The Verbal Reasoning section of the GMAT exam measures your ability to read and comprehend written material, reason and evaluate arguments, and correct material to express ideas effectively in standard written English. It consists of 36 multiple-choice questions. You will have 65 minutes to complete it.
Three Types of Questions in the Verbal Section:
There are three types of questions in the Verbal Section:
1. Reading Comprehension
2. Critical Reasoning
3. Sentence Correction.
Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions have sub-types that are designed to test specific verbal skills.
You will not need specialized knowledge of the subject matter to answer the questions.
Reading Comprehension measures your ability to understand words and statements, understand logical relationships between significant points, draw inferences, and follow the development of quantitative concepts. Specifically, the following reading skills will be tested: main idea, supporting idea, inference, application, logical structure, and style.
Each Reading Comprehension passage comes with questions that ask you to interpret material, draw inferences or apply to a further context. The passages discuss topics including social sciences and humanities, physical and biological sciences, or a business-related field. You don’t need specialized knowledge on the subject matter to understand the passages or answer the questions.
Reading Comprehension Question Strategies:
Each Reading Comprehension question is based on a passage’s content. After reading the passage, you will answer questions requiring you to interpret material in the passage, draw inferences from it, or apply it to a further context.
• Make sure you understand what’s being asked. An answer may be wrong if it doesn’t answer the question–even if it accurately restates information from the passage.
• Answer all questions based on what the passage states or implies. Even if you are familiar with a passage’s topic, don’t let this influence your answer choice. Consider what the question asks, and what the passage actually says.
• Read all the choices carefully before choosing an answer.
• Gain a detailed understanding of the passage before answering the questions.
Understanding and not speed, is the critical factor in reading comprehension.
Measures your ability to make arguments, evaluate arguments, and formulate or evaluate a plan of action.
Critical Reasoning questions are based on a short reading passage, usually fewer than 100 words. Typically, the short text comes with a question that asks you which of the five answer options strengthens or weakens an argument, tells why the argument is flawed, or strongly supports or damages the argument.
Critical Reasoning Question Strategies:
You will read a short passage, usually fewer than 100 words, and then answer a question related to the argument. For example, you may be asked to identify an answer choice that strengthens (or weakens) an argument, draw an inference or conclusion from the short passage, or complete the argument.
• Be certain you understand the statement or set of statements on which a question is based. Specifically, you will look for what is factual, what claims can be substantiated; and what is not said, but necessarily follows from what is said.
• If a question is based on an argument, identify which part of the argument is its conclusion. It’s not necessarily at the end of the passage. It may appear somewhere in the middle, or even at the beginning.
• Determine exactly what the question is asking. Read the question first, so you know what to look for. Then read the material on which the question is based.
• Read all the answer choices carefully. The obvious choice may not be the right answer.
Measures two broad aspects of your language proficiency. First, correct expression, referring to sentences that are grammatically and structurally sound. Second, effective expression, referring to sentences that effectively express an idea or relationship clearly, concisely, and grammatically.
Each Sentence Correction question presents a sentence, part or all of which is underlined. Beneath the sentence, there are five ways of phrasing the underlined part. Paying attention to grammar, word choice and sentence construction, you must choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence.
Sentence Correction Question Strategies:
• When you choose your answer, pay attention to grammar, word choice, and sentence construction. The best answer is the one that produces the most effective sentence–one that is clear, exact, and free of grammatical errors.
• Read the entire sentence carefully. Try to understand the intention behind the sentence.
• Evaluate the underlined part of the sentence. Focus on that part, seeking errors and corrections before you read your answer choices.
• Determine how well each choice corrects the original sentence. Do the other choices fix what you consider to be wrong with the original sentence?
• Consider all aspects of the sentence correctness and effectiveness. You will be looking for general clarity, grammatical and idiomatic usage, language economy and precision, and appropriate diction.
• Substitute your answer choice back into the sentence. Remember that some sentences will require no corrections. Does your choice fit with the rest of the sentence?
