GMAT prep in itself can be overwhelming. When you add multiple GMAT tips on top of it, it becomes even worse.
The hardest part however, isn’t the number of strategies out there to prep for your GMAT test but the contradicting opinions that advisers share. While someone might advise you to attempt a question backwards, another would tell you to never skip reading the question.
How do you even know which strategy to follow when they all aim in different directions?
Before diving into the GMAT test tips and strategies for different questions or sections, one needs to know how to tackle the test and the prep for GMAT as a whole. It is more important to know how to navigate through the test before knowing how to solve an algebraic problem-solving question in the Quant section.
The first and foremost step, before you even decide whether you want to give the GMAT is to understand the format of the test.
Once you have done that, we can divulge further into some of the best strategies to ace the GMAT.
While most of the GMAT strategies in this blog aren’t in a specific order, this one is placed first as it is the thing you need to begin your prep with.
Something that every successful human being shares with others in this category is goal-setting. No matter which task you pick up, having a goal will always streamline your plan of attack and make the outcome much closer to what you desire.
This is why having a GMAT goal score is a must before you start buying study material or join a coaching. The goal score will set the pace and format for your GMAT prep.
Other than the goal score, another way to set a target is to book your GMAT test date. Once you have paid the $250 for the test, you will automatically stop making excuses to post-pone your prep. For working individuals, coming home from a long work-day can leave you de-motivated. You probably would not want to pick up a book and bury yourself in the studies. Knowing exactly when your GMAT test is has helped many test-takers focus on their prep and avoid any procrastination.
GMAT forums are a blessing to those attempting the test. Forums like GMATClub will provide you a community of people struggling through similar problems and creative solutions.
Once you start going through these forums, you will find many tricks and remedies that have worked for students of all types. The reason I strongly believe in GMAT forums is that it provides multiple solutions to a single problem and thus could come in very handy when a popular strategy isn’t working for you.
Forums like GMATClub also have test-takers who share difficult questions and will be more than happy to take a stab at questions you are struggling on.
This is especially helpful for people who decide to study by themselves instead of joining a coaching class.
The process of elimination is one of the most popular GMAT strategies out there.
While attempting a question that just has you stumped, what should be your plan of attack? Eliminating the wrong answers.
This isn’t something I would recommend you do for all questions on the GMAT, rather practice this on the questions that have taken you well over a minute to understand.
In the GMAT Quant section, the process of elimination can be used by substituting an answer choice in the question. Let’s say you have 4 option choices that can be arranged in increasing or decreasing order.
As you can see, these answer choices can be arranged in increasing order, 23, 35, 67, and 88. Now to use the process of elimination, pick any of the middle two options, i.e. 35 or 67. When you substitute one of these two, you will find out whether the answer is too low or too high. Let’s assume you substituted 35 in place of x. Your answer would be 122 which is much lower than the answer in the equation. This directly eliminates option choice d) as well, as it is a number even less than 35. Your probably answers could be a) 88, or c) 67. another stab at substituting either of these options will present the answer to you.
While the GMAT, obviously, won’t give you a question as simple as this, eliminating options will almost always be an option.
In the GMAT Verbal section, elimination is done a little differently. For example, in a sentence correction questioning the correct answer can often sound wrong. However, it will be grammatically correct. Eliminating every option choice by finding out the grammatical errors in them will help you reach the correct answer.
The process of elimination is also a key way to guess on the test. For those questions that you cannot allocate a lot of time to, or just aren’t sure about, using the process of elimination would improve your chances of having the
It might seem odd that someone would ask you to find a question on a test! After all the questions are right there in front of you.
What I mean by finding the question is to find the exact thing that the question requires you to solve for? Simply put, before starting to solve any question on the GMAT, always make sure whether the question wants you to solve for x or y.
Questions on the GMAT can sometimes be tricky to deal with especially when they have multiple parts to them like graphs, tables, various equations for the Math section and conclusion, premise, for the Verbal section.
When reading the question make sure you understand which variable or equation the question wants you to solve, rather than starting off based on all the information provided to you.
All the different types of questions on the GMAT require a different approach to them. Not all Verbal questions will be solved by reading the question first and not all Quant questions will be solved by working through the answer choices.
