Before you take the GMAT, you’ll want to know some important GMAT details that can make or break your testing experience. I learned all this information through my own experience with the GMAT, but I think you’ll benefit more from knowing it now. So, let me share what I wish I had known before I took the GMAT so you can be all caught up on this essential GMAT info.
The GMAT is more than just an analytical and reasoning test. Yes, it tests your analytical writing, integrated reasoning, and quantitative and verbal skills (in that order, too!). But the test itself is almost 4 hours long, which makes it something of a marathon. Furthermore, GMAT scores are one of many data points used by business school admissions offices to determine the likelihood of success of a given applicant at the graduate level. This means every point counts, and you shouldn’t discount the value of a few extra points or answers in the grander scheme of things.
However, the GMAT tests a lot more as well. It tests your ability to handle pressure. Also, it requires you to recognize patterns and extract insights from datasets. Finally, it assesses your ability to manage your time and not just understand but also apply the quantitative and analytical concepts you’ve learned while studying for the test.
Here are a few more GMAT details that many people wish they knew about the GMAT before taking it.
When you study, your sole objective should NOT be to simply answer each question correctly. Many people answer question after question and move on to the next problem with an aim of getting through as many questions as possible within a certain amount of time. This approach will guarantee that you do not learn 100% of what you should have learned from each question.
Instead, whether you answer a question correctly or incorrectly, you should read the answer explanation to see whether your approach, assumptions, and though-processes were all correct. If they were not, revisit the question sometime later to try it again.
A good way to assess your understanding of a topic or concept is to see whether you are able to teach the concept to someone else. Doing that is a good way to pinpoint things you know and correctly, the things you are not 100% sure of, and things you may have missed in terms of rules and concepts and their applications.
The verbal questions are just as valuable as the quantitative questions. Math is math, so while you can use any source you like for preparing for the quantitative sections, it would be best to use an official guide such as Kaplan GMAT prep for the verbal questions.
Kaplan is perhaps the most highly rated GMAT test prep guide there is. Therefore, we highly recommend you go with them to get the score you need to secure admission into the school of your choice.
Time management is critical. What this means is you should know how much time you should spend on questions. It also means refraining from rushing to get through more questions while sacrificing accuracy to do so. Rushing will lead to silly mistakes, missing words, or incorrectly reading question details.
For this reason, you should go for higher accuracy and consider skipping a very hard question or two to cover up for lost time rather than rushing through your test.
Your mental state before and during the test is very important. If you find yourself experiencing an adrenaline rush, take a deep breath and slow down. If you hurry, you may end up making mistakes and missing out on getting easy points from easy questions in the process.
When your heart is pounding, focusing can be difficult. Different things work for different people, but you might want to try slow breathing. You can also try closing your eyes for a few moments. Taking a 30-second break to regroup helps as well, and then you can resume your test.
Use your scratch paper to write down important information, and as you do, be sure to mark your answers clearly. If you go through a series of calculations and end up having to sort through your work to find your final answer, you’ve lost a lot of precious time.
The tip here is to use your breaks wisely. Make sure you either do or do not press the “Take a break” button according to how you want to proceed with your test. Think of them like game time-outs: they can give you the time to focus and get back in the groove of things. But, taking a break at the wrong time, or not being able to take one when you need one, can negatively affect your score.
Check the appointment slots and testing schedule of your preferred testing center. Also, check out the traffic conditions in that area. Some centers are booked a long time in advance. You may also face rush-hour traffic or other destination-specific issues on your way to the center. Visit the center before your test date to get a feel for how things are on the ground. This will help you arrive prepped and ready for your test. You will also avoid the last-minute jitters and worries of being late.
With the right prep, process, and approach, you can ace the GMAT. The test is about more than just facts and concepts. So, these insider tips will give you an edge and bump up your score a few valuable percentiles!
Saad is a GMAT teacher and mentor. As a member of the I Pass Team led by Stephanie Ng, Saad is our expert on all things GMAT!