EA Verbal Reasoning Section Strategy
Approaching Your Preparation
The Verbal Reasoning section of the Executive Assessment (EA) is one of three components that most people think of when discussing EA scores. This section, combined with the Quantitative Reasoning and Integrated Reasoning sections, will eventually result in a total, or cumulative, score between 100-200.
While many people focus their attention on the Quantitative Reasoning section, the Verbal Reasoning section is no less important, as it figures significantly into your total score and also provides information about your knowledge and skills that are not readily obtainable from your performance on the Quantitative Reasoning section. In many ways, improving your Verbal Reasoning score may be more difficult than improving your Quantitative Reasoning score, as verbal skills are less straightforward and less readily identifiable than mathematical concepts.
Coming up with an effective and efficient approach is the first step to ensuring you achieve a high sectional score on the EA Verbal Reasoning section. You will want to target your areas of weakness by practicing all types of Verbal Reasoning questions under the same time constraints you will face on the official day of your exam. Failing to successfully manage your time can be just as detrimental as not knowing how to correctly solve a problem or answer a question.
Focusing Your Studies
There are three types of questions you will encounter on the Verbal Reasoning section of the EA: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. First you should take a practice test to have some metrics to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Read through the explanation of the answers to questions you missed in order to understand if your mistake was a result of a concept you do not understand or simply due to reading the question or answer incorrectly.
It is also beneficial to know that, in general, the easiest type of question to boost your Verbal Reasoning score is Sentence Correction. Much like mathematical concepts, grammatical concepts follow specific rules. The time-spent-to-payoff ratio of brushing up on your grammatical skills is high, so whether or not you consider yourself adept at written standard English, it is worth your time to refresh and review these concepts. Native English speakers should especially be wary of falling prey to complacency—often those whose mother tongue is not English have a firmer grasp on grammatical rules and structures. Having not learned the language from infancy, they must rely on the actual grammar rules rather than on what 'sounds' right to the listening ear.
Moreover, practicing and improving Sentence Correction will help you to complete these questions more quickly, giving you more time to devote to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions.
Timing is Everything
The Verbal Reasoning section of the EA is comprised of 14 questions, which you have 30 minutes to complete. Clocking in at just over two minutes per question, it is of the utmost importance to have a firm grasp on your pacing.
As mentioned before, one way to improve your pacing is to be sure to have your grammatical rules down so that the Sentence Correction questions can be answered quickly, allotting more time for Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions.
The Verbal Reasoning section of the EA is adaptive, meaning that the algorithm will assign questions to you based on how you performed on previous questions. It also means that your score is continuously being calculated. Missing multiple questions in a row has a disproportionately negative affect on your score, so pacing is important to avoid not finishing the exam.
It is not exactly groundbreaking to say that, in order to succeed on the Verbal Reasoning section of the EA, you will need to budget significant time to practice. The obvious reason is because the more you practice any skill, the better you become at it. Well-organized practice not only exposes you to the type of questions you will see on the test, but it can also help you pinpoint your areas of weakness so that you can develop a strategy to improve. If possible, taking a course or working with a private tutor is ideal. Having a third-party perspective, especially from someone who has an expertise in the EA, will help you create an effective practice regime.
You will also want to build your stamina. The Executive Assessment is 90 minutes long, and there are no breaks built in. This means if you receive approval from your proctor to take a break, the assessment clock will not stop running, potentially costing you valuable time. If you have not learned how to maintain focus for such a long, uninterrupted stretch of time, you will start to fatigue and make timing mistakes or simple reading and comprehension mistakes.
As mentioned above, timing is an important component to your success on the EA. Drilling all of the question types will not only help you to improve your accuracy and build your endurance, but it will also save you time. As you become more familiar with the question types and the wording of the possible multiple-choice responses, you will become more efficient. This allows you to reserve precious minutes to ensure accuracy rather than just helping you finish all of the questions in the allotted amount of time.