The GMAT can often be complex. The goal is simple: to get a score that is well above 700, but the journey to the best Business Schools in the world is not always that easy. Even though there have been volumes written on the best way to prepare, and things to keep in mind to ensure success, there are still mistakes made by candidates – even some of the best informed.
Here is a look at 6 such mistakes, and short notes on how to avoid them, and the suggested course of action in each case:
- Not starting early enough. People who give the GMAT are usually very busy, and their attention is often diverted by work pressures, other applications, and physical tiredness. The only way to solve this problem is to start months – possibly even a year – in advance.
- Not finding a coach right off the bat: You always need a coach to keep your preparation on track, and many candidates start off thinking that they will do it on their own, and then decide to change their minds. Why do it alone when you can work with someone who has succeeded a thousand times?
- Spending too much time on one topic: If you are not improving at one kind of question after repeated work, the marginal utility of spending more of the same kind of time probably is not too high. It is best to take a short break and come back with a new and improved approach.
- Listening to uninformed people: The GMAT is an accessible examination, but it is also something that you should learn about from experts only. It is important to filter out voices which do not have proven success at this test, and to listen only to those that are credible because of past successes. In general, listen to a small circle of people, who know much more than you do about the GMAT, and drown out the rest of the noise.
- Not practicing enough: This is true at two levels: some candidates just do not work out enough questions, and this adversely affects their performance. However, some GMAT aspirants work out many problems, and still fall short – this is because their simulations are often not realistic. Till you have given a mock test that is exactly like the real thing, you cannot be confident that you are ready for the big day. Make sure that you get access to as many realistic simulations as possible through your coach.
- Not staying motivated. The best way to spur yourself to further excellence on the GMAT is to keep your eyes firmly fixed on the big prize – the big global MBA that stands at the end of the road.
Sometimes, it feels like the months of preparation that go into your GMAT campaign are the tip of the iceberg. After all that is done, you will need to work on the finishing touches: to get a 750+ GMAT score, you will need to make as few mistakes as possible – and make sure that you do justice to your hard work.
4 Tips to avoid silly errors on your GMAT
The GMAT, more than any other, is a standardized test that rewards smart shortcuts and quick thinking. Since it is a simulation of decisions made in a business environment, it incentivizes approximations and eliminations. Using these techniques, in addition to clever methods of checking, can cut down your silly errors by as much as 90%. Here are some useful tips:
- Develop the skill of eliminating options that are clearly impossible: A large part of your quest to reach a 750+ score will relate to mastering topics, but you should spend as much time developing tangential skills. In the vast majority of questions, you will be able to use simple numerical logic to eliminate at least two options. In some cases, you will be able to eliminate all odd or even options; in some, you will be able to strike out everything which is not an integer. Using these shortcuts immediately reduces the chance that you will get a problem wrong.
- Always estimate the ballpark in which your answer should land: The skill of approximation is a great one to have for two reasons: it saves a whole lot of time, and it is less easy to make a mistake while approximating than while trying to reach an exact solution. This skill is usually developed when you try to do small mental math exercises with problems you have just solved, and see if you could have rounded off numbers to reach the same answer in less time.
- Practice speed reading with accuracy: Speed reading is always something that people aspire to learn to do well in the GMAT, but a lot of people chase speed as the only metric of impact, rather than balancing it with a healthy dose of rationalization, via checks that understanding is not compromised in the slightest. The best way to get better at speed reading in a sustainable fashion is to increase speed in very small steps, and stop increasing speed whenever accuracy of solving the questions goes down, and only increase it again when there is long term comfort at a particular speed.
- Practice the skill of drawing logic diagrams and flowcharts: A lot of the GMAT is about logic, rather than knowledge or retention. If you can identify the central thread of a question, and keep track of it throughout all the details that the question throws at you, you’re definitely headed for a 750+ score. For this, it is critical that you keep track of information well, and use information maps and flowcharts to build a logical bridge to the correct answer.
These are just a few of the many tips that we share with the many students we help through the GMAT successfully. Why not reach out to our nearest centre, and get on the fast track? All the best!