How to Improve Your GMAT Verbal Score for Non-Native English Speakers

Ethel Gonzales

Non-native English speakers will often find the verbal section of the GMAT intimidating so this article will be very helpful for them especially. They don’t need to worry excessively about being at a disadvantage since with the right preparation and strategy, they too can do well.

I am realistic with them about the challenge they face but also quick to point out the special strengths we do have. Interestingly, English native speakers can sometimes be deceived by their ears on tricky questions whereas non-native speakers who are trained to be more systematic in their approach can in fact do better on these questions.

Rather than using an intuitive approach as a native speaker would, non-native speakers are better at applying a well developed understanding of proper grammar rules. In fact, the more languages you know often the better you are at this.

If English is not your native language then the Reading Comprehension and Sentence Correction questions are likely the most troublesome for you. In this case improving your English will be a key to successful GMAT study.

This will require some hard work. But don’t waste your time. It is deliberate, thoughtful study that is required. Start right away and practice regularly.

A useful method is to immerse yourself in a bit of well-written English text on a regular basis. Also try to read something on your computer so that you train yourself not to rely on underlining or highlighting material to aid you.

The standard advice from many GMAT tutors is to read academic material and to refer to a dictionary for any words you don’t recognize. But such material is boring for many readers and with boredom you become inattentive and consequently you do not learn as well. It is far better to start off with well written English literature such as fictional novels and stories. To improve fluency you need to put in a fair bit of time practicing. To stay motivated try to read for pleasure. If you are going to spend a lot of time reading, you may as well read something you enjoy.

When you have a solid grasp of the easier material then you can progress to the more advanced academic text or business found in publications such as New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, New Scientist, Science News and Scientific America. These publications are very similar to what you will find on the GMAT test. Focus on being able to read the text quickly, determine the main idea, and identify the different perspectives taken.

Expand your vocabulary by checking words you don’t know in the dictionary while you practice. But don’t worry if at the test you encounter a few words you still don’t understand. It is most important to get the main idea. Once you have that then you can decide if the word is important and if so then you can often guess what the word means by determining the context in which it is used.

Regular practice will help but using the services of a GMAT tutor can be your best option. They can help you get better results in less time. However don’t rely too much on the company name or advertising. Do your research and see what qualifications your potential tutor has. A high GMAT score and training is important but even more important is finding someone that will be a good fit for your specific needs and learning style. They should be able to tailor their approach, have a good strategy and be able to explain things to you in a way that you understand clearly.

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