How to write your GMAT AWA Essay [Effectively]

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Hello there!
If you’ve found your way to this blog, we assume that you have begun to think about that often-neglected section of the GMAT – the AWA!
If wishes could come true, we’re guessing that GMAT aspirants would have wished away the AWA section away by now!
The AWA involves staring at a blank page and cursor and thinking up stuff to write, not an easy task for many people.
It also consumes a lot of mental bandwidth at the very beginning of the test.
To top it off, it does not even add to your final score!
We can understand why it isn’t your favorite section on the GMAT 🙂
But here’s the good news! There are not many shortcuts to mastering GMAT Quant and Verbal, but there are shortcuts to cracking the AWA section.
By the time you finish reading this guide, you will know what these hacks are. You will learn how to write an effective AWA essay that gets you a good score and leaves you charged for the real test that lies ahead.
This blog will teach you –
• What you need to know BEFORE you start preparing for the AWA
• How to use the 30 minutes allotted to AWA to maximum effect
• How to use a template to make the AWA writing process simpler
Besides this, you will find 8 sample AWA essays to observe and learn from.
Happy reading! 🙂

7 Things to remember before you start prepping for the AWA

gmat analytical writing
Before you dive into AWA preparation, there are a few things you should know about the AWA. Many of these facts will ease your AWA fears and bring a smile to your face!
1. Why is the AWA section on the GMAT?
Each section of the GMAT is carefully constructed ( at the expense of millions of dollars, we kid you not!), to test your readiness for an MBA program and for your post-MBA career. One of the skills you will definitely need post-MBA is an ability to analyze an argument impartially and convey your perspective clearly.
This is what the AWA tests you on.
2. On the AWA, you need to be a lawyer, that is, you need to find faults with the given argument. You do not need to be a journalist, that is, you do not need to write about all possible perspectives of an issue.
Also remember, that this is an analysis, not an opinion piece. Do not bring YOUR perspective and your opinions into the essay. Your only goal is to analyse the given argument.
3. Unlike the Quant and Verbal sections, where your thumb-rule should be to get as high a score as possible, we’d suggest that you do not expend too much mental energy on the AWA, trying to score a 6 on 6.
Getting a perfect 6 will look good on your GMAT score card, and will sound great as you’re telling your friends about it. But it will not be the make-or-break factor in your application. A 4 or a 5 is good enough.
4. The AWA is graded by an E-reader application and by a human reader. Since there is an element of automated grading, you can rig the test to an extent. We’ve found that if you write a substantial essay of over 500 words, and if you structure the argument well ( check our CrackVerbal template in the following chapter), you are almost guaranteed to get a 4+ score!
5. Assuming that you prepare for the GMAT over a course of three months, we recommend that you practice writing 5 to 10 essays, and make sure you get feedback for all of them. If you cover this much practice ground, you’re good to go!
6. One of the best things about the AWA section is that you know all of the questions beforehand ( yes, they’re all up there on the GMAC site – Analytical Writing Section ). So you do not have to go hunting for ‘authentic’ AWA essay questions.
7. Now you can choose the order in which you want to take up the sections before starting the test. It is advisable to keep in mind the order that would be helpful for you and prepare for the AWA based on that strategy.
This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure. It was introduced in July 2017. We have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in the this blog

GMAT Section Selection – Everything you need to know
8. We saved the coolest point for last 🙂
The AWA lends itself very easily to the use of an essay template. No matter what the argument prompt is, you can bet that there will be at least 3 glaring errors of logic in it. You can therefore use a template to structure your AWA essay. Using a template takes most of the stress away from the AWA section.
In the few minutes before you start, you can jot down the template on your scratchpad, so that you don’t have to remember it anymore. Also, because you can plan many of your sentences beforehand, you can get at least a 100 words down before you even read the question!
There are a lot of templates on the internet – probably the most famous one being the Chineseburned AWA template.
At CrackVerbal, we have our own template for the AWA, a modified version of the Chineseburned template. We call it the CrackVerbal AWA Template on Steroids! 🙂

The AWA Writing Process

gmat analytical writing

1. Write your templatized response

This should take you about 5 minutes:
Type out your prepared template response. Below is a sample. We definitely do not recommend that you use the same words. What you can do, however, is read a few templates on the net, and then write your own. Since you have written it yourself, it will be that much easier to memorise it.



The argument claims that < restate the argument >. Stated in this way the argument fails to take into account a few key factors which could call the conclusion to question. It rests on some assumptions, for which there is no clear evidence. Therefore, the argument is unconvincing and falls apart at the seams.
Paragraph 1:
1. Firstly, ( )
2. This statement is a stretch and not substantiated in any way.
3. The argument would have been much clearer if ( )
Paragraph 2:
1. Second ( ). This is again a very weak and unsupported claim as the argument ( ).
2. For example,
3. This argument would have sounded a lot more convincing if
4. In addition, it would have been strengthened ever further if the argument provided evidence that
Paragraph 3:
1. Finally, the argument concludes that
2. However, what is not clear here is ( )
3. If there had been evidence to support ( )
In summary, the argument fails to convince because of the faulty assumptions aforementioned. If the argument had drawn upon examples as suggested, and thereby plugged in the holes in the reasoning, it would have been far sounder on the whole.


2. Brainstorm

This should take you about 5 minutes:
Now that you have put the pre-planned portion of the essay down, it’s time to read the AWA prompt and wear your thinking hat. GMAT, in its politically correct, non-partisan way, says ‘Discuss how well-reasoned you find this argument’. Remember however, that an AWA argument is never well-reasoned!
There are always a couple of glaring flaws in logic you can pounce on. If these flaws do not occur to you immediately, because of test-day stress, do not assume that you have been given a particularly sound argument. There is no such thing on the AWA!
If you’re unable to be critical, imagine that the author of the argument is somebody you dislike..a teacher you hated at college, or that guy who overtook you and almost dented your car this morning! There, now you’re in the right frame of mind to attack the argument 🙂
Before you do so, you need to understand the three elements of the argument – Conclusion, Premise and Assumptions.
Let us look at an example, and detect these three elements.
“Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.”
The conclusion is the decision/statement that the author has arrived at. In this case, the conclusion is the last sentence – “Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.”
The premises are the building blocks of facts on which the conclusion rests. In other words, a premise is what is offered as support for the conclusion. In this case, the premise is – Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase.
Assumptions are the unstated, unwritten premises that plug the gap between the written premises and the conclusion. It is the assumptions that you need to attack on the AWA!
How do you attack assumptions?
Remember that an assumption can be incorrect for a variety of reasons. Here are a few types of incorrect assumptions –
1. The Sampling Assumption – The sampling argument assumes that a small group is representative of a much larger group to which it belongs.
2. The illogical analogy assumption – The illogical analogy states that because something applies to A, it applies to B also.
3. The Causal Assumption – The Causal Assumption confuses correlation with causation. That means, just because ‘A’ usually occurs after ‘B’ occurs, does not necessarily imply that B happens because of A.
4. The Data Bias – This occurs when the data for a statistical inference itself is drawn from a sample that is not representative of the population under consideration. This is a case of faulty data leading to faulty assumptions.
5. The Non Sequitur – This simply means, finding a connection where there is none. Non Sequitur means “does not follow,” which is short for: the conclusion does not follow from the premise.
Don’t let these categories overwhelm you. We’ve put them down here to get you thinking. However, you can find faulty assumptions with ease, even if you have no clue what a non sequitur is!
As you brainstorm, you will need to jot down your thoughts on the scratchpad. Keep it crisp and brief. Make sure you have these things down –
1. Conclusion + Premise:
2. Flawed Assumption #1:
3. Flawed Assumption #2:
4. Flawed Assumption #3:
For each assumption, also make a cursory note of why it is flawed, an example that talks about why it is flawed, and what additional data would strengthen the argument ( or if you are convinced that you can remember these additional details without having to make a note of them, you can get on with the writing! )

3. Write!

This should take you about 15 minutes:
Here is where you fill in your templatized response with specific details.
Paragraph 1:
The only detail you need to add to the first paragraph is a summary of the argument that is presented. In the above template, your summary should go here ->
Paragraph 2:
1. Start off by pointing out the first flawed assumption.
2. Explain why this assumption is flawed.
3. Give an example that supports the flaw.
4. Explain what further information could have strengthened this argument.
Paragraph 3:
1. Start off by pointing out the second flawed assumption.
2. Explain why this assumption is flawed.
3. Give an example that supports the flaw.
4. Explain what further information could have strengthened this argument.
Paragraph 4:
1. Start off by pointing out the third flawed assumption.
2. Explain why this assumption is flawed.
3. Give an example that supports the flaw.
4. Explain what further information could have strengthened this argument.
Paragraph 5:
This is the concluding paragraph. You already have it down in your template! 🙂

4. ProofRead

This should take you about 5 minutes:
Are you wondering if three minutes is really enough time to proof-read a 500 word essay?
Here’s the deal – The AWA section is about whether you can analyse an argument and discuss it in an articulate manner. It is not a test of grammar and spelling. Hence, the GMAT will excuse minor errors in spelling and grammar.
However, you should understand that a human reader is going to be reviewing your work, and any human reader will have an unconscious bias against bad grammar and spellings. Hence, you want to keep your essay as error-free as possible, without worrying about it too much.
Three minutes should be able time for you to quickly glance through the document and make sure you haven’t made any obvious errors.
Voila! 🙂 Your AWA essay is ready!

Sample AWA Essays

sample awa questions

Sample Essay 1

”Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.”
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument.
For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlying the thinking and what alternative explanations or counter examples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.
This argument states that it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer because lower wages could then be paid to employees. This conclusion is based on the premise that as the risk of physical injury increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. However, this argument makes several unsupported assumptions. For example, the argument assumes that the costs associated with making the workplace safe do not outweigh the increased payroll expenses due to hazardous conditions.
Body Paragraph 1
The first issue to be addressed is whether increased labor costs justify large capital expenditures to improve the work environment. Clearly one could argue that if making the workplace safe would cost an exorbitant amount of money in comparison to leaving the workplace as is and paying slightly increased wages than it would not make sense to improve the work environment. For example, if making the workplace safe would cost $100 million versus additional payroll expenses of only $5,000 per year, it would make financial sense to simply pay the increased wages. No business or business owner would pay all that extra money just to save a couple dollars and improve employee health and relations. To consider this, a cost benefit analysis must be made. I also feel that although a cost benefit analysis should be the determining factor with regard to these decisions making financial sense, it may not be the determining factor with regard to making social, moral and ethical sense.
Body Paragraph 2
Finally one must understand that not all work environments can be made safer. For example, in the case of coal mining, a company only has limited ways of making the work environment safe. While companies may be able to ensure some safety precautions, they may not be able to provide all the safety measures necessary. In other words, a mining company has limited ability to control the air quality within a coal mine and therefore it cannot control the risk of employees getting black. In other words, regardless of the intent of the company, some jobs are simply dangerous in nature.
In conclusion, while at first it may seem to make financial sense to improve the safety of the work environment sometimes it truly does not make financial sense. Furthermore, financial sense may not be the only issue a company faces. Other types of analyses must be made such as the social ramifications of an unsafe work environment and the overall ability of a company to improve that environment (i.e., coal mine). Before any decision is made, all this things must be considered, not simply the reduction of payroll expenses.

Sample Essay 2

The following appeared in a memorandum issued by a large city’s council on the arts.
“In a recent citywide poll, fifteen percent more residents said that they watch television programs about the visual arts than was the case in a poll conducted five years ago. During these past five years, the number of people visiting our city’s art museums has increased by a similar percentage. Since the corporate funding that supports public television, where most of the visual arts programs appear, is now being threatened with severe cuts, we can expect that attendance at our city’s art museums will also start to decrease. Thus some of the city’s funds for supporting the arts should be reallocated to public television.”
Discuss how well reasoned… etc.
In this argument the author concludes that the city should allocate some of its arts funding to public television. The conclusion is based on two facts: (1) attendance at the city’s art museum has increased proportionally with the increases in visual-arts program viewing on public television, and (2) public television is being threatened by severe cuts in corporate funding. While this argument is somewhat convincing, a few concerns need to be addressed.
Body Paragraph 1
To begin with, the argument depends on the assumption that increased exposure to the visual arts on television, mainly public television, has caused a similar increase in local art-museum attendance. However, just because increased art-museum attendance can be statistically correlated with similar increases in television viewing of visual-arts programs, this does not necessarily mean that the increased television viewing of arts is the cause of the rise in museum attendance.
Body Paragraph 2
Moreover, perhaps there are other factors relevant to increased interest in the local art museum; for instance, maybe a new director had procured more interesting, exciting acquisitions and exhibits during the period when museum attendance increased, in addition, the author could be overlooking a common cause of both increases. It is possible that some larger social or cultural phenomenon is responsible for greater public interest in both television arts programming and municipal art museums.
Body Paragraph 3
To be fair, however, we must recognize that the author’s assumption is a special case of a more general one that television viewing affects people’s attitudes and behavior. Common sense and observation tell me that this is indeed the case. After all, advertisers spend billions of dollars on television ad time because they trust this assumption as well.
In conclusion, I am somewhat persuaded by this author’s line of reasoning. The argument would be strengthened if the author were to consider and rule out other significant factors that might have caused the increase in visits to the local art museum.

Sample Essay 3

The following appeared in a report presented for discussion at a meeting of the directors of a company that manufactures parts for heavy machinery.
“The falling revenues that the company is experiencing coincide with delays in manufacturing. These delays, in turn, are due in large part to poor planning in purchasing metals. Consider further that the manager of the department that handles purchasing of raw materials has an excellent background in general business, psychology, and sociology, but knows little about the properties of metals. The company should, therefore, move the purchasing manager to the sales department and bring in a scientist from the research division to be manager of the purchasing department.”
Discuss how well reasoned… etc.
In response to a coincidence between falling revenues and delays in manufacturing, the report recommends replacing the manager of the purchasing department. The grounds for this action are twofold. First, the delays are traced to poor planning in purchasing metals. Second, the purchasing manager’s lack of knowledge of the properties of metals is thought to be the cause of the poor planning. It is further recommended that the position of the purchasing manager be filled by a scientist from the research division and that the current purchasing manager be reassigned to the sales department. In support of this latter recommendation, the report states that the current purchasing manager’s background in general business, psychology, and sociology equip him for this new assignment. The recommendations advanced in the report are questionable for two reasons.
Body Paragraph 1
To begin with, the report fails to establish a causal connection between the falling revenues of the company and the delays in manufacturing. The mere fact that falling revenues coincide with delays in manufacturing is insufficient to conclude that the delays caused the decline in revenue. Without compelling evidence to support the causal connection between these two events, the report’s recommendations are not worthy of consideration.
Body Paragraph 2
Second, a central assumption of the report is that knowledge of the properties of metals is necessary for planning in purchasing metals. No evidence is stated in the report to support this crucial assumption. Moreover, it is not obvious that such knowledge would be required to perform this task. Since planning is essentially a logistical function, it is doubtful that in-depth knowledge of the properties of metals would be helpful in accomplishing this task.
In conclusion, this is a weak argument. To strengthen the recommendation that the manager of the purchasing department be replaced, the author would have to demonstrate that the falling revenues were a result of the delays in manufacturing. Additionally, the author would have to show that knowledge of the properties of metals is a prerequisite for planning in purchasing metals.

Sample Essay 4

The following appeared in an announcement issued by the publisher of The Mercury, a weekly newspaper.
“Since a competing lower-priced newspaper, The Bugle, was started five years ago, The Mercury’s circulation has declined by 10,000 readers. The best way to get more people to read The Mercury is to reduce its price below that of The Bugle, at least until circulation increases to former levels. The increased circulation of The Mercury will attract more businesses to buy advertising space in the paper.”
Discuss how well reasoned… etc.
A newspaper publisher is recommending that the price of its paper, The Mercury, be reduced below the price of a competing newspaper, The Bugle. This recommendation responds to a severe decline in circulation of The Mercury during the 5-year period following the introduction of The Bugle. The publisher’s line of reasoning is that lowering the price of The Mercury will increase its readership, thereby increasing profits because a wider readership attracts more advertisers. This line of reasoning is problematic in two critical respects.
Body Paragraph 1
While it is clear that increased circulation would make the paper more attractive to potential advertisers, it is not obvious that lowering the subscription price is the most effective way to gain new readers. The publisher assumes that price is the only factor that caused the decline in readership. But no evidence is given to support this claim. Moreover, given that The Mercury was the established local paper, it is unlikely that such a mass exodus of its readers would be explained by subscription price alone.
Body Paragraph 2
There are many other factors that might account for a decline in The Mercury’s popularity. For instance, readers might be displeased with the extent and accuracy of its news reporting, or the balance of local to other news coverage. Moreover, it is possible The Mercury has recently changed editors, giving the paper a locally unpopular political perspective. Or perhaps readers are unhappy with the paper’s format, the timeliness of its feature articles, its comics or advice columns, the extent and accuracy of its local event calendar, or its rate of errors.
In conclusion, this argument is weak because it depends on an oversimplified assumption about the causal connection between the price of the paper and its popularity. To strengthen the argument, the author must identify and explore relevant factors beyond cost before concluding that lowering subscription prices will increase circulation and, thereby, increase advertising revenues.

Sample Essay 5

The following appeared as part of an article in a magazine devoted to regional life.
“Corporations should look to the city of Helios when seeking new business opportunities or a new location. Even in the recent recession, Helios’s unemployment rate was lower than the regional average. It is the industrial center of the region, and historically it has provided more than its share of the region’s manufacturing jobs. In addition, Helios is attempting to expand its economic base by attracting companies that focus on research and development of innovative technologies.”
Discuss how well reasoned… etc.
In this argument corporations are urged to consider the city of Helios when seeking a new location or new business opportunities. To support this recommendation, the author points out that Helios is the industrial center of the region, providing most of the region’s manufacturing jobs and enjoying a lower-than-average unemployment rate. Moreover, it is argued, efforts are currently underway to expand the economic base of the city by attracting companies that focus on research and development of innovative technologies. This argument is problematic for two reasons.
Body Paragraph 1
To begin with, it is questionable whether the available labor pool in Helios could support all types of corporations. Given that Helios has attracted mainly industrial and manufacturing companies in the past, it is unlikely that the local pool of prospective employees would be suitable for corporations of other types. For example, the needs of research and development companies would not be met by a labor force trained in manufacturing skills. For this reason, it’s unlikely that Helios will be successful in its attempt to attract companies that focus or research and development of innovative technologies.
Body Paragraph 2
Another problem with the available work force is its size. Due to the lower than average unemployment rate in Helios, corporations that require large numbers of workers would not find Helios attractive. The fact that few persons are out of work suggests that new corporations will have to either attract new workers to Helios or pay the existing workers higher wages in order to lure them away from their current jobs. Neither of these alternatives seems enticing to companies seeking to relocate.
In conclusion, the author has not succeeded in providing compelling reasons for selecting Helios as the site for a company wishing to relocate. In fact, the reasons offered function better as reasons for not relocating to Helios. Nor has the author provided compelling reasons for companies seeking new business opportunities to choose Helios.

Sample Essay 6

The following appeared in the health section of a magazine on trends and lifestyles.
“People who use the artificial sweetener aspartame are better off consuming sugar, since aspartame can actually contribute to weight gain rather than weight loss. For example, high levels of aspartame have been shown to trigger a craving for food bydepleting the brain of a chemical that registers satiety, or the sense of being full. Furthermore, studies suggest that sugars, if consumed after at least 45 minutes of continuous exercise, actually enhance the body’s ability to burn fat. Consequently, those who drink aspartame-sweetened juices after exercise will also lose this calorie-burning benefit. Thus it appears that people consuming aspartame rather than sugar are unlikely to achieve their dietary goals.”
Discuss how well reasoned… etc.
In this argument the author concludes that people trying to lose weight are better off consuming sugar than the artificial sweetener aspartame. To support this conclusion the author argues that aspartame can cause weight gain by triggering food cravings, whereas sugar actually enhances the body’s ability to burn fat. Neither of these reasons provides sufficient support for the conclusion.
Body Paragraph 1
The first reason that aspartame encourages food cravings is supported by research findings that high levels of aspartame deplete the brain chemical responsible for registering a sense of being satedHidden text (sated, sating ), or full. But the author’s generalization based on this research is unreliable. The research was based on a sample in which large amounts of aspartame were administered; however, the author applies the research findings to a target population that includes all aspartame users, many of whom would probably not consume high levels of the artificial sweetener.
Body Paragraph 2
The second reason that sugar enhances the body’s ability to burn fat is based on the studies in which experimental groups, whose members consumed sugar after at least 45 minutes of continuous exercise, showed increased rates of fat burning. The author’s general claim, however, applies to all dieters who use sugar instead of aspartame, not just to those who use sugar after long periods of exercise. Once again, the author’s generalization is unreliable because it is based on a sample that clearly does not represent all dieters.
To conclude, each of the studies cited by the author bases its findings on evidence that does not represent dieters in general; for this reason, neither premise of this argument is a reliable generalization. Consequently, I am not convinced that dieters are better off consuming sugar instead of aspartame.

Sample Essay 7

The following appeared in the editorial section of a corporate newsletter.
“The common notion that workers are generally apathetic about management issues is false, or at least outdated: a recently published survey indicates that 79 percent of the nearly 1,200 workers who responded to survey questionnaires expressed a high level of interest in the topics of corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits programs.”
Discuss how well reasoned… etc.
Based upon a survey among workers that indicates a high level of interest in the topics of corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits programs, the author concludes that workers are not apathetic about management issues. Specifically, it is argued that since 79 percent of the 1200 workers who responded to survey expressed interest in these topics, the notion that workers are apathetic about management issues is incorrect. The reasoning in this argument is problematic in several respects.
Body Paragraph 1
First, the statistics cited in the editorial may be misleading because the total number of workers employed by the corporation is not specified. For example, if the corporation employs 2000 workers, the fact that 79 percent of the nearly 1200 respondents showed interest in these topics provides strong support for the conclusion. On the other hand, if the corporation employs 200,000 workers, the conclusion is much weaker.
Body Paragraph 2
Another problem with the argument is that the respondents’ views are not necessarily representative of the views of the work force in general. For example, because the survey has to do with apathy, it makes sense that only less apathetic workers would respond to it, thereby distorting the overall picture of apathy among the work force. Without knowing how the survey was conducted, it is impossible to assess whether or not this is the case.
Body Paragraph 3
A third problem with the argument is that it makes a hasty generalization about the types of issues workers are interested in. It accords with common sense that workers would be interested in corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits programs, since these issues affect workers very directly. However, it is unfair to assume that workers would be similarly interested in other management issues—ones that do not affect them or affect them less directly.
In conclusion, this argument is not convincing as it stands. To strengthen it, the author would have to show that the respondents account for a significant and representative portion of all workers. Additionally, the author must provide evidence of workers’ interest other management topics—not just those that affect workers directly.

Sample Essay 8

The following appeared in the opinion column of a financial magazine.
“On average, middle-aged consumers devote 39 percent of their retail expenditure to department store products and services, while for younger consumers the average is only 25 percent. Since the number of middle-aged people will increase dramatically within the next decade, department stores can expect retail sales to increase significantly during that period. Furthermore, to take advantage of the trend, these stores should begin to replace some of those products intended to attract the younger consumer with products intended to attract the middle-aged consumer.”
Discuss how well reasoned… etc.
Based on an expected increase in the number of middle-aged people during the next decade, the author predicts that retail sales at department stores will increase significantly over the next ten years. To bolster this prediction, the author cites statistics showing that middle-aged people devote a much higher percentage of their retail expenditure to department-store services and products than younger consumers do. Since the number of middle-aged consumers is on the rise and since they spend more than younger people on department-store goods and services, the author further recommends that department stores begin to adjust their inventories to capitalize on this trend. Specifically, it is recommended that department stores increase their inventory of products aimed at middle- aged consumers and decrease their inventory of products aimed at younger consumers. This argument is problematic for two reasons.
Body Paragraph 1
First, an increase in the number of middle-aged people does not necessarily portend an overall increase in department-store sales. It does so only on the assumption that other population groups will remain relatively constant. For example, if the expected increase in the number of middle-aged people is offset by an equally significant decrease in the number of younger people, there will be little or no net gain in sales.
Body Paragraph 2
Second, in recommending that department stores replace products intended to attract younger consumers with products more suitable to middle-aged consumers, the author assumes that the number of younger consumers will not also increase. Since a sizable increase in the population of younger consumers could conceivably offset the difference in the retail expenditure patterns of younger and middle- aged consumers, it would be unwise to make the recommended inventory adjustment lacking evidence to support this assumption.
This argument is unacceptable. To strengthen the argument the author would have to provide evidence that the population of younger consumers will remain relatively constant over the next decade.
We hope that our strategies help you conquer GMAT AWA with enough and more energy to spare for the sections that follow!
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CAT vs. GMAT: Choosing the Right Test for You

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Here are a few questions we get asked by students planning to apply to B-Schools:

“Should I take the CAT or the GMAT?”

“Is the CAT easier than the GMAT?”

“Is CAT preparation enough for GMAT?”

“What is the difference between CAT and GMAT?”

The answers to these questions are not simple enough to answer in a couple of sentences. Most times, the answer is very subjective, so you’ll need to understand some things to find out which answer applies to you. In this article, we will help you figure this out by comparing the two tests on the following criteria:

  1. Comparison of Syllabus, Format, and Structure
  2. Acceptability of CAT vs. GMAT
  3. Competitiveness in CAT vs. GMAT

Let’s take a look at each one in further detail.

1. Comparison of Syllabus, Structure, and Format

Since we’re comparing three distinct aspects, let us analyze each of them one at a time. To start with, here’s a comparison of the CAT syllabus vs. that of the GMAT.

There are four sections on the GMAT: Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), Verbal Reasoning (Verbal), Integrated Reasoning (IR), and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). Of these, Quant and Verbal contribute to the composite GMAT score while IR and AWA have their own separate grades.

On the other hand, there are three sections on the CAT: Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI-LR). Unlike the sections on the GMAT, all sections contribute to your composite CAT score.

Thanks to the Select Section Order option, you choose which section appears first on the GMAT. The CAT, however, follows a pattern: you start with VARC, followed by DI-LR, and end with QA.

All the sections of the CAT have a combination of multiple choice questions and ‘Type in the Answer’, or TITA, questions. VARC and QA typically have 23-27 MCQs with 7-10 TITA questions while DI-LR has 28 MCQs and 8 TITA questions. You get +3 for all correct answers and -1 for incorrect answers on MCQs.

On the GMAT, there’s no negative marking and all the questions are MCQs.





Analytical Writing Assessment

Integrated Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning

Quantitative Aptitude

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

  Scoring Pattern

No -ve marking

AWA: 0-6

IR: 1-8

Quant: 6-51

Verbal: 6-51

Composite: 200 to 800

+3 marks per correct answer

-1 marks per incorrect answer (only for MCQs)

Composite: -82 to 300

  Time Per Section

AWA: 30 minutes

IR: 30 minutes

Quant: 62 minutes

Verbal: 65 minutes

QA: 60 minutes

DI-LR: 60 minutes

VARC: 60 minutes

  Questions Per Section

AWA: 1

IR: 12

Quant: 31

Verbal: 36

QA: 34

DI-LR: 32 (16 DI, 16 LR)

VARC: 34 (24 RC, 10 VA)


While GMAT scores remain valid for five years from the date of the latest attempt, CAT scores are only valid for one year. There are no eligibility criteria that you have to meet in order to take the GMAT, but you cannot attempt the CAT unless you score at least 50% marks to earn your undergraduate degree.

Comparative Difficulty

The obvious similarities between the CAT and GMAT are the Quant and Verbal sections.

The GMAT Quant syllabus is significantly more detailed and varied than the CAT QA syllabus. GMAT Quant is further divided into Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry; the two types of questions are based on problem-solving and data sufficiency, respectively.

The CAT QA syllabus, on the other hand, has about 20 topics under it. These are typically studied on a topic-to-topic basis rather than being divided into distinct areas of math.
CAT QA is generally tougher than GMAT Quant.

Questions on the CAT are typically more complex. They require a significantly deeper understanding of mathematical theory. You can’t rely on techniques like elimination to arrive at the answer on the CAT due to the Type in the Answer (TITA) questions. In these questions, you have no option but to solve the question by solving it the old-fashioned way.
You could say, in a way, that the CAT is more a test of your theoretical knowledge while the GMAT is more a test of your logic.

This is reflected in the Verbal section as well. The GMAT asks more usage-based questions while the CAT doesn’t delve into vocabulary and grammar. Both tests have Reading Comprehension passages, but the similarity ends there.

As for the CAT’s DI-LR section, it is comparable to Integrated Reasoning on the GMAT. DI-LR is significantly more detailed and far-reaching than IR, even in the fact that DI-LR contributes to the composite CAT score while IR isn’t counted in the composite GMAT score.
In the next section, we discuss the acceptability of both tests: GMAT vs. CAT.

2. Acceptability of CAT vs. GMAT

The greatest criterion in the CAT vs. GMAT debate is their acceptability in the world.

GMAT scores are mandatory for admission into the world’s leading B-Schools. According to the GMAC, more than 2,300 B-Schools accept GMAT test scores for close to 7,000 programs.

CAT scores are only accepted in India, primarily by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) which conduct the test. This is in addition to about 100 other institutes like ISB, Great Lakes, and SP Jain, which accept CAT as well as GMAT scores.

CAT vs GMAT acceptability

IIMs offer two types of business programs, primarily.

One type requires no work experience and is comparable to an MIM degree. The other type is offered only to candidates with work experience and is comparable to an MBA. While CAT scores are accepted for all programs, GMAT scores are only accepted for the programs which are comparable to MBAs.

At this point, the GMAT test is well on its way to becoming the most widely-accepted entrance test for B-Schools in India.

However, the GMAC recently bought the NMAT test designed by the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS). What impact this has on the acceptability rates for both GMAT and CAT scores remains to be seen.

3. Competitiveness Among CAT vs. GMAT-Takers

The CAT and GMAT tests are both standardized, competitive, and computer-based public exams.

What this means, in essence, is that your score on either of these tests doesn’t hold much meaning in isolation. Comparing your performance with that of your fellow test-takers is the only way to tell how well or badly you did in your attempt.

This comparison is done by using the percentile system for both the tests. Simply put, your percentile rank tells you the percentage of your fellow test-takers who scored as much as or lower than you.

We’ve already mentioned that the CAT is available only for Indian students and is acceptable only in Indian B-Schools. So, it goes without saying that the competition is extremely high.

For most IIMs, the CAT cutoff ranges from the 96th to the 99th percentile. This means you can only get in if you score higher than or equal to 96-99% of your competitors. In numbers, that means you need a score higher than 123 out of 300 on the CAT. Thanks to the negative marking system in the CAT test, scores in the 99th (arguably within the 100th) percentile average at 200.98.

Comparatively, the GMAT doesn’t have the 100th percentile. Any scores above 760 fall within the 99th percentile, which is the highest on the GMAT. The world’s best MBA programs accept scores in the 95th-96th percentile. In numbers, that score falls within the 720-730 GMAT composite score range.

Having said that, you must take into account that many more people take the GMAT than the CAT. Further, GMAT-takers come from all over the world whereas CAT-takers are only Indian. Thanks to this, you can’t really compare GMAT and CAT scores directly, even in percentile form.

Let us explain why in further detail.

Scope of Percentile Rank Comparison

The CAT is much more likely to change in difficulty year-on-year as compared to the GMAT. It would be unfair to compare the performance of test-takers who took an easier version of the test to the performance of those who faced a tougher CAT.

That’s why CAT percentiles are calculated based on the performance of those who took the test in a given year only. Since the test is only conducted once a year, this helps keep things simple. But the limitation then is that the score is valid only for a year.

In comparison, the GMAT is far less given to change.

Since the GMAT test is standardized on a global level, changes to any aspect of it need to be tested and deliberated upon for months before they’re implemented. Failing this, there are chances that the test may become biased, inadvertently favoring certain people over others.

Thanks to this, changes in the syllabus, pattern, or any other parameter that may affect the difficulty level of the test are quite infrequent on the GMAT. Your GMAT percentile rank is calculated based on the scores of those who took the test within three years immediately preceding the date of your attempt.

Now, because the changes are so infrequent, GMAT scores remain valid for five years instead of one.

There’s one final factor that tips the scales of balance in favor of the GMAT. That is the fact that institutions that accept the CAT typically also stick to the government-mandated reservation system.

You have to face distinct criteria based on your social standing to be eligible to take the CAT. Then, you have to get through the reservation of seats for various quotas if you’re applying through the CAT. This makes it significantly tougher to get admissions through the CAT.





  How often is the test administered?

Once a year in two slots

Can be taken any time

  Maximum attempts allowed

No Limit

Once every 21 days, but no more than 5 times in 12 months and no more than 8 times in total.

  Test Cost



  Test Duration

3 hours, no breaks

3 hours and 7 minutes excluding 2 optional breaks of 8 minutes each

  Exam Type

Computer-based but not online

Cannot be rescheduled

Online, Computer-Adaptive

Can be rescheduled for a price

  Score Analysis Report


Enhanced Score Report, Available for a price

  Score Cancellation


Can be done online

  Score Validity

1 year

5 years


On the whole, if you think about it, the GMAT is a test of your personality and your management skills. The CAT, on the other hand, is based more on theory than on practical applications. Thanks to this, the CAT requires much more intensive preparation than the GMAT. If you have a full-time job, it might make it that much tougher for you to clear the CAT.

In our opinion, the GMAT is a better option any day. It opens up many more doors than the CAT. Further, it is significantly more practical in its approach. It even gives you a better chance to get an admit from the B-Schools you apply to, as well.

However, don’t let our opinion inform your decision regarding which test you should take.

If you’re better at Quantitative theory than application, the CAT may be better suited for you. Similarly, if Verbal is not your strong point, the VARC on the CAT is easier to crack than GMAT Verbal.

Carefully consider your options, weigh the pros and cons, and then take a call.

To get a better understanding of what the GMAT is really like, sign up for our free GMAT kickstarter course. The course contains 8+ hours of strategy and concept videos to get you started with your GMAT preparation!

  • May, 27th, 2019
  • Posted in

Retaking the GMAT? Here’s What You Need to Know First!

Reading Time: 16 minutes

Since you’re reading this article, we know that you must be thinking about retaking the GMAT after a previous attempt in which you did not get a good GMAT score.

But honestly – what exactly is a ‘good GMAT score’, anyway?

In our opinion, it is entirely subjective because it depends entirely on what you need a GMAT score for. For example, a GMAT 700 is a decent score for someone who wants to get into ISB. But the same score won’t cut it for a Harvard aspirant!

Anyway, you may have your own understanding of what a good GMAT score is for you. And right now, you may be stuck with a lower score than what you think is ‘good’. If you’ve taken your GMAT with a certain expectation and ended up with a score lower than that, you’re likely to consider retaking the GMAT in the hope of a better GMAT score.

That’s a good idea!

Retaking the GMAT is honestly a good idea for most people who are thinking about doing so. However, retaking a $250 test without proper planning and expectation management is not the best way forward.

In this article, we will talk about three aspects critical to planning your GMAT retake strategy:

  1. Scenarios that can cause Low Scores
  2. Advice on Retaking GMAT based on Current Scores
  3. Top GMAT Myths – Busted!

There are two critical perspectives to consider when you’re trying to figure out whether you should retake the GMAT or not. One perspective considers the various reasons that may have caused you to score lower than you were hoping to. The other perspective looks into the statistical details of how often retaking improves people’s score and the extent to which that is possible, based on your existing score.

Let us discuss the nitty-gritty of each perspective, one at a time.

1. Scenarios that can cause Low Scores

You probably know that the first step in problem-solving is admitting that you have a problem. Congrats on having done that part already!

Now, let’s move on to step 2 of solving problems: identifying the problem. It’s important to understand what went wrong before you set out to correct it. Failing this, you will just be shooting in the dark.

Accordingly, let’s take a look at six possible scenarios that may have caused you to get a low score.
1. Issue with Basics

Don't skip the basics

Sometimes, you may decide to skip brushing up on your basics because there’s so much advanced stuff to learn. Many of our students have also fallen victim to this mistaken belief that solving practice questions will be sufficient for GMAT prep.

The thing is that basics are much more important than you may think. Let us demonstrate just how this works using an example.

Suppose you are weak with Inequalities which is within GMAT Arithmetic, but you choose to focus on your strengths instead. On the GMAT, you get a minimum of two questions based on Inequalities. These could be 700-level questions or 500-level ones, depending on your luck.

We say ‘luck’ because in case even one of those questions based on your weak topic is a 500-level question and you get it wrong, the next few questions will all be 500-level. So your expertise on all other subjects will make no difference!

It’s important to make sure you cover all your bases.

If you leave anything untouched, you may end up regretting it quite badly. If you think this scenario may be the explanation as to why you got a low score in spite of getting a majority of questions right, you should retake the GMAT. However, this time around, you should identify your weaknesses and strengthen them before you book your attempt.
2. Application Trouble

Application trouble

We often come across students who grasp concepts very easily. It could take as little as a single session for them to really understand what a concept means. If we ask them to explain the concept to someone else, they can do it pretty well.

However, when it comes to applying these concepts to GMAT questions, they struggle.

The point we’re trying to make is that it is not enough to understand a concept. You need to be able to apply them to solve the questions you’ll have to face on the GMAT. There’s a full chance that you walked into your exam center feeling fully prepared.

You probably knew all the concepts necessary to do well. But maybe seeing the questions threw you completely off your game, because of which you ended up scoring badly.

If this scenario sounds anything like what happened to you during your attempt, retaking GMAT sounds like a great idea for you.

This time around, we would highly recommend that you invest a lot of time into examining where you went wrong. Opt for the Enhanced Score Report and analyze it thoroughly. It might be a good idea to get a third person’s perspective on this if you know someone who will be able to give you a balanced opinion here.

CrackVerbal provides Personal Tutoring for exactly this kind of a situation.

Our experts can help you better understand your strengths and work on your weaknesses in a manner that suits your individual needs. Even if you choose not to opt for this highly personalized service, you should consider getting a neutral third person involved, anyway.

