The Princeton Review Report on the GMAT, July 2001
The structure of the test has remained unchanged. Here is a reminder of what you'll see:
The two AWA essays (Issue and Argument) can come in either order. The testing staff is usually pretty lenient with the 5-minute breaks. You don't need to sprint to and from the restroom, but you shouldn't dawdle either. Also, allow extra time because you will probably have to wait around a bit before the test starts and there is usually a survey at the end (of the customer satisfaction variety).
ETS still uses some questions from the disclosed topics in the Official Guide, just as they've claimed that they would. However, there have been an increasing number of topics that are not from that list. However, it's still a great idea to use those topics for practice; you might get a question you've already worked.
The math questions have been about 50-60% Problem Solving and 40-50% Data Sufficiency.
The difficulty of the math section can rise very quickly; pace yourself so that you don't run out of time. As you know, you should go slowly at the beginning because early questions are the most important. But you should also pick up speed as you go so that you can answer every question. Recent information we've received has made one thing very clear: you are better off guessing on the late questions and missing them than you are leaving them blank. Leaving the last few questions blank in each section could easily cost you 100 points or more from your final score!
Don't worry too much about strange "skips" in the difficulty level of the questions. Due to the experimental questions and other factors, the difficulty doesn't always track your performance exactly. Don't second-guess how well you are doing based on the difficulty of the questions-you'll drive yourself crazy!
People who have taken the test recently report a standard distribution of math topics. In particular, questions asking for Plugging in the Answer Choices and Invisible Variable Plug-In techniques are back on the rise. Test-takers knowing how and when to use these techniques have been rewarded. Percents, averages, ratios, exponents, and manipulating equations continue to appear and show no signs getting phased out. Not so for geometry, which continues to appear less and less often.
As for Data Sufficiency, Yes/No questions continue to be very common. Make sure you are comfortable with how to approach these questions, particularly the ones that require plugging in.
GMAT math questions have, on the whole, stayed very technique-able. But be careful. Some of the hardest questions on the test remain really hard. Remember, if a question looks like it would take forever to do, there's almost always bound to be a logical shortcut, and even the toughest questions out there are usually just variations on the basic math techniques you've been studying. If a question seems impossibly hard, not only will missing just one rough question have very little impact on your final score, but there is also a very good chance that you're looking at an experimental question. Stay calm, and make yourself feel better by thinking about how much the people who haven't taken any prep course for this test will be freaking out when they see these same questions.
So the bottom line is don't spend too long on any given question, focus more on the beginning of the test but make sure you answer every question, and make sure you're comfortable with the material you've been learning in class.
The Verbal questions continue to been pretty evenly split among the three categories, with slightly more Sentence Correction questions: something along the lines of a 40/30/30 split remains the norm.
Sentence Corrections have been pretty predictable in terms of the common errors: Misplaced Modifier, Parallelism, and Subject/Verb Agreement errors abound, followed closely by Pronoun errors. A great many Idioms show up on Sentence Correction questions, so be sure you are on top of your Idiom list. Finally, the 2/3 split remains a powerful tool to be used in Sentence Correction. If you're struggling to find an error in the stem sentence, keep your eyes peeled for a potential 2/3 split and get after the question using POE.
Critical Reasoning has provided a lineup of the usual suspects: Strengthen, Weaken, Assumption, Inference and Paradox questions. CR also continues to show an increase in the number of questions with bolded statements. As always, breaking down an argument into its parts (conclusion, premises, and assumptions) is - and continues to be -- an invaluable tool for doing well on these questions.
Reading Comprehension remains very straightforward - and very boring. No type of passage (science, business, etc.) has shown up more often than any other. All types pop up pretty evenly. The typical test-taker continues to see four passages, each about 40-65 lines, and each with 3-4 questions. Most of the questions continue to be specific, so look for lead words and find support for your answers in the passage.
Make sure to set up your scratch paper during, and not before, the tutorial. If there are any irregularities during the test, run, approach your proctor immediately to report the glitch. If anything goes terribly wrong during the test (like your computer crashes), and the situation is not dealt with to your satisfaction, make sure to contact your local Princeton Review office as soon as possible. We wish you the best of luck on the GMAT and with your applications for MBA programs.
Still Have Questions?
For information on the business school admissions process in general, check The Princeton Review GMAT Discussion Board. Want some GMAT practice? Try The Princeton Review FreeOnline GMAT Course, which includes a full-length practice test. When you finish the practice test you'll get a complete score report detailing your strengths and weaknesses. If you are satisfied with your results, then you may be ready. If you feel you still need help, check out The Princeton Review's many test preparation options or call them at 800-2Review.