Key Test-taking and Preparation Advice

The scores necessary to get into top schools are increasing year by year, making quality preparation an even greater necessity.  Disciplined and dedicated preparation for the GMAT will allow you to get the best score possible on the exam and get into the school of your choice.

High quality preparation is essential to achieving your best score on the GMAT.  High quality preparation means becoming intimately acquainted with the test structure, format, and the types of questions that are being asked. It means improving upon your weak areas through practice and repetition.  It means developing your ability to answer correctly the tougher questions.  It also means becoming aware of the types of answers that tend to be the correct ones.

In terms of general GMAT taking strategies, we rec

  • Learn the most typical problems and answer types.
  • Answer all questions.
  • Guess and estimate when necessary.
  • Try your best on the initial questions.
  • Others to be discussed in class.

GMAT Test-Taking Tips

If you aim to achieve a top score, we recommend these Five GMAT CAT Score-Maximizing Strategies:

Tip #1: Demonstrating to the CAT that you can handle a variety of substantive areas in all question formats will increase your GMAT score.

The greater the variance among your ability in different tested topics, the lower your score. In other words, the GMAT rewards generalists—test takers who demonstrate a broad spectrum of competencies. This approach does make sense in a business world where being well-rounded and knowledgeable is often positively correlated to a manager’s decision-making skills and managerial ability.

Tip #2: Try your best on the initial questions.

The first few questions you answer will either move you to a significantly more difficult or easy level; however, the last few questions you answer will only slightly increase or decrease in difficulty.

Questions at the beginning of the test and first question in each question type are of moderate difficulty.  If you answer this question correctly, then the difficulty level increases.

Tip #3: Take particular care with the first few questions of EACH QUESTION TYPE in both Verbal and Quantitative sections.

Sometimes, it might be well into around the 10th question before you see a new verbal type question. Whenever you see a new type of question, proceed more slowly and do your best without unnecessarily spending too much time.

Tip #4: Take all questions seriously and answer all of them.  
Use a systematic approach to your test. Skipping questions is not helpful on the GMAT CAT.

Stay away from guessing at the beginning of the test. However, if you run out of time, then just randomly answer the last questions, at least you have 20% of the chance of answering each question correctly.

We need to caution you against guessing in the early stage of the test. Since your chances of guessing correctly are only 20% for each question, an incorrect choice moves you down to a lower difficulty level very quickly at the beginning of the test. Please also bear in mind that there is a penalty for not finishing a section. For each unfinished section, the penalty is about 4x the point for an incorrect answer.

Tips #5: Maintain strong momentum from beginning to end as the final problems can sometimes be equally as important as the initial ones.

Tip #6: Reduce the response time in the areas you are best at.

For example, try cutting your Sentence Correction time to less than one minute per question. That way you can save time for the question types you are less confident about.

Conclusion: Pace yourself! Taking the GMAT is essentially a balancing act in which you need to slow down and try your very best at the beginning and pick up the speed later till the end in order to maximize your score.

For more information, see How to Analyze the GMAT & GMAT Test Prep: A Primer