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GMAT preparation tips for improving score
by Total Gadha - Thursday, 9 April 2009, 03:10 AM
  For those who want to know my GMAT history, I have taken only two computer-based/adaptive tests till date:
  • GMAT- unbelievable though it may seem, my first test on computer was the real GMAT itself. I was preparing for CAT and had taken date for GMAT as a backup. I scored a 770.
  • GMAT prep- Recently, I took GMAT prep to check if I was still in shape. I scored a 780.
For those who want to know about my preparation or material covered, I can summarize it in brief:
  • Strategy- none.
  • Sentence correction practice- Did 500 questions from 1000 file.
  • Critical Reasoning- Started with OG, did first 100 questions, got 96 correct, got bored.
  • Reading Comprehension- Some small number from 1000 files. Don't remember.
  • Quant- None.
  • My accuracy? Above 95% in every section
I may sound a little cool or a stud here but none of this would be true. Although I apparently did a very small amount of preparation, I did a very focused one. And I did some things right:

Sentence Correction:

  • I mugged up rules of SC like crazy.  Please don't miss the word 'mugged' here. I didn't read or understand them. That I did later. First, I memorized them by heart. I mugged them up so good that I could recall each and every rule at an instant. I see students not knowing or trying hard to remember an idiom or a rule. That wasn't the case with me. In 90% of the questions (and I mean 90%), I instantly knew which rules to apply. Dagny has collected those files that I memorized in a single place. Please download Dagny Taggart's Ultimate Guide to GMAT and MUG IT UP!
  • I didn't pay much attention to questions I got correct. But I paid a lot of attention to questions I got wrong. I always marked questions I got wrong, learnt the rule, moved on, waited for sufficient number of days so that I would forget the answer, and then reattempted them. Then I would again mark the questions that I got wrong on my second attempt. And so on. I extracted all the juice from those 500 questions. By the time I was finished, I was pretty sure I could get all of those 500 correct.
  • Read 'Economist' Magazine. Face it- GMAT is an American test. Get used to American English. If you read American English enough, you can get many SC questions even through the feel of English. 

Reading Comprehension

My biggest strength. I boast a lot to my students that I can get at least 95 out of 100 questions correct in RC. Actually, I underestimate myself. On a good day I can get all 100 correct. I rarely got any question wrong in the two tests that I took. And all I do is two simple things.

  • Read the passage carefully: Really read the passage carefully. Reallllyyyyyy read the passage carefully. Not joking. I am a very good reader. But I can still read a passage thrice if I don't understand it completely. I don't use any speed reading or first line/ last line gizmo.
  • For every question I go back to the passage and check my answer: I may have an elephant's memory (I have 185+ IQ by the way, no relation to the memory though), but I DON'T rely on it when I am solving RC. Even though the answer seems obvious to me, I go and check. Please note this- I check EVERY answer in the passage.
Critical Reasoning

  • Read the first few chapters of Copi & Cohen's book 'Introduction to Logic.' Solve the questions given at the end of the lessons.
  • Learn to identify premises and conclusions without even looking at the question.
  • I repeat, don't look at the question. Identify the premise and conclusion first. Understand the argument.
  • Never, never, never think outside the argument. Don't use your brain or logic. Only see the logic of the argument.
  • You can never go wrong.
  • No strategy

During the test

  • Take a lot of time solving the first 10- 15 questions. Don't panic that time is running away or something. Solve these questions correctly first. Make a guess only when you are forced to. Once, during my research, I read that the computer adaptive algorithm finds the level of a student in a very small number of iterations. Maybe it finds your level in first 5 questions only. But why take a chance. I took a long time in solving my first 15 questions. But I got them right. You do the same.

  • Use GMAT Prep software to the fullest. Although there are only two tests, attempt it 4 or 5 times. You will find a lot of questions you haven't seen before. And as OG is the bible, GMAT prep is the only benchmark. Therefore, attempt all the questions that are there in the software.
  • Use the Forums: Not enough can be said about using the forums and taking help from others, particularly an instructor. There can be only 3 outcomes when you attempt a question- you will either get it right or wrong OR you will not be able to make head or tail of it. In my 5 years of teaching, I have seen that an instructor can make a difference to all three outcomes. If you got the question right, maybe you used too long a method or some special shortcut that applied to that particular question only. An instructor can streamline your thinking here by providing the right approach so that you can use the approach in all the similar questions. If you got the question wrong or could not make head or tail of it, certainly an instructor can enhance your knowledge and set you on the right path. Enlisting help in the forums streamlines your knowledge. Maybe you got two questions of SC by fluke but now you are not sure about the correct funda. You can learn it in the forums. For example, this post will set a lot of things right for you. You don't have any other place where you can enlist help from such vast amount of talent pool. Use forums to the maximum.

Best of Luck!

Total Gadha

Re: GMAT preparation tips for improving score
by neeraj singh - Friday, 10 April 2009, 10:56 PM
  Hi Sir,
Nice post.
Really, it is going to be a helpful post for me when I am going to write GMAT after 20 odd days.
I liked the strategy defined by you  and  am going to religiously follow it.
Thank you .
Re: GMAT preparation tips for improving score
by Daniel Rossi - Sunday, 7 June 2009, 05:10 PM


You've a brilliant IQ score and hence a great GMAT score. My IQ is very low, 119 and, surprisingly, it is low in verbal. Probably that's why I could not cross 700 barrier whatever I do.  ... 


Re: GMAT preparation tips for improving score
by Anuj Das - Friday, 31 July 2009, 10:21 PM
  Thanx a lot for your valuable guidance TG..
Re: GMAT preparation tips for improving score
by Anubhav Dhyani - Monday, 7 June 2010, 02:26 AM
  185 iq...... unreal.....
even einstein and hawkins got iq of 160....

p.s- i genuflect before thee :P