Additionally, we highly recommend solving practice questions. Stick to using official test questions only, like the ones we provide through our guides to GMAT Quant, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Correction respectively. Solving official questions will get you accustomed to the style and difficulty of actual GMAT questions.

If you work on identifying and effectively targeting your weaknesses, retaking the GMAT will most likely yield great results for you.
3. You Got Nervous!

You got nervous

The simplest explanation for a low GMAT score could be nervousness.

There are times, especially when it comes to competitive exams like the GMAT, when you could be so worried about performing well that you become far too nervous at the time of the exam.

Trying to answer multiple choice questions while you’re nervous is a bigger challenge than most people will dare admit. You often end up clicking the wrong option simply because you’re in a tearing hurry to answer it well within time and move on to the next section.

Unfortunately, since the GMAT is an adaptive test, you can’t afford to make many mistakes. You can’t know which questions carry more marks than the others, so there’s no way to know where you can afford to be reckless. In effect, that means you can never really be reckless at all.

In a situation where you need to be alert and on top of your game the entire time, nervousness can really wreak havoc.

If tension and nerves were responsible for your low score, you should retake the GMAT.
4. Insufficient Section Scores

Insufficient section scores

Did you look at your scorecard and think, “Okay this is not very bad, but I could have done better on Verbal.”?
Or, “Oh, I could have done so much better on Quant!”?

You should know that this is one of the most common reactions we’ve observed among our students. In most cases, people choose to go ahead and apply to suitable B-Schools anyway. A few people end up carrying this feeling on for much longer.

If you’re one of those people who cannot shake the feeling that you could score better in one of the two major sections of the GMAT, retaking the test may have its benefits for you.

You see, when you make up your mind to focus on a certain aspect of an exam, you’re essentially strengthening whatever weaknesses you had the first time around. If you retake the GMAT after ironing out the rough patches in your prep, chances are that you will score significantly more than you did the last time.

Since the GMAT is an adaptive test, it leaves very little space for error. So, take the effort to expand the horizons of your prep to include every aspect of the GMAT syllabus. Cover every detail before you attempt to retake the GMAT, and we believe you will stand a good chance to score quite well.
5. You Weren’t in the Right Frame of Mind

right frame of mind

Sometimes the reason why you didn’t do well on your GMAT attempt is just intangible. It is nearly impossible to put into words the feeling you get when you just know that something is not right. If you carried this feeling with you into the test center, chances are, you were too distracted to do well.

The point is, you may have just been having a bad day when you had to take your attempt. For whatever reason, if your head was not in the game when you took the test, it’s no wonder you didn’t get your target score.

We would recommend that you retake the test if you feel like this was the case with you.

If you’re willing to invest the time and money into retaking the GMAT, doing so might actually bring you a better score.

However, to achieve this, you will need to make a few changes to your prep strategy. Developing the right frame of mind for the test is also an important part of preparing for the GMAT. This needs to be a part of your GMAT prep strategy.

To get professional guidance on the best way to design your GMAT prep, you can check out our prep options and reach out to us at CrackVerbal.
6. Wrongly Selected Section Order

wrongly selected section order

In 2017, the GMAC introduced a new feature into the GMAT: the Select Section Order option. Basically, this allows you to choose which part of the test you want to attempt first.

The Select Section Order option has had quite an impact on percentiles and scoring patterns among test-takers, globally.

Unless your latest GMAT attempt was before 2017, you’re probably well-versed with how this option works. What we want to talk about in this section is what happens if you pick the wrong order of sections.

When we say ‘wrong order’, we’re not talking about the possibility of you mistakenly picking one section when you meant to pick another. Let us demonstrate with an example.

Suppose Quant is your strong suit and you find Verbal comparatively easier. As such, you may decide to finish Quant first and then solve Verbal. However, you might end up feeling much more mentally drained by the time you finish the Quant section. This is more likely to happen especially if you haven’t prepared using official questions.

So, when we say ‘wrong order’ we mean you may have chosen a poor section order.

If you aren’t used to solving official questions like those provided in the Official Guide, it’s easily possible that you may end up underestimating how exhausting it can be to finish a given section. Often, this can lead to poor performance in the subsequent sections. This leaves you with a lower GMAT score than you may have hoped for.

Retaking the GMAT is a good idea if this is the reason why you didn’t score well in your first attempt.

As discussed before, this was one perspective that considers the reasons behind your low GMAT score. In the next section, let’s move on to talking about your chances of improving your score and the extent to which it could rise, based on statistics.

2. Advice on Retaking GMAT based on Current Scores

The reason we’re dividing our advice based on your existing score is simple: your reasons for retaking the GMAT and your expectations from it will vary according to your existing score. Our advice is tailored to fit your reasons.

As such, we’ve divided this section of the blog into five parts:

  1. GMAT score more than 750
  2. GMAT score between 700-750
  3. GMAT score between 650-700
  4. GMAT score between 600-650
  5. GMAT score between 500-600

Before we proceed any further, we’d like you to take a careful look at these charts detailing statistics released by the GMAC.

TY 2017 examinees


score increase from retesting

Next, let’s discuss what you should do based on your current score.

  • GMAT score more than 750
    If you’ve scored 750 or above on the GMAT, retaking it will serve no real purpose. Let us demonstrate why, using GMAT score charts.

    Composite Score Percentile Chart

    As you can see, if you’re at 750 or so, you currently lie in the 98th percentile. Scoring beyond 760 will only put you in the 99th percentile. The effort it takes to raise your score by that much is not proportional to the reward of doing so. Retaking the GMAT only to rise up by a single percentile point will not make much of a difference, no matter which schools you plan to apply to.

    If you’re thinking of retaking the test in the hope that scoring higher will improve your chances of getting into one of the top ten B-Schools in the world, rest assured that this is not the case.

    A well-written MBA application can have the same effect.

    Instead of breaking your head trying to get a higher GMAT score, focus on perfecting your Why MBA essay, and work on your other essay responses as well.

  • GMAT score between 700-750
    The only reason that would justify retaking GMAT with a score between 700 and 750 is if you’re intent on getting into the top 10 MBA programs in the world. in general, a GMAT score between 700 and 750 is beyond just ‘acceptable’ for a vast number of highly reputed B-Schools.

    However, it is important to understand here that crossing this score bracket is the most challenging of all.

    Take a look at the chart detailing the maximum score increase from retesting. You will notice that those who score over 700 in their first attempt are not likely to gain much from retaking the GMAT. More than 40% of those who retake the test after scoring over 700 the first time are not likely to see a score increase.

    But if you have made up your mind to try again anyway, you must be aware that there’s probably a rather complex set of reasons as to why you didn’t do better.

    Not all the scenarios mentioned earlier in this blog will be applicable to you if you’ve scored more than 700 on your first GMAT attempt.

    For example, Scenario #1 (Issue with Basics) is almost impossible if you’ve scored above 700. The GMAT is adaptive, so you would have had to answer most of the questions correctly in order to get that kind of a score. You can’t possibly have answered a majority of the questions correctly if your basics were not up to the mark.

    Similarly, Scenario #2 (Application Trouble) is also improbable because those who have trouble applying concepts to GMAT questions will most likely be unable to score more than 700.

    The point is, your problems are not likely to be covered in the six simple scenarios mentioned earlier. You’re likelier to be facing a combination of various issues, so you should have a bespoke strategy that addresses these issues to help you retake the GMAT and improve your score.

    As such, we suggest that you get an Enhanced Score Report before designing your strategy to retake the GMAT.
    Take the time to analyse your mistakes, figure out where you went wrong and identify the reason behind each mistake. If you feel like you need help with this, you can avail of our personal tutoring service.

  • GMAT score between 650-700
    This is probably the most competitive score band on the GMAT. The percentiles for this band range from 76 to 89 percentile.

    The reason this band has the highest competition, especially among Indian test-takers, is that this score range falls squarely between being just short of good enough for premier B-Schools and being too good for second-tier B-Schools.

    It gives people just about enough reason to try harder to make it to the absolute top rather than settling for something less.

    However, the competition among Indians in this range is greater because most of these aspirants belong to one over-represented majority or another.

    People who come from over-represented groups find it fairly difficult to stand out of the crowd and be noticed. They often perceive securing a high score on the GMAT as a way to differentiate their profile from the rest.

    For example, a male Indian IT Engineer with a GMAT 690 might stand a chance to get into a B-School like Columbia. However, a male Indian IT Engineer with a GMAT 730 stands a much better chance of getting into the same school.

    The idea that a great GMAT score is the only way for a person from an over-represented group to stand out, is not entirely correct. There are many ways in which you can differentiate your profile; these ways have nothing to do with your GMAT score.

    In fact, at CrackVerbal, we have seen many candidates make it into reputed B-Schools in spite of low GMAT scores. Samvit Roy and Shripad Sonavay both scored 690 on the GMAT and got into Schulich School of Business, while Vivek Saurabh got into Purdue and Pittsburgh with just a 630 on his GMAT.

    You don’t HAVE to retake the GMAT to get into a reputed B-School if your score is between 650 and 700. Focusing your time and energy on building a strong application can give you great results, too.

    But if you’re aiming for B-Schools with average GMAT scores above 710, retaking might be worth it.

  • GMAT score between 600-650
    There’s a wide range of schools you can apply to if your score falls within this range. If you build a strong MBA application, you could get into some great B-Schools around the world.

    To get into reputed schools with a score in the range of 600-650 is not easy, but you can still make it if you can differentiate your profile from the rest. Having generic achievements, skills, and qualifications will not help your chances of getting into a B-School.

    Here are 40 things you can do to differentiate and improve your MBA profile.

    However, if you’re looking at getting into any of the top 30 B-Schools in the US and Europe or even the leading B-Schools in India, like ISB, IIM-A, IIM-B, etc., you may want to retake the GMAT. A higher score will drastically improve your chances of getting into the tier-1 business schools around the world.

    Analyze the scenarios mentioned earlier in this post, see which ones apply to you, and work on ensuring that the same things do not go wrong the next time around.

    If your schedule is too hectic to allow you to study for the GMAT properly, consider signing up for an online course like CrackVerbal’s GMAT Online course.

  • GMAT score between 500-600
    You may stand a chance to get into some B-Schools with a GMAT score that falls in the 500-600 range. But this score range is too generic for us to guide you on where you should apply and which programs will suit your needs.

    If you are serious about getting an MBA, we would highly recommend that you consider retaking the GMAT.

    It may come as bad news to hear that your application stands a high chance of rejection with a GMAT score in this range, but there’s a largely positive flipside to this situation, too.

    You may have noticed that only 23% Indian test-takers retake the GMAT after their first attempts. Of those, the ones who score less than 600 in their first attempt are also the ones who routinely see the highest increment in scores upon retaking the test.

    Around 30% of the GMAT retakers who score less than 600 in their first attempt can expect to see a score increase between 30 and 100 points. A few students from this score range have also seen an increase of 190+ points! Isn’t that incredible?!

    The key takeaway here is that if you retake the exam, you have a better chance to improve your GMAT score than those who’ve scored more than 600 the first time around. Don’t lose hope; instead, get your Enhanced Score Report, analyze your mistakes, and get back to the drawing board.

    Study your errors, work on your weaknesses, and retake the GMAT when you’re ready.

    You can score significantly higher on your second attempt if you really put your back into your GMAT prep. There’s an opportunity here to turn your low GMAT score into a tool to help you do much better on your next attempt.

    To help you do this, you can choose between taking personal tutoring, attending classes, or doing a GMAT course online.

That should cover everything you need to know at this point. Hopefully, these pointers will also help you create an effective GMAT retake strategy that suits your needs and abilities.
In the next part of this article, we’d like to debunk some myths that you may have heard about the GMAT.

3. GMAT Myth Busting

Now for the most fun part of this article!

We’ve heard some incredibly superstitious myths and seemingly logical “facts” about the GMAT that may be affecting the way you approach the test. So, we have taken it upon ourselves to debunk these myths and hopefully keep them from having any bearing on any of your decisions regarding retaking the GMAT.

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

  • Myth 1: You can score better if you take the GMAT from a different country

    Country gif

    From where we stand, we believe this “theory” comes from the idea that the questions you will face on the GMAT will differ according to the country you’re in.

    Fact: GMAT questions are the same all over the world.

    Going to a different country will not make any difference to the questions that will appear on the GMAT for you. The same set of questions will appear for every person taking the GMAT around the world at a given point in time. Since it is a standardized test, the GMAT cannot be tweaked to create a discrete difficulty level per country.

    Another reason we can think of why that particular myth might have gained traction is the belief that your percentile rank will change based on the scores of people taking the GMAT from the same country.

    Fact: Percentile ranks have nothing to do with the country you’re in.

    Your GMAT percentile rank is calculated based on the scores of people who have taken the GMAT in the three years preceding your attempt. These are scores that people from all over the world have achieved in three years. That will not change no matter where you take your test from.

  • Myth 2: Your score is affected by the time of the year you choose to take the GMAT

    calendar gif

    A surprising number of people believe that you could score better during some months as compared to others. This idea may be stemming from the belief that the GMAT is tweaked to make it tougher during the B-School application season.

    Fact: The GMAT is adaptive to your performance only.

    The difficulty level of the GMAT is based entirely on your performance on the test. If you correctly answer tougher questions on a consistent basis, the average difficulty and value of successive questions will rise. We say average because you may answer a 500-level question incorrectly and still get a 700-level question next, and vice versa.

    The GMAT adaptive algorithm is designed to randomize the difficulty levels from question to question, so you will not face a steady rise in difficulty levels. However, if you answer most questions correctly, you will get a greater number of tougher questions as you go.

    In short, you decide the difficulty level of your GMAT test. It cannot be tweaked from the other end.

  • Myth 3: Your performance in one section affects your score in other sections
    There’s a chance that this idea comes from the assumption that the GMAT must be rated manually. That’s the only reason we can think of that would make anybody believe that you can score well on one section because of your good performance on another.

    Fact: Sections of the GMAT are discrete and disconnected from each other. The test is assessed by a computer.

    There is no question of leaving a good impression on the ‘examiner’ in the hope of getting good marks on Verbal because you did well on Quant or vice versa. Since this is a computer-adaptive test, your answers are being evaluated by a computer. The four sections of the exam are designed to be entirely disconnected from each other.

If you know of any more myths or have some beliefs about the GMAT that you suspect may be mistaken, let us know in the comments below and we will be happy to cross-check them for you!
We hope this article has helped you make up your mind on whether you want to retake the GMAT or not and to build an effective GMAT retake strategy if you have decided to go for it. In case you have any doubts or questions about this, you can submit your Enhanced Score Report to us and one of our counselors will get in touch with you.

If you only need help to streamline your GMAT prep and make the best of whatever little time you get to study, you can sign up for our free GMAT Online trial course.

GMAT vs. GRE: How to Choose the Right Test for You

Reading Time: 10 minutes

If you’re trying to figure out how to choose sides in the seemingly never-ending debate on GMAT vs. GRE, you’ve come to the right place.

Since you’re reading this article, you must at least be considering business school as an option.

Why else would you even consider taking the GMAT, right?

In our experience, those who grapple with the question of choosing between GMAT vs. GRE are the ones who have not clearly decided which postgraduate degree to go for. The logic is simple for those who have clearly decided to pursue specific programs – if it’s a B-School program like an MBA, take the GMAT. If it’s anything else, take the GRE.

So, we assume that you want to keep your options open or at least explore what it will mean for you to pick one test over the other when it comes to GMAT vs. GRE. No matter what your questions are, we hope you’ll find the answers you’re looking for in this article.

The GRE and GMAT are both tests which you will consider taking only when you are looking to get your postgraduate degree from a reputed, international institution, whether in India or abroad. Both exams are internationally recognized and have a lot in common, so picking between the two is really not that simple.

There are five critical questions you should ask yourself when trying to choose between GMAT and GRE. Your answers to these questions will help you figure out which test will serve your purpose best. Six questions that will help you choose between GMAT and GRE are:

  1. What is the Difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
  2. Which Degree and Specialization Do You Plan to Choose?
  3. Which Schools Do You Plan to Apply to?
  4. What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
  5. How Much Importance Should You Give to Exam Costs?
  6. How Does Score Translation Work?

Further, we look into how answering each of these will help you.

1. What is the Difference between the GMAT and the GRE?

The GMAT and GRE vary on various counts but they also have many similarities in the pattern, syllabus, and the likes.
In this section, we will take a look at the ways in which the two tests differ and converge, respectively.





Exam Pattern

Four Sections:
1. Quantitative Reasoning (31 questions, 62 minutes)
2. Verbal Ability (36 questions, 65 minutes)
3. Analytical Writing Assessment (1 essay, 30 minutes)
4. Integrated Reasoning (12 questions, 30 minutes)

Six Sections
1. Analytical Writing Assessment (2 essays, 30 minutes each)
2. One Experimental or Research Section (will appear to be a Quant or Verbal section) (20 questions, 30 minutes if it is Verbal, 35 minutes if it is Quant.) [Unscored*]
3. Two Quantitative Reasoning Sections (20 questions and 35 minutes per section)
4. Two Verbal Reasoning Sections (20 questions and 30 minutes per section)

Question Types

Sentence Correction
Critical Reasoning
Reading Comprehension


Data Sufficiency

Problem Solving

Reading Comprehension
Sentence Equivalence
Text Completion
Critical Reasoning

Quantitative Comparison
Numerical Entry
Multiple Choice Questions with 1 answer
Multiple Choice Questions with 1 or more answers





Data Interpretation


3 hours 7 minutes
(excluding optional breaks)

3 hours 45 minutes



$205 (for Indian Students)

Applicable For

Business Schools (MBA and similar programs)

Master’s Programs and some Business School Programs

Score Analysis

Enhanced Score Report, available for $30

Diagnostic Score Report, available free of cost

When you can take the test



Score Validity

5 years

5 years

Score Range

Verbal: 6-51
Quant: 6-51
Composite: 200-800

Verbal: 130-170
Quant: 130-170
Composite: 260-340

*This section is not scored at all. GMAT IR and the AWA sections on both exams are scored separately but these scores are not included in your final test score.

2. Which Degree and Specialization Do You Plan to Choose?



Now, you must be aware that taking the GMAT will effectively limit your choices to B-Schools exclusively. A GMAT score won’t get you into an MS program anywhere in the world.

On the other hand, there are B-Schools that accept GRE scores even for their MBA and other hardcore-business-oriented programs. In effect, with a GRE score, you will leave both avenues open for yourself.

But you will have to be thorough in your research before you pick either option.

The thing is, many B-Schools accept the GRE on the face of things, but they have certain limitations on which specializations will accept students with GRE scores instead of GMAT. In order to avoid finding yourself in this position, you’ll need to have an idea in advance on what you plan to do next.

It’s okay to have doubts or even to be totally uncertain with respect to your area of expertise/interest. The first thing you need to do in such a situation is, figure out if your interests and expertise lie beyond the realm of B-Schools.

If they do, you’re probably better off choosing the former when it comes to GRE vs. GMAT.

However, if you’re sure that the programs you’re interested in are all offered by B-Schools, you’ll be better served by taking the GMAT.

Here’s the thing:

Both exams will eliminate a certain set of institutions for you. You just need to figure out which ones you’re okay with shutting the door on.

3. Which Schools Do You Plan to Apply to?


GMAT vs GRE - map

More B-Schools in the US and Canada are likely to be open to the GRE as compared to those across Europe and Asia.

What this means for you is that it is safer for you to go for the GRE if you’re applying to colleges in the US-Canada region. You will be eligible to apply at a significant number of B-Schools in addition to other universities if you do this.

However, if you want to apply to B-Schools in Europe and Asia, taking the GRE will eliminate most of your options.

In any case, irrespective of where you want to apply, remember that taking the GMAT will most certainly close all avenues apart from B-Schools for you.

It might be a good idea to invest some time into thinking about the specific schools and universities you want to apply to. Spend some time figuring out the preferred exams for the schools and universities you’ve chosen to apply to.

Ideally, you should have a list with a maximum of 8-10 programs that you would like to apply to, before deciding which exam you will take to get into these programs.

This helps make the decision more or less easy.

4. What are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?


GMAt vs GRE - Strengths weakness

Another critical factor is what you’re naturally adept at between Quant and Verbal. In a GRE vs. GMAT evaluation, the first interesting point to note is that both exams have the same major sections.

There are two parts of the exams on which your final score calculation is based, in the GMAT as well as in the GRE. These sections are Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning, or Quant and Verbal. Both the exams have Quant and Verbal sections.

The biggest difference in GRE vs. GMAT is that the tougher of the two sections is Verbal on the GRE and Quant on the GMAT.

This means that if you’re great at Quant, you are likely to score better (in percentile as well as directly translated scores) on GRE Quant than on GMAT Quant. Similarly, if you’re great at Verbal, you’ll score better on GMAT Verbal than on GRE Verbal.

That’s because GRE Verbal is tougher than GRE Quant, while GMAT Verbal is easier than GMAT Quant. If you compare the two exams directly, section-on-section, GRE Verbal is tougher than GMAT Verbal, and GRE Quant is easier than GMAT Quant.

We recommend that you should go for the exam which has an easier set of the section you’re good at.

For example, let’s say Quant is your strong suit and Verbal is going to be more or less of a gamble. In this case, we recommend that you take the GRE. We’re aware that most of you would have assumed the best one to go for with a strong Quant skillset would be GMAT, but we don’t think that’s a good idea.

Here’s our logic:

It makes sense to capitalize on your strengths. But it is not a good idea to ignore your weaknesses while you do that.
Suppose, in the given example, you go for the GMAT instead. You know you’re not so good with Verbal, which means you will need to work hard to improve your verbal skills. But the GMAT is known for having a relatively tougher Quant section than the GRE, which means you’ll need to study some of that and probably spend significant amounts of time honing your Quant skills as well.

However, if you go for GRE, the exam with the easier Quant section, you can focus almost entirely on scaling up your Verbal skills. You can walk into your prep with near-certainty that you’ll score a 160+ on GRE Quant, so you won’t need to worry.

So, figure out which section you’re stronger at; it should help with this GMAT vs. GRE debate.

5. How Much Importance Should You Give to Exam Costs?


GMAt vs GRE - money

In simple terms: none.

It is truly baffling to us that a LOT of our students try to figure out what the GMAT costs, GRE costs and their comparison mean for them.

Why one exam is cheaper or more expensive than another says literally nothing about the level of question difficulty or subject proficiency required to crack it. Of course, the GRE and GMAT are both tests you can’t fail, so by ‘crack it’, we mean get your target score.

Some of you may already know this but one GMAT attempt costs $250 while one GRE attempt costs $205 for Indian students.

Now, we’re aware that the difference between converted costs is around ₹3,100. Some of you may think an exam worth around ₹17,400 is more expensive than one worth around ₹14,300 and these are big amounts to pay for ‘just an exam’. We understand the temptation to go for the cheaper option.

But here’s the thing:

Both these exams combined will still amount to only around 3-4% of the annual expenditure on the tuition for any program abroad. Unless you enroll for non-business-based masters programs in Germany, that is. Those programs charge no tuition fees.

In any case, our point is that if you’re looking to study abroad, it is all the more reason to keep exam costs out of your mind. If you’re looking to cut corners on exam costs, you are unlikely to be able to afford what follows.

Honestly, only take these exams if you can do so without thinking much about the costs.

6. How Does Score Translation Work?


GMAt vs GRE - conversion

Now for the most complicated part of this article.

At the outset, let us make it clear that there is no objective way to compare GMAT and GRE scores to each other.
Since GRE and GMAT are each designed to serve distinct purposes, drawing parallels between the two is quite complex. So much so, in fact, that even Universities around the world struggle to get it figured out.

The ETS, which is the body that conducts the GRE, provides a GRE to GMAT score converter to find the indicative GMAT score equivalent to a certain GRE score. However, this is only an indicative list, meaning that each school and B-School can come up with its own list of comparative scores.

This means that the ETS may say that a GRE 325 is the same as a GMAT 700, but any B-School could say that the GRE 325 is only equal to a GMAT 670.

In short, this system of score conversions is more or less arbitrary. It is not even a matter of comparing percentiles, because even that would not be a reliable system. How much value your GRE score holds depends entirely on the credibility that the GRE has in the eyes of a given B-School. This can actually matter a lot more than you’d think.

For instance, a certain B-School that has an average GMAT score in the 600-680 range might expect a GRE score range of 318-325.

However, scores that B-Schools will consider comparable to anything below a GMAT 600 will still be close to 315 on the GRE. Scores above GMAT 680 will require your GRE score to go well over 320 or even 325.

Naturally, scoring under 310 on the GRE is kind of pointless, since the lowest B-Schools are likely to go will be about a GRE 315. So if the required GMAT score is under or near 600, you should just go after the GMAT itself. On the other end of the spectrum, scoring above 315 on the GRE will take serious effort; it’s likely to be easier for you to score a GMAT 700+ than to get a GRE 325+.

The given numbers are not fixed or specific, they are merely indicative of the latest known scenario.

Depending on the score conversion tendencies of the B-Schools you plan to apply to, it might be more practical to take the GMAT rather than taking the GRE.

For over 50 years now, the GMAT has been the gold standard for B-schools to determine a candidate’s suitability for their programs. It continues to be the most popular test for business school aspirants.

However, in the past decade, there has been an upswing in both, the number of students taking the GRE for business schools, as well as the number of B-schools accepting GRE scores instead of GMAT scores.

As a result, even though both the exams continue to maintain their standards, the GMAT and GRE are just like any two rival products in the market.

We hope this article has helped you figure out which side to pick in the GMAT vs. GRE battle.

If you’re still unsure whether your profile is suitable for B-School, check out our free profile evaluation tool!

8 Powerful Tips to Tackle GMAT Sentence Correction

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I am able to eliminate 3 options in GMAT Sentence Correction very easily, but when I choose between the last 2 options, I always pick the wrong one!”

You will not believe the number of times I’ve heard students complain about this. 🙂 My answer is always the same,

“If you are stuck between A and B, and you think B is correct, but you have a history of picking the wrong option always – go ahead, pick A! That will solve your problem.”

I usually get an injured ‘how-can-you-make-fun-of-my-predicament?’ look.

The truth is – if you are stuck between 2 answer choices and get it wrong all the time, what it really means is that you are simply unable to identify what is wrong with the choice you picked. This is the underlying problem, and this is what you need to address.

Yes, SC can be really tricky – but this is also an area that can help you save time on the GMAT. Whereas many Critical Reasoning questions take up to 2.5 minutes to solve, many SC questions can be cracked in under a minute!


Here are some tips that will help you tackle this section better:

1. Identify what SC concept is being tested.

Every GMAT SC question will test at least 2 concepts: and you must be able to identify what these are. If you have no clue what concept is being tested, it means that you need to revisit your SC fundamentals! 🙂

For example, if the concept tested is parallelism, try to figure out what items should be in parallel. If it is modifiers, identify the referent of each clause and their correct placement.

2. Look for subject verb mismatches.

Subject Verb Agreement is one of the easiest errors to identify and in many GMAT SC questions, at least 1 option can be eliminated in this way. So look for these first.


3. Don’t get confused by pronoun ambiguity.

Don’t use pronoun ambiguity to eliminate answer options in the first go. Many official answers on the GMAT have pronoun ambiguity. Ambiguous pronouns are a problem only if the meaning of the sentence is affected because of the pronoun. Use this concept only if all else fails.


4. Don’t eliminate answer choices based on idioms right in the beginning.

This is because idioms can be confusing – especially when you are under pressure on the test. Secondly, the GMAT is itself ambiguous about the correctness of some idioms.

For example, ‘estimated at’ versus ‘estimated to be’. However, there are a few straightforward idioms, errors in whose usage are easy to identify. For e.g. whether versus if; such as versus like etc. You can eliminate choices on the basis of these without much trouble.

5. Don’t get misled by red herrings.

Just because 2 answer options begin with ‘not only’, doesn’t mean that the ‘not only but also’ construct is required in the sentence. The right answer may not use this idiom at all – so don’t jump to any conclusions.


6. Treat options A,B,C,D,E equally.

Even if you feel sure that a particular answer choice is right, don’t make up your mind till you have really looked at the other options.


7. Pick up clues from the non-underlined part of the sentence.

Often, the non-underlined part of the sentence can give you vital clues about tenses, lists, modifiers and meaning that will help you eliminate 1-2 answer choices. So never ignore this part.


8. Answer choice A may not always get the meaning right.

Never ever assume that the sentence given in answer choice A has the intended meaning of the sentence. Read all the answer choices and make up your own mind about what the intended meaning is. This meaning trap can be seen especially at 700+ level questions.


9. Always substitute the choice in the original sentence.

Substitute the answer choice you picked back into the original sentence and see whether it makes sense.


10. Don’t go in with any blanket rules.

Every rule has exceptions! 🙂 Therefore, keep an open mind and do not eliminate any answer choice outright just because it contains ‘being’ or an ambiguous pronoun.

However, it is good to have thumb rules.

This means that there are some things that are usually wrong on the GMAT, and which would do you good to remember. For example, the GMAT prefers active voice over passive. It also prefers a concise statement over a wordy one. Use these to identify which answer choices you need to be wary about.

And of course, if you are stuck between the last 2 answer options and have already spent 90 seconds on the question, use one of these thumb rules to take your pick and move on! 🙂

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

Head over to our E-book library for more useful information on how to achieve an awesome GMAT score!

5 Things You Should Know Before Taking GMAT Practice Tests

Reading Time: 14 minutes

There’s this trend among GMAT aspirants:

For some reason, many aspirants believe that taking practice test after practice test is a great way to prepare for the GMAT.

We’re so baffled by this idea that we decided to write an entire blog about GMAT practice tests and how you should be using them.

And no, this is not a rant. Promise. You’ll learn useful stuff from it!

In case you don’t believe us, here’s what we’ll discuss in this article:

  1. GMAT Practice Tests = Thermometers
  2. GMAT Practice Test ≠ Brain Gym
  3. Simulate the Test Environment
  4. Learn to Strategize
  5. Keep It Official!

Confused? Don’t worry!

Read on to figure out what we mean.

1. GMAT Practice Tests = Thermometers

Do you ever just pick up a thermometer to check your body temperature as you walk about your house?


Well, nobody does.

Are you getting the drift?

There’s such a thing as an appropriate time to use a thermometer even though there’s no rule that says you can’t randomly use it to check your temperature.

It’s a different matter entirely that it’s just weird to check your body temperature for no reason.

The case is exactly the same when it comes to GMAT practice tests. Of course, you can go take a test whenever you feel like it, but it is really odd to just keep taking them.

We think it’s odd because it serves no purpose. Just like a thermometer, a GMAT practice test is a diagnostic tool. You’re supposed to use it when its report is going to help you decide on a future course of action.

Depending on the score you get on a practice test, you can figure out whether you need more prep or if you’re ready for the real deal.

What on earth is the point of thundering through some 50 tests one after the other?! It is literally like measuring your body temperature every hour of the day just because you can!

If you think we’re wrong and that you are, in fact, finding it useful to take test after test, this next one is for you.

2. GMAT Practice Test ≠ Brain Gym

Here’s a fun fact:

The human brain cannot take a test and learn simultaneously!

Don’t believe it? Well, think about this:

When someone throws a ball at you, you catch it. But you probably missed the catch more often as a kid than you do now, right?

Did you get better because people kept throwing balls at you or did you get better because your overall hand-eye coordination got better doing everyday activities?

Now, let’s try and apply this analogy to your GMAT prep. Every practice test you take is like a ball thrown in your direction. If you keep having a ball thrown at you and give yourself no time to process why you failed or succeeded at catching it, you’ll never know why you’re getting better or worse.

This leaves you in no position to control whether or not you get better, going forward.

Further, when it is something as simple as catching a ball, the right way to do it is pretty straightforward. But the moment it comes to something like GMAT Quant… you know what we’re getting at.

The point we’re making here is simple:

Repeatedly taking GMAT practice tests is not going to help you get better at taking the GMAT. What will help, though, is studying the concepts that the GMAT tests you on.

It’s one thing to solve practice questions and completely another to take full-blown practice tests. Once you’ve learned concepts, go ahead and solve practice questions to help internalize what you’ve learned.

You should only approach GMAT practice tests when you’ve prepared for the entire exam because the point of taking a practice test should be something entirely different. In fact, that’s what the next section of this piece is about.

3. Simulate the Test Environment

The GMAT is unlike any other public test in that it is more interested in seeing how you apply what you know rather than in testing how much you know in the first place.

As such, there are two elements to GMAT prep:

One is that you are expected to work on expanding your knowledge. Actually, the entire GMAT Syllabus, from Quant to Verbal, is based on things we’ve already learned in high school. So, you don’t really have to learn “new” concepts, you just have to refresh your memory.

The second element of preparing for the GMAT is learning how to take advantage of the GMAT exam pattern. Given the way the exam is structured, it allows you to leverage the given information to find answers without actually solving every question.

In fact, there are many tips and tricks to game the system and use the GMAT exam pattern to your advantage.

What we’re trying to say is this:

GMAT practice tests aren’t meant to help you practice solving questions; they’re meant to help you get better at taking the GMAT.

As such, there are a few Dos and Don’ts that we recommend while taking GMAT Practice Tests:


  1. Take the test with the AWA and IR sections. This is to help you understand that you’re already going to be mentally tired after the Quant and Verbal sections.
  2. Take the test at the same time as your booked or prospective test slot. This way you are able to understand your circadian cycle a lot better.
  3. Eat and drink whatever you would during the breaks. This is to ensure that you understand how your body responds to the surge of carbohydrates.


  1. Take extra long breaks. On the real test you will get around 8 minutes; so stick to that. Use a small alarm or a watch to help you do this.
  2. Eat or drink anything during the test. A nice mug of steaming coffee can surely help you while you practice, but remember that on the real test day you will have none of this. The same rule applies to cigarette breaks.
  3. Check your mobile phone or emails during the test. On the real test day, you will have it switched off in a locker – try to do the same here.

Basically, do everything that you’d do during your actual GMAT test attempt and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do then.

4. Learn to Strategize

As mentioned in the previous point, a lot of your GMAT prep is about learning to take the GMAT test. That’s based on how you strategize.

For example, a good time management strategy can be the difference between a 600 and a 700.

With so much at stake, you should get your test strategies down to a science.

You should know exactly how to pace yourself, when to give those extra 30 seconds to a question, and when to guess and move on. This is something we train our students to do, throughout the duration of our course.

In our opinion, these are 3 absolute must-dos for any test you take:

  1. Keep an Error Log
    An Error Log tells you WHY you made the mistake and not WHAT mistakes you made. The difference is crucial because it helps you to not repeat it. As you go through the questions you got wrong, ask yourself, “Can I get the right answer now?”

    If you can, the Error Log has done its job.

  3. Analyze Your Practice Test
    Honestly – analyze the hell out of every practice test you take from a behavior point of view.

    Ask yourself why you made that silly error, go over the scratch pad to see what was going on in your brain when you were solving the question, check why you did not guess when you know you should have, look into why you didn’t use back-solving for that tough quant problem – you get the drift?

    Thoroughly understand the mistakes you’re making and see what mental blocks are leading you to make them.

  5. If you found a specific area uncomfortable on the test, go back to practicing more questions from that area. Maybe you want to ask for help – if you are a CrackVerbal student, our faculty is just a phone-call/email away!

Ultimately, the GMAT is as much a mind game as it is a test of your aptitude for management. Anyone preparing seriously for the GMAT can tell you that. That’s why the way you handle failure is very important.

Taking a test and getting a low score can be devastating to morale. So, it’s important to know how to stay focused and keep chipping away at the prep. Also, remember that practice tests are not indicative of the final score you should expect on the GMAT.

You could never cross 650 on practice tests and end up with a 700+ on the actual GMAT, or vice versa. In short, no matter what your practice score is, don’t let it affect your prep.

The GMAT is like cricket – it’s a game of glorious uncertainties and you never know the result till the last ball is bowled!

Next up, we talk about the kinds of practice tests you should be taking.

5. Keep it Official!

Did you know that the GMAC spends close to $2000 to create a single question on the GMAT?

There’s no way any test prep company could do anything close to that!

Besides, in a conversation between our founder Arun Jagannathan and Dr. Larry Rudner, who has served as the VP of GMAC Research and chief psychometrician of the GMAT, we found out that even what we know of the test now, such as the number of experimental questions used, could be wrong.

None of the practice tests available on the internet come close to simulating the algorithm and question elegance of the real GMAT test. The only ones that can do so are the official GMAT practice tests provided by the GMAC.

However, there are only 6 such tests available.

That’s another reason why we recommend that you solve practice questions from official sources first and then go on to intelligently use the 6 available official GMAT practice tests.

By ‘intelligently’ use these tests, we don’t mean ‘save them all for the end’.

We’ve observed that most test-takers don’t take the official GMAT prep tests until the very end because they want to save the best for the last. The problem with this approach is that your prep will end up being guided by tests that don’t adequately reflect the GMAT.

That way, there’s a chance you may not be prepared for how the real GMAT test at all!

Isn’t that scary?!

Sure is, to us! The best way to avoid that is to pace out and plan your prep in a way that incorporates the official GMAT practice tests from time to time.

One thing you can do to make up for the lack of unlimited official tests is to solve GMAT prep questions on online forums. CrackVerbal students get a personal copy of a composite Question Bank with about 2000 questions from previous GMAT tests!

So, if you are one – don’t worry, just stick to the study plan we have made for you!

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please let us know in the comment section below.

Head over to our free GMAT Resource Library for more useful information on how to achieve an awesome GMAT score!

How to Target A Good GMAT Score

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The GMAT is usually taken by those who are frustrated with their careers.

Relax, we’re kidding!

Only a few of those who take the GMAT are frustrated. 😛

Seriously speaking, though, the GMAT is the first step on an MBA journey. Most of the time, people go in for MBAs either to facilitate lateral movement from one career to another or vertical movement within their existing careers.

In simple words, they either want to do something other than their existing jobs or they want to get promoted and make more money.

An MBA is the surest way to ensure a smooth transition no matter which direction you want your career to move in. But an MBA from just about any random college isn’t going to cut it. You need to get into a reputed B-School for your MBA to really get you what you want.

