Anyone taken the GMAT without studying?

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Anyone taken the GMAT without studying?

by NinaAnn » Fri Jul 17, 2015 12:17 am
This might sound like an odd question given the nature of this website, but has anyone taken the GMAT without studying for it?
I was always under the (false) impression that it is simply an aptitude test and so there isn't really anything to study for. Now it is less than a week till my test date and as I had a spare day I wanted to do some reading, especially to check out a few things for the Quant aspect given it has been nearly 15 years since I used high school maths. Anyway, I was clearly wrong about the extent to which you can prepare for this exam and now there is little time to do much, so I will simply go and do my best and see what happens.

Has anyone else here taken the test without spending months on prep?

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by [email protected] » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:47 am
This might sound like an odd question given the nature of this website, but has anyone taken the GMAT without studying for it?
I was always under the (false) impression that it is simply an aptitude test and so there isn't really anything to study for. Now it is less than a week till my test date and as I had a spare day I wanted to do some reading, especially to check out a few things for the Quant aspect given it has been nearly 15 years since I used high school maths. Anyway, I was clearly wrong about the extent to which you can prepare for this exam and now there is little time to do much, so I will simply go and do my best and see what happens.

Has anyone else here taken the test without spending months on prep?
Check out the archives on this site for some stories about test-takers who have gone in cold. Do bear in mind that everyone is different, and your educational background will impact just how 'cold' you are.

At the very least, it's worthwhile to take one of the free tests on mba.com to at least get a feel for the format/timing of the exam. (And really, the worst case scenario is that you cancel your score and then take the test again after preparing.)
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by [email protected] » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:06 am
NinaAnn wrote:This might sound like an odd question given the nature of this website, but has anyone taken the GMAT without studying for it?
I was always under the (false) impression that it is simply an aptitude test and so there isn't really anything to study for. Now it is less than a week till my test date and as I had a spare day I wanted to do some reading, especially to check out a few things for the Quant aspect given it has been nearly 15 years since I used high school maths. Anyway, I was clearly wrong about the extent to which you can prepare for this exam and now there is little time to do much, so I will simply go and do my best and see what happens.

Has anyone else here taken the test without spending months on prep?
Coincidentally, I just read an article yesterday about that exact same topic: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ ... t-happened

The person got a 640. Pretty good!

As David said, you should at the very least take an official practice test: https://www.mba.com/the-gmat/download-fr ... tware.aspx
It's free.

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by [email protected] » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:43 am
Hi NinaAnn,

Taking the GMAT with little or no prep isn't all that common, but you shouldn't be too concerned about that right now. Rather, it's more useful to define your goals and use your upcoming GMAT as a learning experience (since it's likely that you'll end up taking the GMAT again).

1) What is your score goal?
2) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
3) Do you know which Schools you want to apply to?

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by [email protected] » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:47 am
One bonus, although I agree that some preparation is wise, is that the GMAC no longer shows on your score report that you cancelled a score. So... no penalty other than the $250.
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by [email protected] » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:17 am
Hi NinaAnn,

Looks like Brent beat me to the punch with that Bloomberg article, but I would also like to reinforce that it's important not to get too caught up in these stories, especially considering how unique each test taker is. While the person in that article might have pulled off a 640 without any prep, I have to agree with everyone here in saying that it's important to establish your own baseline score and goals before deciding *not* to study for the GMAT.

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by NinaAnn » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:02 pm
Thanks all for your responses! I'm not particularly stressed or worried about it, I think I would be more so if I had prepared for a long time.

I ultimately aiming for 720, have narrowed down the universities I'm applying to about 10, and will start applying next weekend after I've taken the test. I'm going to do a full-length practice test today so I have a benchmark (and probably a reality check!). I'll report back and you will be free to laugh at my naivety. I imagine one of the most difficult things will be the thirst, as I understand that you aren't allowed to take water into the room with you.

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by [email protected] » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:00 pm
Hi NinaAnn.

I will say this.

In a way the GMAT is designed to be taken without much preparation. The quant questions use basic math for building blocks and are complex mostly because of the way they are designed. The verbal questions require the use of logic to get to right answers and most of them can be answered correctly with just a basic understanding of certain grammar rules.

In fact, when I approach a GMAT question I tend to include in my thinking the idea that the question is designed in such a way that I should be able to find an answer without having learned anything too weird or too specific to the GMAT.

Having said that, as you have discovered and as others have said in this thread, there is much one can do to prepare.

