Studying for the GMAT Exam After FailingThe First Time

Studying for the GMAT Exam After FailingThe First Time

Sometimes, even after all the prep and studying, the first attempt at the GMAT doesn’t go as planned.  A bad score the first time out can be demoralizing, but it shouldn’t be the end of the road for you.  In fact, once you get your score back and realize it’s not what you had hoped, it’s time to start looking forward to the next GMAT test. Game planning for the next GMAT requires you to assess your previous score, avoid the common mistakes you may have made the first time, and not overreacting at the first set of results.  Working this way can help you go out and do better on the next GMAT.

Keep Calm and Carry On

If you’ve taken the GMAT for the first time, and you are unhappy with your score, don’t get too down on yourself.  The truth is that most students will wind up taking the GMAT more than once.  Even better, most people that retake the GMAT wind up getting a better score the second time around.  Experts say, however, that there is no reason to retake the test if you score over a 700; instead, focus on the other aspects of your application and make sure that the rest measures up to your GMAT score.

Assessing What Went Wrong

One of the first steps to retaking the GMAT is reassess exactly what went wrong the first time.  This could be a number of different factors, and narrowing down will help you decide how you will go about avoiding the same mistakes the second time around.  Here are some things that may have gone wrong and how to avoid them.  

  • Studied the Wrong Materials: If you don’t do well on the GMAT on the first time around, reassess the materials that you used when you were first studying for the GMAT exam.  The Official Guide to the GMAT is a good starting point, but you’ll need more if you’re looking to get your scores up.
  • Incorrect Study Plans: Your study plan should be focused on eradicating your weaknesses, rather than focusing on your strengths.  For your second test, refocus on your weaknesses, then, work on fortifying your strengths.
  • Timing/Anxiety Issues: One of the biggest obstacles you face when taking the GMAT is the time constraint that the test puts you under.  If you feel like this was your problem, focus on managing your time better.  Take more practice tests, which will allow you to simulate the actual test conditions and help you work on time management.  This can also be a good way to help you overcome any test anxieties you may have.

Avoid Common GMAT Mistakes

studying for the gmat examWhen settling down for your next GMAT exam, part of the game plan should be to avoid common mistakes in the test-taking that may have affected your score.  These can include faults in your time management or other things many students do incorrectly.  Here are a few to avoid:

  • Focusing Too Much on the First 10 Questions: Many students overestimate the importance of the first 5-10 questions on each section.  It’s important to treat every question equally, as you should be spending the same amount of time on each question.
  • Interpreting Question Difficulty: Easy questions should be treated as a way to save time that could be spent on more difficult questions.  Some students will interpret easy questions as they are not doing well on the test, but thinking like this can actually be detrimental to confidence, so it’s best to avoid this type of thinking.
  • Not Using Enough Scratch work: In an effort to save time, a lot of students will forego scratch work and work without writing things down.  The amount of scratch work students has a correlation to how well they do on the GMAT, so don’t be afraid to work things out on paper before answering the question.
  • Making Assumptions on Critical Reasoning: Critical Reasoning questions are based on inferences that you make from the reading passage.  Some students, rather than read each passage carefully, skim the passage and make assumptions.  The passage uses precise language and should be treated like a logic puzzle.

A bad GMAT result can be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s not the end of the world.  If you identify what you did wrong and focus your efforts on avoiding those mistakes, you should be able to bring that score up.  Just know that most students wind up taking the test more than once and most will usually do better on the second exam.

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