GMAT Verbal Reasoning Section

The GMAT Verbal Section: Less Vocabulary, More Reasoning

The Verbal section of the GMAT is currently the last section of the test. This section contains 41 questions and has a 75-minute time limit. Approximately 37 of the questions are scored, with the last few being test questions for use in future tests. Unlike other standardized tests (the SAT, the GRE), the GMAT Verbal section does not directly test vocabulary. There will be no multiple choice definitions, or word analogies. Instead, advanced vocabulary will only be encountered as part of the text that test-takers will read as part of Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction problems. For native English speakers, vocabulary should not be a challenge. Non-native English speakers should familiarize themselves with this section ahead of time to see if the word choices in passages will be challenging.

While the Quantitative section, which immediately preceded the Verbal section, may ask test takers to find the correct answer, the Verbal section generally asks readers to supply the best answer, rather than the correct one. This is an important distinction and can involve a slight mind shift, especially considering its placement immediately following the Quantitative section. Finding the best answer can often mean relying heavily on the process of elimination. The Verbal section's main objective is to assess test-takers' abilities to comprehend written material, evaluate written arguments, and correct sentences to conform to standard written English. The three types of questions in this section are described in further detail below.

It is also important to note that while Quantitative and Verbal scores are combined together to form the total score, a higher Verbal score could have greater impact on the total score than a high Quantitative one. This seems counterintuitive for a test for graduate level business programs that is quantitatively-based. However, consider this: because so many GMAT test-takers are quantitatively oriented, and many are non-native English speakers, there are many more high scorers on the Quantitative section of the test. Even the GMAT's official Web site concedes that while both the Verbal and Quantitative sections are scored from zero to 60, a score of more than 50 is unusual for the Quantitative section, but a score of more than just 44 is unusual for the Verbal section.

Finally, scrap paper is not only for figuring out equations. Scrap paper can be used during the Verbal section and it can be helpful for taking basic notes or keeping facts organized.

Question Types in the GMAT Verbal Section

  • Critical Reasoning

    These questions measure the ability to draw conclusions from short arguments. The arguments are much shorter than Reading Comprehension passages and the questions have a different angle.

  • Reading Comprehension

    Passages of up to 350 words are followed by several questions. The questions are intended to assess a test taker's ability to interpret the passage, draw inferences from statements in the passage, and draw logical relationships between different points in the passage.

  • Sentence Correction

    These questions ask the test taker to choose the phrase that completes a sentence with the most grammatical accuracy. The choices are very similar, and test takers should focus on issues of subject-verb agreement, consistency and clarity.