses and you have no idea what it is and it is not covered in your SC book - you must learn it elsewhere
• Make notes (not in the book since that's a lazy ass way that does not work. Actually do not write anything in the book). If you see something valuable/new - write it out in your notebook

Preface

Before you start, make sure you have taken a diagnostic test and my suggestion is taking a GMAT Prep. Many believe that you waste a very valuable test by taking it early (these are the real gmat test questions and this is the most accurate predictor of your score). However, I would still suggest you do (here is why I think you are not wasting it). If you are not convinced, feel free to take any other one and use gmat score calculator to adjust.
Start with area you are most comfortable with: CR, RC, or SC

Part 1: Sentence Correction (SC)

SC was the easiest section for me, partially because I had to study English grammar for another test (English Language proficiency test similar to TOEFL), and I thought SC was the most clear-cut section. SC is based on rules and assuming you know the rules it is very clear which answer option is right - it is not something subjective such as CR or RC, which requires logic/processing. The key to SC was learning all the rules (which were finite) and once I knew most of them, answering SC's was easy. (not sure if you caught this, but in the last 2 sentences I switched from past to present and back to the past tense. Not something traditionally considered correct and I hope you caught it; if not - you will have to train your ear. More on that later).

1. Use one of the following books (MGMAT SC, PowerScore SC, or VeritasPrep SC) to study for SC and to nail down the strategy. MGMAT SC and PowerScore SC are very similar in terms of content/strategies and it is usually not recommended to get both. If you want additional help you can get VeritasPrep SC or Kaplan Verbal Workbook. (I have studied using Kaplan Verbal Workbook and found their strategies solid and effective but MGMAT/Powerscore/VeritasPrep provide more in-depth coverage).
2. Extra Step: 1-3 extra weeks
If you are not a native speaker, before you start tackling SC, you should get a good grip on English Grammar. I would suggest using the best & free GMAT grammar book - GMAT Club's Grammar Book. However, you are welcome to use any other resources you can find such as MGMAT Verbal Foundations, Doing Grammar, Kaplan Verbal Foundations & notes scattered across this forum (most prominent are listed at the bottom of this section).
4. Create notes & error log (computer notes work great and you can download an error log here but so do notebooks). Write out the following items:
1. List of all questions you got wrong along with reasons why (you will use this list as your "custom exercise list"
2. Every trap you encounter (there are not that many for SC; more relevant for other sections)
3. Important items such as new rules and new words you may not be familiar with
4. Your SC checklist. When you have gone though the underlined part of the sentence and nothing seems wrong or worse two options seems correct you have two choices: 1) read through others and find differences and see if those differences were incorrect, thus possibly conclude that "A" was the correct answer or 2) Run through a check-list of items you may have forgotten to check (the less frequent rules) such as passive voice, vague pronouns, illogical construction, etc (sorry I don't have my own list anymore). I found it to be much faster to mentally run through this one (takes me 10 seconds) and see that nothing is wrong with the sentence than the first approach. You can build this list from your error log. Here is a great example of an SC Checklist: sc-strategies-checklist-107121.html
5. SC Resources:
GMAT Grammar Book - Free
Compilation of 20 questions on As/Like
Get better at SC with videos
Free GMAT Pill Sentence Correction Videos

Part 2: Critical Reasoning (CR)

The only reason CR is part 2 is because it was the second easiest topic (this may come in a different order for you).

1. Step 1: Get the right tools & materials (See the latest verbal book reviews) and don't try to save $5 on$200,000 degree. Most feel that the PowerScpre CR is the best book out there (it is actually a complete replica of the LSAT book by PowerScore, just without some of the LSAT-unique sections). The other two books you may want to consider are the MGMAT CR and Veritas Prep CR (2 books actually).
2. Alternative Materials: Another alternative is the Kaplan Verbal Workbook (not as detailed as the other book options and probably does not fit the description of "ultimate" but it has solid info and strategies in it, just maybe a tad short but works very well if you are short on time. Same applies to the PowerScore Verbal Bible - a generally unknown book.
3. Optional Step: something that worked for me was treating CR as a game. You may think it is sick (and it probably is) but it sure helps make GMAT more fun. My favorite question type was Assumption questions - it was a world I never knew existed and I made a habit of trying to pin down the assumption an author made in a magazine, book, or anything else I read. I would also read through GMAT questions I have done in the past (not assumption questions) and would still try to pin down the assumption. It was a game, it was fun, and I got very good with assumptions, which not only helps with CR but is also very valuable when you have to prove your point or build an argument
4. There are a lot of resources out there, including what we have in the CR forum. My suggestion would be that you give all of these resources a fair chance but don't waste your time on them. Spend 80% of your time on the book you have selected to be your CR guide.
5. You may have built your confidence on the Math section and SC but now comes the time that requires you to be humble and follow instructions - for the CR and RC sections, it is absolutely critical that you follow the strategy in the book exactly as it is laid out. You may disagree, you may feel that reading the question first is a waste of time or perhaps trying to answer the question in your own words is a waste of time but you will be proven wrong. You can take it from me or find out yourself - feel free to choose. My suggestion is that you follow strategy/directions exactly as they are.
6. The most helpful exercise on the CR for me (and a real eye opener) was answering the question without reading the choices first. You must be able to do this. If you can't do it, don't even bother moving along. You must answer every CR question in your own words first - that's the best and only strategy you can depend on to work for you and to save you time.
7. More important than for any other question type is to train your ear with the official questions before you take the exam. You are welcome to use any book you want, but it is important that you go through a good set of questions from the Official Guide or GMAT Prep at the final stage. Many test providers are good at matching official questions in math or SC but they have the hardest time imitating the logic behind the official questions, and so they are always a little bit off. They are great for practice but you need to finetune your ear before the test.

