GMAT Test Tips and Strategies

By Peterson's Staff updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Check out the following tips that can help you with your GMAT prep.

Approach the GMAT test with a plan

Spend enough time preparing that you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You know you're going to face geometry questions in the Quantitative section; are you strong with triangles and quadrilaterals, but weak with circles? Having this kind of understanding can help you decide where to focus your energies, both for your GMAT review and on the test itself.

In your GMAT practice, spend some extra time on the areas that are more difficult for you. They may not turn into strengths, but you might see some improvement. Then when you take the GMAT test, put a little extra focus on the questions that play to your strengths, so you can be sure to get them right.

Spend time on GMAT prep

Practice makes permanence! If you set aside time in a quiet place to take some GMAT practice exams, you'll be ready for the rigors of sitting in a chair and focusing on test material for a few hours. Since this skill doesn't come naturally to most people, why not practice? You can also use this opportunity to assess where you need to spend more time studying. 

GMAT review should include test-specific strategies

Reading Comprehension
As you read each passage, look for its main ideas. Remember, everything the author writes is there for a reason, and these reasons are generally more important than the details in the passage. As you read, take notes about the main ideas and structure of the passage on scrap paper. Learn the most common types of wrong answers used by the test writers and how to avoid choosing them.

Sentence Corrections
About one-fifth of the sentences will be correct as is. A good way to identify them is to read the sentences "aloud" in your mind. If you read one that sounds OK, it probably is. A tightly worded sentence is generally considered more effective, so, all things being equal, choose the shortest answer.

Critical Reasoning
Learn to recognize the key elements of any argument — evidence, conclusion, and assumptions. Remember that when a statement makes the conclusion more likely to be true, then that statement strengthens the argument. When a statement makes the conclusion less likely to be true, the statement weakens the argument. In your GMAT preparation, learn the types of fallacies that appear most often on the exam so you can recognize them when you see them. Forget what you know or think about a given topic; instead, respond to the question in terms of the argument presented.

Multiple-choice questions in the Quantitative section
Break word problems into simple phrases that you can translate into numbers or symbols. Search geometry diagrams for answer clues, and sketch your own when necessary. On graph interpretation problems, spend 30 seconds examining the graphs before tackling the questions. Don't be afraid to "guesstimate" or look for shortcuts; many questions have them.

Data Sufficiency
Learn the directions and answer choices backward and forward before the GMAT test date, since the answer choices are the same for every data sufficiency question. Tackle each item by examining the question, considering each numbered statement individually, and then combining the two statements. Don't make any assumptions not stated in the question or the numbered statements. Remember: you do not have to find solutions; you just need to determine if the situation presented in the question can be solved.

Analytical Writing
Use the four-step process to manage your time and effort effectively — brainstorm, outline, write, and revise. Keep your essay simple and make sure your point of view comes through clearly. Be specific, vary sentence length, and avoid mechanical errors.

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