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How to improve your verbal score

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How to improve your verbal score  [#permalink]

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How to improve your Verbal GMAT Score. This post is designed to compliment this one: how-to-improve-verbal-from-v30-to-v40-142361.html

There are 2 aspects of preparing for the GMAT test, the academic preparation and the psychological preparation. I shall discuss each of these aspects separately.

A. ACADEMIC PREPARATION

Stage 1. Make a MENTAL MAP of the basic rules

Make yourself well-conversant with any one good strategy guide and make a mental map of all the rules therein.

What is a mental map? Well, first prepare a summary of all the rules, handwritten or typed in, in one place. Refer to those pages (if handwritten) or that word document (if typed in) so many times that you have a clear mental image of the rules. Hand-written maps seem to work better: writing by hand allows the brain to receive feedback from a person’s motor actions, and this specific feedback leaves a motor memory in the sensori-motor part of the brain, helping the person retain information better. Whichever method you adopt, ensure that your familiarity should be to such level that you are able to instantly recollect, on which page and in which part of the page any particular rule is available. This ability is important for instant retrieval of information when you are taking the test. Keep the map as simple as you can. Simpler the map, better you can retain it in your brain, and faster you can retrieve information when you need during the test.

I prepared from the Manhattan strategy guides and my mental map from one of the Sentence Correction chapters (Modifiers) looked somewhat like the sample below:

Sample mental maps

SC sample mental map (MGMAT SC strategy guide - Chapter 6: Modifiers)

  1. Adjectives and Adverbs:
    • Linking verbs are often followed by adjectives, which modify the noun, not the verb.
    • Difference between: adj + adj + noun (both adjectives modify the noun) vs adv+adj+noun ( the adv modifies adj, which in turn modifies the noun)

  2. Types of Noun Modifiers:
    • Adjective
    • Prep
    • Past participle
    • Present participle
    • Relative pronoun
    • Another noun
    • Position of a modifier:
    • Touch rule
    • Dangling modifiers

  3. Possessive:
    • A noun modifier cannot modify a possessive ( as a pronoun cannot have a possessive antecedent):
    • Abstract nouns….touch rules apply to them as well

  4. Noun modifier with relative pronoun:
    • Who (subject), whom (object) for people…. Which for things. That cannot be used for people.
    • Whose: people or thing.
    • Which and whom may follow preposition.
    • That or whom may be dropped when the modified noun is the object of the modifying clause.
    • Where for place…for metaphorical place..use ‘in which’
    • When or ‘in which’ for time.

  5. Essential and non-essential modifiers:
    • Put COMMAS between NON-ESSENTIAL modifiers and their nouns.
    • Put NO COMMAS between ESSENTIAL modifiers and their nouns.
    • Use WHICH (and commas) if the modifier is non-essential.
    • Use THAT (and no commas) if the modifier is essential.

  6. Verb Modifiers:
    • Adverb
    • Preposition
    • Subordinator


    Modifiers that can refer to the subject or the verb:
    • Present participle ( comma before and after)
    • Preposition + gerund (comma if before)
    • Infinitive (comma if before) – infinitives of purpose can be used without a subject in passive voice.

    Verb modifiers can be used more freely but it should be clear which verb it modifies.

  7. ‘Which ‘ vs ‘-ing’
    • Use WHICH only to refer to the noun immediately preceding it—never to refer to an entire clause.
    • -ing is very flexible…may modify noun, or verb or an entire clause.


CR sample mental map (Random mixed notes from Kaplan GMAT 800 and Manhattan CR strategy guide)

  1. A General Structure: A and B happens together. Conclusion - A causes B

    Type a. Weakening type problems: statement B causes A weakens the above structure

    Example of type a: verbal review 2nd Ed. Q#46 (A =unhappy marriage, B = mismatched sleeping cycle)

    Type b. Assumption type problems: statement B does not cause A is an assumption in the above structure.

    Example 1 of type b:
    A= I go to play
    B= I am happy
    Conclude: I go to play, therefore I am happy.; i.e., My playing has made me happy is concluded.
    Assumption: I am happy , therefore I go to play.. is NOT true; i.e. My happiness has not caused me to go to play is assumed.

