Up your verbal ability

Simulate exam-like conditions during practice.   | Photo Credit: Freepik

The GRE and the GMAT are prominent standardised tests for students seeking admission to postgraduate programmes globally, with a significant percentage of students going to the U.S. In general, the Verbal Ability (VA) section of both exams is perceived to be difficult. But it is critical to understand that the syllabus of this section is not beyond that of Class 10 and that it is test of basics of English combined with logic. Here are some tips to build a foundation in VA:

Contextual usage of vocabulary/words: Merely knowing the word’s meaning without understanding the context won’t help. Regularly read articles from newspapers, both Indian and foreign and understand the context of the new words that you encounter.

Basics of English grammar: The foundation for sentence correction, and the key to ace it, is to solve the questions through a meaning-based approach. Study the basics of English grammar through traditional books like Oxford English Grammar Course (Basic). Alternatively, you can learn the basics through a mobile app like LearnEnglish Grammar.

Keep reading: Read as much as you can and incorporate it into your daily schedule. Apart from newspapers, add a range of magazines to your list. Read diverse topics including ones where you have no background or knowledge.


Typically three-to-six months are required to prepare for these exams. Once you are confident enough, write a mock test (available online) to understand your strengths and weaknesses. A general process to follow is a diagnostic test. This includes analysis, studying weak points and practising strength topics from official guides, maintaining an error log, seeking guidance to address the errors made during practice, working on errors, practising multi-level difficulty questions, writing a full-length mock, a detailed analysis, improving upon mistakes, writing full-length mocks again, and optimising for accuracy and speed.

You can personalise the process mentioned above according to ability and plan your prep accordingly. GMAT and GRE prep have their share of pitfalls. What you need to do is to find the best answer from the five options provided, even if the answer doesn’t look right. You should rely heavily on the process of elimination (POE). Both tests require you to keep track of the time you invest in a question. All your effort will go in vain if you cannot answer each question in a given time. Know when to walk away from a question. Simulate exam-like conditions during practice. Train your mind to sit for three hours and solve questions in random order.

Students struggling to identify errors on GMAT sentences should start reading sentences according to the parts of speeches of each word. Learning markers such as ‘and’, ‘not only…but also’, ‘like’, ‘unlike’ can help students solve sentence correction questions in less than 90 seconds. Getting familiar with the question types will help students avoid silly mistakes. Understanding common argument patterns used in critical reasoning allows students to decode arguments and select the correct answer in less than two minutes. The commonest issue every test taker faces is the time spent in reading comprehension passages. Ideally, students should invest time in increasing their reading speeds. In a gist, build the basics, follow the process, and avoid common mistakes to achieve your target GMAT/GRE score.

The writer is Chief Business Officer-Aptitude, Career Launcher

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 9:33:24 PM |

Next Story