Dispelling the Top 10 Myths About the GMAT - examPAL GMAT Blog
  1. On the web, you’ll find a lot of myths surrounding the GMAT. And you’ll be shocked to find out how inaccurate most of them are. In this blog we challenge the top 10 myths surrounding the GMAT.

    Myth 1: “The first 10 questions count more towards your score, and you should spend more time on them.”

    Fact: The first ten questions are very important, especially on the Quant.

    One should not take the initial questions lightly as the algorithm finds your real ability by around question 20. However, it evaluates your whole question profile.

    Myth 2: “I only need to study the hardest questions.”

    Fact: For every question there can be an easy, medium, or hard variation, so it is advisable not to neglect any solution tool, regardless of how hard the question. If you only have very little time to prepare for the GMAT, it is best to study those questions that are only slightly above your current level.  Missing easy questions may harm your score more than getting difficult questions right helps your score.   

    Myth 3: I need to be really good at Math to do well on the Quant section.

    Fact: The math needed for the Quant section is high-school level. The difficulty lies in how it is applied – your critical thinking and strategic approach. The high-school “precise” strategy is only relevant to about a third of the quantitative questions.

    Myth 4.  I can always use my calculator!

    Fact: Except for the Integrated Reasoning section, no calculators are allowed on the GMAT. However, no calculator means that the GMAT will only include questions that could reasonably be solved without using a calculator. Those that seem very difficult to calculate are the ones which require the Alternative or Logical solution approaches.  

    Myth 5:  I need a 750 to get into a top-10 MBA program.

    Fact: Although a low GMAT score won’t get you in, once you’ve crossed the 700 threshold, it’s not just about your GMAT score but about the rest of your credentials (GPA, personal statement, and extracurricular activities)..

    Myth 6: If I see an easy question, it means I missed the last one.

    Fact: There is a tendency to get more difficult questions if you’re getting questions right, or get easier questions if you are missing questions. However, some questions in the test are actually “pilot questions” for future exams. These questions might be easier or harder than your actual level of performance in the test, so you cannot draw a conclusion from just one question.

    Myth 7: It’s more important to answer correctly and leave items blank than to finish with guesses.

    Fact: This depends on the number of questions you have left, the section you are on (Verbal or Quantitative), and your relative ability.

    • If you only have 1 or 2 items left in a section, it doesn’t make much difference if you guess or leave the question blank.
    • If you are on the Verbal section, it doesn’t make much difference if you guess when you have up to about 5 questions left.
    • In the Quantitative section do not leave questions blank. Your odds improve if you guess and complete all the questions rather leave the final questions blank.
    • If your ability is low – it’s best to leave the question blank. If your ability is high, it is best to guess.

    Myth 8: As I am a native English speaker, I don’t need to study Verbal much.

    Fact: Many students assume that because they are native English speakers they are okay.  But the Verbal section measures a different set of skills. It emphasizes the logic and structure of sentences, passages and arguments. Nonetheless, as a native speaker you’ll probably find the vocabulary relatively easy.  

    Myth 9: I should take as many practice tests as possible.

    Fact: Doing too many practice tests won’t really help you, and will probably only exhaust you. It’s not how much you practice, it’s about what and how you practice in order to avoid doing the same mistakes over and over again. While most practice tests will provide you the solution they think is best for question, you must find the right solution for you.

    You should only take around 2-4 practice tests. They are only useful to get you used to the timing. Practice tests cannot really diagnose your score accurately, as there are many factors which contribute to your real score: the mix of the questions you got on a specific test, stress levels, the timing of taking a guess, etc.

    Even if your foundations are very strong, you still have to learn specific strategies which you don’t pick up just from answering practice questions.  

    Myth 10: “I should memorize a bunch of formulas or problem solving strategies.”

    Fact: Most GMAT questions don’t require the use of formulas (the “Precise” approach). Rather, solving them requires the  Alternative or Logical routes. Our practice system enables you to identify in advance your most efficient way for solving each question. Yes, we might find that in some cases remembering and using formulas is the best way for you, but generally, it’s about making your mind “flexible” enough to move from one approach to another very quickly. As in any other kind of fitness, it takes some time to master it, but once you are “in the zone”, you’ll be able to get to your highest possible score in no time.

     

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    Jack Oren Jackman
    CEO & Founder of examPAL. 21 years' experience in the field of test prep. Has written dozens of books and courseware, and personally taught over 4,000 students.

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