Achieving Success in the Verbal Section - Ixorainternational

Achieving Success in the Verbal Section

Mastering GMAT Verbal as a Non-Native English Speaker: Achieving Success in the Verbal Section

If you’re a non-native English speaker aiming to take the GMAT for business school admissions, you might worry that your English proficiency could pose challenges in achieving your desired GMAT Verbal score. However, being a non-native English speaker doesn’t necessarily put you at a significant disadvantage in the GMAT Verbal section. Moreover, there are strategies you can employ to excel in GMAT Verbal, even if English isn’t your first language.

In this article, I’ll explore the measures implemented by the GMAT creators to ensure fairness in the Verbal section for all test-takers. Additionally, I’ll offer valuable tips tailored specifically for non-native English speakers to effectively navigate the Verbal section and attain their target scores.

Leveling the Playing Field: GMAT Strategies for Non-Native English Speakers

The GMAT is exclusively administered in formal English, without options in other languages. Thus, ensuring equitable conditions for both native and non-native English speakers appears challenging. How does GMAC, the organization behind the GMAT, address this objective of fairness?

There are several approaches employed to achieve this goal. Let’s delve into some of the primary ones.

1. Absence of Speaking or Listening

The GMAT evaluates formal written English, which differs significantly from spoken English. Each form has distinct grammar rules and structures that do not overlap.

One fundamental aspect of formal written English, the comma + -ing modifier, is absent in speech. Try articulating a sentence like “I dropped the bags onto the floor, scaring my dogs” aloud, and you’ll notice the discrepancy between spoken and written language.

Since virtually no one is a “native speaker” of written English, except for a small group of deaf test-takers who often perform well on the GMAT Verbal section, the exam mitigates potential bias against foreign test-takers by exclusively assessing written English.

2. Passages Express Their Intent Clearly

In everyday talk, we often hint at things, assuming others will get what we mean. For example, if we say, “Our dinner’s at eight, and it’s a 40-minute drive,” the hidden message is, “We’ll be late,” and we trust our friend to get that.

When we speak, we often skip details, big and small. But what’s left out and when changes from one language to another. This means not stating a conclusion in an argument gives an unfair advantage to people who speak the language natively. To tackle this, GMAC always spells out every point or conclusion in its reading passages to fight language bias.

However, there’s one exception. In Critical Reasoning problems, you’re given an argument’s facts and asked to find the conclusion. In those cases, you have to figure out the conclusion yourself.

3. Avoid Using Complex Words

As a non-native English speaker, you might fear that not knowing a single word could hinder your ability to answer a GMAT Verbal question correctly. Perhaps a question hinges on a word you’re unfamiliar with or can’t recall. The GRE Verbal section does heavily rely on sophisticated vocabulary, which might intensify this concern if you’ve prepared extensively for that exam.

However, when it comes to the GMAT, you can relax. Few things in any language favor native speakers as much as advanced vocabulary does. This bias is particularly evident in English, which boasts the largest lexicon worldwide. Consequently, to ensure fairness, the GMAT avoids using unnecessarily obscure words altogether.

Typically, GMAT queries won’t demand familiarity with challenging vocabulary terms.

While it’s possible, it’s improbable that you’ll stumble upon a genuinely challenging word in a reading comprehension (RC) or critical reasoning (CR) passage. Even if such instances arise, you probably won’t require knowledge of obscure definitions. Usually, challenging words are accompanied by contextual hints that aid in deciphering their meanings.

4. Avoid Uncommon Idiomatic Patterns

In the past, certain GMAT Sentence Correction questions necessitated familiarity with obscure idiomatic structures, often referred to as “GMAT idioms.” However, these structures, particularly those exclusive to the United States, are typically unfamiliar to non-native English speakers.

To ensure fairness for all test-takers, the authors of Sentence Correction questions now refrain from including obscure structures. Instead, they exclusively utilize idiomatic structures commonly employed in the English language.

To ensure fairness in the GMAT, Sentence Correction questions exclusively feature idiomatic structures familiar to non-native speakers.

5. Significant Variances in Verb Tenses

As mentioned earlier, spoken and written English often differ, but verb tenses remain remarkably consistent between the two. This uniformity presents a potential challenge on the GMAT, as native speakers might rely on their intuition when discerning subtle differences in verb tenses, whereas non-native speakers may struggle in this regard.

To mitigate this bias, the GMAT focuses solely on major discrepancies in verb tense. None of the problems will require you to discern nuanced variations in verb tense. If you encounter a question where such a decision seems crucial, it’s advisable to check for other fundamental issues in the answer options. Typically, one of the options will exhibit a more significant error, such as a lack of parallelism, elsewhere in the sentence.

The only instances where you might genuinely need to consider verb tense are when there are stark contrasts involved, such as past versus future or present perfect versus past perfect.

In order to ensure fairness for non-native English speakers concerning verb tense, the GMAT assesses only significant variations.

6. Grammar Principles That Native Speakers Struggle With

Due to the disparity between spoken and written English, native English speakers can find themselves at a disadvantage in certain aspects of GMAT Verbal.

For instance, native English speakers often use the word “which” to refer to an entire preceding clause, such as in the sentence, “My best friend crashed her car, which made her parents furious.” However, in formal written English, “which” should only refer to the preceding noun or noun phrase.

Similarly, differences exist between speech and writing in the usage of conjunctions. For non-native speakers of English, these grammatical nuances may not be as noticeable. Pronouns, and conjunctions—these are simply aspects of language acquisition and improvement.

