The GMAT is not a test of how smart you are. Nor is it a test of your business acumen or even a predictor of your grades in business school. It’s simply a test of how good you are at taking the GMAT. These simple GMAT tips will help you improve your score.

1. Understand What "Computer-Adaptive" Means

GMAT tips

The GMAT is a Computer-Adaptive Test (CAT), meaning it keeps a running tally of your score as it goes, based on the number of questions you get correct and their levels of difficulty. The computer-adaptive sections always begin by giving you a medium question. If you get it correct, the computer gives you a slightly harder question. If you get it wrong, the computer gives you a slightly easier question, and so on.

2. Don't Skip Around

Beware! Because the test is taken on a computer, you must answer each question to get to the next one. You can’t count on skipping a question to come back to later as a part of your test-taking strategy.

3. Pace Yourself

 There are two important factors that can affect your score on the computer-adaptive sections of the test:

  • Questions that appear earlier on the test count more than questions that appear later on the test.
  • Questions you leave unanswered will lower your score.

At the beginning of the test, your score moves up or down in larger increments as the computer hones in on your skill level—and what will turn out to be your final score. If you make a mistake early on, the computer will choose a much easier question, and it will take you a while to work up to the level you started from. That’s why you should make sure that you get those early questions correct by starting slowly, checking your work on early problems, and then gradually picking up the pace so that you finish all the problems in the section.

4. Look for Wrong Answers Instead of Correct Ones

If you’re stuck on a question, be a smart guesser and use process of elimination to get rid of some of the wrong answers. Wrong answers are often easier to spot than correct answers. Sometimes they just sound weird. Other times they’re logically impossible. While it is rare to be able to eliminate all four of the incorrect answer choices on the GMAT, you will almost always be able to eliminate at least one of them. You’ll have a better chance of selecting the right one.

5. Read Carefully...Or Else

The GMAT is constructed with incorrect answer choices that the test writers think you might like. If it’s a mistake a person might easily make on a problem, it’s probably an answer choice. If a question seems easy to you, STOP and reread the question. Make sure you haven’t fallen into a trap.

6. Answer All the Questions—Even If You Have to Guess

Because there is a penalty for unanswered questions at the end of the GMAT, it makes sense to guess on any remaining questions rather than to leave them blank. If time is running out, you will almost certainly get a higher score by clicking through and answering any remaining questions at random. This is because the penalty for getting a question wrong diminishes sharply toward the end of each adaptive section (when the computer has already largely decided your score).

Don't walk into the GMAT uncertain about what you will face! Check out some GMAT sample questions and then take a full-length GMAT practice test with us held under the same computer-adaptive testing conditions as the real thing.