Do the first few questions in each section influence the GMAT score the most?

GMAT is an adaptive test and keeps adjusting the difficulty level of questions based on your performance. Since the first few questions on GMAT are in the Medium Level of difficulty. making mistakes here tells the GMAT algorithm that you are below average. Hence the GMAT adapts downward very quickly. Clearly, you will have to make a greater effort to take it to a higher level from here on

Therefore, the first 10 questions on each section of the GMAT have what can be called a 'hygiene factor effect' i.e. if you do badly on these, they will affect your section score adversely, but beyond a point at which you do well enough on these, they are unlikely to ensure a high final score just because of this fact.

In other words, merely cracking the first 10 questions on GMAT won't automatically ensure a high score in that section. You will have to prove your competence right till the end of the section.

By how much can the GMAT score improve in the second attempt?

The scope of improvement of the GMAT score in a second GMAT attempt depends to a great extent on the reason behind the unsatisfactory first attempt score. Since we train exclusively for GMAT and many candidates approach us for guidance after their first attempt,we have identified from experience the following causes for a poor score in the first GMAT attempt:

1. A weak conceptual base in either the Verbal section or the Quantitative section or sometimes in both.

2. A decent conceptual base but poor application of concepts (very common situation that we encounter), which results in unnecessary time being spent even on relatively easier questions and a lack of confidence while answering tough GMAT questions

3. Taking GMAT in a hurry: Taking the test before you are ready for it will be a recipe for disaster on GMAT

4. Ego problems: At times a candidate believes he/she knows best and refuses to look at better approaches towards solving questions

5. Absence of a well thought out Strategy, or relying on a Strategy that's ineffective: Even if a candidate is conceptually strong, he/she may not fare well unless the Strategy adopted during the test ensures optimum Time Management and effective handling of pressure & fatigue during the test

6. Psychologically unprepared: Some candidates waver a lot during their GMAT prep. Were your unsure about your study approach in the first attempt and ended up switching from one source of practice to another in desperation? Were you relying more than you should have on the opinion of fellow candidates? Were you never fully certain that your prep was adequate? The natural consequence of all these factors is lack of self-confidence. Low confidence and low scores go hand-in-hand

7. Too much prep: This is one of the very common reasons for a low score. These days, a lot of content for GMAT is in electronic form, so you can easily get a long set of books, notes, so-called important questions etc. on your computer. Obviously, you are tempted to refer to all of it. It is almost the same as going to a restaurant and wanting to eat everything on the menu. Hope you get the point.

So we suggest that you honestly evaluate the applicability of the above factors to your performance, and this will tell you to what extent (and in what area) you can improve. Going from a 560-600 range to at least a 640-670 range should not be very difficult. And for someone who is at 600, targeting a 710+ score in the second attempt is quite realistic

I am very strong in one section but just about average in the other. Can I still look at a score of around 700 on GMAT?

To get a score close to 700, you will need to demonstrate Above Average skills in BOTH the sections, not just in one of them. If you do exceptionally well in one section but put in an average performance in the other, you will safely cross 640, but may not cross 680

Is it true that unless I score 700 on GMAT, I should not apply to top schools such as Harvard, Wharton, Insead, or ISB Hyderabad and IIM-A in India?

Last year, over 10% of candidates who made it to top b-schools such as Kellogg, Berkeley Haas, and Columbia had GMAT scores of 680 or below. The lowest score at most Ivy league schools for last year's intake was around 560-580. Therefore, it would be pre-mature to decide against applying to a top ranked b-school on the basis of GMAT score alone. Please refer to our answer to a related question: 'What is a good GMAT score for applying to b-schools for MBA?' which details out the various parameters that influence your selection

What is a good GMAT score for applying to b-schools for MBA?

While pondering over the question of what is and isn't a good GMAT score, you have to keep in mind that the GMAT score is not the only parameter on which B-schools short-list candidates. For most top ranked b-schools such as Harvard, Stanford, LBS, INSEAD, Wharton etc., the full range of GMAT scores of admitted candidates is generally from 600 to 800

This broad range exists primarily because the schools also look at the quantity & quality of your work experience, your academic record, the answers to the essay questions on the application form (very important - can make or break an application) and the recommendation (LoR) that your bosses or clients have written for you.

Therefore, a score of even 650 may be good enough for someone with a very strong application (work-ex > 7 years, strong academics /decent extra-curricular activities, solid career progression) whereas a score of even 760 may be inadequate for someone with a weak profile. Having said this, since most top ranked b-schools have an Average (Mean) GMAT score in the range of 690-730, you may set this as a target score range to ensure that your application remains competitive, other things being equal.

What are good AWA and IR scores on GMAT?

The AWA score is computed in multiples of 0.5 and the maximum score is 6.0 points. All top ranked b-schools take the AWA score very seriously, and anything below 5.0 will affect your application negatively. Aim for a 6.0 or at least a 5.5 on AWA

As far as score in the IR section is concerned, b-schools that look at this score seriously expect to see a 5+ score in this section.

Can I cancel my GMAT score at the end of the GMAT exam?

