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What should I do with my verbal?

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Joined: 11 Jan 2018
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GMAT 1: 620 Q46 V30
GMAT 2: 640 Q48 V30
GMAT 3: 690 Q48 V36
GPA: 3.32
WE: Operations (Retail)
What should I do with my verbal?  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Sep 2018, 17:51
Hi everyone,

I just took my GMAT again today and ended up with 640 (Q48, V30, IR7). The first exam I took was back in March 2018 and scored 620 (Q46,V30,IR6). I studied for another two months and didn't see any improvement on verbal. I am waiting to get my ESR to see where my weakness is, but my weakness has always been SC and I've been focusing on studying verbal. I am not super happy, as I know I am capable of scoring upper 600s to low 700s based on my practice exams.

Quant:
Everything went well. I was very conscious of my timing and had a few questions that I knew I didn't know the answers so I made educated guesses and moved on to focus on questions that I can get right. In return, I was able to improve my Quant from Q46 to Q48. This aligns with Q49 that I've been getting on practice exams so I am not too concerned.

Took a break and drank water and had a protein bar in between.

Verbal:
I was confident going into Verbal knowing that I did fairly well with Quant. My only hope was to stay focused throughout the exam and at least aim for V34-V35 to hit ~680. I got two freaking long RC passages that ate up my time and I was losing focus as they were unexpected. My timing was also off as I had only 15 mins left with 10 questions to go, including another RC. I ended up finishing the exam on time, but I had to definitely skim through last RC. My weakness has always been SC and without ESR, I don't know exactly how I performed this time around but I did I messed up on RC, rather than SC this time.

Took a break and drank water

IR/AWA:
Went fine. I've always done well on AWA so I didn't even focus on AWA and I didn't study for IR and ended with a 7.

I am not looking to score any 700+ scores, but at least close to 680 and 700 for my part-time programs at Haas, Booth and Kellogg. I have engaged in multiple school events in the past year with these schools and I even went to undergrad at Cal. I have strong extracurricular activities from both undergrad and after graduation. My work experiences are strong with a few promotions at FAANG.

My only concern is my GPA (3.32 in Econ) and GMAT. I don't think I can even get into any part-time programs: Haas, Booth, or Kellogg with the given score.

At this point, I am looking for 680 (+40pts increase) with my focus on Verbal. As I have to prep my essays and applications this Fall, I want to retake GMAT in the next 3-4 weeks. What are my options and what should I do to improve V30 to V34-V35?

Thanks
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Re: What should I do with my verbal?  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Oct 2018, 18:09
Hi hanamana,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. For starters, a Q48 is great! So, nice job on quant. Regarding verbal, I know that you keep saying Sentence Correction is your weakest verbal topic; however, to squeeze as much juice out of the “verbal lemon” as possible, consider working on all aspects of verbal. Now, if your ESR shows that you are 99% in Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, I’ll stand corrected. However, for now, I’m happy to provide advice on how to improve in all aspects of verbal.

Although I’m unsure of how you studied previously, moving forward, make sure that you follow a study plan that allows you to learn linearly. Since you scored a V30, it’s clear that you lack certain GMAT verbal fundamentals that are necessary for a high score. To improve those skills, slowly build mastery of one GMAT topic prior to moving on to the next. For example, when studying Critical Reasoning, you need to ensure that you fully understand the essence of the various Critical Reasoning question types. Do you know the importance of an assumption within an argument? Can you easily spot a conclusion? Do you know how to resolve a paradox? Do you know how to properly evaluate cause and effect? Do you know how to properly weaken or strengthen an argument? These are just a few examples; you really need to take a deep dive into the individual Critical Reasoning topics to develop the necessary skills to properly attack any Critical Reasoning questions that you encounter.

