Top Three GMAT Tips

Discover the top three GMAT tips you need to know

With the GMAT being a challenging test, universally required for business school admission, definitive strategies are crucial to obtain a high score, as well as reduce stress. The form of the test is so unique that broad and wide-ranging advice will prove only so useful. How do you best tackle Sentence Correction questions? What’s the best approach to Data Sufficiency? How do you most effectively work through Reading Comprehension? Sure, general tips like getting enough sleep before test day and bringing a snack are helpful, but here are the top three tips that will directly play a part in increasing your score.


Sentence Correction – Logic over feelings

To the surprise of many, it is, in fact, not necessary to be an expert editor and grammar connoisseur to ace the Sentence Correction section of the GMAT. It’s important to remember that logic is your primary tool, not an advanced knowledge of the English language. Our best piece of advice: Look for the illogical. Often the questions are testing illogical modifiers, sequences and comparisons. In this way, it’s best to think of Sentence Correction as solving a puzzle through process of elimination, via logical conclusions.

It’s a bit of an age-old adage to “go with your gut” when tackling difficult test questions. This could not be farther from the truth for the GMAT, and in particular, the Sentence Correction section. The more answer choices there are, the more fickle and unreliable intuition and “gut instinct” can be when trying to find the right answer.

When you approach Sentence Correction questions with logic and thereby maintaining a sharp eye for the illogical, it’s much easier to find the correct answer. Don’t derail yourself or waste time by worrying about an excessive knowledge of English jargon and grammar, or relying tenuously on your gut instinct.


Data Sufficiency – Watch out for the obvious answer

Data Sufficiency question types are unique to the GMAT and aim to honor those who display higher-order reasoning skills, that will ultimately lead to success in business. Basically, they ask when is there enough info – i.e. “sufficient data” – to make a sound conclusion? These questions are designed to be hard and aren’t going to give you an easy pass. So, if an answer choice seems obvious right away, beware of it – more than likely, it’s a trap.

In the test world, these obvious and misleading answer choices are referred to as “the too good to be true” answers. With Data Sufficiency, if an answer appears to be obvious after 15-20 seconds, fight the urge to quickly select it and instead, take a deeper look as the math is not as easy as it first appears. While not always true, this is sometimes also referred to as the “C” option, where selecting C might appear to be the immediate and obvious choice on more than one question. If it appears that you’re muddling through mindless math, take a closer look and avoid this trap.

After all, an answer that seems too good to be true often isn’t.


Reading Comprehension – Recognize question types

Out of the 41 questions on the Verbal section of the GMAT, there are four Reading Comprehension passages, with an accompanying three to four questions each. The passages you’ll find in this section are from textbooks, journals, periodicals and scholarly articles and cover topics like natural/social sciences, humanities and the business world. All in all, one-third of the GMAT Verbal section is devoted to Reading Comprehension. Approaching this section being able to identify Reading Comprehension question types will help you save time and expedite to the right answer.

There are six main question types that comprise Reading Comprehension: Main Idea, Detail, Inference, Out of Context, Logical Structure and Style and Tone. Main Idea questions, or “global” questions inquire about the passage as a whole and are the most common (each passage will have one of these). Detail questions require a knowledge of the main idea, but repeatedly require you to then go back and re-read specific sentences to determine the answer. Inference asks you to read between the lines and determine implication, usually something not explicitly stated. Out of Context questions ask you to find the perspective and preferences of the author from the passage. Logical Structure asks about placement and structure, while Style and Tone asks about words that carry emotional charge.

The wide variety of topics and length of the GMAT Reading Comprehension questions can prove to be intimidating; however, identifying what type it is and the category it falls into will help you deduce the correct answer choice.

No doubt studying for the GMAT exam is a process that requires time, commitment and patience. Ultimately, your strategies should revolve around saving you time answering questions, avoiding pitfalls and pacing yourself efficiently. Showing up on test day with these tips, among others, in the back of your mind will surely provide a roadmap to navigating the terrain before you. Strategy erodes doubt and strengthens confidence, a surefire game plan for test day.

Dr Joern Meissner
Written by Manhattan Review

Manhattan Review, providers of Manhattan Review GMAT Prep, was founded by Dr Joern Meissner (pictured), an internationally renowned business school professor, in 1999. Headquartered in New York City, Manhattan Review operates in many cities in the United States and in selected major cities around the world. It helps students gain entrance to their desired degree programs by working to improve their admission test scores.

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