GMAT Guessing Strategies
It may seem counterintuitive, but any smart GMAT test-taking strategy should include strategies for guessing on the GMAT. Of course, no one wants to have a reason to employ their guessing strategies on test day, but as the saying goes, “Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.” I know that we all hope to answer every question we see on the GMAT in the allotted time. However, the reality is that doing so is not always possible. Thus, guessing is a part of any GMAT.
So, let’s talk about some practical, flexible, and research-backed GMAT guessing strategies to maximize your score.
To start, let’s discuss the difference between the two main guessing strategies that test-takers employ: educated guessing and random guessing.
Educated Guessing vs. Random Guessing
There are two basic types of guessing that test-takers have in their arsenal for the GMAT: educated guessing and random guessing. To start, we will discuss educated guessing and look at an example in which taking an educated guess is necessary.
Educated guessing is what you do when you know enough about a question to eliminate some answer choices. Still, you aren’t sure what the correct answer is, and getting to that answer will require too much time or perhaps be beyond your capabilities.
Maybe you’re stuck deciding between two answer choices. Or maybe you’ve been able to eliminate only one choice confidently. Or you take educated guess because you are running out of time or spending too long on a particular question. Either way, you take your best guess at the correct answer, based on your work so far, and move on.
When to Make Educated Guesses
For obvious reasons, educated guessing is always preferable to random guessing. After all, if you have five answers to select, you have only a 1 in 5 chance of choosing correctly. But if you have, for example, only three answers to choose from, then your odds just got significantly better.
So, if you’re struggling to make any headway on a question, or you realize you’re taking an inordinate amount of time to figure a question out, and you decide you need to guess, your best bet is to try to quickly eliminate some answers rather than randomly guess. Even if you can eliminate only one answer, or if you feel 70% or 60% certain that 2 or 3 answers are wrong, you’re still giving yourself a better shot at guessing correctly. Its’s OK that when making an edutucated guess you may not always be totally confident in your answer.
However, if based on your know-how and the work you’ve done so far, you feel reasonably confident that a particular answer is more likely wrong than another answer, for the purposes of educated guessing, you’ve still done your best to narrow your choices. The key point is to assess and make your best guess quickly.