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From V46 to V47 to V40 to V42: my GMAT Verbal Journey (with ESRs)

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Status: Professional GMAT Tutor
Affiliations: AB, cum laude, Harvard University (Class of '02)
Joined: 10 Jul 2015
Posts: 671
Location: United States (CA)
Age: 38
GMAT 1: 770 Q47 V48
GMAT 2: 730 Q44 V47
GMAT 3: 750 Q50 V42
GRE 1: Q168 V169
WE: Education (Education)
From V46 to V47 to V40 to V42: my GMAT Verbal Journey (with ESRs)  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2017, 15:23
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Also see: From Q42 to Q44 to Q46 to Q50: my GMAT Quant Journey (with ESRs)

I am a Harvard grad and American GMAT tutor based in San Diego, and I take the GMAT regularly to stay sharp and up-to-date. I have always been naturally talented at Verbal--I scored V48 (99%) on my first attempt in 2012, which helped propel me to a composite score of 770.

I've taken the GMAT 5 times now, and it turns out that my first time was my best Verbal performance thus far: since then I've scored 46 (99%), 47 (99%), 40 (91%) and 42 (96%). Obviously those last 4 scores are solid, too, but nobody likes backsliding, and I won't be satisfied until I earn a perfect 51. I will say, however, that I have learned a great deal about the GMAT Verbal algorithm by studying my ESRs from each attempt, whether or not I actually improved each time.

It appears, for example, that getting a couple of questions wrong at the beginning of the Verbal section can actually be a good thing. Why? Because it prevents you from seeing too many of the type of "extra hard" questions that are reserved for top scorers. I was served some of these questions on my most recent attempt, when I answered all of the first 15 questions correctly, and then the test served me some super-difficult, amazingly complex questions that slowed me down and threw me off my game.

Since my first official GMAT was over 5 years ago, there is no ESR available. However, I do have ESRs for the final 4, which I would like to share with you today, along with examples of a V51 and V48 ESR (not mine). I imagine that these ESRs will be helpful to many of you in formulating your pacing strategies.


A perfect score of 51/51 on Verbal occurs when you answer all 30 counted questions correctly. Interestingly, you will notice that the questions never reach a very high level of overall difficulty, at least according to GMAC.


Here is an ESR from a student who scored V48 with only 1 counted question wrong (97% accuracy), which is also what I presume happened on my first GMAT Verbal section. Since this student didn't get the question wrong until the final quarter of questions, it suggests that V48 is the highest score you can earn without answering all 30 counted questions correctly.


On attempt #2, I only answered 3 questions wrong out of the 30 counted questions (90% accuracy). Getting a couple of questions wrong toward the middle of the test seemed to insulate me from the very hardest questions in the final quarter.


On attempt #3, my score jumped up by a point and I scored 99% for the 3rd straight time. I got only 2 questions wrong--both in the first quarter, and perhaps both careless, given the average difficulty level indicated--and answered all of the final 22 questions correctly (93% accuracy), thanks to what I perceived to be a relatively easy batch of questions in the final three quarters. This attempt in particular shows that it's OK to get a couple of Verbal questions wrong at the beginning of the test!


Perhaps I got a little overconfident in my Verbal abilities on attempt #4. This time I learned that even smarty-pants GMAT tutors can mess up and run out of time. I was obviously doing great (only 3 wrong out of the first 23 questions), but then I answered 4 of the final 8 questions wrong thanks to bad time management, for a total of 7 questions wrong (77% accuracy).


On my most recent attempt, I was halfway to a perfect score (all of the first 15 questions correct) when the GMAT decided to throw some extremely challenging (although the difficulty level is only indicated as "medium high") CR and RC questions my way, which slowed me down and evidently tripped me up, thus lowering my score. In the end, I got 5 questions wrong out of 30 (83% accuracy).

Here is a summary of what I have learned so far from my own Verbal ESRs, and those of others, in terms of questions wrong and score conversions:

51 = 0 wrong out of the 41 Verbal questions.
48 = 1 wrong
47 = 2 or 3 wrong
46 = 3 wrong
42 = 5 wrong
40 = 7-10 wrong
35 = as few as 8 wrong or as many as 12 wrong, depending on where you get them wrong (see below)


Wish me luck in eventually earning a perfect V51.

Happy studies,


Harvard grad and 99% GMAT scorer, offering expert, private GMAT tutoring and coaching worldwide since 2002.

One of the only known humans to have taken the GMAT 5 times and scored in the 700s every time (700, 710, 730, 750, 770), including verified section scores of Q50 / V47, as well as personal bests of 8/8 IR (2 times), 6/6 AWA (4 times), 50/51Q and 48/51V (1 question wrong).

You can download my official test-taker score report (all scores within the last 5 years) directly from the Pearson Vue website: Date of Birth: 09 December 1979.

GMAT Action Plan and Free E-Book - McElroy Tutoring

Contact: (I do not respond to PMs on GMAT Club.)

...or find me on Reddit:

GMAT Club Bot
From V46 to V47 to V40 to V42: my GMAT Verbal Journey (with ESRs) &nbs [#permalink] 04 Dec 2017, 15:23
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