As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so that you can track your skill in answering each type of question. If, for example, you incorrectly answered a Weaken the Argument question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

When practicing Reading Comprehension, you need to develop a reading strategy that is both efficient and thorough. Reading too fast and not understanding what you have read are equally as harmful as reading too slow and using up too much time. When attacking Reading Comprehension passages, you must have one clear goal in mind: to understand the context of what you are reading. However, you must do so efficiently, so you need to avoid getting bogged down in the details of each paragraph and focus on understanding the main point of each paragraph. That being said, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can just read the intro and the conclusion and comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you read a paragraph, consider how the context of the paragraph relates to previous paragraphs, so you can continue developing your overall understanding of the passage. Furthermore, as you practice Reading Comprehension, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. You can perfect your reading strategy with a lot of practice, but keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be stimulating. So, to better prepare yourself to tackle such bland passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction is a bit of a different animal compared to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There are three aspects to getting correct answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions: what you know, such as grammar rules, what you see, such as violations of grammar rules and the logic of sentence structure, and what you do, such as carefully considering each answer choice in the context of the non-underlined portion of the sentence. To drive up your Sentence Correction score, you likely will have to work on all three of those aspects. Furthermore, the likely reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is that you have not been working on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not just a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning grammar rules is so that you can determine what sentences convey and whether sentences are well-constructed. In fact, in many cases, incorrect answers to Sentence Correction questions are grammatically flawless. Thus, often your task is to use your knowledge of grammar rules to determine which answer choice creates the most logical sentence meaning and structure.

This determination of whether sentences are well-constructed and logical is the second aspect of finding correct answers to Sentence Correction questions, what you see. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending under two minutes per question. For a while, anyway, you have to spend time with each question, maybe even ten or fifteen minutes on one question sometimes, analyzing every answer choice until you see the details that you have to see in order to choose the correct answer. As you go through the answer choices, consider the meaning conveyed by each version of the sentence. Does the meaning make sense? Even if you can tell what the version is SUPPOSED to convey, does the version really convey that meaning? Is there a verb to go with the subject? Do all pronouns clearly refer to nouns? By slowing way down and looking for these details, you learn to see what you have to see in order to clearly understand which answer to a Sentence Correction question is correct.

There is only one correct answer to any Sentence Correction question, there are clear reasons why that choice is correct and the others are not, and those reasons are not that the correct version simply "sounds right." In fact, the correct version often sounds a little off at first. That correct answers may sound a little off is not surprising. If the correct answer were always the one that sounded right, then most people most of the time would get Sentence Correction questions correct, without really knowing why the wrong answers were wrong and the correct answers were correct. So, you have to go beyond choosing what "sounds right" and learn to clearly see the logical reasons why one choice is better than all of the others.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing you have to do is be very careful. You have to make sure that you are truly considering the structures of sentences and the meanings conveyed rather than allowing yourself to be tricked into choosing trap answers that sound right but don't convey meanings that make sense. You also have to make sure that you put some real energy into finding the correct answers. Finding the correct answer to a Sentence Correction question may take bouncing from choice to choice repeatedly until you start to see the differences between the choices that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. It may take time for you to see what you have to see. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to be determined to see the differences and to figure out the precise reasons that one choice is correct.

To improve what you do when you answer Sentence Correction questions, seek to become aware of how you are going about answering them. Are you being careful and looking for logic and details, or are you quickly eliminating choices that sound a little off and then choosing the best of the rest? If you choose an incorrect answer, consider what you did that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order to arrive at correct answers more consistently. Furthermore, see how many questions you can get correct in a row as you practice. If you break your streak by missing one, consider what you could have done differently to extend your streak.

As with your Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension regimens, after learning a particular Sentence Correction topic, engage in focused practice with 30 questions or more that involve that topic. As your Sentence Correction skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

Ultimately, if you are unable to learn and practice in the manner described above, you may consider looking for additional verbal prep resources. If you are unsure of which resources to choose, check out some reviews here on GMAT Club.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful. (I realize that you don’t need a 700; however, still give this a read.)

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Good luck!
_________________

Scott Woodbury-Stewart
Founder and CEO

GMAT Quant Self-Study Course
500+ lessons 3000+ practice problems 800+ HD solutions

Manager
Manager
avatar
B
Joined: 11 Jan 2018
Posts: 104
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 620 Q46 V30
GMAT 2: 640 Q48 V30
GMAT 3: 690 Q48 V36
GPA: 3.32
WE: Operations (Retail)
Re: What should I do with my verbal?  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2018, 10:42
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi hanamana,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. For starters, a Q48 is great! So, nice job on quant. Regarding verbal, I know that you keep saying Sentence Correction is your weakest verbal topic; however, to squeeze as much juice out of the “verbal lemon” as possible, consider working on all aspects of verbal. Now, if your ESR shows that you are 99% in Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, I’ll stand corrected. However, for now, I’m happy to provide advice on how to improve in all aspects of verbal.

