3 Reasons You May Not Achieve Your Target Score on GMAT Verbal – Part 1/3

by on September 23rd, 2015

Do you relate with any of the following?

  1. I am not sure why the correct answer is right but it definitely seems better than the other ones.
  2. I am able to narrow down to two answers, but then I get confused.
  3. I keep making the same kind of mistakes in various mocks.

If you are going through any of the situations described above and are still struggling with your GMAT preparation, then you need a prep makeover—a makeover that will take your current skill set to the next level, making that V40 score on the GMAT that much more achievable. How is that going to happen? We are going to learn from students who have been able to achieve a 40+ on the Verbal section.

At e-GMAT, we study the learning patterns of students and their success on the GMAT very closely. Almost unanimously, there are certain negative indicators that GMAT acers consciously weed-out in their preparation. In this article, the first in a 3-part series, we will analyze one such key behavior, that is a clear sign that you will likely not score as well as you want to if you don’t address it.

Sign#1: You Solve The Questions Correctly, But You are Not Sure Why the Correct Answer is Correct

What is the problem?

I have seen many students say that they are able to solve almost 80% of the OG questions correctly, but that they are not sure as to why the correct answer is correct, or for that matter, why some of the incorrect answers are incorrect. They often say that the correct answer just “seems better” than the incorrect ones.  If you have made that statement, then you are in a very big danger zone.

Why is it a problem?

Students who do not know the reason behind the correct answer fundamentally do not understand what the question is testing them on. Accordingly, such students are not very confident of their answers, and, more often than not, they falter on the real exam for this precise reason.

You may ask why is it that they face such failures only on the actual day and not during their practice sessions. The answer is quite simple. The actual GMAT is fundamentally different in two ways:

  1. In the actual exam, you get questions from all different difficulty levels in a mixed bag format—SC, CR, and RC questions are shuffled together
  2. The timing constraint that one feels in the exam cannot be fully simulated in the practice sessions at home.

How the problem manifests itself?

First of all, when you don’t understand why a particular answer is right, you are solving questions with instincts and not logic. Anyone who has even half-heartedly taken the GMAT knows that the exam is all about logic.

Now, what happens in the actual exam is that when instincts is your guiding light, you are not sure of the answer you are marking. After all, how do you back instincts? You can’t! This means that you do a lot of back and forth between the answer choices and passage/original sentence. Outcome—time waste. The problem doesn’t end here.

As you move from one question to the other, in the back of your mind, you are concerned about whether you solved the previous question correctly. Outcome—more time waste; you are not able to devote your full attention to the question in front of you and take a lot longer to solve the current question. Consequently, you end up thinking that timing is your biggest problem, whereas you should be targeting your lack of understanding logic in the first place. This whole pattern results in a vicious circle in which you are stressed about the time, are constantly evaluating your performance, and are therefore not able to replicate the success you had during your prep.

To make matters worse, when you practice questions just from the OG, you most likely practice from a set of questions that are section based. In other words, you are likely to practice 20-25 SC questions together, 20-25 CR questions together, or 3-4 passages together. Furthermore, they could be all easy question, all medium, or all difficult questions. Basically, you don’t have the means to get them in a mixed format—neither section wise nor difficulty wise. Such preparation does not prepare you for the actual exam or even for the mocks.

What do GMAT acers do?

Students who ace the test are confident of their answers and arrive at the correct answer for the right reasons. They are likely to recognize the logic of the correct answer, not likely to obsess over the previously answered question, and are therefore able to focus on the one they are attempting. So, their chances of generating the vicious circle are very limited.

Even when faced with time pressure, they do not go into a panic mode as they know what they are looking for in an answer—simply because they can reason out why the correct answer is correct and the others incorrect. As a result, such students are more likely to replicate in the exam the success they had during their prep.

What do you need to do to ace the test?

  1. Have a strategy for each kind of problem

You need to know exactly how you are going to approach a kind of question when it pops-up on the screen. For instance, the 30+ application files in e-GMAT course teach you how to approach different kinds of problems (eg.: in CR, approach for assumptions question is different from paradox and boldfaced question), how test makers formulate answer choices, and how to select the correct answers and reject the incorrect answers for the right reasons. Solving the recommended OG questions after the application files is useful because doing so builds on the capabilities developed while going through the e-GMAT course.

  1. Practice questions in an exam like format

Create quizzes for yourself that contain questions from different question categories, difficulty levels, and/or sections. For instance, the 600+ questions in Scholaranium, e-GMAT’s unique quizzing platform, allow you to generate quizzes as per your prep needs. With Scholaranium, you can create quizzes containing questions from SC, CR, and RC in a timed/untimed, single difficulty/multiple difficulty format.


  1. Timing in itself is not a problem on the GMAT; it is a symptom of your lack of understanding logic.
  2. Have a strategy for each question in Verbal, just as you’d have in Quant.
  3. Once you have mastered the individual concept and the approach to solve it, practice questions in a mixed format.
  4. Try some questions in Scholaranium Free Trial in the Guided Mode – focus on understanding the logic of each question and recognize your weaknesses by looking at the unique data analysis provided to you in the Skill Data section
  5. After working on your weaknesses, create Custom Quizzes in Scholaranium to check your understanding

Coming up

In the coming weeks, we will be unveiling two more mistakes that you need to address to achieve a V40 score on the GMAT.

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