    Example 2 of type b: OG verbal review 2nd Ed. Q#6
    A = low immune system
    B = mental illness
    Conclude: low immune system, therefore mental illness
    Assumed: mental illness, therefore low immune system....is NOT true; i.e. mental illness does not cause low immune system is the correct option.

  2. Weakening: Statement A causes B weakens conclusion C causes B (something else causes B)
    Example: verbal review 2nd Ed. Q#16 (A = bad weather, B = delay, C =fewer landing slot)

  3. Inference: Given: A implies B. Cannot conclude: B implies A. Can conclude: NOT B implies NOT A.

  4. Describe Role: Steps to solve any DR problem:

    Step a. Mark each sentence with letters P (premise), C (conclusion), XP (counter-premise), XC (counter conclusion) or B (background).
    Step b. Determine the letter combination of the bold-lettered sentences
    Step c. Take each answer choice at a time and determine combination letters
    Step d. The combinations in b and correct option in c above should match.

    Example: OG 13th Ed. Q#116
    Step a.
    Age ↑, creativity ↓….. XC
    Creative work < 40……… XP
    Scientists late entry ,creative work >40 ….. P ( 1st bold-faced sentence)
    Scientists early entry, long time,so burned up new ideas…. C (2nd bold-faced sentence)
    Step b.
    Letter combo for bold-faced sentence: P,C
    Step c.
    Answer choices:
    Option(A): XP,XC
    Option (B): XC, C
    Option (C): XP, XC
    Option (D): XP, P
    Option (E): P,C
    Step d.
    Correct answer E


RC sample mental map (MGMAT RC strategy guide - Chapter 5: The seven strategies)

  1. General questions: main idea, organization etc….. do not re-read the passage..dive straight into answer choices and start eliminating….use your skeletal notes and keep ‘the point’ in mind…… If stuck between 2 close answers, use numbering system (2 points if the choice relates to first para, 1 for subsequent)

  2. Specific questions: do not read the answer choices, go to the passage directly…identify key words and search for it or its synonym in the passage…bring back a few lines from the passage as ‘mantra’ and eliminate the wring choices using the ‘mantra’.

  3. Strategies:
    a. Justify every word in the answer choice. (a single word not relevant to the passage is a wrong choice)
    b. Avoid extreme word in general. ( all, never)
    c. Infer as little as possible…. “the passage suggests” = “ the passage says a little differently” ..….avoid long logical steps to infer, the inferences are very simple in general.

  4. Preview the first question.


End of sample mental maps.


Stage 2. Practice OG problems and monitor your progress

After you finish developing the mental maps chapter-wise for all the three sections, SC, CR and RC, start working out problems from OG and Verbal review. I tried to solve 30-40 problems daily from the 3 sections altogether. You should maintain a performance log and an error log during this stage.


Performance log:
Maintain a performance log to monitor your daily progress. You may refer to a sample performance log in the file attached to this post below.
Attachment:
2016-02-10_1908.png
2016-02-10_1908.png [ 14.02 KiB | Viewed 60985 times ]



ErrorLog:
Apart from maintaining a performance log, maintain an error log. Keep track of all the errors you make while solving the OG problems. A sample error log may look somewhat like below:


Sample Error Log:
Diagnostic test (13th review):

  • 44. (note): seldom more than 40 feet deep OR 12 feet wide…… “not A OR B” is generally correct.. “not A and B means”…any condition which is not A and B simultaneously….
    Not (A or B) = not A and not B.. (AU B)’ = A’ ∩ B’
    Not (A and B) = not A or not B.. (A∩B)’ = A’U B’
    Seldom more than 40 feet deep OR 12 feet wide = mostly less than 40 feet deep and 12 feet wide.
    Seldom more than 40 feet deep AND 12 feet wide = mostly less than 40 feet deep (but could be more than 12 feet wide) or less than 12 feet wide ( but could be more than 40 feet deep)…this meaning is not the intended one.
  • 49. Chose B..the mistake is the verb ‘include’ is in present tense and should be in past, verb tense mix-up…..also modifiers on both sides of the noun is awkward.
    C is the correct answer….the participial phrase ’training…’ correctly modifies the subject of the preceding clause.
  • 50. Chose C… “way for” is wrong, antecedent of ‘it’ is not clear..…..eliminated A because judged “ that protect copyright…” wrongly modifies “internet”….however considering that all other choices are wrong..it is accepted since a modifier may sometimes modify a noun slightly far from them separated by another essential modifier. ( “way” separated by “ of distributing songs on the internet”)…correct answer is A. will protect and (will) foil…will not required in the second item for parallelism.


