Andrew Mitchell, Kaplan Test Prep‘s director of pre-business programs and a longtime GMAT instructor offers this GMAT tip:
“It can be reasonably argued that every GMAT word problem is unique. However, the trained test taker knows that while there is infinite variability in the yarns GMAT test makers can spin, the fiber of GMAT word problems come in a very limited variety. Whether I am supposed to string seven different colored
beads on a necklace or play football against the same five teams again and again, I am dealing with the exact same problem.
“The GMAT is a standardized test and we must use its standardized format to our advantage if and whenever we can. Sure, there is plenty of content we need to master, strategies we need to learn, rules we need to memorize. But once all that is accomplished, we realize that our approach to GMAT word
problems is limited to just five options:
- Do the math.
- Pick some numbers to use in place of variables.
- Use the numbers in the answer choices to solve.
- Critically think our way around the math.
- Guess strategically.
“That’s it. You will have to use each one of these on test day, but the infrequency of which you’ll use #1
compared to the frequency of which you’ll use #4 might surprise you. Also, never be afraid of #5. No
one knows how to do every single question on the GMAT. At some point during the test—at several
points, actually—you are going to have to guess. The trick to guessing is to not do it blindly. It is very
likely that after a modest amount of critical thinking you’ll be able to whittle down the five answer
choices to four, three, or even two. And 50% is much better odds than 20%”
Edited by Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets.