10 Mistakes You Should Avoid Making on Tests like GMAT and GRE


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Jun 16, 2023 08:28 PM IST

Are you planning to take the GRE or GMAT test? Then you should definitely avoid making these mistakes! Find out how to prepare for the GRE and GMAT exams.  

10 Mistakes You Should Avoid Making on Tests like GMAT and GRE

Each year, more Indian students are submitting applications for study abroad programmes. Due to the large number of students who want to explore employment prospects overseas, India has already overtaken China as the largest student market for foreign colleges. Given the current situation, where more Indian students are submitting applications for graduate programmes like the MBA and MS, it is obvious that the number of people taking examinations like the GRE and GMAT will also increase significantly.

The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany are some of the most popular countries for Indian students to study abroad. These nations admit students based on their GRE and GMAT scores as well as their results on English language proficiency exams like the TOEFL and IELTS. Even though applicants who intend to take the GRE or GMAT are well-informed about the test format and syllabus, many nonetheless make certain typical errors both throughout their study and on the day of the exam. Such mistakes, whether made consciously or unintentionally, eventually have an impact on applicants' overall performance.

One can steer clear of such mistakes and perform well on the GRE and GMAT exams by doing extensive study in preparation. Let us now examine some of the blunders that applicants often commit while preparing for either the GRE or GMAT or even when performing the examination itself. 

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Choosing the Wrong Study Material

There are various books and online materials available for a student to prepare for the GRE and GMAT test. However, students must ensure to choose the right and authentic material for practice. 

Candidates must give adequate time for test preparation using GRE practice tests, sample papers, mock tests and the best study material. The practice tests for GRE can be accessed from the official website of ETS which is the conducting body of the GRE. Similarly, the practice tests and study material for GMAT are suggested by GMAC. 

Some of the best books to prepare for the GRE are ETS GRE: The Official Guide to Revised General Test, Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides, The Princeton Review GRE Prep 2021 and  Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides. Find more information about the Best Books for GRE Preparation here.

GMAT Official Guide Verbal Review/ Quantitative Review: Book by GMAC, The Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set, GMAT Advanced Quant: 250+ Practice Problems & Bonus Online Resources are the books to prepare for GMAT. Find more information about the Best Books for GMAT Preparation here.

Not Following a Study Plan

Candidates must realise at a very early stage of their preparation that last-minute preparation is not going to help them perform well in the GRE or GMAT. Preparing for such standardised exams takes a good amount of time and effort. Plan on spending two to three months and 100-120 hours absorbing material and practising on a regular basis. Top GRE and GMAT scorers spend an average of 120+ hours studying for test days and Score a Perfect 800 on GMAT. In order to score good marks, you must start your preparation early and follow a regular routine for each day.

Not Taking Mock Tests

It is rightly said that practice makes a man perfect. One of the best ways to prepare for the GRE and GMAT exam is to practise mock tests. Mock tests not only help candidates build confidence but also improve the speed and accuracy of taking tests. 

Candidates who practice mock tests perform much better in the actual GRE and GMAT than those who didn't take them. Thus, it is highly recommendable that students practise as many mock tests as possible before appearing in GRE or GMAT entrance tests.

Since the actual GRE and GMAT test is Computerised Adaptive Practice Tests, the candidate must ensure to take mock tests designed similarly to the actual test.

Not Doing Analysis of Mock Tests  

Practising mock tests without detailed analysis at the end of the test is like a job half done. It is necessary to analyse mistakes at the end of each practice test to identify weaknesses and abilities. Doing a detailed analysis will help candidates identify the section where they need to give extra attention. It is a long-term process but helps a lot in enhancing the performance on the actual day of the test. 

Candidates must take as many mock tests as they can and tally their scores using GMAT Score Calculator or GRE Score Calculator, as per their preferred test type. They must give equal attention to all the sections asked in the test.

Not Paying Attention to Weaknesses

Merely identifying the weaknesses and weaker sections are not the solution. Candidates must also try to overcome it in order to score well on the GRE and GMAT test. Often students pay less attention to their weaker sections during the preparation time and tend to regret it later on.

Thus, it is important that the student pays attention to all sections of the GRE/GMAT. Even if an individual is good at one section, they must try to improve their scores in other sections. Let us say, only the quantitative section is not sufficient for the overall performance in the test. Candidates must not forget to pay attention to the GRE Verbal section as is often considered more challenging than the GMAT Verbal section by most of the test-takers. For this, you must keep a GRE Words List handy so as not to get confused with obscure words.  

Spending Too Much Time on a Question

The aim of candidates must be to attempt all questions asked in the GRE or GMAT. All the efforts of candidates may go in vain if they cannot answer all questions within the stipulated time.  Thus, candidates must keep track of the amount of time spent on solving each question and not spend too much time on questions which are tricky and hard to solve.

Panicking Over Losing Time

While taking the test, the timer keeps running on the screen which may make the candidate panic and get carried away. However, with a certain amount of patience and calmness, the candidate can overcome such situations. Just a little cautiousness is required while solving the problem to avoid panicking over losing time while attempting the test. 