Although I’m unsure of how you studied previously, moving forward, make sure that you follow a study plan that allows you to learn linearly. Since you scored a V30, it’s clear that you lack certain GMAT verbal fundamentals that are necessary for a high score. To improve those skills, slowly build mastery of one GMAT topic prior to moving on to the next. For example, when studying Critical Reasoning, you need to ensure that you fully understand the essence of the various Critical Reasoning question types. Do you know the importance of an assumption within an argument? Can you easily spot a conclusion? Do you know how to resolve a paradox? Do you know how to properly evaluate cause and effect? Do you know how to properly weaken or strengthen an argument? These are just a few examples; you really need to take a deep dive into the individual Critical Reasoning topics to develop the necessary skills to properly attack any Critical Reasoning questions that you encounter.

As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so that you can track your skill in answering each type of question. If, for example, you incorrectly answered a Weaken the Argument question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

When practicing Reading Comprehension, you need to develop a reading strategy that is both efficient and thorough. Reading too fast and not understanding what you have read are equally as harmful as reading too slow and using up too much time. When attacking Reading Comprehension passages, you must have one clear goal in mind: to understand the context of what you are reading. However, you must do so efficiently, so you need to avoid getting bogged down in the details of each paragraph and focus on understanding the main point of each paragraph. That being said, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can just read the intro and the conclusion and comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you read a paragraph, consider how the context of the paragraph relates to previous paragraphs, so you can continue developing your overall understanding of the passage. Furthermore, as you practice Reading Comprehension, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. You can perfect your reading strategy with a lot of practice, but keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be stimulating. So, to better prepare yourself to tackle such bland passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction is a bit of a different animal compared to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There are three aspects to getting correct answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions: what you know, such as grammar rules, what you see, such as violations of grammar rules and the logic of sentence structure, and what you do, such as carefully considering each answer choice in the context of the non-underlined portion of the sentence. To drive up your Sentence Correction score, you likely will have to work on all three of those aspects. Furthermore, the likely reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is that you have not been working on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not just a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning grammar rules is so that you can determine what sentences convey and whether sentences are well-constructed. In fact, in many cases, incorrect answers to Sentence Correction questions are grammatically flawless. Thus, often your task is to use your knowledge of grammar rules to determine which answer choice creates the most logical sentence meaning and structure.

This determination of whether sentences are well-constructed and logical is the second aspect of finding correct answers to Sentence Correction questions, what you see. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending under two minutes per question. For a while, anyway, you have to spend time with each question, maybe even ten or fifteen minutes on one question sometimes, analyzing every answer choice until you see the details that you have to see in order to choose the correct answer. As you go through the answer choices, consider the meaning conveyed by each version of the sentence. Does the meaning make sense? Even if you can tell what the version is SUPPOSED to convey, does the version really convey that meaning? Is there a verb to go with the subject? Do all pronouns clearly refer to nouns? By slowing way down and looking for these details, you learn to see what you have to see in order to clearly understand which answer to a Sentence Correction question is correct.

There is only one correct answer to any Sentence Correction question, there are clear reasons why that choice is correct and the others are not, and those reasons are not that the correct version simply "sounds right." In fact, the correct version often sounds a little off at first. That correct answers may sound a little off is not surprising. If the correct answer were always the one that sounded right, then most people most of the time would get Sentence Correction questions correct, without really knowing why the wrong answers were wrong and the correct answers were correct. So, you have to go beyond choosing what "sounds right" and learn to clearly see the logical reasons why one choice is better than all of the others.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing you have to do is be very careful. You have to make sure that you are truly considering the structures of sentences and the meanings conveyed rather than allowing yourself to be tricked into choosing trap answers that sound right but don't convey meanings that make sense. You also have to make sure that you put some real energy into finding the correct answers. Finding the correct answer to a Sentence Correction question may take bouncing from choice to choice repeatedly until you start to see the differences between the choices that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. It may take time for you to see what you have to see. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to be determined to see the differences and to figure out the precise reasons that one choice is correct.

