HELP AND ADVICE NEEDED.. VERBAL SCORE NOT IMPROVING!

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Hi guys, I am planning to apply to SMU in Singapore for MSc in Management programme, which past applicants/students have an average of 650 for their GMAT score.

I have been self-studying for the GMAT for the past 3 months. For the first month I initially used the Manhattan Prep books, I have read all 10 books. I have also gone through the whole GMAT Official Guide 2018 (including GMAT Official Quant and Verbal Review). Then I took a few mock tests on mba.com. Test results as shown:

1st attempt:
V34 Q36
Overall: 580

2nd attempt:
V21 Q36
Overall: 490

I was shocked when I gotten 490.. my target is at least a 600+. So for the next 2 months, I used GMAT club and went through almost every single topic on quant megathread because I realise my quant score is rather stagnant. I have also read and done all the exercises in the Kaplan GMAT 800. After 2 months, I decided to take mock tests on mba.com again.

3rd attempt:
V25 Q45
Overall: 580

4th attempt:
V28 Q42
Overall: 570

I am still very frustrated why after so many months of practicing my score is still stuck at 570/580.. I am starting to think my verbal score is the one dragging me down as I can see that my quant score has improved (thanks GMAT club!). Would greatly appreciate it if any experts/anyone can give constructive feedback on what I should do to improve my verbal score to maybe a 34/35.. then it will be perfect. I wouldn't say I am a native English speaker but I am fluent in English.. I feel my weakness is on reading comprehensions and critical reasoning, and also finding it hard to manage timing on verbal because I did not have enough time to finish the last 4 questions on my verbal on the 4th attempt.

Thank you and I look forward to your replies.

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by [email protected] » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:14 pm
Hi daijingooi,

I'm sorry to hear how things have been going with the GMAT. Since you have been studying for some time and have yet to break V28, you really need to look at HOW you have been studying and make some changes right? Thus, moving forward, you should follow a study plan that allows you to learn GMAT verbal from the ground up. In other words follow a study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT verbal topic individually, starting with the foundations before moving to more advanced concepts. Let me expand on this idea further.

For example, when studying Critical Reasoning, you need to ensure that you fully understand the essence of the various 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. 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 New York Times, 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, to be successful in Sentence Correction, 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 less than 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 none of those reasons are 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 answers were always the ones 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. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to put in the necessary time to see the differences between answers 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 to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently 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 do 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 skills improve, you'll then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple SC topics.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Good luck!

Scott Woodbury-Stewart
Founder and CEO
[email protected]

Image

See why Target Test Prep is rated 5 out of 5 stars on BEAT the GMAT. Read our reviews

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GMAT/MBA Expert

User avatar
GMAT Instructor
Posts: 5998
Joined: 25 Apr 2015
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Thanked: 43 times
Followed by:24 members

by [email protected] » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:15 pm
Hi daijingooi,

I'm sorry to hear how things have been going with the GMAT. Since you have been studying for some time and have yet to break V28, you really need to look at HOW you have been studying and make some changes right? Thus, moving forward, you should follow a study plan that allows you to learn GMAT verbal from the ground up. In other words follow a study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT verbal topic individually, starting with the foundations before moving to more advanced concepts. Let me expand on this idea further.

For example, when studying Critical Reasoning, you need to ensure that you fully understand the essence of the various 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. 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 New York Times, 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, to be successful in Sentence Correction, 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 less than 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 none of those reasons are 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 answers were always the ones 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. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to put in the necessary time to see the differences between answers 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 to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently 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 do 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 skills improve, you'll then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple SC topics.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Good luck!

Scott Woodbury-Stewart
Founder and CEO
[email protected]

Image

See why Target Test Prep is rated 5 out of 5 stars on BEAT the GMAT. Read our reviews

ImageImage

Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
Posts: 13
Joined: 24 Aug 2020
GMAT test works on an adaptive algorithm - what it means is that the first few questions are lot more important than the other ones. Based on your responses to the first 40-50% of your questions, the algorithm determines a range.

The questions following that only help in narrowing that range and will not be used to broaden the range (generally). Also some questions are given for determining their worth and whether they are “GMAT standard”. These questions are not marked and only used to see if they can be used in a later test.

Given all the above, if you are stuck at a certain score, only focus on the key concepts. Don’t do 1000s of questions but only 100 questions hand selected that teach you the right way of answering.

If you want to attend free 5 hour course on verbal and quant strategy, PM me and I will share the course details with you. We have launched GMAT100 which focuses only on 100 questions and not 1000s. These questions are all you need to know to get 700 plus score - prepare nothing more.
PM me for more details

Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
Posts: 13
Joined: 24 Aug 2020
View our free GMAT content to improve and practice at www.oneclickprep.com

Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Posts: 8
Joined: 12 Dec 2019
one-clickprep wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:38 pm
GMAT test works on an adaptive algorithm - what it means is that the first few questions are lot more important than the other ones. Based on your responses to the first 40-50% of your questions, the algorithm determines a range.

The questions following that only help in narrowing that range and will not be used to broaden the range (generally). Also some questions are given for determining their worth and whether they are “GMAT standard”. These questions are not marked and only used to see if they can be used in a later test.

Given all the above, if you are stuck at a certain score, only focus on the key concepts. Don’t do 1000s of questions but only 100 questions hand selected that teach you the right way of answering.

If you want to attend free 5 hour course on verbal and quant strategy, PM me and I will share the course details with you. We have launched GMAT100 which focuses only on 100 questions and not 1000s. These questions are all you need to know to get 700 plus score - prepare nothing more.
PM me for more details
gmatpros.com is offering a FREE 40-minutes Live-Online GMAT Tutoring Session where you can choose the topics and/or questions to go over.

It might be worthwhile to check it out.