Not Reading the Questions Carefully 

Often in a hurry to attempt questions, the candidate may not read the instructions carefully. Many times, the questions may be tricky and the candidate may end up selecting the wrong option for the answer. It is, thus, advisable to read the questions carefully and only then mark the most appropriate answer. 

Confirming the Answer Without Cross-Checking

Often, students are in a hurry to attempt questions for the GRE and GMAT and in a rush of doing so they end up making the option without cross-checking which may tend to be wrong. Some questions are designed in GRE and GMAT to judge the presence of mind of a candidate and tend to be tricky. The option that seems to be right at first may at times be wrong. It is, thus, important to cross-check the option every time a candidate confirms an option. This will help them avoid silly mistakes and perform better on the test. 

Avoiding Proper Rest 

Taking good care of both physical and mental health must be the foremost priority of the candidate. They must follow a proper diet and take adequate sleep for a couple of weeks before the test day. Candidates must avoid last-minute preparation and focus more on rest to avoid panic and restlessness. 

Proper rest helps an individual retain anything better and also it improves attention and focus. The candidate must avoid studying a day before the test and keep things ready like admit card, ID and other necessary materials that are needed to be carried on the day of the examination. 

Hope the above information is useful for the reader and will help them perform better in the GRE or GMAT exam. Keep a note of these common mistakes discussed above and stick to your study plan to clear the GMAT/GRE with a flourish of the trumpet. 

Students can also write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com and clear out their doubts regarding tests and study abroad admissions.

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Is it better to skip the mock tests while preparing for GMAT and GRE?

No, it is not better to skip the mock tests while preparing for GMAT and GRE. Mock tests provide a perfect idea about what to expect from the paper, in terms of the difficulty level as well as time management. You can also access your strengths and weaknesses while giving the mock tests. GMAT and GRE mock tests will also help you be familiar with the test interface, thus making you more prepared for your exam day. Additionally, if you appear for the tests regularly, you can also improvise on your weak points. It is always advised to give mock tests, especially when preparing for exams as tough as GMAT and GRE.

Is GMAT preparation enough to appear for GRE?

No, GMAT preparation is not enough to appear for GRE. Your GMAT preparation cannot be used to prepare for GRE. Even though the quantitative criterion of the GRE is less tough than that of the GMAT, the writing and vocabulary requirements of the GRE are usually more difficult.

How do I stop rushing through the calculations while taking the GMAT/GRE exam?

You can stop rushing through the calculations while taking the GMAT/GRE exam simply by not skipping multiple steps at a time and thus creating more confusion for yourself. Another thing that can help is an excellent grasp of the formulas so that you do not fumble in their implementation. Practice and surety in basic mathematical principles will also help you not make mistakes in simple issues such as sign conventions, short calculations, and so on.

How can I improve my time management skills for GRE/GMAT?

You can improve your time management skills for GMAT/GRE by being clear in your basics of the topic, having an excellent command over the formulas, strategizing each section in a timely manner as per your strengths and weaknesses, and practising regularly to improve your speed. It is also an excellent practice to appear for mock tests to know how well you manage your time and where you fall short to go on about bringing an improvement in these factors.

What is GRE vs GMAT difficulty level?

GRE vs GMAT difficulty level lies in the quantitative section and verbal section. In GMAT, the quantitative section is more difficult than it is in the GRE. The GMAT quantitative section has more logical reasoning questions while the same in the GRE frequently contains more questions based on geometry. On the other hand, the GMAT's verbal section often employs more difficult language than the one used in GRE's verbal section.

Is GMAT better than the GRE for MBA?

Yes, it can be said that the GMAT is better than the GRE for MBA. The GRE is a test that students can take to gain admission to graduate programmes across practically all subjects, including the MBA. On the other hand, the GMAT is a test that is exclusively designed for applicants to business schools. Most business schools typically give preference to the GMAT over the GRE.

How can I tackle mistakes while taking the GRE/GMAT exam?

The simplest way to tackle mistakes while taking the GRE/GMAT exam is to stay focused from the beginning till the end. Spend some time carefully reading the question and determining what it is asking; note everything in the question and highlight any requirements. Read the question carefully, reflect on it for five seconds, and then jot down the answers on paper. Do not pick up the pencil right away after reading the question in a hurry.

How can I avoid making silly mistakes in GRE quantitative section?

You can avoid making silly mistakes in GRE quantitative section by following the tips mentioned below:

  • Do not translate a word problem into a complex equation if two sub-questions are combined in a single question.

  • Improve your handwriting.

  • Always include units after you write an answer or a unit conversion problem 

  • Take one step at a time while doing calculations

  • Look out for double negatives while multiplying

Can I apply to universities that require GMAT scores if I took the GRE?

Yes, you can apply to universities that require GMAT scores even if you took the GRE. You may find various GRE score conversion websites online. If the conversion scores are accepted by the university you want to attend, you can inquire about it. If not, you will at least have a rough notion of how you did on the GMAT. With a little additional study, you will be prepared for the GMAT just as you would have been for the GRE.

Which test is easier: GRE or GMAT?

The answer to the question of which test is easier, GRE or GMAT, depends on the test-taker. If you struggle with Quant, the GMAT will appear to be extremely challenging. Meanwhile, if you struggle with vocabulary and grammatical nuances, the GRE verbal exam may seem to be extremely challenging.

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