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Avoid These Pitfalls: The Most Common Mistakes in GMAT Problem Solving

If you’re preparing for the GMAT, Problem Solving (PS) is definitely one of the areas you should be focusing on. After all, it's a key component of the exam. But what kind of problems should you solve? And how can you avoid making common mistakes?

In this post, we'll take a look at some of the most common mistakes made in GMAT PS and how to avoid them. With these tips in mind, you'll be better prepared to tackle the exam and improve your score. Let's get started!

Not reading the entire question

Not  reading a question thoroughly can have consequences which can range in severity, often depending upon the context. For example, when taking an exam, failing to read a question thoroughly might cause one to answer incorrectly if they misinterpret the directions or miss important elements of the prompt. This could lead to lower grades and/or unsuccessful course completion. Similarly, employment applications that are not read carefully might cause someone to miss out on a great job opportunity due to providing inadequate information on their resume or cover letter. On the other hand, not reading beyond a single article or news report can lead to forming opinions based on unbalanced information. In either case, it is important to ensure that you understand exactly what is being asked and weigh all sources accordingly when making decisions in order to avoid potentially dangerous missteps.

Rushing through the problem

We all are often in a hurry to solve problems and get them out of the way, but it's important to remember that rushing through an issue can lead to more problems in the future. Taking the time to consider all angles, seeking outside advice, and being open-minded about potential solutions is essential when tackling any problem. Trying to rush through and make hasty decisions without fully assessing the situation can have costly consequences. The saying “measure twice, cut once” rings true when dealing with issues; doing thorough research early on will save you time, energy and hassle down the line. Being mindful of your decisions and taking a deep breath before jumping into problem resolution can save you from unnecessary heartaches in the future.

Not understanding what the question is asking

Not understanding what a question is asking can be quite frustrating, especially when the answer seems like it should be obvious. This difficulty can be exacerbated when the question is part of an important test or assignment that affects your grades. Nonetheless, even in these high-pressure situations, there are some useful tips to keep in mind. Focus on breaking down what kind of information the question is asking for. Pay close attention to any words that will help you pinpoint exactly how you should respond. For example, if the question uses words like 'compare' or 'contrast', you know that you have to provide some sort of comparison between two objects or ideas. Taking a few moments to properly analyze and understand what a question is actually asking for can save time and effort over the long run!

Making careless mistakes

Careless mistakes are often misunderstood. We usually think of them as the result of a careless attitude or lack of effort, but that’s not always the case. It’s possible to make careless mistakes even when we’re trying our hardest to be perfect. This can happen due to fatigue, stress, overconfidence, or a lack of attention and focus. But perhaps more importantly, it’s important to recognize that making careless mistakes is part of being human and making progress in life. Mistakes help us learn from our experiences and offer new perspectives on how we approach challenges. If we can learn to accept our errors without shame or judgment, we create room for growth and personal development.

Not knowing when to move on

Failing to recognize when it’s time to move on from a situation can be detrimental in many areas of life. Whether it’s a career, a relationship or a project we’ve committed to, staying longer than necessary does more harm than good. Holding on for too long often robs us of time and energy that could be spent elsewhere. Staying put also runs the risk of becoming inefficient and stale as our environment changes but we don’t. Taking the time to step back and assess if current circumstances require us to stay or if it may be beneficial to venture elsewhere will add value to our lives by allowing us to prevent stagnation and grow both mentally and professionally.

Getting stuck on one approach

When tackling a problem, it’s essential to understand that there are always multiple solutions. The potential for persevering too long with a single unsuccessful approach can quickly become a source of frustration for many. It’s important to remember that every problem can be approached from different angles and sometimes it takes experimentation to find the best option. Taking a few moments to consider different paths can often mean the difference between continuing down a dead-end and ultimately achieving success. When encountering obstacles, give yourself the space to explore alternative strategies and you may find yourself on an unexpected path towards resolution.

It’s important to remember that while test prep can be intimidating, there are steps you can take to help improve your GMAT score. By recognizing and avoiding the mistakes listed above, you make it more likely that your studying will lead to success on the exam. Furthermore, make sure to take breaks from studying and look for overviews of what material you should be focusing on. Finally, consider seeking professional guidance as you move through your GMAT journey. Resources like expert coaching from Merchant GMAT & Admissions can provide tremendous assistance in terms of refining your skills and helping to craft an effective study plan according to your individual needs and goals. As you strive to improve your score, keep in mind that mastery requires patience and focus; with dedication and practice, success on the GMAT is achievable - so don't forget to believe in yourself!

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Anish Merchant
Anish Merchant

CEO & Co Founder

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