Getting A Good Score In GMAT Is Not As Easy It Seems: A First Person Account

When one kicks off the GMAT preparation, one is made to believe that it's not merely the preparation, but the pace of solving questions during the exam that can help a candidate sail through.

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Getting A Good Score In GMAT Is Not As Easy It Seems: A First Person Account

Getting a 700 plus score in the GMAT is a dream for millions of B-school aspirants worldwide.


Getting a 700 plus score in the GMAT is a dream for millions of B-school aspirants worldwide. And it is not a very tough nut to crack, at least on the face of it. When one kicks off the GMAT preparation, one is made to believe that it's not merely the preparation, but the pace of solving questions during the exam that can help a candidate sail through.

Quantitative and Verbal (including logical reasoning) are broadly two disciplines that one is tested at in the competitive exam.

The syllabi of these subjects are quite basic and any graduate (irrespective of the stream) is expected to know them well enough to be able to procure a decent score since the difficulty level of questions is pretty moderate.

In order to score good marks, I enrolled for a test series which is known for its high-difficulty-level questions. I had assumed that the test series will prepare and equip me for the real GMAT questions that, as we mentioned earlier, has a moderate difficulty level.

The score in the practice tests was quite dismal. I scored 630, 620, 590 and 580 out of 800.

I was so disappointed with my score that I contemplated jettisoning my plan of appearing for the exam that was scheduled a week from then. But since I had taken a long leave from the work and also that I had invested substantial amount of time and money on the preparation, I decided against the idea of giving the exam a pass.

When one enrolls for the exam on mba.com, you are given access to the GMAT Prep software that allows free download of two real time exams, designed by GMAC, the creators of GMAT. The difficulty level of these two exams is exactly similar to the real exam and hence, several notches lower than that of the test series that I had already given.

Exactly a day before the D-day, I decided to give one of the two mock tests that I was entitled to.

I was quite pleased that I managed to pull off a cool 700, a respectable score by any means, and especially when the highest in my previous attempts was 630. The lesson that I learnt was that my preparation was quite decent but the high difficulty of the test series had left me dissuaded.

The D-day arrived. Thanks to the high difficulty level of test series, I was quite accustomed to skipping the questions fast enough to be able to finish the paper.

It is a widely-known fact among the GMAT community that the penalty of skipping three questions is far steeper than answering three questions incorrectly. So, I didn't want to risk skipping a single question. I would rather risk being wrong on some questions.

While answering the paper with this mindset, I ended up skipping several questions one after the other every time I "assumed" that I was spending slightly more time on any question than available.

The paper gives 75 minutes each for answering 41 verbal questions and 37 quantitative questions. So, for each question, one has less than two minutes to answer.

However, what went wrong in my calculation was this. Since the GMAT questions are of various difficulty levels, those who are likely to score well (falling in the higher percentile bracket) are meant to answer the questions of high difficulty level. Those questions take relatively longer than the standard questions.

So, though ideally one doesn't need to spend over two minutes for one question on an AVERAGE, but since some of the earlier questions (as many as 10 in each section) are too simple to merit two minutes of attention, the later questions can afford to be solved in more than two minutes.

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And lord, had I done this, my score would have definitely improved. My quest to finish the questions fast enough to avoid leaving any question un-attempted left me through with the exam nearly 12 minutes before the permitted time (75 minutes) got over.

Had I solved just 5-6 questions in this time, my score would have improved by 60-70, thus putting me in the elite club of 700 plus.

But, as I saw the screen, I was far more astonished and flabbergasted than I was a day ago when I had unexpectedly scored 700 in the practice test.

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The score this time was 640 with 48 marks (out of 60) in quantitative and 31 in verbal.

Sometimes, it doesn't pay to be more circumspect than desired.

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