8. CR Resources:
CR for beginners
Collection of CR tips
CR Video Lessons
Free GMAT Pill Critical Reasoning Videos

1. There are 2 main books for RC: Manhattan GMAT RC and Veritas Prep RC. Both are fairly skinny
2. Alternative Materials: both of the mentioned above books that are generally shorter but are not as detailed either: Kaplan Verbal Workbook and PowerScore Verbal Bible.
3. Polish your strategy (RC strategies are discussed here)
5. Learn to read text from the author perspective - GMAT does not care about details or facts. That's there to throw you off and keep your mind off the main element - the reason and purpose of the passage/paragraph/sentence. When you read a passage you may see a lot of facts, like leaves on a tree, but the key is to see the purpose behind it, that's similar to seeing the branches and the tree trunk that's holding those leaves up. You must learn how to see through the leaves even if you may not see the branches behind them. Ask why the author put this paragraph, why here, what is the tone, which direction does it go, and will it reverse at the end?

6. RC Resources:
GMAT Club's RC strategy discussion
Learn RC through videos
Free GMAT Pill Reading Comprehension Videos

General Tips

Read through this Study Plan too for the general idea
Make sure you have an overall strategy for timing and such (Reference: Timing Strategies on the GMAT)

Hot Topics for Verbal Section

1. Does GMAT discriminate against non-native speakers?

Verbal Resources:

Looking for company to fight Verbal?
Verbal Books
All Verbal Resources
Recommended Fiction List
GMAT Idioms
GMAT Vocabulary - international students only; keep in mind that learning words similar to GRE has no value for the GMAT (scientifically proven by GMAC)
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Last edited by bb on 30 Sep 2011, 14:21, edited 28 times in total.
 Manhattan GMAT Discount Codes Veritas Prep GMAT Discount Codes Optimus Prep Discount Codes
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Re: "Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT [#permalink]

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18 Jul 2011, 15:00
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LifeChanger wrote:
Thanks bb..i have 40days to go for my G-Day..my present verbal score is around 34..hope to reach the "40" mark..
CR- "think of all the possible cases before looking at the options";i reckon your speed and accuracy might have improved as a result of this strategy. Let me try it out
RC- i know i won't be able to read 1000-2000 pages, but i have to find an another way to get out of RC crisis

you will be surprised how fast you can read a book you are interested in!
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Re: "Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT [#permalink]

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19 Jul 2012, 12:11
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What was your real exam experience in terms of Q difficulty?

I had practiced and studied from many resources but now i am only using Q's from Official resources such as OG12/13, QR/VR 1 and 2, and QP1 to formalize my D-Day Game Plan . People say that the real exam Q's are tougher than the official resources.
Am i making a mistake or its completely ok to do so?

I tried few of the tough problems (as per my error log) from VR 2 and OG12 again.
In CR and RC, I found that without taking abbreviated notes, i can not solve the Q's with confidence. The good part of the story is that with abbreviated notes my accuracy is close to 100%. It is so ironic is that i resisted taking notes until recently
But the bad part of the story is that i am taking around ~ 2 minutes (plus minus 15 seconds) to solve a CR Q.

In case of RC, the reading timing is ~4 minutes with 30 seconds plus minus variation. But after that i take ~1 minute 15 seconds with 15 second plus minus variation and with close to 100% accuracy. This timing data is for hard problems from QP1, OG12/13 etc.

I am kind of planning to take notes and will try the same in my test this weekend.
Is it a good idea to rely on notes? Is it practical possible in real exam to take notes in CR and RC?

I would love to use Bunnel's strategy mentioned but the SC timing is beyond my capabilities for sure
My SC time is around ~100+ seconds. I am yet to get the final data for accuracy in SC as its varying from 60-70% in hard problems and around 90% in easy and medium problems.