To get into one of those, you need a good GMAT score. And that brings us straight to the topic we’ll be discussing in this article.

  1. What is a good GMAT score?
  2. How do I fix my target GMAT score?
  3. What if I want to aim higher?

Let’s try to answer each of them, one at a time.

1. What is a Good GMAT Score?

We’re always told we can only hope to get into the best B-Schools in th world if we have a good GMAT score. What nobody talks about is what a ‘good GMAT score’ actually is.

In our opinion, most of the time, this is a highly subjective question.

For someone who wants to go to, let’s say, Durham University Business School in the UK, 580 is a pretty good GMAT score.

For someone aiming for Stanford or Wharton, that’s a disastrous score.

In essence, the answer to this question depends on the answer to another one:

Which B-Schools do you want to get into?

Only when you know where you want to go can you figure out what it takes to get there. So, get on with your research!

Look up the top one-year MBA programs in the US, across Europe, even take a look at two-year full-time MBA programs around the world.

Figure out whether you want to do a one-year or a two-year MBA program. See if you can decide what specialization you want to take up, too.

Basically, get a good idea of which MBA programs you’d like to be a part of. Don’t let GMAT cutoffs or academic requirements faze you at this point. That will come later. For now, all we’re looking for is your dream course with no real-world limitations.

Once you have a list of such courses, draw up an average of all their average GMAT scores.

That is what you can consider as a good GMAT score for yourself.

Next, let’s talk about your target GMAT score.


2. How do I Fix My Target GMAT Score?

You’ll have to get through a few steps to arrive at this. Here’s what you need to know:

a. Difference between ‘Good Score’ and ‘Target Score’

First and foremost, understand that there’s a very important difference between a good GMAT score for you and your target GMAT score.

Here’s the thing:

There’s likely to be a mismatch between your capacities and your expectations from yourself. Sometimes, the score you want and the score you can realistically aim for are quite different from each other.

The first point about identifying a ‘good GMAT score’ was aimed at getting an idea of what it will take to get what you want.

This point is about figuring out the best that you can realistically expect from yourself and seeing if there is a difference between the two.


b. Using Official Mock GMAT Tests

Official GMAT mock tests provide the best and most reliable way for you to figure out the final score you can expect. The official mock tests use the same patented adaptive scoring algorithm as the actual GMAT.

So, the scores you get on the official mock tests are a very good indication of what you can expect on the actual GMAT.

Remember, however, that you don’t need to prepare before taking your first official mock GMAT test. The first test serves as a diagnostic device. Don’t take it as an exam; instead, take it as a quiz to help you figure out where you stand.

It’s important not to prepare before taking your first mock GMAT. When you’re unprepared, the score you get is your baseline. If you have a clear baseline, you’re in a good position to measure the amount of effort it takes for you to improve your score.

Information like that is critical to your goal-setting process. The only way to honestly decide how far you can go is to first know what it takes to go that distance. 


c. Take Help!

Typically, it helps massively to have a mentor or a third person do this target-setting with you.

Here’s why:

If there’s a big difference between your ‘good GMAT score’ and what you scored on your diagnostic test, two things may happen. One, ambition can mislead you pretty seriously. But the second is probably worse – you may get completely demotivated.

This is where a third person who understands your potential comes into the picture. They can keep you from flying too high as well as from sinking too low.

Having such a neutral third person in the picture helps balance your plans out. Actually, that’s why you need to be very careful when you select a mentor.

You need to ensure that they provide a neutral perspective and not one loaded with bias. In most cases, such a bias will be inevitable if you pick someone close to you.

So, ideally, choose a mentor who isn’t very close. Consider going in for a professional mentor who has experience with this kind of thing.

Professional mentors are great at gauging what they need to know about your abilities. Plus, they know what B-Schools look for. Thanks to this, they can factor in multiple aspects when they weigh in on your decision-making process.

In any case, the point is, don’t try to do this alone.

These three points will be quite enough to help you figure out what your personal target GMAT score should be.

Now, we understand that often, the target score you get through this method means you won’t get into the B-Schools you want to go to. It’s not easy to just accept that; you’ll most probably want to do something about it. That brings us to the next part of this article.


3. What if I Want to Aim Higher?

Well, first of all, let us assure you, it’s great to want more than what you can achieve. Ultimately, that’s what pushes us to grow and develop as people.

However, in this case, you need to find a balance between practicality and ambition.

If you have a very strong gut feeling that you can reach higher than the target you’ve set for yourself, trust your gut. But don’t change that target just yet.

Here’s what you can do instead:

Give yourself whatever you think you will need to surpass the target you’ve set. Don’t just study hard, learn to use tips and tricks to game the GMAT as well. This can save you a lot of effort.

Remember, the GMAT is not a test of how much you can mug up and remember, it’s a test of how well you can use what you know. Train your mind to focus on executing the stuff you already know, especially when it comes to GMAT Quant.

Suppose the target you got through the process in Step 2 of this article was 650, and you want to aim for 680 instead.

Approach the second mock test as if it were the actual GMAT itself. Give it literally everything you’ve got, and try your best to score 680.

Here’s what happens if you manage to pull that off:

Nobody can question whether or not you can get a 680 on the GMAT. More importantly, it will tell you whether or not you can go any higher.

Know this – once you’ve given your all to achieve a higher target, you’ll have absolute clarity on what you can actually do and what you can’t.

Take a call on whether you want to raise your target GMAT score or not based on this experience.


To Sum Up…

At the end of the day, remember that your MBA journey is entirely about you. Everything along the way should be personalized to your needs and abilities.

To make the best of all the resources at your disposal, make sure you have a strong handle on the direction you want to take. Getting an MBA is nothing but investing in self-development and a good GMAT score is your ticket to a respectable MBA.

Just remember to give it your best without holding back and the returns will be plentiful, too!

Do let us know if your thoughts, queries, and feedback in the comments section below.

  • March, 27th, 2019
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8 Solid Ways To Get A 50-51 Raw Score In GMAT Quant

Improve Your GMAT Quant Score
Reading Time: 12 minutes

At the outset, be warned that this article on improving GMAT Quant score may make sense only if you are already scoring at the 45 raw score level in GMAT Quant.

Many of the top MBA programs are unapologetically quant-driven. Whether you are pursuing a career in consulting, marketing, or finance, what you’re walking into is a world of big data and statistics.

A world like that requires solid quant skills, no matter what role you end up taking. 

The good news is that if you are willing to properly prepare for the quant section of the GMAT, using the best materials and following a strategic plan of study, you can earn an impressive GMAT quant score.

In this article, we will show you how to improve your GMAT Quant score to a 50-51 using these methods:

  1. Get Your Basics Sorted
  2. Learn to Use Numbers Effectively
  3. Do Not Jump to Conclusions
  4. Identify Simpler Solutions
  5. Use Logic Over Math (Especially on Hard Questions)
  6. Do Not Depend Only on the OG
  7. Never be Rigid with Techniques
  8. Master Data Sufficiency

If you have not yet taken a full-length test, it might be a good idea to take the official GMAT prep test now.

Let us first try and understand how the scores on the quant section have changed over time. These GMAT score charts should give you an idea about the correlation between raw scores and percentiles on the GMAT quant section for July 2016 and December 2018. (Source:

Sample Size: 761738
Standard Deviation: 10.53
Date Period: Dec 2018

Sample Size: 794601
Standard Deviation: 11.00
Date Period: July 2016

Notice that a scaled score of 49 now corresponds to a 74th percentile as compared to a 79th percentile in 2016.

So, what exactly does this tell us?

The simple answer is this:

More people are getting perfect or near perfect scores.

In fact, the way that the GMAT quant percentiles are now, there is no 99th percentile. You can only get to the 96th percentile, at the most. This is because a full three percent of GMAT test takers are ringing up a perfect quant score.

Why are people doing better?

It has to do with the shifting demographics of GMAT test takers. People from countries that tend to provide a better math education than the US have been taking the GMAT in much greater numbers, making the GMAT percentiles (on the Quant side) much more competitive.

Typically, Indians score anywhere between 45 and 51 in Quant. This is partly because most Indians who take the GMAT have an undergraduate engineering background, and partly because the Indian education system does require better-than-global-average skills in mathematics.

However, this scale of 45 – 51 has a huge deviation in percentiles.

A 45 yields a measly 55 percentile while just 6 more raw points ahead, a 51 sits at a comfortable 96%ile (the maximum you can score on the quant section). Although the difference in raw scores is small, the real difference in terms of percentiles is huge.

So, if you are at a 46/47, don’t assume that scaling the 50 – 51 mountain is easy. If you are an Indian IT Engineer, there is a possibility that Quant could end up being a bigger problem for you than Verbal.

In any case, here are eight specific suggestions that you can start using to improve GMAT Quant scores.

1. Get Your Basics Sorted

The GMAT tests you on high-school math.

Yeah, you read that right.

The GMAT assumes that you understand certain concepts and use them as the basis of reasoning to solve the Quant questions. Since this is predominantly a reasoning-based test, a lot of emphasis needs to be laid on getting your basic understanding of concepts in place. 

Way too many people fuss about learning advanced concepts without investing sufficient time into getting the basic concepts right.

Mastering math, especially the math tested on GMAT quant, requires that you take a linear, systematic approach towards developing your knowledge and skills. If you skip to the hard stuff, it will be challenging for you to develop a strong command of the material.

Try this GMAT sample question:

A set of 15 different integers has a median of 25 and a range of 25. What is the greatest possible integer that could be in this set?

  1. 32
  2. 37 
  3. 40 
  4. 43 
  5. 50

If you caught yourself saying “Uh-oh, I forgot to brush up on my basic statistics concepts”, you are in trouble on the GMAT!

Ensure that you know the basics like Pythagorean triplets ((3,4,5); (5,12,13) ;(7,24,25)), Percentage to Proportion (1/8 = 12.5%), basics of numbers… you get the hint. 

By the way, if you’re wondering what the answer is – it is 43.

2. Learn to Use Numbers Effectively

One thing you have to realize is this:

In GMAT Quant, the difference between the guy scoring 45 and the one scoring 51 is NOT that the latter knows more formulae.

It’s just that the 51 scorer is better at “hacking” his way through the test.

Remember, the GMAT does not worry about ‘how’ you get to the answer, but ‘if’ you get to it.

Try this GMAT sample question:

The number 75 can be written as the sum of the squares of 3 different positive integers. What is the sum of these 3 integers?

  1. 17
  2. 16
  3. 15
  4. 14
  5. 13

Is there really any formula you can apply here?

It’s about how your brain is going to pick the right values and “hack” its way to the answer. The better you can prepare your brain to do that, the better your GMAT Quant scores will be!

So here’s how you hack your way through this one: 

Begin by plugging in values on the number line (especially for inequalities).

The standard values are a large negative number, a large positive number, -1, +1, a negative fraction between 0 and -1, a positive fraction between 0 and +1, and the number 0 itself.

The question here is a classic case – the square of 9 is 81, so you know the numbers should be a number between 1 and 8.

Next, quickly write down the squares 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, and 64.

Now, start playing with the numbers. You know it has to be one large plus one small number, so keep adding any two values (1 and 64, 4 and 49, etc.) and subtract it from 75 to see if it fits any remaining value.

Soon enough, you’ll realize that the numbers are 1, 49, and 25, i.e. 1, 7, and 5 = 13. 

While practicing, try to get the answer within two minutes. Then try it without time-limits.

If you arrive at an answer, check the explanation to see if you are right. If you are wrong, then without looking at the solution, take a stab at solving the same question again – repeat the above loop.

Exercising your brain this way can be a lot of fun! No, seriously, just try it!

3. Do Not Jump to Conclusions 

“How many questions can I afford to answer incorrectly if I am targeting a score of 50/51 in Quant?”

This has always been, and will always be, a question that students toy with at some stage of their quant prep. 

Here’s why that is a bad idea altogether:

The quant section has a total of 31 questions, 3 of which are experimental and do not contribute to your overall quant score. You will not know which ones the experimental questions are. Your score depends on getting the remaining 28 right.

Check out this blog on the GMAT Enhanced Score Report to know how this scoring thing works.

If you go by the logic of allowing yourself to make mistakes, you will never know which side of the fence you’ll land up on.
If you get 3 questions wrong and none of them are experimental, you can kiss your perfect quant score goodbye. 

To get a 51, a test taker can only afford a maximum of 1-2 errors and to get a 50, a maximum of 3-4 errors. This means that careless errors are going to adversely affect your score.

Remember, the test maker is always trying to get one up on you. Questions (and answer choices) are designed specifically to trip you up.

Here is an example of a relatively simple GMAT question. Try solving it.

The sales tax on an item is 8%. If sales tax had been only 5% Ben would have paid $12 less sales tax. What was the total amount that Ben paid for the purchase

  1. 368
  2. 380 
  3. 400 
  4. 420 
  5. 432

Now if on solving you got an answer of 400 and picked C, then you fell into a very well-laid trap.

Notice that the question does not ask us for the price of the item (which is 400). It asks us for the TOTAL AMOUNT that Ben paid for the purchase. The total amount will be the price of the item plus the sales tax (8% of 400 = 32).

The correct answer here is E.

On an adaptive test like the GMAT, making silly mistakes on problems that you should get right can have a devastating effect on your score. Not only do you get that question wrong, but now you’re being served easier questions subsequent to that, with an even more heightened necessity of avoiding silly mistakes there.

So, make it a point to notice the mistakes you make on practice tests so that you’re careful not to make them again. Particularly under time pressure in a high-stress environment, we’re all susceptible to making mistakes.

4. Identify Simpler Solutions

Every GMAT quant question has a certain finesse to it, a finesse that is engineered by the test-maker.

So, when preparing for the GMAT quant section, you must learn to think like the test-maker. Even when you are correct, spend time trying to understand if you could have done a problem faster.

Let us start explaining this concept with a GMATPrep question. 

Take around two minutes to solve this one. 

According to the directions on a can of frozen orange juice concentrate, 1 can of concentrate is to be mixed with 3 cans of water to make an orange juice. How many 12-ounce cans of concentrate are required to prepare 200 6-ounce servings of orange juice?

  1. 25 
  2. 34 
  3. 50 
  4. 67 
  5. 100 

Take the ratio as 1:4 (concentrate: juice) and ask yourself how many 12-ounce cans of concentrate you would need to make 100 12-ounce servings of the juice. The answer is 25!

However, the same question can be convoluted if you take a ratio of concentrate to water instead of concentrate to juice or start converting everything into a single unit (ounce). Be careful of overcomplicating solutions.

5. Use Logic Over Math (Especially on Hard Questions)

One of the themes we always stress is that the GMAT Quant section is not, primarily, a math test.

Though math is certainly involved – How could it not be? – logic and reasoning are far more important factors than the conventional mathematical facility.

This is particularly true on harder questions on the test. Learn to hone your reasoning skills and always be on the lookout of critical pieces of information that you can leverage to make your working simpler.

Try this hard GMAT sample question:

In a certain class, 1/5th of the boys are shorter than the shortest girl in the class, and 1/3rd of the girls are taller than the tallest boy in the class. If there are 16 students in the class and no two people have the same height, what percent of the students are taller than the shortest girl and shorter than the tallest boy?

  1. 25% 
  2. 50% 
  3. 62.5% 
  4. 67.5% 
  5. 75%

A large percentage of test-takers see this question, rub their hands together, and dive into the algebra.

But here’s the thing: 

Even if you were fortunate enough to possess the algebraic virtuosity to solve this question using algebra, you’d likely chew up 3 or 4 minutes.

The best way to solve this question, instead, is to leverage the information the question stem provides.

1/5th of the boys are shorter than the shortest girl. Now, common sense tells you that the number of boys must be a multiple of 5. So, the number of boys can be 5, 10 or 15. 

1/3rd of the girls are taller than the tallest boy in the class, so the number of girls needs to be a multiple of 3. By that logic, the number of girls can be 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15. 

Since there are 16 students in total, we can easily conclude that there must be 10 boys and 6 girls. Beyond this, the question just deals with a basic percentage concept.

If you are wondering about the answer to the question – it is 62.5%. 

Important Note: For those who answered 75%, you fell for the trap of not understanding what the question asks you. The question here reads, how many students are BETWEEN the shortest girl and the tallest boy. So, the number of students in between will be 10 and not 12.

6. Do Not Depend Only on the OG

Don’t rely only on the Official Guide.

As awesome a source as the OG is, it still caters to people in the middle of the bell curve, i.e., those who get around 40-44 as a GMAT quant raw score.

If you are gunning for a raw score of 51, you should be looking at GMATPrep questions available freely online from various sources. Try your hand at these threads on GMATClub for both PS and DS problems from the GMATPrep tests.

CrackVerbal students get a curated compilation of GMATPrep questions put together by our team (of course!)

Ensure that you take the GMATPrep tests a minimum of three to four times before you start practicing these questions; otherwise, you will get inflated and unreliable scores. 

Another downside to relying on the official guide is this:

The explanations that accompany the questions tend to be biased towards algebraic solutions.

Before you begin to wonder what’s wrong with using algebra to solve an algebraic question, give us a moment to explain. 

Quite often on the GMAT, using pure algebra takes longer than you have to solve a given question. In general, the GMAT is a test of your intelligence, not your knowledge. This means that the test is trying to evaluate how smart you are, not how much you know. 

Thanks to this, although the given algebraic solutions are always technically correct, they present suboptimal ways to solve the question. 

That’s why we offer this important piece of advice: 

Never take a formal solution to a problem at face value. All you’re seeing is one way to solve a given question, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only (or the best) way there is. 

The best workaround in this situation is to review the questions on GMATClub or on the CrackVerbal forum and take notes about alternate approaches used to solve the question.

7. Never be Rigid with Techniques

The whole point of reviewing questions using GMATClub or the CrackVerbal forum is to bring to light new techniques that can help you solve questions faster. 

Let’s take a sample question and review the various methods we can use to solve it: 

If |4x − 4| = |2x + 30|, which of the following could be a value of x? 

  1. -35/3
  2. -21/2
  3. -13/3
  4. 11/5
  5. 47/5

As far as we can see, this question can be solved using 3 methods. 

The first method is to use pure algebra: create 4 different equations and solve every one of them to get the solution.

Clearly, this method is tedious. 

So we look for an easier way, which is to use the “plug-in” method. Here, you have the absolute value equation with the potential values of x given in the answer choices, but the values of x that are given are all fractional, making this method tedious as well.

A third, faster method is to be aware that |x| = √x^2.

The above equation can be written as √(4x – 4)^2 = √(2x + 30)^2. Squaring both sides gives us (4x – 4)^2 = (2x + 30)^2. If we take the term (2x + 30)^2 to the left-hand side, we have an equation of the form a^2 – b^2 which can easily be broken down to (a + b) (a – b). If we solve this, we get x = -13/3 and x = 17.

So, the answer to the question is option C, x = -13/3. 

Make it a point to take notes of these techniques and try putting them to practice on different questions. 

Here’s a great resource to similar techniques that can be used on Inequalities and Absolute Values.

8. Master Data Sufficiency

Data Sufficiency questions generally make up just under half of the questions in GMAT quant. Since there are 31 questions in the Quant section, about 14/15 of them will be data sufficiency questions

Simply put, the DS section of the GMAT is different. 

It’s different because you aren’t trying to solve for one answer. Instead, your goal is to test for sufficiency. That means you’re trying to determine whether you’ve been provided enough information to definitively answer the question stem. 

Since you are not required to get down and dirty with the math, these questions are time savers. 

But, on the flip side, since this question type relies heavily on reasoning, the chances of getting the logic wrong and falling for well-laid traps is high. It is important that you master this question type if you want to improve your GMAT quant score. 

Here are a few points that will help you approach DS questions better: 

  • Write out all the important information in the question stem, whether it be certain constraints (integer, pos/neg etc.), equations, or the actual question. This helps avoid silly mistakes.
  • Always break down and rephrase any equations, inequalities, fractions etc. For example, try to write expressions with exponents in such a way that all the bases are the same, or whenever you see a sum with a root contained in it, try to multiply by its conjugate.
  • Always translate word problems on DS into an algebraic equation. There will most likely be an opportunity to break this equation down further and rephrase the question. This skill is key as it saves time in computing the two statements.
  • Never try to prove a statement to be sufficient. Always try to prove insufficiency. Being a contrarian on DS questions will help you avoid well-laid traps.
  • Never make assumptions. On most questions where there aren’t any constraints given, people sometimes still assume that there is some constraint and thus only test integer cases. By really paying attention to what is given and what is NOT given, you can find the correct answer on a lot of questions.
  • Never eliminate a statement just because you ‘feel’ the statement is insufficient. This is a very common DS trap. Especially with quadratic expressions, people assume the data is insufficient since they can’t find a single solution. This is a big mistake. Always finish your calculation, because you don’t want to spend a lot of time on a question and end up being wrong just because you skipped the last step(s) of the calculation.
  • In questions where you are forced to work with numbers, always test numbers systematically. Test for 0, positive and negative integers and positive and negative fractions. On some occasions, it’s also crucial to pick boundary values, for e.g. if a question asks whether x is less than or equal to 1 and a statement gives you x² less than or equal to 1.3, you can pick x=1.1 to prove insufficiency.

We hope you have found this blog useful to improve your GMAT quant score. Do let us know what you think in the comments section below!

How to Use GMAT Score Charts to Understand Your Score

How to Calculate GMAT Score
Reading Time: 9 minutes

The GMAT test is competitive – but what does that mean for you, as a test-taker?

As a GMAT test-taker, you cannot fail because the GMAT is competitive. You get a certain score, which can be anywhere between 200 and 800.

Here’s the fun part:

If you deliberately answer every question wrong, you will still get a 200 on the GMAT. There’s no such thing as ‘failing’!

But you probably already knew that… You probably also know that you can get a score that is pretty much the equivalent of failing. If you don’t know or understand how percentiles work, you will have trouble figuring out how to evaluate your performance on the GMAT.

If you have just done a practice test and are trying to figure out whether you’re ready to take the actual GMAT test, you’re in the right place.

In fact, you’re in the right place even if you’ve just taken the test and are sitting with your raw scores trying to figure out how to calculate your GMAT composite score.

(Also, for the uninitiated – the final GMAT score is called the GMAT composite score.)

So, this article is going to help you address all of the following:

  1. How did I do on the GMAT?
  2. How to calculate GMAT scores
  3. GMAT Scoring: Official Mock Tests
  4. Changes in Percentile
  5. Comparing percentiles between exams

How did I do on the GMAT?

So, first things first – how do you figure out whether your GMAT test score is good or bad?

It’s both simple and a little bit complicated, depending on how well-versed you are with percentiles and GMAT score charts. But let’s break down the GMAT scoring mechanism and understand what we’re dealing with first.

Your GMAT result typically consists of four scores corresponding to the four sections of the GMAT test – Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), and Verbal Reasoning (Verbal).

The GMAT is designed to function on an adaptive scoring algorithm. This algorithm puts your raw scores together and computes a final score which isn’t simply an addition of the parts.

In fact, the scales for these parts and the composite score are totally different.

GMAT AWA scores range from 1 to 5, IR from 0 to 8, and neither of these affects your final score since both these scores are not included in that calculation. This does not mean AWA and IR scores don’t matter. They do. They’re just not included in your final GMAT score, that’s all. Your Quant and Verbal scores can range between 6 and 51 each.

But your final GMAT test score falls between 200 and 800.

If you’d like to understand more about how this scoring mechanism works, you can read our blog about the GMAT scoring algorithm.

Even if you score a 750, it holds no value in isolation.

You will need a score chart to make sense of your GMAT composite score because your performance won’t be considered stellar if a lot of people have also scored 750. For the same reason, you’ll need a score chart to make sense of your Quant and Verbal scores, too.

A GMAT score chart gives you a sense of where you stand in comparison to everyone else who took the exam over the three years immediately before you took the exam yourself.

To get this, you will need to have your individual and composite GMAT scores. This conveniently brings us to the next section of this article.

How to calculate your GMAT score

How to calculate your GMAT score

There are many mock GMAT tests available on the internet. None of them will be good enough to help you figure out what your real GMAT score will look like.

As mentioned before, the GMAC uses a very specific adaptive algorithm to administer real GMAT tests. What this means is rather simple – there are experimental questions strewn throughout your test and your answer to each question determines the difficulty level of the next question you’re asked. The marks for each answer depend on the difficulty level of the question.

You cannot see the level of the questions you’re answering, so you honestly have no way of knowing what score to expect while taking the exam.

If you have taken any of the official mock tests available on, you will know this feeling. You breeze through an entire test and feel like you did really damn well, but then you get a super disappointing score and you cannot figure out why.

Blame that algorithm.

To get a GMAT score that is close to accurate, you need to take an official mock test.

There is no unofficial mock test on the internet that can simulate the way the actual GMAT works. So, if you have scores from any of the unofficial tests, rest assured that there will be a significant difference between those and what you’ll get on official tests.

We know that only offers a limited number of tests, so we are not recommending that you only take official mock GMAT tests.

Feel free to take as many mock tests as you like. Just make sure you don’t rely on the scores you may get on any of those unless they’re official mock tests.

You won’t need to go through this first step if you took the official mock GMAT because you’ll receive your composite score along with the break-up at the end of an official mock test.

If you only have your raw GMAT Verbal and GMAT Quantitative scores, this step is for you. Use the following chart to find what your composite score may look like.

To reiterate – this score is not entirely reliable. However, it will do for now.

The scores you calculate in this manner are only a rough indication of where you may stand. Your composite score on the actual GMAT test can vary by +/- 40 or 50 points from what you’re getting through this chart.

This doesn’t mean that you will get a different composite score for the same Quant and Verbal raw scores.

Your raw scores themselves are likely to be drastically different when you’re taking the actual GMAT or even the official mock tests. That’s why we recommend that you take the official mock tests available on and rely only on those scores.

The official mock tests available on the GMAC website make use of the same algorithm that is used in the actual GMAT.

This means the scores you get from these tests are the closest and most accurate representations of what you can expect to get when you take the actual GMAT test. That’s what makes them reliable scores.

However, only provides a finite number of mock tests, which means you need to use these tests sparingly.

In any case, now that you have your composite and sectional scores, let’s move on to discussing a few interesting facts about GMAT scoring on official mocks.

GMAT Scoring on Official Mock Tests

There are a couple of things about the official mock tests that puzzle many GMAT test takers:

Is the highest Verbal and Quant score 60 or 51?

Can you score higher than 51 in GMAT Verbal and Quant?

Why is the scale up to 60 if you can’t score more than 51?!

Admittedly, all these are pertinent questions. But here’s the thing:

You need to focus on what matters to you, so there’s no point getting into the nitty-gritty of everything. What you need to know is that the highest possible score on Verbal and Quant is 51 each.

Even if you answer every single question correctly in both sections, your score will not cross 51 in either one of the sections.

Most of all, if you get a Q51 V51 score, your GMAT composite score will be 800.

For curiosity’s sake, though, let’s consider for a moment the nine points between 51 and 60, even though we know it’s impossible to score these points.

A large number of test-takers are now scoring higher on the GMAT than before. The GMAC, the authority that conducts the GMAT, has offered a set of explanations as to why that is happening, but in any case, the GMAC will most likely have to take steps to pull down the average score.

The general speculation is that if using the current scale (highest score being 51) becomes too top-heavy, meaning if too many people consistently score higher on the GMAT test, the GMAC may open the range up from 51 and allow Quant and Verbal scores up to 60 each.

However, this is only speculation. While it is good to stay informed, it’s important not to let this information cloud your judgment.

As long as the scoring system remains the way it currently is in 2019, your target score need not change.

Rising Percentiles and GMAT Scoring

You may have seen that the scale of scores for GMAT Verbal and Quant are 0-60 for both, yet nobody can score above 51. So, what’s the point of having 9 unattainable points?!

Here’s what:

GMAT percentiles are showing an upward trend. This means more and more test-takers are scoring 700+ on the GMAT, so the percentiles for scores 700 and above are rapidly rising.

The problem with this is simple.

The greater the number of people scoring above 700, the lesser the value of their scores becomes because the GMAT works on percentiles.

The GMAT is a competitive test meant to help B-Schools identify the crème-de-la-crème of the MBA aspirants who take the test. If everyone begins to score exceedingly well, it becomes problematic because the score is then no longer helping to narrow down the pool of applicants.

What the GMAC says about this is worth considering:

The Graduate Management Admission Council, which conducts the GMAT, has released a statement claiming that the rise in scores is not due to students performing better, but due to changes in the exam pattern.

At first, this doesn’t sound very logical – but bear with us.

The two changes in the exam pattern are the introduction of Select Section Order and Score Cancelling.

Here’s how that might be impacting GMAT scores:

The introduction of Section Order Selection enables test-takers to change the way they approach the exam entirely. As a test-taker, you can now choose which section to attempt first. Most test-takers attempt the easier sections first and leave a larger chunk of time to tackle the remainder of the exam.

Naturally, this has test-takers performing better – not because they’re getting better at answering the questions asked, but because they’re able to structure their exam in a way that they prefer to take it.

This implies that a 760 scorer may not score a 760 if they were to take the test according to the old pattern of IR & AWA > Verbal > Quant.

Doesn’t that seem logical? Sure does, to us!

Unfortunately, though, this explanation doesn’t help one bit. It still leaves us with the fact that scores are going up and percentiles are on the rise.

It is not possible to identify those who scored better only due to Section Order Selection and separate them from those who would’ve scored what they did irrespective of the order of sections.

The second factor that the GMAC referred to is test-takers’ ability to self-cancel scores.

This explanation actually makes a lot of sense. What the GMAC says is this:

Test-takers now have the ability to cancel their scores, which inevitably leaves us with a collection of scores that are higher. The average of scores that is counted is no longer based on the scores of all GMAT tests taken because a vast majority of the lower end of scores is being canceled by test-takers around the world.

It’s no surprise then that we’re seeing the average score go up.

It isn’t because everyone is scoring better, it’s because those who score low marks are canceling their scores.

Now for the final part of understanding and using GMAT score charts- score comparison.

GMAT Score Chart – Percentiles


If you have your GMAT Composite Score, you can use the following chart to find out what percentile you fall in.


To find out your percentile ranking in the individual sections – Quant and Verbal – you can refer to the following two charts respectively.

Comparing Percentile Scores

It is lost on many Indian test-takers that you cannot compare your scores across exams simply because you’re considering percentiles.

The percentile system does not work like percentages.

In fact, the differences between percentage and percentile are huge.

When you say you have scored 90% marks, what you mean is that you got 90% out of the sum total marks that were available. The picture is entirely different when you say you are in the 90th percentile.

Percentile is not an indication of your score at all. It is an indication of the competitive value of your score. This means that your percentile rank is calculated based on how many test-takers have scored the same as or worse than you.

So, when you have scored 90%, it may or may not be a big deal based on whether other people have scored similar marks. However, when you stand in the 90th percentile, you know for certain than 90% of the other test-takers have scored less than or equal to you.

The first lesson here is never to compare percentage against percentile; they’re worlds apart.

Now even if you’re comparing percentile against percentile, there’s a bunch of factors to consider.

First among these factors is the audience of the test.

For example, you cannot compare a global exam to a national exam, like the GMAT and the CAT.

This is the most common mistake people make when comparing GMAT vs CAT scores:

People assume that the percentiles on the GMAT and CAT are comparable when they cannot be so, by definition. This is because the set of competitors your score is compared against in the GMAT is global, whereas in the CAT it is national.

Being in the 80th percentile for GMAT verbal is not the same as being in the 80th percentile on CAT verbal. On the GMAT, your percentile shows your score in comparison to the entire world. On the CAT, your score is only compared to that of other Indians.

Clearly, a higher percentile on the GMAT is significantly more valuable than the same percentile on the CAT.

So, the lesson to learn from this is that scores cannot be compared simply because they’re in percentile form. Multiple parameters that go into the calculation of these scores should be comparable for the score comparison to make sense.

  • March, 11th, 2019
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All You Need to Know About the New GMAT Test Pattern of 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

On 3rd, April 2018, GMAC announced some major changes to the GMAT test timing and to the number of questions you’re going to be having in both Quant and Verbal.

The new GMAT exam will be shorter by 30 minutes from April 16th, 2018.

In this article, we will answer all of these questions in detail:

  1. Why has GMAC made this change?
  2. Which questions have reduced in the Quant and/or Verbal sections?
  3. What is the best time strategy to use on the new GMAT test pattern?
  4. Should you change your GMAT test prep strategy for the new GMAT test pattern?
  5. Is the GMAT test pattern change good or bad for test-takers?

But first, here is a quick overview of the changes:

  1. The GMAT exam will now be 3.5 hours instead of 4 hours, including breaks and instructions.
  2. The 4 sections (IR, AWA, Verbal & Quant) remain the same.
  3. The section selection order continues to be there.
  4. The GMAT quant questions have been reduced from 37 to 31 and the time allocated to the Quant section been reduced from 75 minutes to 62 minutes. You get 2 minutes per question.
  5. The GMAT verbal questions have been reduced from 41 to 36 and the time allocated has been reduced from 75 minutes to 65 minutes. In terms of the timing, you still have the same 108 seconds per question.

In total, you have barely 127 minutes to complete both sections, Quant as well as Verbal, while you would’ve had 150 minutes for the same earlier.

1. Why has GMAC made this change?

You probably already know that the old GMAT Verbal section had 11 experimental questions out of a total of 41 questions. In the new GMAT test pattern, the verbal section only has 6 experimental questions instead of 11.

Similarly, in the GMAT Quant section, the number of experimental questions has been reduced from 9 to 3.

So, the total number of questions that are counted in the calculation of your actual GMAT score remains the same. The only actual change is in the total number of questions you have to answer, including the experimental questions.

We think there could be a couple of reasons behind the reduction of experimental questions in the GMAT:

  1. Reduced Attention Span of Test Takers
    The GMAT is a rigorous and mentally taxing test. A lot of test-takers find it very hard to maintain consistent levels of attention throughout the test.

    The average attention span of younger generations is also consistently dropping, which essentially means that even the smartest minds taking the GMAT are likely to get fatigued faster. A fatigued mind is unlikely to perform at its best.

    So, we believe that the GMAC may have decided to reduce the number of questions and the time taken to complete the test in an attempt to help test-takers fight mental fatigue and to do their best.

    If you compare the GMAT test pattern to the GRE test pattern, the time taken per section is the most obvious difference that stands out.

    You would take 30-35 minutes to solve each section on the GRE. So, even though there are more sections on the GRE, you can keep the fatigue at bay by taking breaks between sections. On the GMAT, however, you only have two sections which took 70-75 minutes earlier but will take 60-65 minutes due to this GMAT test pattern change.


  3. Better calibration of GMAT algorithm
    The GMAC has been conducting the GMAT for many years now, which means they must have HUGE data sets regarding solving patterns.

    The point of experimental questions is to identify where the test-taker stands and to determine the difficulty level of the questions that come after experimental questions. Since the GMAC already has a large amount of data that can help the algorithm figure out the test-taker’s aptitude, there’s a chance that they no longer need to have so many experimental questions.

    This basically means that the GMAT scoring algorithm has also gotten smarter, and hence, requires fewer experimental questions than before.

2. What types of questions have reduced in the new GMAT test pattern?

As mentioned before, the total number of questions on each section of the GMAT will be reduced according to the new pattern in both the Quant as well as Verbal sections. 

Even though the number of experimental questions will be reduced, in the Quant section, the ratio of problem-solving and data sufficiency questions would probably still be equal.

In the GMAT Verbal section, we believe the total of 36 questions is going to be there will be a split of 12 questions in sentence correction, 12 in critical reasoning and 12 in reading comprehension.

Instead of conventional 4 Reading comprehension passages, you’re probably going to get three reading comprehension passages. Which is one lesser RC passage to read!


3. What is the best time strategy to use on the new GMAT test pattern?

Well for Quant, instead if trying to manage the whole 62 minutes,

Try to break it into 4 parts:

So allocate 17 minutes for the first part and the subsequent 15 minutes each for the next 3 parts.

So basically you should be looking at solving 7 questions in the first 17 minutes and solve 8 questions each in the subsequent 15 minutes chunk.

Now for verbal, they way we suggest you split is 17 minutes for the first quarter, 16 minutes for the second, 16 minutes for the third and 16 minutes for the fourth

In the each of these quarters we recommend you solve at least nine questions each.

So 9 +9 + 9 + 9 = 36 questions & you are done with Verbal.

If you see the strategy is based on you spending slightly more time in the first quarter. Just because we feel that when you’re starting your test – there is going to be a little bit of inertia.

This strategy will give you that extra one or two minutes initially as opposed to the second, third and fourth quarter.


4. Should you change your prep strategy for the new GMAT test pattern?

There isn’t any change in the GMAT question format or content.

The only change is that the section time and the number of questions have been reduced proportionally while the average time per question still remains the same.

So there wouldn’t really be a need to make any specific changes to your GMAT test preparation strategy as exam content, average time per question, and scoring methodology remains the same.


5. Is the change in GMAT format good or bad for test-takers?

This is great news because now you don’t need to spend 75 minutes in verbal and 75 minutes in Quant.

There is a reduction.

Anyone who has taken the full-length test will know that your actual concentration starts dropping somewhere after the first hour.

So if the test itself is going to be of one hour.

Then you don’t really have to be worried about that part. So this is definitely good news for GMAT test takers.

If you have any questions then do let us know in the comment section.

  • March, 5th, 2019
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Everything You Need to Know About the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR) in 2019

Reading Time: 12 minutes

ESR – The acronym ESR stands for ‘Enhanced Score Report’. The ESR is a report which gives an in-depth analysis of a test taker’s performance on the GMAT. However, the ESR is not an alternative to the official score which a student receives on completion of the test. It can be used in conjunction with the official score report to obtain valuable insights into the performance of the aspirant.

The ESR is not generated automatically, like the official score report. A student has to subscribe for the ESR separately, by paying a prescribed fee, which is not included in the GMAT examination fee.
A student who wishes to subscribe to the ESR can do so by paying an additional fee of $30, over and above the $250 which he/she would have paid for taking up the GMAT.

