The GMAT is a unique type of exam that tests a broad area of knowledge as well as various skills such as time management, working well under pressure, and strategy building. You will be given a relatively short amount of time to answer each question, and you need to be well aware of how you should approach each type of question. You may already feel that many things can go wrong during the exam. While it is normal to make mistakes, being prepared for the exam by knowing potential exam “traps” will help you deal with any unexpected situations. One of the best ways to prepare for such situations is by learning from others’ mistakes. Thus, we’re going to walk you through some of the most common GMAT mistakes that test-takers make during the exam and give our advice on how to avoid them.
1. Memorized Answers
A common GMAT mistake that test takers make while preparing for the exam is memorizing the questions and answers from the practice exams rather than understanding and learning from each question. This strategy is pretty useless as the same exact questions from the practice tests will NOT repeat on the official GMAT exam. Also, this strategy is prone to causing real problems to test takers during the exam since they (most probably) will have a limited array of techniques to use to tackle different question types.
Keep in mind that you have about 2 min per question. Because of this you should have a strategy and logical method of tackling and solving each question type before the exam takes place. During your GMAT preparation, you should understand the question types and what you are required to do on each of them. The questions from each section have aspects to them which can be tricky to understand at the beginning. If you find yourself struggling to understand questions and solution paths you can always look for professional help. For example, private GMAT tutors are people who have extensive experience when it comes to taking – and studying for – the GMAT. A proper private GMAT tutor can give you valuable advice on how to avoid common mistakes on the different GMAT sections.
2. Wrong Time Strategy
As the GMAT is a time-constrained exam, having the right time strategy is crucial during the exam. Knowing that they are pressed for time, many students tend to allocate their time wrongly which negatively affects their performance. Having a short amount of time to answer each question means it may be tempting to look for shortcuts to save time. For example, many students try to save some extra time by scanning questions in order to get a rough understanding of what is being asked. In this way, they believe they will have more time to analyze the option choices and find the right answer faster. Unfortunately, this strategy rarely yields the expected results because students get stuck between 2-3 choices, meaning they will have to re-read the question. Hence, answering just one question will take more time than they had anticipated.
The remedy for this common GMAT mistake is a combination of a proper timing strategy and a proper approach for solving different types of questions. Instead of looking for ways to solve the question for the least possible time and compromising the accuracy of your answer, try to find the right approach to solve the question. Having the right approach means that you will spend just the right amount of time. While preparing for the GMAT exam, pay enough attention to problem solving methods as well as the time you take to solve each question.
3. Refusing to Admit You Don’t Know Something
Another common GMAT mistake hides in the students’ inability to admit that they don’t know the answer to a particular question. Instead they attempt to guess the answer. This is, of course, an action of last resort. Nevertheless, it’s naive to think that even if you have studied for hundreds of hours, you will know the answer to every question. Keep in mind, the GMAT exam is not designed for you to answer every single question right. The GMAT test has a computerized adaptive format, meaning it employs a special algorithm to adjust to your level of proficiency as you progress through the questions. It will give you several easy, intermediate, and hard questions, and you have to try to give an answer to all of them.
Instead of agonizing over a few questions and wasting valuable time trying to solve them, you have to take your best educated guess and move on. Otherwise, you are losing your chance of getting other questions correct. It is far more important to get through the entire exam rather than to answer every question correctly. Your score will be calculated collectively from all questions and it won’t be determined only by the questions that you don’t know. Show what you have learned and don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions.
The GMAT is a challenging exam because it hides many potential traps that can easily mislead test-takers who, under pressure, often make careless mistakes. You should understand that making mistakes is normal and be prepared to make some yourself. Here at Apex, we are more than happy to support you on your GMAT journey and assist you in every step of the process. You can sign-up for a 30-minute complimentary consultation call with one of our instructors who can help you ace your exam and learn strategies to avoid GMAT mistakes!
Contributor: Diana Materova