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Have you ever been to a GMAT information session?
They’re usually held on B-school campuses, and geared toward newbies who are challenging the exam for the first time.
What’s interesting about these info sessions, is that most people show up with a host of rather strange misconceptions about the GMAT.
These misguided beliefs run the gamut from format and content, to study strategy, test day procedures, and score cut-offs for top business schools.
We don’t know exactly how these ideas get planted in our students’ brains—but our mission is to correct them as quickly as possible, and shine a clear light on how the GMAT works, and how to earn a top score.
What GMAT myths do we hear most often during our info sessions?
Here are 5 of our favourite repeat offenders.
GMAT Myth #1: You only need a 600 score for a top Canadian B-school
At the beginning of every GMAT info session, we usually ask students what the score cut-offs are for top Canadian business schools. Approximately what score will they need to compete for admission?
We often get “around 600” as an answer.
And this kind of makes sense, given that the mean GMAT score for all test-takers is 500—and 600 sounds well above that.
But it’s actually way off. The reality is, most top Canadian B-schools require a GMAT score of well over 600.
In fact, among the top 10 schools, not a single one accepts a score of 600 (although admittedly, some do come close). Take a look:
Minimum GMAT Scores for Top 10 B-Schools in Canada
As you can see, the minimum requirements for top Canadian schools are mostly well above 600. And the higher you aim beyond these cut-offs, the stronger your application will be.
Want to attend business school in the US? You’re looking at a minimum GMAT score of 700-726 for schools in the top 10. Ouch!
GMAT Myth #2: I’ll need about 50 hours of GMAT prep to nail the exam
Oh, if only this were true! Life would be so much easier, especially for test-takers who work full time, have kids, etc.
This is a bubble we hate to burst, but in the interest of helping students do their best, we have to reveal a few facts about truly effective GMAT prep.
More hours of well-informed prep = a higher score. This has been well proven, by our own students’ results over the years, and by a survey conducted by GMAC (the makers of the GMAT exam).
So, how many study hours are you looking at? Let’s break it down.
Total hours of GMAT prep: 200
Total number of GMAT practice questions: 2,000 – 3,000
Total number of GMAT practice exams: 10 – 12
A bit more than you thought? We’re not surprised. This really is the most important takeaway of every info session we run.
Almost every test-taker underestimates how challenging the exam will be, and the number of study hours it takes to earn a competitive score.
The bottom line? It’s much harder than you realize to nail the GMAT.
GMAT Myth #3: If I don’t know an answer, it’s better to leave it blank
This is a topic that comes up in almost every GMAT info session we run. And it’s not surprising, given the anxiety students feel about coming face-to-face with really tough questions.
What do you do when you draw a blank?
Fearing deductions, most students think they should leave unknown answers blank, and just move on. We’d like to de-bunk that myth for good, right here and now.
In truth, the best thing you can do when you don’t know an answer is guess. There are two good reasons for this tactic:
- Let’s say there are 5 answer options per question. If you guess, you’ve got a 20 percent chance of getting it right. That’s a lot better than zero percent—which is what you’ll get if you skip the question altogether.
- The GMAT algorithm is designed to penalize blank answers. Yes. The penalty for a skipped question is greater than if you take a guess and get it wrong.
Takeaway: Use a logical approach to eliminate obviously wrong answer options, and then go with your gut to make an educated guess.
GMAT Myth #4: IR & AWA deserve as much study time as Quant and Verbal
Nope. They certainly do not. Now, we’re not saying that the Integrated Reasoning (IR) and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) sections are totally unimportant.
However, since they don’t count toward your overall GMAT score, it simply makes sense to devote more of your GMAT study time to Quant and Verbal.
That’s right: AWA and IR count for zero of your total GMAT score. This is something most students we meet don’t realize. Here’s a look at how each section of the exam is weighed.
The AWA and IR sections of the exam are actually scored separately. These scores are submitted to B-schools along with your GMAT result, but they have far less impact on your application.
It’s not that they don’t matter at all—admission committees will indeed look at these sections—but you certainly don’t need to agonize over them during GMAT prep.
GMAT Myth #5: The GMAT is easy for high academic achievers
We need to stamp out this misconception for good.
Here’s the truth: It doesn’t matter if you finished your undergrad degree with a perfect GPA. Or if you’ve always done really well on tests.
The GMAT is a completely different beast. Here are a few reasons why…
Effective GMAT test prep means working through every single topic and question-type, and finding the absolute best process for each problem.
There are so many ways to lose time, fall into traps, and sabotage your score.
Using proven problem-solving procedures helps eliminate those issues—while ensuring you move through questions as efficiently as possible.
In short, you need to become a GMAT-taking machine. And that’s not something that comes naturally to anyone (hence the 200 hours of prep!)
The Obvious Next Step in Your GMAT Journey…
At this point, it should go without saying that getting your GMAT facts straight is a must, before you jump into prep.
The obvious next step is to attend a quality GMAT information session. They’re free, so you’ve really got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Check out your local B-school for an upcoming session, or come out to one of our events. We’re happy to welcome you.
There’s no cost, and we run GMAT info sessions all the time. Click below to see a schedule, and reserve yourself a seat.
Remember: Nailing the GMAT is all about process, strategy—and working smarter, not harder. Anyone can do it with the right tools and guidance.
Need some support, or have questions about how to get started? Book a free phone call with a Quantum team member.
We’re always happy to talk GMAT, and help with MBA admissions, prep courses, tutoring, and much more. Click below to arrange a call now.