In monetary terms, we feel that this is slightly unfair on the student who has already paid a substantial amount to take up the GMAT; we feel that the ESR should have been made a part of the official score report, so that the student could reap the benefits of the test fee that he/she has paid. However, since this is something which is neither under your control not ours, let us focus on the more important question which is –


Should you take the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)?

The answer is – YES.

Effective June 2018, GMAC has brought in some changes into the ESR report, which will let you extract more data than ever before, on your performance in the GMAT. Therefore, it is worth paying the additional $30 for the ESR, since it allows you to extract a lot of useful information about your performance in the GMAT, both at the macro and micro levels.

For someone who was not satisfied with his/her performance in the GMAT and wants to better it by taking the test again, the new ESR is just what the doctor ordered.

The ESR is now more informative than ever and interpreting it in detail will provide you answers to most of your questions on your performance, which otherwise would be mere surmises/predictions.


How to Interpret & analyze a GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)

Let us look at the different parameters about which the ESR can provide you information:

1. Overall score and percentile
2. Time management – overall
3. Section wise scores
a. Accuracy
b. Time management
c. Difficulty level
d. Sub section scores

1. Overall Score and percentile:

This parameter measures your performance in terms of your final score and the relevant percentiles, which you obtained in the four sections viz., IR, QA, VA and AWA. Essentially, the difference between the ESR and the official score report is that, the official score report only provides your scores in the VA and the QA sections.

The overall score of 650, corresponds to the 73rd percentile, which means that this student has scored more than 73 percent of the students who have taken the GMAT, in the past 3 years. Similarly, the IR score of 6 corresponds to the 70th percentile, the Verbal score of 31 corresponds to the 61st percentile and the Quant score of 48 corresponds to the 67th percentile.

To give you a perspective, an overall score between 740 to 750 corresponds to the 99th percentile; a score of 51 in Verbal corresponds to the 99th percentile and a score of 51 in Quant corresponds to the 97th percentile.

2. Time Management – Overall:



This statistic talks about, the mean time per question, taken by the student to answer questions in the respective sections.

For example, the sample ESR under consideration tells us that the student took

  • an average of 2 minutes 43 seconds to answer a question in the IR section;
  • an average of 1 minute 48 seconds in the Verbal section;
  • and an average of 1 minute 57 seconds in the Quant section.

This should not be mistaken to be the time taken by the student to answer every question, since the data talks about the AVERAGE time per question.

To offer a perspective, the average time per question in the different sections of the GMAT is as follows:

  • An average of 2 minutes 30 seconds per question in the IR section
  • An average of 1 minute 48 seconds per question in the Verbal section
  • An average of 2 minutes per question in the Verbal section

On comparing the ESR and the ideal times, it may be observed very clearly that the time management could have been better in the IR and the quant sections.


3. Section Wise Performance:

Here, the student can view his performance in the individual sections and perform a granular analysis of his performance, which will in turn help him/her to improve on his/her weak areas (this is especially relevant for aspirants who want to re-take the test in a shorter timeframe.)

Integrated Reasoning:

Let us have a look at the scores from the IR section:



The IR section has a total of 12 questions which have to be answered in 30 minutes. Out of the 12 questions, some are experimental questions.

From the above statistic, we can do some quick calculations and arrive at the breakup of the experimental and the non-experimental questions.

The percentage 67 percent can be applied only on numbers which are multiples of 3, because, 67% represents (2/3). Therefore, out of 12 questions, either 3 or 6 or 9 can be experimental questions. Since the score of the student is 6 and he has not answered all of his questions correct, we can conclude that the total number of non-experimental questions are 9 in number. Therefore, there were 3 experimental questions out of 12, in the IR section.


From this statistic, the student has clearly spent almost half a minute more on all the questions which he/she has answered incorrectly. This has done two things:

  • It has increased the average time taken per question by almost quarter of a minute (~ 15 seconds)
  • Had the student managed this time to improve his/her accuracy, he/she would have almost the same time for the last few questions which would have had a positive impact on the accuracy.

Verbal Section:

The new ESR provides lot more information than ever before, about the performance of the student in the Verbal and Quant sections. This is the strongest reason why we recommend the investment on the ESR, especially for test takers who are bordering on the 700 range and want to improve their scores in their next attempt.

Let us have a look at a sample and put together, the pieces of the puzzle:



The student’s score of 31 corresponds to the 61st percentile which means that the student has fared better than 61 percent of the people who took up the GMAT in the last 3 years.



The GMAT is a computer adaptive test – this means that the computer continuously adapts to your level of competence and delivers questions which will test you appropriately. Hence, the difficulty level of a particular question depends on how many questions the student has answered right till that point, and not only on the previous question.

Therefore, answering the first few questions right, sets the tone for you to achieve a higher plateau for your scores. But, unfortunately, the contrary is also true. If you answer your first set of questions wrong, then you are pulling your score down.

In the above statistic, it is very clear that the student has a higher proportion of wrong answers in the first quarter and hence his overall score has never risen up to where it could have been, if it was the other way round.



Now, this is one statistic that is going to give you a lot of insights into the Verbal section. First, let us try to understand the total number of non-experimental questions:

In the first quarter, the student has answered 25% of the questions incorrect. 25% is represented by ¼. Hence, the total number of questions on which this percentage can be applied has to be a multiple of 4 i.e. 4 or 8 or 12 and so on.


Quarter 1 9
Quarter 2 9
Quarter 3 9
Quarter 4 9


The Verbal section has 36 questions. As the graph itself says, each section in the graph represents approximately one quarter of the questions which means to say that each section represents 9 questions.

So, the number of non-experimental questions in this quarter is 8.

The percentage value of 43% is represented by 3/7. Hence, the number of non-experimental questions in the second section should have been 7. 29% represents 2/7, so the number of non-experimental questions should have been 7. In the fourth section, 50% represents ½; so the number on which the 50% can be applied should be an even number and naturally, it should be 8 non-experimental questions in the last section.

When we compare the current breakup of experimental and non-experimental questions in the GMAT, with the previous version, the comparison looks like the one shown below:



So, we can summarise that a total of 5 experimental questions have been taken off the test and also that there has been no change in the number of non-experimental questions.



A careful observation of the above statistic reveals the fact that the accuracy rate has been severely compromised in the last section, because the student has rushed through the questions, probably in an effort to complete in time or has just panicked.



The student has consistently maintained an average time of around 1 minute 45 seconds in all the other sections except CR, where he/she has taken almost 15 seconds more. This points towards a situation where the student was probably over-analysing the questions, especially given the nature of the topic.

What are the newest features of the new GMAT Enhanced Score Report?



This is a new feature which has been added to the ESR to let the student identify his rankings, if he/she were to be ranked solely based on the sub-sections. Comparing the performance of the student and the respective times taken by the student per question in the sub-sections, it is a fairly straight-forward conclusion that Critical Reasoning is a problem area for the student, where a drastic improvement is needed.



This is another new feature that has been introduced – measurement of performance in the three fundamental areas on which the GMAT tests a student – CR, RC and SC. Again, clearly, the student has not given his/her best performance in the CR section, with the best strike rate being 50%.

In addition, this statistic also tells us about how the student performed in the different subsections under each fundamental skill, which is exactly what a student looks forward to, from a report of this caliber – agreed, this feature could have been introduced much earlier so that more students could have benefitted from it, but, as they say, ‘Better late than never’.

Quant Section:

In the quant section, the ESR provides data about the overall performance in the section and also based on fundamental skills like Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry etc., similar to the Verbal section.



The above score of 48 corresponds to the 67th percentile and hence this student has scored more than 67 percent of the students who have taken the test. It is pertinent to note, here, that the Quant section is quite demanding in terms of accuracy; this is to say that a decrease of even 1 point in the score brings your percentile down by several points.



Similar to the performance of this student in the Verbal section, the first and the second quarters show a trend where the student has answered more questions incorrect and hence this has had an impact on where his score settles down at. We can also observe that, in the third quarter, the student has made some amends by improving his accuracy, as can be seen in the following statistic.



We can do a similar analysis of the number of non-experimental questions in each quarter of the Quant section. By now, you will be familiar with the interpretation of the percentage values and using them to calculate the number of questions on which the said percentage is applied.

In all the four quarters, the percentages represent a fraction with a denominator of 7. Hence, the number of non-experimental questions in all the four quarters is 7. The total number of questions in the GMAT, as per the revised pattern, has reduced from 37 to 31. These 31 questions can be broken up into approximately four equal quarters in the following way:


Quarter 1 8
Quarter 2 8
Quarter 3 8
Quarter 4 7


Hence, except the last quarter, we can see that there was one experimental question in each of the other quarters. So the reduction in the number of question in the entire section has happened by way of reduction in the number of experimental questions from 9 to 3.

A comparison of the breakup of the experimental and non-experimental questions in the present format and the superseded format is as shown below:




Analyzing the time management chart in conjunction with the one on accuracy, although the student has improved his/her accuracy in the second quarter, it has come at a cost since he/she has taken almost 3/4th of a minute more than the allotted 2 minutes per question. This has had a cascading effect on the time management in the subsequent quarters, where the student has probably realized his/her folly and tried to compensate. But, in doing so, he/she probably overdid it and has rushed through the last quarter, which has resulted in reduced accuracy, as discussed earlier.



This is an additional statistic that the new ESR provides which gives information about the mean time taken to solve a question, based on the different fundamental skills. Looking at the sample data, the student has taken marginally more time per question in the Algebra and geometry questions, which if they were more in number, could have affected the time management in that segment of the test.




The above statistic corroborates the conclusion that we drew from the sub-section timing statistic – the student has fared relatively well in Arithmetic, compared to Algebra which is reflected in the increased average time per question in Algebra. We can draw a similar inference on the performance of the student in the Data Sufficiency section, although, in this case, the increased time per question has translated to a better accuracy rate.



This is probably the most important piece of information, for someone who wants to identify grey areas in his/her performance and improve on them. Geometry and Algebra are clearly the areas where this student has to make rapid improvements if he/she wants to improve his/her score in quant and therefore, his/her overall score.


ESR for canceled GMAT score:

If you have reached this point in the Blog, it can mean two things – you are someone who really wanted to know whether it is worthwhile or not to invest on the ESR, which is something that should be relatively clear by now; or you are someone who is wondering if this blog also has information on whether an ESR is available for a test which was canceled by the aspirant.

If a test taker cancels his/her GMAT score, he/she can still use the same ESR authentication code to access his/her ESR. However, this will not be possible if his/her scores were revoked due to a policy violation.

Note that, there have been cases where the ESR authentication code was received by the test taker after 2 or 3 days (sometimes even more) from the test date. In case this does not happen on its own, a mail can be sent to GMAC following which the activation of the ESR authentication code should happen.

We hope that this clarifies the slight confusion which may have prevailed on this particular topic.


CrackVerbal Tip on time management in the Verbal and the Quant sections:

The time allotted for the Verbal section is 65 minutes. We recommend the following strategy to maximize your right answers, whilst not compromising on the timing:


45 minutes left 10 questions completed
27 minutes left 20 questions completed
9 minutes left 30 questions completed
End of allotted time 36 questions completed


Coming to the strategy for the Quant section, we recommend that you follow the following:


45 minutes left 8 questions completed
27 minutes left 17 questions completed
9 minutes left 26 questions completed
End of allotted time 31 questions completed

The Way Ahead:

The revised ESR report, in keeping with the revised GMAT, has become more student-friendly and allows you more elbow space to fine-tune your strategies, especially if you are planning to take the GMAT again.

Although it costs you an additional $30, we feel that it is still worth the money you pay for it, since it pays you back in terms of providing you with all the information you require to better your efforts. Additionally, if you are thinking of getting your ESR analysed by a mentor, it provides the mentor with enough inputs to be able to guide you towards your goal of a great score on the GMAT.


  • February, 13th, 2019
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CrackVerbal’s Comprehensive Study Material to Prepare for the GMAT

Reading Time: 4 minutes

With the plethora of GMAT Study Material out there, how do you pick the right the GMAT prep material for you?
And how updated are you with the changes in the GMAT syllabus, and if the material you are currently using is not outdated?
You cannot be too careful.
If you are going to be investing time and effort towards getting a good score on the GMAT, it only makes sense to look around for the right study material.
And what luck!
You’ve landed on our page 🙂
Let us tell you how we are going to help improve your GMAT scores with our custom-designed GMAT Prep Study Material.
Our faculty have been meticulously hand-picked and individually trained. They are and continue to be the reason behind our successful students who have made it to their dream b-schools.
Our approach is directed towards boosting your scores. With experience comes learning – we have custom tailored our teaching methods to the Indian mindset thus able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of Indian Test-Takers.
We show our support by being available at all times. If you are facing roadblocks, the gmatprep team will prepare a plan suited to your needs, till you reach your dream score.
We at CrackVerbal are here to make sure you get the right study material to ace the test.
We students 3 channels to prepare for the GMAT.

Here is what you will gain with us as a student:

Online Course

Our online course gives you the flexibility to prepare your GMAT study plan.
You can study at your pace – early morning or night – however you feel convenient.
Here’s what our online course offers:

We know you are going to do a lot of research before signing up for our GMAT online course, so we thought you could check out our GMAT free resources, or sign up for a free demo.
GMAT Video Library
GMAT E-books
GMAT Forum
FREE GMAT practice test


Classroom Assistance

We have three centers in Bangalore – Koramangala, Malleshwaram, Marathahalli – pick one closest to you.
Here’s what our Classroom course looks like:



If you want a taste of our classroom course, attend a free demo session 🙂
Book your free demo class here.

Personalized Tutor

With our Personal Tutoring course, you will be assigned one of our top GMAT instructors.
They will help you improve your GMAT score and address your GMAT problem-areas by teaching you strategies in the way that best suits your skills.


Our trainers are focused on the one student and they work on building his strengths and improving his weaknesses.
The trainer’s device a customized study plan tailor-made to the student’s requirements.
Crackverbal caters to non-native speakers and helps them in a way they best understand.
The sessions are face-face if the student is in Bangalore, and if not, we host video call sessions.
Get a call from our Experts
If you have any queries about our course, anything related to the GMAT exam, or about MBA applications, please write to us at [email protected] on or call us on +91-8880560000

9 Tips for Taking GMAT Practice Tests (Must Know!)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“If you don’t know where you are, then you can’t get to where you want to go.”
Simulation exams a.k.a Practice tests are one of the most important elements for your GMAT preparation plan.
Every practice test you take brings you one step closer to getting a similar question right on the actual GMAT.
It basically acts like a preview of the test.
The scores you get on your practice tests only predict your scoring range and not your actual score – because of the GMAT adaptive algorithm.
As you take more tests, your score also improves – meaning if you scored a 500 on the first practice test, a 570 on another, and a 650 on the third, your score is now up to the 650 mark.
However, as we know the discrepancies in the adaptive algorithms on practice tests, you may be in the 630-650 score range, but not exactly 650.
So, if you manage to get a 710 on a practice test, it is safe to assume (provided you answer the questions right and within the time frame) that on the actual GMAT your score would range from 690 – 720)
Any practice test you take (official practice tests) won’t follow the actual algorithm but will be as close to the original as possible.
Disclaimer :There are a lot of unofficial GMAT Practice tests out there, so if you want a close-to-accurate score, we suggest you don’t pick random tests.
Read our article on Decoding the GMAT Algorithm – A Cheat sheet to get a detailed understanding on the working of the adaptive algorithm.
The GMAC provides 6 full-length GMAT practice tests on its website, two free and four paid. Once you take the test, after analysing where you stand, you can reset and take the test again -provided your level has improved, you will start scoring better, and therefore start seeing tougher questions on the same test.
Apart from the official full-length practice tests from, you can also give CrackVerbal’s abridged mini-test a try : GMAT Score Calculator.
Now that we’ve established where you should be looking to take the right GMAT practice tests, let’s move on to tell you the impact these tests will have on your final GMAT score!

Importance of taking Practice Tests

The GMAT practice test act as diagnostic tests.
If you sign up for a test-prep course, ideally the first thing you should be doing is taking a practice test.
The objective of taking a practice test first is to determine the level you are at before you begin your GMAT preparation. It will help you recognize your strengths and make you aware of the areas where you need to focus more.
Apart from the limitations of the test (adaptive algorithm scoring pattern), there are 9 factors you should watch out for while taking the test :

1. Knowledge of the content (Quant and Verbal)

Say out of 10 questions, you recognize only 6. That leaves you with 4 questions you’ve never come across before.
Practice tests will help explore different question types and improve your chances to get a higher score on the actual GMAT.

2. Increase in Speed

At first – if you’re a beginner, meaning, you may not even be able to complete the whole test within the given time frame.
If you can – that’s brilliant!
Taking practice tests improves your speed and time management skills. Once you start getting a hold of the concepts, solving multiple questions during your prep time, applying them during the test makes it only that much faster and easier.
For example – completing the test in 55 minutes instead of 65 minutes isn’t necessarily the best strategy.
It’s all about giving every question the right amount of time and also working on it with a certain pace.

3. Familiarity with the exam

Whether you are taking the test for the first time, or the third time, practice tests are a way to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding concepts in isolation while preparing for the test is different from applying all of them in a random sequence, one after the other – during the actual test.
To do that, mental preparation and stamina is essential.
And when it comes to preparing a study plan, practice tests play a major role. For example, if your RC skills are weaker than your SE skills – and you found that out through the practice test, you can adapt your strategy according to your requirement.

4. Manage your time

The more tests you take, your accuracy improves. It will help you calculate the approximate time taken to solve each question (maintain a log – it’ll help track progress).
Say, if you are super confident about Algebra Questions, and are weak at Statistics, you can allot more time towards solving Statistics, and get the Algebra questions out of the way faster.
Granted- you can’t choose which chapters you want to complete first as the questions are thrown at random, but it’s up to you to decide how much time you want to devote to each question.
And practice tests help you do just that!

5. Analyze your Verbal and Quant score split

If your practice test result shows you got a 30 in Quant and a 43 in Verbal, you can shift your focus on strengthening your Quant skills first.
As you keep taking these practice tests parallely with your prep, you’ll know how to balance your Quant and Verbal scores to land up with a great 3 digit score!

6. Review your wrong answers

Practice tests usually let you review the questions you answered incorrectly.
And next time if a similar question appears, you’ll wrap it up within minutes – thus improving your speed and accuracy.
Use these practice tests as a tool to measure your performance.

7. Build your endurance

Practice tests act as stimulation tests.
When we say stimulation tests, it is not just about familiarizing yourself with the test pattern, questions and the structure.
It is also about making yourself comfortable in that environment where your focus lies completely on the test for 3 and a half hours – well in the case of a practice test ( 62 minutes + 65 minutes) – Quant and Verbal.
It is important that you mentally prepare yourself for that kind of focus. And thus – practice tests act as a stimulation to help build your endurance.

8. Maintain a log

When you know you’ve got a question wrong, make a note of it. You can later go over the question and review where you went wrong.
You can also answer a series of similar questions – it will help tackle the question the next time around much easier.

9. Plan ahead

Once you’ve taken a few tests, you’ll figure which areas need more attention, and the concepts you are more confident about.
It will help create a study plan for the week/month – based on your personal plan.

Basic Do’s and Don’ts

No coaching centre or tutor will ever not, not ask you to take practice tests.
However there are a few things you need to keep in mind :

And that is about all you need to know on taking GMAT Practice Tests.
If you need any assistance while preparing for the GMAT, we’re just one click away.

How Does GMAT Scoring Work? (A Cheatsheet)

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Learn smart ways to exploit the GMAT Scoring Algorithm and optimize your preparation!


A lot of our students have been asking us:

“How does the GMAT algorithm work? What do people mean when they say Q49 V36?”

“With the same scores in each section, why are the overall scores for my friend and I, different?”

“If the scores are ranked out of 51, how does that account for a total score of 800?”

Don’t get confused. We will make it really simple for you in this article.

We will give you an inside peek into the working of the GMAT scoring algorithm.

And to help you get a holistic perspective, we will also explain the basic functioning of a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) – the underlying logic behind how the GMAT works.

“How will understanding the GMAT algorithm help you?”, you ask?

It will definitely not magically improve your scores, but if you know how the algorithm functions, there are ways you can leverage the system to your advantage – we will talk about this later on.

We will be dividing the article into 6 sections:

A. What is the GMAT Test Structure

B. How does the GMAT Adaptive Scoring work?

C. How does the GMAT Scoring and Percentile system work?

D. How is the total GMAT score calculated?

E. Commonly Asked Questions about the GMAT Adaptive Scoring System

Let’s begin

A. GMAT Test Structure

The GMAT test is divided into 4 sections.

New Gmat test structure 2018


Read this article to get a breakdown of the GMAT Syllabus. And you will be glad to know that while taking the GMAT test, you can choose the order of the sections you want to begin with.
NOTE: We have updated this blog based on the announcement by GMAC on some major changes in the GMAT test timing and the number of questions you’re going to be having in both Quant and Verbal.The new GMAT exam will be shorter by 30 minutes from April 16th, 2018.


Cick here to know all about the shorter GMAT pattern starting April 16th 2018


Now, only two sections out of the four count towards your total GMAT score – both IR and AWA don’t count (doesn’t mean you don’t prepare for it – just that it is not needed for the 3-digit score out of 800).

Which leaves us with the Quant and the Verbal sections of the GMAT – they makeup for your final GMAT score out of 800.

The following are the total computed scores for the Quant and Verbal sections:

-> Quant (31 questions) – raw score out of 51.
-> Verbal (36 questions) – raw score out of 51

These questions are designed by trained psychometricians (yes – such a profession exists) who love making things terribly complicated. What else could explain the rationale behind picking random numbers like 31, 36 and 51? 🙂

We can’t change the way the GMAT Algorithm works, but we sure can help you get an understanding of how the system functions.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the numbers you will be seeing further down in the article. We are going to peel the whole onion – layer by layer.

B. GMAT Adaptive Testing


How is the GMAT Adaptive Algorithm different from the usual tests?

The GMAT algorithm is terribly precise and does not rely on the usual linear score that we are used to.

In the linear scale, the score is computed at the END of the test by taking the number of right responses and the number of incorrect responses. So in a school exam if you answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly – you get 60%.

In the adaptive scale, the score is getting computed after EVERY question on the test. The algorithm is constantly checking where to “keep” you. Get a question correct, the algorithm will “reward” you by giving you a higher score. Get a question wrong, the same algorithm will “penalize” by dropping your score.

So the GMAT is constantly trying to test your Quant and Verbal ability, that too within a short span of time and with a limited number of questions.

To accurately assess a person’s ability from 200 to 800 – means you have 61 possible scores on the GMAT. All of this from just 58 questions (why 58 and not 78 you ask? We’ll tell you why later on in the article).

The GMAT does this incredible thing because of the adaptive nature of the test.

> Understanding the Adaptive Algorithm using an example

Let’s understand the GMAT algorithm.

First GMAT will ask you an average difficulty level question.

Why average? Because we need to begin someplace and starting at the middle is the most optimized strategy.

Based on the accuracy of your response, GMAT will either reward you by bumping you up to a higher level, keep you at the same level, or demote you to a lower level.

If you get the right answer, the next question we put forth may be of the same difficulty level, or it may increase.

If you get the answer wrong, we will ask you another question of the same level, or an easier one.

By asking such a series of questions, GMAT figures out the range or the band at which you are at. Then GMAT will ask further question to understand the specific score within that range.

In short, the GMAT exam adapts to your performance on every question.

It selects each question based on your answer to the previous one, and how you have been doing so far.

Let’s take an example.

If you look at the chart, we have 3 test-takers.

Let’s assume that all three of them have started with an average difficulty level question.

Let us look at their performance on the 1st question:

T1 answered right, and hence progressed from the score range of 500 to 600.

T2 answered wrong, and dropped from 500 to 400.

T3 also answered wrong and dropped from 500 to 400.

Moving on to the 2nd question.

T1 answered right, again – he jumped to the 700 score range.

T2 answered right, and made a small jump to the 450 range.

T3 however, answered wrong, again, and dropped further down to 300.

As you see on the graph, the trend lines are high or low depending upon the answer to the previous question.

Which also incidentally, is how the adaptive algorithm works.

So if you are on your 25th question on the GMAT, the algorithm has data about your performance on the previous 24 questions. This means the algorithm is intelligent enough to get a good sense of where you are currently and will calculate your difficulty level to provide questions accordingly.

> Analysis with the Verbal section

With the understanding of the adaptive scoring engine, it’s be easier to break the example down further – showing you what my actually happen on the actual GMAT.

We will divide the GMAT Verbal scores into 4 buckets for your benefit – though the actual GMAT will have a finer calibration.

We’re going to use two hypothetical candidates – Amit and Rupa.

The GMAT scoring rules are as follows:

1. If you get < 40% of the questions right, you get demoted to a lower bucket.
2. If you get 40% to 60% of the questions right, you remain in the same bucket.
3. If you > 60% of the questions right, you get promoted to the next bucket.

Now let us say they take the first set of 6 questions, Amit gets 3 of them correct, while Rupa gets 4 of them correct. So, Amit stays in the same level while Rupa moves up.

Throughout the test, Amit consistently performs in the 50% range while Rupa does 60% or better.

Have a look at this table:

Amit’s performance being mediocre through the test, did not progress with his scores and stayed within the 25-30 bucket.

Rupa’s on the other hand, showed progress at every stage until she crossed the 40 bracket.

Now if you look at the number of questions they answered correctly, you will see Amit’s got 18 questions right and Rupa got 22 questions right.

4 questions may not seem like a big deal, right?

Think again.

If you look at the last 12 questions, Amit and Rupa got 6 answers right.

But here’s how the GMAT algorithm expects you to maintain your accuracy.

Rupa had to maintain accuracy on a much higher level.

Amit on the other hand, had to maintain the accuracy on a much lower level.

Why do you think that is?

Weighted averages – where there is a “weight” attached to every question.

So not all questions are the same – GMAT recognizes the effort for maintaining accuracy at a higher level (say a GMAT 700+) is far greater than maintaining accuracy at a lower level (say at GMAT 500+).

Now let’s move on to explain the working of the GMAT Scoring and Percentile System.

C. GMAT Scoring and Percentile system

Let’s tackle this one by one.

Now that you know how both – the Quant and the Verbal scores translate to a total of 51, let’s find out the bare minimum number of mistakes you’re allowed to make to get a high score.

How many mistakes can you afford to make on the GMAT?

It’s really hard to not make mistakes on the GMAT. So let’s say – it’s safer to make mistakes in intervals rather than continuously.

So in the first 15 questions, instead of getting question number 4,5,6,7 wrong – you get questions 4,8,12,15 wrong.

Making mistakes in a continuous string reduces your accuracy drastically.
Here’s a secret – You can actually make a few mistakes (say 2 in Quant and 1 in Verbal) and score a perfect 800!

Notice that even a solid score like a 710 – with a split of Q49 V38 – means you would have made over 20 mistakes! All the more reason not to fear intelligent guessing on the GMAT.

Moving on to the percentile system.

What do percentiles mean?

The percentile rank of a score is the percentage of scores in its distribution that are equal to or lower than it.

A test score that is greater than 75% of the scores of people taking the test is said to be at the 75th percentile, where 75 is the percentile rank.

For example, in the GMAT, if you’re in the 90th percentile, you’ve scored more than 90% of the people taking the test with you.

Let’s now have a look at the percentile charts for Quant and Verbal.

Notice a few “weird” things over here:

If you get a 45 out of 51 in verbal or above, then you’ll still land in the 99th percentile. That same score of 45 out of 51 in Quantitative is considered 57th percentile. This is because a lot more students are scoring a 51 in Quant than in Verbal.

However on the flip side, with the Quant percentile starting at 96%, every mistake you make drastically drops your score. For the Verbal spread of percentiles it is not that vast; this means the scope for improvement in Verbal will not be that steep.

So that is all that you need to know about the scoring system while preparing for the GMAT.
Let us now deep dive into how GMAT takes your sectional raw scores and computes the final GMAT score.

D. How is the total GMAT score calculated?

Let us look at a few things:

The total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800.

The Verbal and the Quantitative scores range from 6 to 51.

Both the Verbal and the Quant combine to give you the total GMAT score.

Here is a chart that you can use to check your final GMAT score, if you know your raw scores in Quant and Verbal.

So for you to score a 700 you need to have a total raw score total of 86. There are a few ways you can score this:

Strong in Quant

Q50 V36 (percentile)

Strong in Verbal

Q44 V42 (percentile)

Equally strong in both Quant and Verbal
Q48 V38

When you start your GMAT prep, you might realize which one of the two areas you are better at.

And no, being an engineer doesn’t automatically endow you with superior quant skills 🙂

Here, is the GMAT final score Percentile Ranking Chart:

Note this: even if you don’t score in the 99th percentile on individual sections, you can score in the 99th percentile on the GMAT.

Let’s see how.

Say, you get an 86th percentile in Quant (Q 50), and a 96th percentile in V (V42) – you will still get a 99th percentile overall (760). This is because there are fewer people scoring such high percentiles in BOTH the sections.

These charts are updated every year and you can head over to the GMAC website to know more:

We just helped you understand how the scoring chart works – hopefully now you don’t really need to break you head over it 🙂

E. Commonly Asked Questions about GMAT Scoring

a) Does GMAT take time into consideration while calculating the score?

Remember, we are not calculating the time you take to answer each question, it does not have an impact on your final score.

b) If I am seeing easier questions, does it mean I am not doing well?

No! Firstly, you don’t really know if it is an easier or harder question (GMAT can make very tough problems deceptively simple). Secondly, it could be an experimental question, which means it is not based on your performance.

c) Does GMAT take the position of the mistakes into consideration?


If you get questions wrong one after the other, you are in greater risk than if you distribute your mistakes over a range.

For example, let’s say, from questions 21 to 30 there are 2 candidates X and Y and their frequency of mistakes is:

X marks the wrong answers for questions 22, 26 and 29, while Y marks the wrong ones for 23,24,25.

Then Y would be penalized heavier than X.

d) Does it mean that the first 10 questions important on the GMAT?

There are 2 fallacies here:

a. Spending more time will improve your accuracy. If you do spend more time in the first 10 questions, (and not improving your accuracy much), then you are actually robbing other questions of the time they rightfully deserve.

b. You control whether you get the question correct. Actually, if someone is smart enough to get first 10 right – isn’t he/she smart enough to get the rest of the questions also correct?

e) If I keep getting questions correct, will GMAT start giving me impossibly tough questions?

Not true!

Yes, the level of difficulty does increase, but at a more controlled level. Also remember, that the questions are not “easy” or “hard” by themselves but they are “easy” or “hard” for the test taker at a given level.

f) Can you skip questions on the test and come back to them later?

Skipping questions on ṭhe GMAT is not an option.

If that option were to exist, it would go against the concept of the adaptive testing method.

g) What if I do not have ṭhe time answer all 37 questions on quant and 41 questions in verbal?

If you run out of time towards the end of the test, your overall score reduces.

The GMAT marks all unanswered questions as wrong, thus reducing your overall score.

h) Are the questions within an RC, computer adaptive?

No, the questions within the RC is not computer adaptive. The difficulty level of the question is pre-determined based on your performance up until that point.

i) Do continuous errors adversely affect your score?

Yes. The GMAT being a computer adaptive test, a string of errors will reduce your overall score.

j) Is the first question all test takers get of the same difficulty level?

No. The first question for all test takers are not of the same difficulty level. Since the GMAT is an adaptive test, you can get a question of a random difficulty level.

k) Does your performance in the quant section affect the difficulty levels of the question in the verbal section?

No – it does not.

l) Why are the percentiles ranks different for verbal as compared to quant?

More people are scoring higher in Quant than a few years ago, and fewer people are scoring as high in Verbal now than a few years ago.

With more people taking the GMAT from India, China and Asian countries the average Quant scores are going up and Verbal scores are going down.

You can read more on that here :

m) Do the AWA and IR sections also contribute to the overall score?

No, the AWA and IR sections do not contribute towards your final GMAT score.

n) Why is the GMAT score on a scale of 200 – 800?

This is a question a lot of people have been asking. Unfortunately, no one has an answer other than GMAT.

o) How do I know how many questions are experimental and which questions are experimental?

Refer to the section above on experimental question, we’ve provided a table with an explanation. And as for knowing which questions are experimental, there is no way of knowing.

p) How do I know which difficulty level a question falls under on the GMAT?

Again, there is no way of knowing the difficulty level of a question.

We hope this article helped you understand the GMAT algorithm.

One important piece of advice before we wrap this article up, understanding the GMAT algorithm will certainly make you aware of your scoring pattern, and the existence of experimental questions – but then again – it won’t help you beat the GMAT.

Check out what Arun Jagannathan, founder and CEO of CrackVerbal, has to say on this topic in this short explainer video:

If you need any help with your GMAT prep, you can sign up for our online demo session :

  • February, 19th, 2018
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GMAT Select Section Order (Important Details)

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The big news is that on 15th June, 2017, GMAC announced the GMAT Select Section Order, wherein GMAT takers can choose the order of the sections that they attempt. This means that now a test taker can actually start the GMAT from the Verbal section!


If you have taken the GMAT or have been preparing for it, you know that this is a huge deal. Taking the GMAT is a lot about conserving your mental energy towards the end,  especially while doing reading comprehension passages.


On 15th June, 2017, GMAC announced that GMAT takers can choose the order of the sections that they attempt.

If you are confused about what the GMAT Select section order means to *your* GMAT scores OR if you are wondering whether you should retake the GMAT, you have come to the right place!


In this article, we are going to deconstruct the GMAT Select Section Order so you know exactly what to do.


Let’s get started:



 What is the GMAT Select Section Order?




GMAC has made an announcement  on its official website.


Starting 11th July, 2017, GMAT is going to give you three options:


Option 1: The same structure as before


1. Analytical Writing Assessment

2. Integrated Reasoning

3. Quantitative

4. Verbal


Option 2: Verbal section first


1. Verbal

2. Quantitative

3. Integrated Reasoning

4. Analytical Writing Assessment


Option 3: Quant section first


1. Quantitative

2. Verbal

3. Integrated Reasoning

4. Analytical Writing Assessment


You just need to walk into the GMAT center and start the test by picking the order you want.

There is no need for you to select the options beforehand. You just need to walk into the GMAT center and start the test by picking the order you want. If you have already scheduled the test, you do not need to do anything different now!  Just go and do the exam in the preferred section order!


Here are a few quick facts about the new change that will help you understand it better:


1) Students must make this choice in 2 minutes. Otherwise, the test begins using the current default structure.


2) Students will not be shown the “Profile Update” screen after they have taken the test. Rather, they are presented their unofficial scores immediately after the test. The Profile Updates can be done anytime before or after the test from


3) The official score reports do not display order of test taking to the colleges.


4) The GMATPrep and ExamPack update (official tests available on is scheduled for 31st July and our existing licenses will be valid. The update will not contain content updates. It will just be a UI overhaul with the new selection style offered.



I have done a quick analysis of the GMAT Select Section Order in this video:




 Would the GMAT Select Section Order affect my GMAT scores?




A huge YES! And in a positive way.


Here’s what GMAC had to say about it, officially:


“Our pilot findings concluded that taking the exam in different section orders continues to maintain the quality and integrity of the GMAT scores.”

 – Ashok Sarathy, vice president, Product Management, GMAC.


The problem with their analysis (and we pointed it out to GMAC when the study was shared with us) is that they used a computer simulation to see the probability of a student answering a question correctly or incorrectly.


The problem with computer simulation is that it discounts how GMAT students really feel when they take the test. It doesn’t take into consideration the stress of the exam. It doesn’t take into account how tired a student actually feels by the end of it all.


A lot of GMAT is about conserving your mental energy,  especially when it comes to the Verbal section. The reason why many students end up running into time management issues is that they take way too much time as the processing power of our brain significantly reduces after the first few hours of the test. (There is a term for this, it is called “decision fatigue”).


Here is what we had to say about the topic.

Now, with Verbal as the first section, you can actually push your scores by a few raw scores at least. This means a huge difference to your overall score.


The reason why many students end up running into time management issues is because they take way too much time as the processing power of our brain significantly reduces after the first few hours of the test.

If you are scoring in the lower 30s in Verbal, with a constant Quant score (say 49) you will end up with the following splits:


Q49 V32 -> 640


Q49 V36 -> 700


Q49 V40 -> 730



Even during the earlier “trial” that was conducted by GMAC, we saw several of our students at CrackVerbal scoring higher (than their practice test scores) on the Verbal section because of the shift in the order (needless to say, they picked Verbal as the first section).


Hence, if you have not taken the GMAT yet, the GMAT Select Section order might mean that you could actually do a lot better than you would have before this change.


 Should I reschedule my GMAT dates given this new GMAT Select Section Order?




If you think you need more time to process this change, OR if you think you would do better with Verbal as the first section (or Quant for that matter), and think you need more practice with this change in order, you should reschedule the dates. At this point, rescheduling itself is rather easy!


CrackVerbal’s  advice to you is to consider starting your exam with either Verbal or Quant. Which of the two sections you should start with depends on your confidence in the Quant section. 

GMAC has announced that you can simply call GMAC Customer Service to reschedule your exam. If your request is received within seven days of the announcement, both your reschedule fee and phone fee of USD 10 will be waived. Given that GMAC made the announcement  on June 15, you have until  June 22 to reschedule without incurring any expenditure.


CrackVerbal’s advice to you is to consider starting your exam with either Verbal or Quant. Which of the two sections you should start with depends on your confidence in the Quant section. If you think starting with Quant can give you an edge, pick Option 3. Otherwise, stick to Option 2.


 Should I retake the GMAT with the GMAT Select Section Order?




Here are three scenarios in which you should consider retaking the GMAT:


Case 1: You did not do as well as you could have done in Verbal


If you did not do well and you think the reason is that you could not focus well on the Verbal section, you should definitely consider retaking the GMAT.


As mentioned earlier, even a slight increase in your Verbal scores can make a huge difference to your overall GMAT scores. A USD 250 investment for such an improvement is well worth it.


Case 2: You did not do well in the test because of stress or fatigue


If you are not a great test taker because you get very stressed about the test, especially Verbal, or you lose all your mental energy during the Verbal section (especially reading comprehension), you should definitely retake the GMAT.


