When it comes to GMAT verbal practice materials, what should you look for? What official and unofficial GMAT prep materials are out there, and which ones will best fit your needs?
In this article, I’ll go over a list of the many GMAT verbal practice tests, questions, and workbooks that are available, how to know which materials will work for you, and tips for making the most of your preparation time for the GMAT verbal section.
GMAT Verbal Preparation: What Should You Look For?
Prep time is precious, so you don’t want to waste any of your GMAT verbal prep hours with subpar practice materials or ones that don’t fit your needs. Instead, you should learn to identify high-quality GMAT study resources and focus on using those.
Let’s go over the characteristics of ideal GMAT verbal practice questions.
Same Question Types and Format As the Real GMAT
The GMAT verbal section includes three types of questions: reading comprehension, sentence correction, and critical reasoning. Each of these question types should be included in your practice materials. Worthwhile GMAT verbal practice questions will also be written in the same style (in terms of length, content, topic, and structure) as those on the real GMAT. (I’ll go over which practice materials do the best job with this in the guide below).
Computerized Adaptive Format
The GMAT is always administered on a computer, and it’s an adaptive test, which means it uses an algorithm to determine your score and the difficulty of the questions you receive as you go along. Using practice tests that are administered in a computerized adaptive format will help you get accustomed to and feel more comfortable with the unique circumstances you’ll face on the day of the exam. It will also help you get a better idea of what your score might be on the real GMAT and how you’re progressing in your preparation.
Range of Difficulties Reflective of the Actual GMAT
If you’re finding all of your GMAT verbal practice questions to be wildly difficult or shockingly easy, the issue may not be you, but your practice materials. Your practice tests should include a range of easy, medium, and difficult questions, because that’s what you’ll see on the test itself.
There’s one key exception to this rule: if you’re looking for a top score (700+) on the exam, you’ll need to practice more with especially difficult hard questions, and should look for resources with a larger proportion of difficult questions.
Organized by Concept and/or Difficulty
When you start practicing, you’ll likely notice that you tend to make the same kinds of errors over and over. For instance, you may have trouble recognizing subject-verb agreement errors in sentence correction questions, which means you might need a review of grammar concepts you may have forgotten, like parts of speech and sentence structure.
The best GMAT verbal practice materials will classify each question by its relevant parts, which will help you start to identify your weaknesses and choose skill-specific drills to work into your prep.
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Fit Your Budget
Some quality GMAT verbal prep materials are free or low-cost, but many others aren’t. You’ll have to decide, based on your target score, your needs, and your budget, what you’re willing to pay.
Fit Your Learning Style
Are you more of a visual or audio learner? Bonus materials that accompany some verbal practice tests, like video explanations of answers, might be up your alley and reinforce the skills you’re building, as well as give you more bang for your buck.
Official GMAT Verbal Prep Materials
The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) provides a variety of official resources with verbal practice questions and tests. For each one, I’ll go over what’s included and the pros and cons.
The GMATPrep Software is the gold standard for GMAT verbal prep. It contains two full-length simulated computerized adaptive tests that are virtually identical to what you’ll see on exam day.
You can tailor your sets of practice questions to include 1-15 questions of each type (critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension, for verbal) and difficulty (easy, medium, or difficult). In addition to the questions on the two practice tests, there are 90 additional practice questions available on the software.
- It’s free for registered users of mba.com.
- Answer explanations are step-by-step and in-depth, and you can go back and review or drill questions you previously got wrong as many times as you like.
- Detailed performance reviews break down what you’re getting wrong so you can hone in on your weak spots.
- Not much! There aren’t many resources that can beat official questions under simulated testing conditions, and it’s free.
- However, while the GMATPrep Software includes an in-depth review of math skills you’ll need for the quant section, it doesn’t have a review of grammar or reasoning skills for the verbal section.
An official addition to the GMATPrep Software, the GMATPrep Question Pack contains 404 additional official questions, including 180 verbal practice questions.
You can create your own sets of practice questions based on your strengths and weaknesses. Each set of questions can be completed in either ‘exam mode’ (timed, under simulated test conditions) or ‘study mode.’
The Question Pack will cost you $29.99 to download.
- This resource contains a wealth of verbal practice questions that aren’t available in any other official prep materials.
- Your performance reviews for these practice questions will be integrated into your overall progress reports in the GMATPrep Software, allowing you to get an even more accurate picture of what your needs are in terms of prep.
- There aren’t quite as many verbal practice questions in the Question Pack as there are quant questions.
