The Skill you Need to Get 700 on the GMAT
By Guest Contributor: Dave Green, Senior Tutor at examPAL
You’ve done a standardized test or two by now. Over the years you’ve amassed test-taking skills, which will serve you years to come. This experience is invaluable, of course, but it is also dangerous. On the GMAT, regular test taking habits can actually steer you wrong. The GMAT is fundamentally different than most tests you know. You’re probably used to a linear model of question-solving on tests: all the information you need is before you, and what you have to do is apply it and figure out the solution on your own. Sometimes, you are graded as much on the process as you are for getting the right final answer.
What the GMAT actually tests?
The GMAT is a different kind of test. What it cares about is ONLY the bottom line. Using all of the information and getting to the answer on your own is often not only not necessary but is actually a mistake. This is because of the extreme time-pressure the GMAT has: your focus has to be not just on solving the questions but on doing so quickly.
So what major skill does the GMAT require? Well, it’s something we call mind flexibility: the ability to quickly find the fastest way to solve each question and apply this solution.
Flex Your Mind
How can you improve this mysterious-sounding skill? The first important part is learning the different tools you have at your disposal: obviously, this means knowing the material. It also means being familiar with techniques that serve as shortcuts. At examPAL we teach three different answer strategies: Precise, Alternative and Logical.
The second part is learning to look at a question and, before trying to solve it, assessing how it should be solved. Looking over questions quickly, you have to learn to appraise them: Is a precise solution possible? Are there any hints here that you can apply some logic? Are tools such as estimation, swapping numbers for variables, using the answers likely to help? You have to figure these things out fast – once you choose an answer strategy, you’re committed!
That’s what it’s about: knowing what the GMAT is all about, and developing the flexibility to make snap decisions and adapt to each question in real time.