Let’s face it: Even though admissions committees at top business schools want well-rounded candidates with solid applications, the GMAT score can make or break an applicant. Although an applicant with a low GMAT score can still get into a top program, it makes the rest of the application that much more important. Talk about pressure.

Preparing for the GMAT—in the hope of getting a score that falls into the typical range of your dream business school—is often among the first steps an applicant must make on his or her B-school journey. Some study independently with practice tests and books, some take online courses, and others attend in-person classes or private tutoring sessions. Whatever the strategy, the goal is the same: the best score possible. As a result, any insider information about the test is coveted.

What follows are tips from those who teach the test at some of the best-known GMAT test prep programs and have earned 730 or above on the GMAT.
Let’s face it: Even though admissions committees at top business schools want well-rounded candidates with solid applications, the GMAT score can make or break an applicant. Although an applicant with a low GMAT score can still get into a top program, it makes the rest of the application that much more important. Talk about pressure.

Preparing for the GMAT—in the hope of getting a score that falls into the typical range of your dream business school—is often among the first steps an applicant must make on his or her B-school journey. Some study independently with practice tests and books, some take online courses, and others attend in-person classes or private tutoring sessions. Whatever the strategy, the goal is the same: the best score possible. As a result, any insider information about the test is coveted.

What follows are tips from those who teach the test at some of the best-known GMAT test prep programs and have earned 730 or above on the GMAT.

Acing the GMAT

Tips for Beating the Business School Exam
Tips for Beating the Business School Exam
Let’s face it: Even though admissions committees at top business schools want well-rounded candidates with solid applications, the GMAT score can make or break an applicant. Although an applicant with a low GMAT score can still get into a top program, it makes the rest of the application that much more important. Talk about pressure.

Preparing for the GMAT—in the hope of getting a score that falls into the typical range of your dream business school—is often among the first steps an applicant must make on his or her B-school journey. Some study independently with practice tests and books, some take online courses, and others attend in-person classes or private tutoring sessions. Whatever the strategy, the goal is the same: the best score possible. As a result, any insider information about the test is coveted.

What follows are tips from those who teach the test at some of the best-known GMAT test prep programs and have earned 730 or above on the GMAT.
Learning to Dance
Learning to Dance
Instructor: Ron Purewal
Company: Manhattan GMAT
GMAT Score: 800

Tip: Imagine that a novice dancer learns a new step but practices it only once or twice before suddenly switching to a new step. How well do you think he or she will learn to dance? The answer, of course, is not well at all. Unfortunately, most GMAT students study sentence correction the same way, constantly dividing their attention among countless error types.

Unless your verbal ability is quite advanced, do not study entire sentence correction (SC) problems at once. Instead, pick ONE major error type, look for it in a large number of problems, and ignore other error types. Once you've mastered enough SC error types, you should progress to entire problems, but not until you've mastered the major individual concepts.
Have a Plan of Attack
Have a Plan of Attack
Instructor: Adam Sticklor
Company: Knewton
GMAT Score: 780

Tip: Know your strengths and weaknesses cold and be honest about them. This will give you a plan of attack. You don't know exactly which questions you're going to get or in which order, but you should have a plan of attack for every question type—not just the big five types, but all the various topics within them—before you sit down. Know which questions you'll lean toward guessing on, which questions are worth extra effort, which questions are susceptible to a cool trick or strategy and which questions might trip you up in the moment even though you know how to do them. And practice this blueprint until you have exactly the right amount of confidence on every one of the 78 questions you'll see on test day.
Master the Test Format
Master the Test Format
Instructor: Andrew Mitchell
Company: Kaplan
GMAT Score: 770

Tip: The key to GMAT success is knowing the (finite) scope of the test and having a strategy for every problem type, starting with data sufficiency. Know the distribution and relative frequency of question topics, and be the master of the test format and of your own psychology.
Eliminating Wrong Answers
Eliminating Wrong Answers
Instructor: David Chambers
Company: Manhattan Review Europe
GMAT Score: 760

Tip: Do not try to solve the problem analytically. Instead, try to pick the right answer choice numerically or logically. Because GMAT supplies five possible answer choices to each question, the task is not to calculate or derive an answer, but to choose one, which is a subtly different task. In addition to the traditional analytical approach we all used at school, it may be quicker and more effective to adopt the numerical (a.k.a. substitution or "plugging in of the answers") or logical ("which answers can I eliminate without calculation?") approaches. Too many candidates use the dutiful, exhaustive, "show your work" approach. GMAT doesn't care about your work. Reserve some operational flexibility and be aware that there are three valid approaches to the math questions.