The GMAT Official Guide 2018 Verbal Review is a comprehensive resource for GMAT verbal prep. Included in your purchase ($19.95) are 300 official practice questions from retired GMATs, access to an accompanying site where you can customize sets of practice questions, reviews of grammar and reading comprehension fundamentals, and online videos with tips and strategies specific to the verbal section.
- Answer explanations are detailed and in-depth, and the discussions of grammar fundamentals are thorough enough to be helpful for non-native English speakers.
- Practice questions are organized in order of difficulty, which makes it easy for you to gauge your progress.
- Only 15% of the content is brand new. If you own a previous version and are on a tight budget, it might not be worth the purchase.
- The verbal practice questions tend towards the slightly easier side, though there are some difficult questions included. If you’re shooting for an especially high score (700+), you will want to supplement with other resources.
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These are official additions to the GMATPrep Software. You can only get them once you’ve downloaded the original software.
Each Exam Pack contains 90 additional practice questions (30 quantitative, 45 verbal, and 15 integrated reasoning), as well as two full-length computerized adaptive GMATs.
Each Exam Pack costs $49.99.
- In-depth diagnostics will let you know how you’re doing in comparison to your peers on every subsection of the test, as well as how your pacing could improve on each question type.
- Not much (official GMAC questions are always helpful), except that they’re a bit expensive.
These are real retired GMAT tests, written by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). Each set (I, II, and III) contains three official GMAT tests, answer sheets, and a guide for converting your raw score into a scaled score. They’re available in downloadable PDF form.
Each set costs $29.99.
- Over half of the questions in these tests aren’t available in any of the other official GMAT practice tests or resources.
- You may want to order these if 1) you’ve exhausted all the other options for official verbal practice questions and you want a LOT of practice, or 2) if you’re a test-taker with a disability that may require an accommodation and using paper tests at home is easier for you during prep time.
- It’s on paper! You’ll have to score it yourself using the answer sheet, and it’s not computerized (obviously) or adaptive, so it doesn’t simulate any of the testing conditions.
- There is some overlap with questions in the GMAT Focus Quantitative Diagnostic Tool.
- No answer explanations are included, just the answers themselves.
Unofficial GMAT Practice Tests
There are many resources for unofficial GMAT verbal practice tests. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the major ones.
You’ll need to register with your name, email, and password to take the free Veritas Prep practice GMAT, which is a computerized adaptive test. At the end of the practice exam, you’ll get an in-depth analysis of your score, including your average time on questions you answered correctly vs. your average time on questions you answered incorrectly.
The verbal questions here are on the tougher side, which is great if you’re looking for a challenge. But like all other unofficial resources, Veritas doesn’t perfectly simulate GMAT test conditions. The visuals are very different from what you’ll see on the actual test, and the reading comprehension passages are a bit different in content (less science-based and more literary) than those on the real GMAT.
You can also purchase six more practice tests for $49.
You’ll have to register and create an account to access this free GMAT (the ‘self-proctored’ option), which is computerized and adaptive.The Kaplan test also allows you to choose 50% additional time or 100% extra time if you’ll be receiving accommodations during the exam. The instructor-proctored version includes a live mini lesson with an instructor and a live chat box where you can ask questions.
The Kaplan verbal questions are realistic in terms of both content and visuals. When you’re finished, you’ll get an in-depth analysis of your score, including Kaplan strategies and detailed answer explanations. You’ll only get in-depth expert video explanations of up to 13 questions, however.
You can also purchase a question bank (Qbank) with over 1,500 practice questions for $99, or a Practice Pack with access to the same practice questions and four full-length CAT GMATs for $149.
All you need to do is create an account to take the free Manhattan Prep GMAT; You can manually time yourself as you take the Manhattan Prep practice tests, which you won’t be able to do on the actual GMAT.
The verbal questions here are realistic, but the visuals and conditions are not. You can set a time limit for each question during your practice, which can help if you want to work on your pacing. However, every verbal question type takes a different amount of time (reading comprehension questions generally take about two minutes, for example, while sentence correction questions should only take one), so you shouldn’t get into the habit of spending the same amount of time on each one.
If you’d like, you can purchase a set of six more Manhattan Prep practice GMATs for $49.
Creating an account at Princeton Review will give you access to a free self-proctored online GMAT. If you sign up for an in-person practice GMAT event at a local university instead, there will be some advertising for Princeton Review programs and events, but you will get a very realistic simulated GMAT experience.