Yes. Once you have finished with the GMAT exam, you will be shown your scores (VA, QA, Overall, IR) on the screen. In case you are not happy with the score, you can Cancel the score. If you do this, your score will not be reported and will also not feature on your score report.

In the event that you cancel your GMAT score at the exam venue but decide later that you need the score, you can reinstate the GMAT score within a short time window for a fee.

How long does it take GMAC to send me my Official GMAT Score Report after I have taken the exam?

As soon as you finish the GMAT exam, you will get a printout (referred to as the Unofficial GMAT Score Report) containing the Verbal scaled score & percentile, the Quantitative scaled score & percentile, the IR score and percentile and the Overall GMAT score & percentile. Your AWA will be evaluated later, so you will get a Final Official Score Report in approximately 5-20 days after your GMAT attempt date.

While accepting applications by the deadline dates, most b-schools accept the scores that you report in the online application form. However, you need to send them a copy of the official score report directly through GMAC, the organisation that conducts the GMAT.

How are GMAT scores calculated? What does GMAT percentile score mean?

There are 5 scores that are reported on your GMAT score report after you take the GMAT exam

  1. The Verbal Ability sectional scaled score, which ranges from 6 to 51
  2. The Quantitative ability (Math) sectional scaled score, which also ranges from 6 to 51
  3. The Overall GMAT score, which is out of 800. The overall score is derived from the Verbal & Math scores.
  4. The AWA essay scaled score which is out of 6.0
  5. The Integrated Reasoning section core which is out of 8.0

With each of these 5 scores, you also get a percentile score. The percentile score tells you how you have fared out of every 100 candidates taking the GMAT. For e.g. if your percentile score in the Verbal section is 98 percentile, it means that for every 100 candidates attempting the GMAT, you are ahead of 98 candidates

The scaled scores are computed by the software taking into account the difficulty level of questions that you answered correctly and incorrectly. It is NOT a function of how many of your answers were correct and how many questions you answered incorrectly. In other words, in the Quantitative ability section, for instance, a candidate answering 22 questions correctly and 9 incorrectly can actually end up with a higher scaled score than a candidate answering 23 questions correctly and 8 incorrectly

I have taken GMAT more than once. Which score will b-schools consider?

Over 95% of B-schools worldwide look at your BEST GMAT SCORE across all your GMAT attempts in the last 5 years. In the event that your latest GMAT score is not your best score (an earlier attempt had a better score), they will still consider your higher score. Very few B-schools average out the scores

Do also remember that almost 50% of applicants to top b-schools submit more than one GMAT score while applying for the MBA program.

How many mock GMAT exams should I practice before attempting GMAT?

Usually, taking about 7-8 mock GMAT exams before actually attempting the real GMAT is good enough for practice and strategy fine-tuning. Often candidates believe that the more the number of tests they solve, the better prepared they will become. This need not be true. What is more important than the number of tests is the quality of the tests as well as what you learn (identifying areas of improvement) from each test you take.

At Sharp Minds, we strongly advise all our students to devote quality time analyzing their performance on each test they take. This time can easily be between 2 and 5 hurs per mock GMAT exam.

Are Data Sufficiency (DS) questions on GMAT tougher than Problem Solving (PS) questions?

Data sufficiency questions on GMAT aren't relatively harder than the Problem solving questions asked on the exam, but they are surely more deceptive. As you do well on GMAT, the questions get tougher. This is when you are likely to encounter quite a few seemingly easy but very tricky Data Sufficiency questions. If you are not careful, you could end up making many mistakes without even realizing the same. Moreover, Data Sufficiency questions test core concepts, hence if your conceptual base is not strong, you are likely struggle on these questions.

How hard are the Quantitative (Math) concepts tested on GMAT?

Not very hard. Most of the Math concepts that are tested on GMAT are school level math concepts. The challenge in Math is not learning the concepts, but applying them. You do not need a math or science background to do well on GMAT Quantitative ability section. But you definitely need conceptual clarity coupled with a structured thought process with with you approach the questions.

How should I prepare for the Sentence Correction questions in the Verbal section of GMAT?

Grammar by itself is a vast subject. However, for GMAT, you do not need to know all the Grammar rules. If you are not enrolling for a GMAT course, then a good strategy to prepare for the Sentence Correction section of GMAT e is to carefully analyze the SC questions in the Official GMAT Guides and look for rules that are tested, correct idioms that are used, and syntax errors that need to be rectified.

Alternatively, pick up a good Grammar book and review the rules for Pronoun usage, Modifier usage, Parallelism, Errors in Comparison, Agreement between Subject & Verb, Correct use of Tenses including the Perfect Tenses, and subjunctive Mood. These rules cover most of the concepts tested on SC in GMAT.

How should I prepare for the Reading Comprehension (RC) questions on GMAT?

In order to do well on Reading Comprehension questions, you need to be adept at reading a variety of passages, have a decent reading speed, but most importantly have good grasping ability. Unless you understand the content of the passage clearly and accurately, you will not be able to answer more than 50% of questions asked.

As you practice, try different approaches to reading the passages. Alter the pace of reading, re-read some portions for better understanding, etc. Try to narrow down to a reading style and approach that works well for you and stick to it.

