Acing your GMAT
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 !