GMAT-MBA-Prep.com provides a free introductory course for the GMAT. This guide is designed to get your math and verbal skills up to speed so that you can make the most from a classroom or online GMAT course.
Contributors Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet was About.com's GMAT expert and has published books through McGraw Hill on preparing for the GMAT. Ajeet is an expert on the MBA admissions process and is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin School of Business.
Ten Tips for the
1. Pacing tips
Time management is
critical to getting your highest possible GMAT score. On test day, your nerves will
distort your perception of time, making this even more difficult.
GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), meaning that it adapts to your
performance and you can't return to prior questions. This makes timing
very challenging. If you go too slowly, time could run out halfway
through the test. Or, if you go to quickly, you could be stuck at the end
of the exam and not able to go backwards. Plus, by going too quickly you could make careless mistakes like mis-reading a question or accidentally
choosing the wrong answer.
Don't get stuck in a time trap!
Try not to waste more than four minutes on any given question (the typical time spent will be between two and four minutes). Part of the
problem is that GMAT writers make trick questions that are designed to waste your
What is 999,999 x
Hmmm... can you get that done in four minutes? While working on a dry erase board? I don't think so! You could solve this question by doing the math
(after a few minutes) or you could use a shortcut with FOIL by
converting 999,999 into 1,000,000 minus 1. You can then change 999,999 x
999,999 into (1,000,000 - 1)(1,000,000 -1) = 1,000,000(squared) -
2,000,000 + 1.
More than likely you just find the answer with "1"
as the final digit and you have found the correct answer in less than 15
seconds. As a rule of thumb, if you have spent more than four minutes on a question, there was likely a shortcut that you missed.
A useful resource for time management is 800score. They offer a GMAT test pacer system that trains you to learn proper pacing for the GMAT. This available on their free GMAT download.
2. Don't panic or fret over the last question
The problem with telling people "don't panic" in a terrifying situation is that they
tend to panic more. So advising someone "don't panic" when taking the GMAT may not be effective! The most effective approach is to practice, practice, practice to get
used to taking the test under timed high-pressure conditions, and remember, if all else
fails you can always cancel the exam at the end.
3. Fill in the
If you have a minute left and many questions to go, just fill in all the blanks.
There is a greater penalty for unanswered questions than guessing (where you have a 1
in 5 chance of getting the right answer).
4. Spend a great deal of time and take many
You should begin preparing for the GMAT one to three months before test day. You may need more time (two to five months) if you have been out of school for some time and need to brush up on material. In general, you should spend at least 50 hours preparing.
5. Study courses
Consider taking a classroom or online ecourse if you need additional help. Your
score may increase by 100 to 200 points. If you are looking to beat the GMAT, evaluate your GMAT course options.
6. Focus on sections most amenable to
The essay section and the sentence correction
sections questions will tend to show the largest improvements
with preparation. For the essay section, have 2 or 3 basic templates - this saves a lot of time and thinking during the exam. Also, brainstorm ideas in the first five
minutes before you start writing. The work you put in then can make the
rest of the essay much easier. I have not scored anything less than a 6.0
essay yet, so this method of attack must have some merit.
For reading comprehension, find the method of reading
passages that works for you (jotting down notes or remembering content as you go along). Some guides recommend jotting down notes as
you read, but I found this distracting as I was able to keep key points in
my head reasonably well. In any case, make sure you have a clear idea of
the main point of each paragraph after you've read it.
8. Learn to use the scrap board
You can use
scrap paper effectively by copying from the screen and doing work or
taking notes on the scrap paper. You can also use the scrap paper to make
an answer grid, which is helpful for eliminating answer choices.
9. "The perfect is the enemy of the good"
Do you know that on the GMAT you can get 55% of questions right and still get a great score? Don't try to get perfection. Even if you are aiming for
an 800 score, you still don't need to get every question right. Thinking about the test this way is
liberating. Don't worry if you are
stuck, just move on.
If you are stuck, then try to eliminate obvious wrong answers and guess at the remaining choices. If
you are spending six minutes on a question, it is likely because you do not
know how to do it, and you will almost certainly get it wrong. Get it
wrong (or right if you are lucky) quickly by guessing and save the time
for questions you do know how to answer.
10. Take care to avoid needless
As a multiple choice test, you know that you made an answer if your answer isn't one of the five choices! After you have finished your practice GMAT exams,
you'll find that many errors are simple carelessness. Oftentimes you
mis-copy the text of a question onto scrap paper, make a simple
mathematical error or mis-read a question. Eliminating needless errors is
largely a matter of discipline, focusing and practice. After you catch
enough of your own errors, you will start to see patterns and can act to
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