20 ways to increase your GMAT score
Do you want to ace the GMAT? The GMAT is a tough test and scoring high is not easy. To do your best you will need to come to the table with a full arsenal of tips and tricks up your sleeves. Here are 20 to get you started.
- Know when to move on
Be it from a lack of confidence, a desire for perfection, or a willingness to consider all of the options on the table many of us are naturally predisposed to second guessing ourselves. Time is a preciously limited resource during the GMAT and unless you have a very good reason, avoid second guessing your answers. Similarly, you may face a few questions that go way over your head. You need to know when it is time to make your best guess and move on.
- Learn the question types
If you are reading this site then you probably already know that the best way to study for the GMAT is to learn its methods and master its question types. Data Sufficiency questions are not the same as Problem Solving questions and Sentence Correction is not Reading Comprehension. Different questions require different approaches to master. Fortunately WYZprep is here to help you master anything the GMAT throws at you.
- Understand what the GMAT is
The GMAT is designed to test your reasoning and critical thinking skills. It is not a math test, nor is it an English exam. With this in mind, you should not use the same tired methods you used to study for tests in college. You will need new skills and tactics to ace the GMAT.
- Tackle silly mistakes fast
There will undoubtedly be questions that come easier to you than others. That said, many test takers make the mistake of trying to tackle the question types that they perform the worst on believing that this is the best way to see their score increase. I am not saying that you should not address the difficult questions, but you should focus on fixing the simple mistakes first. Reach for the low hanging fruit. It is the fastest way to see your scores increase.
- Get your timing down
Regardless of what section you are practicing, you need to have your timing down to a science. I am always surprised by how many people do not time themselves when they take practice tests. Sure you can solve problems if you have all the time in the world, but the real challenge begins when you are on the clock.
- Get in the right mindset
The GMAT takes a mental and emotional toll on everyone. I have never seen anyone perform at their best when they could not find the proper testing mindset. It can be easy to be discouraged, but keeping your spirits high is as important as every other element of test prep. Surround yourself with positive people leading up to the test.
- Be honest with yourself
Don’t cut yourself any breaks or cheat on your study schedule. When you lie to yourself about your performance, the only person you are hurting is yourself.
- Have a plan
Preparing for the GMAT can be overwhelming and you will need a plan of attack. Make a schedule and stick to it.
- Review all your practice questions
You probably already know that it is important to go over the questions that you got wrong. However, you should also review the ones you answered correctly. Sometimes it is possible to use the wrong method to solve a question and arrive at the right answer by luck. It is also possible that while you answered correctly, there may have been a faster way to solve the problem.
- Finish the sections
Generally speaking, you are better off to guess on a question than to leave it blank.
- Be ready for a curveball
While it is very rare for the GMAT to introduce an entirely new question type (and if they do we will warn you about it ahead of time), sometimes you may come across a question that seems out of place. Perhaps the question is worded strangely, or maybe it involves overly abstract thinking, whatever the issue may be you need to go into the test understanding that sometimes the GMAT throws a curveball. Keep your head on and do not panic. Typically these questions can be worked through by slowing down and breaking the question apart into smaller pieces.
- Read a lot
Exposing yourself to literature will help you improve your ability to retain core messages found in passages. This directly correlates to improving your performance on Reading Comprehension questions. Additionally, well written content will fortify your knowledge of grammar rules and sentence structure to help you during Sentence Correction questions.
- Study common grammar errors
In regular life no one likes talking to a grammar junkie. However, to nail the verbal section you are going to have to become a bit of a stickler for grammar rules. Here is a list of common grammatical mistakes to put you on the right track.
- Memorize argument patterns
Did you know that most arguments follow just a handful of patterns? Better yet, did you know that by understanding these patterns you can predict where an argument is going and even check the validity of claims? Here is a helpful link to the different types of argument patterns. Understanding these patterns will help you with Critical Reasoning questions.
- Learn to recognize wrong answers
Sherlock Holmes once said “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Don’t underestimate the power of the process of elimination. Sometimes the fastest way to solve a problem is to work backwards and “eliminate the impossible.”
- Focus on the big picture
The GMAT will rarely ask you about the minute details of a passage. Instead, focus on understanding the core arguments, themes, and implications of articles.
- Use short cuts
To be clear, I am not telling you to cut corners! The quantitative section is not a good place to get sloppy. Still, use every time saving tip and trick that you learned during your studies to help you finish on time.
- Practice elementary math
It is time to go back to the basics. You will need basic math skills to succeed on the quant section. Fortunately, most of the mathematical concepts covered on the GMAT are the same ones you leaned when you were a kid. Focus your time studying basic arithmetic, percentages, and algebra. Bonus tip: relearning multiplication tables will help you shave time off the quant section.
- Practice your math skills every day
The GMAT likes to use word problems in the quant section. One of the best ways to practice for this is to start using mental math to solve daily problems. While you are out and about, come up with simple math problems for you to solve. For example if you spend $3 on a dozen eggs, how much does each individual egg cost?
- Learn to approximate and round
You are up against the clock during the GMAT. Not only is it okay to round and approximate values, you will need to do so to finish the section on time. The GMAT is not a math test, it is a reasoning test with mathematical elements. Extreme precision is not only unnecessary, it is a waste of time.
This list by no means covers all of the tips and tricks that you will need to learn in the coming weeks and months. Still, I hope it provided a little food for thought. If you have any additional tips to share, sound off in the comments.