Princeton Review verbal practice questions are high quality, but they do tend towards the easier side. The software can also be a bit temperamental: before taking the exam, make sure you have the right version of Java and that your pop-up blocking software is turned off.
All you need to access the free GMAT practice test at 800 Score Test is a username and password (no initial registration required). The 800 Score verbal practice test is timed, computerized, and adaptive, and even allows for extended time options of 50% and 100%, making this test especially helpful for students who will require extended time as an accommodation on the actual exam.
It also keeps track of how long you spend on each question and gives you an in-depth diagnostic analysis of your performance when you’re finished, much like the GMATPrep software.
The verbal questions on this test don’t look exactly like they do on the GMAT, but they are otherwise realistic. The reading comprehension questions in particular are quite similar in style and content to the official GMAT reading passages.
You can also purchase five full-length CATs for $24.95.
Create an account and you’ll have access to free, timed quantitative and verbal practice tests (both schools offer the same practice resources). You can also take a micro test (a 20-minute test with an analysis of your mistakes) and a mini test (100 minutes with a score estimate).
The Babson and LBS verbal practice questions are realistic, and the score analysis you’ll get after your test is top-notch. However, be careful about the timing on the LBS test: It gives you a 10-minute break between sections, while you actually only get eight-minute breaks on the GMAT, so try not to get used to the longer breaks. The mini and micro tests also obviously don’t have as many questions as the real GMAT.
GMAT Club has two free full-length GMAT sections available (one quantitative and one verbal, both 75 minutes long). GMAT Club tests aren’t adaptive, but they do contain a similar combination of questions—in terms of question type and difficulty—as the real exam.
Also included on GMAT Club are some helpful verbal-specific drills and practice tests: a 30-question critical reasoning set, a 13-question reading comprehension set, a 21-question sentence correction set, and a 31-question idioms quiz.
You can also purchase three-month access to a 1,572-question bank for $79.95 or six-month access for $99.95.
McGraw Hill Education has six free GMAT tests available. On the McGraw Hill tests, you can save your progress at any time, and the exams can be taken timed or untimed, making them ideal for extra practice. However, the score report will only tell you the percentage of questions you got right or wrong, so this isn’t a good resource for estimating your GMAT score.
The McGraw-Hill tests include all sections of the GMAT except the analytical writing assessment, and the verbal practice questions in particular (especially critical reasoning) are very close to what you’ll see on the exam.
Useful GMAT Verbal Prep Materials
Some GMAT verbal prep materials include practice questions as well as skill-specific lessons, drills, quizzes, and tips. Let’s go over a few of the best ones. For each resource, I’ll explain what’s included, the pros and cons, and who would benefit most from using it.
The Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook contains about 220 unofficial GMAT verbal questions, with nearly 100 of those questions devoted to sentence correction.
The workbook also details specific, three-to-four-step strategies for each question type in the verbal section. There’s also a section on the analytical writing assessment that includes strategies and practice essay questions.
The workbook is available for $12 on Amazon.
- Bonus materials include a style and usage guide that reviews basic grammar concepts and a list of common idioms that appear on the GMAT. They’re great for a quick reference if you’re completing other practice questions and need to look up a rule or idiom.
- The “Reading the GMAT Way” chapter is a particularly effective guide to breaking down reading comprehension passages, what to look for, and what to disregard.
- Plenty of questions! Kaplan includes many more verbal practice questions than comparable books, in addition to strategies, so it’s a good deal.
- Since the grammar review is a bit thin, and the answer explanations aren’t particularly in-depth, the Kaplan Verbal Workbook wouldn’t be the best option for non-native English speakers.
- As with all unofficial resources, Kaplan questions aren’t exactly identical to official GMAT ones. This is especially evident in the critical reasoning questions.
- The questions aren’t organized in order of difficulty, so it’s nearly impossible to isolate difficult questions if you’re a 700+ scorer looking to target trickier questions.
Who Would Benefit?
- Students who are somewhat lacking in prep time would benefit from the Kaplan Verbal Workbook. It’s less in-depth than a more targeted guide (like the PowerScore question-specific Bibles), but still offers a comprehensive overview of the GMAT verbal section with plenty of quality answer explanations.
- Students who want a one-stop GMAT verbal shop should consider Kaplan: practice questions and strategies for both the verbal section and the analytical writing assessment are all right here.
