Cheat Sheet

GMAT For Dummies

From GMAT For Dummies, with CD, Premier 6th Edition by Lisa Zimmer Hatch, Scott Hatch

When you take the GMAT, make sure you take the required items with you to the test. Use these guidelines to help you get through the math, critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehensions questions — as well as for writing your analytical essay and conquering integrated reasoning questions.

Items You Should Take to the GMAT

Forget your calculator when you take the GMAT. The only things you need to bring with you to the test, besides a confident attitude and a good night's sleep, are

  • Your appointment confirmation letter or e-mail: When you schedule an appointment for the GMAT, Pearson VUE sends you a confirmation letter or e-mail that you should bring with you to the test. It proves you're registered. Don't despair if you can't find yours, though. They'll let you in if you have an appointment.

  • A photo ID: You have to prove that you're you and not your really smart neighbor who looks a little like you coming in to take the test for you. Any form of identification that doesn't have your picture on it is unacceptable, but valid government–issued picture IDs like driver's licenses, passports, identification cards, and military IDs are great as long as they're originals (no photocopies) and they present your name and date of birth exactly as you stated them when you registered for the GMAT.

  • The names of up to five of your favorite MBA programs: Pearson VUE sends your GMAT scores to five programs of your choice, so if you didn't enter them online when you registered, be sure to have a list of your five favorites with you on test day.

GMAT Math Question Tricks and Tips

Does the thought of taking the GMAT math test make you break out in a cold sweat? Relax, and use these tips and tricks to help you tackle the math section of the GMAT:

  • Know math formulas before you take the GMAT because the test doesn't provide them for you.

  • Remember that easy questions are worth the same number of points as hard questions, so don't rush through the easy questions and make careless mistakes.

  • Eliminate answer choices that don't make sense.

  • Memorize the chart for answering data sufficiency questions. As soon as you've determined whether a statement has enough information to answer the question, eliminate answer choices and move on. Don't waste time solving the problem unless you have to do so to make your determination.

  • Take advantage of your noteboard. Use it to draw pictures, work out formulas, and cross out wrong answer choices.

Tips and Tricks for GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions

The critical reasoning questions on the GMAT are all about using logic. To maximize your potential on the critical reasoning questions in the verbal section of the GMAT, use these helpful techniques:

  • Read the question first so you know what kind of question you have to answer before you read the argument.

  • For strengthen- or weaken-the-argument questions, determine what type of reasoning the author uses and choose an answer that either helps or hurts that way of reasoning.

  • For questions that ask you to draw conclusions, choose an answer that contains an element of all the author's premises.

  • Remember that the correct answer to an inference question usually concerns just one of the argument's premises.

  • Assumption questions ask you to choose an answer that states a premise the author assumes to be true but doesn't state directly. The correct answer often links the last premise to the conclusion.

  • For method-of-reasoning questions, figure out how the author makes the argument. Usually the author uses inductive reasoning, and the GMAT focuses on these specific ways to make an argument through inductive reasoning:

    • Cause and effect

    • Analogy

    • Statistics

Helpful Hints for GMAT Sentence Correction Questions

The sentence correction questions on the GMAT test your ability to edit written material. Apply the basic rules of English and focus on these guidelines to master the sentence correction questions:

  • Read the sentence and check the pronouns and verbs in the underlined part for agreement. If the verbs and pronouns check out, look for problems with parallelism or word choice.

  • If no obvious errors stand out, the answer is probably the first choice, but skim through the answer choices just to make sure you didn't miss anything.

  • If you spot an error, eliminate answer choices that don't correct the error. Then eliminate answer choices that correct the error but make a new one.

  • Reread your answer choice within the sentence to make sure it makes sense before you commit to it.

Tips for the GMAT Reading Comprehension Questions

GMAT reading questions are designed to test how well you extract information from a passage. So follow these suggestions when answering the reading comprehension questions in the verbal section of the GMAT:

  • Skim through the passage before answering the questions.

  • As you read, focus on the main theme, author's tone, and paragraph topics rather than the specific details of the passage.

  • Eliminate answer choices that don't pertain to the information in the passage.

  • Remember that the author of a GMAT passage is usually relatively neutral and objective.

  • Choose answers that are neither too specific nor too general for main theme questions.

  • Don't infer too much for inference questions.

  • Note that the answers to specific information questions may be a paraphrase of information in the passage.

Tricks for the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

The first section of the GMAT requires you to type an original analytical writing sample. To make the most of your essay, follow these recommendations:

  • Choose your thesis immediately. There's no right answer to the question prompt, so don't waste time trying to find it.

  • Spend at least two to five minutes constructing a quick outline of your ideas. Make sure you have a general thesis for the essay and a topic statement for each paragraph.

  • Include an introductory paragraph, at least two or three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.

  • Get specific with your supporting evidence. Draw from your own experience or knowledge. It's okay to get personal.

  • Leave a couple of minutes at the end to read through your essay and correct any glaring errors.

Guidelines for Answering GMAT Integrated Reasoning Questions

The GMAT integrated reasoning questions test how well you apply logical reasoning to real-life situations. Here are some tips to guide you through this unusual section of questions:

  • Practice wise time management to make sure you make it through all the questions and their sub-questions.

  • Keep track of the volumes of information in multi-source reasoning by scribbling summaries of each tab on your noteboard.

  • Jump to the question immediately for table analysis questions because most everything you need comes from the table and not the introductory paragraph.

  • Read the details in the introductory paragraph of two-part analysis questions very carefully.

  • Peruse the answer options in the drop-down menu for graphics interpretation questions before you analyze the question.

  • Clarify the value of each increment on the axes of bar and line graphs so you calculate accurately.

  • Prepare yourself for the unwieldy online calculator by playing with the simple calculator that comes standard with most computer operating systems.

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