The GMAT test is challenging, even for native speakers, and those speaking English as a foreign language may need some extra effort and support to achieve a competitive score. Read valuable advice from one of the GMAT Verbal section experts of ‘GMAT Tutor’.

The GMAT is administered in more than 100 countries; many of the GMAT's test takers speak English as a second or third language. Even though GMAC states that higher vocabulary is less important than reasoning skills in the Verbal section, you will need to have a certain level of knowledge of the English language in order to pass the GMAT with a high score.

To be fair, GMAC has taken steps to level the playing field more (such as reducing idioms). However, non-native speakers with weaker English speaking skills may still be at a disadvantage. But does that does not mean failure in the GMAT.

There are many great resources to help raise your level of English as you study for the GMAT. The most important thing is for you to be an active learner and take control of your English skills.

Here are some tips on improving your English for the GMAT:

  1. Practice the English language as much as possible. Listen to English podcasts and watch English-speaking shows, movies and documentaries.
  2. Read in English in an active manner. Stick with newspapers and magazines that cover current events, but refrain from reading complex novels – they won’t be handy for the GMAT.
  3. When prepping for the GMAT, use a dictionary and create a list of new words. Aim to use some of these new words, especially if these are words encountered regularly in GMAT material.
  4. Try to understand words from context. Words do not exist in a vacuum, but their meaning in a sentence is part and parcel to the context. So, it is important to understand what’s around the word to derive its meaning.
  5. Note that other languages have similarities to English (e.g. Latin-based languages). Many times, the roots are similar. You can use this to your advantage if you know one of these languages.
  6. If your knowledge of the English language is very low, then there is no choice. It will be necessary to strengthen those skills before taking the GMAT. Sign up for ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, which may prove useful along with using the many free resources available for ESL students.

Read the original article on the blog of The Economist’s GMAT Tutor.

GMAT Prep from The Economist: 5,000 Practice Questions, Simulation Exams and Live Tutor Sessions. Sign up today.