Test Your Verbal Skills
Sample Reading Comprehension Question
Directions: The questions in this group are based on the content of a passage. After reading the passage, choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions following the passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.
Schools expect textbooks to be a valuable source of information for students. My research suggests, however, that textbooks that address the place of Native Americans within the history of the United States distort history to suit a particular cultural value system. In some textbooks, for example, settlers are pictured as more humane, complex, skillful, and wise than Native Americans. In essence, textbooks stereotype and depreciate the numerous Native American cultures while reinforcing the attitude that the European conquest of the New World denotes the superiority of European cultures. Although textbooks evaluate Native American architecture, political systems, and homemaking, I contend that they do it from an ethnocentric, European perspective without recognizing that other perspectives are possible.
One argument against my contention asserts that, by nature, textbooks are culturally biased and that I am simply underestimating children's ability to see through these biases. Some researchers even claim that by the time students are in high school, they know they cannot take textbooks literally. Yet substantial evidence exists to the contrary. Two researchers, for example, have conducted studies that suggest that children's attitudes about particular cultures are strongly influenced by the textbooks used in schools. Given this, an ongoing, careful review of how school textbooks depict Native Americans is certainly warranted.
Which of the following would most logically be the topic of the paragraph immediately following the passage?
(A) Specific ways to evaluate the biases of United States history textbooks.
(B) The centrality of the teacher's role in United States history courses.
(C) Nontraditional methods of teaching United States history.
(D) The contributions of European immigrants to the development of the United States.
(E) Ways in which parents influence children's political attitudes.
Directions: Answer the questions after reading through the passage. Base your answers on information that is either stated or implied in the passage then click to see the answers.
Prior to the nineteenth century, both human and animal populations were limited by the finite resources (such as food) to which they had access. When the enormous increases in prosperity ushered in by the Industrial Revolution essentially freed many Western nations from these constraints, scientists of the time expected Malthusian explosion in population. However, an inverse relationship between prosperity and reproduction was soon noted; the average size of families fell. The trend continues to this day and has spread to recently industrialized portions of the world.
Early biologists tried to explain the transition to smaller families by drawing comparisons to the animal world. Animals that have many young tend to live in hostile, unpredictable environments. Since the odds against any given offspring's survival are high, having many offspring increases the chance that at least one or two of them will survive. In contrast, animals that have fewer children but invest more resources in child rearing tend to live in stable, less hostile environments. While the young of these “high-investment” species enjoy the benefits of a relatively safe environment, they need to compete with animals whose young are equally unlikely to perish early in life. Therefore, the biologists observed, progeny that have acquired the skills they need to compete while sheltered by a family have an advantage over their less prepared competitors. By analogy, if people living in a prosperous environment produced only a few, pampered children, those children would outcompete the progeny of parents who had stretched their resources too widely.
Critics of this theory argue that there are limitations in conflating animal and human behavior. They argue instead that changes in social attitudes are adequate to explain this phenomenon. To a family in a society that is tied to the land, a large number of children is a great boon. They increase family income by being put to work early, and usually some can be persuaded to care for their parents into old age. As a society becomes richer, and as physical labor becomes less important, education may extend into the early twenties, making children economically unattractive as they now consume family assets rather than produce them. Meanwhile, plans such as pensions and Social Security mitigate the need for children to care for their parents into their dotage.
The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. Criticize explanations of human behavior that are based solely on observations taken from the animal world.
B. Show why the expected population explosion following the Industrial Revolution did not occur before the Industrial Revolution.
C. Demonstrate how family size was influenced by both environmental restraints and social attitudes before and after the Industrial Revolution.
D. Present two alternative theories that explain why family size tends to shrink with increased prosperity.
E. Argues that studies based on social attitudes are more effective than models based on evolutionary advantages in accounting for demographic patterns.
According to the passage, which of the following is true of a Malthusian explosion on population ?
A. It's occurrence has been limited to those areas of the globe that have remained pre-industrial.
B. It is inevitable in societies making the transition from an economy based on agriculture to one based on industry.
C. It was predicted by at least some who lived through the Industrial Revolution in the West.
D. Social scientists have only recently reached consensus on the question of why it fails to occur in recently industrialized countries.
