GMAT Tip: 7 Steps to a Better Score

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The GMAT Tip of the Week is a weekly column that includes advice on taking the Graduate Management Admission Test, which is required for admission to most business schools. Every week an instructor from a top test-prep company will share suggestions for improving your GMAT score. This week’s tip comes from Tracy Yun, founder and chief executive officer of Manhattan Elite Prep.

The GMAT is not a math and English test. Rather, it is a test of pattern recognition and analytical reasoning. We recommend the following process in studying for this rigorous test:

1. Exercise rigorous time discipline. Divide the test into quadrants and check progress or modify speed at the 20 minute/10 question, 40 minute/20 question, and 60 minute/30 question points.

2. Study regularly and consistently by adhering to a plan. Do not plunge into practice. Instead, formulate a plan in advance of the formal preparation. Analyze your own current strengths and weaknesses. Do not rush through as many books or practice questions as possible without ever pausing to think and understand them.

3. Spend about 30 minutes going over questions and solutions analysis for every hour of practice by carefully comparing the wrong answers against the right ones.

4. When you find yourself making the same type of mistake over and over again, copy the particular question-and-answer choices and aggregate them together for additional review before the real test.

5. Redo the challenging problems after being away from them for a few days or a week to see if you have gained speed or a different approach. This also helps you build your self-confidence to reach a 700-plus score.

6. During the first two initial practice tests, don’t watch the clock. Dial down the pressure as you begin studying by not timing yourself at first. By the time you are ready to watch the clock, you should have taken enough practice tests to know how long 75 minutes feels like. Check the time occasionally, but you should have practiced enough to develop a good internal rhythm for completing each section.

7. Train your reasoning ability when not prepping for the test. To succeed in the GMAT, you are required to answer questions with a large amount of information in a short amount of time. While preparing for the GMAT, students should strive to train their speed-reading and speed-reasoning skills to improve their ability to identify logics and trends interwoven in all facets of their lives, whether it is reading a book or article, watching TV, or speaking with friends, family, and colleagues. Doing so outside formal “prep time” will automatically prepare students in a specialized and highly critical way of thinking that will enhance their test-taking performance.

Tracy Yun, who scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT, is the co-author of Turbocharge Your GMAT and the founder and CEO of Manhattan Elite Prep. Yun is a Columbia Business School grad and is pursuing her passion for education after having spent years in investment banking as a mergers and acquisitions specialist, advising Fortune 500 companies on strategic investments.

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