In addition to that, the solution that works for someone else might make you much slower and inaccurate on the test. For example, you might have heard that reading the questions first on a Reading Comprehension and then looking for the answer in the passage is a good GMAT strategy. However, when you do the same you take much longer to find the right sentences or paragraphs in relation to the question. Thus, you should chuck this strategy and start with reading the passage first.
However, there are a few approaches to different question types that work for the majority.
1. Read the question first for critical reasoning.
2. Start with checking the shortest option choice for errors on sentence correction.
3. Read the option choices before starting to solve a problem-solving question.
4. Follow the order of the answer choices for data sufficiency.
5. Pick out the relevant graphs, charts etc. for integrated reasoning questions.
6. Create a blueprint for your essay on the analytical writing assessment.
These practices have been followed by top scorers across the globe.
6. How to take mock tests?
Taking a mock test is an integral part of anyone’s GMAT prep. Without mock tests, tracking one’s progress is very difficult.
But just sitting down for a three-hour test isn’t the best way to optimize your benefits form the GMAT mocks. Having a pattern for taking a mock test will ensure you get the most out of the three or so hours you spend on the test rather than just knowing your current score. Your environment for your mocks and your approach to them should be like that of the actual test.
Take breaks and select the same section order that you would select on the actual test. Something we need to establish is taking a mock test during any time of the day as you please shouldn’t be a habit. When you select your date and time-slot for the GMAT, let’s assume you selected a morning slot for it. Taking your mocks on the same time-slot as the one you selected will help you identify any problems you might face on test day.
If you feel sleepy when you take your GMAT mocks during the morning, chances are you will feel sleepy during the actual test as well. Since you know about this issue now, you can try to figure out ways to deal with it.
The second point to remember while taking a mock test is to make sure you practice every single GMAT strategy you have learnt. This will also help you eradicate any strategy that isn’t working for you anymore and replace it with a fresher version.
Once you’re done with the test, analyze every mistake you’ve made on it.
Be it a mock test or a practice question, analyzing your errors is a must. Familiarizing yourself with the various concepts tested on the GMAT might be easy, but your execution of the same needs to be flawless as well.
Analyzing your errors will help you in determining which concepts, that you thought you knew, still require a more in-depth knowledge for you.
Especially after a mock, analyzing mistakes can bring forth problem areas for you. A time limit can be very daunting psychologically and can easily lead you to make mistakes. When you analyze your errors after a mock you can spot the concepts that you still need to work on and have more practice sets for.
In the GMAT exam, you are given a laminated scratch-pad, with five pages usable on both sides, that you can use as a rough sheet for the various sections.
There are many ways to use this scratch-pad and you can prep it before every section.
Before starting a section on the test, divide the scratch-pad into various sections to use for rough work. This will help save you the extra time you would spend erasing your work to solve the next question once the scratch-pad is full.
Buying and using a similar scratch-pad for your GMAT mocks will also help you create a habit for this. The GMAT is a test that relies on your sense to allocate time. Thus, having a habit of attempting the test as it will be presented to you on the actual test day will help take away any wasted seconds.
The GMAT AWA section is a long one as it requires you to solve one question in thirty minutes. While this question won’t affect you too much during MBA admissions, scoring well on it is required to not raise any red flags.
Test-takers often skip practicing for the essay on the AWA section and end up writing sub-par, to bad essays in the test.
The practice for the AWA section can be minimized by only writing the complete essays during the mock tests and sticking to creating blueprints during practice sessions.
Streamlining your thoughts before writing an analytical essay is key to scoring well on this section. Just working on this process will help you create an above-average to good essay during the actual GMAT.
Just like every other strategy, time management should also be practiced throughout your GMAT prep. While you won’t be able to solve questions within the desired time limit in the beginning of your prep, timing yourself should be a habit.
Even if you take 7-8 minutes to solve a question in the beginning, be aware of the time. Slowly, push yourself to finish similar questions in lesser time in every attempt.
If you think practicing time management in the last week or only on mock tests will be enough think again.
As I mentioned earlier, GMAT is best attempted when you already have a habit of attempting the test in the exact way it presents itself to you in the test center. This is why many re-takers of the test improve their scores with every retake.
Although no one can tell you for sure how the GMAT algorithm works, other than the GMAC, a lot of ideas have been formulated through years of analyzing the test.
