GMAT Verbal by MBA House

GMAT Verbal: Guide to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning

Table of Contents

MBA House knows that sections like Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning can sometimes feel like you’re venturing into the unknown. But don’t fret – we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Keep the nerves at bay, take a deep breath, and let’s dive into an enriching journey of acing your GMAT Verbal. 

The GMAT is more than just a test. It’s a stepping stone to your dreams, your ticket to some of the world’s most prestigious business schools. So, make every moment of your preparation count and never underestimate the power of learning. Remember, every new concept you grasp, every practice test you take, adds up, inching you closer to your goal. Let’s convert every challenge into an opportunity for growth. Let’s get started, shall we?

Reading Comprehension

Understanding the passages in the Verbal Reasoning section of the GMAT™ is crucial in tackling the Reading Comprehension questions. Each passage, typically ranging between 200 to 350 words, discuss diverse subjects such as, but not limited to, social sciences, humanities, business disciplines like marketing, economics, and HR.

Complementing the passages are a set of questions intended to gauge your comprehension level, critical application, and inferential judgment based on the material. You’ll observe a split-screen interface with the passage presented on the left and the questions sequentially displayed on the right. Remember, each passage can be associated with a varying number of questions. 

While navigating through the Reading Comprehension questions, it is advisable to formulate your own best approach. You might choose to meticulously read the passage from the get-go, skim through it initially, or even scan the first query before delving into the passage.

Be vigilant about comprehending complicated ideas and new terminologies. Equally important is to properly read each question and accompanying answer options. Discovering the crux of what is being asked and evaluating the potential responses is the winning strategy here. 

Don’t hesitate to revisit relevant areas of the passage to answer each question effectively, however, bear in mind, once you’ve moved on, past questions become non-negotiable.

And, there are those peculiar questions that explicitly demand insights into particular sections of the passages, even highlighted for your convenience while the question is being exhibited. Just remember to explicitly refer to the highlighted section when necessary. 

Beyond this, you’ll find deeper insights into the purpose of Reading Comprehension questions, instructions, and varied question types in the following sections.

Additionally, test-taking strategies, sample problems, and meticulous question explanations will be available to aid your understanding further. This in-depth exploration truly sheds light on how the Reading Comprehension questions aim to assess your foundational reading skills. 

What Is Assessed 

GMAT’s Reading Comprehension section delves into your proficiency to interpret, scrutinize, utilize, and assess concepts and opinions presented in a written context. It does necessitate answering questions based on the expressed or implied content of the reading materials, without demanding any preliminary comprehension of the context.

Acing the majority of GMAT queries—including Critical Reasoning, and word-based Quantitative items—besides those purely mathematical, in essence, call for robust reading skills. 

Thus, it is significant to note for examinees that Critical Reasoning, and certain Quantitative questions indirectly evaluate reading comprehension skills. Conversely, Reading Comprehension questions are explicitly designed to assess various facets of it and gauge different skill levels. 

Essentially, reading comprehension skills can be classified into two cardinal categories:

Detecting Explicit Ideas and Identifying Implicit Ideas. 

  • Detecting explicit ideas assesses your finesse to comprehend the text in entirety and its component parts. Answering queries that fall under this realm necessitates no further exploration of information and are groundwork for skills in the following category,
  • Identifying implicit ideas, although, both types of skill assessment queries can be equally challenging.
  • Identifying implicit ideas reviews your proficiency to utilize the information in the text to infer additional contextual insights, apply the knowledge to other scenarios, critique the expressed views, and evaluate the structure of the writing.

Delving more specifically, GMAT Reading Comprehension questions probe your prowess in: 

  • Understanding complex and sophisticated non-technical text. It’s crucial to comprehend not only words and phrases, but the overall intent of the writer. While vocabulary isn’t directly assessed, certain questions may gauge your knowledge of contextual meanings of terms used in the passages.
  • Grasping the intent and roles of passages, as well as logical and rhetorical connections among concepts and pieces of information. Such questions may ask you, for instance, to determine interconnections of certain passage parts, identify strengths and weaknesses of an argument, or evaluate the significance of different arguments and ideas within a text.
  • Drawing deductions from facts and assertions present in the context. To successfully answer such questions, anyone who completely understands a text should be able to infer additional information from it.
  • Understanding and tracing the emergence of quantitative concepts in written context. Even though mathematical knowledge isn’t directly assessed, passages often contain quantitative details or opinions regarding percentages, proportions, trends, probabilities or statistics expressed such that they can be comprehended without need for mathematical expertise. You may need to interpret, evaluate or utilize such quantitative data or extract inferences from it. This might occasionally involve simple arithmetic.

The Reading Comprehension section features six different types of questions, each focusing on a unique skill. There’s some peripheral overlap between skills tested by different types of questions.

Notably, while deducing the main point might call for recognition of logical or rhetorical structure of the text, drawing inferences or contextual application often depends on accurate understanding of the primary and supportive ideas. 

