An Interview with Riadh Hamida

What do you advise MBA applicants who ask you “How can I score 700 or plus at the GMAT?”

The first question they should ask themselves is: “How committed am I?” The GMAT is a standardised and adaptive test and as such it requires you to think and work differently. Also, the GMAT is very difficult and painful, and takes a lot of your time and energy, so you need to be psychologically prepared as well. Last but not least, your objective is not only to achieve a high score at the GMAT: your objective is to get admitted, and hence the necessary focus on other parts (essays, interviews and letters of recommendation) of your MBA application.

What are some of the most common mistakes in GMAT preparation?

Many English bilingual or English mother-tongue test takers do not score highly in the Verbal section of the GMAT. The same happens for people that think they will score high in the Quant section because they have an engineering background. The GMAT needs and requires you to be committed not only to hard work but also two different kinds of work. The GMAT tests your critical reasoning skills. Also, do not believe that because you are committed it means that you need to work 10 hours a day. That is counterproductive. If you work 2 hours a day, and slightly more over the week-end, that will be enough.

Are there specific strategies to improve your performance on the GMAT?

People attain a great score if they do not try to learn tricks from the beginning. You must first of all focus on mastering the concepts before you time yourself. For example, make sure that you know how to calculate the next number of a sequence before you try to do it fast. People who hit the 700 bar are not necessarily excellent in quant and in verbal, but they have taught themselves to exploit the few flaws in the GMAT. The GMAT is an adaptive test, meaning that the level of the question is dependant on the answer (right or wrong) of the previous question. You should not spend more than 30 seconds on the easy questions to give you 3 or 4 minutes on the very difficult questions. If you spend 2 minutes on the easy questions, you will not be able to spend the required 3 or 4 minutes on the 700+ questions. This is how you beat the GMAT and show that you think like the test-makers and do not fall in to their multiple traps.