Planning your GMAT prep well plays a crucial role in achieving success on GMAT. As application deadlines are nearing, many students feel under-prepared to achieve their dream GMAT scores, something that forces them to rethink their prep strategy.
Through this blog, I will share some success mantras and key tips that will help you improve your GMAT score by up to 100 points in 30 days.
These lessons are derived from the collective experience of all GMATWhiz experts who have helped students improve their scores by 107 points on an average and led to five 760+ scores in the last 30 days alone.
We have structured this article as follows:
- Key mistakes that you should avoid
- Understanding what your current score means
- Why practicing questions alone is not the right solution
- Building an action plan to improve your scores.
Let’s start with some motivation for you.
Key mistakes to avoid in the last 30 days
Most students do one or more of the following things, thinking that it will help improve their GMAT scores –
- Practice hundreds of questions from the Official Guide, GMAT Club, and other platforms without identifying the core problem.
- Taking mock tests – In many cases, students tend to believe that major issue is timing and taking more mocks will resolve that problem, but that hardly happens
- Focus on concept building – Some students try to work on their weak areas by revisiting concepts. While that indeed is important, it is just half the work done.
Here’s the problem with the above approach
Students generally confuse GMAT with other tests and believe that practicing more questions will help them improve their GMAT scores.
They do not realize that practicing many questions is helpful only if they can identify the underlying gaps in the questions they got wrong.
It is essential to ensure that you use the right methods to solve questions. If you’re using the wrong methods to solve questions, then with more practice you’re only getting better at using the wrong method.
What does your GMAT score signify?
To build the right improvement strategy, it is very important to understand the meaning of your current GMAT or mock score.
Analyzing the current score will help us figure out the key gaps in our understanding and hence the Action Plan created out of this exercise would be much more effective.
I have classified the various scores in different brackets. Pick the one that fits you the most.
GMAT score < 500 (V < 25 or Q < 38): Struggling with Concepts
If your GMAT score is less than 500, it means your accuracy in easy questions is around 70%, while in medium level questions, it is around 30%. Hence, the GMAT algorithm doesn’t serve you hard questions at all. To improve your GMAT score, you need to first revisit your conceptual knowledge.
What should you do? – Instead of aiming for a fast-track improvement in your score, you need to strengthen your foundations and ensure that you prepare following a proper study plan. I’m sharing an article which would help you build the right strategy for success.
Recommended Reading How to Create a Study Plan?
GMAT 500-600 (V 25-30, Q 39-44): Struggling with Application
If your score lies in the 500-600 range, it means that your accuracy is nearly 80% in easy questions and 50-60% in medium questions. Therefore, the algorithm does serve you some hard questions but not many. In fact, this score also means that your accuracy in hard questions is low, i.e. around 30%.
It means that your conceptual understanding is sound, but when it comes to applying the concepts, you’re struggling. It generally means the methods you’re following to solve questions need to improve.
What should you do? – Your objective should be to work on your approach. Get the hard questions right by learning to apply the right set of skills. More on that later.
GMAT 600-700 (V 31-37, Q 45-48): Struggle with Hard questions
If you lie in the 600-700 score range, your accuracy is high, nearly 90-100%, in the easy level questions, 80-90% in the intermediate-level questions, but still around 30-40% in the hard-level questions.
What should you do? – If you’re in this score range, it is important to identify the specific weak areas that you have and also fine tune the gaps in your approach.
Please Note: If you haven’t taken the GMAT yet, you should take a diagnostic test to see where you currently stand. You can take one using this link.
Why practicing questions alone is not sufficient?
If you continue to solve multiple questions from each topic or just keep taking mocks, you’re working under the assumption that you know how to solve questions and it is just more practice you need.
However, in 90% cases students have a gap in their approach towards solving questions and unless you identify that gap, practicing does not take you anywhere in your quest to improve your GMAT score.
Instead of simply solving questions, you must identify and learn the right approach to solving these questions, and then practice 15-20 questions from each topic using a systematic approach to solidify your learning.
To understand this further, let us discuss a popular approach, students generally use to solve RC questions:
Some popular approaches followed by students to solve RC questions
When I was a student preparing for GMAT, I came across multiple approaches for RC. Most of these approaches focus on time saving but doesn’t really help in improving scores significantly
- Read the first and the last lines of a paragraph,
- Quickly skim through the passage and then jump to the passage. Refer back to the passage for each question
- Read the questions first to know what they are looking for in the passage.
While test-takers might think that these approaches of solving questions help in saving time, they often result in the opposite, leaving students to lose more time coupled with a battered confidence while marking the answers.
What does the RC section of the GMAT test?
85% of RC questions are inferential in nature, meaning they test your understanding of the ‘why’ and not your knowledge of ‘what’.
All these approaches focus on the detail and do not allow the user to read between lines, something that is very important to solve the Inference questions.
How should you solve RC questions?
To solve RC questions, one should get completely Involved in the passage. It is very important to focus on the intent of the author while reading the passage. The idea is to focus on the WHY it is written and not the WHAT is written.
