17 Epic Tips To Ace The GMAT

In this mini-series, we have previously covered college entrance tests, the SAT and the ACT, and graduate entrance test, the GRE. This post will explain how to crack the GMAT!

Overall GMAT

  1. Understand that the GMAT is a specially designed test that tries to mimic real-world decision making. So, whether Verbal or Quantitative, the focus is on reasoning!
  2. The GMAT is more about depth than breadth. There is only so much in terms of syllabus, per se, but your preparation should focus on building depth. A study plan with qualitative study sources is a must-have.
  3. Generally, students struggle more in Verbal Reasoning than in Quantitative Reasoning. So emphasize more on the Verbal part.
  4. The GMAT is a computer-based adaptive test i.e. the difficulty level of the next question depends on whether the earlier question(s) were correctly answered. This makes the test increasingly difficult if you are answering correctly or increasingly simple if you are answering incorrectly. Your final score depends on the ups and downs though the test! This means that you must take practice tests that are computer-based. This is especially useful in the Reading Comprehension section if you are not used to reading large texts from a computer screen.
  5. Pace yourself well i.e. you must finish 1/5th of the questions in 1/5th of the time. If not, make a guess and move on. It is much safer to make a guess here and there than to guess a chunk of consecutive questions at the end. Since the test is adaptive, consecutive wrongs will take your score down dramatically.

Verbal Reasoning

  1. In Sentence Correction questions, most answer choices have similar wordings, with a few tweaks. So, instead of reading all of them (and getting yourself confused) one by one, employ the vertical reading technique. Identify an error and eliminate all answer choices that have that error. Do this repeatedly, until you have the correct answer choice left.
  2. In many cases, you get stuck with two answer choices. Go with the shorter, more concise choice as the answer. The GMAT prefers short sentences, so your guess is more likely to be correct.
  3. In Reading Comprehension, read the passage first. Understand how the ideas are logically connected. You may want to make a mind-map of the whole passage as well. This will help you in answering subsequent questions more efficiently.
  4. In Critical Reasoning questions, on the other hand, read the question before the argument. This will tell you what exactly to look for in the argument. Now read the question and you will solve it much faster and more accurately.

Quantitative Reasoning

  1. In Problem Solving questions, try to get a direct answer without looking at the answer choices. If the question seems difficult to solve in this way, then employ the plug-and-play approach i.e. pick an answer choice and work backwards. In any case, do not be stuck in long calculations as the GMAT doesn’t have ‘mathy’ questions; it only has logical ones.
  2. In Data Sufficiency questions, work meticulously through the answer choices. Note that we don’t have to solve the question actually, but rather just pick up an answer choice that is sufficient to answer the question. So, beware of those heavy equations!

Integrated Reasoning

  1. Integrated Reasoning is all about ‘seeing the big picture’ through graphs. So know all the basic graph types.
  2. Read every graph, with labels and scales. BUT, look into the actual numbers only if the question asks that information.
  3. Know that not all of the given data is useful. Some graphs are there only to confuse you. So learn to identify what is important and what is not.

Analytical Writing Assessment

  1. The GMAT essay is supposed to be a reasoning argument, so do focus on building the essay structure in a coherent, logical manner. For the same, design a template beforehand and practice with the same.
  2. Know the two common AWA deficiencies – confusion between cause and effect, and vagueness. To avoid these, make sure you establish a clear relation between a cause and its effect. Also, give specific examples to avoid vague terms or statistics, or just about anything that doesn’t lead to a clear conclusion.
  3. All the tips that we learnt on the GRE Analytical Writing section hold true.  

So, what’s next? Without wasting any more time, prepare a study plan and follow it meticulously. At the risk of sounding repetitive, there is no substitute to practice! So treat GMAT preparation as part of your daily routine. Good luck with the test!


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