Conversely, native speakers must unlearn longstanding habits from spoken language, which can mislead them in Sentence Correction (SC) questions. Second-language English learners do not face the same challenge. Hence, in certain respects, the playing field is tilted against native speakers. GMAC’s question-writers have navigated this delicate balance between conflicting biases to create a fair overall assessment.

Due to variations between spoken and written English, non-native English speakers possess at least one edge over native speakers in GMAT Verbal.

Now that we know how the GMAT Verbal section is made fair for everyone, let’s talk about how non-native English speakers can excel in GMAT Verbal.

What Should Non-Native Speakers Do to Prepare for the GMAT?

If you’re not a native English speaker, you don’t need a specialized GMAT course or tutor. Most prep courses, like Target Test Prep, cover what you need. They teach Verbal by focusing on specific rules and concepts, which suit second-language learners.

However, there are things you can do to ensure you’re ready for GMAT Verbal on test day.

Understand that GMAT Verbal tests reasoning. It’s not just about English skills; it’s about thinking logically. People with strong reasoning skills can score high, even if their English isn’t perfect. Knowing this empowers you and helps you prepare effectively.

Develop your reasoning skills. GMAT Verbal requires similar thinking to quant questions. By working on your reasoning, you’ll be better prepared for Verbal.

To excel in GMAT Verbal, view it primarily as an assessment of reasoning ability and prepare accordingly.

7. Expand your reading horizons extensively.

While GMAT Verbal primarily assesses reasoning ability, solid English reading skills are essential for mastery. Thus, enhancing your reading proficiency might be a crucial part of your GMAT prep.

To refine your reading prowess, immerse yourself in a diverse range of texts akin to those found in the GMAT. These include academic articles, periodicals, and journals. Accessing online repositories of scholarly material or journals can provide ample practice material tailored to GMAT standards.

Strive to approach articles with the same focus and strategy you’d employ for GMAT passages.
Aim to discern the main concepts and overarching themes. Keep in mind that you can always revisit the passage text for reference. Avoid the temptation to fixate on memorizing specific details during your reading, as this can be a time-consuming distraction.

To enhance your English reading skills, approach articles from journals and other publications similarly to how you’ll tackle GMAT passages.

8. Search for unfamiliar words.

When encountering unfamiliar words during GMAT preparation, like “advocate,” “bolster,” or “presume,” take the opportunity to look them up. Record their definitions in a document or flashcard for periodic review. Additionally, incorporate these new words into your spoken and written English to reinforce your understanding of their meanings.

To enhance your GMAT vocabulary, search for unfamiliar words encountered during your preparation.

9. Acquire a dependable method for addressing each type of verbal question.

Discover how implementing reliable strategies can significantly enhance your ability to tackle GMAT Verbal questions. For example, the “Yes/No test” for Evaluate the Argument queries, extensively covered in the TTP course, offers a time-saving method for accurate responses. Learning dependable tactics tailored to each question type is a pivotal step towards mastering GMAT Verbal. While the optimal strategy for Sentence Correction may vary, techniques like prioritizing the elimination of obvious errors can be advantageous. Conversely, for Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, adopting specific strategies can lead to rapid and tangible enhancements in your performance.

Achieving mastery in GMAT Verbal involves acquiring a strategy tailored to each Verbal question type.

View Sentence Correction as an assessment of your ability to identify issues effectively.
As a non-native English speaker with a background in English grammar, approaching Sentence Correction may initially give the impression of being a grammar test. However, it’s important to recognize that while grammar knowledge is essential, Sentence Correction is more than just a grammar assessment. It primarily evaluates one’s ability to identify issues in construction and meaning within sentences.

To excel in Sentence Correction, it’s crucial to focus on honing the necessary skills. Simply memorizing grammar rules won’t suffice. Instead, you need to learn how to effectively apply these rules, observe sentence structures, and articulate why certain elements are incorrect or correct.

To excel in Sentence Correction, concentrate on mastering the application of grammar rules, discerning sentence structure, and explaining why certain elements are either incorrect or correct.

10. Concentrate on enhancing your execution.

One of the most crucial steps in preparing for the GMAT, regardless of whether you’re a non-native English speaker, is to prioritize improving execution. This means focusing on mastering the skills necessary to arrive at correct answers consistently.

Improving execution involves not only implementing strategies effectively but also minimizing careless errors. Many non-native English speakers initially attribute their challenges in GMAT Verbal to language proficiency but often find that by minimizing these errors, they can achieve their score goals.

Furthermore, enhancing execution includes strategies like deducing the meaning of unfamiliar words from context or making informed decisions in Sentence Correction questions even with incomplete understanding. Ultimately, mastering GMAT Verbal is about efficiently tackling challenges, much like a successful executive navigates complexities in business.

To excel in GMAT Verbal, concentrate on enhancing your execution while responding to questions.

Summary: Mastering GMAT Verbal for Non-Native English Speakers

For non-native English speakers aiming to excel in the GMAT Verbal section, here are some valuable tips:

1. Recognize that GMAT Verbal primarily evaluates reasoning ability, so tailor your preparation accordingly.
2. Enhance your English reading skills by reading extensively across various topics.
3. Expand your GMAT-related vocabulary by learning unfamiliar words encountered during preparation.
4. Familiarize yourself with reliable strategies for tackling each type of GMAT Verbal question.
5. Approach Sentence Correction as an exercise in detecting structural issues rather than solely a grammar test.
6. Prioritize execution to minimize errors and attain your target score.

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