What’s Tested on the GMAT Verbal Reasoning Section?

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The GMAT Verbal section consists of 36 multiple-choice questions. Each question presents you with five answer choices. You’ll be tested on three areas: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.

magoosh video lesson icon with human figure Want to learn more? Start with this video – Intro to the GMAT: The Verbal Section


How long is the GMAT Verbal? What is the timing of each Verbal section?

The total time for the GMAT Verbal section is 65 minutes. With 36 GMAT Verbal questions to contend with, you’ll have between one to three minutes to complete each question, so pacing yourself is key!

Here’s what we suggest for timing for GMAT Verbal:

  • For Reading Comprehension questions, allow 6 minutes for a set of 3 questions, or 8 minutes for a set of 4 questions, plus 2-4 minutes to read the passage.
  • For Critical Reasoning questions, give yourself 90 seconds to 3 minutes.
  • For Sentence Comprehension, aim for 60 to 90 seconds.

Like GMAT Quant, the questions are adaptive, so you might see more and more challenging ones if you’re doing well. If you’re having trouble finishing the verbal section within the time limit, check out our Ultimate Guide to GMAT Pacing.

What are the GMAT Verbal questions?

Reading Comprehension

These questions start with reading a passage about social sciences, physical or biological sciences, or business. Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert in these topics before taking GMAT Verbal. There are six question categories, from finding the main idea of the passage to identifying the author’s tone. To prepare for this question type, check out How to Study for Reading Comprehension.

Critical Reasoning

Critical Reasoning questions also start with a passage, but this time you’ll be analyzing an argument—specifically, which answer choice makes the argument stronger, weaker, flawed, and more. There are eight question categories. For a breakdown of this question type and categories (plus additional practice!), read our Introduction to Critical Reasoning article.

Sentence Correction

Instead of a passage, you’ll see just one sentence with an underlined phrase. Your task will be to replace the underlined portion with an answer choice that makes the most sense grammatically or logically. To try this out on your own, see these top grammar tips for Sentence Correction questions.

The Basics of GMAT Verbal Scores

The max score you can achieve for the GMAT Verbal section is 800. This will be combined with your GMAT Quant score (also out of 800), and the average of the two forms your overall GMAT score.

If you’re not sure how you’d do on Verbal, you can get a baseline score by taking a diagnostic test. After taking steps to improve your score, you can re-take the diagnostic test later to measure your progress, and find any remaining weak spots to focus on.

Once you have an estimated Verbal and Quant score, you can plug them into a GMAT score calculator to see if you’re close to reaching your target score.

How do I prepare for the GMAT Verbal?

With the GMAT Verbal score counting towards one of the more important scores that business school admissions consultants are looking at, make sure you’re prepared to see the three types of questions on test day. If this all sounds like a lot, don’t worry! We’ve compiled our practice questions and top tips to help you get ready.

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

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