In this series of articles, we’re trying to answer an age-old question: “How many questions can I miss on the GMAT?” If you missed the introduction to this project, or the data on missing Quant questions, check out this article first! On the Quant section, you can miss a lot of questions and still get a fantastic score. But is that true for GMAT Verbal questions as well? Read on to find out.
Like the previous article, this one is based on 44 different Enhanced Score Reports. The overall scores range from 410 to 750, and the Verbal scores range from 17 to 47.
GMAT Verbal Questions
1. (Almost) nobody gets an A.
You’re supposed to miss a lot of GMAT Verbal questions. In our data set, the average test taker only got 68% of the GMAT Verbal questions right.
Among test takers who scored in the 80th percentile or higher—that is, those of you with very strong Verbal scores—the average was still only 77% of GMAT Verbal questions answered correctly. That’s right: even if you’re outscoring almost everyone, you’ll probably miss about a quarter of the GMAT Verbal questions.
Unlike on Quant, where nobody got an A, there were a handful of test takers who got almost all of the GMAT Verbal questions right. Unsurprisingly, they ended up with 99th-percentile Verbal scores. So, if you can get almost every question right without running out of time, go for it! But you can also get a high score with fewer correct answers, which makes it much easier to finish the Verbal section on time.
2. You can miss a lot of GMAT Verbal questions and still get a high Verbal score.
Let’s look at those high scorers again—folks who got an 80th-percentile Verbal score or higher. (By the way, an 80th-percentile score on Verbal is around a 36.) Several of them missed quite a few GMAT Verbal questions. One only answered two-thirds of the questions correctly, and they ended up with a 40.
Most high scorers missed one question out of every four or five. If you’re getting about that many wrong when you practice, you’re working at the right level.
3. Getting most of the GMAT Verbal questions right doesn’t guarantee a great score.
The Verbal high scorers mostly missed a fifth to a quarter of the questions. However, several test takers scored much lower, despite answering just as many GMAT Verbal questions correctly. For instance, one person scored a 28, despite getting just as many right answers as some of the highest scorers. What really matters is which questions you get right! Missing the super-hard ones can actually help your score overall, by freeing up more time and energy for more doable problems.
4. The number of GMAT Verbal questions you get right is related to your score, but it isn’t the whole story.
When we looked at Quant, we noticed only a very weak correlation between the number of correct answers and the overall score. The total number of Quant questions you get right doesn’t have much to do with the score you get on Quant. However, on Verbal, there’s a slightly stronger correlation. The people who answer more GMAT Verbal questions right are usually the same people who get higher scores.
The Verbal section looks very similar to the Quant section. Even though a handful of test takers ace the Verbal section—something that seems to be rarer on Quant—you don’t have to get every question right to get a high score. Even if you and the person next to you answer nearly the same number of GMAT Verbal questions right, which questions you get right could make more a difference of more than 100 points in your GMAT score.Even though there’s a pattern, there’s a ton of wiggle room! We’ve seen test takers get virtually the same number of right answers, but score anywhere from a 27 (46th percentile) to a 41 (94th percentile). That much difference in your Verbal score could mean the difference between a 600 and a 710, even if your Quant score stayed the same. Strategy matters!
In the next article, we’ll do a deeper dive into the results of some high-scoring students, and see what we can learn from how they approached the test. 📝
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Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.