Note: This is Manhattan GMAT instructor Ceilidh Erickson’s first post on our blog. Here is her bio. Welcome Ceilidh in the comment section!
Has this happened to you? You’re reviewing a practice test, and you look at a question you got wrong. “That was just a stupid mistake,” you say, “I should have gotten that one right. I’ll get it next time.”
That’s not a big deal; we all make stupid mistakes sometimes – momentary brain lapses, skipping steps, or just writing down the wrong thing when we knew the right answer. The problem is that unlike in high school, when your teacher might have given you partial credit, on the GMAT there’s no distinction between almost right and completely wrong! You understood the question, solved it all correctly, but then just clicked the wrong answer? Too bad, that’s still a wrong answer.
Careless errors are the #1 cause of score drops on the GMAT! They cause you to miss easier questions, hurting your score a lot more than not know how to solve the harder ones. The biggest mistake that GMAT students make when studying is not tracking errors from the very beginning.
If you want to improve your score on the GMAT, it’s not enough just to know which problems you got wrong. You need to know why you got them wrong. Think about it this way – if you were just learning to play baseball, and every time you got up to the plate you swung and missed, you wouldn’t just say, “oh well, my mistake, I missed it.” You’d want to analyze exactly why you were missing it. Did you swing too early? Too late? Above or below the ball? Is your batting stance wrong?