I am scoring in 48ish range in Quant and my target score is 710-720.
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Re: "Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT [#permalink]

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21 Sep 2013, 21:04
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Dear bb,

I have 5 weeks for my latest GMAT attempt. Quants have been improving exponentially, but the verbal seems to be stuck. I always considered my verbal skills to be above average, and with a little practice would see me through. But looks like I was wrong and not just once. I was frantically looking for a plan to help me improve my skills and I stumbled upon this plan . It is very very elaborate and I am hoping that it will help me obtain the result I am hoping

Thanks a lot for your help
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01 Aug 2010, 18:16
BB, I would love if you give solid study plan specially for RC as you have given for SC.

So, while writing RC section please keep this in mind that RC troubles non-natives!
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17 Aug 2010, 05:39
Thanks bb!
SC is by far my weakest part of the GMAT and this is a great start.
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25 Aug 2010, 23:45
Hello bb,

Thanks for such a wonderful thread, +1 Kudos to you.

I need one advise from you. Last week I gave real GMAT and scored 470(Q32, V19). I have read a number of topics here regarding how to improve verbal score.

I am targeting 700+ ,considering the fact I follow all advise religiously and can devote 100% time and dedication , will it be wiser approach to take a break and re-take so that I can apply in R1 .

Best Regards,
PS
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26 Aug 2010, 00:01
I am also having same doubt as the doubt of Gurpreet. facing similar problem with Vocab. Currently i look for words that i don't understand in an online Dictionary , note them and their meaning & synonyms. But this process takes a lot of time.

Thanks Gurpreet for asking this Q.
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26 Aug 2010, 01:04
bb you are ROCKSTAR...just wanna say WOW! you know...my confi spiked up just by reading this ultimate plan. Now is the time to show the world that my verbal isn't that weak. Here i go...
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26 Aug 2010, 01:06
and i think you're the only person i saw in this forum whose kudos(taken) is more than kudos(given). that shows your contribution.
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26 Aug 2010, 05:09
Thanks bb..
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26 Aug 2010, 10:04
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26 Aug 2010, 10:18
good posting!! thanks!
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26 Aug 2010, 12:41
you did a great job
wish you best of luck bb
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26 Aug 2010, 15:24
Hi bb, I am new to the GMAT Club and putting together my own Study Plan right now. I have looked at your GMAT study plan for novices under the Study plan option. But this Verbal Study plan is amazing. And exactly what I needed. I am glad that GMATClub exists and allows people to share this knowledge with each other. My verbal section needs more work so I will be starting with Verbal first rather than quantitative.
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Re: "Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT [#permalink]

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28 Aug 2010, 12:35
bb wrote:
Thank you everyone. However, Bunuel is ahead of me in Kudos. Take a look: members/member-73391.html

Bunuel has 1096 Kudos and gave away 77 Kudos
He also has "only" 2K posts compared to my 6K

You can not compare real and complex numbers.
Roles are quite different. But I must say- his explanations are too good and they attracts a lot of kudos. Also the work he has done on gmatclub math book is really marvelous.

his given/take ratio is too low.
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08 Sep 2010, 21:23
Thanks bb and the gmat club for this post and the great forum! This post is timely as I in the process of getting my GMAT study plan put together!
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09 Sep 2010, 01:25
bb wrote:
Thank you everyone. However, Bunuel is ahead of me in Kudos. Take a look: members/member-73391.html

Bunuel has 1096 Kudos and gave away 77 Kudos
He also has "only" 2K posts compared to my 6K

Just wondering how much time you people spend online on gmatclub???

bb as a founder,i think u 'll be doing lot of other stuff also like marketing with test prep firms(kaplan,knewton etc),overseeing daily operation of gmatclub...etc
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12 Sep 2010, 11:30
Huuff howcome i missed this link thanx a lot BB ..really gonaa stick with it!!
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Re: "Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT [#permalink]

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30 Sep 2010, 23:09
Hi bb thanks for the great post.

I wrote a practise test and got V27. I am yet to start my verbal preparation. What score should I target? I have about 2 monts of time and I can spend close to 12 hours per week.
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02 Oct 2010, 23:55
PranavChamp wrote:
bb wrote:
Thank you everyone. However, Bunuel is ahead of me in Kudos. Take a look: members/member-73391.html

Bunuel has 1096 Kudos and gave away 77 Kudos
He also has "only" 2K posts compared to my 6K

Just wondering how much time you people spend online on gmatclub???

bb as a founder,i think u 'll be doing lot of other stuff also like marketing with test prep firms(kaplan,knewton etc),overseeing daily operation of gmatclub...etc

I have a day job too (this is not my job)
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Re: "Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT   [#permalink] 02 Oct 2010, 23:55

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