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HOW SHOULD I ATTACK THE VERBAL SECTION?
In the chapters that follow, we'll cover techniques for answering various question types that you'll see on the verbal section of the GMAT. But you'll also need strategies for managing a section as a whole. Here are some strategies for attacking either multiple-choice section of the GMAT.
Because it's so important to get to the hard questions as early as possible, work systematically at the beginning of a GMAT section. Use scratch paper to organize your thinking. If you're not 100 percent sure of the correct answer to a question, eliminate choices by crossing them off on your scratch paper, and guess intelligently. The first 10-15 questions of a section are crucial in determining your ability estimate, so invest the time necessary to try to answer these questions correctly. You also don't want to get several questions wrong in a row, so if you know that your answer to the previous question was a rough guess, invest a little extra time to get the next question right. You must, however, leave enough time to mark an answer for every question in the section. You will be penalized for questions you don't reach.
Draw a Grid
Using the process of elimination is especially essential when you're working your way through the verbal section of the GMAT. Your job always is to find the best choice of the five choices offered, and often it's easier to spot what makes an answer choice wrong than what makes one choice best. If crossing off wrong answer choices on paper tests helps you to keep track of your thinking, you may want to consider making a grid on your scratch paper before you begin the CAT (taking advantage of the fact that one side of the scratch paper you are given will be graph paper).
Of course, the last thing you want to happen is to have time called before you've done half the questions. On the other hand, it's also tragic to rush through a section and have lots of time left over that you could have spent making sure you got the tough questions right. It's essential, therefore, that you learn to pace yourself, keeping in mind the general guidelines for how long to spend on any individual question or passage.
No one is saying that you should spend, for instance, exactly 90 seconds on every Critical Reasoning question. But you should have a sense of how long you have to do each question, so you know when you're exceeding the limit and should start to move faster. You'll develop this sense if you time yourself while working on practice GMAT questions.
Stop the Clock
The timer in the corner of the computer screen can work to your advantage, but if you find yourself looking at it so frequently that it becomes a distraction, you should turn it off for 10 or 15 minutes and try to refocus your attention on the test, even if you lose track of time somewhat. The CAT rewards focus and accuracy much more than it does speed.
Don't Waste Time on Questions You Can't Do
We know that forgoing a possibly tough question is easier said than done; we all have the natural instinct to plow through test sections, answering every question as it appears. But this approach often doesn't pay off on the GMAT. If you dig in your heels on a tough question, refusing to move on until you've cracked it, you're letting your test-taking machismo get in the way of your score. Like life itself, a test section is too short to waste on lost causes.
It's imperative that you remain calm and composed while working through a section. You can't let yourself be rattled by one hard question or Reading Comp passage to such a degree that it throws off your performance on the rest of the section. Expect to find some hard questions, but remember that you won't be the only one encountering difficult problems. The test is designed to challenge everyone who takes it. Having trouble with a difficult question isn't going to ruin your score, but getting upset about it and letting it throw you off track will. You should recognize that part of the test maker's goal is to reward those who maintain their composure, so it's essential that you take it in stride when you run into challenging material.
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