Stage 3. Solve the GMATprep question pack, solve the problems from OG error log again and simultaneously take full length mock tests.

At this stage of your preparation, you will need to maintain a cycle of practicing problems, solving the problems of your error log again and taking full-length tests. Following could be a cycle that you will follow:

Day 1: GMATprep question pack 30 verbal problems (maintain error log)
Day 2: GMATprep question pack 20 verbal problems (maintain error log), 10 problems from your OG error log (prepared in stage 2 above).
Day 3: Take full-length test

The distribution of the GMATprep question pack and OG error log problems depends on the number of problems available on the pack and on your error log.

For full-length mock tests, I would recommend that you select the following:

a. GMATprep exam pack 4 tests ( 2 free + 2 paid): difficulty level similar to GMAT test.
b. GMATclub tests: higher difficulty than GMAT. Attempting higher difficulty tests is mandatory to keep the string tight!
c. Manhattan tests: higher difficulty than GMAT.
d. Veritas prep tests: difficulty level similar to GMAT test.

The more number of times you repeat the above cycle, the better you are ready for a V40 (or even higher). I would suggest that you take at least 10 cycles (i.e. 10 full-length tests in a span of 30 days).

Stage 4. The last 3 days before the final GMAT test are critical.

DO NOT stress your brain during these 3 days. Casually scan through your GMATprep error log (prepared in stage 3 above). Sleep plenty.


B. PSYCHOLOGICAL PREPARATION

Equally (YES, EQUALLY) important is preparing yourself psychologically. Following are a few preparations / practices that will help in getting ready psychologically for the highly stressful final day.

  1. Set fire to your heart and feel the heat in your stomach: Yes, you need to feel the heat almost continuously. Prepare as though your life depends on GMAT (yes, it actually does). Clench your teeth and determine that 7xx is what you are destined for; do not hope, decide. “I hope to get 7xx”: no, this thought is weak. “I decide to get 7xx”: yes, this though will take you to 7xx.

  2. Stick to your plan: If you have planned your study schedule, stick to the plan. You may have an important meeting to attend at the office or may have to put in extra hours of work to complete a presentation or to meet a tender submission deadline, or you may have to take your wife for weekly shopping or drop your daughter for the dance class – come what may, do not deviate from your study plan. Make broader plans, weekly or even monthly plans, plans those are easier to stick to than to daily plans; but once your plan is frozen, you must not deviate.

  3. Eat brain food, live healthy: Ban junk food, eat a lot of salt-water fish and a variety of nuts and seeds, and drink a couple of cups of coffee every day. Exercise vigorously at least 4 days a week and sleep at least seven and a half hour daily. Maintain this routine throughout your preparation stage.

  4. Breath right: Conscious breathing helps improve concentration – practice paced breathing whenever you become conscious that you are not practicing and continue practicing till you are no longer conscious that you are practicing. Determine a pace suitable for yourself – I used to practice on ‘Inhale 4 second – Hold 2 second – Exhale 6 second – Hold 2 second’ cycle, about 4.3 breaths per minute. I was using an android app by the name ‘paced breathing’ to help me with the timing: whenever possible I had my earphones on with the paced breathing app running on my phone.

  5. Eat a lot of energy food on the test day: I had 8 Granola bars, 2 bananas and a 500 ml bottle of Gatorade for breakfast. During each break, I had 2 granola bars and half a bottle Gatorade, even though I did not feel hungry. I do not know how caffeine works since I did not have caffeine on the test day.

  6. Don’t let your nerves take over during the test: Into the 30th question in the quantitative section, my computer screen went blank!!! There was utter darkness, on the screen, and in my mind!!! I realized that I inadvertently touched the power button of the monitor while carrying out calculations on the scratchpad. I lost about 20 seconds, perhaps costing me one additional error in the quant section. However, now I have a valid consolation that I could not break the 51 threshold in quant section because of that 20-second black-out, even though my success rate in reaching Q51 in the mock tests was only 1 to 3.

