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GMAT Tips: Avoid Common Traps on the GMAT

Today’s GMAT tip comes to us from Veritas Prep.  In today’s blog post, they identify some common traps to avoid on the GMAT.  Read on to see what they have to say!

The GMAT is not an easy test. It is not meant to be diabolical, but it is designed to get to your true ability level.  Sounds fair enough, but what if your true ability level is in the low- or mid-600 range, when you are aiming for a score above 700? What can you do to move yourself up the scoring scale?

One way to get immediate results is to recognize the mistakes you are likely going to make during the test. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) needs a way to separate good GMAT takers from great ones, and one way of doing this is to allow students to trick themselves and walk right into easy traps. If you know that you are prone to making the following mistakes, you can train yourself to be on the lookout for them as you prepare for the GMAT:

1) Reading and Reacting

Your goal is to maximize your score; the GMAT’s goal is to minimize the risk of over- or under-estimating your ability level. Often it does so by including convoluted subject matter in its questions, and succeeds as test-takers aimlessly read the prompts before determining what they will be asked to do.  Savvy test-takers read proactively, focusing first on what their role will be, and then read specifically for relevant details to help them perform that role.

2) Answering the Incorrect Question Correctly

The GMAT’s goal of eliciting incorrect answers is often accomplished by asking questions that differ slightly from what a student might assume. For example, a question for which the value of x can easily be solved, the question might well require using that value to determine the value of y; similarly, many questions will require a simple conversion to be made at the end, and you can be sure that the incorrect answer choices will include the values that would result from not taking that last step. Test-takers who take care to explicitly answer the correct question will avoid these errors and increase their scores accordingly.

3) Poor Time Management

The computer-adaptive nature of the GMAT ensures that test-takers often struggle with pacing. Because it is not possible to save difficult questions for later, or use additional time to check answers, it is important to progress efficiently and accurately through the exam with a sense of personal pacing. While many test-takers make the obvious error of taking too much time and failing to answer all questions, others unsuccessfully employ the opposite strategy, rushing through the test and making numerous errors.  Go into the test knowing which problem types tend to give you trouble, and smartly devote more time to these problems as needed, knowing that after a certain amount of time you’re ready to cut bait and move on, if needed.

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