Preparing for GMAT – Balance It Right

Preparing for GMAT – Balance It Right

Are you planning to take the GMAT? Are you struggling hard to get a good score? Is it that in spite of studying hard, you are not able to score well on practice tests? The reason is most likely not a lack of effort on your part but the way you are putting in that effort!

Choose practice material carefully

It’s very important that you choose authentic test prep material. You cannot do without the practice material from the makers of the GMAT – the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). Supplement it with good material from other sources. GMAT questions follow certain conventions. If you find that a set of practice material does not follow such conventions, that set may not be very dependable.

Even at the risk of beating our own drum, I would say that Princeton Review’s practice material is a very close simulation of the retired questions released by GMAC.

Use the material wisely

Pace your preparation and use the practice material over the entire period of your preparation. Go slower in the early stage of your preparation and focus more on understanding the concepts.  Pick up pace as you approach your test date.

It’s important to practice pacing

It is important to learn how to pace yourself throughout the test. One should manage the time well throughout the section because of the adaptive nature of the test. Get into the habit of spending more time on earlier questions, in order to get most of them right. At the same time, you cannot afford to spend too much time on any particular question.

Understand how the test is scored

The GMAT score (Math & Verbal Sections) depends on 3 main parameters – the number of questions you get right or wrong, the difficulty level of the questions that you get right or wrong, and the number of questions that you answer.

The exam starts with questions of medium difficulty. If you get most of these correct, you will get more difficult questions: your final score will be average or above average, depending on how you answer those difficult questions. However, if you make too many mistakes while answering the early, medium-difficulty questions, you will then get easier questions. And your final score will be below average.

Get ready to use the Note Board              

The GMAT is an online test so; you cannot underline, add to, or annotate the questions and answers in any way. All such work will have to be done on your note board. So practice under exam conditions, and do your work on paper.

Be pragmatic

Last but not least, avoid unrealistic expectations. Avoid being overconfident while preparing for the test and at the time of taking the test. While taking the test, you may have to guess on a few questions; that’s part of the game. Do not take it to heart.

A few quick tips for you:

  • Don’t just practice; practice the techniques.
  • Don’t just practice hard questions. You need to get even the easy and medium questions right on the test.
  • Accuracy is more important than speed, particularly in the early stage of the test.
  • Do not leave any question unanswered; always finish the test.
  • Focus on one question and one section at a time while taking a test.
  • Pace your practice material; practice regularly.
  • Balance your preparation; do not practice only for math or only for verbal or only for a particular type of questions such as Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, or Permutation and Combination.
  • Take full-length practice tests; do not skip Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) and Integrated Reasoning (IR) sections while taking practice tests.


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