You just need to make sure that you re-strategize the way you approach the GMAT. If you get a higher GMAT score, you can “wipe the slate clean” by canceling your previous scores.


Case 3: You did reasonably well but feel you can do better with the revision


If you think you can improve your GMAT scores by even 30-40 points because of the new GMAT Select Section order, retaking the test would certainly be worth it,  especially if you belong to the demographically disadvantaged background, such as Indian – IT – Male.


This is especially true if you are a reapplicant, and feel you could improve your chances with a better GMAT score.


 Will the GMAT Select Section Order affect B-School applications in 2017-18?





For the current admissions season, i.e., class starting Fall 2018, expect the average GMAT scores for most top schools to increase significantly.


In recent years, the average GMAT scores at top schools have been shooting through the roof. For example, Stanford has its latest average GMAT score at an obscenely high 737! 


By making such changes, GMAT has made it a lot easier for Indians and the Chinese – India and China are the two other countries in the top three test taking countries, apart from the US. Asian countries have stellar GMAT Quant scores but suffer in the Verbal section.


For the current admissions season, i.e., class starting Fall 2018, expect the average GMAT scores for most top schools to increase significantly.

Here is how Indians and Chinese do on the GMAT Quant section (compared to Americans):



GMAT Quant India China Comparison



Here is how they compare against the Americans in the Verbal section:



GMAT Comparison Verbal



You can expect the graph to change considerably because Indians and Chinese will start performing better in the Verbal section.


It would come as no surprise if schools such as Stanford and Harvard breach the 740-mark (corresponding to the 97th percentile currently), as their average GMAT score.


Closer home, this would affect the overall GMAT scores at ISB and the IIMs. If their average GMAT cutoff was around 700, expect it to go up as well.

You can expect the graph to change considerably because Indians and Chinese will start performing better in the Verbal section. 

Of course, if you have a great profile, you can sneak in with a slightly lower than average GMAT score for that school. However, if you do not want to take a risk, as an Indian applicant, you need to score at least 30-40 points above the average GMAT score for that school.


 Why is the GMAT introducing the Select Section Order?



This is actually consistent with a lot of changes that GMAT has been doing over the last year, especially after Sangeet Chowfla took over as the CEO of GMAC.


Over the last several years, GMAT has been trying to fight a battle with GRE over the MBA admissions turf. The GMAT was traditionally used for MBA programs and GRE was used for MS programs only. However, this changed in 2016 when ETS lost the GMAT contract. So ETS decided to approach B-Schools to use GRE as an eligibility criterion for MBA programs!

More here:

ETS loses GMAT contract


Attacking the GMAT Monopoly


Though GRE is still a long way away (9 out of 10 applicants to MBA programs use the GMAT over GRE), GMAC doesn’t want to take the risk. It wants to make the GMAT as convenient as possible. There should be absolutely NO reason for you NOT to take the GMAT.


Over the last several years, GMAT has been trying to fight a battle with GRE over the MBA admissions turf.


Another reason is GMAT stands to make a lot of money if students end up retaking the test, or just if more people take the GMAT because it has become “easier”. However, “easier”  is a relative term because if the test becomes easier for everyone, people will start scoring higher, making it a level playing field.)


Here are some of the other changes that have been introduced in the last few years:


March 2016: You can reinstate your GMAT score even if you canceled it earlier.


March 2016: You can now cancel your GMAT scores online after you leave the test center.


July 2015: You can take the GMAT within 16 days of your previous attempt (as opposed to the earlier 31 days period.)


July 2015: You can choose not to report your canceled scores to schools.


January 2015: You can get an in-depth analysis of your GMAT performance by accessing the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR.)


July 2014: You can preview your unofficial scores before deciding whether to report or cancel them.


If you are looking at a common thread among these changes, it is this: most of the “facilities” cost you money, or encourage you to use a “facility” that will cost you money.


We will keep updating this article when we get more information about the Select Section Order change. Meanwhile, we would love for you to share this article with other GMAT test takers who might benefit from the article.


Please feel free to comment below if you want to share your thoughts on the matter, or if you want to learn more. We respond to all questions.




  • June, 17th, 2017
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A Guide to Integrated Reasoning

Reading Time: 20 minutes

In this article, let’s discuss about the GMAT Integrated Reasoning in detail,

Before getting into details of number of questions, question types etc. Let’s understand the GMAT Integrated reasoning.

I am pretty much sure below three questions would be going on your mind, before starting the preparation for GMAT Integrated Reasoning,

How important is GMAT IR?
What would be the good score in GMAT IR?
How and when should I prepare for GMAT IR?

How important is GMAT IR?

To answer the first question, let’s see little bit of history about GMAT Integrated Reasoning.

GMAT Integrated Reasoning was introduced somewhere in the month of August 2012, earlier it used to be another Essay (Issue) of half an hour. So they replaced it with Integrated Reasoning.

Integrated Reasoning is made up of 12 questions and the time limit is 30 minutes.
Now to answer “how important is GMAT Integrated Reasoning”,
If this question was asked couple of years ago, answer would have been, “may not be that important” because that time B – Schools didn’t had the enough data to understand “what would be good score in Integrated Reasoning”?

But now since it has been more than 4 years, answer would be “yes” it is very much important. Four years is a good time to have the data points to show what would be the good score
Lot of B- Schools started looking for the GMAT Integrated Reasoning scores.

Since GMAT Integrated Reasoning itself asks “Mini – case” studies, it helps B – Schools to understand the students reasoning ability.

A manager expected to deal with large numbers, representation using graphs, dealing multiple components etc.
GMAT Integrated Reasoning tests upon those skill sets.

So GMAT Integrated Reasoning is very important from student perspective.

Purpose of the IR Section

AdComs hardly use GMAT essays to judge candidates. Essay writing skills were anyways evaluated through application essays!

Most business schools now use case studies to teach some or even most topics
The old GMAT could not mirror two key aspects of case analysis, math – verbal integration and a flood of real world data.

The questions in the Integrated Reasoning section act as mini case analysis themselves.

The IR section assesses higher order reasoning skills among candidates.

Data Analysis and reasoning are essential skills for any manager. This gives AdComs slightly better insight into the managerial potential of a candidate

What would be the good score in GMAT IR?

This is actually a tricky question to answer,

Let me first project the last year trend in GMAT Integrated Reasoning scores and then I will let you decide on what would be a good score.

Integrated Reasoning is scored out of 1- 8 which intervals of one point increment.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

Above image shows the last three years (2013 – 2015) scoring trend in GMAT IR section among the students,

If you look at it, scoring 8(which is maximum) is 92nd percentile that means anybody who scores 8 would be among the top 8 percent of students.

Also scoring a 4 in IR is less than 50th percentile and according to the above image it is exactly 40th percentile.

So definitely everyone would like to score more than 5 to be in safer side.
If you ask me, a good score is something which lands you in a comfortable space when applying for top b – schools,
So certainly a GMAT score of 700 with Integrated Reasoning score 3, does not look very comfortable.

Also note that, the above details are for the period of 2013 – 2015.
I am sure these percentiles would definitely change in the coming years.
So I think now you have a fair idea what the score you should look for while preparing.

How and when should I prepare for GMAT Integrated Reasoning?

This is something a very important question, for someone who is very new to GMAT.
Let’s keep few things clear here first about GMAT IR,
Still GMAT Integrated Reasoning is not a part of the composite of 800.

Still Scoring a 700 or above (above 90th percentile) is more important than scoring above 90th percentile in GMAT Integrated Reasoning.

Getting an IR score of 8, doesn’t mean that you could score little less in the GMAT composite score of 800.

So one should first fix the GMAT composite score then move onto IR and AWA,
It’s again about prioritizing which is more important.

So if anybody starting the preparation for GMAT, his/her first focus should be on GMAT Verbal and Quant sections then move on to Integrated Reasoning.

Also IR doesn’t test anything which is totally different from GMAT Verbal and Quant sections,
Yes the question types are different and scoring is different but still the concepts are same. You no need to know anything new conceptual wise.

You have same Quant and verbal skills tested in IR section.

Also the best thing to do is whenever you sit to write a mock test, don’t skip any sections try to write the full 210 minutes test.

Most of the students skip AWA and IR while writing a mock test, which is not advisable.

Write the mock test along with IR section and analyze the IR section after the mock test in the same way you do for Quant and Verbal.

This will help you to get an idea about your strengths and weakness in GMAT IR.
One can use official IR questions to practice.

Also listing down the pros and cons of Integrated Reasoning section will help us to strategize it better.

Let’s list down the pros first,

GMAT Integrated Reasoning section is linear:

Unlike your Quant and Verbal sections in GMAT which is adaptive (the next set of questions are dependent on how well you have scored in the previous set of questions) IR is linear(questions are pre defined nothing going to change for the next set of questions even if you answer the current question wrong).

On-Screen Calculator:

You will be given an On-Screen calculator for Quant questions. If you are a good estimator of big values then actually you no need of on-screen calculator but otherwise you can use it for some big calculations if necessary.

Integrated Reasoning section also has Experimental questions:

Like your Quant and Verbal section, IR section also has 25% of the questions as experimental.
How this would be a positive?
Since it’s not an adaptive section, it’s better to guess and move on for questions which you find it hard, because there is a chance of it being experimental question.

Weight-age towards quant is more than verbal:

Most of the question types in Integrated Reasoning, inclined towards testing your Quant knowledge than verbal.
Especially question types Graphical interpretation and Table Analysis mostly they would test is Quant skills.

So anyone who loves numbers and graphs, this section would be a little bit easy for them.

Let’s see what would be the cons?

Some questions have more than one answers:
You would see Bi-polar questions (Yes –No , true – false) in GMAT Integrated Reasoning, mostly it would come with three (sub)questions, only if you answer all the three correct, you will be given the credit for the question. Even one of the bi-polar questions if you get wrong you won’t get the credit for it. We shall discuss this with an example in detail later.
Let’s have a rough look at it first,
GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

You can see in the above image, it’s just one question but it has three bi-polar questions to answer to it. Only if you get all three correct you will get a point.

Over concentrating on this might exhaust the mental energy:

One needs to be smart in Handling GMAT Integrated Reasoning section, because it easily exhausts the mental energy.
Typing an essay is far easier task than solving an Integrated Reasoning section.

Because for some questions like MSR (Multi Source Reasoning) you need to analyze the multiple tabs before coming to a conclusion for a question.

So here students should not focus on getting all the 12 questions correctly, one should be smart and chose questions based on their strengths and weakness.

That would be the pros and cons of a GMAT Integrated Reasoning section.

Now let’s see the question types in detail

The Integrated Reasoning section will basically have four parts:
Graphics Interpretation

Table Analysis

Two-part analysis

Multi-source reasoning

1).Graphical Interpretation:–

Generally, a pie chart, graph, flow-chart or some other graphic depiction is given and the candidate has to discern which data is useful to answer the question. Questions will be generally pertaining to Maths itself.

Special feature: There will be a calculator on the screen for some questions to assist students.

2). Table Analysis: –

A table will be provided. The candidate has to arrange or pick out selective data and use it for analysis. Questions will be generally pertaining to Maths or logical reasoning.

Special feature: Sorting the tables is allowed!

3).Two-part analysis:–

A problem statement is given, followed by some statements, each of which contains two columns. The candidate has to select an option in both the columns correctly to get the answer correct. Questions may be pertaining to Maths or critical reasoning.

Special feature: The candidate cannot guess, as the total number of possible answers here are not 5, but 25 (Owing to two answers!)

4).Multi-source reasoning: –

This bit of Integrated Reasoning is similar to Reading Comprehension. The candidate has to make sense out of multiple sources of text, such as an email exchange between two people etc., and then answer the questions that follow based on the multiple sources of data.
Multi Source Reasoning


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

As you see in the above picture, you will have multiple tabs in this question type; one has to have a good idea about what each tab referring to before moving into the actual question.

MSR Working Procedure

-Create a summary or a map for the information in every tab. When you get a detail question, follow your map back to the relevant tab
-Always try to figure out two things
-Where the pieces of information are located
-How information given on one card influences or plays into information given on other cards

Be careful to answer exactly what is asked
Verify the answer to each question with concrete information on the cards


Let’s take this below question (OG question) to understand MSR.


The expenses related to sponsoring a conference can be immense. An organization sponsoring a conference can recoup these expenses through registration fees and partnership with the host hotel. As part of the partnership, the host hotel sets aside a block of rooms for conference attendees, with rooms available at a slightly higher-than-normal rate.

While most conference attendees prefer to stay in the host hotel, they often follow an alternate strategy to avoid the extra cost of reserving a room within the block at the host hotel. Some attendees reserve rooms outside the host hotel — the ROHH strategy. Others reserve rooms outside the block — the ROB strategy.

Conference sponsors have succeeded in countering these strategies by increasing the conference registration fee by a fixed amount and then offering an equivalent registration fee discount to attendees who book rooms in the block. A study has shown that if this registration discount is equal to at least half the potential savings of an attendee’s particular cost-saving strategy, the attendee is much more likely to reserve a room within the block.

Weekend Conferences

Ten conferences are scheduled for the same weekend in City X. For each conference, the table lists the conference sponsor, the registration fee, the discounted registration fee (if any), the host hotel, the rate for rooms in the block at the host hotel, and the lowest rate for an available room in the host hotel during that same weekend. Conference attendees will require two nights lodging, and all room rates are per guest, per night, assuming two guests per room. The lowest rate for an available room in City X on this same weekend is $65.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

Start by taking good amount of time to understand the information in the tabs. There are two tabs here, one says “Article” and other says “Weekend Conferences”.
The first passage, “Article,” explains that hotel rooms at conference hotels can be more expensive than the typical rates for those rooms.

It then describes two strategies conference-goers can use: staying elsewhere (ROHH) and staying at the hotel but not booking through the conference (ROB). Finally, we learn that conferences offer discounts to those who stay within the block of allotted rooms, and that “if the discount is equal to at least half” of the savings of staying elsewhere, the conference-goer will stay within the block at the host hotel.

And there’s more, in the “Weekend Conferences” tab. This is Multi-Source reasoning at its best: plenty more information, both in written and table form. Continue to work deliberately, since there is important data in the passage: “attendees will require two nights lodging.” In other words, if an attendee saves $50 per night by staying elsewhere, that’s $100 over two nights.
Before attacking the questions, make sure you understand the table, as well.

The leftmost column lists conferences, while the next two columns list the registration fee and the registration fee if the attendee stays within the allotted block of rooms. The next columns name the host hotel, the rate within the block, and the rate outside of the block. The passage gives us another point of comparison, that the cheapest room for the ROHH strategy is $65–lower than almost all of the prices in the table.

You can take good 2 minutes to understand the tabs before getting into the actual questions

Question 1:

For each of the following sponsors, select Yes if an attendee of the sponsor’s conference would spend less money by employing the ROB strategy—paying the lowest possible room rate in the host hotel and paying the non discounted registration fee—than by reserving a room in the block. Otherwise, select No.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

Here the question asks for three conferences, whether staying outside the block at the host hotel (the ROB strategy) is cheaper than staying in the block (and getting the registration discount).
Also remember that one has to get all three correct to get the credit of the question.
To determine that, consider the savings from each strategy.
For CC, the savings from the registration discount is $100. The savings from using the ROB strategy is $80 ($40 per night, paying $70 instead of $110). Thus, first one is NO, staying in the block is cheaper than employing the ROB strategy.

For FFNA, the registration discount is $50. The savings from ROB is $140 ($70 per night). This is YES, since staying outside the block is less expensive.
For HMHPA, the registration discount is $25. The savings from ROB is $50 ($25 per night). This again will be YES, since staying outside the block is less expensive.
So answer would be NO, YES and YES.

Question 2:

Assume that host hotels receive a reimbursement from the conference organizers for 25% of the block rate per night for each r unoccupied room in the conference block. For each of the following hotels, select Yes if, for at least one conference on the weekend listed, the hotel would lose room revenue if a room in the block is vacant because an attendee employed the ROB strategy. Otherwise, select No.
GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

This particular question provides additional data: If a room in the block is vacant, the conference organizers pay the hotel 25% of the block rate. Of course, if an attendee uses the ROB strategy, the hotel is still renting a room, but at a different rate.

Start with the Asiawest Center. Note that Asiawest is hosting three conferences, and the question is asking whether the hotel would lose revenue if an attendee of any of the conferences used the ROB strategy. For CDA, the block rate is $190 and the lowest rate is $185. If an attendee uses ROB, the hotel earns $185 from the attendee and a reimbursement of 25% of $190 (nearly $50) from the conference. That’s better than renting the block room!

The same math applies to QRTA and RCD, where the ROB-using guest pays $185 and the conference organizers pay nearly $50.

Thus, first option is NO. Note that you didn’t have to do much math–approximation was sufficient. While 25% of $190 or $195 isn’t quite $50 (25% of $200), it doesn’t matter whether the reimbursement is $40, $48.75, or $57–the answer is the same.

Only one conference, PNDA, is at the Bard Inn. There the block rate and the lowest rate in the hotel are the same, so if a guest uses the ROB strategy, the hotel doesn’t lose money even if the conference doesn’t reimburse it. So second one is NO.

Three conferences are at the Hilton: CC, FFNA, and PPOA. For CC, if an attendee uses the ROB strategy, they pay $70, and the conference reimburses 25% of $110, or a bit more than $25. Thus, for that guest, the hotel earns a bit more than $95–a loss compared to the block rate. There’s no need to evaluate the other two conferences at the Hilton: So this is YES.
So here the answers are NO, NO and YES.

3. Let X denote the block rate of the host hotel for a particular conference, and let Y denote the lowest room rate available in the host hotel outside of the conference block. For a conference that requires a two-night hotel stay, which one of the following expressions represents the least amount of discount on the conference registration fee that, according to the article, would be sufficient to deter conference attendees from employing the ROB strategy in choosing accommodations?







This question is more to do with the abstract thinking. Recall from the article that if the registration discount is at least half of the possible savings of the ROB or ROHH strategies, attendees will stay within the block. Since X is the block rate and Y is the non-block rate, the savings per night from staying outside the block is X – Y. The savings for staying two nights outside the block is double that: 2(X-Y).

But the registration discount only needs to be half that. Divide by two, and the result is (X – Y), choice (C).

Two Part Analyses:

As you see in the below picture, you will be give a questions stub followed by a table where you have two columns (questions) and one more column with answer choices common for both the questions.

Best part about the two –part analysis is sometimes both the columns (questions) are linked, so one would be solving only one question still get the answer for both.

You have to get both correct to get the credit of the question.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

TPA Working Procedure

-Determine the relationship of the two questions

-For a quant TPA use strategies of plugging in and backsolving since all the answer options contain variables

-For a verbal TPA, read the entire prompt carefully and hold onto relevant information that helps to answer the questions

-Pay close attention to what must be true, could be true and what absolutely can’t be true

Consider a right circular cylinder for which the following quantities are all numerically equal: the height, in meters; one-fourth of the volume, in cubic meters; the area of the circular base, in square meters.

In the table, select a value for the diameter of the circular base and a value for the height, where both are measured in meters, so that the two values are jointly consistent with the information provided. Make only two selections, one in each column


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning


This question is easy to solve because it test you quant very directly,
To solve this question, one must know the Volume of the cylinder which is, pi * r2 * h


For what values the height, in meters; one-fourth of the volume, in cubic meters; the area of the circular base, in square meters are equal,
h = 1/4th of pi * r2 * h = pi * r2
Let h denote the height (in meters); and let r and d denote the radius (in meters) and diameter (in meters).
Let’s solve the First column, Infer that the volume of a right circular cylinder is equal to the area of its base times its height,
h = 1/4th of pi * r2 * h
¼ pi * r2 = h
r2 = 4/pi
r = 2 sqrt(pi)
So d = 4 sqrt(pi)
So answer is B for the first column.
Second column,
1/4th of pi * r2 * h = pi * r2
¼* h = 1
h = 4
So the answer is C for the second column.


Table Analysis:

Generally Table analysis questions are data heavy, so one should have a quick look at the tables and have a clear on the picture on the columns and rows.
Good thing about table analysis is they allow you to sort the columns and mostly it would be the bi-polar questions.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

TA Working Procedure

-Figure out what kind of information is in each row and column

-Understand the nature of numbers in each column

-Do not confuse columns which contain a mix of absolute quantities and percents

-Pay close attention to the column labels



The table lists data on the 22 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater on the Richter scale during a recent year. Times are given in hours, minutes, and seconds on the 24-hour Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) clock and correspond to standard time at Greenwich, United Kingdom (UK). Latitude, measured in degrees, is 0 at the equator, increases from 0 to 90 proceeding northward to the North Pole, and decreases from 0 to —90 proceeding southward to the South Pole. Longitude, also measured in degrees, is 0 at Greenwich, UK, increases from 0 to 180 from west to east in the Eastern Hemisphere, and decreases from 0 to —180 from east to west in the Western Hemisphere.

For each of the following statements, select Yes if the statement is true based on the information provided, otherwise select No.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

The first question asks whether,
“For the 22 earthquakes; the arithmetic mean of the depths is greater than the median of the depths.”
In mathematical terms:
Is Mean > Median?
The question asks us to compare mean and median. Our natural instinct will be to first calculate the mean and then the median.
But lets find out median first, because its easier(Remember you can sort the column here).
The median –>
Median is the value of the middle-most cell of depth column, when data points are arranged in ascending order.
In this dataset, there are 22 elements.
So middle most value = mean of 11th and 12th values
Median = =25.5.

Now let’s find the mean, you got to be smart don’t do any unnecessary calculations.
Don’t find mean by the standard approach, be smart here, knowing a small rule would help here,

Fundamental principle – In a series of all positive numbers, mean of the series is always greater than the sum of limited data divided by total # of data points in the set.

When we glance at the dataset, we find that the last value 641 is disproportionately high. This implies that mean of the all depths must be greater than 1/22 times 641. This equals to 1/22*(641) = 29.136 km. Now, 29.136 km itself is already greater than the median depth (25.5 km), so the actual mean of the depths must be greater than the median of the depths. So we could arrive at the answer without actually calculating the exact mean of the list.

So answer would be Yes.

Next two questions(statements) are much simpler.

Second question, given location is north of the equator provided that its latitude is positive. So you can sort the latitude column here. You can see that only 10 of the 22 earthquakes listed occurred at positive latitude, so fewer than half of the earthquakes occurred north of the equator. So the answer would be No.

Third question, to determine the number of earthquakes occurring between 10:00:00 and 20:00:00 GMT, you can sort the column on Time (GMT) and then count. The 9 earthquakes appearing in positions 5 through 13 of the sorted list meet the criterion, but 9 out 22 is less than half. So the answer is No.

Graphical Interpretation:

Graphs could be of multiple types like pie – chart, line graph, and column charts etc. Let’s try to list down all the different types of graphs.

Graphical Interpretation question is mostly be text followed by a blank which has a drop-down menu with options, you can see that in the below image.

Before solving it, one should open the options of drop-down menu and then solve it.
It avoids unnecessary calculations of the objects which are in the graph but not in the options.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning
GI Working Procedure
– Analyze the graph/graphs. If there is more than one graph look for a linking factor between the two graphs
– Read the text accompanying the graph carefully. Pay attention to how the graph is labeled
– Estimate! You need not read the precise value on the graph if the value is between two ranges
– If you see words like ‘nearest to’ or ‘closest to’ then that is a clear invitation to estimate


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

– Used to show the relative sizes of slices as proportions of a whole
– Can be either a percentage pie chart or a degree pie chart
– In a percentage pie the entire circle represents a total of 100% and in a degree pie the entire circle represents a total of 360 degrees
– Can show only one series of data. If you see two pie charts then they represent two separate series of data


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

– Shows amount as heights and can be used to show trends over time
– Estimation is a key skill that you need to use here as you will have to read a value of a column which is between the gridlines
– Questions will deal with a percent increase or decrease from one time period to the next


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

– Very similar to column charts but each value is shown as a floating dot rather than a column
– X axis almost always represents time and the Y axis represents a definite value or a percentage
– Line graphs are used to track changes over short and long periods of time


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

– Displays bi variate data i.e. data in which we measure two different variables for each participant
– Each individual (each car, each company) would be a single dot on the graph, and the graph would have as many dots as individuals surveyed or measured
– When the points on a scatter plot lie more or less in a straight line that is called correlation.
– When it’s a straight line with a positive slope, that’s positive correlation, and when it’s a negative slope, that’s negative correlation


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

Very similar to scatter plots but instead of having two pieces of information we have three
Size of the bubble adds a third variable
Bubble charts provide a quick way to visually display what is going on with three different variables at once


GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning
In Country X, a building is in Category A if it has a roof height of at least 350 meters. In the graph, each of the 22 Category A buildings is represented by two points arranged vertically: one representing the comparison of the height of the building’s roof to the number of floors (red circles), the other representing the comparison of the height of the building’s roof to the mean height per floor (black squares). Based on the given information, use the drop down menus to most accurately complete the following statements about Category A buildings in Country X.

The building with the greatest mean height per floor has a roof height between __________ metres.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning

There is a ___________ correlation between the number of floors and the mean height per floor.

GMAT Crackverbal Integrated Reasoning


On some Graphics Interpretation questions, the graph will not be intuitive. In those cases, spend a little more time reading the labels on the graph and the introductory paragraph so that you can gain a thorough understanding of the data.

Identifying the units in the graph is very important, I would suggest write down the units in the scratch pad provided to you, so that you avoid careless errors.

In this case, the graph includes two dots–one red, one black–for each of several buildings. Each building has a height between 350 and 510 meters. That measurement is the x-axis.
There are two y-axes. On the left, we have “number of floors,” and each building has a red dot that reflects the number of floors given the building’s height.

For instance, the red dot is the far lower left tells us that a building roughly 355 meters high has approximately 53 floors.

The black dots reflect the “mean height per floor,” which is the y-axis on the right. The black dot that refers to that same ~355-meter-high building is near the top of the graph, indicating that that building’s mean height per floor is just above 6.5 meters.
The intro says there are 22 buildings. Thus, the graph contains 22 black dots and 22 red dots–one of each for each building.

First Blank asks you to identify the building with the greatest mean height per floor. Mean height per floor is the black dot, and the highest black dot is near the upper left corner of the graph, corresponding with a roof height of about 365 meters. Thus, the height of this building is between 350 and 370 meters. This a lot easier.

Second Blank refers to a concept that you may not be familiar with: correlation. There are three choices: strong negative, negligible, and strong positive.

If a correlation is positive, it means that when one attribute is high, the other is generally high, and vice versa.

When a correlation is negative, if one attribute is high, the other is low, and vice versa.
A negligible correlation refers to situations where there is no consistent relationship between the two attributes.

In this example, the correlation is strong negative. For most of the buildings with roof heights of 410 and above, the red dots and high and the black dots are low. For two of the shortest buildings, the black dots and high and the red dots are low. There are a few instances where both are in the middle, but in general, one attribute is high and the other is low.
So the answer would be strongly negative.

So that’s sums up the discussion of all the different question types which tested in GMAT IR.
Note that, I have used the official question as examples to show you the work around for each question type.

I hope you found this article useful while you prepare for GMAT.
All the best

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The Executive Assessment – A GMAT for Experienced Professionals

Reading Time: 5 minutes

So you have around 10 years of experience but do not have enough time to prepare for the GMAT. Fret not! GMAT has launched Executive Assessment for seasoned professionals like you in 2016. The Executive Assessment is a shorter version of the GMAT – a mini GMAT, if you like. The test duration is 90 minutes and it tests you on the same sections as the GMAT does. However, the test does not have an AWA section. Let us take a look at how the exam is structured –   Executive Assessment GMAT Crackverbal Exam Pattern   Okay, cool. What else do you need to know?

  1. You do not have an essay/AWA section on the Executive Assessment.
  2. You do not have breaks between the sections. It is a 90-minute-long race from the beginning to the end.
  3. The Integrated Reasoning Section score counts towards your final score!
  4. The ordering of the sections is different – Integrated Reasoning, Verbal, and then Quantitative.
  5. You have to cough up more money to register for the exam than you would if you take the GMAT. The registration fee is $350 plus taxes.
  6. The test can be rescheduled for free and can be rescheduled any number of times.
  7. You cannot attempt the Executive Assessment more than twice.
  8. You can retake the exam within 24 hours.
  9. The test is not computer adaptive like the GMAT. Questions are released in groups based on how you perform on the previous group of questions.

Here is a table summarizing the differences between the GMAT and the Executive Assessment –   GMAT Executive Assessment Comparison CrackVerbal   GMAT Executive Assessment Comparison CrackVerbal   Okay… So, which colleges accept the Executive Assessment? Not many. So far 7 schools have signed up. Among them are Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, Darden, LBS, INSEAD, Hong Kong Business School and CEIBS. You can read all about this here – The program is currently in beta-testing phase and you can expect many more schools to sign on to this in the coming months. Note that CEIBS indicates a preference for Executive Assessment over other standardized tests. Where is the test delivered? You can check the testing locations in your city here – If you are from Bangalore, the test can be scheduled either at Koramangala or at Dickenson Road Center. Note that you need your Passport to take the test. What about Rescheduling and Cancellations? You can reschedule your test as many times as necessary up to 24 hours before the scheduled appointment. This can be done free of cost. However, reschedules are not allowed less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment. If you need to reschedule less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment, you will forfeit your assessment fee and will need to schedule and pay for a new assessment. You may cancel your assessment (without rescheduling) up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled appointment. You will be refunded USD $250 out of the $350 that you paid while registering for the test. Cancellations are not allowed less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment. If you need to cancel less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment, you will forfeit your assessment fee. Note that you cannot cancel your results. What about the Sections on the test? How different are they from the GMAT? Well, let us talk about each section – Integrated Reasoning this section is very much the same as that on the GMAT. You need to answer 12 questions in 30 minutes. You may get any of these four question types – Multi Source Reasoning, Graphical Analysis, Table Analysis, and Two-part Analysis. Integrated Reasoning is much more important on this exam than on the GMAT. This section score actually goes into your final score. You are allowed to use the on-screen calculator in this section. You won’t be provided this facility on any other section. Verbal Section You need to answer 14 questions in 30 minutes. Hence, timing is more generous on the EA than on the GMAT. You get to spend around 128 seconds, on average, per question, compared to 109 seconds on the GMAT. Sentence Correction topics seem to encompass the same range as the questions from GMAT. You can probably ignore the Advanced topics section in our course. Critical Reasoning are also consistent with official GMAT questions. You should focus more on standard type of questions such as Find the Assumption, Strengthen, Weaken, and Inference. Reading Comprehension section differs somewhat from the GMAT. Some passages might come only with one question. (Typically, on the GMAT, you expect to see 3-4 questions per passage). Some passages (around 130 words) are noticeably shorter than the typical GMAT passage. Quantitative Section – You need to answer 14 questions in 30 minutes. The time allocated per question here is pretty much the same as on the GMAT. You will get pretty much the same type of questions – on Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. What else do I need to know about the sections? The Executive Assessment comprises five modules –

    1. Integrated Reasoning – 12 questions
    2. Verbal Reasoning 1 – 7 questions
    3. Verbal Reasoning 2 – 7 questions
    4. Quantitative Reasoning 1 – 7 questions
    5. Quantitative Reasoning 2 – 7 questions.

At the end of each of the five modules you will be presented with a review screen that will provide an opportunity for you to review and change your responses or return to any questions you may have skipped.  Note that you can only review and change responses within a given module.  Once you have moved onto the next module, the question responses on the previous module can’t be changed. What about Program Selections? When you create an account to register for the exam, you will be asked to select the program(s) that should receive your assessment results. You may select as many programs as you’d like, and you may change the program selections prior to taking the assessment. Once you have taken the assessment, only new schools can be selected to receive your results. If you retake/register for a second assessment, you may change your school selections. How should you study? GMAT suggests that you can take the EA with minimal amount of preparation. Preparation for this test should take you around a month. Focus more on the fundamentals and standard type of questions.   All the Best!   I hope this article helped you in understanding – how the Executive Assessment is different from the GMAT.   If you loved the blog, please let us know in the comments!    

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  • March, 2nd, 2017
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5 Changes in the GMAT exam that you need to be aware of!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

GMAC has announced several changes in the GMAT Exam policies to enhance test taking experience. Don’t worry! We will summarize all the changes in the GMAT over the last year in this article to help you understand the changes and strategize better.

Change 1 – Policy on Retaking the test

Well, there’s some good news and there’s some bad news. Let us start with the good news. If you are not satisfied with your test scores, you can retake the test after a 16-day time period (versus the earlier 31-day retake period). This is particularly good if your college application deadlines are right around the corner.

Note that you can only take 5 GMAT exams within a twelve-month period.

Then, there’s the bad news. GMAC has introduced a lifetime limit of 8 GMAT exams per candidate. This number is still very high for almost all GMAT aspirants. Moreover, if you cannot get it right within 8 exams, you will probably never get it right.

TIP – Plan your exams well. You don’t want to be that person who has wasted many attempts because she was either sick or ill prepared or because she did not carry her passport.

Change 2 – Cancellation Policy

Mostly good news here.

  1. You can cancel your scores immediately (you are allowed to view your scores after the exam) at the test center if you are not satisfied with your performance. Cancelling your scores at the exam center is free.

Here is some more good news –

The “C” that represents a candidate’s cancelled scores will not be shown on any future GMAT score reports. This feature will be applied retroactively to all previously cancelled test scores, which will be removed from all future score reports that are sent to schools.

Your cancelled scores will not be sent to any colleges that you apply.

  1. If you cannot make a decision about cancelling your scores at the test center, you have the flexibility to cancel the score within 72-hours of the test.


But they say, all good things come at a cost. You have to shell out 25$ should you decide to cancel your test scores after you have left the test center.


Here is the bad thing – you only get 72 hours to decide whether you want your GMAT scores to be cancelled.


  1. You can reinstate your cancelled scores for a period up to 4 years and 11 months after the exam date.

After your GMAT score is reinstated, a score report will automatically be sent to the schools you selected on the day of your exam. Cancelled scores will not appear on any GMAT score report sent to schools

You will have to cough up 50$ for reinstating your cancelled scores.


Here is a table for your quick reference –

Cancellation at the test CenterNo charge
Cancellation after 72 hours$25
Cancellation after 72 hoursNot possible
Reinstate your cancelled score$50; No extra charge for resending your scores to colleges


Note that you will still see a “C” on your GMAT score card to ensure an accurate record of your GMAT test taking history. However, cancelled scores will not be displayed on the version of score reports sent to schools.

Also, note that if you have taken the GMAT prior to Jul 19, 2015, you are out of luck. GMAC cannot remove the “C” designation in school databases from score reports sent to schools prior to July 19, 2015.

TIP – Decide which schools you want to apply and what would be a considered a “safe score” to apply to those colleges before you appear for your test.

Change 3 – Authentication code is now the same as your Date of Birth

You can now access your official score report on the link provided to you by using your Date of Birth as authentication code.

Change 4 – Exam pack 2 with two additional tests has been released

So what are you waiting for? Book your slot at CrackVerbal’s Infantry Road Centre or Koramangala Centre to take one of the official GMATPrep tests.

We provide all our students with free access to all the six official GMAT tests.

TIP – If you are like me and love to solve challenging questions, you can customize your GMATPrep experience using this screen –

Open GMATPrep Software >> Click on Practice >> Click on More Options

GMAT Prep CrackVerbal Changes in GMAT exam

Change 5 – AWA re-scoring service

If you are not satisfied with the score you got on the AWA section, you can request for your essay to be reevaluated for 45 $.

Note that the request for rescoring must be made within six months of your exam date. Also, you rescored results are final and you cannot submit more than one request for reevaluation of your AWA section.

You should get your results typically within 20 days of submission.

Be Careful! – Rescoring may result in an increase or decrease in your original AWA score.

In the next blog, we will take a detailed look at an ESR report and the exciting changes GMAT has implemented.


I hope this article helped you in understanding – how to tackle the changes in the GMAT and shine through.

If you loved the blog, please let us know in the comments!

Pro Tip: Curious about how to start off your own journey towards an awe-inspiring GMAT score ? Try out our free GMAT Online Trial course.


  • March, 2nd, 2017
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A Guide to GMAT Geometry

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Most of the students when they hear the word “Geometry”, they think of trigonometry, they think about theorems etc. But in GMAT it’s quite different.

In this article, let’s discuss about what is tested in GMAT geometry and what could be the best preparation strategy for GMAT Geometry?
Even though it carries only approximately 3 to 6 questions in GMAT, it has its own importance in GMAT.For these 3- 6 questions, you are expected to know the basic formulae and shapes. GMAT also tests your visualizing skills.
Below mentioned three things are must for a GMAT student who wants to fair really well in Geometry:
1. Draw for the questions even if the figures are not provided. If the figures are provided then re-draw the figure.
2. Know the basic shapes like triangle, quadrilaterals, circles, rectangular solids and basic properties of straight lines in co-ordinate geometry really well.
3. Do not make any assumption unless or otherwise it is specified in the question.

Let’s understand what GMAT has to say about the figures in Geometry.
GMAT Directions for Geometry (GMAC™)
1. For problem solving questions, figures are drawn as accurately as possible. Exceptions will be clearly noted.
2. For data sufficiency questions, figures conform to the information given in the question, but will not necessarily conform to the additional information given in statements (1) and (2).
3. Lines shown as straight are straight, and lines that appear jagged are also straight.
4. The positions of points, angles, regions, etc., exist in the order shown, and angle measures are greater than zero.
5. All figures lie in a plane unless otherwise indicated.
So, how should a student approach a question on Geometry?
In GMAT particularly for a DS questions, one should not solve a question based on the diagram or figure given in the question. Try to draw your own figure based out of the information provided in the question and the statements.
For a PS question, mostly the diagram will map to the question provided unless stated otherwise.
That is, they will give a note below a figure stating “Figure is not drawn to scale”, In that case one should be really careful about the diagram and try to redraw according to the information given to the question.
To just to give an example of this, take a look at the below question,
In the figure given, if PR is a line segment, what is the sum of the lengths of the curved paths from P to Q and from Q to R?
XQ = QY = 5 centimeters.
Every point on arc PQ is 5 centimeters from point X, and every point on arc QR is 5 centimeters from point Y.