During the actual test, there will be no explicit labels to identify the types of Reading Comprehension questions, but the question itself will guide you on what is expected. A variety of these types will be present in your test, although not every type may be encountered.

Critical Reasoning

In the GMAT™ Verbal Reasoning section, the Critical Reasoning (CR) segment specifically assesses your aptitude for: 

  • building an argument,
  • judging an argument’s merit, and
  • conceptualizing or assessing a course of action.

Don’t worry about needing specialty knowledge; these queries hinge on reasoning, employing material sourced from a broad range of fields. They don’t require any specific knowledge about these varied subjects beyond a general understanding. 

Each Critical Reasoning execise is concise, often under 100 words, compared to the Reading Comprehension passages. A key difference is that each CR passage correlates to just a single question, instead of multiple. Therefore, during the actual exam, you will see one question, paired with a single passage, at a time. 

Albeit, while CR doesn’t necessitate specialized knowledge, having a comfort level with elementary logic terms like “premise”, “conclusion”, and “assumption” is essential. The practice CR questions in this chapter will help you familiarize with a range of potential topics, the kind of questions you might encounter, and the depth of analysis required.

Gauging Your Abilities 

In the arena of the GMAT exam, Critical Reasoning isn’t just about checking boxes. It’s a comprehensive examination of your proficiency in handling logical reasoning. Let’s delve a bit deeper. 

Reasoning, according to GMAT, can be classified as any series of declarations where one or more are used as logical support for others. Take justifying actions, beliefs, or explaining a specific phenomena, for example. 

Quite a few Critical Reasoning sections employ or illustrate reasoning. On the contrary, some only bring forward information without any apparent reasoning. Yet, each question will entice you to apply your reasoning abilities. It could be to derive a conclusion from provided data, pinpoint plausible explanations for the described phenomena, or assess the viability of certain action plans. 

The process of scrutinizing and evaluating reasoning inhabits a range of skills. In your GMAT™ Enhanced Score Report, these skills are primarily categorized into four: Analysis, Construction, Critique, and Plan. 

  • Analysis-based questions are designed to assess your ability to comprehend logical reasoning in its entirety and discern the interplay of its individual elements.
  • Construction-centric questions are primarily aimed at gauging your skill in formulating effectual arguments. This includes deducing what additional information can be inferred from the given data, or what more information would make an argument reliable.
  • Critique-oriented questions challenge you to counter arguments, point out their strengths and weaknesses, and suggest potential improvements.
  • Plan-related questions intersect with both Construction and Critique. Their unique aspect is that they are specially designed to test your talent in devising and critiquing arguments revolving around potential courses of action.

Unveiling the Myths about GMAT 2024 Verbal Section

Given the perceived complexity of the GMAT Verbal section, certain myths have begun to circulate, potentially tripping up test-takers in their preparation efforts. It’s crucial for you to distinguish fact from fiction as you gear up for the GMAT 2024 verbal section. So, let’s debunk some of these misconceptions. 

The Myth of Inherent “Verbal Talent” 

One prevailing myth is that succeeding in the verbal section requires an innate “verbal talent”. This perspective is misleading. Yes, linguistic abilities may help, but the GMAT verbal section primarily tests your analytical and logical reasoning skills, not your vocabulary prowess. It aims to evaluate your ability to understand, analyze, and draw conclusions from written material – skills that can be honed with diligent preparation and practice. 

The Myth of Reliance on Intuition 

Some examinees falsely believe that intuition should lead their verbal reasoning responses. While intuition can occasionally steer you in the right direction, it’s not a reliable mechanism for consistent success. The GMAT 2024 verbal section will demand clear, logical reasoning – a systematic approach that goes beyond instinctive reactions. 

The Myth of “Trick” Questions 

A pervasive myth in the GMAT milieu is that the verbal section is replete with “trick” questions. The truth is, the GMAT isn’t seeking to deceive you. Rather, it presents complex, multi-layered questions designed to probe your critical reasoning and reading comprehension skills. Your goal should be to unpick these layers in a systematic way. 

In conclusion, remember that the GMAT 2024 verbal section isn’t shrouded in mystery or filled with impossible tasks. It’s a test of specific skills that you can actively improve with diligent study and guided practice. Your success won’t be determined by myths and misconceptions, but by your understanding of the test format and your commitment to your prep routine.

GMAT 2024 Verbal Section: Final Review and Test Day Tips

Final ReviewTest Day Tips
Conduct a comprehensive review of verbal concepts and methodologiesEat a well-balanced meal for energy sustenance
Identify and inspect any lingering doubts or weak areasArrive at the test center early to settle in and get accustomed to the environment
Engage in timed practice sections to replicate test conditionsEnsure a proper night’s rest for a refreshed mental state
Refresh vocabulary and fine-tune reasoning skillsBring necessary materials including identification and exam confirmation