E. It was avoided in Western society because wealth created by industrialization allowed families to support children through extended periods of education.
The last paragraph performs which of the following functions in the passage?
A. It presents an alternative explanation for the phenomenon described in the first paragraph.
B. It criticizes the explanation presented in the second paragraph.
C. It describes how social attitudes change as societies become richer.
D. It explains a phenomenon presented in the second paragraph.
E. It argues that changing social attitude are sufficient to explain the phenomenon described in the first paragraph.
The passage mentions each of the following as a possible reason average family size might fall in recently industrialized nations EXCEPT:
A. Extended periods of education that make children a drain on family resources
B. Well-fed, advantaged children who out-compete those in less advantaged families
C. Improved social care of the elderly
D. Changed social attitudes
E. Increased demand for physical laborers in recently industrialized economies
The information in the passage suggests that which of the following animals would be most likely to have many young?
A. A giant plant eater that lives in drought-susceptible grassland and is fiercely protective of its offspring.
B. An omnivore whose population is restricted to several small islands that are threatened by human encroachment.
C. A meat eater that has no natural predators but must migrate long distances to maintain its supply of food.
D. A scavenger that competes with few other species for territory and food.
E. A filter feeder that is prey for many creatures in the seasonal streams and lakes where it lives.
The author mentions a decrease in the importance of physical labor (line 28) in order to
A. Give an example of the factors that may lead to changes in social attitudes toward family size.
B. Demonstrate why those who anticipated a Malthusian explosion in population in the industrialized Europe where incorrect.
C. Show how family structures adjust to meet the demands of a changing economy.
D. Rebut the claims of those who argue that there are limitations in conflating human and animal behavior.
E. Illustrate how larger families can increase family income.
Sample Critical Reasoning Question:
Directions: For this question, select the best of the answer choices given.
Question: The cost of producing radios in Country Q is ten percent less than the cost of producing radios in Country Y. Even after transportation fees and tariff charges are added, it is still cheaper for a company to import radios from Country Q to Country Y than to produce radios in Country Y.
The statements above, if true, best support which of the following assertions?
(A) Labor costs in Country Q are ten percent below those in Country Y.
(B) Importing radios from Country Q to Country Y will eliminate ten percent of the manufacturing jobs in Country Y.
(C) The tariff on a radio imported from Country Q to Country Y is less than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Y.
(D) The fee for transporting a radio from Country Q to Country Y is more than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Q.
(E) It takes ten percent less time to manufacture a radio in Country Q than it does in Country Y.
Artistic success as an actor is directly dependent on how well an actor has developed his craft. This has been demonstrated by the discovery of a positive relationship between the number of classes taken by an actor and the number of professional productions in which the actor has appeared in the past two years.
Each of the following, if true, cast doubt on the author's argument about artistic success for actors EXCEPT:
A. The figures for the number of classes taken were based solely on information provided by actors.
B. Success as an actor cannot necessarily be judged exclusively by recent credits.
C. For most successful actors, it's not the quantity but the quality of their classes that has helped to develop their craft.
D. There is no relationship between the number of professional productions in which an actor has appeared and true artistic success.
E. Most successful actors have taken only a small number of intensive classes.
Music Industry executives have claimed that online file-sharing networks are significantly hurting their business because potential consumers are getting music for free that they would otherwise purchase. However, after file-sharing networks started to become popular, CD sales actually increased.
Which of the following, if true, best explains the apparent contradictions described above ?
A. File-sharing networks carry a more complete variety of music than most traditional music stories.
B. The few people using file-sharing networks already purchased more music than most people.
C. Many people prefer to store their music as computer files rather than maintain large CD collections.
D. Many consumers have purchased music by artists they discovered through file-sharing networks.
E. Music available on file-sharing networks is on the same audio quality as music on commercially produced CDs.
Parents of high school students argue that poor attendance is the result of poor motivation. If students' attitudes improve, regular attendance will result. The administration, they believe, should concentrate less on making stricter attendance policies and more increasing students' learning.
