What to Expect on the GMAT Verbal Section

Students who are applying to an online MBA program will probably have to take the GMAT. The overall score on the GMAT is made up of your quantitative (quant) and verbal scores. The Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning scores do not affect the total score.

The GMAT verbal section can be somewhat difficult, so it is important for test takers to know what to expect on the test. Knowing the types of questions on the test can help them focus their studies.

The GMAT verbal section is 75-minutes long and has 41 questions. The section is computer adaptive, which means that the more questions the test taker answers correctly, the more difficult the questions become. It is also the final section of the test and has three question types:

  • Reading Comprehension.
  • Critical Reasoning.
  • Sentence Correction.

Usually, in the GMAT verbal section, there are 13 reading comprehension questions, 11 critical reasoning questions, and 17 sentence correction questions.

The reading comprehension portion of the verbal section consists of four passages. Each passage is followed by a few multiple-choice questions about that passage. Those questions may ask about:

  • The main idea of the passage.
  • A specific detail from the passage.
  • An inference from the information given in the passage.
  • The organization or structure of a passage.
  • The author's tone.

The questions are presented one computer screen at a time, and test takers cannot go back once a question is answered. The passage will always be on the right of the screen, however, so test takers will always be able to refer to it when they need to.

Sentence correction questions present students with a sentence that has a portion underlined. The students will then have to decide which of five options is most grammatically correct. Option A is always the sentence as is, and the four remaining choices are different versions. Students will need to pay attention to grammar rules such as:

  • Subject-verb agreement.
  • Verb tenses.

It is important for students to memorize certain grammar rules so that they can easily eliminate the incorrect answers. This will help them work through the test much more quickly.

Critical reasoning questions consist of an argument followed by a question. The argument can contain premises, background information, counterpoints and a conclusion. The most important elements of the argument will be the premise and the conclusion. The questions may ask about:

  • The main point.
  • Ways to strengthen or weaken an argument.
  • Flaws in the argument.
  • Inferences that can be made from the argument.
  • Ways to complete the argument.
  • What roles certain portions of the argument play.

Once students understand what to expect from the GMAT verbal section, they can study accordingly. The best way to start is to take a practice test to find out how close you are to your target score. GMAT offers two free practice tests on its website. Taking one of these tests will give you an idea of what you need to study and how much work you may need to do for each type of question.

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