The Top 6 GMAT Myths

Myths crossed out on chalkboard

When you start prepping for the GMAT, one thing becomes immediately clear: there is a lot of information out there. But be careful—not all of it can be trusted! In fact, there are a ton of common GMAT myths in circulation that can discourage you, even harming your score. Luckily, we’re here to debunk them! Here they are: the top 6 GMAT exam myths you need to know.

GMAT Exam Myths: Sections

Myth 1: Verbal Is Easy

If only! Unfortunately, GMAT Verbal questions can be pretty challenging—particularly if you haven’t seen them before. And some question types that appear on the Verbal section of the GMAT, like Critical Reasoning questions, are probably unlike anything you have ever seen before—at least on a standardized test!

So what to do about it? First of all, make sure you understand how hard the GMAT is on several different levels. Then, make sure you prepare for the Verbal section by giving it as much attention as you do GMAT Quant!

If you’re wondering where this myth arose, it’s likely because many students find the Quant section so challenging on the first encounter. However, if you practice using reasoning skills in new ways, all sections of the GMAT should become more manageable given time and practice!

(Still don’t believe me? Have a go at the GMAT diagnostic, then compare your Verbal score and your Quant score.)

Myth 2: You Should Only Focus on the Hardest Questions (or the Earliest Ones)

Nope. The fact that the GMAT is a computer adaptive test makes it tempting to try to outsmart it! But here’s what you need to know in terms of strategy.

Particularly if you’re trying for a high GMAT score (600+), you’re likely to get the easiest questions you’ll see on the whole section within the first ten questions. If you miss any of these questions, it’ll knock your score down—way down. Don’t give all of your time to these questions—but don’t rush through them because they’re easier, either! Instead, use this guide to GMAT pacing to keep yourself on track.

At the end of the day, don’t try to outsmart the scoring algorithm. In other words, avoid overthinking questions you think you got right or wrong, or which questions the test might classify as easy or hard, or what previous questions were like in comparison to the current level of the question… That way lies frustration! Instead, once you’re in the actual exam, focus on each question as it comes up. Then, focus on the next question. The more you can do this on practice tests, ignoring the difficulty level of the questions until you review your answers, the better off you’ll be on test day.

GMAT Myths: Scoring

Myth 3: Your Test Score Is Determined by Your IQ

No! Not only is this untrue, but it’s also dangerous. Believing this is a ticket to believing you can’t improve your GMAT score—and believe us, that’s entirely untrue. We have seen thousands of students boost their scores. If this were an IQ test (and if IQ tests were even a valid measure of intelligence…), that wouldn’t be the case. You can absolutely improve your score—notably with strong practice materials, like this GMAT practice test!

Myth 4: You’ll Be Able to See Big Improvements/Jumps in Your Score Percentiles Quickly

Score increases are absolutely possible on the GMAT (why else would Magoosh offer a guaranteed 50-point score improvement?) But it takes time. Furthermore, you’re unlikely to see you score increase by 300 or 400 points unless something went really wrong during your first or diagnostic test.

However, don’t let this discourage you. If you need even more points on the GMAT, you have two options: extend your study time while adapting a new strategy, or set more realistic score goals for the time that you have.

Myth 5: The GMAT Is the Most Important Part of Your Application

GMAT scores are only one part of your business school application! MBA programs’ admissions committees will look at your entire application, from your undergraduate GPA to your letters of recommendation to your essays. And they’re looking for great applications in general, not just great GMAT scores. MBA applicants’ test scores are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to the B-school application process, even for top business schools and scholarships…really!

GMAT Time Management Myths

Myth 6: You Need a Year to Study for the GMAT Properly

Ah, the most common of the GMAT time management myths. If that were true, how many people do you think would take the test? Not very many! You can prep for the GMAT in any period of time, from one month to six months (don’t believe me? We’ve got the GMAT study plans to prove it!).

However, with that said: studies run by GMAC have shown that students who score 700+ on the GMAT put in at least 90 hours of study time—120 is an even better goal to try to hit. For most people attending school or working a job, this translates into a 3-6 month GMAT test prep plan. It may take a year if you’re incredibly busy—but that’s only true for a tiny, tiny percentage of cases.

Takeways: GMAT Myths

When it comes to the GMAT, stress can be a real obstacle. One way to beat GMAT stress? Make sure you have thorough, accurate information about what’s actually on the test. Use trusted sources, practice with high-quality, test-like GMAT prep materials, and ensure that you put in the time that you need to master the materials, and you’ll be golden. (Oh yeah—and don’t spread or believe any of these GMAT myths!) Good luck!

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

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  • Rachel Kapelke-Dale

    Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her novel, THE BALLERINAS, is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin's Press, while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND, co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. Join her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

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