Good luck !
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Re: How to improve your verbal score  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Mar 2016, 12:15
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Hi, My score is stuck at V38 after taking test three times. Is there any specific suggestion to improve the score?

I generally do well on RC more than 90th percentile...I thought CR is my weak but it has improved in last test but I have seen SC score go down.

Any help would be much appreciated.
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Re: How to improve your verbal score  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Apr 2016, 08:50
mjt wrote:
Hi, My score is stuck at V38 after taking test three times. Is there any specific suggestion to improve the score?

I generally do well on RC more than 90th percentile...I thought CR is my weak but it has improved in last test but I have seen SC score go down.

Any help would be much appreciated.


Among the 3 verbal sections, SC seemed to me comparatively easier to improve than CR and RC. SC deals with a more or less fixed set of rules, which ones needs to apply time and again. The key is to first summarize the rules in one's head and second call them in as and when required as swiftly as one can. Have you already made your own hand written summary of the SC rules?
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Re: How to improve your verbal score  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Sep 2016, 12:30
Hi Sayantan,

I sometimes get kind of "Messy" during LONG-RCs< especially if the passage is on Geography or Chemistry >.
Also,I somehow get lost while reading some Details described for a process in the passage< can be anything >.
Any tips to address this would be highly appreciated :)

Regards,
Abhishek Sinha

sayantanc2k wrote:
Updated the post with some additional tips on CR and RC sections.
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Re: How to improve your verbal score  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2016, 11:08
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abhishek03050 wrote:
Hi Sayantan,

I sometimes get kind of "Messy" during LONG-RCs< especially if the passage is on Geography or Chemistry >.
Also,I somehow get lost while reading some Details described for a process in the passage< can be anything >.
Any tips to address this would be highly appreciated :)

Regards,
Abhishek Sinha

sayantanc2k wrote:
Updated the post with some additional tips on CR and RC sections.


For me RC was the most difficult section to improve, and no tips worked. I just kept practicing, almost with a zen-like indifference - practice because you are supposed to practice: no deviations whatsoever.
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Re: How to improve your verbal score  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jan 2018, 05:40
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To throw in my 2 RC cents:

A.) Passage: The turning point of my RC score has been to understand how important it is to mentally stop reading after every 2-3 sentences. I can highly recommend to actually stop reading for 2-3 seconds and try to summarize in very simple terms what you just read and try to pre-think where the passage might go next. This habit alone will automatically push your attention level to the max. The necessary speed comes with practice.

B.) Answers: Be very well aware that the real enemy in RC is not your lack of understanding the passage, instead the little twists and turns in the answers are what will kill your score (you can disagree...). Learn to really eliminate each answer not only on a sentence level but on a word by word level. Even the last single letter of one specific word can make the answer incorrect. And it will not help you if all the other words are 100% in line with questions and passage.

Those two key points helped me to answer all RC questions correct in my last attempt (acc. to the ESR in an avg. of 2:03 min. per question - believe me I was surprised...). However, since I have many weak spots in other sections I am still hanging around here...

Keep A and B in mind - practice, practice, practice and you should see improvements pretty soon. Good Luck!
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Re: How to improve your verbal score  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Apr 2018, 21:21
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This thread has some of the most well thought out and well-constructed advice I have seen. Well done. Too often people focus just on the subject matter of GMAT preparation and not on habit forming. Much of where you get in the GMAT is determined by the grit you have in breaking through your old mental habits and forming the ones needed for the exam.

When I prepared for the Verbal section I tried to make my practice as 'formulaic' as possible because it is easier to practice when there is structure in place. For SC for example, I created a mental checklist of 4 things to check for in EVERY problem I saw:

1. Parallel Structure
2. Pronoun & Antecedent Agreement
3. Placement of Modifiers
4. Subject - Verb Agreeement

Then I studied each specifically in depth while building the consistent habit of scanning for these 4 things in each sentence correction question. In the end, after enough repetition, it becomes muscle memory. You can do it.

I have an open (Free) pdf here along with links to the sites I used to prepare: https://mindovergmat.com/courses/verbal-mastery/lectures/4864930

Sorry for the external link, it is easier for me than reformatting the whole thing. DM me if you want access to my broader courses.
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New post 26 Jan 2020, 02:20
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: How to improve your verbal score   [#permalink] 26 Jan 2020, 02:20

How to improve your verbal score

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