3 Reasons You May Not Achieve Your Target Score on GMAT Verbal – Part 2/3:

by on October 7th, 2015

“I am able to narrow down to 2 answer choices but then I get confused.”

If you have been preparing for GMAT Verbal, then I can almost guarantee that you have made the above statement at least once. Getting stuck between two “close” answer choices and not being able to zero in on the correct answer is a situation that even the best of us find ourselves in. However, how we handle the situation determines whether we’d be able to turn it in to our strength or weakness, and consequently our success or failure on the GMAT.

In this article, we’ll talk about the second reason why you may not achieve your target score on GMAT Verbal unless you learn how to address a key-sign in your preparation. This article is the second in the series of the 3 articles covering such signs that GMAT acers weed out consciously from their preparation.

Sign #2: I am able to narrow down to 2 answer choices but then I get confused

What is the problem?

In our free live sessions, we see many students complain about a pattern they can’t break out of—they are able to get to two final choices but then end up marking the wrong choice. More often than not, they blame the GMAT for being their biggest nemesis, a clever enemy whose purpose is to trap them in answer choices.

Why is it a problem?

Students who blame the exam for being clever from the point of view of trapping them time and again do not have the right mind set to crack the exam—they think they do their best but the exam fools them. Now, because they think so, they shift the balance of power to the hands of the exam and hence do not make efforts to correct the logical gaps in their understanding. Essentially, such students are passive test-takers.

How the problem manifests itself?

First of all, when such students attempt mistake analysis, their focus is on each individual question they get wrong and not the underlying root cause of the mistakes they are making repeatedly. For instance, a person constantly facing the two-close-answer-choices problem in SC will not focus on why he is repeatedly getting stuck in two choices when only one choice conveys the correct logical meaning. This means that the analysis he will do will most likely be on a superficial level.

Needless to say, such an analysis is futile and a sheer waste of time. Also, because the focus is not on proactively avoiding such mistakes by addressing the conceptual/process oriented gaps, their chances of progressing in the preparation are cut down even further.

What do GMAT acers do?

First things first … almost everyone who has prepared for the GMAT has faced the whole down-to-two-answers situation. However, what makes the difference is the way a test-taker approaches it. GMAT acers, regardless of whether they solve a particular question correctly, always make sure that they avoid being in that situation again.

How do they do that? Because they know that for each official question, there is only one correct answer, they admit that the whole falling in to the “close answer choice trap” is a result of a gap in their understanding. They acknowledge their shortcomings, take charge of the situation, and take concrete steps towards fixing the gap. The result—9/10 times they prevent themselves from making the same mistake again.

In CR, for example, if a GMAT acer falls for a strengthener choice in an assumption question more than once, he will make sure that he evaluates why he has been making  the same mistake across various questions. Is it because he has not been applying the Negation Test or is it because he has been missing certain key words in the conclusion (such as significantly, most etc.), leading to his getting drawn to an almost correct choice.

What do you need to do to ace the test?

  1. Recognize patterns in your mistakesYou need to understand that if you have been making the same kind of mistake over and over again, then it is a symptom of a deeper problem. The actual problem is that you are missing out on a concept being tested, and the solution is that you need to be aware of it to avoid making this mistake again. For instance, in our live sessions, we closely evaluate incorrect answer choices in which most students face doubts. Many of these choices test the fundamental understanding of the concepts by building nuances around them. We highlight these nuances so that students can solidify their core understanding and are able to move from two choices to the one correct choice.Similarly, our detailed solutions in Scholaranium label each answer choice so that you know what kind of incorrect choices you are repeatedly getting attracted to. If, for instance, in Bold Face questions, you are choosing choices that are partially correct, then you know that you are either not reading the whole answer choice carefully or that you missed a key-nuance such as the difference between a conclusion in the argument and the conclusion of the argument.
  2. Maintain Error Logs with NotesAs boring as it may be, maintaining an error log with detailed notes helps you understand exactly why you are getting questions wrong in a particular section. For instance, all the 600+ practice questions in Scholaranium come with a dedicated Skill Data Analysis. You can filter the data to instantly see the topic you are getting most confused in and then go to the concept files and revise the topic to ensure you never make the same mistake again. What’s more, in your review of questions answered correctly/incorrectly, you can take down online notes that are accessible only to you. You can refer to these notes during revision and if you are still not sure where you are making a mistake, you can post a query and your analysis to seek the help one of our Verbal experts.


  1. Do not keep wasting precious OG questions if you are not making any progress
  2. Invest time in doing post practice analysis—recognize patterns in your mistakes
  3. Go back to the concepts as and when needed and then test your understanding in these concepts before moving on in your preparation

Next Steps

  1. Try the Overall Ability Quiz from Scholaranium Free Trial and make use of the Skill Data Analysis.
  2. After recognizing the areas you are weak in, come to the e-GMAT Free Trial to explore the free concept and application files and take your understanding to the next level.
  3. Attend the Strategy I session, to be conducted by Rajat Sadana, CEO e-GMAT, on 10th October 7 am PST to Learn Key Strategies to Score 760+.

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