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How to Smash the GMAT Part I

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

I know, trick question right? For those of you who are new to the GMAT, the results range from 200 to 800, and the test ranks you by percentile, so technically, no one’s holding you back a year, so you’re gonna hear this a lot: “There’s no passing or failing in the GMAT!

Only there is. You see most schools have a low bar – a minimum allowable GMAT score – to even consider your application. That score determines whether your application is even read.

Each school has a different minimum GMAT score requirement, so failing to meet one school’s low bar means you may yet qualify for another.

Great! Right??? Not so much.

You see there’s something about the psychology of a test taker, which in my experience, operates on a pass-fail basis. For example:

“I need a 60% to pass this test”

“I can get max 5 questions out of 20 wrong to pass my driver’s exam”

“I need an 85 to get an A in this class”

People even think this way when it’s not a pass or fail situation! This is a problem because setting a low bar for yourself improperly frames the challenge, the GMAT does 3 wonderful things:

One, it gives you a chance to possibly override your crappy GPA. Two, it ranks you by percentile, so the schools have a single metric to compare you with others (hence “standard test”) Three, Gives you a chance to get back on the academic bandwagon, before school starts and everything is for keeps

Some students quickly grasp this concept and are able to reframe the issue, this is where the magic is. So, I’m gonna outline how to properly shift your thinking on how to pass the GMAT effectively in 6 steps:

Step 1. See past the GMAT test

Remember why you’re doing this, and understand your path: GMAT → MBA → High Fallutin’ job somewhere →millions → early comfortable retirement. Ok, maybe you have a different path, but that was mine (I’ve made a few detours since, but hey that’s life). For many, passing the GMAT is the first step towards as successful future, don’t fool yourself into thinking that since it’s the furthest from “comfortable retirement” that it’s not such a big deal. The truth is, if you can’t bring yourself to pull out all the stops for the GMAT, your chances of getting to the rest of those steps are going to be very bleak. So pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get going young person!

The GMAT is testing your ability to not suck at life later. Remember that and focus on doing the best you can to pass the GMAT. Getting a great score on the GMAT makes it easier to crush the MBA, so get better at math, get that critical reasoning on point, and you will make everything much easier for yourself. The test is a barrier, but also a chance for you to jumpstart yourself, take it.

Step 2. View each error as a stepping stone

Sounds cliché but it’s true: each error is a sign of what you did wrong, keep fixing all your wrongs till you get them right.

Step 3. See Pass/fail as not really binary: it’s a gradient

As I touched on earlier, higher scores lead to wider options of potential schools. But, even if you have a range of schools you want to apply to, simply meeting the low bar for all of them is a small victory, clearing those bars by a mile greatly improves your chances of long term success.

Bonus: It’s also a way to address your sub-par GPA.

Tune in next week when we discuss the next three steps to passing the GMAT.

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