As we get ready to celebrate a most auspicious day, the release of the 7th Star Wars film, we went through the collected years of Star Wars wisdom and not surprisingly, many lessons and Jedi mind tricks from the movies can easily apply to studying for the GMAT and applying to business school. So strap in, young Padawan, and take these lessons to heart.
There are many common traps on the GMAT. Learn to spot the more common ones, and you’ll become a more efficient, and more accurate test-taker. For example, answer choice (E) in data sufficiency is rarely correct. Remember that “Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed” doesn’t mean “I can’t solve this.” It means there isn’t enough information available.
If a DS question is difficult, assume someone can answer it, just not you. Don’t fall for (E). Another less obvious trap is the number of questions presented to you. Unless you’re a test-taking whiz, you will have to guess on at least a few questions in quant and verbal. Don’t become ensnared in a question and spend precious minutes on solving it at the expense of other items. Move on — it’s a trap!
Many a GMAT test-taker has gone down this path — trying to analyze a question’s level of difficulty and by extension, how you’re doing on the test. Do the questions appear too easy? You must be doing very poorly. Are the questions very difficult? You must be doing well. But, difficulty is relative, and what you find difficult might be a cakewalk for someone else.
The only benefit to believing a question is difficult is giving yourself permission to move on. If you don’t know how to go about solving it, odds are you won’t come up with a new method in under two minutes. And don’t try to outsmart the GMAT algorithm. If it were that easy, 700 would be the new black. Focus on each question, do your best, and don’t try to predict the future.
The world of GMAT prep, and b-school admissions, is dominated by statistics: acceptance rates, weight of GMAT score vs. GPA vs. work experience, number of volunteer hours… It’s easy to succumb to your mathematical fate. We’re not advising you to ignore the odds. Knowing what the admission trends are at your dream school can be helpful in planning your GMAT prep, your essay topic, and your interview. Trends can also help you determine safety, target, and reach schools. But statistics are not predictive, they inevitably deal with the past. Be realistic, but don’t let those numbers dictate your future.
Having a GMAT study buddy is a great way to keep motivated and keep your progress on track. Being able to work through a problem together, learn from each other, and boost one another’s morale can get you through your plateaus or through when you just don’t feel like studying. But friends, even those studying for the GMAT and applying to the same schools, can derail you.
Even at similar test scores, GMAT test-takers get there in very different ways depending on their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t get discouraged by your friend’s prowess in data sufficiency, or higher practice test score, or stellar resume — concentrate on your progress. And more than anything, be mindful of random bits of “advice” you may find on message boards or through the grapevine. It’s difficult to verify the accuracy and intent of all content posted, so take that advice with a grain of salt.
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