GMAT Tip of the Week

Mind Your Own Business

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The GMAT verbal section can be distracting if only because of one truth: Sentences (for correction) or reading comprehension passages must be about something. Whether it is a technical topic (immunological reactions, biological discoveries involving microorganisms) or a business-related subject (the rise of multinational corporations, the origin of hedge funds), questions on the verbal section will take place within the context of some kind of subject matter. Traditionally, the GMAT uses academic subjects such as:

  • Natural Sciences (astronomy, biology, etc.)
  • Social Science (history, political science, etc.)
  • Business Related

As a test-taker your reaction to these subjects can take multiple forms, but usually falls in to one or two major categories: bored/intimidated by something you don’t like or understand, or engaged/interested by something that intrigues you. In either case, you’re likely to be distracted, either by your distaste for the subject of by your enjoyment of it. Don’t forget, though, that you’re not reading the sentence/paragraph/passage for the value of the knowledge contained within it! Your job, regardless of the topic, is to perform a specific function:

- Sentence Correction: identify and correct flaws in the grammar
- Critical Reasoning: answer the question presented following the paragraph(s)
- Reading Comprehension: prepare yourself to answer 3-6 questions about the scope, tone, and purpose of the passage

Because of that, do not either become intimidated by technical concepts that you don’t understand (you don’t need to understand them comprehensively) or entertained by concepts that can lead you on a path of tangential thinking (be careful for an engaging business-related passage, which may seem like an oasis in a desert of boring subject matter). Keep your focus on performing your function for the question, and realize that business schools are not looking, in particular, for biologists, history buffs, astronomers, or poets. Regardless of the topic, your job remains the same: answer the question!

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