99 Percentile GMAT Verbal
GMAT Verbal can be a daunting experience for the most fluent students, leave alone for someone
whose first language is not English.
In fact there are hundreds of brilliant students from the Non English speaking world, who easily
score in the 99 percentile in GMAT Math, but struggle desperately when it comes to GMAT Verbal.
Even if you are comfortable with the English language, you might struggle with the 700+ type of
questions, where the GMAT Verbal section tests deeper understanding of concepts rather than just
testing the standard rules that the commonly available guides provide.
So how does one move towards the 99 Percentile Verbal target?
The GMAT is a timed test, and if you can read quickly and understand the questions without any
trouble this itself will make a considerable difference to your ability to complete it successfully.
More specifically, there are also reading comprehension questions in the Verbal Ability section of
These are usually based on four passages of approximately 300 words long. The text is dense, so
scanning is not an option, and the subject matter is generally political, historical, cultural, scientific
or business oriented.
So the first thing you need to look at, is improving your reading speed. This will not only help you
in the GMAT Verbal section, but also in the math section & in your future career.
The second thing you need to do is to assess your current level. This will help you plan your study
more effectively & tell you how far you still have to go.
Take a free Online Full Length GMAT Verbal Test to check out your current level of preparedness.
Or, if you do not wish to focus on timing at this time, you can take another paper based full length
GMAT Verbal test here.
Before we move on to a section wise analysis, let us answer an Often asked question:
Is Vocabulary important for a 99 percentile Verbal Score?
The answer is NO. However, most students who do well in Verbal have a good vocabulary.
Unlike for the GRE or the SAT Exam, you do not really need to cram the dictionary for the GMAT
However, it is useful to get familiar with the list of words that 'Often' appears in the GMAT Verbal
The last thing you want is to get stuck between two answer choices because you are unsure of
the meaning of a word, and this can happen in ANY of the three Verbal sections.
Let us now look at what else you can do section by section.
This is probably the trickiest section in the whole of the GMAT, especially at the 700+ level.
I frequently find myself in the position of listening to a GMAT student explain to me why he or she is
absolutely, positively convinced that an answer choice is right when, of course, it's not.
That happens more on Critical Reasoning than any other section of the test, and I've discovered
what brings many of those mistakes about.
The key concept, always, in CR questions is that of "scope."
If an answer choice is too general or too specific, it is usually easy to spot as such.
It's trickier when the scope is wrong, but not because it's too local or too global - it's just subtly
shifted from the subject of the question.
An example: The scope might shift from the effect of rainfall on the health of a certain species to
the effect of rainfall on the growth of a certain plant that the species feeds on.
What to Watch Out For
When the scope shifts, it's perfectly natural to fill in the gaps for yourself.
In the example above, you might think, "of course, if rainfall means that there's a more ample
supply of this plant, then the species will have more food and be healthier."
Depending on the question, though, that's the kind of rationale that gets you in trouble.
Your job on CR questions isn't to devise justifications, it's to recognize them.
The difference is slight, but it's crucial.
GMAT Critical Reasoning questions are very carefully written and designed.
If a question means to say something, it will.
Wrong answer choices are planned with equal care: there are no accidents in these questions.
Questions that rely on inferences and assumptions (that includes those that ask you to strengthen
and weaken arguments) expect you to understand the argument precisely.
That means that all the information you need is right there in the question, and if you start making
assumptions of your own, you're probably doing something wrong.
How to Avoid Making Assumptions
I'll be the first to admit it: it's hard to adjust to reading this way. Most writing, whether in interoffice
documents or newspapers, is sloppy, and requires you to fill in the gaps. The GMAT doesn't.
You will, over the course of your Critical Reasoning practice, make this mistake at least a handful of
times-I guarantee it. But those mistakes are opportunities waiting for you to embrace them.
Through those mistakes, try to "watch" your own thought process so that you can catch yourself
before you make another assumption.
It is a distinct step in your mental process: you read the answer choice, you try to understand it,
you see if it makes sense as the answer, and perhaps then try to figure out a way it could be the
That final step is where most people go astray: if you bring in explanatory material from outside the
question, you've probably just made a mistake.
