On the GMAT, Vision and Logic RULE!!!

Often people preparing for the GMAT start learning lots of “stuff”. Some of that stuff can be key for even starting to find answers. For instance, in order to answer questions involving circles, you need to know certain things, such as the relationship between diameter and area. Some of the stuff is more general or strategy related stuff , such as ways to go about handling particular types of critical reasoning questions.

While all that stuff can be useful when taking the GMAT, none of it will do much good though, unless you have going on plenty of two key things, vision and logic skills.

I see the following type of thing happen over and over. Someone gets a bunch of strategy guides and reads all of them. He goes over the Official Guide and the questions in it. He knows all kinds of quant rules and he knows many different categories of critical reasoning questions, but still he is somehow not hitting his score goal. Why? Because the GMAT is not a history test that you rock by memorizing facts, or a math test, that you rock by showing you understand certain formulas. The GMAT is a game that you win by using vision to see what’s going on and logic skills to sort out what you are seeing.

To get quant questions right, you need to see multiple angles and employ tight logic to make sure you are on the right track. On verbal, knowledge of grammar rules is useful only if you see the details of what’s written and you are able to use what you see to hack your way to the right answers. So developing vision and logic skills is key for driving up your score.

Check out this example.

One guy with whom I have been working was going on about how even though he speaks English fluently, GMAT critical reasoning is tough for him because he’s not a native speaker of English. Part of the reason for his feeling that way was that he had used a variety of resources and learned about various strategies and still he wasn’t close to hitting his score goal. ┬áMy take was that language issues were not the problem so much as was his not seeing details and logic, partly because his vision was obscured by stuff he thought he needed to use to answer the questions.

So, we focused on developing his vision and logical skills by hacking GMAT critical reasoning questions, one after the other, without paying much attention to things like formal strategies or question types. We just went AT it, looking for key details, analyzing the questions and answers, even arguing about what we were seeing. Surely enough his language issues mostly evaporated – they were never really the problem – and he quickly got much better at CR. Beyond that, because of his improved vision and stronger logic skills, he started doing better with other question types too.

Here it the way a person at GMAC put it, in an article about sentence correction.

“The GMAT exam tests higher order reasoning and preparing for the exam remains an exercise in developing and exercising those skills.”

So there you have it. Along with refreshing your memory of those high school math concepts and learning about assumptions, parallelism and inference, be sure to develop an eye for details and skill in using logic to hack your way to the GMAT answer choices that put points on the board.

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