Do Not Rush Through Reading the Verbal Question Stem

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A big mistake that GMAT Focus test-takers make when tackling the Verbal section is skimming, only half-reading, or rushing through reading questions. The thing is, it is very easy to commit this error. Why? Because through our GMAT Focus Verbal study, we become very familiar with the question types. We see them again and again and learn to recognize them. Of course, this familiarity and recognition is a good thing. However, over time, and particularly under the time pressure of a practice test or the stress of test day, a good thing can backfire.

How so? Well, we see questions that we think we recognize, but really we haven’t read the question stem carefully, and we’re mistaken about what we see. For example, the word “support” frequently appears in both Inference and Strengthen question stems. However, those two common question types ask for very different things. If we’re rushing through reading the stem, we can easily mistake one question type for the other and end up falling for a trap answer.

Luckily, there’s a simple fix: read the question fully and carefully.

Do yourself a favor and always read each Verbal question stem fully and carefully. Remind yourself that you’re not really saving any time by rushing through the stem. Not reading the question carefully is only going to make answering it more difficult and time-consuming. Moreover, the GMAT question-writer set traps specifically for test-takers who don’t read questions carefully! Not reading questions carefully is a very common error, and the GMAT writers know that.

So, make sure that you fully read and understand each Verbal question you see. Even if you don’t normally rush through reading questions during practice, be aware that this situation can occur for any number of reasons on test day. Maybe you’re behind on the clock, so you start to cut corners however you can to catch up on time. Maybe the pressure of the day causes you to fall back on bad habits you thought you’d eliminated early in your test prep. Maybe you’re just nervous.

Understanding that rushing is a common problem–and a score-killing one–can help you cut it off at the pass.

Reach out to me with any questions.

Warmest regards,

Scott Woodbury-Stewart
Founder & CEO, Target Test Prep