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Acing your GMAT

June 8, 2009

My tips for acing the GMAT are short and simple. This is what I would suggest to anyone planning to take the GMAT soon –

a) There is an overload of information and materials on and off the internet, all promising to guarantee you a near 800 score. The preparation material you use is important, hence you need to be wise here. The only reference thats important is the Official Guide and the 2 GmatPrep tests. Here’s why.

b) The thing about GMAT is that it can go against your perception. Thats why, if you begin to use mock tests and other preparatory materials widely available, there’s a high chance that your perceptions about the question pattern would be shaped by them. Use ONLY the Official Guide for finding and understanding the pattern to the GMAT questions. I repeat, ONLY the Official Guide. Every other material is fine for your practice, but not for finding the pattern.

c) So I’ve been stressing on establishing the pattern. Try this – Day 1 – take the GmatPrep 1, and list down the numbers of the questions you got WRONG. Lets call it List1. Store the list somewhere. Do not analyze your test now. Day 5 – take the GmatPrep1 again, and prepare a similar list for the questions you got WRONG again. This is List2. Now carefully go through the questions you got wrong twice. Note the type of questions, and the reasons for getting them wrong. Then move on to all the questions you got wrong in either attempt, and repeat your analysis. Focus your mind on these question types, and soon you’d have established your answering pattern. You can repeat the exercise with a dozen questions from each section from the OG to confirm the pattern.

d) There is no trick involved in the step above. You need to understand that the answers to some of the GMAT questions, especially Verbal, would be different from what you think. Even when you are looking at the right answer. The idea is to establish whats wrong, and how to get it right. This, for me, was the key. You can now practice as much as you want from other sources, but to get the most accurate idea about your score range and your answering pattern, always remember – only OG and GmatPrep !!

e) Approach the test with the belief that you would answer every question correctly. The correct answer’s out there, and the time, as long as you plan it well, is with you. The first few questions decide your score range. The next few decide which end of the range you lie. The last few decide whether its going to be 10/20 points higher or not. So they are all important – don’t lose your guard at any time. Get into the habit of staying focused for 4 hours at a stretch. If you need to choose, do 20 questions per section from the OG on one day at one stretch instead of 10 questions a piece everyday.

f) Do not ignore the AWA section. You wouldn’t require a lot of practice for it as long as you prepare smartly. Avoid the tendency to switch directly to the main questions while taking a mock test. AWA marks the beginning of your test, and it’d be in your advantage to start well. Practice at least a couple of tests by completing the AWA first – just to ensure that your focus remains sustained even after an hour or so that it lasts.

Thats the essence of what I would recommend to anyone taking the GMAT. Go ace it fast; its one aspect of the MBA application that you still have control over. All the best !

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2009 6:57 pm

    Another thing that I always suggest candidates is to read and to read stuff online. A lot of candidates don’t read and they directly jump on taking tests. Taking test helps only when you have your basics in place. Now if you are someone who has never read anything beyond text books how can you expect to crack a RC or get the essence of Critical Reasoning?

    On that note, I would like to know whether you read or not. Although your 770 score does not let me believe that you don’t read. Still! 🙂

  2. fechandi permalink
    June 14, 2009 12:44 am

    I agree 100% on the 2 gmat prep tests, but disagree when it comes to the official gmat guide. When it comes to the GMAT i’m a minimalist. The best bet is do one of the test at the beginning and then read a book like Cracking the GMAT (princeton review). I found the Guide to have too much information and people tend to want to learn everything as well as they can, it’s a mistake. I went from a 660 on the first test, to a 730 on the second one, by goint through cracking the gmat in two weeks. Took the test a week later and got a 750.

    People obsess about the gmat too much, you should be able to do enough in a month to take it, any extra effort is wasted and couterproductive.

  3. June 22, 2009 12:29 am

    thanks for this wonderful piece of information. I am going to give my GMAT pretty soon and wanted to read up on the best approaches n stuff before I sorta plunge into my gmat prep.

    I somehow stumbled upon your article n now am glad I found it.


  4. Hill permalink
    July 6, 2009 1:36 pm

    If you do nothing else in your GMAT prep, you MUST use a stopwatch and keep track of how long it takes to do each practice question! Keep working the same question until you can get it down to the 2 minute mark. This way, you drill that certain math or verbal technique in your head. Even more importantly, you are training your brain to know what a 2 minute duration is.

    It took me a lot of heartache before I realized this simple rule about taking the GMAT: It is far more damaging to your GMAT score to take 6 minutes to get a question right, than it is to take 1 minute to get a question wrong.

    If during the test, you find that you are struggling with a question at about the 1:15 mark…guess on it, and move on! I suspect that the biggest thing that separates a good GMAT score from a bad GMAT score is time management.

    Lastly, I’ve been telling my friends this: It’s rare that we all get the score we want on our first try. Don’t take it to heart if you bomb the first try, like I did. It took me a year to get the nerve to take it again, and I did fine…but i lost a year.
    I’ll bet that most people have to take the GMAT more than once to get the score they want.

  5. ahembeea permalink*
    July 6, 2009 4:28 pm

    Completely agree with you Hill. Thats a very relevant and crucial point you have mentioned.

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