Hacking the GMAT

I was thinking recently that it was only about a year or so ago that I finally decided to apply for business school. Registering (and paying!) for the GMAT was a first big step into making it real.

For those people that are reading this and have yet to take the GMAT, I have just a couple of simple tips for hacking the GMAT.

However, before all that, are you aiming to get into a top-tier school? Get a 700+ and you’ll be setting yourself up for success. You can certainly still get into top schools with significantly poorer scores. In fact, I’ve heard of a student who got into a top school with a GMAT score in the 400’s. (What happened in that case was the GMAT wasn’t at all consistent with the person’s CV/resume and work history. The interview clearly showed that the GMAT was an outlier; the person turned out to be a superstar.)

That said, the higher score you get the easier it is for schools to accept you.

Tip 1 — Challenge yourself

My first and most important tip is to really challenge yourself. If you really want to kick ass on the GMAT, forget 90% of the study books out there. Those are written for people who want to do above average on the GMAT, not kick ass. If you want to get that 700+, only go for the books that are trying to get you the mythical 800. Kaplan GMAT 800


is the book that I used.

Why do this? Well, instead of picking a representative sample of test questions, it only focuses on the really difficult questions. This is what you need to get comfortable with and master if you’re going to hack the GMAT. Forget your other study books; focus on the ones that challenge you.

Tip 2 — Prepare your body and mind

The second and final tip is to be very careful in the days before your exam. Get good sleep, and not just the night before the exam. Make sure your head is in the right place by getting good sleep consistently for a few days before the exam. Whatever you do, don’t be stupid and try cramming so much that you lose sleep the night beforehand.

So that’s it… my tips on how to Hack the GMAT. A good score won’t guarantee you entry, but neither will a bad score necessarily prevent it. But the better you can do, the easier it is for your chosen schools to accept you.