GMAT Test: The 1 GMAT Strategy You Need To Know

Many GMAT students mistakenly believe that focusing their study on math is the best strategy to raising their GMAT score.

Sure, if you have a known weakness in math you’ll need to brush up on your math skills and logic. And yes, the GMAT math is significantly more difficult than the SAT math (more emphasis on logic and structuring the problem rather than on pure calculation).

But at the end of the day, doing well on the VERBAL section is more important to your overall GMAT score than if you did equally well on the MATH section–this is ESPECIALLY true in the 700+ range. If you are targeting this score range, you MUST polish up your verbal section–particularly the reading comprehension part.

GMAT Verbal Importance

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some data focusing on the highest levels of scoring: 700+ range

Perfect GMAT Verbal Score

If you score 99th percentile in Verbal (49V), and your Quant score is…  

  • 39M = 57th percentile = Total (730, 96th percentile)
  • 41M = 63th percentile = Total (730, 96th percentile)
  • 43M = 70th percentile = Total (740, 97th percentile)

Notice it does not matter how many extra points this student can get on quant. In the end, her score is around the same score of 730 whether her math score is 39 or 43. Doing well in Verbal pays off!

Now is the opposite true? What if a student scores outrageously well in Quant but average in Verbal?

Perfect GMAT Math Quant Score

If you score 99th percentile in Math (51V), and your Verbal score is…  

  • 30V = 57th percentile = Total (670, 85th percentile)
  • 32V = 65th percentile = Total (690, 88th percentile)
  • 34V = 70th percentile = Total (710, 92nd percentile)

Notice doing extremely well in quant does not guarantee you a good score. In fact, an average score in the 57th percentile for verbal and a perfect quant score only give you a (670, 85th percentile). Doing well in Quant is good, but not as good as doing well in Verbal!

Let me say that again:

Doing well in Quant is good, but not as good as doing well in Verbal!

This is almost ridiculous! A high quant score and average verbal score yields a LOWER score than a high verbal score and an average quant score!

Indeed, the GMAT is biased towards success on the verbal section!!

Why would the GMAT creators do this??

My best guess is one of supply and demand (ah yes, how relevant to an exam for business school). The influx of non-native English speakers from international countries who are strong in quant but weak in verbal and just the plain fact there are more people that are great at quant (where there is always a correct answer) than the numer of people who are familiar with the idiomatic intricacies of the English language and inductive reasoning.

But whatever the TRUE reason is, it does NOT matter. What does matter is what this bias in the GMAT means to you. If your verbal abilities are not strong, then you MUST improve them.


I still don’t believe you. Show me proof that verbal is really that important.

OK, since you asked for it – here’s an official score report from a student who took the GMAT 4 times.

Notice he was stuck at 620 even though he pretty much aced the GMAT Quant section with Q49. There’s not too much higher this student could have gone with quant. All the improvement had to have come from the verbal side in order for him to break 700 – and that’s exactly what he did.
OK, I believe you. I need to improve my verbal score. But will studying necessarily improve my score?

Yes and no. Depends on how you study. There are people who spend 6 months studying and do not see any improvements on their score. And then there are those (including me but also many others, I’m sure) who scored in the 70th percentile and then studied for 2 weeks and scored in the 98th percentile on the real thing.

You need to target your studying. There are 3 sections to the verbal:
1) Sentence Correction
2) Critical Reasoning
3) Reading Comprehension

By far, the easiest way to boost your score quickly is to ACE the Sentence Correction part of the exam. It’s easier than you think. While the GMAT test makers have unlimited imagination in making questions for critical reasoning and reading comprehension, they can only test you on sentence correction in so many ways. If you master all possible TYPES of questions on the sentence correction AND VARIATIONS on those concepts, then you can go into the test with CONFIDENCE that you will ace the entire sentence correction part of the exam.

You need to take a different mindset when preparing for critical reasoning and reading comprehension. Yes, there are some tips and tricks you can use to help guide you through these sections, but it is much more difficult for any prep program or service to teach you reasoning.

I strongly believe that ANYBODY can master the sentence correction section, but NOT anybody can master the reading comprehension or critical reasoning.

Recommended GMAT Prep Resources

GMAT Questions – Great list of practice questions that GMAT Pill helps to answer for you!
GMAT Test Dates – So when do you have to take the GMAT?
GMAT Pill Vs Kaplan and ManhattanGMAT – A look at how the GMAT Prep market looks like so you can figure out where you want to be
Manhattan GMAT A Goldman Sachs Analyst compares his personal experience first with ManhattanGMAT, then with GMAT Pilll
GMAT Scores – a look at the 4 scores you receive on your GMAT score report

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