Can Easily Increase Your GMAT CAT Score by 50 to
Despite the official statements of GMAC (Graduate
Management Admission Council), you can improve
your GMAT score dramatically simply by taking the time
to become "streetwise" about the GMAT
CAT. Quite simply, this is the easiest step in your
test preparation, and should not be ignored under
Keep in mind that the GMAT is a game. Just
chess, baseball, tennis, or any other sport, those
who know how the game is played have a huge advantage
over those who are ignorant of the game's idiosyncratic
As a test taker, you should understand:
The computer-adaptive structure of the GMAT
The types of exam questions asked and their common
How to manage your time wisely
structure of the GMAT
The computer-adaptive test (CAT) version of the GMAT
is designed to get a more accurate assessment of your
skills while asking you fewer questions than its paper-based
predecessor did. Here is how it works: the first
question you see in any given section will be of
average difficulty. If you get the answer right, your
next question will be slightly more difficult. If you get the
answer wrong, your next question will
be slightly easier. The software
will also ask you different types of questions in a rather
unpredictable order, as determined by its algorithm,
rather than clustering question types as the written
You can not skip a question or go back to an earlier
question. Unlike the paper version, once you click
the 'answer confirm' box, your answer can not be changed.
The types of exam
questions asked and their common fallacies
Examples and explanations of these can be found in
the pages describing the individual component sections of the GMAT
posted on this
website. We strongly encourage our clients to spend
time learning these question types before brushing up on their verbal
and math skills.
How to manage
your time wisely
The main way to develop GMAT time management skills
is to practice taking the test. You will repeatedly
see us return to the theme of practice throughout this website.
It is very hard to overstate its importance. Therefore
you are strongly encouraged to take at least a few
mock GMAT exams, in the computer-adaptive format and
to try to simulate the actual testing environment. (That
from taking food breaks, engaging in telephone conversations,
etc. until you have completed a section.)
Spend adequate time on the first 5 questions
Earlier, we discussed how the GMAT CAT's
determines the difficulty of questions you are asked, based
on your performance in answering previous questions. Difficult questions
are weighted more heavily in scoring than easier questions.
The first couple
questions in any GMAT CAT section are used to determine
the range of questions that the program 'thinks' you are
able to handle. After you have answered these first few questions, the
testing software will give you questions to fine tune
your score within that rather narrowly predetermined range.
Thus, your answers to the first 5 questions will make
a HUGE difference in your final section score.
It is imperative that you answer these
pivotal questions with extra care. Always double check
your answers to these questions. Verify that the
that you judged to be incorrect are indeed incorrect. If you are
unsure of the
answer to one of these first questions, at the very
least, take a very good educated guess using process
Prepare yourself to finish the test – at all costs!
There is a huge scoring penalty for failing to finish
any section of the GMAT. For example, say you're in line
to get a score that will put you in the 70
percentile of test takers, based on your test
performance so far – but then run out of time and fail
to answer the last five questions in the section. That
failure will lower your score to about the 55
percentile. The lesson to take away from this is to
prepare yourself to finish the test at all costs.
Answering a question incorrectly will hurt you, but not
as much as leaving the question unanswered will. Train
yourself to work your best within the time limits of the
exam. But train yourself, too, to be able to recognize
when only a minute or so remains on the clock, and at
that point to just answer "C" (or whatever your lucky
letter is) for any remaining questions. As the GMAT's
Chief Psychometrician put it to us, random guessing is
like shooting yourself in the foot – but leaving answers
blank is like shooting yourself in both feet.
Don't waste time
This advice probably sounds self
evident. However, we mention
it because we've had clients tell us how they
inadvertently wasted test time by revisiting
the help screen or requesting extra scrap paper after
they began their test. These activities, if undertaken
once the section has begun, will take time away from
working on the questions.
Read the Questions
As silly as this advice may seem, it's
worth remembering. An undisciplined test
taker will feel the stress of the clock during the
timed sections and will try to cut corners to save
time, wherever and whenever possible. As a result, he
or she often misinterprets questions.
GMAT test writers are well aware of this dynamic, and happy to
capitalize on it. We guarantee that you
will encounter questions on the GMAT
that include incorrect answer choices that were deliberately designed
to exploit likely misinterpretations of what the question
is really asking.
Avoid Random Guessing
The GMAT CAT does not allow you to skip questions and
come back to them later, as you can on a written test.
You must answer each question on the GMAT CAT before it will
allow you to move on to the next question.
Consequently, even if
you don't know the answer to a particular question,
you have to answer it. It is always in your best
interest to take
an educated guess rather than resorting to random guessing
– even if you are running out of time on the section.
Usually you will be able to identify at least one
answer choice that is clearly wrong. Eliminating even one incorrect
choice will improve your odds of answering the
Deliberately Deceptive Wrong Choices
With practice, you will begin to learn
how to recognize answer choices that are deliberately deceptive
– and wrong. There
are a few common patterns here that will become
apparent as you proceed with your test preparation.
One recognizable pattern is commonly found in the Problem
Solving section. It involves an erroneous answer
choice giving a value that would result from following a common computational error.
You can avoid these deceptive choices by using scrap
paper, checking your answers and using estimation
to at least judge the general range of the correct
As we stated at the top of this page, there are
a number of tips
and techniques to taking the GMAT that will
your overall score. This
is a test that you can prepare for, despite
test-makers state. We strongly encourage you to use actual questions from previous exams
as you practice, as we
have noticed a material difference in the nature and
quality of test questions prepared by the GMAC versus those written
by GMAT prep companies. We also strongly encourage
you to practice taking the exam in its computer-adaptive
Finally, we encourage you
to spend most of your
preparation time studying and practicing questions
in your weakest subject area. While we believe every test taker
benefits by reviewing each GMAT exam section, focusing
on your weakest areas will make the most efficient use of your test-prep time.
Don't Wait Too
Long to Take the GMAT
Don't count on taking the GMAT at the last minute.
Should you need to retake the exam, you will need time
both to register for the test again and to have
the new scores submitted to schools in time for the application
deadlines. Scheduling the GMAT well into the admissions season is also bound to cause
most test takers undue stress. With proper planning and insight, you
can spare yourself these negative energies and instead focus on maximizing your GMAT score.
GMATTM is a registered
trademark of the Graduate Management Admission CouncilTM.
The Graduate Management Admission Council
does not endorse, nor is it affiliated in any way with the owner
or any content of this web site.