Given is a figure that looks like two semi circles of equal areas with center X and center Y respectively. However we cannot assume any of this as we are not told this in the question.
Here anybody could easily fall for the diagram, and say X and Y are centers, which is what we have to be very careful and look at the question and the statements, and search for anything with suggests that X and Y are centers. Here statement II only suggest that X and Y are centers.
Statement I is insufficient: XQ=QY=5.
This would have been sufficient if we were given X and Y are the center of the circles. If they were centers then XQ and QY were radius of the circle and we could have calculated the length of the arc. However as we do not know if they are centers they could be any arbitrary points. Hence not sufficient.
Statement II is sufficient:
The meaning of the statement is that X and Y are the centers of the 2 semi circles each with radius of 5. We can calculate length of arc by 2* Pie* Radius.
Hence it is sufficient.
So the Answer is B.

Let’s look at another figure:

Here let’s say the question is ABCD is a quadrilateral and all sides are equal.
Here basic assumption students may end up doing is considering this is a square. Because all sides are equal and each angle looks like it is 90 degrees. But here one should be really careful about this.
It looks like each vertex angle is 90 degrees, does not mean that it is a square. If somewhere in the question if they have specified each vertex angle is 90 degrees then you can take the figure as a square otherwise not.
You have to seriously look for other information in the question. Because you cannot assume anything like angles and lengths based out of a diagram.
Tips for Co-ordinate Geometry:
Best part about GMAT co-ordinate geometry question is they test your visualizing skills in straight lines than the formulae. Very rarely they test curve like parabola. Even if they test curves you can still solve it by plugging in and drawing it out.
If you look at it, lines alone could easily have 20 odd formulae; one cannot be mugging up all these to do well in GMAT.
Just keep the following tips in mind while solving a co-ordinate geometry questions:
1. A student will be provided with a scratch pad during the exam which has grid lines. So make good use of this and draw x-y plane in the scratch pad and consider each small square as x and y units.
2. When finding the intercepts, slopes and distance try to use the grid lines to solve rather than formulae. Formulae would be handy only for easy questions but not for hard questions. You need to develop the skills of finding the distance, slope and intercepts using the x-y plane.
3. Use the answer choices, so that you can do some POE (Process of Elimination) when it comes to a hard question. That would save lot of time.
If you follow the above points while practicing the questions it would definitely help you in the actual GMAT exam.
To sum it up, GMAT geometry is the easiest topic one could expect. So don’t go about learning all the unnecessary formulae. That is definitely not going to help. Try to keep it simple. Practice as many questions keeping in mind the above points.
I hope this article helped you in understanding – how to take on GMAT geometry and shine through.

If you loved the blog, please let us know in the comments!

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  • March, 2nd, 2017
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How to score well on GMAT Reading Comprehension

Reading Time: 19 minutes

“People have always been divided about whether Reading is an art or a science. Proponents of “Art-Reading” claim that reading is an art because they believe that any science should actually be measurable. Since one cannot “measure” how much one needs to read to reach a certain level of proficiency, they argue, how can reading be a science?
On the other hand, are the critics who offer several objections to the hypothesis stated above. These proponents of “Science-reading” claim that since there are various techniques that can be conceived, devised, taught and learnt to improve reading skills, it can be considered a Science.”
GMAT Reading Art or Science
Did you read that?
You must be a GMAT aspirant! 🙂 If you have found your way to this blog, you are probably struggling with an issue that is common to most GMAT aspirants – Making sense of dense RC passages on obscure topics, reading words you have never heard before! We hear you!
The problem is, we are usually not accustomed to the level of reading that the GMAT requires of us.
So, how much RC is there in the GMAT anyway?
The number of RC passages vary, but the number of questions would be in the range of 12-15. RC passages can be characterized as short or long passages. Short passages are 1-2 paragraphs, less than 50 lines long, and usually have 3 questions. Long passages are usually 3-4 paragraphs, more than 50 lines long, and usually have 4 questions.
GMAT Reading Comprehension Question Format tips
In this blog, we will show you how to score well on GMAT Reading Comprehension, using a bunch of powerful techniques, that will work, regardless of how much reading you have done in your life or how much you used to score on your English exams at school!
Here’s a peek into what you will get in this blog –
1. A quick note on active and passive reading, to get you into the right frame of mind to tackle RC questions
2. A step-by-step approach to answering RC questions
3. The types of RC questions you will encounter
4. Practice exercises

Active Vs Passive Reading

Imagine yourself in front of the TV. You’re watching the news and simultaneously flipping through a magazine..You’re bored!
You chance upon a lifestyle article ( think ‘How to exercise right’ or ‘How to stay healthy in a scorching summer’), and you begin reading.
How do you think you would read?
Would you delve deep into the subject and try to absorb every detail? Would you try and correlate three things from the text and try to apply it to your current life? Would every fibre of your concentration be focused on that article?
Probably not.
What you would probably do is Passive Reading.
A passive reader –
1. Reads quickly
2. Has a short attention span
3. Will just skim through difficult points, or stop reading altogether.
GMAT Passive Reading Tips
On the other hand, imagine yourself on a cold December Sunday morning, snuggling in your couch while it is raining outside.
You have a novel by your favourite author in one hand and a coffee mug in the other.
In this situation, how would you read?
Would you relate to the characters in the book and imagine the different scenes that you are reading? Would you lose yourself in the book to such a degree that you are not aware of time passing by? Did we hearing you saying yes?
Well, this is Active Reading!
An active reader –
1. Reads with purpose
2. Asks questions to uncover the purpose and meaning of the text
3. Notes down the main points ( either mentally or down on paper)
GMAT Reading Comprehension Active Reading
As you may have guessed, Passive Reading isn’t much use on the GMAT..Active Reading is the way to go!

A Step-by-Step Approach to GMAT RC

There’s a lot of advice out there about HOW to solve an RC question.
Should you skim through the passage?
Should you speed-read?
Or should you read it carefully?
Should you look for keywords?
Should you read a few questions before you read the passage for the first time?
There’s way too much advice out there, and it can get overwhelming!
Let’s help you keep it simple.
Hit the erase button on all the contradictory advice you have heard on the subject, and listen carefully.

1. Skim through the passage once

(a) Read the passage once. Do not try to speed-read, and do not read too slowly.
(b) As you are reading, remember this mantra – R-O-S-I ( Read Opinion; Skip Information).
GMAT Reading Comprehension Tips
This means that you do not need to remember data points. The data is provided only to support an opinion.
The opinion/inference of the author is what you need to focus on. Narrowing your focus thus will reduce the mental bandwidth you need to use, and will also significantly reduce the time you need to read the passage.
(c) While you are reading, ensure that you understand –
• The first few lines of the passage and the last sentence of the passage – This is because the first few lines of the passage supply the main idea of the passage. Even if you take a day to read the entire passage over and over again, you’ll find that main idea is in the first few lines 🙂
• The first and last sentence of each paragraph – Do this exercise. Pick an RC passage, pick the second paragraph, and remove all sentences except the first and the last one. You will see that MOST of the message of the paragraph is still retained! Even if you haven’t quite grasped a sentence in the middle of the paragraph on your initial reading of the passage, don’t fret about it. Just make sure you understand the first and the last sentence.
• Pay attention to keywords that indicate a shift of direction – There are certain ‘directional’ words, such as moreover, however, but, rather, etc, that indicate the flow of meaning between different sentences and paragraphs.
As you read, make a mental note of these words and the changes they indicate.
GMAT Reading Comprehension First Time Read tips

2.Make an RC map as you skim

The single most effective technique on the Reading Comprehension section is note-taking..Or what we call RC maps.
We see many students resist the idea of taking notes.
And we get it.
On the face of it, making a map might look like a waste of very precious time. You may think that you could just make a mental note of it.
But here’s why it is important – Remember, you’re not tackling the RC question when you’re feeling your best and brightest. You have already used up a lot of mental energy on previous sections of the test. You need to conserve your energy until the end of the test.
Do you really want to coax your brain into memorising what each passage contains?
Or do you want to use it more effectively, to actually solve questions?
On the RC, use your brain as a processing unit, not a storage unit!
Trust us on this..mapping will help you even if you otherwise have a knack for reading, even if you otherwise have a fantastic memory that can remember all sorts of irrelevant details. The very fact that you are tackling the RC section under stress changes the rules of the game, and makes mapping essential!
Road Map GMAT Reading Comprehension
How should your RC Map look? Here are the two things you need to remember as you frame your RC map.
(a) Your map should be brief:
Your RC map should contain only a few words ( or a few diagrams, if you’re a visual learner) of summing up for each passage. Remember..your map is only a way for YOU to answer quicker. It is not supposed to be a reference for anybody else.
So write just enough so that, a few minutes later, you will be able to track down answers using the map. You want to use shorthand or your own secret code or squiggly figures? Go ahead! 🙂
(b) Your map should not contain data:
Every sentence in a GMAT passage is either one where the author expresses and opinion or one where the author presents data.
When you read a passage for the first time it is important to understand the opinions of the author and the general direction of the passage, but not the actual data.
If your question demands factual knowledge, you can always do a quick re-read of the relevant section.
GMAT Road Map Reading Comprehension
For this reason, do not bother clogging your mind or your RC map with data!

3. Answer the questions!

Now that you have a basic understanding of the passage, start solving the questions.
Read the question slowly and carefully. Once you have understood what the question is asking you, quickly glance through the map to understand where you need to go looking for the answer.
Let’s say that the map indicates that the answer will be found in paragraph 3. The next thing you need to do is scan through paragraph 3.
Scanning is nothing but going through large sections of text rapidly with the intent of zeroing in on a sentence or a set of sentences.
As soon as you have arrived at a sentence which looks like it may contain the answer to your question, slow down, read carefully and understand what this section of the passage is conveying.
Now read through ALL the answer options.
Use the process of elimination to filter out the incorrect options and narrow down to the answer.
Unlike the Sentence Correction Section, where you can employ techniques such as Vertical Scanning to quickly eliminate a couple of answer choices, you have to read EACH option carefully on the RC section, to ensure that you choose the most optimal answer!
GMAT Reading Comprehension Answering Process
And there it is! You have just solved an RC question 🙂
Remember..Not all RC questions are created equal. Some of them may require a little more effort and time as compared to others.
Read the next section for a breakdown of the common types of RC questions that appear on the GMAT!



1. Big Picture Questions/Main Idea questions:

Big picture questions or main idea questions ask you to identify the central theme of a passage. The below questions are the most commonly asked questions on this theme –
Which of the following most accurately states the main idea of the passage?
The primary purpose of the passage is to
The passage is primarily concerned with which of the following?
The author of this passage is primarily concerned with
The main point made by the passage is that
How do you tackle this question type?
This is the simplest type of question to answer, because you might not even need to refer to the passage again. The main idea is usually in the first few sentences of the passage, and you may even have down on your map. However, if you are in doubt about whether you got it down correctly, by all means go back and quickly refer the first paragraph and the last couple of sentences of the last paragraph of the passage.
GMAT Reading Comprehension Tips Question Types

2. Supporting Idea Questions

Supporting idea questions are easy to recognize. They often start with “according to the passage” or “the passage states that”. These questions test your ability to find a specific piece of information contained in the passage.
The below questions are common among this type –
According to the passage, a questionable assumption about x is that
The passage states that ‘a’ occurs because
According to the passage, which of the following is true of ‘a’
The passage mentions each of the following EXCEPT
According to the passage, if ‘a’ occurs then
How do you tackle this question type?
These questions are not as easy to answer as main idea questions because you will have to recollect, or re-read a specific portion of text. Start by looking at the map to zero down on which paragraph is the relevant one. Now quickly scan over this paragraph and use the POE technique on the answer options, to arrive at the answer.
GMAT Reading Comprehension Supporting Idea

3. Inference/Implied Questions

These questions are very similar to Supporting Idea questions. But they ask you to go a little further and think about what the author implied in a particular set of lines, rather than just what he/she said.
Remember, you do not have to stretch your imagination to answer this one- you still have to stay very close to the truth. Just look for the implicit, unwritten message in what the author said.
The passage implies that which of the following was true of x
It can be inferred from the passage that
The passage suggests which of the following about x
The author implies that x occurred because
The author implies that all of the following statements about x are true EXCEPT
How do you tackle this question type?
The answer to this question is usually a fairly obvious logical consequence of some sentence in the passage. First, look at the map to zero in on the paragraph you need to read. Next, look at the answer options and use POE. You may have to switch back and forth between the answer options and the paragraph a few times.
GMAT Reading Comprehension Tips Inferred Implied

4. Structural questions

Structural questions test you on your awareness of the logical structure of the passage.
Some common questions in this type are –
The main function of the second paragraph of this passage is to
The author uses the adjective ‘a’ in line ‘b’ to express that
Which of the following best describes the relation of the third paragraph to the passage as a whole?
How do you tackle this question type?
This is one of the question types where your map will come to your aid. Even just chalking down the map would have given you an idea of the flow of the passage, even if you have not written down anything in specific about the structure. However, this question could occasionally require a re-read of a section of the passage, with particular attention on words that indicate a shift in direction.
GMAT Reading Comprehension Structural Tips

5. Extrapolation Questions

Extrapolation questions require you to go one step further and extrapolate the given information to hypothetical situations.
These questions are likely to be in the below form –
The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which of the following?
Which of the following statements would provide the most logical continuation of the final paragraph?
[an idea or action described in the passage] is most similar to which of the following?
How do you tackle this question type?
These questions will need some thinking through, and could take a little longer to answer. Amongst these question options given above, those that reference a particular section ( the 2nd and 3rd options ) will probably require lesser effort to answer.
The first type will require you to understand everything the author has opined, before you can take a guess at what else the author could say.
GMAT Reading Comprehension Extrapolation Questions Tips

Illustrative Passage

Let us now solve a sample GMAT RC passage.
The human species came into being at the time of the greatest biological diversity in the history of the Earth. Today, as human populations expand and alter the natural environment, they are reducing biological diversity to its lowest level since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago. The ultimate consequences of this biological collision are beyond calculation, but they are certain to be harmful. That, in essence, is the biodiversity crisis.
The history of global diversity can be summarized as follows: after the initial flowering of multicellular animals, there was a swift rise in the number of species in early Paleozoic times (between 600 and 430 million years ago), then plateau like stagnation for the remaining 200 million years of the Paleozoic era, and finally a slow but steady climb through the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras to diversity’s all-time high. This history suggests that biological diversity was hard won and a long time in coming. Furthermore, this pattern of increase was set back by five massive extinction episodes. The most recent of these, during the Cretaceous period, is by far the most famous, because it ended the age of the dinosaurs, conferred hegemony on the mammals, and ultimately made possible the ascendancy of the human species. But the cretaceous crisis was minor compared with the Permian extinctions 240 million years ago, during which between 77 and 96 percent of marine animal species perished. It took 5 million years, well into Mesozoic times, for species diversity to begin a significant recovery.
Within the past 10,000 years biological diversity has entered a wholly new era. Human activity has had a devastating effect on species diversity, and the rate of human-induced extinctions is accelerating. Half of the bird species of Polynesia have been eliminated through hunting and the destruction of native forests. Hundreds of fish species endemic to Lake Victoria are now threatened with extinction following the careless introduction of one species of fish, the Nile perch. The list of such biogeographic disasters is extensive.
Because every species is unique and irreplaceable, the loss of biodiversity is the most profound process of environmental change. Its consequences are also the least predictable because the value of Earth’s biota (the fauna and flora collectively) remains largely unstudied and unappreciated; unlike material and cultural wealth, which we understand because they are the substance of our everyday lives, biological wealth is usually taken for granted. This is a serious strategic error, one that will be increasingly regretted as time passes. The biota is not only part of a country’s heritage, the product of millions of years of evolution centered on that place; it is also a potential source for immense untapped material wealth in the form of food, medicine, and other commercially important substance.

(I) Stop here. Read the above passage.

On your initial reading of the passage, we hope you focused on the highlighted sentences as below. This passage has a LOT of data about various eras. All of it is unnecessary information at this point. The important bits, that is, the opinions, are highlighted.
The human species came into being at the time of the greatest biological diversity in the history of the Earth. Today, as human populations expand and alter the natural environment, they are reducing biological diversity to its lowest level since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago. The ultimate consequences of this biological collision are beyond calculation, but they are certain to be harmful. That, in essence, is the biodiversity crisis.
The history of global diversity can be summarized as follows: after the initial flowering of multicellular animals, there was a swift rise in the number of species in early Paleozoic times (between 600 and 430 million years ago), then plateau like stagnation for the remaining 200 million years of the Paleozoic era, and finally a slow but steady climb through the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras to diversity’s all-time high. This history suggests that biological diversity was hard won and a long time in coming. Furthermore, this pattern of increase was set back by five massive extinction episodes. The most recent of these, during the Cretaceous period, is by far the most famous, because it ended the age of the dinosaurs, conferred hegemony on the mammals, and ultimately made possible the ascendancy of the human species. But the cretaceous crisis was minor compared with the Permian extinctions 240 million years ago, during which between 77 and 96 percent of marine animal species perished. It took 5 million years, well into Mesozoic times, for species diversity to begin a significant recovery.
Within the past 10,000 years biological diversity has entered a wholly new era. Human activity has had a devastating effect on species diversity, and the rate of human-induced extinctions is accelerating. Half of the bird species of Polynesia have been eliminated through hunting and the destruction of native forests. Hundreds of fish species endemic to Lake Victoria are now threatened with extinction following the careless introduction of one species of fish, the Nile perch. The list of such biogeographic disasters is extensive.
Because every species is unique and irreplaceable, the loss of biodiversity is the most profound process of environmental change. Its consequences are also the least predictable because the value of Earth’s biota (the fauna and flora collectively) remains largely unstudied and unappreciated; unlike material and cultural wealth, which we understand because they are the substance of our everyday lives, biological wealth is usually taken for granted. This is a serious strategic error, one that will be increasingly regretted as time passes. The biota is not only part of a country’s heritage, the product of millions of years of evolution centered on that place; it is also a potential source for immense untapped material wealth in the form of food, medicine, and other commercially important substance.

2. Make an RC Map.

So this is what our Map looks like –
Paragraph 1:
Introducing the biodiversity crisis -> caused by human populations.
Paragraph 2:
Biological diversity was hard won. 5 extinction episodes.
Paragraph 3:
Effect of human activity on biodiversity – specific examples.
Paragraph 4:
Ignoring this problem is an error because- part of heritage, source of potential wealth.
Let us examine each of the following questions in detail –

1. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?

(A) The reduction in biodiversity is an irreversible process that represents a setback both for science and for society as a whole.
(B) The material and cultural wealth of a nation are insignificant when compared with the country’s biological wealth.
(C) The enormous diversity of life on Earth could not have come about without periodic extinctions that have conferred preeminence on one species at the expense of another.
(D) The human species is in the process of initiating a massive extinction episode that may make past episodes look minor by comparison.
(E) The current decline in species diversity is human-induced tragedy of incalculable proportions that has potentially grave consequences for the human species.
(A) The passage does not indicate that reduction in biodiversity is irreversible; just that recovery is slow. Also, the main idea of the passage is about the role of human populations in this process.
(B) This is not indicated anywhere in the passage.
(C) Not true. In fact, the passage says that these extinctions slowed down the increase in diversity.
(D) Humans may be causing this tragedy by their deeds, but they are not in the process of ‘Initiating’ a massive extinction episode.
(E) This is the correct answer. From the map, this is indeed the main idea.

2. Which one of the following situations is most analogous to the history of global diversity summarized in lines 10-18 of the passage?

(A) The number of fish in a lake declines abruptly as a result of water pollution, then makes a slow comeback after cleanup efforts and the passage of ordinances against dumping.
(B) The concentration of chlorine in the water supply of large city fluctuates widely before stabilizing at a constant and safe level.
(C) An old-fashioned article of clothing goes in and out of style periodically as a result of features in fashion magazines and the popularity of certain period films.
(D) After valuable mineral deposits are discovered, the population of a geographic region booms then levels off and begins to decrease at a slow and steady pace.
(E) The variety of styles stocked by a shoe store increases rapidly after the store opens, holds constant for many months, and then gradually creeps upward.
The passage talks of a steep increase, then stagnation, then a slow climb. Let us look for a parallel analogy.
(A) This option talks of a decline and comeback. Hence incorrect.
(B) This talks of a fluctuation and then stabilization. Hence incorrect.
(C) This is completely irrelevant as an analogy.
(D) This is incorrect because of the decrease after the plateau – we are looking for an increase after the plateau.
(E) This is the correct answer.
3. The author suggests which one of the following about the Cretaceous crisis?
(A) It was the second most devastating extinction episode in history.
(B) It was the most devastating extinction episode up until that time.
(C) It was less devastating to species diversity than is the current biodiversity crisis.
(D) The rate of extinction among marine animal species as a result of the crisis did not approach 77 percent.
(E) The dinosaurs comprised the great majority of species that perished during the crisis.
(A) This is a trap answer. Though the passage says that the Cretaceous crisis was minor compared to the Permian extinctions, it does not say that the Cretaceous crisis was the second most devastating extinction.
(B) No. In fact, the passage explicitly says that it was NOT the most devastating.
(C) Though the passage does say that current crisis is cause for concern, there is no information to indicate a comparison between the current crisis and the Cretaceous crisis.
(D) This is the correct answer. Since the Cretaceous crisis was minor compared to the Permian extinction, which had a 77% -96% rate of extinction, it can be inferred that the Cretaceous crisis did not have this high rate.
(E) There is nothing to suggest that dinosaurs formed the majority of species that perished.
4. The author mentions the Nile perch in order to provide an example of
(A) a species that has become extinct through human activity
(B) the typical lack of foresight that has led to biogeographic disaster
(C) a marine animal species that survived the Permian extinctions
(D) a species that is a potential source of material wealth
(E) the kind of action that is necessary to reverse the decline in species diversity
(A) The Nile Perch has not become extinct. It is the species that endangered many others.
(B) This is the correct answer.
(C) There is nothing to connect the Nile Perch to Permian extinctions.
(D) This is not suggested anywhere.
(E) No – the Nile Perch example is used to explain how the decline is being caused – not what needs to be done to reverse the decline.

5. All of the following are explicitly mentioned in the passage as contributing to the extinction of species EXCEPT

(A) hunting
(B) pollution
(C) deforestation
(D) the growth of human populations
(E) human-engineered changes in the environment
(A) Hunting is mentioned as a reason in the third paragraph.
(B) This is the correct answer. Pollution is not mentioned anywhere in the passage.
(C) Destruction of native forests is mentioned in the third paragraph.
(D) Growth of human populations – This is suggested not in the third paragraph, but in the very first couple of sentences.
(E) This is suggested – The Nile Perch is an example.

6. The passage suggests which one of the following about material and cultural wealth?

(A) Because we can readily assess the value of material and cultural wealth, we tend not to take them for granted.
(B) Just as the biota is a source of potential material wealth, it is an untapped source of cultural wealth as well.
(C) Some degree of material and cultural wealth may have to be sacrificed if we are to protect our biological heritage.
(D) Material and cultural wealth are of less value than biological wealth because they have evolved over a shorter period of time.
(E) Material wealth and biological wealth are interdependent in a way that material wealth and cultural wealth are not.
(A) This is the correct answer. This is suggested by the above lines.
(B) This is not indicated in the passage.
(C) This is not at all indicated.
(D) This comparison is not made.
(E) Though the passage indicates that biological wealth can increase material wealth ( in the last sentence), there is no comparison made between cultural wealth and biological wealth.
7. The author would be most likely to agree with which one of the following statements about the consequences of the biodiversity crisis?
(A) The loss of species diversity will have as immediate an impact on the material of nations as on their biological wealth.
(B) The crisis will likely end the hegemony of the human race and bring about the ascendancy of another species.
(C) The effects of the loss of species diversity will be dire, but we cannot yet tell how dire.
(D) It is more fruitful to discuss the consequences of the crisis in terms of the potential loss to humanity than in strictly biological loss to humanity than in strictly biological terms.
(E) The consequences of the crisis can be minimized, but the pace of extinctions can not be reversed.
(A) The impact on the material of nations vs the impact on biological wealth – This comparison is not made in the passage. It just says that the biodiversity crisis could have an impact on material wealth as well.
(B) This is not suggested at all.
(C) This is the correct answer, as indicated by this line – ‘The ultimate consequences of this biological collision are beyond calculation, but they are certain to be harmful.’
(D) We cannot ascertain this. The author does not express a preference for discussing it in one way or the other – he talks about it in biological terms AS WELL as in terms of potential loss to humanity.
(E) The author does not say anything indicating that the consequences can be minimized.
With a structured approach to reading, mapping and solving questions, you can turn RC from a many-headed monster to your friend on the GMAT!
We hope that this post helps you better your performance on GMAT RC.
Now that you’ve cracked the RC section of the GMAT, would you like to learn powerful techniques to help you on other sections on the GMAT as well?



Pro Tip: Think you are ready for an interactive video lesson? Try out our free GMAT Online Trial course.

The Ultimate Guide to GMAT Inequalities

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Are you wondering, why an entire blog post on Inequalities?

Well, as you may have already found out, compared to other question types on the GMAT, inequality questions are an especially slippery slope! They have sent many a test-taker tumbling down on the path to not-so-great Quant scores.

By the time you finish reading this post, you will know all that you need to make sure that this does not happen to you!

So, without further ado, let us examine some must-know inequality concepts and strategies that will help us navigate these tricky questions with limited information .

We’ll first start with the fundamental concept of inequalities, followed by basic properties and then move on to explore the complexities involved with some additional properties. Finally we will summarize the key takeaways with a list of points to keep in mind while using inequalities in problem-solving and data sufficiency questions.

1. What are inequalities?

2. Basic properties

3. Advanced Properties

4. Points to remember

1. What are Inequalities?

Equations and inequalities are both mathematical sentences formed by relating two expressions to each other.

In an equation, the two expressions are deemed equal which is shown by the symbol =.

Where as in an inequality, the two expressions are not necessarily equal – this is indicated by the symbols: >, <, ≤ or ≥.

x > y   —->   x is greater than y

x ≥ y   —->   x is greater than or equal to y

x < y   —->   x is less than y

x ≤ y   —->   x is less than or equal to y


Inequalities on a Number line

Gmat Inequalities

Number lines, such as those shown below, are an excellent way to visualize exactly what a given inequality means. A closed (shaded) circle at the endpoint of the shaded portion of the number line indicates that the graph is inclusive of that endpoint, as in the case of ≤ or ≥.

GMAT Inequalities

An open (unshaded) circle at the endpoint of the shaded portion of the number line indicates that the graph is not inclusive of that endpoint, as in the case of < or >

GMAT Inequalities

2. Basic Properties

There are 2 basic properties of inequalities which we can quickly prove using the example below.

Property 1:

If we consider the true inequality

4 < 8


Adding 2 to both sides       6 < 10       (the inequality sign holds true)

Subtracting 2 from both sides       2 < 6       (the inequality sign holds true)

Multiplying both sides by +2       8 < 16       (the inequality sign holds true)

Dividing both sides by +2       2 < 4       (the inequality sign holds true)

Adding or subtracting the same expression to both sides of an inequality does not change the inequality.

Multiplying or dividing the same positive number to both sides of an inequality does not change the inequality.

Property 2:

Again considering the true inequality

4 < 8

Multiplying both sides by -2       -8 > -16       (the inequality sign reverses)

Dividing both sides by -2       -2 > -4       (the inequality sign reverses)

Muhhhltiplying or dividing the same negative number to both sides of an inequality reverses the inequality – this is also called the flip rule of inequalities.

A little Q & A anyone?

Now that we are done with the basic properties of inequalities, here are a couple of questions to make you think.

Question: Can we add or subtract a variable on both sides of an inequality?

Answer: Yes, because adding or subtracting a variable is the same as adding or subtracting a number.

Question: Can we multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a variable?

Answer: No, we cannot, if we do not know the sign of the number that the variable stands for. The reason is that you would not know whether to flip the inequality sign.

Let us illustrate this with an example –

If x/y > 1, most test-takers make the mistake of deducing that x>y, by multiplying both sides by y. But we haven’t been given any information about the sign of the number that the variable y stands for.

If x = 3 and y = 2 then the above relation x/y > 1 will hold true, and x will be greater than y.
However if x = -3 and y= -2 then the above relation x/y > 1 will again hold true, but x will not be greater than y.

If x/y > 1, the only fact that can definitely be deduced is that both x and y are of the same sign .

Example 1:

Question: If a, b, c are non zero integers and a > bc, then which of the following must be true :

I. a/b > c
II. a/c > b
III. a/bc > 1

A. I only
B. II only
C. III only
D. I, II and III
E. None of these


Now the trap answer here will be D (I, II and III). The general tendency will be to multiply both sides of the first inequality a/b > c by b to get a > bc, both sides of the second inequality by c to get a > bc and both sides of the third inequality by bc to get a > bc.

Remember that we can never multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a variable if the sign of the variable is not known. In this problem the signs of b and c are not known. The above statements I, II and III can be true, if b and c are both positive. But they will not be true if b and c are negative. Since the question is of a ‘must-be-true’ type, the answer here must be E.

Example 2:

Solve: -6x + 4 ≤ -2

Solving an inequality means finding all of its solutions. A ‘solution’ of an inequality is a number which when substituted for the variable satisfies the inequality

The steps to solve a linear inequation are as follows:

• Isolate the variable and always keep the variable positive
• Solve using the properties of inequalities
• Represent the inequality on a number line

Isolating the variable by subtracting 4 from both sides we get -6x ≤ -6
Dividing both sides by -6 and flipping the inequality sign we get x ≥ 1

GMAT inequalities

3. Advanced Concepts

Well, so far, we saw how the basic operations are applied to inequalities.

It is now time to delve into more complex properties of inequalities, dealing with :
A) Inequalities in fractions

B) Squaring Inequalities

C) Square Root Inequalities

D) Reciprocal of Inequalities

E) Like Inequalities

F) Max Min Concept of Inequalities

G) Quadratic Inequalities


A) Inequalities in Fractions

All proper fractions on the number line can be represented using the range -1 < x < 1 where x represents the proper fraction

All positive proper fractions can be represented using the range 0 < x < 1 where x represents the positive proper fraction

For all proper fractions (0 < x < 1), √x > x > x2

If x = ¼ then √x = ½ and x^2 = 1/16


Clearly here ½ > ¼> 1/16

If x = 0.888, y = √0.888 and z = (0.888)^2 which of the following is true

A. x < y < z
B. x < z < y
C. y < x < z
D. z < y < x
E. z < x < y


Since 0.888 is a fraction,
√0.888 0.888 > (0.888)^2
y > x > z
Reversing the inequality we get z < x < y

Answer : E

B) Squaring Inequalities

We cannot square both sides of an inequality unless we know the signs of both sides of the inequality.

If both sides are known to be negative then flip the inequality sign when you square.

For instance, if a < -4, then the left hand side must be negative. Since both sides are negative, you can square both sides and reverse the inequality sign : a^2 > 16. However, if a > -4, then you cannot square both sides, because it is unclear whether the left side is positive or negative. If a is negative then a^2 < 16, but if x is positive then x^2 could be either greater than 9 or less than 9.

If both sides are known to be positive, do not flip the inequality sign when you square.

For instance, if a > 4, then the left side must be positive; since both sides are positive you can square both sides to yield a^2 > 16. However if a < 4 then you cannot square both sides, because it is unclear whether the left side is positive or negative.

If one side is positive and one side is negative then you cannot square.

For instance, if you know that a < b, a is negative, and b is positive, you cannot make any determination about x^2 vs. y^2.

If for example, x = -2 and y = 2, then x^2 = y^2.

If x = -2 and y = 3, then x^2 < y^2.

If x = -2 and y = 1, then x^2 > y^2.

It should be noted that if one side of the inequality is negative and the other side is positive, then squaring is probably not warranted.

If signs are unclear, then you cannot square.

Put simply, we would not know whether to flip the sign of the inequality once you have squared it.

C) Square Root Inequalities

If x^2 < a ^2, then x > -a and x < a, the range of x will be – a < x < a

For e.g. if x^2 < 100 then the values of x that are going to satisfy the inequality are values of x < 10 and values of x > -10.

If x^2 > a^2, then x > a and x < -a, the range of x will be from (-∞, -a) and (a, ∞)

For e.g. if x^2 > 100 then the values of x that are going to satisfy the inequality are values of x > 10 and values of x < -10.


If (y – 5)^2 < 36, find the range of y

If x^2 < a^2 then the range of x is -a < x < a.

Now x here is replaced by y – 5 and a is replaced by 6 (since 6^2 = 36).

(y – 5)^2 < 36 —-> -6 < y – 5 < 6.

Now adding 5 throughout and isolating the variable y we get,

(y – 5)^2 < 36 —-> -6 + 5 < y – 5 + 5 < 6+ 5

(y – 5) ^2 < 36 —-> -1 < y < 11


D) Reciprocal Inequalities

Taking the reciprocal of both a and b can change the direction of the inequality.

The general rule is that when a < b then:

If (1/a ) > (1/b) when a and b are positive . That is, flip the inequality.

If 2 < 3, then ½ > 1/3

If (1/a) > (1/b) when a and b are negative . That is, flip the inequality.

If -3 < -2, then 1/-3 > 1/-2

If (1/a) < (1/b) when a is negative and b is positive . That is, do not flip the inequality.

If -3 < 2, then 1/-3 < 1/2

If you do not know the sign of a or b you cannot take reciprocals.

In summary, if you know the signs of the variables, you should flip the inequality unless a and b have different signs.


If 3 ≤ 6/(x+1) ≤ 6, find the range of x

Taking the reciprocal of the above range and flipping the inequality sign since the entire inequality is positive

1/3 ≥ (x + 1)/6 ≥ 1/6

Multiplying throughout by 6

2 ≥ (x + 1) ≥ 1

Subtracting 1 from all sides

1 ≥ x ≥ 0 –> 0 ≤ x ≤ 1


E) Like Inequalities

The only mathematical operation you can perform between two sets of inequalities, provided the inequality sign is the same is addition.

If the signs are not the same then use the properties to flip the inequality sign and then add the two sets of inequalities.


If 4a + 2b < n and 4b + 2a > m, then b – a must be

A. < (m – n)/2
B. ≤ (m – n)/2
C. > (m – n)/2
D. ≥ (m – n)/2
E. ≤ (m + n)/2

Given 4a + 2b < n and 4b + 2a > m. We can always add like inequalities.

Multiplying the second inequality

4b + 2a > m by -1 we get -4b – 2a < -m.

Now adding the two inequalities

4a + 2b < n and -4b – 2a < -m


4a + 2b < n

-4b – 2a < -m


2a – 2b < n – m

Dividing both sides by 2

a – b < (n – m)/2

Multiplying both sides by -1

b – a > (m – n )/2

Answer : C

F) Min and Max Inequalities

Problems involving optimization: specifically, minimization or maximization problems are a common occurrence on the GMAT .

In these problems, you need to focus on the largest and smallest possible values for each of the variables.

This is because some combination of them will usually lead to the largest or smallest possible result.

Example 1:

If -7 ≤ x ≤ 6 and -7 ≤ y ≤ 8, what is the maximum possible value for xy?

To find the maximum and minimum possible values for xy, place the inequalities one below the other and make sure the inequality signs are the same. You need to test the extreme values for x and for y to determine which combinations of extreme values will maximize ab.

-7 ≤ x ≤ 6

-7 ≤ y ≤ 8

The four extreme values of xy are 49, 48, -56 and -42. Out of these the maximum possible value of xy is 49 and the minimum possible value is -56.

Whenever two ranges of inequalities are given in x and y and you need to evaluate the value of x + y , x * y, and x – y then use the max-min concept

1. Place the two inequality ranges one below the other
2. Make sure the inequality signs are the same in both cases
3. If the signs are not the same use the properties we have discussed before to make them the same
4. Now add/multiply/subtract both in a straight line and diagonally to get 4 values
5. The greatest value will be max and the lowest value will be min

Is xy < 6 ?

I. x < 3 and -y > -2
II. y^2 < 100 , 1/2 < x < 2/3

Evaluating Statement 1 individually

x < 3 and y < 2 (Multiplying both sides by -1 and flipping the inequality sign)
Now If x = 2 and y = 1 then xy = 2 which gives a YES
If x = -3 and y = -2 then xy = 6 which gives a NO

Statement 1 is insufficient

Evaluating Statement 2 individually

y^2 < 100 —> -10 < y < 10 ;
1/2 < x < 2/3.

Placing the ranges of x and y one below the other and using the max min concept we have the maximum value of xy to be 20/3 which gives a YES and the minimum value of xy to be -20/3 which gives a NO.

Statement 2 is Insufficient

Combining Statements 1 and 2,

Now the range of x is still going to be 1/2 < x < 2/3 but the range of y is going to be – 10 < y < 2 (Since y < 2 from statement 1)
Now using the max min concept for the above ranges of x and y, we have the maximum value of xy to be 4/3 and the minimum value of xy to be -20/3. All possible values of xy here are less than 6 which gives a definite YES.

Answer : C

G) Quadratic Inequalities

3x^2 – 7x + 4 ≤ 0

Factorizing the above quadratic inequation

3x^2 – 7x + 4 ≤ 0 —> 3x^2 – 3x – 4x + 4 ≤ 0 —> 3x(x – 1) – 4(x – 1) ≤ 0 —> (3x – 4)(x – 1) ≤ 0

we get 1 and 4/3 as critical points. We place them on number line.

Quadratic Inequalities

Since the number line is divided into three regions, now we can get 3 ranges of x

i) x < 1 (all values of x when substituted in (3x – 4)(x – 1) makes the product positive)

ii) 1 ≤ x ≤ 4/3 (all values of x when substituted in (3x – 4)(x – 1) makes the product negative)

iii) x > 4/3 (all values of x when substituted in (3x – 4)(x – 1) makes the product positive)

At this point we should understand that for the inequality (3x-4)(x-1) ≤ 0 to hold true, exactly one of (3x-4) and (x-1) should be negative and other one be positive. Let’s examine 3 possible ranges one by one.

i) If x > 4/3, obviously both the factors i.e. (3x-4) and (x-1) will be positive and in that case inequality would not hold true. So this cannot be the range of x.

ii) If x is between 1 and 4/3 both inclusive, (3x-4) will be negative or equal to zero and (x-1) will be positive or equal to zero. Hence with this range inequality holds true. Correct.

iii) If x < 1, both (3x-4) and (x-1) will be negative hence inequality will not hold true.

