At Kaplan Test Prep, we talk to future MBAs every day, so the GMAT is a hot topic of conversation. Those conversations come with their share of myths that are just begging to be busted. It’s time to set the record straight so you know what to focus your energy on.
1. The GMAT math section is really tough
False. GMAT math is deceptively simple—high-school-level simple. The GMAT assumes that you have mastered those basic concepts, and it challenges you to a mental duel, which requires critical thinking and a strategic approach. In other words, you’re not being tested on difficulty and analytical skills rather beyond mere application.
2. You can rely on your calculator for hard questions
Sorry, but you can’t. Other than on the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section, there are no calculators allowed on the GMAT–and the one on the IR is on-screen and very basic. The bad news: if you’re uncomfortable with mental arithmetic, you may struggle. The good news: no calculator means that the GMAT will only include questions that could reasonably be solved without a calculator, so you will be expected to think—rather than compute—through the problem. You will need to know basic multiplication up to 12 times 12.
3. The GMAT tests intelligence; you have it or you don’t
Think again. The GMAT, like all standardized tests, is a skills-based test. Yes, it assumes a modicum of basic knowledge, but at its core, it tests your critical thinking and reasoning skills. As such, you can (and should) build your GMAT math, verbal, integrated reasoning, and writing skills through practice and strategy.
4. A good GMAT score won’t help finance your MBA
Wrong. Programs that offer scholarships and fellowships to MBA students look for exceptional candidates. In fact, they often determine your eligibility with the exact same qualifications you’re reporting on your business school applications. Your GMAT score, therefore, along with your GPA, personal statement, and resume or extracurricular work, plays a large role in that decision.
5. Once you’re in school, the GMAT won’t matter
Quite the contrary. Your GMAT score will come in handy when you’re applying for internships, and you can also put it on your resume when applying for jobs—especially those in consulting. These positions are likely to be particularly interested in your performance on the integrated reasoning section.
6. The GMAT is irrelevant in your MBA program and beyond
Try again. The skills you master while you practice for the GMAT—critical thinking, strategy, and high-level reasoning ability—will prove extremely useful in both the classes you take in business school and the jobs you’re up for after graduation.
7. You need a 750 to get into a top-10 MBA program
Close, but no. You know that a low GMAT score can be an application killer, but when it comes to gaining admission to elite business schools, don’t be blinded by averages. By definition, half of students admitted will fall below the median GMAT score for a each school.
Not only that, but once you’ve crossed that 700 threshold, it’s no longer about your GMAT score but about the rest of your outstanding credentials. The strength of your GPA, personal statement, and extracurricular activities should all point toward a complete picture of you as a great candidate.
8. You don’t need a great GMAT score
Sorry, Charlie. Undergraduate institutions, employers, and volunteer experiences all vary, but the GMAT is the only standardized measurement of applicants on which business schools can base their decisions, so of course admissions committees are going to pay attention!
Don’t count on the other parts of a strong application to camouflage a low GMAT score. You need to show your potential MBA programs that you are prepared to reason and perform at a top level.
9. You should spend the most time on the first 10 questions
Fallacy. This myth assumes a few things: that spending more time on questions equals more correct answers—which is not necessarily the case—or that you can answer the first 10 questions correctly without sacrificing answers at the end.
Trust us: Don’t do it. The algorithm is pretty solid, and you’re not likely to outsmart it no matter how much you practice.
10. If you scored well on the SAT, you don’t need GMAT prep
This is a big whopper. While you shouldn’t let the GMAT intimidate you, it’s also not a good idea to underestimate it. Even if you’re a natural born test-taker, a few months of solid prep can take you from a decent GMAT score into the stratosphere. Your future is worth the investment.