Top 5 Useful GMAT Strategies That Will Totally Surprise You

Posted on August 26, 2014 | Filed in GMAT

Find out 5 of the most surprising strategies for mastering the GMAT exam. The GMAT requires a lot of studying and preparation, however, these 5 tricks won't be found in any test-prep book.

Preparing for the GMAT exam is no different than preparing for an athletic event. Swimmers work on technique, breathing patterns, pacing in order to shave milliseconds off of their race time. Sometimes there are methods for improving time that have nothing to do with preparation or conditioning, such as a swimmer shaving their body hair in order to minimize friction. It is these interesting and often surprising tricks that result in reaching new heights and in regards to the GMAT, a higher test score.

1. Only answer a question once

To attain a high score it is important to consistently answer questions correctly. In this pursuit for correct answers students often lose precious time attempting to verify what they already know to be true. Double-checking, although may seem like an important technique, is actually time consuming and counter productive. It is important to never miss the forest for the tree and to remember that the goal is to answer all of the questions. You most likely won’t answer every question correctly, accept this and focus on acting on instinct and moving onto the next question. This is an exam meant to gauge reasoning and mental reflex, not meticulous perfectionism. If you have selected an answer then chances are you have done so with a high level of certainty. You have been preparing for this exam, you have developed an instinct, trust that instinct. Do not go back and answer the question again when there are so many others waiting. The GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test so the difficulty level of the questions can escalate very quickly. This exam is a race so don’t be afraid to be quick.

Sure, it’s impossible to know an answer to a question before even reading the passage that’s being referenced. What is possible is to have a strong grasp of what the GMAT architects are looking for. Reading actively with certain key phrases in the back of your mind can be the difference between immediately recognizing the answer and scrambling for data. What’s the “attitude of the author” and “purpose of the passage” are some of the common inquiries on the exam. Don’t worry about memorizing specific facts and information, which generally won’t be required or can be easily referenced. What is important is to look for the writer’s intent. Assume there is a bias and aim to identify the author’s argument. The passages are not long, generally not longer than 400 words each. They are, however, very convoluted and complex. Aside from being difficult to read on a technical level, they will also based on obscure subject matter generally a foreign topic to the test-taker. That is why active reading is all the more important. If you know what you’re looking for you create immediate necessity for what you’re reading. Key elements of the text will stand out and tie in logically what you need.

3. Don’t save time

You’ve been conditioning for the GMAT exam like Rocky Balboa for a big fight against a Soviet steroid machine. Each round is timed and you’ve shed every second off your game. Now sit back and remember that shortcuts can be your enemy. The Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction sections of the exam are not meant to trick you, they’re meant to make you flex your mental muscle. There is no method or technique to working these sections besides actively reading the question and reaching back on all your previous knowledge. To be critical means to construct an argument, this takes time so use every second you have to plan your attack. When it comes to sentence correction you need to know the rules. Study and familiarize yourself with standard English grammar, idioms and vocabulary. Sometimes there is no elaborate method to test taking. All you can do is read and answer the questions.

4. At times, you will be wrong

There always exists the possibility that you will achieve a perfect score on the GMAT. A perfect score is possible, just not likely. It is important to accept that at times you will be wrong. You need to embrace that you will now know every answer and take comfort in mistakes. The quicker you can accept this idea the quicker you can relax and start nailing correct answers. Attempting to answer every question correctly leads to lost time and the potential to not even see every question. Admit when it’s time to move on to another question and focus on what you know. There will be surprises on the exam. You’re goal is to never get sidelined and flustered, to always maintain composure. The exam’s difficulty level fluctuates so expect questions to become increasingly more difficult. Getting more questions correct on a harder version of the exam weights heavier than more correct answers on an easier version. This is why it is important to forgo the notion of perfection and focus only on forward mobility. In a foot race the quality of your stride at the start is only as important as the quality of your stride at the end.

5. Every question counts

There are a lot of factors that make the GMAT a difficult and strenuous exam. It is important to remember that every question counts. Going along with previous tips, it is important to manage time efficiently because spending too much time on a right answer might result in not being able to see all of the questions. Embrace the logic that answering a question wrong but saving time might lead to several more correct answers at the end of the exam. This exam is not for perfectionists, it is for students who understand how to manage time and work efficiently. Throughout the entire test always be concerned about the last minute of allotted time you will have. If you begin to feel pressure that you’re spending too much time on a question and you’ll sacrifice that last minute of questions, answer with your gut instinct and move on.

The GMAT exam requires a lot of studying and preparation but these tips won’t be found in any test-prep book. It is important to always think outside of the box and utilize every technique available to maximize your score. Business school admissions counselors are seeking candidates who are driven by results and actively pursue new methods for success.