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GMAT SCORE: 450. Is It Over?

Posted in Test Prep on August 4, 2011 by

Head in handsMaybe you weren’t feeling well or got tripped up early on and couldn’t recover: whatever the reason, a GMAT score 100+ points lower than your target can be disheartening and feel like a gulf between you and your MBA dreams.

Don’t despair – understand that the score reflects your performance on the CAT you have just taken. Do not think of the score as a reflection of your intelligence, your business ability or even your chances of getting into an MBA program. Know that you can improve your score significantly by simply understanding the exam better, honing your math and verbal skills and building your endurance.

Ready to get yourself back on track? Here are 5 things to keep in mind.

1. “Other” Factors.

Take a realistic look at the way you were influenced by factors that have nothing to do with your math or verbal skill. Were you hungry during the exam? Did you sleep enough? Did you have too little or too much caffeine? If you were to change one thing about the conditions under which you took the CAT, would you perform much better?

One factor that students often overlook is the sheer length of the experience. The GMAT is a grueling 4-hour test that begins with an hour of writing. Even if you were not hungry or tired to begin with, it is likely that you might become so halfway through the exam. Because you need to maintain your concentration consistently through the CAT, any sort of physical weakness could severely interfere with your performance.

Remember: the GMAT is comparable to an athletic event. Be sure to “train” for it and build your endurance by taking full-length practice exams under test-like conditions.

2. Pacing.

Were you surprised when the time ran out? Did you only get through half the math questions? Did you expect to be able to go back and check your answers? Did you spend too much time on one question? If so, try a CAT under the following constraints and see if you can push your score up a bit:

A) spend no longer than two minutes (ideally one minute and forty five seconds) on each math question
B) spend no longer than one minute and forty seconds (ideally a minute and thirty seconds) on each verbal question
C) don’t double check any answers if you’re 90% sure you’re right
D) don’t leave a single question unanswered even if you have to guess
E) do your best to get over the fact that you won’t be able to write in the margins or draw diagrams on the side of your test “booklet”

If you have trouble grasping the mindset with which you should approach the exam, check out this fun post on how to “date” the GMAT.

Remember: You absolutely must answer every single question on both the math and verbal sections. Every question you fail to answer is 1 scaled point off your total score, which could make the difference of, say, 20 or 30 points out of 800. Failing to grasp the penalty for missed questions could inflict serious damage on your score.

3. Review the basics and MEMORIZE.

If you missed questions because you forgot formulas or grammar rules or simply didn’t recognize certain vocabulary terms, try a few hours of review in the following areas:

I. A repository of all things verbal: Knewton Verbal Guide
II. A repository of all things quantitative: Knewton Quantitative Guide

If you couldn’t focus during the reading comp, check out: GMAT Reading VS. Everyday Reading

If the vocab on the GMAT felt like a foreign language, check out: What to Memorize for the GMAT Verbal

If you don’t know a sentence fragment from a run-on, check out: 5 Must-Know Grammar Rules

If Critical Reasoning leaves your brain in knots, check out: Why the Most Boring Answer is Probably Right on CR Inference Questions

If Data Sufficiency makes you squeamish, check out: Top 10 Data Sufficiency Questions

If probability leaves you frazzled, check out: Fun with Probability and Combinatorics

Remember: There’s no way around it. Some rules and formulas you simply have to know.

4. Eliminate one weakness at a time.

When it comes to learning, nothing beats “doing.” You know the deal: terror, paralysis, frantic scratch work – then presto – you get it! And your weakness becomes a strength just like that.

Though refreshing the basics and cramming a few formulas into your head may boost your score by 30 or 40 points, it’s drilling in your weak areas that will truly drive your score up and allow you to pull those “reach” schools within reach.

Remember: Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses. You can’t eliminate them until you acknowledge them.

5. Enroll in a course.

To unleash your full GMAT potential, consider enrolling in a course which will not only get you the GMAT score you want but help you work out those analytical muscles in preparation for business school.

For the most efficient and effective test prep, check out the benefits of online education.

Remember: All that matters is your best score, so focus on the positive. If necessary, visualize your dream career and MBA program – whatever it takes to bring our your competitive edge.