The Princeton Review Verbal Workout includes a chapter each on content and strategy review for reading comprehension, sentence correction, critical reasoning, the analytical writing assessment, and integrated reasoning. There’s also a full practice verbal section and an answer key with detailed answer explanations.
Other chapters include general verbal test-taking tips and three appendixes: a glossary of grammar terms, a list of common GMAT idioms, and grammar ‘odds and ends’ (common grammar errors you’ll find on the GMAT).
The Verbal Workout is $14 on Kindle.
- Answer explanations are high-quality, breaking down each question in a concise but comprehensive way.
- The grammar review here is heftier than in other GMAT verbal resources, such as Kaplan (though it’s still not enough for a non-native English speaker).
- A common complaint about Princeton Review materials is that they’re a bit easier than others: the Verbal Workout is no exception. While it offers a solid overview, in-depth analysis of very difficult questions won’t be found here.
- There aren’t quite as many practice questions in this text as in the Kaplan workbook.
- Princeton Review resources have a habit of overemphasizing ‘tricks’ rather than skill-building. While the strategies may work for you, it might be better to focus on truly understanding the concepts behind the questions rather than jumping right to strategy.
Who Would Benefit?
- Test-takers who like specific, actionable strategies tend to go for Princeton Review resources.
- Time management is also covered effectively, so if you have trouble with pacing, the Verbal Workout is a good go-to guide.
The PowerScore GMAT Bibles: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Verbal Bible Workbook
The PowerScore Bibles offer detailed explanations of each of the GMAT verbal question types.
The Sentence Correction Bible includes 140 sentence correction questions, all labeled by error type. Each chapter is devoted to a kind of error you’ll see on the exam (sentence construction, verbs, pronouns, nouns, and modifiers, for example) and contains both practice questions and skill-specific drills.
The Critical Reasoning Bible is a comprehensive guide to critical reasoning questions, including a chapter on each subsection of question types (‘weaken the argument,’ ‘strengthen the argument,’ ‘paradox questions,’ etc.) as well as specific strategies for how to tackle each one. The authors break down the fundamental skills you’ll need to develop to answer critical reasoning questions, including identifying premises, counter-premises, assumptions, and conclusions. Each skill you learn is accompanied by mini-drills that reinforce that skill.
The Reading Comprehension Bible contains chapters on deconstructing passages and finding their main ideas, strategies for identifying and approaching different reading comprehension question types, and common traps to avoid when answering reading comprehension questions on the GMAT. Like the other PowerScore Bibles, it includes a variety of drills and exercises to reinforce the skills presented, as well as GMAT-style practice questions.
The GMAT Verbal Bible Workbook is designed to offer extra practice and to be used in conjunction with the trilogy of question-specific Verbal Bibles (Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension, and Critical Reasoning). Each section contains drills and exercises that reinforces the skills gleaned from each of the Bibles in the trilogy.
Each PowerScore GMAT Bible costs $24.99, but you can get the full trilogy of section-specific Verbal Bibles for $69.99.
- The PowerScore Bibles offer highly in-depth breakdowns of GMAT verbal questions. Skill building and concept analysis are highlighted. They’ll also help you learn to identify question stems (the phrasing used in a particular question type) on sight, which helps you know how to approach a given question.
- Though they’re detailed, the books aren’t overly dense or tough to get through. They’re great resources for students with limited time to prep.
- There’s a lot of content overlap between the Bibles, but the GMAT Verbal Bible doesn’t include nearly as many practice questions as the other books. It’s particularly thin in the reading comprehension department (only two passages with four questions each). If you’re on a very tight budget, it might be best to select the question type-specific Bible that addresses your weakest area.
- In general, the PowerScore Bibles have fewer practice questions than other GMAT prep materials, averaging about 125-140 verbal practice questions per text. They focus more on skills, mini-drills, and strategy. So if you’re just looking to get more verbal practice questions under your belt, they’re not your best bet.
Who Would Benefit?
- The Sentence Correction Bible would be especially helpful for non-native English speakers, as it goes over the basic fundamentals of English grammar before going more in depth on each topic. In fact, all the PowerScore Bibles are some of the best GMAT verbal resources for non-native English speakers, as they address each topic in a lot of detail.
- Don’t be afraid to buy an entire book devoted to your particular weak spot (assuming you have one)! These are some of the most in-depth guides out there to specific verbal question types; no other resources delve this deeply into strategies for each subsection of questions.
Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides: Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, and Reading Comprehension
Each Manhattan Prep Strategy Guide is around 140 pages and contains a detailed guide to a particular question type. The Reading Comprehension Strategy Guide, for example, includes a detailed breakdown of how to approach a GMAT reading comprehension passage, the different question stems that one might encounter, and what to look for or avoid in answer choices, as well as broader strategies for both prep time and exam day. The last chapter of each strategy guide includes practice questions that allow you to reinforce what you’ve just learned (four passages in the Reading Comprehension guide, for example).
Purchasing a Manhattan Prep Strategy Guide (or a set of them) and setting up a student account gets you access to a companion website with online question banks (about 25 questions per guide), six Manhattan Prep computerized adaptive tests, and five online interactive GMAT Interact lessons.
Strategy Guides are $26 each or $32 in eBook form. Package deals are regularly available, depending on which you want to combine.
- Manhattan Prep guides focus on a methodical approach to each question type and skill set, such as unpacking an argument into its components or finding the main idea of a passage. Magic tricks aren’t the focus here, which means you’ll build more effective and reliable skills that you can count on during the exam.
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- Some of the answer explanations assume prior knowledge and are not detailed enough for non-native English speakers.
- The Manhattan Prep guides focus more on strategy building than practice questions, so if you’re looking for extensive question sets, they might not be your best option.
Who Would Benefit?
- The Manhattan Prep strategy guides, unlike some of the other GMAT verbal practice materials, help students learn what to expect visually on the exam (what you’ll see on the screen for each question type and how to interpret it). This is especially helpful for students who might feel uncomfortable with the computerized adaptive format or uncertain in unfamiliar test-taking circumstances.
- The Manhattan Prep guides also offer specific note-taking strategies for different verbal question types, which can help students with testing anxiety or who tend to lose focus while reading lengthy passages.
4 Top Tips for GMAT Verbal Practice
Of course, there are ways to prepare for the GMAT verbal section beyond completing practice tests or drills. Here are a few verbal prep strategies that go beyond the practice materials listed above:
Start Reading Early
GMAT reading comprehension and critical reasoning questions will require you to be able to read and synthesize high-level material. Sentence correction questions will require you to be familiar with a variety of frequently used English idioms (common phrases or sayings). Regularly reading newspapers and magazines that use fairly sophisticated language, like The New York Times, The Economist, and The New Yorker, will help you absorb the idioms and vocabulary that are sure to crop up in the GMAT verbal section. You’ll also get practice comprehending sophisticated arguments and absorbing information.
Review Grammar Concepts and Terms
Sentence correction questions on the GMAT verbal section will require you to understand grammar concepts that you may not know or have forgotten, like dangling modifiers, subject-verb agreement, and correct pronoun usage. Carve out some study time to review these concepts and make sure you fully understand the grammar rules you’ll see tested on the GMAT.
The PowerScore Verbal Bibles are the best sources for GMAT-specific grammar information. If you need a more in-depth review of the grammar basics, the Princeton Review’s Grammar Smart is an excellent resource. TOEFL books like Timothy Dickeson’s TOEFL Grammar Guide are also effective.
Focus on Your Weaknesses
When you review your GMAT verbal practice tests, identify the kinds of questions you tend to get wrong. Then drill those concepts in your focused study sessions. For example, if you find you’re missing a lot of sentence correction questions, you’ll want to spend extra time studying and practicing that question type. If you use a resource like the GMATPrep software that allows you to customize your practice question sets or quizzes, you can easily highlight the question types you struggle most with.
Moreover, the more specific you can be in your analysis, the better. It’s helpful to know that you’re struggling with sentence corrections, but you’ll be able to target your prep more carefully if you can determine which sentence corrections concepts are tripping you up: are you missing mostly questions on concision or pronoun agreement? The more exactly you can break down what types of questions you’re missing, the more focused and effective your prep will be.
Use Practice Tests to Improve Your Stamina and Time Management
You have 75 minutes to complete 41 verbal questions on the GMAT. On average, you have about a minute and a half per question, though some question types (reading comprehension) take longer than others (sentence correction). That’s not a ton of time, so pacing is key to getting through all of the questions.
When you complete sets of practice questions, challenge yourself to spend a little less time on each question, without sacrificing accuracy. Then, when you review practice tests, think about where you took more time and where you took less. Resources like the GMATPrep software can help, since they’ll tell you how long you spent on each question.
For a similar guide to prep resources for the quant section, check out our GMAT quant practice article.
Need an overall guide to all the best free GMAT prep materials? Look no further than our list of the best free GMAT practice tests.