As with all other types of questions, when you get one wrong, carefully read the explanation and try
to isolate what you did incorrectly.
If you find yourself making assumptions, going beyond the scope of the question in Critical
Reasoning, pay closer attention to your thinking as you analyze those answer choices that are
"close, but not quite right."
Usually, if it's not quite right, it's just plain wrong-you just need to recognize the shift in scope, or
the leap in your own thought process.
For more in depth information, have a look at our recently launched eBook:
Winners' Guide to GMAT Critical Reasoning
This book will:
Build your Critical Reasoning skills from ground up.
Enable you to identify your fault patterns & correct them.
Help you apply your improved skills to the GMAT Critical Reasoning Section
Identify the single most important concept in Critical Reasoning
Highlight the various question types tested on the GMAT, & the best strategies for each of these.
Teach you how to avoid the five mistakes that most students make.
Sentence Correction & Grammar
The word grammar conjures up memories of desperately boring school lessons on nouns, verbs
What exactly are we talking about when we refer to grammar?
Actually, we are talking about two distinct concepts: descriptive grammar, which, as its' name
implies, describes the way we speak and write in our everyday lives; and prescriptive grammar
which sets out the pre-existing rules which ‘should' be followed when using Standard English.
Prescriptive grammar, then, consists of sets of rules which deal with word structures, the way in
which words combine to form phrases, clauses and sentences, and the construction of a sentence.
A thorough understanding of (some of) these rules is required for the GMAT.
Even for native English speakers, who have a good grasp of their mother tongue, and have twelve
years of school grammar behind them, this can be daunting prospect. It is the subtle nuances of
grammar which usually trip them up.
For example, can you confidently identify the errors in the following sentences?
We had planned to study together last night, however, John was unable to join us.
The student was confident, resourceful and a winner. *
The sentence correction section of the GMAT tests the correctness and effectiveness of the way in
which you express yourself. Mistakes to avoid in this section include grammatical errors,
redundancies, ambiguities and awkwardness in the sentence construction.
Since even those who are well versed in the English language have difficulty with this section there
is little wonder that, for students whose first language is not English, the SC section of the GMAT
can be a nightmare.
English is a notoriously difficult language with exceptions to almost every rule! So learning the
fundamentals of English grammar is not something which can be accomplished overnight.
Fortunately you Do NOT need to know all the grammar rules floating around in High School test
You can check out the most common Idioms/grammar rules tested on the GMAT right here.
For more information on how to ace the Sentence Correction Section of the GMAT,
check out the
Winner's Guide to GMAT Grammar & Sentence Correction
* In the first sentence the comma after night should be replaced with a semicolon as two full sentences are being
linked. In the second sentence two adjectives, confident and resourceful are incorrectly linked with a noun, winner.
To correct the sentence, winner could be replaced with successful.
Good reading ability, including speed and understanding, is probably the most important skill you
will ever acquire.
This applies not only to your studies but to your future career. However, since the GMAT is the
focus of our attention right now, let's look at the significance of good reading skills for the test.
The GMAT is a timed test, if you can read quickly and understand the questions without any trouble
this will obviously make a considerable difference to your ability to complete it successfully.
More specifically, there are also reading comprehension questions in the Verbal Ability section of
the GMAT. These are usually based on four passages of approximately 300 words long. The text
is dense, so scanning is not an option, and the subject matter is generally political, historical,
cultural, scientific or business oriented.
Of course, there are any number of courses which teach reading comprehension, many of which
are accessible online. Most of them suggest strategies for improving reading skills, such as:
highlighting major points
making margin notes
paraphrasing each paragraph
drawing mind maps
reading with a dictionary
explaining the concepts in the text to others
All of these strategies and the many others which are provided are effective, if sometimes
confusing, for the general improvement of your reading skills.
However, none of them focus on applying the strategies specifically to the GMAT reading
Fortunately we have The Winners' Guide to GMAT Reading Comprehension which not only
contains winning strategies for improving your reading speed but also enables you to apply the
strategies to the GMAT reading comprehension section.
Learn about my
personal GMAT prep strategy
that got me a 780 Score and
how it can benefit YOU.