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GMAT Test Format: Fact versus Fiction!

Do you really know the GMAT? Here, we set some common misconceptions straight.

Do you have a dream to go to a top Business school? Taking the GMAT is only the first step towards achieving this goal. The GMAT is a computer adaptive test that tests your Verbal and Quantitative skills. While preparing for your GMAT test you need to be careful in perusing any information as a “strategy tip” and following it blindly. In today’s article, let’s go through some common misconceptions related to the GMAT exam.

Myth 1: Getting an easier question means I answered the last one wrong.

Fact: Getting an easier question does not necessarily mean that you got the previous question wrong.

To maintain uniformity of content for everyone, the GMAT selects a specific number of questions of each type. So once you are tested on, say, Advanced Algebra, the next question may test your Basic Geometry – making it seem like the questions are getting easier, while in reality this means you are simply moving on to a different topic.

Myth 2: I need very advanced math skills to get a high GMAT score.

Fact: The math skills tested on the GMAT exam are relatively straightforward.

The GMAT will not test you on anything beyond high school level. Just review basic to intermediate concepts on algebra, arithmetic and geometry for the Quantitative section. The difficulty of the GMAT quantitative question stems from the logical and analytical skills required to solve them.

Myth 3: It is more important to respond correctly to the test questions rather than completing the test.

Fact: There is a severe penalty for not completing the test.

If you get stuck on a question, give it your best guess and move on. Leaving questions unanswered will affect your score severely. For example, if you fail to answer 5 questions in Verbal, it may reduce your score from 91 percentile to 77 percentile. So attempting all questions and finishing the test is crucial. Maintaining your pace through the test is important!

Myth 4: It’s all about the first 10 questions!

Fact: All questions count.

Some applicants believe that if you do not answer the first few questions correctly, it’s nearly impossible to claw your way back up to a score in the 700s. That is not true. Never think that the first questions, if done correctly, raise your score bar and ensure you a good score irrespective of the number of mistakes you make later on. All questions are important in helping you secure the score you want.


Myth 5: If I don’t score above the 90th Percentile, I won’t get into a reputable business school.

Fact: Very few people get very high scores.

More than 200,000 people take GMAT every year and out of those, fewer than 20,000 test takers worldwide score 700+ and fewer than 50 get a perfect 800. Thus, statistically, the odds are against you. However, rather than lamenting or fretting about this, consider your MBA application holistically. The GMAT is only one part of your application to business school; your undergraduate GPA, professional experience, admissions essays, recommendation letters and interview make up the rest. Admission officers will consider your application as a whole before deciding whether you are a good fit for their program.


Myth 6: I can outthink the CAT (computer adaptive test)!

Fact: You can’t, because the algorithm is far too complex.

There’s no sense stressing about “how did I do on those questions?” or “why is it asking this type of question now?” Just do your best on the question in front of you, submit it, forget about that question entirely, and move on to the next one.


The GMAT tests your ability to analyze and comprehend the given information. So while studying for it, one should pay more attention to quality rather than quantity. Just doing more questions won’t help, but dissecting each question and understanding the analysis behind it would. Thus, the quality of the content that you use for your preparation matters. To score well on GMAT, it’s 10% luck, and 90% hard work!

So, before taking your exam, consider these points and plan your prep strategy accordingly. Hope you’ve found this information useful!


ICON+ is Singapore’s leading test preparation specialist with over 20 years of experience. Book your FREE diagnostic test now and have a chat with our consultants on how to best achieve your learning goals. Take your first step to higher education today!



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