Check out this recording to learn this approach in detail.
Building an Action Plan to improve your GMAT score
Now that we have a sound understanding of the key skills required for Score Improvement, let us now focus our attention on crafting an action plan. Let us divide the strategy into three simple stages:
To improve your score, you should tackle one section at a time – either Quant or Verbal and then move on to the other. Starting with the weaker section is a better approach in this case.
Now Verbal and Quant needs to be tackled in a different way as they are structurally different.
- For Verbal you should focus on one module at a time i.e. either SC, CR or RC.
- For Quant you should focus on one topic at a time – for instance, Primes, Functions, Circles, etc. Let’s talk about each area one by one.
Stage 1: Improving your verbal score
To improve your Verbal score, you should set a benchmark of 70 percentile and divide the three modules into two groups. In Group 1, include the modules where your accuracy is less than 70% and in Group 2, include the modules where your accuracy is more than 70%. Start with Group 1 – Weak areas first.
Note: If you are unsure about your accuracy in all three modules, take a module wise test to see which topic lies in which area.
How to tackle weak areas?
- Take a sectional test having 20-30 questions for each module.
- Filter topics where your score is <60%.
- Revisit concepts of these topics and then practice 10-15 questions to solidify your understanding.
While practicing questions, make sure you tally your analysis with the one in the solution to match your line of reasoning with the solution.
Let’s take an example
Let’s assume that Sentence Correction is your weak area and after taking 20-30 questions from the module, you identify that you have the following topics below 60%
- Modifiers and
- Verb Tenses
Now you should go back and revisit the concepts on these topics individually and then practice 10-15 medium to hard questions from these areas. Ideally these questions should be solved one at a time, making sure that enough time is devoted to matching your line of reasoning with the solution.
After doing so, you should do 30-40 questions combined from these 3 areas ideally in sets of 10-15 questions at a time. While doing so, focus on the timing aspect as well.
How to tackle strong areas?
Now let us talk about tackling the strong areas. In your strong area, the only scope for improvement is generally in your Approach towards questions.
- Learn the right approach to solve questions from this area. We teach these approaches in depth in the GMATWhiz course.
- Practice 15 questions, one at a time, using this approach.
- Review the explanation of each question that you solve to ensure that you are doing it correctly.
Please Note: Once you learn to apply these concepts, you will need to master them by practicing 30-40 questions from each topic. Once you internalize the approach, it will automatically reduce the time taken to solve them. It is best not to focus on the time when you are learning the right approach.
Stage 2: Improving your quant score
- Take a 30-question quiz on each topic – Number Properties, Algebra, Word Problems, Geometry.
- Identify whether you need to work on your concept building or Improving the process to solve questions.
- If you score less than 60% on a topic, you will have to work on your conceptual gaps. Therefore, you need to revisit the various concepts & formulas and then learn how to solve questions using these concepts by practicing 15-20 questions.
- If you score between 60-85% on a topic, you will need to work on correctly applying the numerous concepts you have acquired. Learn how to solve them systematically, and then practice 10-15 questions to solidify your learning.
- It is important that you do these topics in the order mentioned below because topics in Quant are inter-dependent and hence it is important to follow this order.
Arrange topics in the right order
- Number Basics
- Fractions and Decimals
- Estimation Rounding
- Linear Equations
- Quadratic Equations
- Unitary Method
- Ratios and Proportions
- Even Odd
- LCM GCD
- Linear Inequalities
- Quadratic Inequalities
- Absolute Inequalities
- Profit Loss and Discount
- Simple and Compound Interest
- Time and Work
- Time and Distance
- Divisibility and Remainders
- Units Digit
- Lines and Angles
- Quadrilaterals and Polygons
- 3D Solids
- Sequence and Series
- Coordinate Geometry
- Permutation and Combination
Stage 3: Learning test taking strategies & taking mocks
Once you’re done with the 2 stages mentioned above, it means you have covered the gaps. Now you’re in a position to maximize your scores. It is time to learn the right test taking strategies and apply them on a few mock tests.
To learn the right test taking strategies, I recommend that you watch this webinar recording.
You should take 1 mock test every 3-4 days and ensure that you’re spending at least 3 hours on analyzing each mock to identify areas of improvement.
However, if your score in any of the mocks is 50-60 points below your target you should not blindly take more mocks and rather spend doing the earlier 2 stages properly because if you haven’t done the first 2 stages of improvement properly then you will fall in a vicious cycle of taking mocks without seeing much improvement.
When you start hitting your target score and it happens in 2-3 mocks consecutively you’re ready to take the GMAT.
Chance to have a discussion with GMAT Strategy Expert – Piyush
If you’re struggling to improve your GMAT score, we at GMATWhiz can provide you with the right advice based on time available with you, your current skill level, and weak areas. So, if you want to seek advice, feel free to schedule a call using the link below:
About the author: Piyush Beriwala is the founder of GMATWhiz. He has spent over 8 years in the education field and trained over 5000 students. He has earlier worked with TIME, KPMG and e-GMAT.