To improve what you do when you answer Sentence Correction questions, seek to become aware of how you are going about answering them. Are you being careful and looking for logic and details, or are you quickly eliminating choices that sound a little off and then choosing the best of the rest? If you choose an incorrect answer, consider what you did that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order to arrive at correct answers more consistently. Furthermore, see how many questions you can get correct in a row as you practice. If you break your streak by missing one, consider what you could have done differently to extend your streak.

As with your Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension regimens, after learning a particular Sentence Correction topic, engage in focused practice with 30 questions or more that involve that topic. As your Sentence Correction skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

Ultimately, if you are unable to learn and practice in the manner described above, you may consider looking for additional verbal prep resources. If you are unsure of which resources to choose, check out some reviews here on GMAT Club.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful. (I realize that you don’t need a 700; however, still give this a read.)

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Good luck!


Thank you, Scott. Do you think it's worthwhile to start with Verbal, then Quant? GMAC publicly mentioned that changing in order has no impact on scores, but I beg to differ. I think If I start with my weakness, I will have more focus, hence feel confident that I can improve. I am going to try and give myself a practice exam this weekend with V-Q-IR-AWA. But, I was wondering if you have heard any success stories.
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Re: What should I do with my verbal?  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Oct 2018, 18:49
Honestly, it’s such a personal decision. I’ve had students who have been successful when starting with quant and others who have been successful when starting with verbal. The best thing you can do is attempt your preferred order on a practice exam (as you plan to do) and see how it goes. After your exam, feel free to reach back out with an update.
_________________

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Founder and CEO

GMAT Quant Self-Study Course
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Joined: 11 Jan 2018
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Location: United States
GMAT 1: 620 Q46 V30
GMAT 2: 640 Q48 V30
GMAT 3: 690 Q48 V36
GPA: 3.32
WE: Operations (Retail)
Re: What should I do with my verbal?  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Oct 2018, 11:27
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Honestly, it’s such a personal decision. I’ve had students who have been successful when starting with quant and others who have been successful when starting with verbal. The best thing you can do is attempt your preferred order on a practice exam (as you plan to do) and see how it goes. After your exam, feel free to reach back out with an update.


Hi Scott,

I just took a practice exam yesterday (GMAC Official Test #6) and scored a 700 (Q47, V38). I started with Verbal first and I was able to improve my score quite significantly.

I have taken two tests at two different times:

GMAC #5: 660 (Q49, V32, IR8) - Quant - Verbal - IR - AWA
GMAC #6: 700 (Q47, V38, IR5) - Verbal - Quant - IR- AWA

For me, I think it's worth it to change my approach and go for Verbal first. I have taken GMAT three times and all my verbal scores have been lower than what I was getting on practice exams and I always started with Quant first.
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Manager
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Joined: 11 Jan 2018
Posts: 104
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 620 Q46 V30
GMAT 2: 640 Q48 V30
GMAT 3: 690 Q48 V36
GPA: 3.32
WE: Operations (Retail)
What should I do with my verbal?  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Oct 2018, 14:47
I took GMAC #2 (retake): 740 (Q50, V40, IR7). I took it Verbal first as well. I am going to take verbal first on real exam as well.

I am very suspicious of 740 because I still got 9 questions wrong on Quant and 10 questions wrong on Verbal. Do you think it's realistic that I can get a score of +680? My test is in three days.

*For GMAC #6, I got 6 questions wrong on Verbal and got V38 and 8 questions wrong on Quant and got Q47.
Manager
Manager
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Joined: 11 Jan 2018
Posts: 104
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 620 Q46 V30
GMAT 2: 640 Q48 V30
GMAT 3: 690 Q48 V36
GPA: 3.32
WE: Operations (Retail)
Re: What should I do with my verbal?  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Oct 2018, 15:34
Took real exam today and got 690 (Q48, V36). 690 should be good enough for me to apply part time programs. I didn't study other than reviewing my error logs for Quant and just changing the section order (with verbal first), I was able to raise verbal by 6 points. First few real exams, I got tired out after doing Quant and lost focus on Verbal, but today I started with Verbal and got the score that's within +- 30 points of my practice exam scores.
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Re: What should I do with my verbal? &nbs [#permalink] 18 Oct 2018, 15:34
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