So the range of x that satisfies the inequality 3x^2 – 7x + 4 ≤ 0 is 1 ≤ x ≤ 4/3

The steps to solve a quadratic inequation are as follows:

1. Isolate the variable and always keep the variable positive.

2. Maintain the Inequation in the form ax^2 + bx + c > 0 or < 0.

3. Obtain the factors of Inequation.

4. Place them on number line. The number line will get divided into the three regions.

5. Mark the rightmost region with + sign, the next region with a – sign and the third region with a + sign (alternating + and – starting from the rightmost region).

6. If the Inequation is of the form ax^2 + bx + c < 0, the region having the – sign will be the solution of the given quadratic inequality.

7. If the Inequation is of the form ax^2 + bx + c > 0, the region having the + sign will be the solutions of the given quadratic inequality.

Question: Will the above procedure hold good even for a cubic or a fourth degree equation?

Answer: YES. For a cubic inequality we get 3 critical points which when plotted on the number line divides the number line into 4 regions. Mark the rightmost region as +ve and alternate the sign as shown below

Quadratic Inequalities

Now based on whether the right hand side of the cubic inequality is < 0 or > 0 we get the solution to lie in 2 of the 4 regions.


How many of the integers that satisfy the inequality (x + 2) (x + 3) (x – 2) >=0
are less than 5?

A. 1
B. 2
C. 3
D. 4
E. 5

The 3 critical points here are at -2, -3 and 2. Now using the concept of quadratic inequalities and plotting the critical points on the number line we get

Quadratic Inequalities

Now since the right hand side is >= 0 we need to consider the positive regions of the number line. The range of x where the given inequality expression is positive is x >= 2 and -3<= x < = -2 . From the range of x the integer values less than 5 are 2, 3, 4, -3 and -2

Answer : E

Points to Remember

Here are a few things you need to remember when you are using the properties of inequalities to simplify complex PS and DS inequality problems.

1.Add or subtract any quantity on both sides of the inequality without changing the inequality sign.

2.Multiply or divide by a positive value without changing the inequality sign.

3.Square both sides only when the quantities are both positive.

4.When multiplying and dividing by a negative number always flip the inequality sign.

5.Never multiply or divide both quantities by a variable if the sign of the variable is unknown.

6.If the sign of the variable is always positive then it is possible to multiply or divide both quantities by the positive variable (for e.g. x2 ,since x2 is always positive).

7.The only mathematical operation that you can perform between two sets of inequalities is addition. Never subtract, multiply or divide.

After reading our simple guide, you should now know what strategies you must employ for inequality questions on the GMAT!

We hope this guide helps you along the way to a 51 on GMAT Quant!

You can now have a copy of your own Inequalities guide here!

Download E-book!
  • May, 19th, 2016
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3 Month Study Plan for the GMAT

3 month GMAT study plan
Reading Time: 5 minutes

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”, goes an anonymous saying.


We at CrackVerbal, believe that the most important part of the GMAT preparation is having a plan to it and following it to achieve the desired outcome.


A study plan usually is very subjective. It depends on various factors like the amount of time you have, the amount of effort that you are ready to put in and your personal stamina and mental bandwidth. This post aims at giving you a general road map – however you will need to make it more objective by filling in the necessary details.



DAY – 0


Step: 01 – Take the Diagnostic test

If someone asks you “How long does it take to go to Delhi?”what would your answer be? The first question that you would obviously ask them is “From where?” Isn’t it?

The diagnostic test on the GMAT essentially helps answer that question. It gives you a ballpark idea of where you stand and also helps you realise the following two things –


1. It gives you a taste of what the actual GMAT feels like (length, difficulty and fatigue).


2. It helps you understand what your current level is and what your core weaknesses are. Also, since most of us are number-driven, the diagnostic test will also give you a number to begin with so that progress can be gauged as you move on with prep.


Some points to remember when you are taking the test –


1. You can take the download the test from here.


2. Make sure you take the ENTIRE test in one sitting (This includes AWA, IR, Quant and the Verbal).


3. Once you give the diagnostic test, we recommend that you take screenshots of the mistakes and store them so that you can analyse them once you take the next test.


Remember that your GMAT journey begins with this single step. So make sure that you take this test on Day 1 of your preparation.




Step: 02 – Start working on the basics

There are a finite number of concepts tested on the GMAT. GMAT is more to do with the applications of theoretical knowledge to everyday problems. Hence, working through the basics shouldn’t really be a problem.
For both Quant and Verbal, go through the Official Guide. These guides have all the theory that you will need to know to ace the GMAT. Make sure you understand these basic concepts well.


P.S:The CrackVerbal Guides for SC, CR, RC and Quant are a comprehensive collection of all the theory that you will need to know for the GMAT. The best part is that we have made consistent efforts to break the entire information down into smaller, more understandable pieces.


This phase should not take more than 2 weeks of time.


MONTH 1 – WEEK 3, 4 & MONTH 2 – WEEK 1, 2 AND 3


Step: 03 – Easy / Medium Questions

Once all the theory you need to know is in place, you will now need to learn to apply these concepts to Original GMAT questions to see how they work. The three main sources of questions to be used in this phase are as follows.
1. Official Guide 2015.
2. The GMAT Guide for the Quantitative Review – 2nd edition.
3. The GMAT Guide for the Verbal Review – 2nd edition.

When you are solving the questions from these books, make sure that you are learning from your mistakes. You will have to analyse your errors as much as you can so that you do not repeat the same error more than once on any other question. You can refer to this blog to see how you can analyse the questions in the OG and VR.



Also, once you have finished solving the questions, you can view CrackVerbal’s video explanations to all questions from the Official Guide from here.




Step: 04 – Take another test.

This time, take the second GMAT Prep test full-length to see how your preparation has been working for you. There HAS to be a considerable improvement in your score this time. If there isn’t, you will realise that your problem is with the basic concepts – either understanding or application.


Step: 05 – Analyse this test

Once this test is done, analyse the errors in the first and second test just as you have analysed the questions in the Official Guides.

If your scores haven’t improved considerably, then you should go over all the theory and go over the questions that you have got wrong in the OG and VR and solve them again to understand the mistakes that you’ve made.




Step: 06 – Start working on more questions (The tougher ones!)


You will now be at a stage where you have worked out almost a 1000 questions and have taken 2 full length tests. Post this, the key to effective GMAT preparation is to maintain consistency and the heat to solve questions. But the question is, “Where do I get more questions from?”


There are two sources of official materials that come handy at this stage.


1. GMAT Prep Exam Pack 1 – This tool gives you two more full length GMAT Prep tests for $49.99.


2. GMAT Prep Question Pack 1 – This tool gives you access to an additional set of 404 questions to practice.


3. GMAT Paper tests – Additionally there are three full-length GMAT tests printed on paper that can help you practice more for the GMAT.


Topping up all of this, there is also the GMAT Focus Online Quantitative Diagnostic Tool, which helps a student hone his quant test-taking skills, GMAT Write, which helps a student practice more AWA tasks, and the IR prep tool, which helps a student practice more IR questions. All this material is from GMAC, the official test-makers.


If you are a CrackVerbal student, then you will receive a document, which is a collection of all the questions from the current GMAT Prep software, from us for free. Or else you can check out sources of some tough questions from the links below.


  1. 25 hardest questions on gmat club

  3. 100 hardest problem solving questions

  5. 100 hardest data sufficiency questions

  7. 100 hardest cr questions on the forum

  9. 100 hardest sentence correction questions


Though it’s easier said than done, the journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. Hence, it’s very important that you begin your preparation somewhere.

If you need help, just comment below and we’d be more than glad to help.
All the very best!

Check out our E-Book library and get deeper insights into the GMAT!
Explore E-Books here!

Identifying GMAT Patterns

GMAT pattern
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let us first understand the GMAT before we delve deeper into the topic of “patterns”. We believe that the reader must first understand what the GMAT is.

GMAT is a standardized test. Think about it – within 78 questions (many of which are experimental so the actual number of questions are fewer) the GMAT can accurately predict your score within a standard deviation of +/- 29 points.

This means if you take the GMAT on a Tuesday and score, say, 650 then without any prep, if you were to take it again on Thursday, your score should be either 620 or 680. That is pretty remarkable if you think about it. Most of the tests that we have taken are liner and not adaptive (like the GMAT – read more about it here)

This means the GMAT test-setter has to conform to very strict guidelines on what makes a “standard” GMAT question. There is very little leeway to change question structures or what can be asked.

As a GMAT question creator ourselves (and through our interactions with others in this business), we can tell you that the hardest job is to condense the question into its CORE part. Once you do so, you will realise that there are only so many ways that GMAT can test you.

Wait! I hear you. You are asking –

“What does all this mean for me?”

The answer is: Once you understand the “framework” of what GMAT can (or cannot) test, it becomes a lot more easier for you to study for the test. These “frameworks” or “patterns” unfortunately don’t exist in any rules book – you need to practice official GMAT questions

To make things easier for you, we have put here some of the learnings and GMAT patterns that I have had through years of teaching the GMAT:

1. Sentence Correction:


The biggest mistake people make is thinking this is a test of grammar. It is not. If they wanted to test your grammar to give admission to Harvard Business School, they would have asked for your 5th standard score report.

This is a test of logic based on some finite grammatical concepts. Understand the meaning and the logic behind the sentence and the rules of grammar should automatically fit in. Try to make this a test of grammar and you will realise that it will make no sense.


2. Critical Reasoning:


Don’t drown yourself in theory. There is very little that you need to know. So keep the Powerscore CR bible out. Instead try to focus on WHAT each question is trying to ask. As it is a standardized test you will realise that the test-taker is basically going to ask you from a set pattern.

For example an objective data would be provided and a subjective conclusion drawn from it. Something like I have a 770 on the GMAT so I will get into ISB. Or the movie collected 250 crores in the box-office so it is a good movie. You get the gist.

3. Reading Comprehension:


The shortest way to put it is – RC is not about reading – it is about answering questions! We see so many students worried sick about understanding the passage (and spending way too much time on the test trying to do so). Baaad strategy. We would not recommend spending more than a few quick minutes before jumping to the questions.

While solving the questions we’d revisit the passage multiple times (after all this is not a memory test – it is a comprehension test). Your focus should be on getting the answers – not on understanding the passage.


4. Problem Solving:


On the GMAT, you will never get a question that will depend on any formulae or theory that a 10th standard student won’t know. So technically speaking, *any* GMAT quant question can be solved by a high school teenager.

What the GMAT (and effectively the top b-schools) are looking at is – Can this person take a set of data, manipulate it, and come out with a result? Theory is not the reason – don’t externalise the problem. Just solving good quality official questions with an acute analysis of the approach should be enough.


5. Data Sufficiency:


The difference between a Q47 and Q51 is usually this : Q47 getter will try to “solve” a DS problem. A Q51 getter will try to “answer” the DS problem correctly. There is a slight change in approach that is required.

One common trap I have noticed if you are picking C as the answer then be careful – usually putting both the data points will make you “solve” the question very easily. If you analyse carefully, you will realise that taking either one (or one alone) should be sufficient so you should be “solving” it as A or B or D. So, don’t solve – answer the question.

If you have just started your prep and are not able to figure out this then bookmark and revisit this blog when you are done. For those who are already a few weeks/months into their prep – you know what we are saying 🙂

Don’t worry! If you need help, just comment below and we’d be more than glad to help.

All the very best!

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7 Deadly Mistakes GMAT Test-takers Make

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Here are some things we’ve heard GMAT test takers say time and again:


“I score well in practice sessions but I don’t know what happens in the test.”


“I lost track of time during the test.”


“I ran out of time and had to guess towards the end of the test.”


“I just couldn’t focus on the first few questions, and then I panicked!”


Any of these sound familiar? If yes, congrats! You’re about to discover one or more of the reasons why your score isn’t where it should be.


The GMAT is your ticket to a B-school, where you’ll be transformed into a future business leader. So, like any good business decision, your preparation for the GMAT must also be driven by strategy, meticulously planned and well-executed. However smart or hardworking you are, if you do not have a clear strategy for the GMAT and do not manage the challenges and traps the test sets, you will end up with a score far removed from your expectations.


Today, we’d like to share with you, some best practices and tips that have worked extremely well for hundreds of our students.


1. More Is Not Better


“I have completed all the questions from the OG and the Verbal & Quant Reviews. But I am still getting about 40% of them wrong. Can you suggest more material to practice from?”


We see a lot of GMAT students worry themselves silly about not having solved enough questions, even though they may have solved a few thousand questions already! We’ve also encountered some ‘serial question killers’ – they will dig out questions from the core of the earth, regardless of relevance or quality, in the mistaken assumption that ‘more is better’.


What they miss is the real problem – if you have solved close to 3000 questions, and still do not see significant improvements in your score, then more practice is not the solution.


You need to identify where and why you are going wrong, identify mistake patterns and work towards rectifying specific errors you’re making.


2. Accuracy – A Bad Metric


“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein.


Accuracy may not always be a true indicator of your performance. Let’s say you scored 13/20 in a drill. The following week, you take another drill and get a score of 17/20. Do you think you’ve improved? Your score certainly suggests this!


However, the improvement can only be determined if we analyze the complete drill in detail, and not just the test results. Some important questions to ask are:


Have you identified your errors in the first drill and worked on them?


What was the difficulty level of the second drill compared to the first one?


How many questions did you guess in each drill?


If the second drill was easier than the first, or you got a large number of guesses correct in the second test, you may not have made any improvement at all!


3. Analysis of Test Performance – Why & How


Let’s look at how 2 GMAT test-takers, Joe and Jenny, have cracked a Sentence Correction question – both of them got it right.




Eliminated A for passive construction


Eliminated C for wordiness


Eliminated B and D for an idiom error


Picks E




Eliminated A and C for Subject verb agreement error (also considered wordy and passive constructions)


Eliminated B and D for parallelism error


Found idiom error in B and D


Picks E


Joe based his elimination on style and structure errors, and played it by the ear. However, Jenny identified the rules and also considered the structure of the answer choices. Who do you think is preparing effectively for the GMAT? J


So how should you analyze your test performance?


Go over the questions you’ve solved and try to identify

What concept(s) were you tested on?

What areas are you making mistakes in? – SC, CR or RC?

Which concepts within SC, CR or RC are tripping you up?

What kind of mistakes are you making- silly/ conceptual/ timing?

Use an error log to categorize your mistakes.


Refer to this error log later to understand error patterns and work on those specific areas.


4. Asking The Right Questions


Reading Comprehension is many a test taker’s Waterloo. A major reason for this is that we are habituated to reading what is given to us; however, we need to change our approach to read only what is required in order to answer the question correctly or draw a conclusion on the matter.


Take for instance, GMAT reading passages are dense but do we need to read everything in detail to be able to answer questions? Given that we have limited time to answer questions, the most effective strategy would be to read and identify only the relevant part of the text that helps to answer the questions!


Likewise, Sentence Correction also requires you to ask the right questions. For example – if a sentence begins with a modifying phrase, the right question to ask would be “What does this phrase intend to modify?” If the verb is underlined, the right question to ask would be “What is the subject of this verb?”


5. Picking Variables Over Numbers


When Problem Solving questions have answer options as percentages or fractions, a number could work more effectively than the variable ‘x’. Take a look at this GMAT Prep question:


At the end of the first quarter, the share price of a certain mutual fund was 20 percent higher than it was at the beginning of the year. At the end of the second quarter, the share price was 50 percent higher than it was at the beginning of the year. What was the percent increase in the share price from the end of the first quarter to the end of the second quarter?

A. 20

B. 25

C. 30

D. 33

E. 40

In the question above, observe how easy it is when you assume that the share price of the mutual fund at the beginning of the year is $100! The probability of you going wrong is higher when you use variables than when you use numbers. This is because we are innately better at dealing with numbers than with variables. In fact, we calculate using numbers at least once every 15 minutes!


6. Losing Sight of the Forest!


This is an error of technique than of concept. In GMAT Quant, you may feel compelled to minutely calculate each aspect of a problem – yet this is unnecessary! As we all know, all the figures in problem solving questions are drawn to scale (unless stated otherwise) which means that we can ballpark effectively without wasting time. Let us see one tough question.


An equilateral triangle, with a circle inscribed, is inscribed in a square as shown above in the figure. What is the ratio of the area of the circle to the area of the square?

A. π/2

B. π/4

C. π/6

D. π/8

E. π/12

Since the figure above is drawn to scale, we can clearly see that the circle takes approximately half the area of half the square, which means it take one-fourth the area of the square. So by plugging in π as 3+, we can see that answer option E is the only possible answer. Therefore, ballpark when it comes to Problem Solving Geometry if you get stuck.


7. Be Adaptive – after all, the GMAT is!


GMAT Quant uses Math but in a crooked way: so, taking the GMAT armed with just knowledge of math is very dangerous. What you need is multiple strategies when it comes to attacking a question. For instance: plugging in numbers or negating the first statement to disprove the second statement.


All GMAT quantitative questions will test how observant, careful and logical you are. This is why GMAT is a STANDARDized test: every person has an equal chance of solving all the questions, otherwise mathematicians would rule this world!

Do you have doubts? Comment below and get them cleared!

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How to Solve Fully Underlined Sentence Correction Questions

Reading Time: 5 minutes

While attempting the questions in the Verbal section on the GMAT, one type of question that makes your hearts skip a beat is definitely the fully underlined sentence correction question.


In your mind, Sentence Correction is already full of gruelling grammar rules and exceptions – add to that a fully underlined question and you probably don’t even know where to begin! Imagine getting such a question in the last 15 minutes of your test – a brain shutdown or heart attack in this circumstance cannot be overruled 🙂


One reason that can be attributed to this mind-freeze is purely psychological. So let’s look at how to work out these questions. The first question that we need to ask ourselves is this; “Why does GMAC underline the complete sentence?” “Is it just to make life more complicated?”


Actually, not!


We think that an SC question tests us on too many concepts. However, somewhere at the back of our mind, don’t we know that many concepts tested means easier error-identification? The most challenging part of a fully underlined SC question is the fact that you cannot use the vertical scan technique to eliminate options. This is because every option begins differently.


Here’s the good news though. Research on hundreds of official GMAT questions show that fully underlines SC questions very often test 2 concepts: Modifiers & Parallelism. So, if you are thorough with these two concepts and are able to identify underlying patterns and traps, tackling fully underlined questions can become very easy!


The Modifier Rule(s):


We all know the basic rule for Modifiers, don’t we? Let’s quickly list down those rules here.


1. A modifier must be placed closest to what it modifies.


Ex: Arranged in secret, the discovery of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding was not as expected – Wrong!


Arranged in secret, Romeo and Juliet’s wedding was discovered in the most unexpected way – Right!


2. Whatever the modifier modifies must exist in the sentence. Otherwise it would create a dangling modifier.


Ex: Using a Scanning Electron Microscope, upto 1000 times magnification can be achieved while trying to study blood cells – Wrong!


Using a Scanning Electron Microscope, a technician can achieve upto 1000 times magnification while trying to study blood cells – Right!


3. Make sure that the modifier doesn’t modify the possessive form of the noun that it is supposed to modify.


Ex: A developing nation, India’s status is slowly rising. – Wrong!


A developing nation, India is slowly rising in its status – Right!


4. “Which” is a non-essential modifier and “That” is an essential modifier. However both of them refer to the noun that immediately precedes them.


Ex: I am trying to sell my washing machine, which was brought 20 years ago. – Right!


This is the antique clock that was owned by the Queen herself – Right!


5. Adverbial modifiers usually take the place after the object of the verb.


Ex:Ram killed with one arrow Ravan – Wrong!


Ram killed Ravan with one arrow – Right!


Now that we have revised the basic rules, let’s look at how we can use the above pointers to solve a question.


Controlling most inroads to business ventures in Europe, economists argue that the U.S., with its diminished economic leverage there, now has reason to fear the European Common Market.


A) Controlling most inroads to business ventures in Europe, economists argue that the U.S., with its diminished economic leverage there, now has reason to fear the European Common Market.


B) Controlling most inroads to business ventures in Europe, the diminished economic leverage of the U.S. there is, according to economists, one reason to fear the European Common Market.


C) Because it controls most inroads to business ventures in Europe, a place where the U.S. have diminished economic leverage, economists argue that they now have a reason to fear the European Common Market.


D) Because it controls most inroads to business ventures in Europe, economists argue that the U.S.’s diminished economic leverage is a reason for the U.S. to fear the actions of the European Common Market.


E) Economists argue that the U.S., with its diminished economic leverage in Europe, now has reason to fear the actions of the European Common Market, which controls most inroads to business ventures in Europe.


If you notice, when the whole sentence is underlined, then the options are different versions of the questions by itself. Hence, comparing the options to find the error might be tedious.


So let’s try to identify the error, which is clearly misplaced modifiers in this case. The core sentence in this question is “Economists argue that the U.S, now has reason to fear the European Common Market” and the modifying phrases are “Controlling … Europe” and “with … there”.


The phrase modifies “Economists” incorrectly whereas the second phrase modifies “U.S” and hence is right. Yaay 🙂 Error identified!!


A – Eliminated for the above stated reason.


B – The phrase “Controlling … Europe” incorrectly modifies the diminished Economic Leverage – Eliminated.


C – Look at the phrase “ A place where the U.S have …” U.S is singular and have is plural – SV Agreement error – Eliminate.


D – The phrase “Because ….. Europe” again incorrectly modifies “Economists” – Eliminate.


E – OA – The phrase “ with … Europe” modifies U.S and the phrase “which .. Europe” modifies European common market.


And there, you have the answer. 🙂


The Parallelism Rule:


Whenever there is a list, the items of the list must be balanced. By balanced we mean that the items in the list need to be of the same grammatical structure.


Ex: My cricket coach told me that I should diet, follow a strict fitness regimen and I should lose my weight – Wrong! The clauses in the sentence (list) don’t follow similar grammatical structure.


My cricket coach told me that I should diet, follow a strict fitness regimen and lose my weight – Right! All the clauses in the list follow a similar grammatical structure.


Parallelism, again as said, isn’t a grammatical rule by itself. It is just a way in which a sentence needs to be constructed so that it looks elegant and neat! However remember that sometimes when a complete sentence is underlined, then check out whether there is a list and use parallelism to arrive at the answer.


Other Grammar Rules to be Remembered:


When the complete sentence is underlined, remember that it’s easy for GMAC to play around with phrases and clauses. So keep the following in mind as well.

We might be too engrossed in trying to figure out modifiers and parallelism that we might miss out to identify run-on sentences. If you remember, run-on sentences are two dependent clauses connected with a comma.

Ex: I took the GMAT, I scored 750. Wrong!


I took the GMAT and scored 750.

Because of modifiers or additive phrases in between, the Subject and the Verb might be placed far from each other and hence identifying subject verb agreement errors might also be a problem.

If figuring out run-on sentences is on one hand, so is figuring out sentence fragments. Again, a sentence fragment is a phrase that ends up making a sentence incomplete. Since multiple manipulations are possible with a completely underlined sentence, it is easy for GMAT to leave a sentence fragment and since we have SCTVS (Sentence Correction Tunnel Vision Syndrome :)) we tend to only look at the erroneous part and neglect the other part where there are errors.

Who said completely underlined SC questions are a trouble now? Just don’t lose your cool and have a methodical approach! 🙂


Here are some fully underlined SC questions for more practice:


OG 12 :


Qn 96, 100, 107, 108, 110, and 113


Verbal Review :


Qn 59, 88, 104, 109 and 111.

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Comparison Questions on GMAT Sentence Correction

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Comparison questions in GMAT SC can get a little tricky because they may test not just comparisons, but often, idioms and parallelism too. In this blog let’s see how to do comparison questions.

Basic Rules for Comparison:

Which is better – a rose or a mango?
You’re probably thinking, “What a stupid question – why would you compare a flower with a fruit?” That’s exactly the point – only similar items can be compared. i.e. flowers with flowers; fruits with fruits; people with people and so on.
On the GMAT, similarity happens on 2 fronts – logical similarity (as seen above) and grammatical similarity. Let’s look at the basic rules for comparison:
Items that are compared in a list must be logically similar

The number of people having a smart phone in 1990 is less than half of 2000 X

This sentence is wrong because, we are comparing the number of people having a smart phone in 1990 to the year ‘2000’. This is an illogical comparison. How would be rewrite this sentence?

The number of people having a smart phone in 1990 is less than half of the number in 2000.

In this sentence we are comparing the number of people on both sides.
In terms of grammar, the items that are compared must be of the same part of speech. i.e. Nouns to Nouns, Adjectives to Adjectives and Verbs to Verbs.

He types faster than my typing speed.

What are we comparing here? My typing speed and his.
However, the first part of this comparison is a verb: ‘types faster’ and the second is a noun ‘my typing speed’; this is a structurally dissimilar comparison. How would we rewrite this sentence?

His typing speed is more than mine. OR
He types faster than I do.

In the first case, we are comparing typing speeds whereas in the second case, we are comparing how two people type.

OG Illustration #1:

Let’s take a look at Qn 9 from OG 13.
First, read the sentence given and identify what is being compared.
Option A: This option compares the rice production in 1979 to THOSE of the 1978 harvest. Here, A = Rice production in 1979 Ideally, B has to be rice production in 1978.
What does THOSE really refer to here? Rice production?
Can “Those” refer to “Rice production”? Certainly not, because “those” is plural and “rice production” is singular. So, A is incorrect.
Now let’s take a look at option C. Here, A = Rice production in 1979 and B = 1978. In essence, this option is comparing rice production in one year with another year (not the production in the other year) – this is illogical. So C is also wrong.
Option B, on the other hand, compares the right things. A is the rice production in 1979 and B is the ‘1978 harvest’.
Now you may be wondering – shouldn’t B be ‘rice production in 1978’? Not necessarily – 2 items need to be similar – not necessarily the same. ‘harvest’ and ‘production’ are similar quanities – so this is perfectly acceptable.
Options D and E create new errors on the question. They use the word “fewer” to talk about production, which is not a countable quantity. Can one say “fewer” production? 🙂
Looking at options D and E, we realise that sometimes the right words need to be used while making a comparison. So the obvious next question is whether there is a list of words or other idiomatic rules that apply to GMAT comparisons. We’ve attempted to compile some of the main rules:
1. When countable things are being compared use words like fewer, more and number.
2. When uncountable things are being compared use words like amount, lesser, and greater.
3. When comparing 2 items, use the comparative form of the adjective; when comparing more than 2 items, use the superlative form of the adjective.
For example:

Ram is taller than Shyam (comparative form ‘taller’)


Ram is the tallest person in the class (superlative form ‘tallest’)

4. When comparing 2 items, use ‘between’; when comparing more than 2 items, use ‘among’.

Between Ram and Shyam, Ram is taller.


Among Ram, Shyam and Ashwin, Ram is the tallest.

5. We use ‘like’ to denote similarity and ‘as’ to denote sameness.

Swapan looks like his father.


Swapan writes with his left hand, as does his father.


OG Illustration #2:

Let’s look at another example: Qn 11 from OG 13.
First, read the sentence and try to identify what is being compared. The non-underlined part of the sentence starts with James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. This means that we are comparing people. i.e. B = James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. So what should be A?
Option A: Implies that A is ‘the idolization’ – illogical comparison between ‘idolization’ and people
Option B: Same as option A
Option C: has the pronoun ‘that’ which has no legitimate antecedent. Doesn’t make sense
Option D: As what is? The meaning is ambiguous
Option E: Bingo! Compares the Brontes and the Brownings – writers – with Joyce and Woolf. i.e. people with people. Logical comparison. Hence, correct.

More Official Practice Questions:

For more practice, solve the following official questions:
OG 13: 11,24,32,43,85,98,99,108,124,125,130,136,139.
Verbal Review: 13,25,32,41,44,66,85
Happy Comparing and See you in our next blog!
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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  • September, 30th, 2014
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Building Your Strength in Reading Comprehension

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Reading newspapers and books may improve your general reading habit, but not your ability to crack GMAT RC. This is because the subject matter and structure of GMAT RC passages are quite different, and therefore, the mindset with which you approach them must also be different.

The best way to get better at GMAT RC is to practice official passages using the techniques taught in the CrackVerbal RC classes. However, if you have a 3-4month plan for the GMAT and want to build your strength in RC during this time, or if you don’t want to ‘use up’ official passages, here is a great way to build your strength in Reading Comprehension.

Go to resources – magazines and websites – that host passages similar to GMAT RC passages, and practice your techniques on them. Here are some sources we recommend – – business, technology, culture. – history – science – social sciences

Now that you have identified WHAT to read, here is HOW you should read them –

Give yourself 2-3 minutes to read each passage.Don’t forget to practice the critical reading, skimming and scanning techniques taught in class.

Make a map.If you don’t think the first map you made was useful, review and revise it. Practice till you master the art of capturing the essentials – and only the essentials – of any passage in a map.

Answer the Big Picture question.All GMAT RC passages will have a big picture question. And you already know how these will be worded. So try to answer the big picture questions about the article you read – what is the central theme? what is the primary purpose?

Analyze the Structure.Was the article a description of something? Was it an opinion or perspective? Were there opposing viewpoints? Was it an analysis or evaluation?

Understand the Tone.Was it positive or negative? Did it question facts or events? Did it criticize any steps taken or conclusions formed?


Let me take an example:


Work on the world’s first underground railway started in 1860 when the Metropolitan Railway began building a tunnel more than three miles long from Paddington to Farringdon Street. It was largely financed by the City of London, which was suffering badly from horse-drawn traffic congestion that was having a damaging effect on business. The idea of an underground system had originated with the City solicitor, Charles Pearson, who had persuaded the City Corporation to put up money and he was probably the most important single figure in the underground’s creation. The first section linked the City with the railway stations at Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross, which had been built in the previous 30 years. A deep trench was excavated by the ‘cut and cover’ method along what are now the Marylebone Road and the Euston Road and turning south-east beside Farringdon Road. Brick walls were built along the sides, the railway tracks were laid at the bottom and then the trench was roofed over with brick arches and the roads were put back on top, though the last stretch to Farringdon was left in an open, brick-lined cutting. Stations lit by gas were created at Paddington, Edgware Road, Baker Street, Great Portland Street, Euston Road and King’s Cross on the way to Farringdon. The line was opened to the public on the following day, a Saturday, and people flocked to try it out. More than 30,000 passengers crowded the stations and pushed their way into packed trains. The underground had been mocked in the music halls and derisively nicknamed ‘the Drain’. There were predictions that the tunnel’s roof would give way and people would fall into it, while passengers would be asphyxiated by the fumes, and an evangelical minister had denounced the railway company for trying to break into Hell. In fact the railway was a tremendous success and The Times hailed it as ‘the great engineering triumph of the day’. In its first year it carried more than nine million passengers in gas-lit first-class, second-class and third-class carriages, drawn by steam locomotives that belched out choking quantities of smoke. As far as the City was concerned, the corporation was able to sell its shares in the Metropolitan Railway at a profit and the underground did ease congestion for a time. A more lasting consequence was to make commuting far easier and so cause London to sprawl out even more from its centre, while the number of people actually living in the City itself declined sharply. [Source: ‘First Day of the London Tube’, Richard Cavendish, History Today Volume 63 Issue 1 2013.]


Take 2 minutes to read this passage and create a map. Afterwards, spend 5-6 minutes thinking about the following questions:

What is the primary purpose of this passage?

What is the organization of the passage?

What is the author’s tone?

What are the interesting words/phrases/ideas in this passage?

Here is how I would work>:


What is the primary purpose of this passage?


As I read, I realize that the article is about the origin of the London Tube. The author is not evaluating or questioning anything, but merely repeating facts. So, I would say that the primary purpose is to ‘describe the birth of the London Tube’. Now that I have this ‘pre-phrased’ answer in mind, I can eliminate other options and arrive at the right answer.


What is the organization of the passage?


Para 1 – how the Tube originated Para 2 – the construction of the Tube Para 3 – day 1 of operation Para 4 – outcome and reception


What is the author’s tone?

The author is reporting facts, but his tone is overall positive and approving as can be seen from the last paragraph in which he summarizes the outcome. A key indicator of tone would be ‘tremendous success’ in line 1 of paragraph 4.


What are the interesting words/phrases/ideas in this passage?


To me, the most interesting bits in the passage are in paragraphs 3 and 4, which describe the expected and actual outcome of the London underground. This information is sufficient for me to understand the passage sufficiently for now. The rest of my work depends on the questions I am posed, and the answer choices provided.


Do this exercise for 2-3 articles every day, preferably those with different themes. Over a period of time, you will see your ability to read and comprehend GMAT RC passages improving. Have questions on any part of GMAT RC? Please fill in the form and we will get back to you ASAP!

If you have taken the GMAT or have been preparing for it, you know that Reading Comprehension questions are a huge deal. A lot of it is about conserving your mental energy till the end.

Now that you can choose the order in which you want to take up the sections before starting the test, having a strategy on dealing with the Reading Comprehension questions is even more important.

This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure. It was introduced in July 2017. We have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in the this blog

GMAT Section Selection – Everything you need to know

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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Online Classes Versus Classroom Coaching – Which is Better?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to this week’s edition of Wednesday Wisdom. The question that I get asked a lot by our students and also by a few people in the GMAT community is –

“I have decided to go in for GMAT coaching (I had a separate Wednesday Wisdom on whether you should do self study or coaching, but now that I have made the decision to go for coaching), should I pick an online option or should I pick a classroom option, where I need to physically go?”

Great question!

I think there are 3 factors you need to consider, and it’s something that your preference should be based on.

Watch a quick video to know about the 3 factors!

So what are the 3 factors that you need to consider?

1. The first factor you need to consider is flexibility – how far is the centre away from your house? Does it take an hour, 2 hours for you to commute? Or maybe it’s not even there in your city! Or, though typically classroom coaching, like the ones we have at CrackVerbal, are on the weekends, we have weekday online programs.

If you are a person who says you’re going to be back home by say 7:30 p.m. and you can take a class at say 8 p.m., then maybe the weekday online class maybe better suited, considering, say you’re working over the weekend. So that’s another thing you want to consider – between flexibility on weekends and flexibility on weekdays.

2. The second thing that you want to consider is your own persona – what kind of person are you? Are you a person who goes and meets people? You’re the kind of person who likes to talk to people? Or you are the person who feels that you are super focused and you don’t want the kind of interaction, the kind of face-to-face thing that you would do in a classroom?

Ask yourself – “Am I focused enough to take the course online?”, “Am I disciplined enough to do that?” or “Do I need the social structure that comes when I attend a weekend classroom program?”.

3. The third thing that you need to ask yourself is in terms of infrastructure. Many-a-times I get students who tell me, “Though I have a laptop or a computer at home, I don’t get free time.” or “I have room-mates disturbing me.” or “My internet connection is very low, the bandwidth is very poor”.

If these are the concerns you have, then probably online is not for you. But if you feel you have a laptop, the requisite internet connection and you would like to go for it then probably an online course is for you, if not a physical classroom.

So there are 3 things, let me just summarise it once more :

1. Flexibility – are you available on weekend/weekdays, if it’s weekdays, are you open to taking the classes in the evening?


2. Would you be the kind of person who likes the interaction or you feel that you’re a person who focuses more when he studies by himself? and


3. In terms of the overall infrastructure – “Do I have a laptop?”, “Do I have an internet connection?”, “Do I have space to study by myself?” are all questions you need to ask yourself.


So these are the 3 things, I hope this was helpful.


Please write into us and mail us or comment on Facebook or Twitter to let us know if there is anything specific you’d like me answer, I’ll be glad to do that for you. Thank you!

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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Classroom Coaching Versus Self Study for the GMAT

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This week’s Wednesday Wisdoms addresses the topic of classroom coaching versus that of self-study for the GMAT. . 🙂

Welcome to this week’s edition of Wednesday Wisdoms. So one question that I keep getting asked a lot, often is
“Do I really need to join a GMAT coaching or a GMAT training centre?”
“Can I study on my own?”
My answer to them is – yes, you can study by yourself!
Today there are so many things on the internet if you look at forums like Pagalguy, BeattheGMAT & GMAT club, you get a lot of things which are free.
So then why would you need to join GMAT coaching?
According to me and I can speak on behalf of CrackVerbal, because that is what we believe in – there are 4 reasons why you should join any coaching :
Watch a quick video for the 4 reasons and read the transcript below!

1. You’re here because you want to learn from the expertise of the faculty. You want to really learn from the people who have been there and done that. So in my class one measure that I have for myself is if I can come in and if you can kind of distil whatever I have to say into an A4 size paper, then probably I have not done my job.
So my job really gets done when I’m able to translate my experience of many years of GMAT coaching into the class room. So I think that’s really one thing that you should look for. You should look for great faculty, I think that really defines the coaching.
2. You want to focus on the kind of techniques that they teach you. I have seen a lot of companies that get into 100 different things, they would use techniques that maybe great for a particular test onto the GMAT and you realise it doesn’t work.
One common example is many techniques that are taught for GMAT actually come from a test called LSAT. A lot of these techniques which could be great for LSAT, just don’t work on the GMAT. Though it looks similar, Critical Reasoning you know.. apples to apples, but it’s not apples to apples.
So that is probably the second thing that you want to understand, what are these techniques you know… can I go and ask students whether these techniques really work for them? So you can probably look at student debriefs and try to see if the techniques that are being taught are actually useful.
3. You want to join for the discipline of attending a course. It has been proven, tried and tested that your motivation and your ability to stick to a schedule goes up when you make a commitment to something. Joining a course is a commitment.
At CrackVerbal, what we give is, we give a list of things that you should be doing, so each class they have homework. So when you attend a class, you know you have to go back and do the homework before you come into the next class. So really, it is about being on the straight and narrow. That is the 3rd reason why you should be joining.
4. Learning is just one part of it, it’s the tip of the ice berg. The actual thing that would really come, is when you’re stuck with questions that are at a 750 level on the GMAT, do you have someone who can show you how to do it right? So that’s where the support becomes so important.
For example at CrackVerbal, we have unlimited support which means that till the point you take the test, till the point you do well, we are committed to helping you. Even if it means revisiting the class, access to all our forums, access to the e-mail and phone support that we have, so we are pretty open about that part because we believe that teaching is half in the class, but also half when you go back and start studying by yourself.

