Common GMAT Misconceptions

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Man wearing glasses studies for GMAT in front of laptop with coffee.

 Applicants to many graduate-level programs, including most master’s in accountancy programs, must take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) to be considered for admission. Many test takers prepare diligently for the exam, sometimes studying for months beforehand.

Because they may not have seen the exam themselves, they depend upon hearsay and rumors about the content of the test and the best ways to prepare. Unfortunately, some of the most common bits of GMAT advice are just plain wrong and will not help you succeed.

What are some common GMAT misconceptions — and how can you avoid these pitfalls? Many organizations and people, including some who have helped to develop the GMAT, have weighed in on this topic. By reading their tips, you can maximize your GMAT preparation time and position yourself for a high score.

This strategy in turn may lead to admission into excellent accountancy programs, such as University of North Dakota’s Master of Accountancy online program. A good education can lead to a great career in accounting and job satisfaction down the road.

Tips from the Top

The most authoritative list of GMAT myths comes from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the organization that has developed and administers the test. These common misconceptions have been officially designated “untrue” from the very top.

 Myth: You can game the scoring algorithm through timing, such as spending less time on certain questions and more on others.

Fact: The GMAT is very good at measuring your true ability. Playing with time tends to make you miss questions below your ability or get too-difficult questions, which in turn will lower your final score.

Myth: The first 10 questions count more toward your score.

Fact: The scoring algorithm considers all of the questions you answer. Do not get bogged down on the first few questions at the expense of later sections.

Myth: The more questions you get right, the better you will score.

Fact: Your score takes into account the difficulty level of your questions, not just the number you get right. Regardless of your score, you will miss up to 30% of the questions due to the test’s adaptive nature (it gives you easier/harder questions based on your performance).

Myth: You only need to study the hardest questions.

Fact: Missing easy questions does the most damage to your score. Find the difficulty level where you miss 25% of the questions, and work on improving that number.

Myth: Missing one easy question destroys your score.

Fact: One outlier will not kill your score. Missing several easy questions, however, is a different story.

Myth: Only a math genius can do well on the Quantitative section.

Fact: The Quant section only requires high-school level math. Your score depends on how well you apply those concepts.

Myth: If I get an easy question, I must have missed the last one.

Fact: There is some random variation in the questions you get. One easy question does not mean you’re failing.

Myth: You shouldn’t guess. It’s better to leave items blank.

Fact: Unanswered questions are much more heavily penalized than wrong ones.

Tips from Experience

Along with these “tips from the top,” test prep companies have their own observations based on years of experience preparing students for the GMAT. Prep Zone Academy, which has been training students to take the GMAT for more than 10 years, lists three main misconceptions that it says can derail a student’s preparation process.

  1. Full speed ahead! It is important to prepare for the GMAT as hard as you possibly can. Nope. GMAT prep is a marathon, not a sprint. If you try to get it done in a few weeks, you’ll burn out. Instead, Prep Zone Academy recommends building an hour of prep into each day over a period of several months. “The key is regular practice, and your due diligence will pay off,” the site says.
  1. You should pay the same amount of attention to all GMAT topics. No again. Some topics are more important than others, and these topics require more of your focus.
  2. Practice, practice, practice with lots of sample questions will pay off. Also not true. Aimless practice will get you nowhere. It’s important to identify your weak spots and focus on those areas.

So, What Should You Do?

A whole lot of information is available about what not to do. What should you do to ace the GMAT? The answer will be different for every student and will depend upon his or her individual strengths and weaknesses.

One thing that is clear is that professional preparation services can help by guiding you and keeping you focused. Another golden rule, according to Prep Zone Academy, is to only use GMAT official material, starting with their yearly Official Guide that includes close to 1,000 questions. Prep Zone Academy also recommends the Manhattan GMAT series and suggests logging into the online GMAT Club.

The process may sound pretty intimidating — and it can be. But just remember, nothing is stopping you from taking the GMAT more than once. Give it a try and see how you do. Identify your areas of weakness and strength. Then you’ll be in a position to prepare in a more targeted manner — and, hopefully, get a score that enables you to enroll in your preferred graduate program.

University of North Dakota’s Master of Accountancy Online Degree

University of North Dakota’s Master of Accountancy (M.Acc.) online program helps students master accounting principles and general accounting terminology, as well as related skills necessary for a successful career in accounting at the highest levels.

UND is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, which only recognizes about 30% of business programs in the United States. The Master of Accountancy online program offers practitioner and fundamentals tracks. Coursework is done online, which allows busy professionals to study accountancy and earn their degree without disrupting their work or personal lives.

For more information, contact UND today.


Tips from the top – Test Prep Unlimited

Tips from experience – Prep Zone Academy

What should you do? – Prep Zone Academy