Do I need to join GMAT Classes in order to prepare for the exam?

Our response to this question is likely to be biased since we offer GMAT classes in Mumbai and also offer Online Live GMAT coaching courses. While it is not necessary to take GMAT classes and while there are many who excel on GMAT without any formal coaching, taking a  GMAT preparatory course can have the following advantages:

  1. You have someone to guide you throughout your GMAT preparation
  2. You may not have enough time to research for your GMAT preparation. You run the risk of referring / relying on the wrong sources of information
  3. You save time by joining a GMAT course because classroom coaching takes comparatively less time than reading books and is more effective if you have a good and experienced GMAT instructor
  4. The course schedule of your GMAT classes automatically imposes a schedule on you and hence your preparation gets more disciplined
  5. Each GMAT attempt costs you $250. Hence taking multiple attempts without coaching may turn out to be more expensive than taking just one successful attempt after joining a good GMAT coaching program
  6. Investing in good quality GMAT coaching can pay huge dividends. If the coaching can help improve your score by just 30 points (say, 720 instead of 690), and thus help you get into a better MBA program, the salary earned post MBA could be about $15000-$50000 higher per year than what it could otherwise have been.

At Sharp Minds GMAT Prep, we offer GMAT classes in small groups in Mumbai, 1-on-1 private GMAT coaching in Mumbai and also Online, and Live online GMAT tutoring courses that prepare you for a 710+ score on GMAT.

Which is my most reliable source of practice material for GMAT?

Without any doubt, your most dependable source of practice material for GMAT is the Official GMAT Guide (latest edition is the 2019 edition). This book contains 900  past GMAT questions with detailed solutions. There is also some conceptual explanation at the start of the sections, but it is not very elaborate.

The Official GMAT guides are available as a set of 3 books. In addition to the book mentioned above, which covers both Quantitative and Verbal, there are 2 separate guides for Quantitative and Verbal respectively. Each guide contains 300 retired GMAT questions from that section.

There are lots of free GMAT practice questions available online, particularly on GMAT forums. How are these for preparing for GMAT?

Before you use any questions that may be freely available and discussed online, do perform the following checks to ensure that the quality of your GMAT preparation is not compromised in any way.

  1. What is the source of the question?
  2. Has someone adept at GMAT preparation verified the answers?
  3. Are these GMAT questions or do they belong to other exams such as CAT?

In the past, our students have reported that in many instances the free content that they have come across contains errors. Students have also found that in case of free Verbal questions that they got access to, they found the explanations unsatisfactory and were not convinced with the option given as the correct answer.

Unless you are sure of the quality and authenticity of such free GMAT preparatory material, it is safer to stick to officially published GMAT material only. Besides the Official GMAT Guide.(latest edition is the OG 2019 edition), books published by Kaplan GMAT, Princeton Review GMAT, Manhattan GMAT etc. are reliable sources of practice.

What are the GMAT exam dates and centers in Mumbai?

The GMAT exam can be attempted throughout the year, at any center anywhere in the world. You may even attempt the GMAT more than once, upto 5 times in a calendar year. However, the time period between two attempts has to be 16 days

In Mumbai, there are 2 centers where you can appear for the GMAT exam

  1. In suburbs: Andheri (E) GMAT Center, Mumbai
  2. In Soutn Mumbai: Charni Road GMAT center, Mumbai
What is the latest GMAT exam format and section order for attempting GMAT?

AWA section (1 Essay question) and Integrated Reasoning Section to be answered in 30 minutes each. Answer for the essay question has to be typed. The IR is a multiple choice section

Quantitative section: 31 questions in 62 minutes. Multiple choice, Compulsory Answering, Adaptive questioning

Verbal Ability section: 36 questions in 65 minutes. Multiple choice, Compulsory Answering, Adaptive questioning

A candidate can choose one of 3 different section order options available:

  1. Quantitative Ability section (QA), Verbal Ability section (VA), Integrated Reasoning section (IR), AWA essay section
  2. Verbal Ability section (VA), Quantitative Ability section (QA), Integrated Reasoning section (IR), AWA essay section
  3. AWA essay section, Integrated Reasoning section (IR), Quantitative Ability section (QA), Verbal Ability section (VA)
What are the different sections of the GMAT exam?

GMAT Tests candidates in the following areas:

Verbal Ability, which has 3 question types: Sentence Correction (approx. 13 questions), Critical Reasoning (approx. 10 questions) and Reading Comprehension (approx. 13 questions)

Quantitative Ability, which has 2 question types: Word problems(approx. 17 questions) and Data Sufficiency questions (approx. 14 questions)

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section, which has an essay question on Analysis of an Argument, and the Integrated Reasoning (IR) Section which has multiple choice questions that expect candisates to analyse information that is presented in either Graphic, Tabular or Textual format

Within each section on GMAT, the questions are assorted i.e. On the Verbal Ability (VA) section, your 1st question could be a Critical Reasoning question, next could be a Sentence Correction question and so on. Similarly, in the Quantitative Ability (QA) section, the Word problems and Data Sufficiency questions appear in random order

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