Preparing for the GMAT exam is a tricky task. Even with the right prep strategy in place, you might still find yourself struggling with one problem after another. So, what it is that you might be doing during your preparation that despite all your plan something still goes wrong. In this article, we are going to tell you about 8 common mistakes to avoid during GMAT test prep.
8 Common Mistakes to Avoid During GMAT Test Prep:
Avoid the One-shot Approach
GMAT is one of those competitive exams that you can retake as often as you want. This allows you a second chance to qualify in the same academic year. So, you need not worry about a bad score on your first attempt. Each test attempt costs $250 and you can take the exam at your convenience.
You can take a diagnostic test or two to kick-start your GMAT preparation. After getting an idea of how the test is going to be, you can make a serious attempt at the next available slot. Do not panic if you end up scoring low. Unlike other competitive tests, you don’t have to waste an entire year to attempt the exam all over again. GMAT can be attempted up to 5 times in a calendar year with a 16-day gap between each attempt.
Avoid Taking the GMAT Exam Too Close to Your Business School Application Deadline
When you schedule your test, always ensure that you do not take the exam too close to your business school’s application deadline. This is because you have to keep in mind retakes and also the time in which your official scores will be sent to business schools. Planning for a retake of the GMAT exam (which you might or might not need) while your preferred business school’s admissions window is still open is what a smart candidate would do. Not maintaining a healthy time gap between your GMAT exam and application deadline is one of the most common mistakes to avoid during GMAT test prep.
As stated above, you have the option to retake the GMAT exam up to 5 times in a year, so don’t worry if you have obtained a low score. You can always assess your strengths and weaknesses and work on your problem areas so that in your next attempt you don’t repeat the same mistake. It is definitely beneficial for you to do a strengths and weaknesses analysis to avoid similar errors in your next attempt.
Avoid Practicing Only Easy or Medium Difficulty Level Questions
The last thing you must be happy with is a consistent score (unless it’s 760)! A mock test must familiarize you with the concepts and method of testing of the GMAT exam. Since the GMAT is a computer-adaptive test, a steady score essentially means that you have not improved significantly enough to face tougher – and higher scoring – questions. Thus, a steady score across different mock tests should not lull you into a false sense of security. Instead, your aim should be to score higher each time.
There is no certain way to overcome the adaptive test but to familiarize yourself with the GMAT exam pattern. The mock tests only ensure that you are more prepared for this type of testing method. Keep in mind that the simulated tests can only give you an approximate score range that you might fall under. These scores might not be completely accurate at all times. As a matter of fact, mock tests enable you to get accustomed to the GMAT testing conditions like – the break schedules, no use of a calculator in the Quantitative section and of course the time management required for solving each section.
Avoid Partial Preparation
Different GMAT prep institutes hold different opinions and guide candidates differently. While some advise you to concentrate on your weaker areas, others advise you to bank on your strengths. Neither technique will guarantee you success on the GMAT exam because you are required to have an in-depth knowledge of all the test topics. Hence, partial preparation is one of the most common mistakes to avoid during GMAT test prep.
The only way to guarantee a high score is to diligently and equally practice all sections and different question types. This is where a study plan plays an important role since it helps you keep track of the progress you have made so far. A good plan ensures you don’t miss out on any of the important topics or overlook some categories either. Ideally, preparation is the key element for the GMAT exam and you mustn’t be negligent in your preparation. Planning and executing different study strategies will definitely prove beneficial at the time of the exam.
Avoid Obsessing Over Questions
Some questions, we know, will be difficult to let go of. However, in such cases, don’t give all your time to a particular question. Pursuing tough questions is something that seems obvious enough, but you must ensure that it does not turn into an obsession and takes away time that you need to spend on other questions.
Set yourself a timeline and once that time is over, move on to the next. Pacing yourself is a critical element, where you need to allocate time appropriately for each section. Devoting too much time to a single section or too little time on any section is not recommended. Both of these could cost you precious scores.
Avoid Taking Your Mock Test Scores Too Seriously
We can’t emphasize this point enough! Many of you might consider mock tests scores as the only indicator of how you might do in the actual test. Depending on mock tests to assess various other factors such as the complexity of the mock tests, the environment you practice in, the mental space you are in on the day of the test, etc., is still acceptable, but this isn’t true about your scores. You shouldn’t take mock test scores too seriously, because in the actual exam anything can happen.
The important thing is how you prepare for every mock test. As mentioned earlier, these tests can only provide you with an approximate range of GMAT scores which you may end up with. They are not 100% accurate and therefore, you must not either be complacent/overconfident or dejected/disappointed with the scores you receive in the mock exam. Determining your actual GMAT scores based on your mock scores is not a wise idea as you may encounter a completely different outcome at the end of the day. Relying on mock test scores alone is a common mistake students make during GMAT test prep.
Avoid Going Overboard with Your GMAT Prep
Preparing for the GMAT is not a short-term commitment. It will take time to sharpen your skills and enhance your knowledge, to get into a comfort zone with the test conditions and requirements and so on. So do not rush into things, take your time. You are going to have a burn at some point if you overdo things and this could lead to a lack of focus and ultimately bad preparation.
Avoid Feeling Disappointed
It is entirely possible that some of you may record a high GMAT score while others might not. You must understand your limitations, rather than getting discouraged. At this point, try to rework your strategy to maximize the chances of success.
Not everyone is going to score in the mid-to-high 700+ range, but there is no shame in being in the 680 range if it is required for the business school you apply to. There are plenty of good business schools that take candidates with a 650+ score if other criteria are met. You can always build a strong profile by strengthening the other aspects of your application – SOP, LOR, CV, etc.
These are the 8 common mistakes to avoid during your GMAT test prep. Remember, the GMAT is a difficult exam, so take your time to prepare and practice as much as possible. Also, you can enrol in coaching classes wherein you will be guided by experts during your preparation.