Where the Points Are: Top 5 GMAT Fundamentals to Master


A popular term in test preparation is low hanging fruit.  This simple image symbolizes high yield topics and concepts that appear frequently on the test and can be mastered for great gain.  The GMAT is an extremely varied examination, but there are a few GMAT fundamentals that appear consistently and should appear at the top of your study priorities list.

1) Subject-Verb Agreement

Far and away the most commonly test concept on the sentence correction section.  The reason is simple: every sentence has a verb and so agreement with the subject should always be considered.  Now the concept of matching a singular subject with a singular verb is not difficult to comprehend.  What you really need to study are the various ways the test maker has for confusing agreement: extraneous info between subject and verb, collective subjects, unusual subjects, singular nouns that end in "s."

2) Anything Having to do with Division

Fractions, decimals, percents, averages, ratios and rates all have one thing in common--division.  Together these concepts comprise the bulk of arithmetic questions you can see on the quant section and a pretty good fraction of the quant section to boot.  First, you must master fraction-decimal-percent conversions.  Memorize as many as you can and learn the rules for the rest.  Study the differences between part-part and part-whole ratios, between weighted and unweighted averages, between division with a decimal and with a remainder.  Strength in these topics is strength in quant.

3) Assumptions

About 2/3 of your critical reasoning questions have to do with some form of assumption and the flaws you're looking for when you write your argument essay are mainly assumptions.  Learn what they are, how to recognize them, the forms you can expect to see and how to weaken them.

4) Right Triangles

Geometry is not a very commonly tested topic on the GMAT overall (definitely less frequent than on the GRE).  So if you only had time to study one geometry concept, let it be right triangles.  And not Pythagorean Theorem.  You don't have a calculator, after all, so how much can the test really expect you to do squares and roots in your head?  Instead focus on the four special triangles that appear consistently and with little variety on each and every test: the 3:4:5, the 5:12:13, the 30:60:90 and the isosceles right triangle.  Learn what they are, how to use their side-length ratios and how they are typically tested in isolation or with other concepts.

5) Prediction

The default setting for most people approaching reading comprehension is to read the question, then peruse the answers and choose the one that "sounds good."  If you're doing this, you're probably falling for a lot of trap answers.  All wrong answers are written to sound good--or at the very least, plausible.  The right answer is the one that agrees with what the passage has to say about a particular point.  So you should read each question carefully, look up the info in the passage (and read more than what the line references indicate to get the proper context, then predict what the answer will be based on what you found.  Choose an answer that matches your prediction but don't expect a verbatim repetition of what the passage says: right answers are typically flat, boring and paraphrased.

This post was written by Next Step Test Preparation.  Next Step focuses exclusively on providing students with customized, one-on-one tutoring packages for the GRE, GMAT, and more.  Click here to learn more about how Next Step can help you.

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