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The Challenge(s) That You Face in Your GMAT Prep are NOT That Complicated

By Max Peterson On Jul 10, 2015 In  Quant Verbal IR Study Plans General GMAT 


Nearing the middle of July, many Test Takers are starting their GMAT prep (or are in the midst of it already) in anticipation of applying to Business School before the Round 1 deadlines occur in September/October. Many of those same Test Takers will face varying challenges during their studies and they won’t know how to go about overcoming those challenges. Worse still, many will be so unable, or unwilling, to do the necessary self-analysis that they will utter the least useful phrase imaginable – “I have no idea why_____.” As a future MBA, you are NOT allowed to have “no idea”; you have to be able to come up with a POSSIBLE idea, even if it’s not great, complete or ultimately correct.

I have NO IDEA why I’m so bad at CR and RC….

Let’s step away from your GMAT challenges for a moment, and instead deal with a simple hypothetical situation. Imagine that you walk into room, lit with sunlight from an open window, and you see a ceiling lamp that is NOT lit. You notice a light switch on the wall and flick it to the ‘on’ position, but the lamp does NOT turn on. WHY is it not turning on? 

Stop. Think. Give me a reason why that lamp isn’t turning on (even if it’s just the first thing that comes to mind).

Don’t read another word until you have a possible reason why that lamp did not light up when you flicked the switch.

Now, from a logical standpoint, the obvious problem is probably the bulb itself – if the bulb is burned out (or there is no bulb in the lamp to begin with), then flicking the light switch won’t matter. The BULB is probably the problem. If that was your initial explanation, then that’s fantastic, logical and most likely correct. You NOW have something that you can work on, fix and potentially be DONE with the problem!

But what it that’s NOT the answer? What if the bulb is fine? What ELSE could the reason be? Come up with another possibility.

I have no idea why my score is stuck at ______….

Don’t get distracted by that prior sentence – we’re still on the issue with the lamp. We checked the bulb and the bulb is FINE, so that is NOT why the lamp won’t turn on. What else did you come up with as a possible cause of this problem? As a future MBA, you have to be able to come up with answers. If you can’t answer questions and come up with possible solutions, then there’s no reason for a company to hire you, much less give you power and responsibility (and lots of money) to do an MBA’s job.

Be critical – think of this as if it were a big CR question. Is it possible that the light switch that we’re flicking doesn’t actually turn on THAT lamp? Is it possible that the wiring between the switch and the lamp is faulty? Is it possible that the circuit breaker has overloaded and electricity is simply not getting to the lamp? By thinking about what the problem COULD be, you can define what YOU have to do to fix it and then go about the necessary tasks to do so.

I have no idea why my score dropped on Test Day….

Now, back to the GMAT and a statement that you’ll see many Test Takers making in the Forums. The truth is that you probably DO have the capacity to ask AND answer those bold-faced questions – so you DO have some idea why you’re stuck, or facing challenges or seeing a drop in your score. Part of effectively solving a problem is in defining it. You might not know the exact solution, but you can then work with an expert, research possible solutions, invest in new resources, etc. and ultimately overcome whatever the challenge is.

The great thing about the GMAT is that it is standardized and predictable. Whatever your problem(s) may be, you are not the first person that they have impacted. We can help you to solve them all, but you have to do some of the work to clearly define them first.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,


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