GMAT Impact: Take Your Time

When it comes to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this weekly blog series, Manhattan GMAT’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Since the beginning of this month, I have spoken with dozens of students who are becoming increasingly panicked about achieving their goal GMAT score before the June 5 switch to the Next Generation GMAT. We’re currently a little more than two weeks out, and I have a message for you: if your practice scores are not what you want them to be right now, then stop pressuring yourself to take the old test.

The Integrated Reasoning (IR) section is not that bad. I promise. More importantly, if your results aren’t what you want them to be, chances are they’re not going to change much in two weeks. That’s always been true, but it’s especially true if you’re telling yourself, “This is my last chance. I have to get the score right now or… or…”

Or what? Your head’s not going to explode. The world isn’t going to end. You just have to take the IR section. IR scores will not be anywhere near as important as the quant and verbal scores, so you only need to aim for a “decent” score on that section. Further, IR is a pretty good mix of the skills you need for the existing quant and verbal sections, so whether quant or verbal is your stronger area, you already have some strengths to take into IR!

Give yourself the time you need to get your quant and verbal scores where you want them to be. Then add some extra time to deal with this newfangled IR stuff. I’d recommend that most people plan to add from two to six weeks to get comfortable with IR. You have two goals: (1) earning a “decent” score on IR and (2) knowing how to handle IR well enough that it doesn’t completely exhaust you before you get to the quant and verbal.  For the former, we don’t yet know what a “decent” score will be, but you will probably be okay if you can answer half or more of the questions correctly. For the latter, handling IR “well enough” includes recognizing when something is just too hard and letting those questions go without getting stressed out.

The nutshell: if you’re very stressed out about whether you can achieve your goal score before the test changes, then you are probably too far from that goal. It’s okay to decide to postpone. Remove that artificial pressure and give yourself the time you need to do this well!

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