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Tuesday, 13 August 2013
5 Tips to Improve Your Score on the GMAT
Any friends studying for a standardized test these days? Whether you’re studying for the LSAT, GMAT, GRE or the SAT, these general tips may be helpful on your second attempt.
“ As a B-School applicant, you just finished a grueling four-hour test. What are you going to do now?”
“I’m going to…take it again!”
Well, that wasn’t the answer everyone was expecting. However, retaking the GMAT is a reality for many test-takers. Some simply feel they could have done better than they did, others need a certain target score to get into a particular school that they have not yet reached. In fact, students are often encouraged to initially sign up for two tests, hoping that a scheduled second test will take some pressure off of them the first time, ultimately leading to better scores.
If you have a solid reason to take the exam again, get the test date locked down as soon as you can. You have to wait 31 calendar days before retaking the GMAT, but in the interest of keeping your knowledge fresh, you shouldn’t schedule your retake too far after that time.
So, you’ve got a month or so before another test day, and you need a plan. It’s time to figure out what to do so that this extra effort expended will not go to waste.
1. Review your initial test day experience immediately.
As much as you probably don’t want to relive an experience that you possibly found about as fun as dental surgery, an immediate debrief is a necessary evil. As soon as possible, go back over your entire test day experience and take notes.
Remember your physical condition. If you were sleepy, felt hungry, or were uncomfortable in any other way, these circumstances could very well have messed up your score. Thankfully, they can all be fixed for your retake.
Remember conditions of the room. Things like temperature and noise can also affect you negatively, and you can be better prepared for them next time.
Remember your actual test-taking. Timing and concentration during long reading passages are examples of important concepts that should be always incorporated into your preparation. Did you have problems with these the first time?
Remember the test content. There may have been specific concepts, vocabulary, or problem types that were vague or unknown to you and that, to your dismay, popped up repeatedly. Jot them down so you can work on them, since it’s likely that they are important and you will see them again.
2. Take a short break.
Once you’ve immediately recapped the day, it’s time to shake it off and move forward with the lessons you’ve learned. It’s important to give your mind a little bit of time off and put some distance between you and the first test.
3. Address your weaknesses.
When you analyze your test day experience, look at the items that you saw consistently and didn’t feel confident approaching. Hit those hard by doing drills and in-format questions until they are no longer a problem.
4. Shore up your strengths.
Don’t let the things that you are good at fall by the wayside. Instead, keep them fresh by continuing to work on them while simultaneously reviewing the more challenging material as well. And, in all question cases (but particularly when you’re trying to keep your good skills fresh), go over both correct and incorrect answer choices. You may have answered the question right, but was there a faster way to do it? Is there any lesson shown in the wrong answers that you could use regarding eliminating wrong answers in the future?
5. Work on time management.
Time management is a big problem for most test-takers, so don’t neglect it. You’ve got to improve how quickly you get correct answers and how much time to spend on questions before giving up on them or guessing. Once you have concepts down, complete timed problem sets and exercises as soon as possible.
6. Change it up.
The results of your first test were clearly subpar for you, so perhaps your method of test preparation needs to be changed. If you keep preparing the same way you did before, how will you ever increase your score? Einstein famously described insanity as performing the same task over and over and hoping for a different result. To avoid GMAT “insanity,” change the method somehow – get a GMAT tutor, use a different test prep book publisher, do a better job simulating the real test day experience when you do practice tests – really commit to working on the test everyday and not just sporadically. Shake up your learning and pump up your score!
It’s important to be very honest with yourself when analyzing your first test day experience. Only you can really know if you really were absolutely committed to the process and if you truly grasped what you kept saying you understood. Make some truthful assessments, change your preparation appropriately, approach test day with the confidence that comes from experience, and you’ll be well on your way to an improved score.