At the very least, before taking the test you could go over the question types and develop an understanding of how each works. Then when you take that test, at least you will be prepared to handle the questions, and also you will get some decent practice.

You might totally rock the verbal section without much preparation, because really most of the questions could be answered correctly without your using any skills you don't use daily. I, for one, was scoring pretty high on verbal before preparing much. On the other hand, if you have not used math for 15 years, then, while anything's possible, I would be surprised if you were to do very well on quant, but we'll see. May as well go at it hard.
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by NinaAnn » Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:06 am
Well I said I would come back so you could all laugh at my naivety so here I am.

(Thanks for the lengthy reply Marty - that was my initial thought behind not studying, plus also a general lack of time due to long work hours.)

I spent pretty much the entire day taking the test and more relevantly, going through it afterwards to ascertain what I can spend my one full day tomorrow doing to make the best use of my time.
I got a 640, which I guess is acceptable to start.

Useful things I learned:

IR
- I got 8. This is mostly the kind of thing I do every day so I am not too worried about this section.

Quant
Q41 (needs a lot of work)
- American notation is different to British. I would never have guessed that a decimal at hyphen height was a multiplication symbol. I'm going to have to make sure I check all the differences before going into the test
- I don't remember algebra, particularly rules relating to exponentials and surds. This is a large area to improve and probably takes more time than I have.
- I missed 4 due to misunderstanding the questions/poor reading.
- I'm probably going to have to guess a lot on this section.

Verbal
V38
- Although I got lower in this section, I think it needs a lot less work.
- Biggest problem was mental fatigue. By q18 I was done (not going to lie, getting in at 430am and starting the test by 1030 did not help here, but obviously that is not representative of test day). By the end, I was looking at the clock and number of questions left repeatedly - I could feel the exhaustion. I got 6 of the last 10 questions wrong, and while I know I should find them harder, I don't think that is entirely the reason I got them wrong.
- I need to trust myself. 6 of the questions where I submitted an incorrect answer, I actually had the correct answer then changed it. This was true for 4 of the 6 'home straight' questions I got wrong. They were almost exclusively sentence correction questions

I think my best course of action is to focus on learning maths again, and learn the new things I hadn't come across before, and practice some sentence correction questions to make sure I know why I'm picking various answers.

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by [email protected] » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:00 am
Sounds like you have a good plan. 640 is a great start. If you took that cold, then you likely have the ability to get just about any score you want with some practice.

Do you have a target exam date?
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by [email protected] » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:17 am
NinaAnn, it's too bad that you took it on so little sleep. I wonder how you would have done, particularly on verbal, had you been more rested.

To get that verbal score to go up, go beyond SC to getting a little more familiar with CR and RC. For one thing, just by reading this chapter, https://www.powerscore.com/newmedia/GMAT ... pter-2.pdf, you can become much clearer regarding what is going on in CR questions. If you are not going to prepare much, probably you should not start learning about CR strategies etc., because they can be distracting and there can be a whole process of picking which to use and maybe even deciding to not use them after all. Still, that one chapter on basics is full of good information. By the way, if nothing else, be clear for both CR and RC regarding what is meant by inference and infer on the GMAT. That topic is discussed in that chapter.

To get clearer on SC, you could read this and do the exercises. By doing that you will get a clearer picture of how placement of modifiers and words in general affects things. That clarity alone could make a significant difference. https://owlet.letu.edu/grammarlinks/modi ... ier2d.html

For the essay section, there are templates. You can look them up. Probably you should write a five paragraph essay that includes an introductory paragraph, three topical support paragraphs and some kind of concession/conclusion paragraph. Just look for GMAT essay templates, pick one, and get a sense of how to plug into it, and you will be pretty much set to write the essay.

For quant, do what you said and also do a bunch of practice questions. Probably the DS questions gave you trouble. You could get questions by searching online for the types you want to work on, by buying and downloading the e book (paper books are bad for the planet and bad for your karma) version of the Official Guide , which comes with an online question bank, or by going to the Veritas Question Bank and setting up an account, which is free by the way. Then by doing a few dozen DS questions you can get some practice handling the tricks of that type of question and have a forum for recalling and practicing using your math skills in general.

640 on little sleep is not that far from 720. It's possible that by familiarizing yourself with the test and its format, reviewing math some, and getting a few days practice with the questions you will hit your target. So you were not all that naive after all. While I am not sure how many days you have, you have some ideas for what you could do in a few hours here and there each day.