Also, data sufficiency questions take some getting used to. You are asked not to calculate a value but to determine whether you are able to calculate one with the information supplied. Abandon your computations the moment you realize whether you would (or would not) be able to complete them.
Guessing Like a Pro
Guessing Like a Pro
Instructor: John Fulmer
Company: Princeton Review
GMAT Score: 760

Tip: Learn to guess. Almost everybody needs to guess at least once when taking the GMAT. Even if you are a math whiz, you may get a question that seems a little different from the questions you’ve studied. With the clock ticking, you may be forced to make a guess and move on to the next question. Test takers who learn how to guess consistently do better than those who don’t. Remember that the test writers have predictable ways that they make wrong answers. For example, a math problem may simply repeat some of the numbers from the problem in the answer choices. To learn to guess, go back to some practice questions you’ve answered correctly and see if you can explain how the test writers came up with some of the wrong answers. When you are stuck on a problem on the real GMAT, you can look for and eliminate those same types of answers, thus increasing your odds of guessing correctly.
Amp Up the Pressure
Amp Up the Pressure
Instructor: Zeke Lee
Company: GMAT Pill
GMAT Score: 750

Tip: Realize it's not about how many thousands of practice questions you do or how fancy your prep program is; it's about how efficiently and effectively you think. It's about an efficient thought process under time- pressure conditions. The best way to learn is to watch an expert show you exactly what is going on inside his mind when confronted with a GMAT question and then mimic that thought process yourself. … Through visualization, your mind will automatically replicate the professionals' techniques.

Also, every time you do a practice problem, visualize yourself sitting in that exam room. Imagine that the practice problem you are about to do is actually a real exam question you are about to answer. By adjusting the psychological state of your mind, you can prepare yourself better for the mental pressures of the actual exam day.
Make a List and Check It. Constantly
Make a List and Check It. Constantly
Instructor: Brian Galvin
Company: Veritas Prep
GMAT Score: 750

Tip: The GMAT is a heavily researched test that costs a fortune to administer. As part of that undertaking, the puppeteers behind the test monitor the types of mistakes that students make under pressure and create questions designed to exacerbate and punish those mistakes. To perform to your ability, you need to be well aware of the mistakes that you, personally, are vulnerable to, particularly when taking the GMAT under timed, big-day pressure. To simulate test conditions, take multiple practice tests and do some homework sets in which you need to work under timed conditions—even forcing yourself to work faster than what your average pace will need to be on the test. Then, pay attention to the recurring errors you make and write those down on your noteboard on test day so you have a quick double-check checklist.

For one instructor, that checklist looked like this:

Positive (did you assume that a variable was positive, when in fact it could be negative or 0?)

Integer (did you assume that a variable was an integer, when in fact it could be a noninteger?)

0 (did you consider what would happen if the integer were 0?)

Sufficient (did you accidentally eliminate a Data Sufficiency answer choice because the data gave the answer "No"? Remember that an emphatic "No" means "sufficient.")

? (did you double-check that you answered the right question, or could you have provided the value of x when the question asked for the value of y?)

Having a quick-reference checklist of your most-common mistakes is a great way to ensure that you get credit for the work you do and don’t miss a question because of a careless or silly error. As an MBA graduate in a high-profile job, you’ll need to be able to make good decisions under pressure; the GMAT is designed to test that ability, so make sure you’re ready to rise to that challenge.
Use Flash Cards
Use Flash Cards
Instructor: Tracy Yun
Company: Manhattan Review U.S.
GMAT Score: 730

Tip: From the day you start the preparation to the date you are ready to take the test, carry cards or cheat sheets with you showing:

Multiplication table up to 20
Pythagorean triples (3, 4, 5; 6, 8, 10; 5, 12, 13; 7, 24, 25)
Squares up to 20 for a 650 target score; Squares up to 30 for a 700+ target score
Cubes up to 6 for a 650 target score; Cubes up to 12 for a 700+ target score
Prime numbers up to 20 for a 650 target score; Prime numbers up to 50 for a 700+ target score

Rearrange the problem in a way that is visually comfortable to you. If you prefer to see numbers in fractions, rather than decimals, rewrite them. If you prefer to see a triangle with the longer base on the bottom, redraw it.
Get Comfortable With the Keyboard
Get Comfortable With the Keyboard
Instructor: Sean Selinger
Company: 800Score.com
GMAT Score: 760

Tip: The GMAT is available only as a computerized test, which isn’t user-friendly. You can’t go back to earlier questions, and you can’t write on the computer screen. The best way to prepare for the awkward experience is to take many practice computer-adaptive GMATs prior to test day.

The GMAT has no calculator. No worries, though, because GMAT quant questions are carefully designed not to be computationally intensive. If you ever find yourself trying to multiply 15,334,345 by 24,693,575…stop working before you waste two minutes doing the arithmetic. It means that you missed a shortcut or made an error somewhere.