Whats tested on the verbal section of the GMAT

What's Tested on the GMAT: Verbal Section

The GMAT Verbal Section is designed to test your command of standard written English, your skills in analyzing arguments, and your ability to read critically. The section consists of 2 question types: Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension.

  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Format: 23 questions
  • Tests: Critical/analytical thinking, Comprehension, Inference

A little more than half of the multiple-choice questions that count toward your overall score appear in the Verbal section. You have 45 minutes to answer 23 Verbal questions in two formats: Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. These two types of questions are mingled throughout the Verbal section, so you never know what’s coming next.

How Many GMAT Questions in Verbal Section?

There are 23 questions in the GMAT Verbal Section.

GMAT Verbal Section: Critical Reasoning

Critical Reasoning tests the skills involved in making and evaluating arguments, as well as formulating a plan of action. You will be presented with a short argument and a question relating to it. You will be expected to find the answer choice that strengthens or weakens the argument. You may also be asked to find an assumption the argument makes or to make an inference yourself.

Succeeding on Critical Reasoning questions requires 4 things:

  1. Understand the argument’s structure.
  2. Identify the conclusion.
  3. Determine what evidence exists to support the conclusion.
  4. Determine what assumptions are made to jump from evidence to conclusion.

Most importantly, read carefully. Critical Reasoning questions are notorious for their tricky wording.

Expert Tip

There is a big score penalty for leaving questions unanswered at the end of the multiple choice sections of the GMAT. For the Verbal section, that means reaching question #10 in the first 17 minutes and question #30 when there are 11 minutes remaining on the clock.

GMAT Verbal Section: Reading Comprehension

You have probably become quite familiar with Reading Comprehension questions over your standardized testing career. These questions test your critical reading skills, more specifically, your ability to:

  • Summarize the main idea
  • Differentiate between ideas stated specifically and those implied by the author
  • Make inferences based on information in a text
  • Analyze the logical structure of a passage
  • Deduce the author’s tone and attitude about a topic

You will be presented with a reading passage on the topics of business, social science, biological science or physical science and then asked 3-4 questions about that text. The tone is that of a scholarly journal.

When reading a passage, remember that you’re not trying to memorize all the information. First, read through it quickly, trying to get an idea of the general topic, the author’s purpose, his or her voice, and the scope of the passage. Most of all, don’t obsess over details—you can always look them up in the passage.

Words like “obviously,” “clearly,” and “hence” show that an author’s opinion is expressed in the passage. If you can identify the author’s opinion (or lack thereof) by spotting opinionated words like these, that’s an automatic indication of the point of the passage. This will help you move easily move through many of the Reading Comprehension questions.

Now that you know how boosting your test knowledge might boost your score, find out more about how you might do on the GMAT if you took it today. Check out our GMAT Pop Quiz to get a sense of where you stand.

GMAT Verbal Section: Scoring

Your total GMAT score is calculated from “scaled scores” from all three sections of the GMAT. The new scoring scale for each section is 60 to 90 in 1-point increments. All three sections (Q, V, and DI) factor into your total score on a scale of 205 to 805 in 10-point increments. 

[RELATED: GMAT Score Chart ]

The most important score on the GMAT is the total score, which ranges from 200 to 800. This score is the GMAT result that schools look at primarily. The population of these scores follows a standard distribution: most students score near the mean score, and more than half of all GMAT test takers score within 100 points of 550, the approximate mean. Pulling yourself out of that cluster is an important part of distinguishing your application: the top 10 business schools accept students with an average GMAT score of 720, the 94th percentile. 

[RELATED: What’s a Good GMAT Score ]

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