Here's a chart that shows fairly accurately how section scores match up with overall scores. https://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/how-to-cal ... at-scores/ Hmm. With a little more familiarity, some practice, and a good night's sleep, you could bump that verbal score up to 43 or 44, for real. Then with a mere four more right answers on quant you score 45, or higher. There's your 720+.

Also, when you are taking the actual test, no matter how worn out you might get, don't be sitting there checking the clock and looking for the end. Just keep on keeping on with all the intensity you can muster. Get every right answer you can. That's part of the secret of rocking this test anyway. If you had done that the first time, and been more confident, maybe you would even have hit 680.

As you said, you are not stressing over this, so there's little reason not to sleep like a baby the night before, in a long, relaxing, information processing, getting oh so ready for the game type of sleep, and remember the GMAT is not really a math test or an English test. It's a reasoning game. So enjoy it, seeing it as something along the lines of a big ol' $250 a shot video game, and play to win.
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by [email protected] » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:34 am
Meanwhile, I am wondering what practice test you used.

I hope it was an official one from the GMAT Prep software, but I am wondering because I don't recall them using the type of symbol you mentioned for multiplication. Maybe they do though...and I just never even noticed.
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by NinaAnn » Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:52 am
Thanks once again for the detailed replies and helpful links. A particular thanks for the raw score table which is very illuminating.

I took the GMAT PrepSoftware test - the ones you get when you book the exam. I'm taking the real thing on Thursday morning, so unfortunately not a lot of time to get things up to speed. I'm going to try and leave work by 7 every day so I can do a couple of hours in the evenings. I'd like to try and take another full test beforehand I don't think that's going to happen.

I'm lucky that my reasoning skills are pretty good. I read Philosophy at uni and did several years of formal logic, which I think probably helps here. I can probably just read over some notes on that and be fine as it is pretty ingrained.

In terms of Quant all my mistakes were exactly 50/50 on DS/PS. It was the DS ones where I largely misunderstood what the question wanted me to answer and I needed to read closer, so I will definitely take a look at those. All the PS mistakes were algebra where I guessed as I simply didn't know how to solve them.

The 720 figure was just plucked out of thin air as a target, but I won't retake if I get 700 so that would be an acceptable result, which I think is realistically within reach.

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by [email protected] » Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:13 am
One thing you could do is just take a quant section of a test one day and a verbal section on another. It doesn't look as if you need to look at IR ever again, and for the essay as long as you bang out something coherent in one of those template forms you will be set. So don't use up a lot of energy writing that essay on test day. Just bang something out and be done with it. You will need energy for the rest.

By taking a quant section you could get more accustomed to the time pressure and optimize your guessing strategy.

I am not sure whether it makes sense to do a verbal section on its own given your time constraints, but it might be illuminating to see how well you can do a little better rested and without being worn out by the rest of the test. If you were to score 46, for instance, on a verbal section that you took on its own, maybe that would give you confidence and motivation to do something similar when you take the actual test.

For SC, be sure to be good with parallelism, and yes, get clearer as to why one choice is better than another. SC is actually pretty hackable. Correctly answering a few of the questions may require knowledge of some idiom or of some relatively arcane rule, but for the most part if you are good at hacking them you will get them right. There are people who get pretty much all of SC right without knowing many rules or idioms. I for one still learn rules and things from the people I am working with. Meanwhile I pretty much never miss an SC question.

One thing I do that may help you too is, rather than count mistakes, think in terms of right answers and missed opportunities. What I am saying is not entirely about semantics. Scoring higher on the GMAT is not about mistakes. It's about how many you get right, and in going over your test and any practice questions you do, the question you could be asking yourself is "How could I have gotten this one right?" In your case that might particularly apply to SC questions. I bet you will find many SC, not to mention CR, RC and quant questions, that you could have gotten right without learning anything in particular that is new.

I agree, 700, or a little higher, does seem within reach. Four more right on each section and it's probably in the bag.
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by NinaAnn » Wed Jul 22, 2015 3:53 am
I took another practice test today and I'm now so disheartened that I'm wondering whether it makes any sense to go tomorrow.

I got a higher score and my Verbal was fine and a perfectly good reflection of my ability.
However, I have studied the last week solidly for the Quant, felt I had some real breakthroughs in understanding, and got a significantly lower score in that portion. I haven't been through and reviewed that section yet, but given it is 12 hours before the exam there is nothing much I can do.