So in a summary 4 things why you should join GMAT test prep – because


You want to learn from instructors who have been there and done that.
You want to learn techniques that work for you.
You want to pick a programme that will help you, motivate you to keep you on the schedule &
You want to pick coaching for the support you get after the course.


So that’s what I had for this week, I’ll catch you again, thank you!

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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The 3 Mistakes Indian Aspirants Make on the GMAT

Reading Time: 3 minutes


This week’s edition of Wednesday Wisdoms talks about the 3 classic GMAT mistakes Indian aspirants make, & how to modify your test prep techniques for a higher score.

Over the last couple of years, I have been teaching students both in India, and I have also had students who have come in from the U.S., and the question that I usually get asked by my students is – do you see the difference between the way an Indian approaches the GMAT versus the native speaker (American) would approach the GMAT? The answer is yes. I think there is a significant difference in the way we tend to look at the test.
So let me give you the 3 things that I think that as Indians we tend to do a little differently.

But before that, watch a quick video of the same!


1. The first thing I have noticed that on Sentence Correction, one advice that I usually tell students is – do not focus on idioms! The exclusion of other things such as parallelism or modifiers or any basic rule. First apply the basic rules, don’t get into clarity and concession and idiomatic usage till the very end.
Only when you are in the last 2 answer choices, and you have to decide between them based on these rules, do not do so. It’s just that we tend to not have a very good ear for English because it’s just that we have been exposed to English which is sub-optimal English.


2. The second thing I usually advice students, especially when it comes to Reading Comprehension – do not try to understand the passage. I don’t see the need to understand the entire passage to answer questions. Usually what I say is the way we read, we tend to read it to understand so we can be asked anything based on that (passage), but it doesn’t work that way on the GMAT.
Don’t focus on understanding the whole passage, I don’t see the reason behind it. In fact many a time on a tough passage, I may not be able to understand more than say 50 to 60% of the passage at any given point. But, I would be able to go back to the passage if required to answer questions, so get away with this fixation of trying to understand the whole passage.


3. The third thing and something which is probably non-verbal is the way Indians tend to approach maths. The way our curriculum is, it’s not problem solving really. If you understand, GMAT says it’s problem solving. Where as what we are very good at is given a formula, we’ll be able to plug in values and we will be able to get an answer.
On the GMAT, this is not going to work above the 70th percentile, above a 47-48 raw score, this is not going to work. You would need to have a swiss-knife… kind of approach where we have multiple ways to attack a problem.
You could actually go from the answers to the questions, try to plug in values in the case of data-sufficiency, try to do something which is more than just putting in the values and getting the answer. Try to expand the way you solve the problem.


So these are the 3 things I would like to share with the Indian GMAT test takers – first, do not worry about idioms on SC, anyway GMAT is reducing the focus on American idioms. #2 in RC do not get fixated with understanding the entire passage and #3 try to look at various ways in which a Quant problem can be solved.


So that’s what we have for this week’s Wednesday Wisdoms, I’ll share some more tips with you next week. Thank you.

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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Top 5 Mistakes Indian Aspirants Make on the GMAT

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Over the last few years, I have trained over 5000s of students for the GMAT. Some have scored spectacularly well , while some have not been able to score as much as they desired. Recently a student asked me what my observations were, on the top mistakes made by my students on the GMAT.
Since most of my students are Indians, I will qualify it further, as in the title of this blog.

#1 Incorrectly focusing on Idioms in sentence correction.

In the class, despite telling them more times than I care to remember, I invariably have someone picking the answer based on their understanding of the idioms. While these are obviously valid reasons to separate the right from the wrong answer options, I insist that as Indians, we should pick something more clear (and certain) such as parallelism, subject verb agreement, and comparisons.
Some variations of this problem would be the students picking the right answer choice because it “Sounds right” or because “Being” is considered wrong on the GMAT.

#2 Trying to focus on understanding the entire RC passage

While solving RC questions, students seem to be caught up in the details of the passages. Instead the students who do very, very well on the GMAT understand that they just need to have a bird’s eye-view (as opposed to a worm’s eyeview) of the passage.
Remember you are NOT tested on how much of the passage you understand. You are tested on whether you can answer the questions correctly. Trying to understand the entire passage not only takes your focus away from the main task but also ends up sucking your time in a big way.

#3 Getting lost in dense CR arguments

Perhaps the culprit here is the Indian mentality of solving based on “rules”. The only “rules” that really help you on the GMAT CR are the ones you make while solving 100s of questions. So when you see a subjective conclusion being made based on an objective data (“He will get into Harvard because he has a 760 on the GMAT”) you will be able to quickly spot the underlying link (“correlation between GMAT scores and getting into HBS”).
As long as you are able to do this, there is no reason to really learn the X->Y therefore Y’-> X’ stuff (I just made it up – but you know what I mean :)). Instead learn to apply yourself on the question by using real-world assumptions and some solid reasons to eliminate the wrong answers.

#4 Having a limited approach on Quant

This is a corollary to the above problem. In Quant, the inability to step outside your comfort zone – solving questions by plugging in values into the variables of an equation – is perhaps your biggest enemy.
Remember that there is no single “best” approach in Quant and that you just need to get it right within the prescribed time-limit. This means you may need to “hack” your way through by plugging in test-cases in DS and back-solving & approximation in PS.
Are these methods very elegant? Heck no! But they are effective. So unless you have this “swiss-army knife” equivalent of strategies on quant – you will be in trouble in Quant on the GMAT especially after the 80th%ile.

#5 Inability to make educated guesses on the GMAT

Right from childhood we are taught to keep chipping away at the problem till we get a solution. Maybe it is a great approach to life (though I disagree with the fundamental concept). But on the GMAT, the consequences can be disastrous.
At the cost of sounding like a shrink, I just tell my students to “let go” of the fear that a particular question can tank their scores. It’s like kung-fu, unless you are able to overcome your “ego” – you will not be able to get better of the opponent (read as “the GMAT”)
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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Top 10 Ways to Improve Your GMAT Score

Improve GMAT Score
Reading Time: 1 minute

CrackVerbal presents the top 10 GMAT Prep tips from our top scorers. We’ve also added 9 other tactics that our students used to ace the test!

Our students have made it to top B-schools like Harvard, Kellogg, Wharton, MIT Sloan, ISB and many more, and are delighted to share their strategies with you to help you achieve the same. Click on the slides below to see what our students have to say! 🙂

Inspired by the tips? Read more about the experiences of Top scorers.

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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What differentiates High Scorers (760+) From the Rest?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There is 1 question that plagues most GMAT test-takers – especially when they seem to get “stuck” at a particular score –


Do I have it in me to score high on the GMAT?


The answer is YES! However, before you start looking for the magic sauce, let me give you the magic sauce…..high scorers DO NOT look for a magic sauce.


Baffled? 🙂


In my experience of teaching high scorers (CrackVerbal has produced many 750-760 scores over the years – a few samples here, I have noticed that these students tend to be more analytical in their overall approach to life, they don’t give up easily, and yes – they work very, very hard.


Persistence and hard work are easy to understand in the list of traits given above. It is “being analytical” that could make you think “How do I analyze where I am going wrong?”. I am listing 3 things that make up a broad-framework to help you understand how and where you can improve your GMAT score.


1. Concepts


You should have clarity on how a formula/rule works, and conditions under which you cannot use it to solve a problem. A common mistake made by students is to read too much theory and get confused/overwhelmed. Truth be told – the GMAT requires you to know only a limited set of concepts.


The difference between a Verbal score of 30 and a score of 40 is understanding the more subtle rules such as the exception to the relative pronoun “which” when used with prepositions (<- if you don’t know what this exception is, then you know what I am talking about :))


Our sessions are structured in such a way that we quickly work from the basics to the more advanced concepts tested on the GMAT.


2. Application


All the concepts in the world are of no use if you are not able to apply them correctly on the question. Ensure that your approach to solve a question helps you to solve any question with a similar pattern (this requires you to identify underlying patterns) and that you have a methodical approach to each question type – almost zombie-like. 🙂


To a large extent, there is very little theory in RC and CR – doing well on these depends just on having a rock solid approach. You should know exactly how to eliminate the wrong answer choices – not just know how to pick the right answer choice.


We have researched for over 8 years to make our techniques work very well for Indians (because we Indians think and process information differently).


3. Strategy


Even if you know the concepts and have been able to apply it on questions, none of it will help if you are not able to bring it together on the actual test.


Let me give you an example – the difference between a Q51 and Q48 is a whopping 21 percentile i.e. 97%ile and 76%ile. So do you think the person scoring Q48 knows “less”? Of course not! It boils down to strategies such as back-solving, plugging in values, and avoiding traps.


We stress on various things during the CrackVerbal course, such as managing stress, building mental stamina, managing the time, and developing strategies to guess (<- you heard it right). Without this bit, it is hard to score above 730-740 on the GMAT.

Do you have any questions about how to improve your GMAT scores? Or maybe something you want to share with the readers? I am always on the lookout for new tips and tricks for scoring well on the GMAT that I can pass on to my readers.
If you feel that you know some cool Ninja techniques for the GMAT – just drop us a comment below. I personally check all responses; so you will certainly hear from me!
We have distilled the TOP 10 pieces of Advice from our high scorers. Check it out here.
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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Reverse Causation in GMAT CR

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Assumption-based questions make up about 40% of the questions in GMAT CR. They test you on your ability to identify and understand the relationships – if any – that exist between the premises and the conclusion. Some of the tricky logical traps that assumption-based questions may contain are based on causality.


Today, we will look at Reverse Causation in GMAT CR.


Causation means that one event triggers or causes another. The direction of this causation (does X cause Y or vice versa?) is the trap that GMAT sets. Let me take an example:


Every day, at 9AM, Ramu the peon rings the school bell and Mrs.Mathews, the Principal, comes out of her room for the school assembly.


There are 2 events hereBoy_Thinking_1


Event X: Ramu rings the bell


Event Y: Mrs. Mathews comes out of her room


From this, can we assume that Mrs.Mathews comes out for the assembly because she heard Ramu ring the bell? i.e. can we assume that X is causing Y? It does seem reasonable, doesn’t it?


Now, think about this in a different way: Every day, at 9AM, the punctual Mrs.Mathews comes out for the assembly, and upon seeing her, Ramu the peon rings the bell. Also plausible? 🙂


This means that Y could be causing X.


Thus, a causal relationship exists between X and Y, but its direction needs to be evaluated.


Now let me take a GMAT CR question:


A researcher discovered that people who have low levels of immune-system activity tend to score much lower on tests of mental health than do people with normal or high immune-system activity. The researcher concluded from this experiment that the immune system protects against mental illness as well as against physical diseases.


The researcher’s conclusion depends on which of the following assumptions?lightbulb


The argument‘s conclusion is that ISA impacts mental health. We need to identify the underlying assumption. The correct answer to this question is option D: Mental illness does not cause people’s immune-system activity to decrease. This is a classic case of reverse causation.


Let us negate option D: Mental illness causes people’s immune system activity to decrease. If this were to be true, it means that mental illness impacts ISA and not vice versa. i.e. Y is causing X and not the other way round. This breaks the argument – since negation breaks the argument, option D is the right answer.


Key Takeaway

Whenever you see a cause-effect relationship between 2 events on a GMAT CR question, question its direction. Do not take for granted the direction apparently given in the question stem.


Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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  • September, 17th, 2013
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Has Verbal Become Tougher and Quant Become Easier on the GMAT?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Firstly, let us define what we mean by “tougher” or “easier”. For the sake of simplicity, let us consider a particular test of 100 marks. Previously, 80% of the students scored above 50 marks but now only 70% of the students score above 50 marks. Would you say the test is now tougher?


How does this compare with the GMAT, you might ask? 🙂


Well, here is what someone who took the GMAT in August 2011 could have seen on his screen


GMAT Score: 730 (96th%ile)


Quant: 50 (92nd %ile)


Verbal: 38 (83rd %ile)


Here is what someone taking the GMAT in August 2013 (i.e. now) sees on his score report:


GMAT Score: 730 (96th %ile)


Quant: 50 (89th %ile)


Verbal: 38 (84th %ile)


So, what do you think has happened here? The Quant percentiles are going down and Verbal percentiles are going up i.e. for the same raw score you would have got a higher percentile in 2011 than in 2013.


Let us look at the published data from on the percentile charts.


In 2011, this is how the percentile charts looked:




Today if you go here, this is how the percentile charts look:




What does this mean?


This means that TECHNICALLY speaking, more people are scoring higher in Quant than a few years ago, and fewer people are scoring as high in Verbal now than a few years ago.


Please note that these percentiles have been calculated for the student population across the last 3 years. With over 750,000 people taking it worldwide during this period, it is statistically difficult for this data to be corrupted by any single phenomenon.


Why did this happen?


There are 3 reasons why this can happen:


1) The GMAT is getting tougher in Verbal and easier in Quant. So you have relatively easier questions giving you a higher score in Verbal while the opposite is happening in Quant.


However, this is NOT true. GMAC clearly says that it is as difficult for you to score a 51 in Quant as it was 5 years ago. The correspondence between “what it takes” and the “raw scores” has not really changed. Remember that only the percentiles have changed for the corresponding scores. So this reason is ruled out.


2) Test-takers are getting better at Verbal than at Quant thanks to the plethora of available material on the Internet and/or the techniques taught by GMAT prep companies are getting better.


Again, this looks tempting, but if you look at it closely then there is no major change in the approach to questions – I mean let us not kid ourselves. There are no magic solution to scoring a 760. There never was – there never will be 🙂


3)More test-takers are coming from a strong Quant background and a relatively weaker Verbal background.


However, improbable this might seem – this is the reason! With more people taking the GMAT from India, China and Asian countries the average Quant scores are going up and Verbal scores are going down.


Here is the table from the GMAC Geographic Trend Report for 2012. Note that TY means “Testing Year” – more like “Calendar Year”.






You can see that East & Southeast Asia have shown a sharp increase from around 40,000 test-takers to almost 78,000 test-takers, while US has gone down from 126,000 to 117,000 test-takers. Enough to statistically skew the averages.


Well! That was MY interpretation.


Now you can choose the order in which you want to take up the sections before starting the test. This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure. It was introduced in July 2017. This might cause more and more test takers to perform better on the Verbal section. I have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in the this blog

GMAT Section Selection – Everything you need to know


I would like to know your thoughts and am happy to interact with you in the comments section below 🙂

What do you think? Leave your comments in the comments section below!

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  • September, 4th, 2013
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Tackling the To-verb/Verb-ing Dilemma in GMAT SC

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The choice between verb-ing and to-verb in GMAT Sentence Correction is something that has troubled test-takers forever. Though there are no blanket rules that will help you tackle questions that test this, there are certain guidelines you can follow to make the right choice.


General Usage Guidelines For To-Verb And Verb-Ing


To-verb: This is the short form of ‘in order to’ and is used to convey an intent or purpose. For example,


I practiced for nine hours every day to make my moves perfect. cool-green-tick


I practiced for nine hours every day for making my moves perfect. cross


What was my purpose? My purpose was to make my moves perfect. There is an objective/intent here – therefore, the to-verb form is appropriate.


For Verb-ing: This is used to answer the question ‘What for?’ For example,


Sandra was praised for showing presence of mind. cool-green-tick


Sandra was praised to show presence of mind. cross


What was Sandra praised for? Because she did something – she showed presence of mind. Hence, the verb-ing form is correct.


Let us look at this official question:guideline


New genetic evidence – together with recent studies of elephants’ skeletons, tusks, and other anatomical features – provides compelling support for classifying Africa’s forest elephants and its savanna elephants as separate species.


A. provides compelling support for classifying


B. provides compelling support to classify


What does the new evidence provide support for? It provides support for classifying Africa’s elephants as separate species.


There is no intent or purpose evident here. Therefore, A is the correct answer.


Now let’s take a look at another official question:


…the National Academy of Sciences has urged the nation to revamp computer security procedures, institute new emergency response teams. and create a special nongovernment organization for taking charge of computer security planning.


A. and create a special nongovernment organization for taking


B. and create a special nongovernment organization to take


What is the objective/purpose of the special nongovernmental organization? The purpose is to take charge of computer security planning.


Since a clear objective is evident here, option B is the correct answer.


Maintaining Parallelism


In some questions, the choice between to-verb or verb-ing may be dictated by the overall parallelism of the sentence (including the non-underlined part). The simple rule is this: if other parts of the sentence’s parallel structure use the verb-ing form, pick the verb-ing form; if these parts use the to-verb form, use the to-verb form.


Let me take an example:


Hundreds of species of fish generate and discharge electric currents…, using their power for finding and attacking prey, to defend themselves, or also for communication and navigation.


A. for finding and attacking prey, to defend themselves, or also for communication and navigationparallelism

B. to find and attack prey, to defend themselves, or to communicate and navigate


What do the fish use their power for? The fish use their power for finding and attacking prey, for defending themselves etc.


What is the objective behind the use of electric discharges? The fishes use their electric discharges to find and attack prey, to defend themselves etc.


Now how would you resolve this dilemma? 🙂


This is when you need to look at the sentence structure. Choice A has incorrect parallelism between ‘for finding and attacking’, ‘to defend’ and ‘for communication…’ However, choice B rectifies these issues and has accurate parallelism between ‘to find’, ‘to defend’ and ‘to communicate’. Thus B is the right answer.


Key Takeaway


There is no universal rule to choose between to-veb and for-verb-ing – it depends on the context. Check for intent/purpose, ‘what for?’ questions and parallelism before making your choice.

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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‘Because’ Versus ‘Due to’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Though these 2 terms are often used interchangeably in everyday speech, they are actually different and must be treated differently on the GMAT.


The use of ‘Because’


‘Because’ helps answer the WHY question – why did something happen? For e.g.


The flight was cancelled because a storm was


‘Because of’ modifies entire clauses and is used to explain the verb or the action described in the clause. The flight was cancelled because of the


The underlined clause in the above sentence is the action that is being explained.


The use of ‘Due to’


‘Due to’ is the equivalent of ‘caused by’ and can be used only to modify nouns. For e.g.


The show was a great success due to The Beatles playing the season’s hit numbers.cross


The show’s great success was due to The Beatles’


The show’s great success was caused by The Beatles’


The underlined word in the above sentence is the noun that is being explained.


On the GMAT



Let’s look at this OG question:


In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repairing due to moisture exhaled by tourists, which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing in the walls.


A. due to moisture exhaled by tourists, which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing


B. because moisture exhaled by tourists had raised the humidity within them to such levels that salt from the stone was crystallizing


Why were the pyramid chambers at Giza closed to visitors?


Option A implies that ‘moisture exhaled by tourists’ was the reason the chambers were closed. This is incorrect, as the ‘moisture’ is not the direct cause. An event happening as a result of this moisture exhalation is the reason why the chambers were closed.


Option B puts this right by saying that the chambers were closed because event X happened, X being the effects of the increase in humidity within the chambers as a result of the moisture exhaled by the tourists. Therefore, B is the correct answer.


Key Takeaways

key takeaways
‘Because of’ modifies verbs while ‘due to’ modifies nouns
Try replacing ‘due to’ with ‘caused by’ and see whether the sentence makes logical sense. If it doesn’t, it is probably incorrect.




The meeting was postponed due to the Chairman’s unavailability.cross


The meeting was postponed because the Chairman was not


The postponement of the meeting was due to the Chairman’s

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Why GMAT is Like Sachin Tendulkar

GMAT is like Sachin Tendulkar
Reading Time: 3 minutes

An interesting anecdote that I read in Aamir Khan’s blog was about an incident with Sachin Tendulkar. This was when they were watching the finals of the first IPL. Since the Mumbai Indians had not qualified, Aamir was sitting next to Sachin. I reproduce in toto:
The match last night was certainly exciting but what made it a unique experience for me was that I had Sachin next to me. You will find this hard to believe but Sachin was able to predict every ball before it was bowled.
“He is going to bowl a bouncer next”,
“This one is going to be a slower one”,
“Full tilt outside the off stump”,
“Next one will be a yorker”,
“Short of length”.
It was uncanny.
HE GOT IT RIGHT EACH TIME!!! No wonder its so difficult to bowl to him. He has an amazing instinct. And he told me his logic for each prediction which I wont share with you as I don’t want to reveal how his mind works. But all of us were dumbfounded with his instinct and his acumen. So at the end of it I told him next time we watch a film together I’m going to tell him whats going to happen next!”
So you will ask what has this to do with GMAT? A simple answer – Both require a great sense of anticipation.
On the GMAT, one faces many situations where a sense of anticipation can be the deciding factor between a good and a great score. Or even a bad and a good score.
I will pick 3 situations on the GMAT where you will need to develop a sense of anticipation:

1. Choosing which questions to answer and which ones to let go.

Looking at a question if you can take a decision in about 30 seconds that it is not a question worth solving and that you should make an educated guess can go a long way in helping you manage your time well. On an average, even the people who score high on the test will end up guessing anywhere between 5-15 questions.
It is important to know which ones to guess and move on. And on which ones you should dig your feet in and spend that extra minute trying to solve them. Considering that against most fast bowlers Sachin has only 0.4 seconds to react – you certainly have a lot more time to recover!

2. In Sentence Correction, your ability to see patterns is important.

I think the biggest problem with non-native speakers is that we tend to go in with some kind of “algorithm” to solve based on the “theory” we have learned. This falls apart because the human brain learns by imitation and not by algorithm.
The moment you see a particular pattern or usage, you should try to relate it to something that you already know, question you have solved before – it is almost as if you can anticipate what could go wrong on that question.
For example spotting an “it”, “them”, “their” means there is a chance of pronoun error. Spotting an “and” means it could be an error in parallelism. Spotting a “is”, “was”, “were” could mean a subject-verb issue. Spotting a “greater”, “than”, “more” could mean an issue with comparisons.
So you need to essentially be able to look at an SC question and feel it in your bones what it is testing. (That you would still not be able to solve it is a different matter). To draw an analogy this is similar to Sachin glancing at the field placement before each ball – knowing where the “traps” are set is half the battle won.

3. In Reading Comprehension, the whole concept of “critical parsing”.

It is based on your ability to anticipate what the passage is going to say, and what kind of questions can be asked based on that.
For example the moment you read about how Theory X used to be the prevelant dogma in the 19th century, you quickly ask yourself “I’m sure they are going to say there is a new theory now” or “This is describing the theory or discussing the theory”. Remember that as with Sachin you need to do this thinking bit while keeping your eye on the ball i.e. reading the passage.
With all these tips in mind, go onto score your own century (read as 700+) on the GMAT!

  • February, 28th, 2013
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5 Ways To Make Your GMAT Preparation More Effective – Starting Now!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Every few days, I get different versions of this question from students:
“I have completed all the questions from the OG and the Verbal & Quant Reviews. But I am still getting about 40% of them wrong. Can you suggest more material to practice from?”
This is a question that usually leaves me flabbergasted. Here’s why:
In most such cases, I find that the student has also gone through a huge list of GMATPrep questions (from one of the many compilations available on the internet) as well as questions unique to older versions of the Official Guide.
In all probability, he/she has also gone though material from various test prep companies (despite our strong recommendations to stick to official material!) In all, about 3000-3500 questions!
This is where I tell them:
“You have solved over 3000 questions – yet, your performance has not significantly improved. Clearly, your problem is not lack of practice! Have you identified where you are going wrong?”
It is now the student’s turn to be stumped!
The issue is very elementary – many GMAT test-takers simply do not know how to prepare ! Practice wins you only half the game – the other half can be achieved only through Analysis.
Put simply, if you get an answer wrong, it means that:
You missed the errors in an answer choice and picked it.
You thought there was something wrong with the correct answer choice and eliminated it.
To see an improvement in your scores you will have to analyze your mistakes with the keenness of jeweler looking through his loupe.
Here are some tips that will help you make your practice sessions more effective:

1. Do not solve questions mindlessly.

Make sure that you review your performance using an error log so that you can pinpoint 2 things:
Which Quant/Verbal areas do you need to work on?
What type of mistakes are you making?
Once you know the answer to these questions, you can address your issues specifically.

2. Review not just questions you got wrong, but also the ones you got right

Yes – you heard me. Many test-takers unfortunately do not do this. “I got it right, so I know it” is the typical attitude. But there is much to be gained from reviewing questions that you got correct:
What if yours was just a lucky guess? (Yes, it is hard to admit that you simply guessed the right answer, but hey, no one else is going to know!) A look at the explanation will tell you WHY a particular choice is right and others are not.
You may have eliminated certain answer choices for certain reasons – but on the GMAT, almost all wrong answer options are wrong for more than one reason. It is a good idea to see what else is wrong with the choices that you eliminated – this will definitely help you while attempting other questions.

3. Check the answer key first, before you look at the explanations.

Don’t jump straight to the explanation and start reading it – give yourself a second chance. Look at the answer key and see if you got the question right or wrong. If you got it wrong, go back to the question and revisit the two choices – the correct answer and the one you picked.
Have another shot at the question – try to see what you missed the first time around. If you had made just a silly mistake, this is a good time to correct it! Make the best out of this chance – after all, you can’t do this on test day!

4. Solve “blocks” of questions, not just one at a time.

You solve one question, quickly turn to the answer key, find out that you got it wrong, read the explanation, and move to the next question.
Is this how you practice? If yes, it’s time to change! This sort of practice is not going to give you any returns. Your practice sessions are the time to build you stamina for the demanding 4-hour long GMAT – so utilize them well.
Pick up a “block” of say, 20 SC questions. You will need approximately 1.5 minutes to solve one question – this means that you will be done in 30 minutes. Now, go over the key, and revisit the ones that you got wrong. If you got 6 questions wrong, this would take you another 9 minutes.
In the last round, check the explanations to all the questions – right and wrong. The total time you spend on these questions would now be about 1 hour – time well-spent!
As you practice, increase the rigor of your prep sessions – solve larger “blocks” of questions.

5. Keep your practice sessions focused.

Solved a few questions and checked the explanation. Qn 6 is wrong. According to the OG, option C in Qn 6 is “wordy and awkward”.
What does that even mean?
Let me Google and check if someone has given a better explanation online.
Ah, yes, here it is…
C has an ambiguous pronoun.
Hmm… I need to brush up my basics in Pronouns – Googling “gmat sc pronouns”.
Wow, someone’s got a 2 MB PDF on pronouns – awesome!
Let me download this…
hey, there’s a nice video tutorial on pronoun ambiguity – let me watch that now….
Sounds familiar?
At the end of 2 hours, you will suddenly realize that you have solved just 5 questions and analyzed just 1!
This is not a good way to utilize your time – make sure that your prep sessions are focused – this means No internet, No mobile and No chatting with anyone!
By taking these simple steps, you can utilize your prep time more productively and see better results.
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
If you are looking for more customized and focused prep, why don’t you check out our GMAT courses!
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Accelerate your GMAT preparation with GMAT practice tests!

GMAT preparation with GMAT practice tests!
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Is your turn to crack the GMAT fast-approaching? I am sure you must be working hard to score 700+ to secure your admission to one of the top B-schools in the world. You are not alone – there are hundreds of other test-takers in the same boat as you!

All of you have great potential, face similar challenges and have to overcome similar constraints. Yet, the bottom line still remains unanswered – why are some test takers able to score the 99th percentile while others languish in the lower 600s? What factors influence your getting that extra-edge to not just crack the GMAT, but to crack it commendably?


Once you are well-versed with all your English and Math fundamentals and the know-how to apply these strategically on the GMAT, you are half-way through! But the problem with most students is that they stop here, assuming they have conquered the GMAT!

But remember, only half the battle is won; the other half is still to be experienced – that of taking as many full-length practice tests as possible to achieve mental vigor and excellent time management.


Why are full-length practice tests so imperative?


GMAT exam – A computer adaptive test!

As GMAT is a computer adaptive test, it is essential for you to be familiar with the actual GMAT pattern. You need to be well-versed with the user interface of GMAT including how to scroll up and down, submit answers, move between sections, exit a section and quit the test; even a minor mistake may mess up your precious GMAT. Only full-length practice tests will give you this much-needed familiarity.

GMAT – A good 4 hours long test!

Most test takers tend to lose their concentration and attentiveness halfway through the test itself, which could make it quite difficult to hit the 700+ score. Full-length practice tests will improve your mental stamina and attention span to endure this 4 hours long test (including the short breaks you take in between).

The SWOT Analysis!

Once you are done with your practice test, you can see and analyze your results -which questions you got wrong and which you could nail. Thus, full-length practice mock tests help you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, which sections you are more comfortable with and which question-types you need to work on more.

Conquering the AWA section!

AWA is one section where you need to accelerate your thinking and typing speed the most. Here too, only mock tests will help you out to assemble your thoughts logically and articulate them skillfully in the AWA section.

Get more answers RIGHT!

Once you have taken a couple of mock tests, you will be able to identify the GMAT’s requirements thoroughly. You will gradually acquire the skills to eliminate wrong choices and select the best answer choice. Full-length practice tests will also lessen your chances of making silly mistakes.

Exposure to all question types!

The more full-length tests you give, the more you will be exposed to different types of questions at different levels of difficulty that can appear on the GMAT. In turn, you will learn how to approach each type of question and how much time you need to devote to it.

Time Management!

Ironically, time tends to run faster than usual while taking your GMAT! This is because of the stress you are under and the length of the test itself. If you are practicing only particular sections of the test, it will be of hardly any use, as only a full-length test can teach you how to manage your time on the GMAT.

More and more practice will enable you to finish your test within the stipulated time, as nothing is more frustrating than losing out questions due to lack of time. Imagine losing out 5 questions just because you were 5 minutes short of time! Isn’t it heartbreaking?

Some Do’s and Don’ts to approach the GMAT practice tests:




1. There are quite a few reliable GMAT practice tests available in the market and on the internet.

Practice GMAT sample questions to improve your scores.

2. Before beginning the test, read all the instructions carefully.

3. Try to take practice tests at the exact time at which you have scheduled your actual GMAT. This will help you to consider and make allowances for factors such as sleepiness, hunger and low energy levels and reschedule your GMAT accordingly.

4. Make use of scratchpads while taking practice tests.

5. After taking each practice test, review and appraise your performance without fail.

6. Use an approved timer while taking your practice tests.


1. Use of calculators and mobile phones during the test is a big no-no.

2. Don’t think that mere practice will help you enough to crack the GMAT. It is equally important to evaluate your performance and sketch out a course of action to improve your scores.

3. Do not take unnecessary breaks in between.

4. Practice, but too much of practice can lead to adverse results too! Avoid getting exhausted and take appropriate gaps between practice tests.

5. Try not to leave out any question. Remember the thumb rule: getting a question wrong on the GMAT is better than leaving questions unanswered. So, instead of getting flummoxed on the D-day, follow the above best practices and face your GMAT confidently.

Remember, it is useless to run 100 meters 100 times if your aim is to run a 10Km marathon. To win it, you need to practice running 10 kilometers at a stretch and spot your strengths and weaknesses. It is not just practice, but full-length practice that will accelerate your chances to get impressive 700+ scores!

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

Head over to our Video library for more useful information on how to achieve an awesome GMAT score!

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Time Management on the GMAT

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How to effectively manage time on the GMAT?

On the GMAT, you are bombarded with 36 Verbal and 31 Quant questions to be finished in 62 minutes & 65 minutes respectively! Suddenly you will realize that these 127 minutes are the shortest of all the 127 minutes you ever experienced!

Let us look at it from a mathematical angle.

The usual gyaan that every potential test taker receives from everyone: ‘Solve each verbal question in 1.5 minutes and quant in 2 minutes in order to prevent running out of time, because on the GMAT, leaving questions unanswered in even worse than getting a few of them wrong!’

NOTE: We have updated this blog based on the announcement by GMAC on some major changes in the GMAT test timing and the number of questions you’re going to be having in both Quant and Verbal.The new GMAT exam will be shorter by 30 minutes from April 16th, 2018.


Cick here to know all about the shorter GMAT pattern starting April 16th 2018


Let us do some math on the time you have on the GMAT to answer the Quantitative and Verbal sections:

62 minutes means 3,720 seconds for the quant section.

65 minutes means 3,900 seconds for the verbal section.

31 questions in Quant means 120s per math question.

36 questions in Verbal means 108.33s per verbal question.

What if I told you that you have to come as close to the 120/108.33 mark as possible for you to do well? Sounds a bit stupid right? I mean how do you guarantee you are going to be able to solve a question in precisely the time allotted?

After all, this is not making widgets in a factory assembly line. You will argue that you need to alter your approach on each question and it could take more or less depending on various factors (position of the question, mental fatigue, difficulty of the question, your comfort with the topic tested etc).

So now you would rather have a “range” of time within which you will work.


So what is that range?

Can we assume 100 to 140 seconds for a quant questions and 100 to 120 seconds for a verbal question?

What if you are able to solve a straight-forward SC question in 50 seconds?

Or say you have a tough CR boldface that requires 3 minutes? What would you do?

Can we make the range 40s to 180s?

Does it mean you now cannot solve the question in 39s?

Or give yourself 181s?

As you will realize this argument can keep going on…There is no perfect answer to this question.

What is important is that you give merit to each question and answer it in whatever time that it takes you to solve it.

However the bad news is that –

The test also imposes constraints on you. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you spent way too much time on many questions and eventually ran out of time.

However, will it be possible for you to check after every 2 minutes how many questions you were able to finish or after every question, check how much time was spent on it?

It is like eating custard apple and spending a good amount of time in picking up each of its seeds and counting on how many are left? This approach will instead increase the anxiety of the test takers and affect the concentration, thereby affecting his performance on the wrong side of the scale.

So, is there a better approach? What about a muskmelon that can be easily divided into big 5-6 wedges?

What is the time strategy that we prescribe?

Well for Quant, instead if trying to manage the whole 62 minutes,

Try to break it into 4 parts:

So allocate 17 minutes for the first part and the subsequent 15 minutes each for the next 3 parts.

So basically you should be looking at solving 7 questions in the first 17 minutes and solve 8 questions each in the subsequent 15 minutes chunk.
Now for verbal, they way we suggest you split is 17 minutes for the first quarter, 16 minutes for the second, 16 minutes for the third and 16 minutes for the fourth


In the each of these quarters we recommend you solve at least nine questions each.
So 9 +9 + 9 + 9 = 36 questions & you are done with Verbal.


If you see the strategy is based on you spending slightly more time in the first quarter. Just because we feel that when you’re starting your test – there is going to be a little bit of inertia.


This strategy will give you that extra one or two minutes initially as opposed to the second, third and fourth quarter.


Now you can choose the order in which you want to take up the sections before starting the test. This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure. It was introduced in July 2017. We have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in the this blog


GMAT Section Selection – Everything you need to know


Try out this strategy and let us know if it works. Please post your comments on what strategy *you* use to manage your time!

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

If you are looking for more customized and focused prep, why don’t you check out our GMAT courses!

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Top 4 mistakes Test-takers commit on the GMAT

GRE Quant Stress
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Over the last decade I have spent countless hours with thousands of students, helping them understand why their scores were not going up. I have come to the conclusion that the root of all lies in the same four basic problems in our approach to test-taking.

1. Brute Force Approach:

If your scores are not going up then we are told, as per the Indian education system, that we need to practice harder. Isn’t that what we saw in the guy who topped in school and college – that he burned the midnight oil? So we hit the books even more intensely only to realize we have hit a “plateau” and it is very, very frustrating to be “stuck” at this 620 or 640.

The problem here is not with practice – the problem is that you have an underlying technique that is flawed. So the more you practise the better you are getting at that flawed technique. In fact you are getting BETTER AT BEING BAD. The only way to improve scores is to use the right technique – practice will only help hone it.

2. The famous Indian “pattern” recognition technique:

I see way too many students fussing over how they saw a question they never encountered before during their practice. On the GMAT the chances are bleak that you see a new question type (I can imagine the surprise on the face of the first guy who got the bold-face!). What this means is that you simply have not been able to apply yourself to the question or the verbiage intimidates you.

3. Saving the best for the last – not taking enough tests:

It is going to take an hour and 30 minutes from the time you reach the Prometric testing center to the time you even see 1 question that will count towards your 3-digit GMAT score. It will be another excruciating 3 hours before you stagger your way out of the center.

GMAT, above all, is a test of your mental stamina. Any test of endurance, like say a marathon, cannot be won by building your reserves the night before. It takes many, many practice runs before you can build the patience and energy to last the full distance.

Take around 10 tests before your final GMAT in the same time slot as your actual test. Your reaction to a question under the duress of a test is a lot different than how you will react in isolation.

4. Consistency and not Contingency:

I have heard way too many people crib about how they find time only during the weekends. My only answer to this is if Anil Ambani can spend an hour in the morning running in the streets of Mumbai, you or I have no reason to say we do not have time.

At least for the GMAT – which can catapult your career to great heights! In pure monetary terms, a higher GMAT score can potentially win you a scholarship worth a few lakhs. It is hard to argue against such over powering logic that you are not able to spend 2 hours a day for just 6 to 8 weeks!

I suggest if you are a morning person wake up a bit early and practice from say 6am to 8am before heading for office. If you are an evening person then come back home, watch TV, relax and then hit the books at 10pm going on till 12 midnight. Whatever works for you – but make sure you study diligently everyday.

Studying only on the weekends (or whenever the mood strikes) will produce a very low return on investments. In fact studying 2 hours a day for 5 days is a lot more productive than studying 10 hours over the weekend because the former allows your brain to internalize the problem better and let the concepts sink in better.

Also the gap between 2 weeekends is too large for the brain to properly assimilate and absorb the information.

Now that you know the “secret” behind studying effectively I hope you are able to practice these principles and keep a small note above your study area which reminds you of them.

Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

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