The first 1/3rd portion of the test is considered to be very essential for a high score. This brings us to believe that spending a good amount of time on these questions is the way to go. However, as you proceed in the test, start spending less-and-less time on questions as it has been noted that not finishing the test carries significant score reduction.
This also brings us to guessing on the test when pressed for time. You can either use the process of elimination for this guessing or simply take a wild guess if you have almost no time left to allocate to a certain question.
This can be considered an extension of the fourth point.
A question on the GMAT often comes with a lot of cushioning. While attempting these questions, it is important to separate the relevant information from the extra information provided to you.
In the IR section, you are generally provided with multiple charts, graphs, or tables, and have multiple questions relating to them. While you might need the first two tables for the first question, you might require the first and the last table for the second one.
Similarly, in the GMAT Verbal section, sometimes modifiers are used to confuse the test-taker in long sentences. If a modifier is removed, the sentence wouldn’t ever be grammatically wrong. This means, if you ignore the modifier, you will be able to put your knowledge of grammar rules to good use and find the error. However, this should only be done when you are definite that the error is not in relation to the modifier.
Knowing how to ignore any extra information will help you to not get confused and select the wrong answer.
I am pretty sure that the importance of following the strategies for your GMAT test during practice sessions has been made very clear in the points preceding this one.
If you have missed it, I will happily repeat myself.
If you take a mouthful of hot food, you automatically blow air out to cool it down. If you don’t, then you’re probably a superhero. For the rest, you don’t even have to think about this reaction and it just happens. This is because since you have known this solution, you have repeated it enough times that it’s now muscle memory.
A similar rule applies to almost everything in life. The more you practice something, the more it becomes a reflex rather than a choice.
This means that if you practice questions with all the strategies you have learnt during the GMAT prep, that will be the only way you would know how to react to (solve) those questions.
Although there are various study material and test bundles available on the market for GMAT prep, the GMAT Official Guide (OG) is a must in your collection.
I wouldn’t ask you to only stick to the OG. In fact, I would recommend investing in your GMAT study material as it would expose you to a larger number of questions and strategies that the OG won’t provide you.
However, studying from the OG is a must as it is the most accurate representation of the actual GMAT.
I do recommend skipping and guessing on a couple of questions on the GMAT. Most high-scorers will tell you that they did this as well. However, the most important trick to it knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
The GMAT tests you on numerous concepts in each section. From statistics, geometry, algebra, to data interpretation, and grammar, it is not possible for a student to have a grip on each and every concept.
Your aim during GMAT prep should definitely be to strengthen each and every concept that presents itself to you. But, in case you aren’t able to, you should make a mental list of the concepts you are weak in.
These will be concepts that you get most of the questions wrong for. These are the questions that you should consider while skipping or guessing on the test.
If you get stuck on such a question for over a minute, and still have no plan of action for the solution, guessing might actually improve your chances of getting the question right. In addition, you will be able to save some time to utilize in lengthier questions that you can solve.
Humans think they are amazing at multitasking. They are not! Studies have shown that when people try to multi-task, they often aren’t able to produce optimal results in any of the tasks they undertake.
So, if you’re studying for your GMAT while having lunch during work, or traveling back from work, or meeting your personal obligation, you are more likely to not see any progress in your score.
Do not ask me why you’re still at a 570 score even after studying 40 hours if you were multi-tasking for 30 of those.
Two-hours per day, of focused GMAT prep without any distractions, for 20 days will provide you with a much better result than 5 hours a day for 20 days with distractions of any sort.
Prepping for your GMAT isn’t an easy task especially with a job. But it is also not impossible. Your social life might take a few hits for the 2-3 months duration that you spend preparing for the GMAT but your score will be reflective of the sacrifice.
Although, you must remember that the GMAT isn’t testing you for the hard work you have put into preparing for the test. While some people crack the GMAT 700 score-line in one month, some might take a year and still only reach to a 690 score. This means there is no reward for senseless hard work. I won’t say you can score well on the GMAT with just smart work either by just following these GMAT strategies.
Only a combination of both these aspects will help you reach your goal score on the GMAT. This is why I will once again place emphasis on the value of practicing these GMAT strategies throughout your GMAT prep and not only in the last few weeks.