GMAT tips by Shipra Sharma


The current GMAT pattern, as of June 2012, has an additional part known as ‘Integrated Reasoning’. Still, the main exam out of 800 points remains the same. Details explained below.




The OLD pattern:
Part 1) Analytical writing assessment
Analysis of an argument  – 30 mins
Analysis of an issue         – 30 mins
Part 2) Quantitative Section – 37 questions – 75 mins
Problem Solving
Data Sufficiency
Part 3) Verbal Section – 41 quesitions – 75 mins
Critical Reasoning
Reading Comprehension
Sentence Correction

The NEW pattern is exactly the same except Part 1:
Analytical writing assessment
a) Analysis of an argument  – 30 mins
b) Integrated Reasoning – 12 questions – 30 mins

The Part 1 is graded on a 6.0 scale. A score of 6 is not uncommon.
Part 2 and Part 3 are each graded on a scale of 50 and the marks are granted from a total of 800.

You may already know all this so just a few pointers.

  • Based on the answer of your question the next question will be tougher or easier but it is always a waste of time trying to gauge yourself based on this. Still, I remember thinking the same during my exam so, I guess, human nature cannot change. Just try not to obsess over it.
  • Unlike some sites or blogs say, the initial questions are not more crucial than others. Every question matters.
  • Time yourself. It pays off to spend more time on initial questions as your brain takes some time to come to the calculative mode. Still, don’t worry if you get a question wrong as not completing the section has a greater penalty.

My Preparation:

  1. Finalize your course material : I started by looking out for materials that cover the entire syllabus and finalized ‘Veritas Prep’ and ‘Kaplan’. Veritas material consists of numerous booklets focusing on every type of question and Kaplan is one book that has a vast set of questions with explanations.
  2. Identify your weakness : After completion of the course once or n number of times, when you feel comfortable, take a demo test. By now you will have a good idea about the area/s you are weak in. In my case I was really weak in Sentence Correction. thus I bought the Sentence Correction book from Manhattan GMAT.
  3. Take as many tests as possible : Once gone through the entire syllabus start a marathon of test taking. The initial tests could be very disheartening, don’t worry about it. Sometimes I was not able to complete the test in the allotted time and even when I did manage to complete it the scores were bad. Just remember to be true to the test and yourself only then you can improve. I used the following resources for my tests:

- We get two free GMAT Prep tests from Remember its quant section is less difficult than the actual test. Also, the essays (or one essay for the new format) will not be graded.
– I bought 6 tests from These tests cannot be retaken as once exhausted you will see the same questions, maybe in a different sequence but they are worth the money.
– I also bought some Manhattan GMAT tests. The quant section of these testes is tougher than the actual test. It helps to register on this site and there is a challenge for the week where you get to solve a math problem and get points to get the answer right. By accumulating those points you could use them to buy books etc from the site.
– Registering to Beat the GMAT also helps and they send one math problem every day, thus helps your mind to wake up every morning :)
– When taking tests, take it in its entirety with similar breaks as in the final exam. This helps your body and brain to adjust to the long sitting and working hours.
– Make sure you do take the breaks and if possible do some stretching, eat some sugar rich snacks and sip an energy drink during that time. Sounds like you are running a marathon. It is one :)
– You should have taken so many tests before the final exam that you should hardly spend any time reading the instructions.

The last book I bought was the Official GMAT Prep book. The problems in this book are in increasing complexity but are much easier to solve, specially after your preparation. Thus I will advise you to start from the last problem. Also keep any two practice tests untouched for the final shot. Take those tests at least a week before the final exam. Irrespective of the result, if you feel you are ready then you are ready. Do not take any new tests and do not change your way of approaching a problem in the last week.

Two days prior to your exam stop studying. I re-emphasize do not plan any study. You could just go through the formulas or solve a problem for fun but don’t study or read too much. As it is your brain will not be able to sit quite and not follow the same rigorous routine you must have put yourself through. Listening to music helped me.

Finally, throughout the preparation be true to yourself. All the Best !!

Shipra Sharma
From India
GMAT Score 720 (Year 2011)
MBA Candidate at University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Class of 2014


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