Long-time readers are aware that we are not GMATSnark – we honestly wish you well if you’re in that stage of the process since that test is like a medieval torture device, in our opinion. Cruel beyond measure.
Or maybe it’s like waterboarding: It seems like it should get useful information out of the poor victim but all it does is cause suffering.
(OK, getting dangerously close to political topics there, which we stridently try to avoid – let’s move on!)
Even though the GMAT is not at all our specialty, we do like to offer some advice from time to time for those working on it, and we’re currently in prime GMAT season, so we thought we’d toss out a few.
Today the advice is simply: You need to study more than you have.
For a large chunk of BSers, the score received on the actual exam is lower than they got on their practice tests. This is almost always surprising, too – if you were consistently getting, say, a 710 on your practice sessions, and you end up at the end with a 680 staring you in the face, you’re gonna be like, “HUH?!!?”
We have some theories on why this happens but that’s not the point. The point is it happens. Like, a lot. To many, many people.
So take this advice from the appropriately-named Brilliant Blog and commit to OVERLEARNING .
To be fair, a 680 is a fine score. Most people who take the GMAT do far worse than that. It’s not easy to stick a 680.
But we’re here in IWANNAGOTOAGREATSCHOOL-land and a 680? When we’re still officially in last season and the deadline that you’re looking at for applying next season is at least six months away?
A 680 is really not high enough.
Remember, if you’re targeting Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton*, “Is this score high enough?” is not even the right question to be asking.
There’s no insurance policy you can purchase for getting a high score on the test – except that you do have control over the inputs to the process. Study hard, then study some more. That post from the Brilliant Blog talks about a study of people learning physical tasks, but there’s no reason to think that the same findings would not apply to learning new stuff. The GMAT test experts have all sorts of methods for analyzing what you do wrong on every problem that you skitz out on. We’re not suggesting that anyone should strive for a perfect outcome on the GMAT – in fact we have very rarely seen even 790 scores, much less perfect 800s, in all our years of doing this. But you can get to the point where you understand the different problem sets and know how to approach every single one so intuitively that when you get a problem wrong, you don’t have to struggle that much to understand why.
That’s also an excellent way to discover – and learn from – your own blind spots, too. Everyone has trouble in different parts of the test. Understanding the patterns in your own mistake-making can take you far in overcoming them.
We’ve covered such suggestions from this Brilliant resource before, including this one specifically about psyching yourself up for something stressful (and if the GMAT is anything, it’s stressful!) – those are some mental tricks that work!
Go to it with this GMAT thing. It’s well within your reach.
And when you nail it… please be sure not to gloat. 😀
*Or a slew of other top schools, really…