Which of the following, if true, would most effectively weaken the parents' argument?
A. Motivation to learn can be improved at home, during time spent with parents.
B. The degree of interest in learning that a student develops is a direct result of the amount of time he or she spends in the classroom.
C. Showing a student how to be motivated is insufficient; the students must also accept responsibility for his or her decisions.
D. Unmotivated students do not perform as well in school as other students.
A study of children's television-watching habits by the federal Department of Education found that children aged 7-10 who watched more than 25 hours of television per week performed worse in school than children of the same age who watched fewer than 25 hours of television per week. Therefore, parents of children aged 7-10 should prohibit their children from watching more than 25 hours of television per week.
Which of the following, if true, would be best to strengthen the argument above?
A. A separate study, by a renowned graduate school education, found that when a separate prohibited their children from watching any television, the children's reading scores increase rapidly and significantly and stayed high indefinitely.
B. Children who watched more than 25 hours of television per week also performed worse on measures of physical fitness than children who watched fewer than 25 hours per week.
C. The television shows that children aged 7-10 are most likely to watch are saturated with advertisements for products, such as toys and candy, of little educational value.
D. The Department of Education study gave appropriate weight to children of backgrounds representative of children nationwide.
Sample Sentence Correction Question:
Directions: This question presents a sentence, part of which or all of which is underlined. Beneath the sentence you will find five ways of phrasing the underlined part. The first of these repeats the original; the other four are different. If you think the original is best, choose the first answer; otherwise choose one of the others.
This question tests correctness and effectiveness of expression. In choosing your answer, follow the requirements of standard written English; that is, pay attention to grammar, choice of words, and sentence construction. Choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence; this answer should be clear and exact, without awkwardness, ambiguity, redundancy, or grammatical error.
While larger banks can afford to maintain their own data-processing operations, many smaller regional and community banks are finding that the cost associated with upgrading data-processing equipment and with the development and maintenance of new products and technical staff are prohibitive.
(A) cost associated with
(B) costs associated with
(C) costs arising from
(D) cost of
(E) costs of
The activism of state citizens, who have demanded safer road conditions as well as stiffer penalties for intoxicated drivers, have lead to a significant decrease in the number of traffic accidents.
A. have lead to a significant decrease in the number
B. have lead to significant decreases in the number
C. has lead to a significant decrease in the number
D. has been significant in the decrease in the number
E. has significantly decreased the number
States now have an incentive to lower the blood alcohol level that constitutes drunk driving by a federal law that withholds highway funds from those states that don't enforce the applicable standard.
A. that constitutes drunk driving by a federal law that withholds.
B. that constitutes drunk driving, because a federal law withholds.
C. that constitutes drunk driving, because a federal law withheld.
D. which constitutes drunk driving by a federal law that withholds.
E. which constitutes drunk driving, because a federal law withholds.
Unlike other primates, which are born with fully formed craniums, a newborn human baby's cranium consists of eight bones that take years to fuse together fully, allowing the brain to grow much larger during those early years.
A. fully formed craniums, a newborn human baby's cranium
B. fully formed craniums, a newborn human babies have craniums that
C. a fully formed cranium, a human baby's cranium
D. fully formed craniums, a human is born with a cranium that
E. a fully formed cranium, the cranium of a newborn human baby
With a boiling temperature of -195.8 degrees Celsius, nitrogen composes approximately 78 percent of the volume of the atmosphere.
A. nitrogen composes approximately 78 percent of the volume of the atmosphere.
B. nitrogen is composing the volume of 78 percent of the atmosphere.
C. the atmosphere is approximately 78 percent nitrogen, as measured by volume.
D. nitrogen is composed of 78 percent of the atmosphere's volume.
E. the atmosphere is composed, in terms of volume, of 78 percent nitrogen.
Because women buy approximately 80 percent of ties sold in the United States, they are often displayed near perfume or women's clothing departments.
A. they are often displayed
B. ties are often being displayed
C. the displaying of ties is often
D. ties are often displayed
E. they often can be found