The Verbal Section

The Verbal section of the GMAT is 75 minutes long and consists of 41 multiple-choice questions. There are three question types: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. Each question type requires a different approach, and you will spend far longer on Reading Comprehension questions than on the other question types – meaning you must plan to answer Critical Reasoning and Sentence Completions quickly. Remember, you will also be using test time to read the passages on which the Reading Comprehension passages are based.

Reading Comprehension questions present you with a passage of up to 350 words in length, which could be selected from any discipline – the natural sciences, social sciences, or business-related areas such as marketing, management, or economics. You will then be asked questions about the text. No specific knowledge of the material within the passage is required, and all of the questions can be answered with the information provided in the text. Some questions will be quite general in nature, requiring you to understand the meaning of the passage as a whole. Other questions will require you to go back to the passage and find specific details in the passage in order to answer correctly. It is important not to skim while reading the passage, but to read at a healthy pace. You will have to return to the passage to answer the questions – you will not be able to memorize the passage verbatim – so budget your time and structure your reading accordingly. You will have 3 to 8 Reading Comprehension questions for each of the two or three passages in the Verbal section.

Critical Reasoning questions are designed to test your ability to reason when making or evaluating an argument or plan of action. There are three types of Critical Reasoning questions: Argument construction, Argument Evaluation, and Formulating and Evaluating a Plan of Action. You may be asked to evaluate an argument’s structure, conclusions, underlying assumptions, or relate how the argument compares to a similar argument. Are there errors in the assumptions or reasoning of the argument? How can it be strengthened or weakened? Is the plan of action appropriate, effective, or efficient when compared with other possible action plans?

Sentence Completion questions present you with a sentence that has one or two blanks. Your answer choices are the words that “fill in the blanks.” You will use your understanding of the structure and tone of the sentence to pick the answer choice that best completes the meaning of the sentence both logically and stylistically. You do have some context to work with in Sentence Completion questions, but a strong vocabulary is still critical. Your understanding of the meaning conveyed by punctuation is also crucial. You will have approximately 15 Sentence Completion questions in a typical Verbal section.

As with the quantitative section, the directions for each question type will pop up during the test. Immediately dismiss them! You will already know what they say, and you don’t want to waste precious test time reading them again.

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