As you read this post in preparation for the GMAT, you’re likely more nervous about one section over the other. This is totally normal, some people are really good at GMAT math, and others at GMAT verbal. Interestingly, and this is backed-up by the makers of the GMAT test, the verbal section has more weight attached to it than the math section. Read on to learn a bit about the explanation behind this, and how you can benefit from the knowledge.
I totally understand that if you’re like myself, and avoided math until now, that you probably need to emphasize study on math skills and logic. Also, with regard to structure, logic, and pure calculation of the problem, the math section is more difficult. All this said, when the GMAT scores come in, and the percentiles (the true measure against peers that took a test in the same time frame) are calculated, the verbal section is more important to your overall GMAT score. This fact is especially true in the 700 – 800 scoring range. Lets look at some well known data that backs up this postulation… because after all, we are MBA students, and we need the facts:
First, put yourself in the position of scoring in the 99th percentile in Verbal. Now consider your Quant score is in the:
57th percentile = Total (730, 96th percentile)
63th percentile = Total (730, 96th percentile)
70th percentile = Total (740, 97th percentile)
In this case as you can see, even a large percentile difference in Quant will only advance you a percentile or two in overall score. In this case having that high verbal score has benefited the test taker even though their math scores are just somewhat above average.
Now lets take a look at the opposite scenario. If the test taker scores extremely well on the Quant section but average on the Verbal section what happens?
A 99th percentile in Quant, with a Verbal score in the:
57th percentile = Total (670, 85th percentile)
65th percentile = Total (690, 88th percentile)
70th percentile = Total (710, 92nd percentile)
So nearly acing the Quant section, in this case with a decent Verbal section only scores a 710!!! Something uneven is definitely at play here, and it’s clear that more weight falls onto the Verbal section, there’s a clear bias. This begs the question, what exactly is going on here, and why?
The best explanation probably stems from the very common (and soon to be more common once you get into business school) concept of adjusting for supply. There is an uneven number of test takers that do well in the Quant section compared to test takers who do well in the verbal section. If you account for international students who have English as their second language, along with the fact that with math, there is always a formula to find the correct answer, suddenly it’s not so surprising that scores for the Quant section are by and large higher. Now, add self-selection bias, which means that people who are likely to want to attend business school are also likely to have analytically focused minds.
The best advice that we can give you if you are one of these people, is to focus on perfecting your sentence correction. With SC questions there are comparatively limited permutations with regard to the questions. Also, there is a very distinct formula that exists with these questions. Memorize the formula, and these questions become just another type of “math” question. This of course is not the case with critical reasoning or reading comprehension, where the questions take a high amount of judgment and practice.
We’d love to hear your thoughts or even stories about your Verbal / Quant experience, and how it affected your GMAT score. Also, feel free to ask specific questions or address concerns as they relate to the GMAT and admission to SFU Graduate Business.