If you’re taking the GMAT, you might be aiming for a total GMAT score of 700 or above. A 700+ score can open doors to many top schools, distinguish you in applications to slightly less competitive programmes, and provide opportunities to earn MBA funding for merit scholarships.
However, according to data from GMAC, the makers of the GMAT, only 12% of GMAT test takers score 700 or above. So how can you get that coveted 7 at the beginning of your score?
In this video, Erika John from PrepScholar GMAT goes over the top nine tips for cracking 700 on the GMAT, including general strategies for every test taker and more specific strategies based on common issues.
Tip #1: Be realistic
If you are trying to boost your score by 100 points the night before the test, you probably are not going to be successful. Good GMAT study takes time. Similarly, if you have done a lot of studying so far and you have improved your score by a significant margin, you are going to have a harder time improving your score even further than someone who just learned what data sufficiency means. Know what a “good score” means for you and for the schools you are interested in.
Top #2: Be consistent and goal-oriented
You cannot cram for the GMAT. Ten hours of study spaced out over five days is going to be much more effective than 20 hours of study over two days. Aim for consistency and repetition of concepts to help you make the connections you need. It is also a really good idea to make study goals based on accomplishments rather than time spent. For example, rather than saying “I am going to study for an hour,” a better goal would be “I am going to take and review 20 data interpretation practice problems.”
Top #3: Use the best materials
There are a lot of GMAT materials out there but not all of them are good. You want to make sure that you are studying the right skills, the right traps, the right difficulty, and even the right phrasing for the real GMAT test. Official GMAC materials are the best for this. If you need more practice, be sure to pick material that is up-to-date and pertinent to the test itself.
Tip #4: Focus on high-quality study over high-volume study
Taking a practice test or drilling practice problems is good prep. But the most effective prep comes afterward when you carefully review problems you missed, skipped or guessed. It really is not useful to drill more problems if you are going to make the same mistake all over again. Individual tutoring with a GMAT expert can be incredibly helpful for doing this kind of analysis. However, if you are self-studying, GMAT-focused forums and online communities are a great resource for problems you are struggling with.
Check out: Average GMAT Scores for Top MBA Programmes
Tip #5: Practise self-analysis
Everyone has patterns. To study effectively, you need to figure out what your patterns are. If you do not, you will often end up focusing your time and memory on things that are not important for you to study and missing things that are. Test study is not one-size-fits-all. As you study, keep track of what kinds of questions you are missing and why you are missing them. To do this, you need to think like a test-maker. With a lot of effort and the support of free resources, you can engage in this sort of self-diagnosis. However, if you are still struggling to pinpoint and improve your weaknesses, get help. Tutoring and some personalised programmes can help you build the kind of study plan that will work best for you and no one else.
Tip #6: Prepare for test day, not just the test
Many students do well on practice tests but on the test day, everything goes wrong and their score plummets. So what happened? Students often neglect to prepare for test conditions in addition to test material. It is critical to get used to standard testing conditions. For example, in your practice you should time yourself. You should practise doing a whole test in one sitting, doing the test on a computer, not using a calculator, etc. This will ensure that nothing throws you off on test day.
Tip #7: Put the right amount of emphasis on time management
The key here is “right amount” – not too much, not too little. On the test, you do not want to spend too much time on each problem but neither should you rush. You do not want to lose track of time but you should not let the timer distract you. Calculate exactly how many minutes you get per question per section before the test. Then, on test day, keep this in mind and check on your progress only after every few problems. Similarly, keep that same balance during your study. Doing exclusively timed practice is going to hurt your learning but you should not let it slip through the cracks.
Tip #8: Do not let adaptive structure of the test get in your head
A lot of test-takers can feel paralysed by hard questions because they know they only have one chance to get them right. They especially get worried about the first 10 problems because someone on the Internet said that those are the most important. Then, if they get an easier question next, they get distracted thinking how they must have missed the previous question. This kind of thinking will waste your time on the test and is based on some serious misunderstandings about the GMAT.
Firstly, the “first 10 questions” part is a complete myth – do not let it distract you. Secondly, you can miss a lot of questions and still get above 700 on the GMAT. Finally, what you think of as an “easy question” might not be an easy question on the test. The big takeaway here is: do not try to figure out the algorithm because it is a waste of time.
Tip #9: Give yourself a break and guess
A lot of people aiming for top GMAT scores are perfectionists. However, perfectionism is the enemy of a top GMAT score. Not finishing a section is much more detrimental to your score than missing a few questions.
Do not waste time on questions you are quite sure you will get wrong. Save that time for questions you think you will get right but might take a little more time to finish. Furthermore, use the process of elimination to rule out obviously wrong answers. If you end up needing to guess between two, three or even four answers, you still have a better chance of getting it right than if you guess between all five.